Aerospace Engineering Student Who Was Bullied for Her Red Hair Is Crowned Miss England 2022

Growing up and attending school is challenging for all kids, but for some it can be even more difficult. When someone looks “different,” it's fodder for being teased. Jessica Gagen has an intimate understanding of what it feels like to be bullied for your appearance. When she was in secondary school in Lancashire, England, (middle school in the U.S.), she was made fun of for her red hair. She was called names, spat at, and people threw things at her head. According to Gagen, someone even burned her for it. But this painful time has given her the last laugh; she is the first ginger-haired woman ever to win the Miss England crown.

The 27-year-old aerospace engineering student and model recently talked about a painful time in her life. It’s one that she would rather not speak of, especially given all of the good that’s happened since then. The story, however, has gone viral.

“I’ve been quite upset about it all. It’s an incredibly personal story which I’ve purposely avoided bringing to light for the majority of my teenage and adult life,” she explained in an Instagram post, “as it’s something that still upsets me, something I struggle talking about that I’ve always wanted to forget—so to see it plastered across the news has been a little tough!”

Despite her initial apprehension, Gagen realized that sharing her story is a way to empower others who might be facing something similar. Her discomfort is worth it knowing that it could be helping others. “If this is happening to you, hear me out when I say that there is light at the end of the tunnel,” she offers. “Just because it’s happening now, doesn’t mean it’ll happen for the rest of your life! By the end of secondary school I thrived; I was surrounded by lovely people, got a cracking set of grades and excelled in sport—and you can too! One bad chapter doesn’t have to last the rest of the book. Keep on reading.”

Gagen was awarded the crown after rising to the top among 30 other contestants. She’s the first redhead in Miss England’s 94-year history, and she'll now go on to compete on behalf of her country at Miss World.

Jessica Gagen was crowned Miss England—the first redhead in the competition's 94-year history.

The joyful moment comes after a painful time in her past when she was bullied for her ginger hair color.

Jessica Gagen: Instagram
h/t: [LADbible]

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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