Bullying victim's fashion show highlights body confidence

Image source, Family photo
Image caption,
Jessica Shire wants people of all shapes, sizes and ages to be represented at her fashion show

A woman who was bullied about her looks as she was growing up has organised a fashion show to highlight the importance of body confidence.

The event's models are all "people who don't normally participate in this sort of thing", Jessica Shire, who describes herself as having a "wonky jaw", said.

The show in Ipswich is part of her Positively Me! project, inspired by her attempts to overcome confidence issues.

She said: "I have never seen a person in the media who quite looks like me."

Miss Shire, 22, a BT apprentice from Woodbridge, said she wore a tube feed growing up, which led to her being bullied through primary and secondary school.

She wore the tube until she was 11 as her "wonky jaw" meant she found it difficult to eat certain foods, so it helped tackle poor weight gain, she said.

Image source, Family photo
Image caption,
Miss Shire wore a tube feed growing up, which led to her being bullied at school

Miss Shire said she had "never been confident in the way that I look" but through Girlguiding and as a Brownie leader, she has been able to talk about body confidence.

It prompted her to set up her project, which includes a social blog.

Miss Shire said raising the issue of body confidence was "incredibly important" and something that affected "both adults and kids in the world we live in today".

Image caption,
Simone Butler Mayer said she was taking part in the project "to show it's ok to have differences"

Simone Butler Mayer is one of the models taking part in the fashion show. She has cerebral palsy which affects her walking.

"I have to wear splints to walk and normally I don't like to show them because it's different and I want to be treated the same as everyone else," she said.

"But I decided I would wear a dress with my splints showing to show it is OK to have differences and people should accept them."

Image caption,
Carolyn Wheatley said clothes are her "armour"

Carolyn Wheatley's long-term illness left her with scars on her body, a central venous catheter and a stoma bag.

"Clothes are really important to me," she said ahead of the fashion show.

"I use clothes as my armour - if my clothes look good, I feel good."

Miss Shire recalls running a self-esteem project with her Brownies, aged eight to 10, when one of them said "I don't like anything about myself".

"You can't be that age and not have one thing that you like about yourself. It's got to stop," she said.

Miss Shire said she wanted people of all shapes, sizes, ages and backgrounds to be represented in her fashion show on Wednesday.

The models, which include her friends and Guides with disabilities, will wear something they would not feel confident wearing normally.

She has organised the free show at St Peter's by the Waterfront on behalf of Girlguiding Anglia's "Action for Change".

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