A young woman who suffers severe bouts of acne has beaten bullies who described her face as a “disease” – after becoming a beauty queen finalist.
Rachel Crawley burrowed herself away and missed Christmas and New Year gatherings because of her breakouts that began when she was just 16.
The spots and deep acne scars on her jawline knocked Rachel’s confidence and she admitted she would “hate” the person looking back at her in the mirror.
After setting up an Instagram account to bravely chronicle her skin’s journey, the 22-year-old was beaten down by comments including “disease face”, “Yuk” and others that said, ‘Oh my god look at your face’.
However after previously being scouted for the Miss Preston 2017 pageant when she was 18 and turning it down, Rachel is now proud to be in this year’s final.
“When I was first asked to enter the pageant, I wasn’t confident enough in myself to do it.
“I stopped going out with my friends and didn’t want anyone to see me without make-up.”
The admin assistant added: “I would look in the mirror and hate the person looking back at me – so I just thought no one else would like me either.
“I wouldn’t go on nights out with my friends because of it – I even didn’t go to my Aunt’s house on Christmas Day and instead spent the day by myself.
“Part of me didn’t want to cover it up with make-up – I thought it made it worse and so I had really long hair to cover it.”
However, a few years later Rachel decided to change her diet and began to build confidence through her Instagram page.
The blonde beauty uploaded her bare face to social media outlets as a “kind-of therapy” to gauge reaction – after admitting she wouldn’t even look people in the eye.
Fortunately, despite a few evil trolls on the social media site, young girls suffering from similar skin ailments have called her “inspiring”.
Rachel, who is single, said: “Girls need to understand that they are beautiful no matter what.
“The spots have been replaced by scars but I don’t feel I have to cover them up anymore.”
Speaking about the trolls, Rachel said: “Trolls online are just not open minded and I think overall the views and experiences make you a stronger person.
“Online bullies are just part of the world we live in nowadays – but just don’t take any notice.
“Deep down the Instagram page gave me the confidence to finally apply for the Miss Preston competition after people said I was inspiring.”
Rachel left school in Ashton School, Lancs., in 2011 and went straight into an apprenticeship in law administration.
She has now not had a breakout of acne since changing her diet again after Christmas and now wants to finally go through with Miss Preston – four years after being asked.
Miss Preston will be later crowned in April, but Rachel says she hopes just taking part in competition will help give girls who are shying themselves away the confidence they need.
Speaking about the competition, she said: “Winning would of course be amazing but it’s more to show myself I can do it and hopefully give other people confidence to feel good about themselves.”
As part of the Miss Preston initiation, Rachel is also running a half marathon for children’s charity Variety on April 9.
She added: ”I don’t want other girls to feel the way I did – and hopefully I can show them they don’t have to.”