Bullied Karate Champ Turned Pageant Queen - Emily Sharland
Emily Sharland is a black belt in Karate and has English, British and World titles to her name. She is now competing to be Miss Essex GB and is hoping to progress to Miss Great Britain in 2020.
She is not your typical pageant girl nor your typical Essex girl and has dealt with anxiety due to being bullied as a child and teenager.
Emily decided to compete in this pageant as she wanted to gain back her confidence and become an example of how a woman can be self-assured and strong.
She attributes her growing confidence to her background in martial arts.
"Martial arts gave me the self confidence to not be afraid and to stand up for myself. I learnt to not be a victim and have self worth and the ability to hold my own."
"It gave me an opportunity to find new friends and to travel. Therefore I wasn't that worried if people at school didn't like me"
"Karate gave me a purpose and it changed my life"
White Ribbon is the chosen beneficiary of this event, a charity against violence towards women. Emily sees herself as a great embodiment of this charity.
She explained, "I have the ability to teach and show women how to protect themselves and to feel safe."
"I'd love to teach and inspire more women to take self defence or martial arts classes."
She also has some words of advice for any other youngsters struggling with bullying at their school.
"I would tell them to try anything and everything! Have the confidence to know that you're special, you deserve to be happy and school doesn't last forever!"
You can go and vote for her at @MissEssexGB