Throughout school, budding WA beauty queen Nicole Dowling was bullied for her appearance.
"I was constantly called ugly and teased for having misaligned teeth," Dowling told AAA. "I will always remember the feelings and thoughts from all of the bullying and even though the bullies have probably forgotten about it, I never will."
But today, the 24-year-old Geraldton-raised stunner is having the last laugh.
Last year, after deciding to enter her first beauty pageant, Dowling was named among 20 WA beauties to compete at the Miss Galaxy State finals later this month.
"I have been doing modelling and competitions for roughly a year and a half now," she said. "Miss Galaxy will be my first pageant, but I'm very excited to show people my personality and ambitions."
"I hope to gain confidence in public speaking and the ability to influence people in a positive way."
Miss Galaxy contestants are not judged solely on their looks but also on their sense of cultural understanding and charity work.
Dowling hopes to draw from her past experiences to help champion the fight against bullying.
"My aim is to help and let bullying victims know, whether it's children, teens or adults, that it's never OK," she said.
"I would love to travel to schools all over WA promoting awareness of bullying and the effects it can have.
"There should be zero tolerance as we are all beautiful in our own way, and should never judge someone because you just never know their story," she said.
Now she has a shot at representing WA in Miss Galaxy, Dowling, who now lives in *Perth *and works as a retail manager in between her modelling jobs, hopes it will mark the start of more things to come.
"I wanted to enter Miss Universe this year, however I couldn't make it," she said. "I would also like to enter Miss World."