A 27-year-old Lincolnshire girl with alopecia has spoken out against the teasing and bullying she endured during her younger years, and how she is turning weakness into strength ahead of her bid to become Miss Great Britain.
Chloe Ashford-Smith, 27, from Grimsby, is the current Miss Lincolnshire after winning the competition in April 2021, and will be representing the county in this year’s Miss Great Britain pageant.
She currently works as a restaurant manager and has a degree in International Relations and Peace Studies, and is now hoping to add Miss Great Britain to her CV.
Chloe wants to write her name in the history books as the first person with alopecia or hair loss to win the award, a condition she has suffered with since she was born.
She lost around 80% of her hair a few years ago and has dealt with bullying and verbal abuse her whole life, but she didn’t let that defeat her.
Reflecting on her difficult journey to today, Chloe told The Lincolnite: “At infant school I was almost mute, I was so scared I was petrified to do anything or speak to anyone. I think this was mainly down to my alopecia which I have suffered with my whole life.
“I was bullied a lot when I was younger by both boys and girls. When I was in infant and junior school I was called egghead, baldie and told I looked like a boy.
“However, when I went through secondary school, as I was finding ways to hide my alopecia (hair extensions, eyelashes), I was then bullied by girls and called fake and Barbie, even though I was only using these beauty products to hide my insecurities in my hair loss.
“I lost my eyebrows and eyelashes during my teenage years too. I had a boyfriend at school who would call me Humpty Dumpty.
“I never felt good enough during my teenage years so to now become Miss Lincolnshire and come this far feels amazing.”
Part of pageantry is getting involved with fundraising for charities as well as impressing the judges with talent rounds, which saw Chloe finish in the top 10 after excelling at figure skating and drawing.
She has been raising money since receiving the Miss Lincolnshire title in April and has so far built up over £2,000 for Cancer Research UK and Alex’s Wish.
Being a role model and ambassador is something which Chloe takes very seriously in her position, and she wants to be someone that young people who may have similar conditions to her can look up to.
Chloe said: “I do pageants for fun, but also to show other girls or boys like me that it doesn’t matter what your physical appearance is, whether it be hair loss, scars or anything else.
“You can do anything you set your mind to. Once you start believing in yourself, magical things really do start to happen in your life.
“No matter how you look on the outside, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is the person you are in your heart and how you treat people.
“I would love to win Miss Great Britain 2021. I think it would really mean something to everyone out there suffering with some type of condition which present itself physically.
“I do consider myself a role model and ambassador for people like me, and I am so grateful for all the support from friends and strangers.”
If Chloe were to win Miss Great Britain 2021, she would be the second Lincolnshire winner in a row, after the success of Jen Atkin from Grimsby last year.
The finals of Miss Great Britain will take place on Thursday, September 16 and Friday, September 17 in Leicester. Best of luck to Chloe, we will be rooting for you!