At school they teased me for looking like Ugly Betty but now I’m a fabulous catwalk model
It doesn’t matter about looks, beauty comes from who you are
A Coventry finalist who was bullied and called “Ugly Betty” at school has had the last laugh — after launching a career as a catwalk model.
Third year Maria Petrou, 21, suffered years of abuse at the hands of her tormentors who teased her about her “geeky” appearance and passion for studying.
Maria, who reads Fine Art, is in line for the victory crown in the Miss Coventry beauty contest next month.
Joyful Maria said: “My friends can’t believe I used to get bullied at school when they see me today.
“I used to get bullied in primary school as well as secondary school.
“There was a gang of kids who’d call me ‘Goofy’ and ‘Ugly Betty’ and have a go because I was hard working and liked studying art and literature.
“The name calling did upset me at the time but it was one of those things that I was always going to prove everybody wrong.
“When I got a bit older I started working out a bit and I’ve always liked showing off and one of my friends suggested I enter a beauty contest.”
She added: “What I want to show is that you don’t let people stop you doing things you want to do.
“It doesn’t matter what other people say, do what your heart tells you, do something good for other people and also yourself.
“That’s the reason I’m in a beauty pageant, to prove other people wrong and say to other people everyone’s beautiful.
“My love is fine art and that’s why I’m studying it but I would also love to pursue a career as a model. Ideally I’d like to follow both careers.
“It doesn’t matter about looks, most of the time beauty comes from who you are as a person.”
Single Maria, who also helps out with her mum and dad’s fish and chip shop in her spare time, said a few of her former bullies have even tried to befriend her on Facebook.
She said: “I’m choosing not to accept them. I’m choosing to let them live their lives and I’m living my own.
“I’m a strong person now and I want to show everyone who has been bullied to be strong and true to yourself.”