Miss Teen Galaxy Wales hopeful lets her beauty shine through
WHEN Crofty teenager Jayde Anderson steps out in front of a panel of keen-eyed judges for the Miss Teen Galaxy Wales contest in March, she will have more reason than most to be brimming with confidence.
Jayde has been courted for two years running by the London School Of Modelling, who want her to strut her stuff for them, and all before she has even sat her A-levels.
She might well pinch herself.
Just a few years ago Jayde was less than confident about her looks and coping with regular name-calling and bullying, largely because she suffered with alopecia.
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A dazzling, athletic brunette with a winning smile, you wouldn't notice she struggles with the hair-loss condition, which she hides with careful styling.
But the condition, for which there is no cure, has been a regular companion since she was a toddler. She explains: "I have had alopecia since I was three, when my mum's mum died.
"It is usually brought on by stress and I was very close to her. There is no cure for it, so I cover it the best I can.
"I am luckier than some people because I lose patches when I am stressed, while some people lose all of their hair completely."
But since it is a visible and an unpredictable condition Jayde has suffered some teasing over the years.
And in some ways those early years of teasing have spurred her on to success, she says.
"Yes, I do think about that sometimes. I never thought I would be doing something like this and it does make me feel better to know I am showing the bullies what I can do.
"When I was at primary school it was pretty serious. It was mostly verbal — name calling but with some pushing.
"It used to upset me a lot, but it is much better now because people know about my alopecia now and they are used to it."
High profile alopecia sufferers like TV presenter Gail Porter and alopecia campaigner Michelle Chapman have helped to bring the condition under the spotlight in recent years, which all helps, says Jayde.
Now a happy pupil at Gowerton Comprehensive School, the 16-year-old is a sporty girl who is into football and hockey — last week she is taking part in a sponsored lock-in at Cockett Police Station to raise money for her hockey team's upcoming trip to Australia.
But she has her sights set on a career in fashion, long term she says.
"I hope I can get to Miss Wales. I just want to go as far as I can, but I want the beauty contests to be a hobby and I would like to go into the design side of fashion."
At the moment she is studying for art and textiles A-levels, the Welsh baccalaureate and maths re-sit and she doesn't plan to let her excitement over the beauty contests knock her off course.
"I got a phone call from The London School of Modelling asking me to go up there to do some shows for them.
"They said I wouldn't be able to do catwalk as I am 5ft 6in but I could do other work with them. They phoned me last year as well, but I haven't done my A-levels yet and I don't want to get distracted."
Whether she makes it through to the finals of Miss Wales and Miss GB International Jayde has the kind of family support that will help her keep her feet on the ground and will help her make good career choices.
Her mum, stepdad and a grandparent came up to Blackpool a few months ago with her in the family caravan to cheer her on in her Miss Teen GB adventure. And it is likely an entourage will pile back in to the caravan again for the Leicester trek in March for Miss Teen Galaxy.
No doubt she spares a thought too for the grandma she lost when she was a toddler.
She says: "My family are very supportive.
"I have three sisters and one brother.
"Well, my parents split when I was young so I have step-brothers and sister but we are all very close and they are all behind me.
"I feel very lucky really. The alopecia can get worse when I am stressed and it is true that sometimes I get stressed as well as excited during the contests, but a lot of people who have alopecia have it much more severely than I do.
"I can hide mine with rollers, which give my hair more body.
"So I don't feel like I am unfortunate at all."