When a girl was bullied in school for having ginger hair, neither she nor her bullies were aware that she would be crowned as Miss England years later. She was the first redhead in 94 years to win this beauty contest.
Jessica Gagen was a bright student who loved attending school until she was promoted to secondary school. All she wanted to do was stay home and cry after her bullies made fun of her ginger hair.
Gagen was the only girl in her class with ginger hair, and she recalled not even seeing anyone on TV with such hair. Every day, her classmates would find a new way to make fun of her, which shattered her confidence.
Besides witnessing their mean acts, the Lancashire, England, girl recalled being called names by her classmates. The bullying affected her to the extent that she had to hide in the bathroom to have lunch.
Whenever her teachers would ask the students to divide into groups, Gagen would be left alone because she didn’t have any friends. She recalled:
“I used to feel really bad about myself.”
Gagen remembered she used to ignore what other students said about her, but deep down, the mean comments affected her badly. Her feelings would bottle up, and she would cry at home after returning from school every day.
Gagen soon made a close group of friends and graduated high school with excellent grades.
The teenager yearned to make friends, but no one liked speaking to her. Gagen often questioned why she looked so different. Little did the young girl know she would win the Miss England crown years later.
Because of the unending peer pressure, Gagen often thought of dyeing her hair as a teenager. However, she dismissed her thoughts because she never had a problem with her appearance. It was people around her who wanted to bring her down.
Soon, she realized she couldn’t let other people define her worth. Gagen learned to ignore what her classmates said about her, which helped her feel confident.
Towards the end of high school, she made a close group of friends who uplifted her instead of passing mean comments about her hair color. She soon graduated with excellent grades and new-found confidence.
The Next Chapter
The next chapter of her story began after she landed modeling contracts at 18. She traveled the world to conquer catwalks and flaunted her ginger locks, which was something that seemed impossible to her years before.
Besides participating in fashion walks and beauty contests, Gagen continued her education and is now studying for her master’s degree in aerospace engineering at Liverpool University.
In 2021, Gagen competed for Miss England but lost the crown to Rehema Muthamia by a close margin. However, she won the Miss England crown on October 17, 2022. She said:
“I thought if I could win this, I could empower kids who are being bullied for the way that they look and the color of their hair.”
Miss England 2022
Gagen’s victory was even more special because it was the first time in 94 years that a redhead had won the crown. Gagen felt very proud of representing ginger-haired individuals and being an inspiration for them. She added:
“For me, by competing in Miss England, my campaign last year and this year is to help people get girls into STEM subjects.”
Gagen also revealed that most girls who participate in such beauty pageants come with a message in their minds that they want to propagate. For Gagen, it was to encourage women to study STEM subjects, and she later realized she was also representing redheads.
“A lot of people think it’s about winning a crown, and it’s not. It’s about getting your message out there,” Gagen said. She advised children to turn their suffering into their superpower if they were being bullied like her.
Apart from sending positive messages through her work, Gagen has raised over $7,300 by doing charity runs in fancy dresses.
Gagen aims to empower children who are bullied because of their physical appearance. She wants them to know that there is always light at the end of the tunnel and that they shouldn’t give up.
Gagen’s story is truly inspirational, and we hope she achieves all her goals. Share this story with your friends and family. It might brighten up their day.
Click here to read another similar story about a boy with dwarfism who wept when kids mocked him at school. Years later, he became a Hollywood star.