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MISS KENT: Contestant's battle against bullies in Maidstone

Monday 19th August 2019

A HARRIETSHAM woman wants to change the “negative stigma” behind beauty pageants after suffering years of bullying.

Zoe Hetherington (21) puts tough years at Cornwallis Academy down as her biggest motivation to compete in an upcoming Miss Kent competition.

The Reading University student is a finalist in the county wide contest and aims to empower men just as much as women.

Miss Hetherington, a L’Oréal Paris marketer in Hammersmith, said: “My first taste of pageantry was at the Bearsted Carnival when I was eight years old. I remember the Miss Kent at the time handing me my crown and telling me how and why she got where she was. I thought to myself ‘this is so cool and I can’t wait to be old enough to do this myself’.

“I never had many friends at school and I was bullied quite a lot. I had depression for two years, but I want to show people the importance of mental health and that it does get better and you can make it out the other side. I got good A-Level results and I am now studying business management at university.

“Pageants are extremely stigmatised but I have had the chance to meet such amazing girls and it has helped massively with my confidence and self-esteem. But what I always say is it shouldn’t be all about the girls, I want to empower men as well.

“My dad, Dave, is my absolute inspiration. I want to teach men how to have an independent, strong women in their lives because often I think they are forgotten about.”  

Zoe, of Lenham Road, Harrietsham, is currently raising money as part of her campaign for the Inner City Mission charity which aims to provide health care, nutrition and good education to indigent children worldwide.

The Miss Kent final is being held on August 30 at Gravesend. Five of the 14 finalists are from the Maidstone area.