A WOMAN who was bullied because of her size is now a beauty pageant winner.

Alisha Cesa, from Applesham Way, Portslade, has won the Miss England Curve crown – and hopes her story will inspire other plus-size women.

Alisha attended Hove Park School where, from the age of 12, she was “relentlessly” bullied because of her size.

The 21-year-old, who is now a travel agent, said the comments from her classmates had a serious impact on her self esteem.

She said: “I was made to feel ashamed and not worthy to exist. People would regularly make snide remarks to me about my size.

“When I was growing up I was a really confident and bubbly girl. I loved talking to people in the playground and making friends.

“But being bullied so much had a really negative impact on my self esteem.

“The teachers were very supportive of me but there’s only so much they could do – they don’t have eyes in the back of their heads.

“The bullying didn’t stop when I left the school gates, it followed me home through social media. This was in the early days of Instagram and Facebook where safeguarding against these things was much worse than it is now.”

Alisha said the bullying stopped when she left Hove Park to go to Varndean but the scars on her mental health were still there, adding: “There were days I didn’t want to leave my room.”

After being diagnosed with depression and receiving treatment she stepped into pageantry earlier this year.

She said: “I’d always wanted to try pageantry and now I’m feeling better about myself I thought why not. I wanted to show all the bullies they couldn’t keep me down, they weren’t winning.

“Pageantry is about embracing body confidence and if I can inspire others that’s an amazing feeling.”

Alisha has won Miss Sussex Curve and Miss England Curve and later this month will compete to be crowned Miss International Curve.