Sarah Wright, now 18, was picked on and pelted with stones and cans because of her very pale skin and hair.
The relentless campaign of bullying drove her to hide away and crushed her self-esteem. But then a friend told her how beautiful she really was – and Sarah is now having the last laugh.
The teen, from Whitby, North Yorkshire, was born with Albinism, a congenital disorder characterised by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes. She was also almost blind due to her eyes being under developed.
As she grew up, Sarah's vision slowly improved and she didn't give her looks much thought until she hit puberty at secondary school – and that's when the bullying began.
She said: "Girls would sneer and ask why I was so pale as they changed for PE."
She had chips spat at her as she walked into the school canteen and was even pelted with stones and empty drinks cans when she went into town. She was also taunted on Facebook by cyber-bullies who called her a freak.
She said: "My mother told me not to listen to them, that I looked striking and one day my chance to shine would come. But I didn't believe her and covered my face by hiding behind my long hair."
Then a friend showed her how to experiment with make up.
She said: "When I wore it my confidence increased." Sarah cut her hair cut into a bob and when she left school her confidence grew.
Then she came across auditions to find the UK's Alternative Model of the Year and decided to enter.
She said: "When the day arrived I was petrified as I stepped out onto the stage at the Live Theatre in Newcastle."
But her misgivings turned to joy when a huge cheer erupted when she walked on in a black latex catsuit and full make-up with her hair coaxed up into an outrageous style.
She went on to be crowned Alternative Model of the Year and was given a modelling contract.
Sarah said: "Mum couldn't stop hugging me. She said, 'I told you you're day to shine would come'.
"And I'm glad I've proved my bullies wrong. For years they made my life hell. But in a way they did me a favour because never in million years did I think I'd get to where I am today.
"Now I no longer feel the need to hide, instead I'm proud of who I am."
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