A beauty queen with a history of self-harming is showing her scars with pride after reaching the finals of Miss England.
At 14, Lucy Krogdahl was an insecure girl who felt she was a failure.
She started hurting herself before developing problems with food.
Inspired by unrealistic pictures on Instagram , she was hitting the gym three times a day and nibbling salad leaves.
But those days are gone and Lucy, now a confident 19-year-old, is in the Miss England finals this week after being crowned Miss Lincoln.
She is putting her title to good use by raising money for charity and giving talks in schools about mental illness.
And she has found the inner strength to show off her scars during the swimsuit round at the pageant on Wednesday.
Lucy said: “I want other young women to see that you can get through the worst, that it is possible. I almost backed out of the swimsuit round of Miss England because I was so concerned about my scars.
“Then I started to think, ‘They are part of me and I shouldn’t hide that.’
“I don’t have anything to be ashamed of and I hope I can give that message to others if I win the title. I want people to be inspired by my story.”
Lucy, of Little Chalfont, Bucks, is studying biomedical science at the University of Lincoln and wants to join the RAF as a medic.
She left school with 11 A grade GCSEs and three A-levels. At university she is on course for a first class honours degree.
But it is this quest for perfection that left Lucy emotionally struggling aged 14.
She recalled: “I didn’t want to fail or let anyone down.
“I’ve always been a bit of a control freak but it got worse. I was worrying all the time. I stressed around exams.”
It wasn’t long before Lucy started self-harming, leaving scars on her right thigh. But things got worse when she started to measure herself against women she saw on social media.
She said: “I was following fitness influencers and celebrities, especially ones who got great bodies by working out. They all looked perfect, like they led the ideal life.
“In contrast I’d always been athletic looking so I started to eat less. I’d live off salad and fruit and was working out three or four times a day because I felt the need to stay fit and slim.
“I’m a dancer too, so was regularly taking part in competitions as well. The weight just fell off.”
By the time Lucy was 15 she had dropped from a healthy nine stone to a sickly seven and a half.
“I put myself under this massive strain to be all-round perfect,” she said.
“But I couldn’t keep going at that rate. I felt hopeless, like I was never good enough, like my life would never be perfect.
“I wanted to be the best at everything. Looking back I was doing really well but I just couldn’t see it.”
Lucy’s mum Lorna, 45, and stepdad Mick, 59, were approached by someone who told them Lucy was self-harming as well as extreme dieting.
She was referred to the NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and saw a counsellor at school.
Within a year she stopped hurting herself and has covered up the worst of her scars with an ornate tattoo featuring a bee, lavender and peony.
She said: “I’m not embarrassed by my scars but I thought it might be nice to have a lovely tattoo over them.
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