A stunning law student who used to get told she was 'ugly' and 'looked like a rat' is now competing to be Miss England.
Francesca Crossley, 25, works as a paralegal and is training to become a corporate lawyer when she graduates with her master's degree at the end of the year.
And colleagues compared her to Reese Witherspoon’s character Elle Wood in the 2001 romcom Legally Blonde after reaching the semi-finals of Miss England.
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The University of Law student says she likes to base herself on the ditsy sorority queen, who defied stereotypes and critics to graduate top of her law class.
Francesca also had to overcome bullying as a youngster after she was made to feel she was too ugly to ever walk a catwalk.
Cruel classmates would brand her ‘ugly’ and say she looked like a ‘rat’ but she had the last laugh after becoming a model at 18 – and now a beauty queen.
Francesca has her sights set on the Miss England crown and will compete in the semi-finals in October.
The beauty, from Cheltenham, said: “I've dabbled in modelling before but this is my first time entering Miss England.
"I stumbled into it really, initially seeing advertising for it and a few of my peers got into it. I thought why not go into it, it looks fun.
“With me working in law, I'd like to think it breaks the stigma of being dim. Everyone assumes you’re dim or an airhead.
"It is important to show intellectual women enter this pageant. It shows you can heave both beauty and brains.
“My friends have mentioned the Legally Blonde comparison. You also make that comparison yourself."
She added: "All my friends and me are blonde so we do refer to each other as Legally Blondes. She was stereotyped to be a dumb blonde too.
“I graduated with a degree in law back in 2020 from the University of Gloucester and I'm currently doing a masters.
“I enjoy the aspect of being able to solve problems for people, building relationships and helping them out."
Francesca was inspired to enter after reading about the current Miss England winner Jessica Gagen and how the competition was based on more than just looks.
She said: “I went into a different pageant a couple of years ago. I was part of Miss British Isles a few years ago.
“I wanted to do Miss England after I saw an article about the current Miss England and it pointed out all her achievements, not just the fact that she’s Miss England.
“It just spoke out to me as they focused not only that she was beautiful but that she was intelligent. They care about your personality and looks too.
“I was bullied based on looks too. I was called things like a rat. Kids aren’t nice. I got called ugly too.
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“I still wanted to be a model in a way, but I thought I probably can’t.
“I literally applied, they invited me back to interview and offered me through as a wildcard. That was only last Monday. I'm very excited for it."
The Miss England semi-finals are being held at Viva Blackpool in October and Francesca is hopeful she can make the next round.
She added: “You just have to hope for the best in these situations. Everyone is beautiful but ambitious. I'd like to think I've got a fair shout.”
For further details about the competitions visit www.missengland.info.
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