Stylish Wolverhampton student Gia wins top model award
A glamorous teenager has beaten the bullies once and for all by winning a top modelling award - dazzling judges on the catwalk with a hooded, sequinned swimsuit.
Gia Lawrence-Harish, a photography student at Dudley College, said she was 'unbelievably happy' to win the Personal Style Award at the Top Model 2018 awards last weekend.
The 17-year-old from Aspen Way was selected for the finals back in January out of thousands of other hopefuls, all eager to strut their stuff in a bid to win the crown.
And despite not having won the competition overall, Gia was singled out for a rare, personal award after donning a jaw-dropping scarlet, sequinned swimsuit - complete with a unique hood.
Gia said: "I was really happy - I'm still reeling really.
"There were so many girls there, all who had portfolios and so much experience. So when I was called up for the Personal Style Award I was really shocked.
"I was up against 21 others in my category, and some even won two awards. There were only six awards to be won; first, second, third and then Personal Style, Beach Body, and a charity award."
Gia stunned judges on the catwalk by showing off a Dolls of Decadence swimsuit, designed by Birmingham-based Paulinah Nkechinyere Eboh-Sampson.
She added: "You could choose swimwear, lingerie or sportswear, so we went for this swimsuit which was sequins from the waist up and it had a hood on it too - you don't see a swimming costume with a hood on every day so we knew it was going to have the wow factor.
"We went with a pool party vibe too and attached a small fluffy black bag on the back as well, so the judges could see we'd gone the extra mile.
"I went along of course hoping I would win something but I never thought I would. It's amazing."
As well as the swimsuit round, Gia also performed in a section where all the girls wore saris, and then another where they donned pieces by fashion designer Aphrodite.
She was cheered on by her own personal fan base, which consisted of her mum, step-dad, nan and great-aunt.
Her mother Dawn said: "I was so proud, Gia looked fabulous. The show was just brilliant and it was such a good experience for her. She really did me proud."
Gia started modelling when she was just 15-years-old and said it worked wonders in boosting her confidence.
She admitted she suffered from being bullied when she was younger, but that modelling had 'really helped' that.
"It made me feel a bit low about myself, being picked on, it caused a bit of anxiety and feeling not great about myself. But modelling has really helped that.
"I do feel nervous but it helps having the adrenaline, it's given me confidence."
As part of the competition, the participants were also tasked with raising money for charity. Gia opted for Children with Cancer UK and managed to gather more than £800 overall.
She is now busy applying for agencies and hopes to compete in more modelling competitions in the future.