TO anyone wondering how two models could strengthen a young girl’s self esteem, Tegan Martin points to her own anxious teens.
The Newcastle-born Miss Universe finalist will be in her hometown next month with Miss USA Nia Sanchez to run Universal Confidence, a motivational workshop for girls that the pair devised after becoming friends at the 2014 pageant.
The advice they will offer is informed by their own experiences.
“I had a difficult time in school,” Martin, 23, said.
“I most certainly didn’t have model looks, and I was tangled up in a very draining group of friends in year seven to eight. I went through a stage where I didn’t want to go at all.”
Since entering the realm of celebrity on the back of reaching the Miss Universe top 10, Martin has received a growing amount of mail from girls seeking image advice.
A message last week, she said, came from a girl who wanted to be a model but was bullied about her weight.
“The fact that young girls feel pressure to conform to unrealistic beauty and sizes is really sad,” Martin said.
“We all face difficult times growing up, and Nia and I are very open about our own teen battles.”
The model duo, with a combined 240,000 followers on Instagram, say they have had to learn resilience.
Martin lost a friend to suicide at 15, and suffered “a period of extreme body confidence issues” as she lived and modelled in Paris.
More recently, she has weathered a string of salacious media reports on the ups and downs of her relationship with former partner Angus Hood, amid rumours of tears on the set of NBN’s The Celebrity Apprentice Australia.
In hindsight, she said, “I can see that it certainly made me a stronger person”.
The Jewells model and actor, who now lives in Coogee, became Miss Universe Australia at her third attempt and the first Novocastrian in the global pageant since Jennifer Hawkins took the crown in 2004.
Sanchez, 25, saw her family torn apart during her teens and, at one point, lived in a women’s shelter.
She is a fourth dan black belt in taekwondo, and finished runner-up at Miss Universe 2014 to Colombia’s Paulina Vega.
The pair have already launched their “intimate” workshop in the US and said it included tips and techniques for job interviews, coping with stress, styling, fitness and self defence.
The Newcastle Universal Confidence workshop will be held on Saturday, February 13 at the Façon fashion studio in Wickham.
Places can be booked through Niaandtegan@gmail.com.