A CORK model who was left with a facial scar after being hit by a bottle at a music festival has made a comeback to the catwalk to compete in Miss Universe Ireland.
Katie O’Donoghue had endured scarring after being hit by a glass bottle thrown from the crowd at the Longitude music festival in Dublin two years ago.
The then 24-year-old, who received nine stitches to her forehead after the incident, was concerned that she might never work as a model again.
However, since returning to modelling she is now back on top and thriving in her new role as Miss Universe Cork.
The beauty queen benefited from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) as part of her recovery and is keen to spread her message of self-acceptance.
“I took a personal break from modelling to focus on myself and my growth as a person,” she said.
“It was really important that I focused on my wellbeing before progressing further in the industry. It was a big stepping stone for me in terms of my entire journey.
“Going to CBT and getting help for your wellbeing is still a stigmatised concept but I’m quite happy to say that I did it.”
Katie is grateful to have a platform to spread her message.
“My platform as Miss Universe Cork has been all about focusing on self-acceptance.
“Last year I took a lot of time out to focus on that. For me, it was very important that I learned to love and accept myself.
“I’ve learned to look at what happened to me as more fortunate. It could have been ten times worse and I’m thankful that it wasn’t.”
The UCC Bachelor of Arts graduate has a fresh outlook on her work since being given a second chance at modelling.
“I don’t think I thought I’d get back into modelling again but it was always at the back of my mind.
“What happened to me knocked my confidence a lot and it’s taken an awful lot for me to get it back to the level I’m at now.
“Reading a lot of self-help and confidence books has helped me realise that there are other ways to look at these incidents and to live your life.
“It’s made me grow as a person instead of basing everything on physical appearance.”
She expressed her gratitude for the support she received during more difficult times.
“When the incident happened people reached out to me about their own personal experiences. This helped me to be more comfortable in myself. It has opened my eyes and changed my outlook.”
Just a few weeks ago Katie had to undergo surgery to remove a cyst and identify signs of endometriosis.
The model said that while the condition was ruled out, the experience inspired her to select the Endometriosis Association of Ireland as one of her chosen charities during her Miss Universe Cork reign.
“There is no absolute cure for endometriosis, but it is one of the leading causes of infertility,” she explained.
“I, myself, didn’t even know anything about the condition until I was first told that I may potentially have it two years ago. There’s definitely more awareness and focus needed on the issue.”
Having the operation also encouraged Katie to reflect on self-image.
“When I was getting the cyst out my first thought was not about my health but the scars that surgery would leave behind.
“Now I know that these tiny scars are not something you should be focusing on because they are just another part of your story.”
The Cork woman insists she is proud of her scars.
“It’s all about focusing on the different layers that make you up as a person, rather than trying to be the same as who you see in a magazine or on TV.”
The model is organising a sponsored raffle in aid of the Endometriosis Association of Ireland and Marymount Hospice on Saturday, July 13, in Dwyer’s on Washington St, Cork City.
The event will run from 8pm to 10pm and includes a sponsored raffle. Tickets are €5 and available to purchase on the night.