"Bullying has been there all my life. I was chubby in school, college and work and everyone was so nasty," said Kayleigh Noakes.By Gay BoltonMonday, 21st March 2022, 11:15 am
“There were so many people who were telling me 'you're not good enough for social media because you're too fat'.
"When you get bullied you just comfort eat. I felt everyone was looking at me and thinking ‘she's fat’. It really impacts your mental health and you start to feel there's something wrong with you.”
At her heaviest Kayleigh weighed more than 17st. She said: "I was 18 or 19 when I was working in administration; there were a lot of skinny people around me and that's what made me realise I needed to lose weight. I literally cut out every single bad food I was eating and started exercising.
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"I lost five stone in a year and gained more and more confidence."
During her mission to shed the pounds Kayleigh went too far the other way and ended up being underweight, tipping the scales at 8st this time last year. She said: "I had gone without eating for close to two weeks as I just feared food so much. I was taken to hospital with an eating disorder and had to be monitored and fed for a week and a half. I had to learn how to fall in love with food again."
Kayleigh who lives in Heath, has since gained a stone in weight. While she says she feels loads better than she did a year ago, she admitted: "I still look in the mirror and see that big person...it's body dysmorphia."
Losing weight gave her the confidence to start posting videos on TikTok where she has amassed 90,000 followers and more than 24 million views in six months. Kayleigh said: "I've posted around 25 videos. My most popular video was a skit of someone cheating – it got ten million views and around one million likes. I like to make up stories that people can relate to."
The 23-year-old is hoping that her presence on social media will help her launch her own e-commerce business one day. Kayleigh, who is unemployed, said: "I thought if I could build my own following I could open an online clothing store offering affordable products to people on low incomes. It’s sad when you see people in school wanting all this high-end stuff and they can’t afford it."I've got all the plans, built the website and it's just having the initial starting cash of between five and fifteen thousand pounds to open it."
She has shared her story of mental health struggles and her desire to become her own boss in her quest for votes in the global competition InfluenceMe.
The five-round competition, which is searching for the next digital star, offers a top prize of 100,000 dollars (around £75,000) and a television contract. Kayleigh said she would use the winnings to make her business dream come true.
She said: "The competition is giving influencers a chance to promote what they're doing by raising money for a mental health charity.”
Contestants have to persuade people to vote for them and each of their supporters gets one free vote. If their fans want to place additional votes they must pay a dollar per vote which goes to The Jed Foundation. The charity partners with high schools and colleges to strengthen mental health, substance misuse and suicide prevention programmes and systems.
Kayeigh said: "At the moment I'm fifthin my group in the first round and 15 will go through to the next round. There are about 1,000 influencers involved, the judges are all American and have a high following so it's a good opportunity for someone from a small town."
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