Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Supermodel Katherine gives Free Being Me the thumbs up!

We’re thrilled that Miss International Ireland, Katherine Gannon, has given her backing to our Free Being Me body confidence programme.  

Katherine believes that health and happiness should always come first. Speaking to Griffeen Valley Brownies and Guides in Lucan, Co Dublin, last night, the 25-year-old Galway model said: “If you don’t have health and you don’t have happiness, you don’t have anything.”

Katherine, who is an accounts manager by day, is on a mission to tell girls and women that “there is nothing wrong with you just the way you are”.

This message ties in perfectly with the WAGGGS/Dove Free Being Me programme that the Council of Irish Guiding Associations (made up of Irish Girl Guides and the Catholic Guides of Ireland) has been promoting for the past three years.

Until she did a reality TV show, Fashion Hero, last autumn, Katherine did not go anywhere without wearing make-up. Since the show, however, which saw her “stripped” of make-up at one point, she has happily gone without make-up for much of the time. She no longer wears any to work. She initially found it traumatic to have
to remove her make-up and fake tan, but in the end found it “freeing” when she was told she looked just as beautiful without.

When Katherine came across Free Being Me and how it portrays “such a great image of women and gives girls something to look up to”, she got in touch with IGG to say she would like to support us in promoting body confidence.

Katherine, who got her first taste of modelling at the age of 13 and whose titles have included World Supermodel Ireland and Miss Galaxy
Ireland, is these days more interested in pageantry and promoting causes she believes in than modelling just for the sake of it. She no longer accepts every modelling job that comes along and only enters competitions that particularly interest her. She says the modelling industry is “tough” and, for her, health and happiness come first.

“My message to girls and young women is to never go down a road that is unhealthy,” she said. “If you’re not healthy and happy doing something, then there’s no point in doing it.”

Looking back, she said: “Modelling is a very adult world for a 13-year-old girl. It was very glamorous at the time but it’s not something that a 13-year-old should be doing. Education is more important because modelling is very short-lived.”

Apart from two week’s work when she was 17, Katherine did not model again until she was 18 and had completed her Leaving Certificate exams.

Katherine said she liked the fact that Free Being Me was “a healthy message, a positive message that promotes positive thinking”.

She enjoyed hearing what Griffeen Valley Guides and Brownies thought of Free Being Me and all that they had learned from doing the programme. When they told her that one of the things they had learned was how to take compliments, she said we should definitely compliment each other more.

Emily-Ruth (age 14) said she had learned that it was OK to be herself. “You don’t have to be perfect for anyone,” she said. “You don’t need to go starving yourself or going to extreme lengths to look perfect; you don’t have to have a flat
stomach and super skinny thighs. You’re fine just being yourself: someone is going to think you are beautiful even if you don’t think so yourself.”

Ellie-Rose (13) said she believed Free Being Me was especially helpful for teenagers who use social media because “they see lots of pictures of beautiful people and they feel pressured to look like them, be like them, because everyone looks up to them.” “With Free Being Me you learn that that is not the full picture, a lot goes on and no-one is perfect …. You shouldn’t worry about
how you look; as long as what is in the inside is nice, that is what matters.”

Alana (13) said she had learned that everyone was insecure, that it was OK to be you and that you shouldn’t have to change anything about yourself. “Free Being Me gave me more confidence and I know that it helped lots of other girls in the Guide unit too,” she said.

Katherine Gannon said she was never a Guide, but wished she had been! She said she was happy now to be involved by promoting Free Being Me.

And we’re delighted, of course, to have her support and backing!


~ Fiona Murdoch, IGG Communications Officer

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