Updated: April 13, 2023
Twenty-six-year-old Jessica Gagen is a model, pageant girl, and a natural redhead. Back in May of this year, we told you about her ambition to be Miss England and how she suffered from severe bullying because of her red hair. She hit back at bullies by becoming a beauty queen – and was just crowned the first redhead to represent England. As Miss England, she is on her way to compete in Miss World in 2023.
After being crowned Miss Lancashire in 2020, Gagen competed in Miss England 2021 as one of the few women in STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) — she is working on a degree in Aerospace Engineering and proving women can do anything. Ultimately, she was runner up, but didn’t give up.
On October 18, 2022, she was crowned Miss England. Gagen has always used her social media platform to show redheads that bullies can’t get you down, and spread news about her passion: women in STEM. She will continue this message with her newfound title.
She posted on Instagram saying:
“The moment a dream came true. What an honour it is to be awarded the title of Miss England 22/23 amongst a room of some of the most inspiring women in the country. The Miss England competition seeks the country’s representative at the prestigious Miss World contest, but more importantly, a role model who’s passionate about her cause – striving to educate and empower. Each woman that makes it to the final of the national contest is inspiring in her own right, and as the chosen representative of this year’s class, I absolutely cannot wait to utilise my reign to raise awareness for their campaigns also. My journey is one of education, but also one of empowerment – I’m blessed to have been crowned the very first redheaded Miss England, and strive to empower children facing torment for their red locks whilst showcasing the phenomenal opportunities which lie in STEM careers along the way. Exciting things to come!”
As she expressed, she didn’t run for the beauty queen title to just win. She wants to show the world women are more than just pretty faces, and she wants to show young redheads they can do anything. Gagen is proud of her red hair, but life as a young redhead wasn’t so easy. Gagen experienced a lot of teasing and severe and malicious bullying.
She has been very open about her struggles and hopes to empower kids who are facing the same things she did. Gagen said she was punched, spat at, and even burned because of her red hair. She had to endure torment from cruel classmates for years.
“I didn’t mention it much during last year’s competition as I’m a big believer in leaving negativity in the past, but with there never having been a red-haired Miss England I feel it’s important to educate people about what redheads face in school and empower kids who are facing the same things I did,” says Gagen. “I was name-called on the daily, and although I don’t think the kids were being malicious in doing so, there were definitely times they were. I was hit, spat at and had things thrown at my head quite a few times, but worst was when a girl burned me for having ginger hair.”
She even use to eat her lunch in the school toilets to avoid bullies. “I used to get really upset about it all, but I’m determined to show kids who are facing the same thing that it won’t happen forever,” says Gagen.
We wish the best for Jessica Gagen and are thrilled she won. If anyone deserves the title of Miss England 22/23, it is her. She will now compete in Miss World 2023 early next year. We can’t wait to watch her take the stage and make redheads everywhere proud!
Update: April 13, 2023
Adrienne + Stephanie, our co-founders at H2BAR, spoke one-on-one with Gagen for the premiere episode of Season 5 of the How to be a Redhead podcast:
Rock it like a Redhead!