With the dust settling after her experience on The Bachelor New Zealand, winner Fleur Verhoeven has taken a new step on her life journey, using the platform she gained on the TV show to encourage others to believe in themselves and feel confident in their own skin.
The 26-year-old visited Waipukurau School yesterday, at the invitation of the Family Works Social Workers in Schools (SWiS) programme, to talk to about 30 Year 8 girls from Waipukurau, Waipawa and Otane Schools about her experiences growing up with low self-esteem, and finding the tools to feel better about herself.
Her family now lives in Waipawa, having moved to New Zealand from Holland when Ms Verhoeven was 16-years-old.
Her high school years were lonely ones, she said.
"I would eat lunch in the toilet at school and I did not go out with friends, I wanted to be at home with my family.
"I was not confident and didn't feel that I fit in. I had lots of negative thoughts about myself, and the problem with that is you start to believe them."
What helped to overcome this was the realisation that although she felt like she was alone, in fact other people had the same experiences and feelings.
"Everyone has a story, we all have feelings and the words we use are very powerful - sometimes they can be uplifting, and other times it can be very hurtful."
She asked the girls to think carefully about how they spoke to, or about, other people, especially on social media where cyber-bullying is an increasing problem.
Dealing with online comments while she was on The Bachelor meant she knew first hand the impact of negative words.
"Before you write something, think about how it would make someone else feel - it's so easy to judge, but you have no right to.
"Instead of judging wouldn't it be amazing to accept each other for who we are?"
She advised anyone who was being bullied to talk to someone, despite how scary that may be.
Her words resonated with the students who also enjoyed the chance to ask her some questions about her time on the show.
She confirmed the other contestants were quite nice, "even Naz", and although she'd been holidaying with fellow bachelorette Shari Flavall, she hadn't caught up with the others so much as they mainly lived in Auckland.
The Waipukurau visit was her first foray into motivational speaking, and the next step will be to visit other schools in Hawke's Bay where the SWiS programme is operating.
For children at yesterday's talk, a follow-up with a social worker is planned in the next couple of weeks to go over any issues the discussions may have raised.
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