'I shed 13 stone after weight taunts on night out' - Rose of Tralee contestant Jane
A Rose of Tralee hopeful has said being taunted about her weight prompted her to get a gastric band when she was 21 - and led to her shedding an amazing 13 stone.
Wicklow Rose Jane Harrison (26) has opened up about her journey after slimming down from 23 stone to just 10 stone.
She had struggled for years with self-esteem issues due to her weight.
"When I was 21, I just hit an all-time low and I wanted to get weight-loss surgery," Jane said.
"It was no way of life. It was just surviving more than living. I put off living for so long.
"I had to change my ways. Over-eating was my escape mechanism.
"I remember going out with my friends to a night-club and the taunting was really bad that night. It was like 'Oh God, the size of her'.
"Of course I was sweating because I was carrying so much weight. I remember going home and crying my eyes out to my mum as she cooked me carbonara."
"Through my teens she was helping me with different fad diets.
"I definitely wouldn't be here without her because either my mental state would've gotten so bad or physically it would've affected me by now."
Having spent the past four years steadily dropping the pounds, she has new-found confidence in herself.
Jane works in sales and marketing for radio station 4fm and said she can't believe how far she has come.
"I never thought I'd be doing something like this.
"I would have been sitting before on the couch with a Chinese and a chipper watching it on TV. Never in a million years did I think I'd be in it," she said.
Jane was one of 65 Roses unveiled at a sun-filled photocall in RTE's Montrose yesterday.
This year sees the format of the competition changed slightly, with number of Roses culled to 32 at an event in the Dome in Tralee on Sunday.
There will also be a preview TV show fronted by Sinead Kennedy.
Presenting the two-part show for the seventh year running on Monday and Tuesday, Daithi O Se said he never lets the criticism of the event bother him.
"Some people think the Rose of Tralee is old-fashioned. For me, I can't change anyone's opinion - nor do I want to," he said.
"People who don't like something, they shouldn't watch it. I can just give my opinion, which is the Rose of Tralee is a celebration of women.
"We welcome criticism, anyone who talks about the Rose of Tralee is good for us," he added.