Ugly kid? grows into men?s mag favourite

By JANE GARDNER

jgardner@northernstar.com.au

THE stern fatherly remark, 'You can't go out dressed like that', wasn't often heard in the Gilbert household.

In fact, 24-year-old Miss Bikini World semi-finalist and Ralph magazine competition winner Melinda Gilbert couldn't have a more supportive family.

"I'm just so proud of her," father Bob said yesterday.

"She has so much confidence in herself and has always loved being on parade."

And dad isn't the only one this former Lismore girl has impressed.

"My workmates want me to put a skimpy photo of her up on the noticeboard, but I don't think that will happen."

Last June, Melinda was named winner of the Central Coast Ralph magazine lingerie-modelling competition and took home second in the bestdressed in black category.

Tonight she will don her finest bikini to compete in the semi-finals of the Miss Bikini World Australia contest.

If she wins, she will enter the finals on the Central Coast in two weeks and, if the judges like what they see then, she'll go overseas to represent Australia in 2006.

Melinda said she didn't find it odd that her father was one of her greatest fans.

"He comes along to some of the competitions and keeps the boys who yell at me in line," she said.

"I was an ugly kid with freckles, crooked teeth and red hair, so I don't mind being a show pony."

After she left Lismore to live with her two older sisters and mother in Killarney Vale, Melinda began a beauty salon where she uses the tricks of the trade to keep herself looking stunning.

"There's absolutely nothing wrong with a bit of fake tan, waxing and manicuring, she said."

So is there something about the Northern Rivers air that produces stunning women, or is it purely in the genes?

"Well, it's certainly not from me," laughed Bob.

"You can thank her mother for that."



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