Karen Elson was bullied for wanting to be a model.

The 41-year-old model and singer was just 16 years old when she was signed to Boss Model Management but admitted that her early teenage years were an unhappy time as cruel peers laughed at her for her aspirations.

Speaking to Vogue.co.uk, Karen said: ''I was bullied a lot. Nobody expected anything of me. I'll never forget, they all laughed at me. Everybody [at school] coming up to me and saying: 'You're not fit to model socks.' But I wanted more.''

Karen cites her Vogue Italia cover in February 1997, on her 18th birthday, as her breakout moment.

She said: ''That was the shoot that essentially made my career.''

Karen - who now lives in Nashville - has returned to her hometown of Oldham, Manchester for a new Vogue documentary but admitted she was filled with ''panic'' at the idea of going back.

She explained: ''My first thought when Vogue asked me to return to Oldham was panic. Why do I not like going home? Whenever I come back here, I'm confronted with what I left, everything that I ran away from essentially... I'm bigger than this, I'm going to escape, I'm going to get out of here. That was the dream.''