Model Lara Bingle may have been through one of the most turbulent years of her young life, but she is determined to treat it as an opportunity to grow.

“It has been an amazing learning year for me,” she says. “I feel independent and more self-aware than I was in the beginning. I believe it has helped me grow as a person and that is the most important thing in my eyes.”

The 23-year-old endured a flurry of tabloid headlines in March, after the unauthorised publication of a nude photograph, followed by intense media scrutiny during the subsequent collapse of her relationship with former fiancé, Australian Test cricket vice-captain Michael Clarke.

“The headlines are what they are,” says Lara. “Although many have been inaccurate, I just take them in my stride and try to have a sense of humour about it all.

“People perceive me in the way the media chooses to paint me. I am just doing what I love and I feel blessed to be able to do that and be given extraordinary opportunities along the way.”

And she’s looking forward to a family Christmas. “I love giving presents,” says Lara, “especially to my family and friends. I am very particular about the wrapping. There’s nothing better than receiving a well-wrapped present.

“In a perfect world, I would love to have a white Christmas this year. I’d love to go away overseas with my mum and brother.”

Read more of this story in the December issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly.

Source: The Australian Womens Weekly