Alex Koszeghy, better known as Glitter Girl, takes a selfie with North Carolina football head coach Larry Fedora. Photo courtesy of Alexa Blaze.
She was cheering in Kenan Stadium that day. On that day, it was just paint. But if anyone gave her an eyebrow raise or a scoff for her outfit, she didn’t care.
“I liked being different,” she said.
Koszeghy had no intent of going to college. Her life in Tampa, Fla., was defined by dancing.
When she was 12, she switched to homeschooling. Her parents, John and Kelly, taught their only child in the house so she had more time to do what she loved. She danced for seven hours a day, six days a week.
The training turned more serious as she got older, and she took private ballet lessons in Tampa for a year and a half after graduating. But the years dance in tight shoes caught up to her in the form of osteophytes, often known as bone spurs.
The name of the injury itself is cringe-worthy. And with those bone spurs also came chronic pain and infections.
“I was like, ‘Well, what now?” Koszeghy said.
The answer was Tampa’s Hillsborough Community College. Dancing was still a part of her life, but it was no longer her sole focus.
She found a summer job teaching dance in North Carolina. The state enthralled her — a change in scenery with a similar climate to Florida The applications began.
“It was totally random,” she said. “I didn’t know a single thing about UNC.”
N.C. State denied Koszeghy, but UNC accepted her. Using her community college credit hours, she enrolled as a sophomore in 2014. She’d never seen the campus. Koszeghy’s first steps on UNC tripping-hazard bricks were on her first day of summer class.
Back then, she was the girl that people know of now — bubbly and goofy, with a say-hello-to-a-stranger-and-start-a-conversation vibe.
“A very genuine person,” sophomore Payton Walker said. She’s one of Koszeghy’s closest friends. “Just happy and excited to live.”
But in this period of her life, something stood in her way.
“I really struggled with a lot of insecurities and self-esteem problems,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “These, along with my desire to be liked an accepted by others, led to me developing anorexia as a teenager.”
It was a struggle that lasted for years. When Koszeghy left Florida for North Carolina, it followed her. Then, she broke through.
“My story is about how strong and incredible He is,” she wrote in another post. “So please don’t look at my story and see my strength, but see my Savior’s strength.”
Today, Glitter Girl is a platform, exuding self-confidence and individuality.
“I was intrigued,” said Haley Hubeli, a first-year who stumbled upon Koszeghy’s Instagram account. “She stands for something bigger than herself.”
Getting the glitter off takes a long time — long enough that Koszeghy brings her phone into the shower to watch Netflix while she washes away her masterpiece.
Conditioner and a skin scrubber get the job done on the body paint. Hair is a different story.
“My hair gets rock-solid,” she said. “I start with a layer of conditioner, let that sit ... Scrub that off, another layer of conditioner. Shampoo, conditioner, shampoo, conditioner, six or seven times.”
It’s a sacrifice worth making. She was in the front row risers for UNC men’s basketball’s home win over Duke this year. She didn’t travel to Glendale, Ariz., for the Final Four. Instead, she watched her team win the national championship on Franklin Street.
The next steps in Alex’s life will take her to Charlottesville, Va. At the University of Virginia’s grad school, she’ll work toward a masters in school counseling.
“The spirit of Glitter Girl will for sure be at UVA, but I’ve also thought of maybe coming up with a new tradition,” Koszeghy said. “Time will tell.”
No matter her choice, she will leave a legacy of strength and inspiration behind in Chapel Hill.
And maybe a trail of glitter, too.
The Daily Tar Heel welcomes thoughtful discussion on all of our stories, but please keep comments civil and on-topic.