This has been such a week of contrast for me, I don’t think I’ve ever had so much food for thought in such a short space of time. It’s been seven years since I ended my page 3 modelling career when I became a mother, but this week I had a photoshoot in Oxford with a punk rock theme, lots of lace and leather and a Kawasaki Ninja motorbike to drape myself over. It feels like it’s been so long since I’ve been glammed up with false eyelashes, extensions, girly clothes and the glitz and sparkle for the camera and I loved every second of it. I can’t wait to see the pictures and share them with you all.
I am most definitely a casual jeans and t-shirt kind of girl since becoming a parent, and I take far less time and effort in my appearance now than I did as a model. It hardly takes me ten minutes in the morning to get dressed, made up and do my hair as I tend to the children and prepare the breakfasts and lunches for the school run, so this was a real treat for me to see if there was in fact life still left in this old dog. And I have to say I think I scrub up pretty well, not that I’d dream of walking down the street like this, but when I was asked to do an underwear and bikini shoot I’m glad that I decided to remain somewhat more covered and clothed.
I filmed for Lee Mack’s new show Duck Quacks Don’t Echo last summer and it aired this week on Sky 1. I took part in a science study on the effect of a woman’s menstrual cycle on her ability to multitask and had an hilarious afternoon at the television studio performing random tasks and answering questions on general knowledge whilst reciting times tables. It’s always strange seeing yourself on camera, let alone on TV, as you always look so different to how you think you sound and hold yourself. It was weird looking back at my short dark hair, knowing that I hadn’t yet been through the heartbreak of my breast surgery and losing my fiance, it was a time in my life where I was blissfully unaware of the tragedy about to happen. In a way I was happy to see myself from back then, because it was probably the last time that I was happy and carefree. From the blast from the past of a TV show airing and the glitz and sparkle of doing a glamour shoot after several years, I was then confronted with the challenge of posting a photo of myself first thing in the morning without makeup or a filter to help raise awareness for breast cancer care.
Whenever I’ve worked with charities I have always been told that raising awareness for the cause is just as important as the fundraising itself. I had absolutely no idea what the no-makeup-selfie was about until I woke up to a nomination on my phone to take a picture without makeup or a filter to share the message of breast cancer awareness. After doing this I helped to share information on how to check your breasts in the hope that women will take heed. From the point of the charity they are looking to save lives through encouraging people to notice change sooner rather than later, and hopefully avoid the condition getting any worse and the procedures becoming more intense. Treatment is very expensive and prevention therefore is key. If a girl sees a picture that reminds her to examine her breasts then I have no doubt that she is more likely to do so, just as if I received a note telling me to check the tyre pressure of my car then I would, otherwise it may never have crossed my mind. Charities use many different ways to cause a viral advertisement and involve the masses yet the majority of people moan about and refuse to share sickly pictures of ill people begging for help; so from an advertising point of view asking people to fancy dress, take off their makeup and post certain statuses and fun chain letters is key to ensuring the message is shared and received. The nomakeupselfie is in my eyes for the greater good, and what seems a very simple action has the ability to change millions of lives. You can make a donation to Cancer Research UK here.
After posting my nomakeupselfie across my social media I saw a mixtures of responses for my own, and others contributions, with some asking what good a girl taking a selfie could possibly do to help cancer, and suggesting it was more for the purpose of seeking attention and compliments on being pretty without makeup. I for one am glad to have taken part and didn’t do mine for attention as it’s hardly the best way for a spinster to find herself a potential husband! I did it because I care and have been through hell and back with my breasts myself. I can only speak from my own views and can’t justify some girls motives for doing the nomakeupselfie as I’m sure there are many reasons. For a girl to remove all of her makeup, it is quite a statement and a big ask. People can be scared of heights and do a bungee jump for charity, or be physically unfit and decide to run a marathon for a good cause; things that put them out of their comfort zone but they do it for the benefit of others. Girls are different to men in the way that they are expected to be pretty, to wear makeup and to look as attractive as possible in public, it’s sadly the way the world is. For the awareness of breast cancer, this is something that every woman can do to share the message, whether they are young or old, in good health or fighting cancer themselves. Have you noticed the TV adverts have changed from asking people to run and walk for life to hosting a night in at home instead and donating the money you would have spent on a night out to the charity, this is to involve everybody instead of just those who are physically capable. To ask a woman to remove her makeup and share the evidence with the world is something so exposing and takes great guts showing dedication to helping a cause. I wonder if men would agree to have an official body come to their home to measure their manhood and post the unaltered details to the world? It’s quite a far fetched example granted, but that’s what makes men men and women women, their manhood and our perceived beauty. Women are self conscious at the best of times so it takes a lot for us to come together and show the world what we look like with no makeup as some have never even show their own partners. Maybe it’s a female thing that isn’t emotionally obvious to men, and maybe some girls are doing it just for attention and a confidence boost. But for me it’s just as important as doing what I already do for all the causes I hold dear to my heart, raising awareness and saving lives. I have just had an horrendous battle with my PIP breast implants and was bullied throughout school for being ugly until I left as a teenager and became a model, so this was a big step for me to take but I did so to help share this precious message.
Social media is a powerful tool that should be used exactly for this purpose, to share good and help others. And for those who accuse the nomakeupselfie of being attention seeking, please put the shoe on the other foot for a second and think about how you would respond if a girl captioned her nomakeupselfie with something like “I’m so fit and sexy without my makeup, look how naturally pretty I am, I don’t even need it!” You might accuse her of being up her own arse, cock sure and attention seeking perhaps? For a girl to take off her makeup and think “Wow I’m sharing this with the world at my most vulnerable and least confident moment, sorry guys if I look less attractive, but I want to help share this message.” I think that is so humbling and humane I take my hat off to these girls. Nobody is perfect and nobody will ever be entirely happy with the way that they look, and I for one can vouch for that. But I know that I’d rather see girls celebrating one another for being human and honest for a good cause rather than bitching and backstabbing over lipgloss and heels.
Take A Break Magazine featured a story about my surgery battle this week, which was written at the end of last year following the end of my engagement and the separation of my family. Last summer I went through a very vulnerable and difficult time in silence because I didn’t want to concern or offend anybody close to me. People that I cared so incredibly for, and looked up to massively were going through a battle with their health and I feared that my own suffering might unnecessarily affect them, so I hid my pain and fears and put a smile on my face for my friends and family whilst being petrified inside and in agony. You can see the pictures of my chest above which shockingly showed multiple signs of breast cancer, and only during the surgery were my breast implants discovered to be made of illegal non-medical grade silicone that were actively leaking into my chest and affecting my circulation and breathing. My surgery was life saving. I was also told that my eyesight was of an illegal vision for driving and that I would either have to surrender my license or seek treatment for which I also underwent corrective lasering within the space of a few months. With my baby son not even a year old, having not slept nor rested properly since the start of my troublesome pregnancy, feeling constantly weak and sick from being poisoned by the leaking silicone in my chest, the potential threat of breast cancer at the age of twenty-five and the struggle to run a family and continue to do everything asked of me by others, I had the weight of the entire world on my shoulders and I struggled to keep my head above water.
Just as how a headache can grind your whole day to a halt, stopping you from thinking straight and draining away your enthusiasm or patience, everything that I was living through crippled me physically and emotionally and I’m amazed that I even made it out of bed each morning let alone carried on raising my family with a smile for as long as I did. Because I suffered in silence for so long, the opinions of others who didn’t understand and the resultant breakdown of my six year engagement finalised in the abandonment of half of what I considered to be my family, and it was certainly the most testing time of my life. I have always dealt with my own fears and pain without being a burden to others because I believe that in doing so I was sparing loved ones the worry and concern for my health. Afterall, having everybody stressing over the possibility of me having breast cancer wouldn’t stop it from happening to me would it? I’d still have to go into the darkness to come out the other side and be okay again, there was no way of avoiding my fate. I have always had the mindset of getting through a troubled time and weathering the storm alone whilst downplaying it to others until all is well again, so that no matter how bad it may have got you can at least turn around after and say “Hey, don’t worry, don’t you cry for me I’m fine, see it’s all okay now, it doesn’t matter anymore, I’m here.” I guess as a mother and a daughter myself I would never want my parents to lose sleep over me, and I would never want my children to fear their life without their Mummy being around. But in this instance, sadly it had the opposite effect and the resultant misinformation pulled my entire family and life apart. In trying to play down the severity of my health and protect others, people saw me as vain and self obsessed and accused me of being obsessed with surgery and having unnecessary procedures. If they’d have seen me broken down in tears and fearful for my life, in pain as I clung to my children fearful to be away from them for even just a second incase I wouldn’t survive this, then maybe I would have been treated differently. I cannot change what happened to me, I cannot turn back the clock and handle it any differently now, I can simply accept that what is done is done and now I must take each day that I have on this earth as a step forward and be incredibly grateful for the health and second chance of life that I now have. As bad as my past year has been, I am more than aware that it could have easily been a whole lot worse. And instead of me writing this blog in floods of tears right now, makeup down my face and piles of snotty tissues surrounding me, my children could have been in a churchyard laying flowers on their Mummy’s grave. I would die without my children. Losing my family, the plans, hopes and dreams of our future together along with my soulmate was the most painful experience of my life, and no amount of life-affirming surgery can ever come close to the agony of what my heart has been through. Having a new baby, emotions and hormones and being pushed to my limit of insomnia was a walk in the park in comparison to going through this alone. I am now thankfully a stronger and more independent woman because of it, but at the age of twenty-five I was just a child myself, raising children and needing love and support that I was denied. And here I stand at twenty-six, a year down the line and a million miles away from where I ever thought I would be in life, but this experience has taught me so much. I am stronger than I could ever have imagined I could be, I fought harder than I ever thought possible, and despite all odds I came out the other side, through the darkness and into the light whilst raising my children and rebuilding my life each tiny shattered piece at a time. I now know that there is nothing in this world that I cannot do, no mountain I cannot climb and no length that I will not go to to be the best mother that I can for my children. I stood on my own two feet when it was a struggle even to have crawled, and as long as there is breath in my body I will forever give my all to everything that I do. The past is the past and I have rebuilt my heart by carrying on with my life, taking each day as a blessing and helping others with my time. There are so many brave and heroic people who lose their lives everyday and so many families who would give anything to have just one more second with a loved one who is no longer here. Dwelling on negative thoughts and bad feelings will only cloud the blessings that you have in life, put behind you all that has hurt you and welcome the future with open arms because every day is a new opportunity.
I therefore urge you all to please see my journey as a warning and share your thoughts and concerns with others. Never bottle it up or hold it in, and never fear troubling people with your health because if they truly care and love you they will never want to see you suffer no matter what you’re going through. Life is extremely fragile and it can all be taken away in the blink of an eye, I have seen and been through so much that both warms and breaks my heart at the very same time, and I promise you a problem shared is a problem halved. There are so many people in your life who love and respect you and want you to live as long and healthily as possible, so please take their help. And if you feel that you have nobody to turn to with your fears then please turn to me because I will always be here for you, no matter what, I answer every email that I receive and I will do all that I can for you. And if people turn you away, then do you know what, they never deserved you in the first place. You only have one life, so please do not let it slip through your fingers. In support of todays post I would like you all to please examine your body, from top to toe for every change that may have possibly happened, skin, eyes, hair, gentiles, the whole caboodle, and if you notice anything out of the ordinary, young or old, male or female, then please consult your GP. There is nothing more important than preserving life.