Jan 9, 2011

Fabulous Magazine interviewed Cheryl Cole. She talked about her past, her body image etc.

Chezza Was Bullied

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She’s regularly voted one of the most beautiful women in the world. Naturally gorgeous,
with flawless skin and the kind of figure that would make Simon Cowell’s high-waisted
 trousers look haute couture.

So, if there’s one girl you’d think would be oozing confidence about her looks, it’s 
Cheryl Cole. But nothing, it seems, could be further from the truth.

In an exclusive interview with Fabulous, the singer admits she battles body issues just like
the rest of us, and is tormented with self-doubt on a daily basis.

“Do you ever reach the point when you’re happy with your body?” she 
asks.  “I don’t think you do. I can look in the mirror in the morning and feel 
rubbish,” she says.

Cheryl’s words seem utterly bonkers when she’s stood before you – 5ft 3in of what is
probably as close to perfection as you’re ever likely to get.

She’s been named FHM’s Sexiest Woman In The World for the last two years running,
was voted most photogenic woman in history, beating style icon Audrey Hepburn to the
top spot. Even super-sizzling Rihanna described Cheryl, 27, as the most beautiful woman
she’d ever seen.  But we’re meeting Cheryl Cole after the year she described as 11 out of
10 in terms of awfulness. A year so bad it could make a girl with four L’Oréal Paris
campaigns under her glossy barnet start to question the “Because you’re worth it” slogan.

This goes a long way to explaining why, despite looking incredibly beautiful, 
she also looks pale, tired and fragile today. As a glimmer of hope for the rest of
us, she’s wearing a lot of make-up. Smoky, night-out eyes, dyed red hair (shade 550
from L’Oréal Paris’ new Casting Crème Gloss, FYI) and glossy magenta lips that reveal
a white-as-Simon-Cowell’s smile. And, of course, there are her legendary dimples.
She seems so vulnerable, we just want to give Cheryl a good hug and tell her everything
will be all right.

“I’ve been working so much, I’m just so tired,” she admits, confessing to “feeling 
a bit dirty” having fallen asleep with her make-up on once this week already.
Heaven forbid!  We’re in London. Somewhere. We would tell you where if we knew. But
after the year she’s had, Cheryl’s keeping things close to her chest – including the location
of our meeting.  “How will we know where to go?” we ask her people before leaving
Fabulous HQ.

“The driver will know,” they respond, referring to the swanky blacked-out Merc that
comes to collect us.  “Call us when the car stops.”  Us women give ourselves such a
hard time  After embarking on a James Bond-style mission, speeding through the capital’s
back alleys and sneaky short cuts (partly cab-driver cunning, partly, we suspect, to throw
us off the scent of the eventual destination), we arrive at a smart townhouse.  Before we
even see her, we’re given a stern reminder of the rules – no X Factor questions, no
personal questions, no Girls Aloud questions. Hmmm.

Then the door to an upstairs lounge opens to reveal the nation’s best-known Geordie
sitting perched on the edge of a sofa, her teeny, doll-like frame almost swamped by
the size of it. Is she very, very skinny? Well, no, actually. Slim, yes, but a 
healthy slim. There are no bony bits, no jutting collarbones, no signs that 
a matter of months ago she was given 24 hours to live. What’s most striking 
is just how tiny she is. From the back, she almost looks like a child.

However, make no mistake. Cheryl may appear delicate, she may have been through
 one of the most hellish years of her life, but she’s tougher than she looks.   She’s had to
be.  Cheryl Tweedy grew up one of five siblings on a council estate in Heaton, a tough
area of Newcastle blighted by drugs and crime. A teenage friend, John Courtney, 21, 
died of a heroin overdose in 2006. An ex boyfriend was a drug user. Her older 
brother Andrew Tweedy, 30, sniffs glue, is an alcoholic and has appeared in court 
more than 50 times for mugging, theft and vandalism, despite Cheryl’s attempts 
to help him.

Her sister, Gillian Tweedy, 31, has been cautioned for brawling. Cheryl herself showed
signs of early rebellion. She was suspended from school for two weeks after swearing
on a bus, and eventually left with few qualifications.  But performing was her salvation.
Her mum Joan (one of the few people she trusts) encouraged her to dance, scrimping
and saving to pay for costumes and enter her in talent shows.

Cheryl says some of her self-esteem issues stem from her childhood. “I was teased 
when I was young. A lot,” she says.   She doesn’t elaborate, but has previously 
said she was bullied at school.   “Kids mocked me for having dark skin and 
other little things like that. It just shouldn’t happen, full stop.”  In her teens, 
Cheryl was also involved in an emotionally abusive relationship.

Has there ever been one moment when she looked at her reflection in the mirror 
and thought: “You know what, I look good today”? She pauses. A long, brain-
racking pause.  “Erm, God, wow. I actually don’t think it’s ever happened to me. If
I’m completely honest, I don’t. Us women give ourselves such a hard time. I think women
are sexiest when they’re happy with what’s going on inside. When we’re confident
and comfortable in ourselves.”

And is that how she feels now?  She half smiles, but says nothing. Headstrong Cheryl
won’t answer any question she’s not comfortable with.  We try again. Are there any
judgements people have made about her that have stuck in her mind?

“No. People used to say bad things to me all the time. There are a lot of negative things I’ve
read about myself. But there’s nothing I’ve held on to. If I let them stick, if I let negativity
and badness get in, then I couldn’t…” she trails off.

Following Cheryl’s Piers Morgan interview last October, she has vowed never to discuss
her private life again.  “I’m just a heartbroken girl,” she told him when he quizzed her on
ex-husband Ashley Cole’s betrayal.  “Part of me will always love him. We had a great marriage,
the most fantastic wedding, but I just don’t know where it went wrong. Once we get through
all the obstacles I hope we can be friends.”

We ask if anyone’s ever suggested she have surgery. After all, she’s the only person on the
UK X Factor panel who hasn’t admitted to dabbling. Along with Dannii Minogue and
Louis Walsh, she received £3,000 worth of Botox vouchers as a Christmas present from
Simon Cowell.

Never change your look for a man  “Oh my god, no. No! I’m 27,” she says, shocked.
When asked if it’s something she’d ever consider, we suddenly find ourselves on 
the receiving end of Cheryl’s famous don’t-mess-with-me spirit.  “Why are you so 
obsessed with surgery?” she snaps. “We have a responsibility to feed women 
a positive body image. And judging people on their decisions – be it body weight 
or the surgery they’ve had – is a bad message.”  This girl is all about the sisterhood.
She admits, excitedly, that if she had to do a Katy Perry and kiss a girl she’d go for 
actress Megan Fox, 24 (”You just look at her and go ‘wow!’”), and orders us to: 
“Never change your look for a man. Never.”

Our audience with Cheryl drawing to a close, there’s just enough time to ask her about
her resolutions for 2011. Her response: “More sleep”, typically gives nothing away.  But
if she proves as popular in America as she is here, then Cheryl-mania is about to reach
fever pitch. And we don’t count on her being able to keep her resolution…

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