The City & the Northern Girl #12

That’s what makes you beautiful

I am a huge fan of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here. And this year was no different as I eagerly awaited three full weeks of guaranteed TV watching and the return of my favourite Geordie presenters. I expected Z-listers. After twelve series, surely the pick of willing celebrities was limited? But ITV didn’t disappoint with the usual American star (enter Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star Alfonso Ribeiro), a tanned, big-breasted model (hello GB’s Miss Universe Amy Willerton) and a piece of boy-band eye candy for the girls (nice to see you Westlife’s Kian Egan).

Then there was Rebecca Adlington: the 24 year old Olympic, double-gold medal winning, world record-breaking swimming legend. I quickly fell in love with her girl next door exterior and no nonsense attitude. It was all going swimmingly (pardon the pun) until last week when viewers saw Rebecca reduced to a tearful, insecure wreck in the Bush Telegraph [Take a look for yourselves here:] after a heated beauty debate down in camp whilst comparing herself with her fellow campmate, and 21-year-old beauty queen, Amy Willerton.

“We’re made to feel like a size 12-14, like I am, isn’t attractive, that you have to have big hair, big boobs and all this and it just makes you feel so crap about yourself.”

As these words of vulnerability spilled out of the athlete’s mouth, I wanted to scream at the TV. “Ignore them girl,” you want to shout. Indeed, I do shout, and rant to anyone who will listen. It’s what we’ve all been shouting to our TV screens in frustration for the past 18 days. I wanted to jump on the next flight to Australia and walk into that camp just to give her a huge hug and say yes, me
too. And approximately 95% of the female population, sweetheart. You’re not alone.

It was that night that the female half of the 13 million viewers watching identified with her insecurity and realised that, shock horror, she isn’t superhuman, she’s simply one of us. Because let’s be honest, every single one of us has been there.

“Where’s the sisterhood at?” I tweeted angrily. Women should be supporting one other, not comparing and judging – which is exactly what soap-stars and fellow campmates Laila and Lucy did: “You’ve got a gold medal; no one else has… that’s what should be celebrated in life, achievements”. Well girls, couldn’t have said it better myself.

For me I was an athlete, I wasn’t trying to be a model yet pretty much every single week on Twitter, I get somebody commenting on the way I look.”

More vulnerable words. This is a young woman who has set a world record, won two gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and two bronze medals in last year’s London Olympics. Yet in the world of celebrity, that she has been forced to dive head first into on the back of her success, it seems the importance of beauty still triumphs.

Rebecca Adlington is a swimmer. No one enters swimming to be famous – I sincerely doubt when your Mum dragged you to swimming lessons every Friday at the age of 6 that your goal was to be an Olympic champion. So what the hell gives the hundreds of Twitter trolls that tweet Rebecca Adlington each week, the right to judge her looks?! And with tweets such as “Oh God you look like a dolphin”, or “I didn’t realise they let whales into the Olympics but at least you should be able to swim faster with a nose like that” being thrown at her timeline daily, it’s no wonder the poor girl’s so sensitive when it comes to her appearance. Hilarious, right? Wrong. One tweet was from someone saying that she was a “Jewish c**t because of her nose and should die like the rest of her lot in a concentration camp”. Not so hilarious anymore is it?

Rebecca’s right- the media do brainwash us into thinking that anything over a size 12 isn’t attractive, despite the fact that the UK’s average woman is a curvy size 16. Reality check here please: not every girl looks like the cover model of Nuts magazine. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes – cellulite and all.

Personally, I want my kids to grow up idealising a size 12-14, four-time Olympic medallist and world record-breaker with ambitions and goals, rather than near-anorexic glamour models, who rely on push up bras, a team of stylists and their looks for their career.

‘She’s just jealous’ is what you’re probably thinking. But, no actually I’m not. Amy Willerton is undoubtedly stunning but if there’s one thing Rebecca Adlington has taught me by watching her in the jungle is that everyone is beautiful. And one needs to be beautiful on the inside to be truly beautiful on the outside.

Rebecca? Head up high girl, you were the true role model on that show, and that body you’re so insecure about? It’s won you two gold medals and made you one of Britain’s finest sporting stars; be proud of it.


Rebecca Adlington and Amy Willerton [image courtesy of ITV]
Rebecca Adlington and Amy Willerton [image courtesy of ITV]

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