With her no nonsense attitude, super-bubbly character and brutal honesty, Gemma Collins has been taking The Only Way is Essex by storm since making her debut on the hit show.
Although it’s only been a year since Gemma quit her job as a car saleswoman to become Essex’s No1 star, her confidence is overwhelming as she bursts into Closer’s naked photo shoot.
“Check this out, everyone!” screeches Gemma, as she strips off to just a black thong within minutes of arriving and walks over to the kitchen to make a cup of tea.
She adds: “I’ve got a size 18 figure to die for! I’ve got the best body on TOWIE and it’s 100 per cent natural. I’m a normal girl and I’m not ashamed of my body because no one is perfect. I love walking around the house naked, with everything dangling out.
“I like all of my body – though I’d love to tone up my stomach. But, otherwise, I love my big boobs and bum.”
Gemma admits she was inspired to bare all after seeing size 16 Steps singer Claire Richards, 34, pose naked for Closer last year. And then she decided to go one step further and go without make-up, too!
'I've got a size 18 figure to die for... I love my big boobs and bum'
Gemma – who proves she’s not turned too diva on us when she grabs the hair straighteners from the hair stylist, saying: “You have a break, love, I’ll deal with this crazy barnet” – adds: “I’d much rather show off my curves like beautiful Claire than look like a size zero beanpole. Celebs like Alexa Chung and Demi Moore have lost their looks because they’re too thin. Men like a bit of meat to hold on to. I wouldn’t be surprised if Playboy wanted me to be their next centrefold!
“I don’t feel pressurised to lose weight like the other TOWIE girls. Everyone’s always banging on about Lauren Goodger’s weight, even though she’s tiny in real life. But she’s uncomfortable in her skin and that shows.”
Although 5ft 9 Gemma has clearly embraced her size 18 curves, she admits that, in her heart of hearts, she’d like to be slimmer for her health. Gemma admits: “I’m not unhappy with my body, it’s just that a 14 is the perfect size for my frame. When I’m that size, I’ve got more energy and exercising is easier. But I’m a real woman and I love my curves.”
And to prove it, Gemma is on the verge of launching a brand new plus size clothing range, which she has designed herself. Last summer, the 31 year old shed a staggering 4st, going from a size 20 to a trim 14, thanks to a calorie-controlled diet and strict exercise regime, which saw her sweat it out at boot camp. But she piled on the weight over Christmas, confessing she “couldn’t stop eating,” and went back to a size 18. She then dropped a dress size in March, thanks to another boot camp stint in Spain with her close TOWIE pal, James “Arg” Argent but, since then, the pounds have slowly crept back.
Now Gemma says she’s made it her quest to be a size 14 by the summer. And despite being a self-confessed foodie, she clearly hasn’t ditched the faddy diets for good. She says: “I’m going to try a milkshake diet to get back into shape for the summer – you stick to liquids for breakfast and lunch, then have a proper balanced meal for dinner.
'I don't believe in plastic surgery because its bad for your body and liposuction is just the easy way out'
“Once I’ve got down to my ideal weight, which is 13st 5lbs, I’ll go back to eating sensibly to maintain my new figure. I also plan to work out three times a week, but nothing too extreme. It will be a combination of running, aerobics and swimming. I don’t want to be skinny – I am plus size and I want real women to relate to me.”
And Gemma says she won’t be having any cosmetic surgery to enhance her naturally good looks – unlike her TOWIE co-star Chloe Sims, 30, who recently had a bum lift. She says: “Chloe obviously has issues about her looks, which is really sad because she’s a beautiful girl. I don’t believe in cosmetic surgery because it’s bad for your body and liposuction is just the easy way out. Alicia Douvall and Janice Dickinson were stunning before they went under the knife. They’re warnings to us all.”
Last week, former TOWIE heartthrob Mark Wright was snapped leaving The British Soap Awards with Coronation Street’s Sacha Parkinson – and Gemma says his ex-fiancée, Lauren Goodger, won’t be happy with the pictures.
Lauren split with Lothario Mark last August after a decade-long on/off romance. Gemma says: “I wouldn’t be surprised if something romantic was going on between Mark and Sacha. But whoever falls in love with Mark has to be 10 steps ahead of him. He’s a very good-looking guy and it’s impossible not to go all giddy over that cheeky smile.
It’s hard for Lauren to get over Mark because he’s one hell of a specimen. She can’t move on until she 100 per cent lets go and I don’t think she’s been able to do that yet.
“I’d like to whisk Lauren away for some spiritual healing in Thailand. I want her to find herself all over again like Julia Roberts in the film Eat, Pray, Love. She needs to get away from Essex because all she sees are constant reminders of Mark.”
'I want someone genuine who loves me for being me'
Gemma – who’s admitted that she hasn’t had sex for a year and has only slept with three men in her life – was dumped by ex-boyfriend and TOWIE co-star Charlie King in front of the cameras last month. She says:
“Now I want someone genuine who loves me for being me. I’ve got a huge crush on the French actor Olivier Martinez, or maybe I’ll go for an Arab prince who can buy me lots of diamonds.
“At 31, I only want to have sex when I meet the right person. The idea of one-night stands make me feel sick. No one wants a yucky STI!”
After spending an increasing amount of time together, rumours have surfaced that Gemma’s friendship with Arg, 23 – who called his ex Lydia Bright a “slag” after finding out she’d slept with someone since their break-up – is turning romantic. Gemma says: “Arg is my perfect man and my soulmate, but he’s too young for me. He still needs to sow his wild oats. I’ll be his big fairy godmother when he gets back with Lydia in the future.”
Gemma says her heart was broken five years ago when her boyfriend of five years dumped her out of the blue over the phone.
She says: “We were living together and just about to jet off to Barbados. But, just a few days before we were due to leave, after he told me how much he loved me, he bizarrely phoned me from work just hours later saying it was over.
I broke down completely and was inconsolable for three years. Now I feel I’m ready for a proper relationship again and I’ve got a psychic vibe that I will get engaged this year. The next man I sleep with will be my husband! I want twins straight away, but I can’t decide if they should be called Peaches and Cream or Summer and Angel.”
But although Gemma is a regular cover girl who’s rubbed shoulders with Kate Moss and launched a plus-size fashion label, she insists she hasn’t changed. She laughs: “I still pop to Romford Market for pie and mash and see all my friends from the car dealership where I worked. You can’t get caught up in the celeb bubble because, when it bursts, you’ll want to kill yourself! I’m keeping it real.”
By Katie Banks