Helen: ‘I beat my diet obsession’
Tuesday 15 May 2012
Showing off her fantastic figure in a beautiful tailored dress, former Coronation Street star Helen Flanagan is in a defiant mood. The actress has had her fair share of criticism recently for her sexy, figure-hugging outfits and, when Closer catches up with her, she reveals she is proud of her body and is happy to experiment with her style in feminine outfits.
She says: “I think it’s nice to celebrate your body and what’s good about it. I really like my figure – curves are sexier than being stick-thin – and I don’t see why I shouldn’t wear clothes that show it off. I’m just a normal 21 year old and I wear stuff that 21 year olds wear. Sometimes it’s quite ‘out there,’ but I think it’s better to have a go, rather than be boring.
“So what if it’s not bang on trend? I used to worry if people criticised me, but now I think, ‘I’ll wear what makes me happy.’”
These days, Helen is a healthy size 8 and 8½st – perfect for her 5ft 3 height. She oozes body confidence but, as a teenager, she struggled with issues of self-esteem, which resulted in erratic eating habits.
The star recently spoke out about being diagnosed as “borderline anorexic” when she was 15, after she started to control her eating and her periods stopped, but now she has a much healthier approach to food.
“When I was younger I was completely obsessed with dieting – this diet, that diet – and now I look back and think I was really stupid,” she admits. “My mum, Julia, used to do WeightWatchers and I didn’t want to be left out, but then I lost far too much weight and got really obsessed with it. I’d also make up my own diets, which were pretty bad – I’d do stupid stuff like eat only salad for a day.
“If I could say one thing to my teenage self, it’d be: ‘You’ll be all right’ because, as you get older, you start to worry less about your body. But I think you go through that kind of thing when you’re younger.”
Helen’s attitude to eating changed when she read The No Diet Diet by Professor Ben Fletcher, which focuses on changing behaviour and breaking bad eating habits.
She says: “The book changed my attitude to diets and really helped me. I gave up dieting two years ago. It’s not that I don’t worry about my body sometimes, but now I realise there’s so much more to life than worrying about your weight.”
Since leaving Corrie in February after playing wild-child Rosie Webster for 12 years, Helen has concentrated on modelling and spending time relaxing at her new home in Swansea, Wales, with her Swansea City footballer boyfriend Scott Sinclair, 23, who she met two and a half years ago.
“He loves me for me, whatever I look like,” she says. “He’s happy as long as I am and he’s really supportive.”
Yet, despite having a fit boyfriend, Helen admits she doesn’t exercise regularly and puts her slender frame down to her active lifestyle.
She says: “I’m always racing around. I find it hard to chill out and I think that probably keeps me in shape – I’d feel guilty putting my feet up. I’m quite highly strung like that.”
But there is a positive side to her busy lifestyle. “Obviously, like most girls, I like to watch my weight but, because I burn it off, I don’t have to worry about what I eat,” she says. “This morning I had a roast chicken sandwich and a large Costa coffee frappe. I eat sweets every day too, the sugar keeps me going.
“Life is too short not to have fun and you shouldn’t deny yourself anything – as long as you have it in moderation. I really can’t think that every single night I can only eat fish, veg and potatoes. That would be boring.”
Helen also gives Closer her thoughts on the backlash she got after wearing a revealing Jean Paul Gaultier La Perla dress in February. She says: “Obviously my boobs do look quite big, but it was a bad picture – I wasn’t really spilling out of it – I do have taste!”
Helen, who has since donated the dress to Breast Cancer Care to be auctioned for charity, says she’s now found a happy medium with her style and still enjoys trying out new fashions, whether that be bodycon dresses or girlie numbers. She admits she initially covered up after being pictured in the Jean Paul dress, but then realised she didn’t want to compromise her dress sense. She says: “I didn’t feel like myself. I felt I was having to dress how someone else wanted me to dress and I don’t like that, so now I just wear what makes me happy.”
Helen says she will probably act again in the future and wouldn’t rule out a return to Corrie but, for now, is enjoying some time out with Scott.
“We’ve talked about the future and he’s definitely The One,” she smiles. “I had his name tattooed on my thigh six months after we got together and we’ll definitely get married one day. I absolutely love children, too – I’m quite maternal – and I’d like to start a family while I’m in my 20s but, at the moment, I just want me and Scott to enjoy our time together.”
By Sue Crawford