LUCY Mecklenburgh shudders as she recalls the time she visited a cosmetic surgeon to see if he could give her greater definition in her cheekbones.
She was going through a low patch personally and thought the procedure would make her feel better.
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Although she was back up to a healthy size having become worryingly thin a couple of years previously, she longed for the more chiselled features the weight loss had given her. She went alone to the appointment and told no one where she was going.
“My face was fuller because I’d regained the weight and that’s how it’s supposed to look naturally, but I wanted it to look like it did before,” says Lucy. “I wanted to look like the girls I saw in magazines and on social media who had these amazing high cheekbones, so I went to Harley Street. Looking back, the fact I didn’t tell anyone is really scary. There was no
one to talk any sense into me.”
Luckily for Lucy, it was the consultant who did that.
“He was a really lovely guy, open and honest, and he told me straight: ‘I’m not going to do that for you. You’re going to look 10 years older.’
“And it wasn’t until about six months later that I suddenly thought: ‘What was I thinking?!’ Whether I would have actually gone through with it I don’t know, but I know I wasn’t myself. I wasn’t in a good mindset. So I got counselling, I got happier, and I’m so relieved I didn’t do anything permanent. I feel lucky that I obviously saw one of the good guys.”
Lucy’s experience has opened her eyes to the increasing pressure girls and women are under to change themselves in pursuit of so-called perfection. She has been outspoken about cosmetic surgery clinics and the responsibilities she thinks they often flout, and is calling for tighter regulations on the industry as a whole. And she says her recent powerful Instagram posts on the subject have resulted in 16 of her followers cancelling procedures they’d already booked.
“And some of them had paid deposits so that’s a big deal,” she says.
“I wrote about temporary insecurities not being cured by going under the knife and the importance of self-love and self-care, and they’ve said: ‘You’re completely right. I don’t actually need this done.’
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“I’ve got over a million people on Instagram that I can talk to, and hopefully I can try to make a difference and inspire however many of them to keep themselves natural, or even just to think twice.”
Despite having been tempted in the past, Lucy – who is CEO of her own online health and fitness platform Results With Lucy, which boasts 250,000 subscribers – hasn’t had anything done, although it’s become so normalised, she is hardly ever believed when she tells people this.
“Every time I do a Q&A [on social media] people ask: ‘Where do you get your lips done? Where do you get your Botox?’ Every time I say I’ve had nothing done and they don’t believe me!
“I feel I’m in the minority now. When I say I don’t have anything, people almost go: ‘Oh, what? How come?’
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“Is this what the world has become now? It’s so normalised – the lady who does your nails can now offer you Botox. How can that be right?
“When you used to feel a bit down about yourself or you were going through a break-up, your natural reaction was to get a blow-dry, have your nails done, buy a new dress and go on a night out with your friends. Now you go and get Botox and they suggest getting a few other things done while you’re there, and you come out with a 10-grand bill.”
She says that she’s already worried about raising children in a society where surgery is so commonplace.
“I want to have children one day and I don’t want them growing up in that world. There’s so much pressure on the younger generation. I’m so glad I wasn’t brought up in this era of Snapchat and Instagram. We just had Myspace with one tiny, fuzzy picture, or you chatted on Messenger, and it wasn’t about the way we looked – it was about genuine interaction rather than just everything on your phone and looking perfect and picturesque.”
Lucy, 27, would like to see compulsory mental health assessments before anyone undergoes any procedure. She also wants to put an end to clinics offering celebrities freebie surgery in return for publicity.
“From the age of 19 I’ve been offered free boob jobs, free Botox, free fillers on a weekly basis. They used to go through my agent but now it’s direct to my Twitter and Instagram: ‘Hi, Lucy, we’re happy to give you £10,000 of free surgery!’
“And sometimes when I’ve been feeling down I can understand why someone might sign up to that. Urgh! Go away. A mental health check would help make sure everything’s OK before people make such a drastic decision that may well change their appearance for life.
“I think it’s about stepping back and asking if a boob job is really going to make you happy. Is more Botox going make you happy? And I think the answer, ultimately, is always no, it’s not.”
She wants to be clear that she’s not necessarily anti-surgery. If someone has been counselled, done their research and truly considered the potential consequences then it should be their choice.
“But when you’ve got 18 and 19-year-old girls getting Botox, something has gone badly wrong. And then they look in the mirror and they go: ‘What next?’
“So yes, there’s a place for surgery when it’s being done for the right reasons, but there’s a way bigger picture than that and we have to first get to the root cause of why we think we need it.
“I also think people forget that if you go under the knife you’re not necessarily going to wake up. And is it really worth it?”
Lucy has stopped following certain social media accounts that she now recognises were having a negative impact on her self-esteem.
“I had a little detox because it wasn’t making me very happy. If you scroll down your Instagram and all you can see are size 4-6 models looking fantastic in every single picture, you do go a bit: ‘Oh god!’ I think it’s so nice to see a bit more normality.
“Now my Instagram is full of people I love. They’re not perfect but they’re normal girls talking about real things. Stacey Solomon and Chessie King are both great at it.”
Lucy is also getting on board with the Insta reality trend – last month she shared a picture of herself in a bikini showing off the daily bloating she suffers to her usually flat stomach.
“It doesn’t make me unfit or unhealthy, it makes me human!” she wrote.
She admits she’d previously been too “embarrassed” to post it.
“I looked at my Instagram and asked myself what I was actually achieving. I’ve got quite a lot of young girls following me, and while I’ve always promoted healthy eating and exercise, was I being 100% honest? I get this bloating every day but I never talk about it.
“So I posted about it and opened a can of worms. One girl DMed to say she’d been assisting a surgeon who would give anorexic girls liposuction. And this wasn’t a one-off story.”
Lucy says celebrities and influencers with large followings have a duty to post responsibly, especially when it comes to products they’re being paid to promote. She’s adamant that slimming pills, diet teas and the now-infamous weight-loss lollipops should be off the table.
“Oh, I could talk about this for years. You go on social media and not only are you seeing these beautiful, glamorous girls, but they’re holding these products and telling everyone this is what’s going to make you skinny.
“Everyone wants a quick fix, but these things are appetite suppressants and laxatives and it becomes a vicious circle of fad diets bringing you up, bringing you back down, and it’s just so bad for your physical and mental health.
“How are we letting these products go to market? Why are stores stocking them? Why isn’t the industry regulated? Why is it right to accept huge amounts of money to advertise them?”
These days, Lucy splits her time between Essex, where her business is based, and Cheshire, where her boyfriend of two years Ryan Thomas, 35, has a home. She says it’s an arrangement that works well for now.
“I know people are baffled by this but we live half in Cheshire and half in Essex and I love it. I absolutely love it. People ask when are we going to live in one or the other and I have no idea. I’m just going with it.
“I feel like we put so much pressure on when you’re going to have a baby, get married, buy a house… like everyone has to follow this timeline.
“I’m really content and I’m fine. It is the way it is and it works.”
There have been rumours of an engagement but Lucy claims there are no marriage plans just yet.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to get married one day, but my sister is getting married in Cape Town in November so it’s all about her right now. I’m not stealing her thunder, no way! It will happen one day, I hope, but I’m trying not to start a countdown that I want to do it by a certain age.”
Lucy and former Corrie star Ryan met while filming Celebrity Island With Bear Grylls, and what began as a close friendship developed into something more.
“It all started in extreme, weird circumstances, but what a nice story for the grandkids. We literally met on a deserted island! But it was a really nice, organic way to get to know someone, especially when you have no make-up and only one set of clothes for a month.
“We were a support system for each other because it’s very lonely otherwise, and straight away we got on really well. Friendship is a good way to start a relationship.”
Ryan’s appearance on Celebrity Big Brother last summer became the subject of controversy when fellow contestant Roxanne Pallett accused him of punching her. The cameras proved this hadn’t happened, and although Ryan eventually went on to win the show having garnered huge public support off the back of the incident, he was distraught by the accusation. It was difficult for Lucy to watch the drama play out on screen.
“At the time it was really hard to watch and I think anyone would say the same if it was their partner,” she says. “I feel like it went on a bit longer than it needed to but while I’m not necessarily sticking up for Big Brother, things do have to naturally unfold.
“She did what she did, but the massive thing for me was the way Ryan reacted. It killed me seeing him so upset, but he was so good about it and it made me love him even more because it was like: ‘Wow, he’s handled himself really well.’”
It’s true that Ryan’s magnanimity towards Roxanne both during the story and afterwards was impressive.
“I think when he came out he just wanted to move forward,” Lucy adds. “He didn’t want to point fingers at her. I’m sure her life hasn’t been that easy since she got out and Ryan didn’t want to be part of that.”
Back at work, Lucy is celebrating her new RWL app reaching No.9 in the health and fitness chart. It’s been six years since she quit TOWIE and she’s never once looked back – her business has gone from strength to strength ever since.
“It’s been a lot of pressure, though,” she says. “I’ve got a big team, but it’s my name and I think over six years I’ve learnt a lot of lessons. I have an amazing team of women who work for me. The business does better when I’m at my most passionate.”
That passion, she says, is all about inspiring women and girls to make informed choices and to improve their self-esteem and mental health through fitness and healthy eating. I love that I can help girls make lifestyle changes and learn how to cook simple easy quick, healthy recipes and do a bit of exercise here and there.
“And,” she adds, “if they choose that over laxative tea, I have done my job.
- Download the new Results With Lucy app and receive a free seven-day trial.
Book you read? Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I like sad books – I like a cry. I read it on a beach and I was bawling!
Movie you watched? A Star Is Born. It’s amazing.
Box set you watched? I’ve just finished You on Netflix. It’s about a stalker guy and it’s so ridiculous, but by episode three you’re like: “Oh my god!”
Time you lost your temper? My last period. I usually lose it when I’m hangry.
Time you cried? My app launch – happy tears as I was overwhelmed.
Time you were drunk? Ryan’s birthday. We went to an Italian called Gloria’s in Shoreditch.
Hair: Elvire Roux at Carol Hayes Management using Living Proof
Make-up: Aimee Adams using It Cosmetics
Styling: Nana Acheampong
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