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‘I got tiny’, Charlie Brooks says losing 2st for 2005 keep-fit video had ‘a long-term negative impact’ on body image

MUCH of my life has been plagued by a lack of confidence.

I’ve always feared not being good enough, both professionally and personally – a feeling of not quite belonging has held me back and stopped me from reaching my potential. 

Actress Charlie Brooks says her life has been plagued by a lack of confidence
PA:Press Association
Charley said: ‘I’ve often questioned whether I truly deserved to be where I am’[/caption]

Winning the part of Janine Butcher in EastEnders in 1999, when I was 17, meant I didn’t go to drama school – and a lot of the insecurity I’ve felt throughout my career has stemmed from that.

I’ve often questioned whether I truly deserved to be where I am.

Away from work, I’ve doubted myself endlessly as a parent.

My daughter Kiki [with ex Tony Truman, 55] is 18 and about to embark on her own acting career, studying drama at New York University.

Our relationship through her teen years was turbulent and I felt I was failing as a mum.

I had this fantasy that after nurturing this baby, we’d do all these wonderful things together.

But what happened instead was this brutal rejection, where Kiki was screaming out for her own identity and I’d take everything personally and ask myself why my daughter didn’t love me!

I’ve also had a difficult relationship with my body, to the point where I couldn’t walk past a mirror without mentally beating myself up.

I’d call myself a “disgusting, fat bitch” and feel nothing but hatred.

Years ago, I released a keep-fit video and got really tiny – that had a long-term negative impact on my body image.

All these swirling factors created a perfect storm and as I approached 40, I found myself at breaking point – I needed something to change, but didn’t know how to do it.

Giving up alcohol in 2020 turned out to be a massive part of what has been a transformative few years.

I love to drink, I love partying, but I found myself choosing that over other things.

I’d call myself a ‘disgusting, fat bitch’ and feel nothing but hatred.

Charlie Brooks

Ditching the booze allowed me to figure out what was going on in my mind without any distractions.

Over the last three years, I’ve got to know, trust and even like myself – and that has given me the courage to step outside my comfort zone and try new adventures.

The first big move was launching online drama school Iampro with my brother Ben and sister-in-law Emma.

I’ve always been passionate about creating an alternative route for people trying to break into an elitist industry that’s crying out for raw talent.

As a mentor, I’ve had to overcome my squeamishness about doing things like Instagram videos, and I’ve learned to believe in myself – I do have experience to share that is valuable to people trying to get into acting.

I’d never run a business before, but the more I’ve shown up, the more confidence I’ve gained. 

I’ve learned to be kinder to myself, too.

My body isn’t perfect, but it’s birthed a baby and that’s a beautiful thing.

I’ve also found the confidence to venture into a completely new field – sexual wellness.

Since lockdown, I’ve been working on creating a female stimulation toy that is unique to the market, and being brave enough to go for it is paying off. 

Being cast in The National Theatre’s touring production of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean At The End Of The Lane has been another boost.

The role of Ursula came about just as I was preparing to leave EastEnders.

Ditching the booze allowed me to figure out what was going on in my mind without any distractions.

Charlie Brooks

I’m grateful to be working with such a brilliant team and after spending my whole career thinking I’d never be good enough to perform with The National, I now feel like I belong.

I don’t think I’ll ever eliminate self-doubt completely – nor would I want to, as it’s important to be vulnerable.

But though I have days when I wake up and think: “I can’t do this. I don’t want to put myself out there,” I have a toolbox of tricks to help me wade through those moments. I don’t allow them to get me stuck or limit me.

A few years ago I was dreading my 40s. I felt fearful and lost.

But now it’s like I’m having this amazing love affair with myself – and I think this decade is going to be my favourite yet. 

  • The U Self Love Stimulator is available at Ann Summers.
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