Airbrushed stars owe it to tragic Nikki Grahame to get real

“HAS @clemmiemoodie swallowed a football?”, “I see @clemmiemoodie has been carbo-loading of late”, “Wow! They’ve got an Oompa Loompa on screen @clemmiemoodie”.

A few years ago, I’d regularly pop up on terrible TV shows, spouting various showbiz inanities for a couple of hundred quid and a few hours out of the office.

During one such appearance on a BBC3 show absolutely no one will remember — coming as it did after an especially jolly Christmas and 300 wheels of Stilton — I got so humiliatingly fat-shamed on Twitter that I vowed never to go on telly again. 

And I haven’t. For an industry that prides itself in being at the epicentre of the Brave New Woke World, showbiz is still terrified of just one thing — a normal-sized woman.

Take the tragic death of former Big Brother star Nikki Grahame from anorexia at the age of 38.

While it would be easy to blame TV bosses for letting such a clearly vulnerable girl on screen in the first place, in truth she’d been battling these demons since childhood.

But we need to ask ourselves why. 


In 2021, we are constantly reminded of the desire to be diverse. 

Quite rightly, it doesn’t matter if you are gay, black, Northern, trans, disabled, dyslexic, or all of the above. There’s even a female Dr Who!

Yet still it’s frowned upon for any woman above a size 12 to (apparently) waddle up the red carpet.

In the 1940s, Judy Garland was force fed barbiturates to stay slim.

A decade on, Joan Collins was prescribed slimming pills to shift the pounds. 

Seventy years later things aren’t any better — in fact, they’re worse.

Thanks to filters, airbrushing and photoshop, it’s now no longer the preserve of movie stars to look, well, like movie stars. Influencers, C-listers and global superstars are all at it. 

Increasingly, then, so are impressionable young teens. Of course, no one exemplifies the problem better than Khloe Kardashian.

The milkbottle-shaped billionaire sister of Kim recently instructed lawyers to remove an undoctored poolside bikini snap.

In it, she looked lovely. (Certainly, her 86-year-old grandma Mary Jo, who innocently posted it, thought so). 

But not as “lovely” — as defined by advertisers, sponsors, TV execs, clothing brands — as her sanctioned, highly air-brushed, social media accounts.

Stalin-led Russia was more chilled about its propaganda.

Teens, seeing the likes of Khloe and co with their trout pouts, unmoving foreheads and artfully groomed Groucho Marx eyebrows, grow up thinking this is the beauty norm. It’s not.

The Advertising Standards Authority announced this year that it was clamping down on influencers using filters to exaggerate the effects of the wares they were flog-ging.

And there are calls for celebs to be honest when posting touched-up pics.

Judging by Madonna’s latest selfies, they aren’t taking a blind bit of notice (which is what you’d need to be not to realise 62-year-old Madge doesn’t actually look 12 IRL). 

But back to poor Nikki. 

In her 2012 autobiography she opened up about her illness, revealing she had twice tried to kill herself. 

Tellingly, and prophetically, the tome was called “Fragile”.

Her stint on the cult Channel 4 show in 2006 clearly perpetuated these frailties. 

Never quite managing to break free from the shackles of her reality TV fame, subsequent appearances on Big Brother spin-offs, and a Channel 5 show entitled Celebrities In Therapy, certainly couldn’t have helped a woman with such a sadly warped sense of her own appearance. After all, TV famously adds 10lbs — and no one wants that.

Arguably, she shouldn’t have been allowed anywhere near a TV studio.

But she was, and when work dried up, and lockdown hit, it all proved too much.

As fun, sweet Nikki herself said in her last Instagram post, ahead of lockdown III: “Not this again . . . seriously can’t deal.”

A GoFundMe appeal was launched by her friends to help get her the expensive medical treatment she needed — but it was too little, too late.

In order to prevent more young girls needlessly dying, it’s time that advertisers stop paying their cash cows to hide behind these filters.

Jockey Rach clears the final hurdle for women in sport

BRILLIANT to see Rachael Blackmore triumph at Aintree on Saturday.

The first woman to win the Grand National, she celebrated with a stay in a Liverpool quarantine hotel before catching the ferry back to her home in Ireland on Sunday.

Bearing in mind the first female to enter the race – in 1977 – was flown first class to New York on Concorde as a treat, lockdown has a lot to answer for.

But according to reports, the 31-year-old is on course to join racing’s millionaire jet-set.

Tipped to earn as much as the sport’s prodigal son, Frankie Dettori, finally this is a sport where women can go head to head with men – and be paid accordingly.

For once, biology doesn’t hamper a woman. 

In fact our smaller, and presumably lighter, frames favour the fairer sex. 

With professional female footballers and rugby players paid a fraction of their male counterparts, it’s about time we created a sporting superstarlet.

Sophie out in front

THE Windsors have a new poster girl.

For the past couple of days, Sophie, Countess of Wessex – a woman usually so far down the royal pecking order few can actually remember her title – has come into her own.

Since marrying Prince Edward 22 years ago she’s largely remained a peripheral figure walking firmly in the shadow of Kate and Meghan, Fergie before them, and even the late Diana.

In February it emerged she had been quietly volunteering with St John Ambulance, helping with the jab rollout, and now it’s transpired she is one of the Queen’s four most trusted confidantes.

But it was her stoic, red-eyed tribute to Prince Philip – detailing his peaceful passing to TV cameras without sounding remotely inappropriate – that has cemented her standing as the gentle, resilient backbone of the monarchy.

Army is jab fab 

FROM today, those in their forties will be invited to get their Covid jabs.

And therein lies a new social minefield – asking someone if they’ve been vaccinated.

My poor mother is still seething after being asked if she’d had her injection. At the time they were rolling out jabs for the over-80s . . . and she’s a whipper–snapper of 68 (give or take two years).

Clinging on to my thirties as I am, I’ll be RAGING when I’m asked if I’ve been “done”. 

As it happens, I have, after volunteering for The Sun’s brilliant Jabs Army.

It is a humanity-affirming experience I would recommend to anyone. 

So VAR not so good

THE Premier League was once again mired in VAR controversy at the weekend – most notably during Spurs’ fairly pitiful showing against Man Utd.

Seeing Son Heung-min going down like he’d been tasered was embarrassing – and I’m a Tottenham fan.

But in so doing, the South Korean star successfully overturned an opposition goal.

And that’s the problem with VAR; players know that diving and cheating get results.

Because of this, we’re in danger of raising a generation of wimps – young boys and girls writhing around in pretend agony because they see their idols doing it to great effect.

Face is feral

YESTERDAY, excitedly arranging to meet my friend for lunch, I went to the extraordinary effort of wearing make-up and brushing my hair. 

Humiliatingly, my iPhone’s facial recognition software failed to realise who I was, hunting as it was for the feral beast who’d been staring vacantly down its lens for the past three months.

Back in business

I’M going to spare Mystic Meg a turn on her crystal ball . . . 

Today Boots will run out of paracetamol, A&E will be full and Deliveroo will have its busiest day in months.

Yep, snow, hail and winds couldn’t keep hardy Britons out of the pub and the resultant hangovers will keep pharmaceutical retail, hospitals and fast food companies firmly in business for a little while yet.

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