OK! Melanie C Article - 5/12/00

Black Text = Jim Maloney (OK! Magazine)
Blue Text = Melanie C

MEL C: Spice Girl Hits Back At Recent Press Criticism

Mel C unveiled a stunning new look while in Stockholm, casting off her tomboy image of kung-fu kicks and tattoos for an ultra-feminine new image and a softer hairstyle.

Her neat golden-blonde bob, professionally applied make-up and pink lipstick enhanced her naturally pretty features. Mel smiled broadly as she chatted to fans and signed autographs, clearly happy with her makeover.

The 25-year-old was visiting an amusement park called Grona Lund, where she performed a concert which went out live on Swedish radio.

Only days earlier, she had been the target of a lot of criticism after less-than-flattering pictures were published of her on holiday in Barbados with her friend and personal assistant, Chai Ying Yau. Mel hit back at critics who accused her of putting on weight, saying that it gave out the wrong message to young people.

"There are a lot of young kids out there with weight problems and I think it is irresponsible to focus on these issues," she said. "A lot of young people are screwed up about their weight and wonder whether they are too fat or too thin when they really don't need to. This sort of thing can have a lasting effect on people, especially at such an impressionable age."

While in Florida, prior to travelling to Barbados, superfit Mel had shown no let-up in her exercise regime. Taking some time out from recording the Spice Girls' new album, she did some strenuous kick-boxing with a sparring parter on the balcony of her Miam hotel room. However, it wasn't all grunt and groan. Laughs heard throughout the workout suggested that Mel was enjoying herself immensely.

Sport and exercise have always been a pleasure rather than a chore for the singer. Her "Sporty Spice" nickname is appropriate because she has always had a passion for sport. "I absolutely loved athletics at school. My main events were the 200 metres, 100 metres, hurdles and the high jump," she recalls.

"I won numerous races and I even broke the school high jump record and beat all the boys. They were jealous, especially wehn I was picked for the Cheshire county trials."

One woman who knows first-hand about her commitment to exercise is trainer Niki Waterman, who put all the Spice Girls through their paces a few years ago. "Mel could run a marathon and scarcely get out of breath. She works out every day," says Niki.

Mel has also become fascinated by body art and now has seven tattoos. Chai Ying Yau has given her an appreciation for oriental art and her tattoos include "Girl Power" inscribed on her arm and a lotus flower at the base of her spine.

But her fresh-faced, Goldilocks appearance in Stockholm was a totally new image and a big hit with fans. "I thought she looked beautiful. She was smiling a lot and looked really happy." said one admirer.

The remark is an echo of one made by J of boy band Five, with whom she has been romantically linked. Shortly after meeting her at the Brits in March, J said of Mel, "She is a beautiful-looking woman. When you meet her in the flesh you realise just how beautiful she is. She is 100 per cent woman."

Mel blames her hectic lifestyle for her general lack of romance. "Men are not easy to find when you are as busy as I am. I'm never in one place for any length of time. I also find it hard to relax as I am a complete workaholic," she says.

Career-wise, though, the hard work has paid off. Earlier this month her latest single, "Never Be The Same Again", topped the charts and her solo album Northern Star, has also been a success.

As the finishing touches are put to the Spice Girls' new album, the four band members are also exploring their own paths. "There is a very different atmosphere in teh group now," says Mel. "Things have changed, with Mel B and Victoria having babies. We're still as close as we were, but there's a more mature atmosphere. Because of the babies, we will have to do any future world tours in stages, not all at once."

Mel says she envies Victoria Beckham's relationship and family life with husband David. "I'd like to have kids of my own, but when the time is right. At the moment, I am too selfish and independent," she admits.

"It is wonderful seeing Victoria and David together They are so much in love. They get a lot of criticism but that just makes them stronger. They are an inspiration."

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