Mel C has spice for life

Article from: The Sunday Mail (Qld)

Eddie Rowley

July 26, 2007 12:00am

SHE WAS Sporty Spice, the superfit, tomboyish member of all-girl pop supergroup the Spice Girls.

To the fans, Melanie Chisholm was living every teenager's dream. She had the fame, the fortune and the glitzy lifestyle. But, amid the thrill of being a member of one of the most successful girl groups of all time, Mel C was also struggling to cope with the pressure of being a superstar.

She developed an eating disorder and was plunged into the depths of depression trying to live up to her status as a world-renowned pop icon. Today, Mel is back to her normal weight. In the flesh, when we meet in a Dublin hotel, she looks fit, with a healthy glow, she laughs easily and there is no doubt that she has found contentment.

"It took me a long time to accept and get over and recover from the whole experience that was the Spice Girls," Mel says. "It was such a huge, life-changing event and a crazy time. It was exhausting and a lot of the time I was living off adrenalin. I wasn't taking care of myself properly. I never really addressed that and it caught up with me.

"I had put pressure on myself to look a certain way. I found it hard to feel worthy of what was happening, because it was so incredible. I tried to make myself the absolute best that I could be.

"I went to the gym and I trained constantly. And I really wasn't eating properly. I wanted to get as perfect as I could, knowing that perfection is impossible, and that just really got me very, very sick."

As Mel reflects on that period in her life, she says the pressure on celebs to look superhuman is even greater today.

"Oh, I think it's a hundred times worse now than when I started out," she says. "I think it's disgusting and there are a lot of people who have to take responsibility, including celebrities and people in the public eye. We have to fight it through the media and the fashion industry because it's children who are affected. It's putting pressure on teenagers to look a certain way and you shouldn't have to worry about things like that when you're young."

Today, Mel C carries her own guilt over the image she projected as a Spice Girl and the effect that might have had on some of her female fans.

"I do feel guilty because obviously, when I was in the Spice Girls, I was underweight and my image was unhealthy," she admits.

"There were kids who were looking up to me at that time in my career and that's why I'm being open and honest, and I want to talk about that time to try to rectify any of the damage that I have caused."

Now, Mel C still works out, but she eats well. Her solo career never achieved the same level of success that she enjoyed in the Spice Girls, but she has no complaints – and has a new album out entitled This Time.

"The stress has gone out of my work and I enjoy it more now than I did back in the days of the Spice Girls," she says. "I love being able to work at my own pace. It's obviously not as high-profile as the Spice Girls were, but I still get to do the thing that I love the most and that's going out there and performing."

Spending time with Victoria Beckham recently confirmed Mel's view that she's lucky to be out of the super league.

"I'd forgotten what it's like being stalked by paparazzi and the state of your fringe being world headline news," she says.

The bubbly brunette pays tribute to her mother for helping her to stay sane.

"I'm lucky that I've always had a great relationship with Mum," says Mel. "She's an entertainer herself and used to tour Ireland as a Tina Turner tribute act. She's still performing and giving it loads."

Mel is also now happy in her personal life – she lives with builder boyfriend Thomas Starr. "We've been together for five years," she says. "Of course there are spanners in the works now and then, but things are good." Although she has no immediate plans to start a family, Mel is concerned that she might not be able to conceive because of her eating disorder.

"I got so thin when I wasn't eating that my periods stopped and my bones became very fragile," she says. "I may have done some permanent damage, but I hope that I am still in with a chance."

The Spice Girls are all becoming Spice Mums, apart from Mel.

"I'm very happy with my situation at the moment, but I definitely want to be a mum and I'd like to have more than one child," she says.

"Geri lives near me now and I spend time with her and her little bundle of joy, Bluebell. Geri is just really enjoying motherhood and is happy doing that. Emma is also a glowing mum-to-be. We're all in our 30s now, so it's a natural time to be focusing on family. I'm 33 now, so the old clock is ticking."

Before the announcement that the Spice Girls would reunite for a world tour, Mel met the other members of the group at the christening of Geri's daughter, Bluebell.

Mel was always dubious about whether the Spice Girls could re-create their "magical time" together, but now says: "I wouldn't want to be a spoilsport. I wouldn't want to be the one who didn't make up the full set."

The Spice Girls will play in Sydney on January 17.

- Profiles International Media 2007

 

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Mel C from the Spice Girls
IN the limelight ... Mel C from the Spice Girls.

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