Mel C Opens Up About Developing an Eating Disorder During Her Spice Girls Days

Mel C
Melanie C arrives for The Stubhub Q Awards 2016 at The Roundhouse on November 2, 2016 in London. Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

The price of fame. Spice Girls alum Mel C, aka Sporty Spice, opened up in a recent interview about developing an eating disorder during her time with the hit ’90s girl group.

“I joined the Spice Girls when I was 20 and it was an insane time,” Mel C (real name Melanie Chisholm) told BBC’s Good Food in a new interview published this week. “I developed an eating disorder; I was in the spotlight, being photographed constantly, and I started to become self-conscious of my body image.”

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But, Chisholm admitted, it took a while for her to admit that she had a problem. “I was in denial for a long time but I always wanted to get better — I had talking therapies and holistic therapies, like acupuncture,” she continued. “Sport became really important to me too.”

This isn’t the first time that Chisholm, now 42, has spoken candidly about her body image issues, which included over-exercising. In an interview with the UK’s Daily Mail in 2011, the singer admitted that being in the public eye took a toll on her confidence.

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“Being in the Spice Girls was amazing, but also very tough,” she said. “I was young and impressionable, and I found it hard to read about myself. The tabloids were cruel about my appearance, and nothing can prepare you for that. You just have to fight your way through it.”

Mel C Spice Girls
Melanie Brown, Melanie Chisholm, Emma Bunton, Victoria Beckham and Geri Halliwell (from left) as the Spice Girls circa 1996. Tim Roney/Getty Images

Among the negative things that people said about her at the time, she recalled, were that she was “gobby” (slang for a masculine woman in the UK) and “masculine.” Some reports, she said at the time, even questioned her sexuality based on her appearance and “sporty” persona.

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(The singer, who identifies as straight, welcomed daughter Scarlett in 2009 with then-partner Thomas Starr. She and Starr, a property developer, parted ways after 10 years together in July 2012.)

These days, Chisholm told BBC’s Good Food, her antidote to low self esteem is exercise and a healthy attitude toward food. “I love to be physically fit and, obviously, to really push yourself, you have to make sure you eat the right things. I like to think I have a healthy relationship with food now, and I love to cook,” she said. “We’re so much more aware of nutrition nowadays. When I was a teenager, I didn’t know the difference between a protein and a carb. We need to get back to realizing that we are what we eat.”

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