‘All I ate was peas and fish fingers for ages’: Claire Richards speaks on past body image struggles

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Claire Richards has opened up about her struggles with body image and shared her anxieties about how easily photos can be heavy filtered online today.

Speaking on the Spinning Plates podcast with Sophie Ellis-Bextor on Monday, the Steps singer, 44, stressed the prominence of editing and airbrushing apps.

She said: ‘Also knowing the things that the kids have to…all we had to deal with was airbrushing.

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Opening up: Speaking on the Spinning Plates podcast with Sophie Ellis Bextor on Monday, the Claire Richards, 44, stressed the prominence of airbrushing apps. Pictured in 2019

Opening up: Speaking on the Spinning Plates podcast with Sophie Ellis Bextor on Monday, the Claire Richards, 44, stressed the prominence of airbrushing apps. Pictured in 2019

‘I remember going for a meeting years ago and our record company were trying to persuade us to do FHM.

‘And the way they persuaded us, or tried to persuade us to do it was, they came and they brought two photographs.

‘And they said this is the photo – the airbrushed photo – but this is what it looked like before, so look what we can do! We can make you look like this! And that was the selling point.

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'It's a battle everyday': Claire said she has 'gone from being dangerously thin to obese' and that both were linked to the same issues. Pictured in 2012

‘It’s a battle everyday’: Claire said she has ‘gone from being dangerously thin to obese’ and that both were linked to the same issues. Pictured in 2012

‘And now, that’s on your phone. So it’s even less real than it was back then.’

The star, who added that she has been both ‘dangerously thin’ and ‘obese’, also shared that there is still a lack of understanding about the mental aspect of eating disorders.

Claire said: ‘I’ve gone from being dangerously thin to obese and I honestly do believe it’s all part of the same…if it’s an eating disorder, it’s one extreme to the other.

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Pressure: Claire opened up about her struggles with body image and shared her anxieties about how easily photos can be heavy filtered online today. Pictured, Steps performing in 2021

Pressure: Claire opened up about her struggles with body image and shared her anxieties about how easily photos can be heavy filtered online today. Pictured, Steps performing in 2021

‘There is a massive lack of understanding, generally, and I think especially on the overweight side of it. I think people just look at anybody who’s overweight (and think) that they’re lazy and have got no discipline. And I’m not lazy and I definitely have discipline but I found myself in that position.

‘…I struggle everyday, and I’ve managed to maintain a good size now for a long time but it’s a battle every day and people just don’t understand that psychological side of it generally.’

The pop performer explained her struggles with weight began when she began working within the entertainment industry in the 90s, when ‘heroin chic’ thin bodies were sought after.

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Years of struggle: The pop performer explained her struggles with weight began when she began working within the entertainment industry in the 90s. The band pictured in 1999

Years of struggle: The pop performer explained her struggles with weight began when she began working within the entertainment industry in the 90s. The band pictured in 1999

In the first band she was ever in – before Steps – Claire said at 18 years old she was ‘put on a diet immediately and made to lose weight’.

‘The things that I did from then on…all I ate was peas and fish fingers for ages, it was just so weird,’ she added. ‘My relationship with food is very complicated. I don’t remember it when I was a kid.

Claire continued: ‘We had three meals a day. my mum would cook every night. I don’t ever remember my mum being on a diet. Nothing like that. I mean she’s quite small and always has been, so it wasn’t something that I had growing up at all.

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Industry issues: In the first band she was ever in - before Steps - Claire said at 18 years old she was 'put on a diet immediately and made to lose weight'. Claire pictured in 2019

Industry issues: In the first band she was ever in – before Steps – Claire said at 18 years old she was ‘put on a diet immediately and made to lose weight’. Claire pictured in 2019

‘I was quite sporty at school. I always had a big bum and chunky legs. They were the comments I would get at school but I don’t ever feel like it was an issue until I started working.

‘…The day of the audition for steps they said they wanted me but I had to lose weight.’

The star says that while she still struggles, she developed a healthier relationship with her body after turning 40 because she began focusing on being healthy rather than being a certain size.

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Claire has previously spoken of the struggles she faced with her body image while in the chart-topping band, saying: ‘I definitely had an eating disorder back then.

‘I wasn’t diagnosed, but for four years at least I exercised like crazy. I ate as little as I could possibly get away with.’

The mother-of-two’s weight struggles have been widely documented with the star gaining 4 stone and soaring to a size 20 after her Steps days. In 2017, she lost six stone and revealed she stays in shape by limiting herself to around 1,000 calories a day and snacking on small portions of yoghurt and fruit.

Reunited: The star says that while she still struggles, she developed a healthier relationship with her body after turning 40. Pictured: Steps at the O2 Arena in 2021

Reunited: The star says that while she still struggles, she developed a healthier relationship with her body after turning 40. Pictured: Steps at the O2 Arena in 2021

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