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Jodie Marsh: Strong in body and mind
8:00am Saturday 21st July 2012 in Local news
AT the height of her fame, when she was barely out of the tabloids, Jodie Marsh was terrified of leaving her home.
Whenever she did venture outside she would get a barrage of abuse from strangers calling her ugly and mocking her appearance – bringing back the same feelings of despair she had when she was bullied as a teenager.
Since re-inventing herself as a successful bodybuilder, Jodie, from Brentwood, wants to tackle bullying in schools, as well as in the media.
She has joined forces with the Diana Award anti-bullying programme to encourage children to speak out about bullying, and has visited schools across Essex to spread the positive message.
Jodie was badly bullied from the age of 15, when a gang of girls started calling her “ugly”, “big nose” and “dodgy nose” and would kick footballs at her head.
She says: “I wanted to become a model to prove to the bullies I wasn’t ugly, but when I became famous I felt like I was being bullied all over again.”
Jodie, who is currently dating Towie’s Kirk Norcross, had some serious lows due to the negative press she received.
She says: “I knew a lot of it was down to how I was being portrayed in the media, because people in the streets would be shouting out whatever had been published that day.
“I had to stop reading magazines and newspapers, because I used to be in tears every single day and I honestly thought of killing myself, it was that bad.”
Jodie emerged on ITV2’s reality TV show, Essex Wives, as the bold and brassy one who wore outrageous outfits in 2002.
She appeared in a series of reality shows including Channel 5’s Trust Me, I’m A Holiday Rep and Channel 4’s the Games and Celebrity Big Brother.
Clearly hungry for fame, does Jodie think she deserved the negative press? Jodie, 33, says: “I know I was a bit of a wild child and wore skimpy outfits, but I had never hurt anyone. “I felt like they targeted me and there was nothing I could do.”
Body image is at an all time low with 46 per cent of women feeling under pressure to lose weight, according to a Mori poll for International Women’s Day 2010.
A further 90 per cent of teenage girls believe TV and magazines focus too much on what women look like, instead of what they achieve, according to Girlguiding UK, Girls Attitudes Survey 2011.
Jodie previously shared her experience of bullying on Channel 5’s documentary Jodie Marsh: Bullied, My Secret Past.
She is now optimistic about the Diana Award anti-bullying programme, and its potential for changing the lives of schoolchildren.
Jodie says: “The campaign is fantastic and gives kids the chance to put their ideas across. “My parents had to try to deal with me being bullied on their own because there was no system in place, so something like this would have really helped me.
“One thing that worked really well at one of the schools was a friendship bench. If someone is feeling lonely or upset they sit on it and everyone immediately comes over and asks if they’re OK – I though that was really nice.”
Jodie wants to create a TV series about women being bullied in the media.
She says: “It had a big effect on my self esteem throughout my whole life, and it is only very recently I have started to get over it.
“I am in talks about the possibility of a show about bullying where I would like to investigate bullying in the media and how it affects people.”
Since 2009, Jodie has embarked on bodybuilding, and she loves her new-found confidence.
She says: “I don’t know what it is, but since I have been doing body building I am the happiest I have ever been and people have started to respect me more.
“Maybe it’s because I am doing a more respected job, but I just feel really lucky to be able to do it.”