You were probably expecting this. I’m sure as soon as you saw those pictures appear of the weekend with you looking a wee bit too skinny you thought “I bet that Claire Allan one will be writing me a letter in the ‘Journal’ come Friday. She has an opinion on everything these days.”
Nadine, you were right.
Now I have to admit you and me are polar opposites. You are a tres glam, tres successful popstar with lovely full hair and (until recently) a figure most people would die for. You have dated one of the cast members of ‘Desperate Housewives’ and you live in the sunny climes of LA.
Me? I’m a moderately successful author (which requires a very low level of personal grooming), who isn’t a touch glam and is slightly balding after the birth of my last child. I have a figure no one would envy and I’ve not ever dated a cast member from ‘Desperate Housewives’. Nadine, my dear, I am too busy being a desperate housewife to have hunky gardeners chase after me . And the Waterside is, I hear, a far cry from Beverly Hills.
But there are two things I believe we have in common. The first is that we are both from Derry. We both speak with a certain twang in our voice and say “cyarr” instead of car. That alone should be enough to bond us. The second, if I could be so bold, is that, Nadine we both have - it would seem - quite an unhealthy relationship with food.
You see if you were thinking I was just going to write “Eat, for the love of God woman, eat!” then you were wrong. I know it is a little more complicated than that. I know, first hand, how hard it is to have an unhealthy relationship with food. We just happen to be at different ends of the spectrum. I’m a comfort eater and you, well, you don’t seem to be an eater at all at the moment.
And that worries me. First of all I have met you, several times, and yes you are naturally petite and very naturally slim. No one is arguing that, Nadine, but there is nothing natural about that person we saw walking down those steps at the weekend - with Bambi legs, skeletal hands and a head resembling a lollipop on a stick. No healthy woman, in the Western World, is naturally that thin.
Secondly my eight year old niece thinks you are the cat’s pyjamas. Seriously. She wants to be in Girls Aloud and does quite a mean rendition of ‘The Promise’ complete with dance moves.
She nearly went into orbit the day I told her you were from Derry and that I had actually met the “really, really” Nadine Coyle.
I don’t want my eight year old niece to grow up thinking that the only way she will be successful and popular is if she starves herself half to death to fit into a size zero.
That would annoy me just as much as if she followed my lead and ended up rifling through the “big girls” section in Matalan trying to find something to wear.
The fact of the matter is, she is much, much more likely to want to emulate you than her boring Auntie Claire. In fact a generation of young girls want to be you and like it or not they look to you for guidance. If you shaved all your hair off, chances are they would want to as well. If you decided that day-glo shell suits were back in fashion, you can bet your parent’s bar in LA that the high street would soon be flooded with mini replicas of same. If you decided that being dangerously thin was the only way to get noticed....
You also have to think of yourself. A dangerously low BMI is just as damaging to a person’s health as a dangerously high BMI. You could be doing all sorts of untold damage to your body - affecting your future fertility, damaging your bones and your kidneys, losing some of that famously glossy hair... and for what? To fit in?
You should know now that you already fit in. You fitted in a long time ago. You were a success and a role model when you were a healthy, yet still really very slim, weight and you don’t need to prove anything to anyone else.
I know you have a very close family Nadine - and I know they love you. So I hope, quite sincerely, that if they try and help you, you let them. No amount of protestations that “you are just built like that” are going to cut it at the moment.
Just as I can’t argue that I was built to be a larger lady.