She may have Olympic medals to her name and the respect and acclaim of her peers in the sporting world — as well as a level of fitness most can only aspire to — but it appears that champion swimmer Rebecca Adlington has just as many body hang-ups as the rest of us.
Newspaper reports have claimed that the 25-year-old star — who is set to wed fellow swimmer Harry Needs this summer — may have had some cosmetic work done, after photographs were published which appeared to show her nose looking straighter than it had been before.
While she has yet to comment on the speculation, Rebecca has previously spoken of her dislike for her nose. In an interview she stated that when she looked in the mirror she thought, ‘God, I’m not pretty. I’ve got a very big nose’.
Sadly, Rebecca isn’t the only person who thought so. Since shooting to international fame following her stunning gold medal-winning performance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the swimmer has frequently been trolled on Twitter, being told she looked like a dolphin, a whale and that she had a shark-fin nose. The bile was aired on national TV, too, when controversial comedian Frankie Boyle said on BBC show Mock the Week that “she looks like someone who is looking at themselves in the back of a spoon”.
The swimmer broke down in tears when comparing herself to beauty queen Amy Willerton while taking part recently in I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here ... and has never ruled out having surgery on her nose, saying that what prevented her in the past was her swimming career, as she was only allowed two weeks out of the pool each year.
While Rebecca’s supporters may well hope that the move will help her find a little more happiness with her appearance, we spoke to three local people who have taken the plunge and allowed themselves to undergo cosmetic work to help their looks.
Jason Shankey (42), is a leading male grooming expert, with salons in London and Belfast. He lives in Belfast with his wife |Brenda and their children Lauren (12), and Will (10). He says:
I started to lose my hair about 10 years ago, when I was about 32. Initially you don't really notice that it's going because it still covers your head — it just thins out. Then after a while my hairline started creeping back and I would get patches of scalp with nothing on them. I tried products to help bring hair back which stalled it for a few years, but then seemed to stop working, and I got two big recession areas at the front and a patch at my crown.
It was frustrating because there was nothing I could do about it and it affected my confidence. It adds years on to you and puts limits on what you can actually do with your hair. I hated the way I looked and tried everything I could to hide it.
Eventually I decided to speak to someone about a hair transplant and went to Ziering Medical in Holywood. They told me I was a prime candidate for a transplant.
When I started hairdressing, transplants were done in a different way. The surgeon would have taken a circular section of hair and planted a bunch of hairs in that and that would be repeated in rows across your head so it looked like a doll's hair. I was concerned that's what I would end up with.
The process I had was revolutionised by Dr Ziering, who pioneered transplanting hairs into individual hair follicles.
Before I had the procedure I was prescribed medication which stopped any more hair from falling out and thickened the hair I had left. All I needed to do was have the bits filled in.
I decided to go to Los Angeles so I could have the procedure performed by Dr Ziering himself. I was in and out in one day, from 8.30am to 7.30pm, with no pain at all.
I was awake through the whole process, watching TV and chatting to staff. There were a few stitches in the back of my head which felt a bit tight and that was that.
They take hair from the back of the head — on most men that's the hair that doesn't fall out — then the surgeon puts little holes in your scalp and inserts each graft.
That was in May 2012 and I haven't looked back since. I feel 10 years younger and like a different person. I have more energy and more confidence, it was the best thing I ever did.
I now encourage people to come in and talk to me and see my hair — I know how losing your hair can affect a man's confidence. I can also tailor haircuts for those who have had transplants done.
The procedure costs around £3 per follicle and I had 3,400 transplanted. It was a minor procedure under local anaesthetic, but I can totally understand having something done if it affects your self-esteem.”
Model and TV presenter Gemma Garrett (32) lives in Belfast with her husband Andy. She says:
I got breast implants in 2008, as I was paranoid that one of my boobs was bigger than the other. I now know that that's completely normal but I was going into modelling.
I did a lot of research and found a very reputable surgeon. I was 26, and spent a lot of time thinking about it and finding the right surgeon but I still ended up with the controversial PIP implants.
In 2011 I was feeling ill and fainted at a photo shoot. I was taken to A&E and then I went to see a surgeon on Harley Street about my implants. I was shocked when he told me that he wanted to perform emergency surgery to remove them the next day as one had ruptured.
I had gone from a large B-cup to a DD-cup and it had been unnecessary, as the unevenness of my boobs could have easily been corrected without implants. That was rectified when they were removed. I think I overreacted about my boobs at the time.
Even though I did a lot of research I still ended up with a bad experience. I made a big mistake and I would have left everything alone if I could do it again.
I've had a terrible experience with cosmetic surgery but I still think it can enhance people's lives.
Something like a nose job can be great, if it's getting you down and you've thought about it. As long as it makes you feel better.
However, if Rebecca has has a nose job solely because of what people say about her then I think that's bad.”
Tina Cushnie (40) runs Tennis Fundamentals, a tennis training facility in Lisburn, with her husband Brian. They live in Lisburn with their daughters Kristen (6) and Sophie (4). She says:
I had a gap in my teeth when I was younger. It was something that really affected my confidence — I was scared to smile because of it. It was quite big and very noticeable. I had it covered over with four veneers when I was 23 and I loved the work that was done.
I always wanted to be a model but even though I was very sporty I always carried weight so I joined Slimming World about four years ago and went on to lose three and a half stone. Since then I've done a lot of modelling work (Facebook.com/tinacushnie promotions), and I was in an advert for Mourne and District Council.
My teeth really weren't in good shape after I lost weight, though. Pregnancies take their toll on your teeth and gums. I had gum disease and my gums receded — even while I was eating a sandwich one day one of my teeth crumbled away. Over time the veneers became discoloured — they only last about 10 years anyway.
The crunch came when I was on a shoot last April and the photographer suggested that I might think about getting my teeth done. It sounds harsh but it's the kind of business that I'm in.
After that I was quite happy to go along to Lucy at the Gentle Dental Care clinic on Belfast’s |Lisburn Road.
My dental work was quite expensive, between £5,000 and £6,000. There were a lot of things that Lucy needed to clear up first though, like gum disease and the damage caused by my pregnancies.
Then I had veneers fitted, a gum transplant where my gums had receded and then I got a teeth whitening system to use at home.
It took a few months and the work was finished six months ago.
I can't express how good the clinic were. I didn't have any pain and I've seen other people with dental work that's not a patch on mine.
There is a lot of pressure nowadays and you want to look your best. But I think why not? If you want to look good then just go for it!
When you're my age you have to work a bit harder but playing lots of tennis keeps you fit.
I didn't realise until I saw Rebecca in the jungle how much pressure that she's under. She's an athlete, not a swimsuit model, but she still gets attention.
I think if she feels better now that she's had something done then I don't think there's anything wrong. If it's upsetting you and ruining your life you should chance it, it will make you feel like a better person.”
* Gentle Dental Care has been a family-owned business since 1979. For details on treatments, visit www.gdconline.co.uk