Nikki Hayes speaks out about body image


This is an interview I did with 2FM DJ Nikki Hayes for in which she talks about body image and dealing with anorexia as a teenager.


Is there too much pressure on young people today to be thin?
Definitely. In fact it really worries me the pressure put on image today. There are a lot of pageants such as Miss Bebo, Miss Outlast night, Miss be beautiful and every nightclub etc. has a Miss something or other. It’s gone to a crazy level and the organisers of these pageants have A LOT to answer for.

Are the media to blame for the size zero trend?

I think the media have a certain amount of blame for the models they have used in photo shoots who look emaciated. But I think we must take a share of blame for buying into the stick thin image over the last few years.

Do you think very slim celebrities such as Victoria Beckham or Keira Knightly should take some responsibility?

They most certainly should. I recently went to a recording of the X Factor and met with Cheryl Cole backstage. I was shocked at how thin she was, clearly a size zero. She had the flu and had a woman help her up onto and off the stage as well as provide support for her walking back to her dressing room as she had little energy. I had a photograph taken with her and when it was developed I was shocked at how obese I looked next to her tiny frame.

Society is very looks and image obsessed, which can be detrimental to the self esteem of young people who are trying to get to grips with themselves. How can we prevent this?

I just wish we didn’t obsess so much on weight and image. I suffered with anorexia when I was in my teens. I was a healthy weight and not very active with sports. The hockey crew used to slag me as the girls I hung about with were not into sports nor were we weight obsessed. The girls taunted me so much that I started losing weight. This led to anorexia following a gruelling exercise routine and surviving on two biscuits a day.

The worst part was when I got ill they then taunted me further calling me “Anorexic Annie”. One day two of them held me down and stuffed chocolate in my mouth while others watched on. It was horrific and my mother had to pull me out of the school. When my mother turned to the school for help the principal said “Well girls will be girls”. Unbelievable!! I was hospitalised under Dr Mary Darby’s care in St Vincent’s and  it was only then the scale of what had happened was acknowledged by the school. The prevention must start with the adults taking more control.

How can we help people accept themselves for who they are?

When I look at people I see features. One person may have gorgeous eyes, another a cute nose, high cheekbones, full lips. We’re all individual and all have good and bad features, they’re the things that make you, you!

We should embrace it. I still look in the mirror and I’m not entirely happy with what I see, but I’m me and it’s only a shell; the real me lies beneath the body I walk around in.

Should pictures of size zero models and celebs in magazines be banned or how would you deal with the pressures these outside influences have on people?

Yes I feel they should. They’re unnaturally unhealthy and make people think that is how we all should look. We all have different bone structures and most of us could end up very ill or even die trying to maintain or even get to a size zero.

Interview by Marie Duffy 

Read part two of this article.

Find supportive information:

Get support:

Bodywhys is an organisation that provides information, support and advice to those with eating disorders and their families. Call their helpline on Lo Call 1890 200 444 or visit

Get talking about body image here.

©Marie Duffy for


2 thoughts on “Nikki Hayes speaks out about body image

  1. Hi everyone. I need your help to promote socially responsible, pro-esteem media, products, people etc. I love this post because it talks about the responsibility of the consumer!!! I worked in media for about a decade but now I talk around schools about media literacy and body image (just published a book about it too!). Would love your help at

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