Back off and let me be normal
Megan Gale can’t understand the media’s interest in, and scrutiny of, her life, and wants to be left alone to enjoy her privacy, writes Colin Vickery
DOES Megan Gale have an image problem? That is the question buzzing around fashion circles on the eve of her hosting Project Runway Australia.
The celebrated model has been at the top of her game and enjoyed huge popularity for more than a decade, but you can’t help but smell a backlash in the air.
Things soured when Gale split with Andy Lee, one of Australia’s favourite comedy stars.
Gale turned super-sensitive when she hooked up with Carlton AFL player Shaun Hampson.
In a strange recent episode, Gale complained to police about paparazzi outside Sydney’s Sheraton hotel.
Gale said they were hounding her. They said they were actually there to photograph Kylie Minogue, who was staying at the hotel.
Gale’s agent, Maria Farmer, has admitted that something has gone wrong.
‘‘ In a career of nearly two decades, this is the worst s..t Megan has ever copped,’’ Farmer said recently.
Adding to Gale’s woes have been rumours of ‘‘ diva’’ antics on the set of Project Runway Australia.
Gale is one of the reality fashion show’s producers as well as the host.
Project mentor Alex Perry has dismissed the charge, saying ‘‘ she not only works hard but has been really friendly with the crew’’.
When I meet Gale for the first time at the Project Runway studios she is all elegant charm.
You can understand why retailer David Jones picked her as its ambassador. She has a class about her.
But there is also something distant about Gale.
She is so controlled. There is none of the bouncy girl-nextdoor attitude of rival model Jennifer Hawkins.
She thinks of herself as a ‘‘ brand’’. Protecting her privacy is front and centre in her mind and is a constant theme through our conversation.
‘‘ I understand if people have made up an idea or conception of who they believe I am,’’ Gale says.
‘‘ Most of the time the way the public has seen me has been via David Jones. That is me but it is a very small facet of me and it is a very David Jones-esque version of me.
‘‘ With modelling, especially when you’ve done it for as many years as I have, you become quite one-dimensional.
‘‘ The great thing about Project Runway is that I have been encouraged, and I want to, inject a lot of myself into it.’’
Gale says people are shocked when they meet her in person because she is very different to her image.
‘‘ I’ve got a twisted sense of humour, a wicked sense of humour,’’ she says. ‘‘ I’m an absolute music buff. I love going out and seeing bands.
‘‘ I love going home and scrubbing the make-up off and putting on my comfy tracky dacks. I love cooking for myself or for friends and putting a movie on.’’
Gale seems genuinely perplexed by the media’s, and the Australian public’s, interest in her private life— odd given she has chosen high-profile partners such as Lee and Hampson.
Gale says it is all about trying to be normal.
In her own mind, she has created set boundaries between work life and private life.
‘‘ My job (modelling) is quite bizarre and not normal (so) when I clock off for the day or go on holiday, I want normality,’’ she explains.
‘‘ I have been probed and invaded a lot and there’s been a lot of scrutiny of my private life,’’ she says.
‘‘ Having a creepy guy in a car sitting in front of your house trying to take photos of you is not normal.
‘‘ That has been happening to me a lot recently.’’
Gale says that she retreats into her shell when the attention gets too much.
‘‘ The more I’m scrutinised, the more I withdraw,’’ she says. ‘‘ If I’mleft alone for a bit, I can breathe and relax.
‘‘ It’s called ‘ private life’ for a reason. It’s no one else’s business and I don’t understand how people sometimes feel that they have a right to know everything.’’
Gale hopes Project Runway Australia will change the public’s perception of her.
‘‘ At the end of the day, I’m still normal, still just a chick from Perth, and I deserve that privacy and respect,’’ she says. Project Runway Australia Arena, Monday, 8.30pm