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

Herald Sun - Switched On - - On The Couch -

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

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