ADULT ED­U­CA­TION

ROSANNA DAV­I­SON IS GROW­ING UP AND LEAV­ING THE NIGHTLIFE BE­HIND

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - FRONT PAGE -

Rosanna Dav­i­son looks im­pec­ca­ble. Rosanna Dav­i­son al­ways looks im­pec­ca­ble. But she con­veys the sec­ond I sit down that she’s a bit tired and, if you re­ally look closely, maybe she has the tini­est look of it. It’s the Tues­day af­ter the May bank hol­i­day week­end, and she had a late night.

“It was my brother-in-law’s birth­day on Sun­day,” Rosanna says, “so we ended up in Club 92 [in Leop­ard­stown in south Co Dublin]. It’s prob­a­bly 10 years since I was in there and on Sun­day I was prob­a­bly 10 years older than any­one in there.

“The place was packed, ac­tu­ally,” con­tin­ues the 32-year-old beauty, in the be­mused voice of some­one who has grown up and moved on, and can’t be­lieve that the world they once in­hab­ited still ex­ists. It was one of her col­lege haunts and, not un­usu­ally, she hadn’t quite re­alised how time had flown.

“I don’t go to night­clubs that much any more,” Rosanna says, “but it was weird to go and re­alise how much time had passed. Sun­day night was the fun night to go when I was in UCD. It was the place to be.

“That phase passes, and thank­fully I en­joyed ev­ery minute of it. And I feel OK with it be­ing over. I’m lov­ing my 30s, but it was fright­en­ing to re­alise how fast life is go­ing. My par­ents are get­ting older. Ev­ery­one’s get­ting older. But you grow with your age and en­joy the stage you are at, I think. But when I was 20, I thought 30 was so old and now, well, ob­vi­ously it doesn’t feel old at all.”

Talk­ing about time pass­ing and how life changes re­minds me of the first time I in­ter­viewed Rosanna Dav­i­son. It was nine years ago, in 2007, one week af­ter she did the shoot in LIFE mag­a­zine that la­belled Rosanna and her band of glossy south Co Dublin pals as part of the ‘SoCoDu’ set, Celtic cubs who or­gan­ised their so­cial lives on some­thing new called Bebo.

Oh, the in­no­cence, in ret­ro­spect. The SoCoDu shoot, all shiny, golden limbs, and tum­bling hair, short-shorts and shame­less fun-seek­ing, had caused con­ster­na­tion, the like of which seems al­most hi­lar­i­ous when you con­sider how the world and the web have changed since. I met Rosanna back then so that she could de­fend her­self, to a de­gree, and she was then, as she is now, this very well-brought-up, well-turned-out south Co Dublin girl.

Now, though, she is all those things and also mar­ried to Wes­ley Quirke — her boyfriend of a year back in 2007, her hus­band of al­most two years in 2016.

She was still ‘just’ a model back then, four years on from win­ning Miss World. Now she has years of study in nu­tri­tion un­der her belt, she has a mas­sively pop­u­lar su­per­foodie web­site, a news­pa­per col­umn, a best­selling su­per­food cook­book, Eat Your­self Beau­ti­ful, and a sec­ond cook­ery book due for pub­li­ca­tion in Septem­ber. The fun and games are over, you could say, or the man­ner in which Rosanna gets her kicks has changed.

“It was in­no­cent and it was quite child­ish, re­ally,” Rosanna re­flects, laugh­ing. “But it suited where we were at then, and the nov­elty of mak­ing your own [Bebo] page was so ex­cit­ing and new.

“I have fond mem­o­ries of Bebo,” she con­tin­ues, “be­cause that’s where I met my hus­band. That’s where we started chat­ting first. On­line dat­ing wasn’t re­ally

a thing then. We’d met in real life, but we first chat­ted prop­erly on Bebo and my friends were, like, ‘You’re talk­ing to him on­line? How strange’. But now ev­ery­thing is done on­line.”

Nine years ago, we didn’t do our dat­ing on­line, and we didn’t do our hat­ing there, ei­ther. No one could have imag­ined, then, the pas­sion that would grow for anony­mous bash­ing of com­plete strangers, and Rosanna, in com­mon with a lot of well-known peo­ple, gets her fair share.

In 2003, when she won Miss World, if some­one took against Rosanna Dav­i­son they just mut­tered be­hind her back, un­be­knownst to her. Now, they have some­where pub­lic to air and vent it. Does that get to Rosanna?

“I don’t re­ally worry about that,” Rosanna says in her cheer­fully po­lite but firm way. “I have had so much pos­i­tive feed­back over the year since the book came out and hun­dreds of emails from peo­ple say­ing, you know, ‘I lost 40lbs from fol­low­ing your ad­vice’, or an­other from some­one who got their blood sugar un­der con­trol, or got preg­nant, or what­ever.

“So I’m a very pos­i­tive per­son and I fo­cus on the pos­i­tive. I don’t fo­cus on the neg­a­tive and, thank­fully, there is very lit­tle of it.”

Wes, ex­plains Rosanna, is a very pos­i­tive per­son. He never speaks badly about peo­ple, she says, he is good at fil­ter­ing neg­a­tive peo­ple out of his life and he’s good at let­ting neg­a­tiv­ity wash over him and away. She has be­come bet­ter at it, too, by as­so­ci­a­tion. Has that been hard to learn? No, Rosanna says, be­cause Wes­ley is so good at nudg­ing her along, away from the bad com­ments, away from the bad thoughts.

So, when I bring up the furore that fol­lowed her re­ported claims that a gluten­free diet cured Wes­ley of rheuma­toid arthri­tis, Rosanna cor­rects what was a mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion and seems un­fazed by it. “What shocked me most was the speed at which it blew up, es­pe­cially on Twit­ter,” Rosanna says, ad­ding that while she was study­ing nu­tri­tional ther­apy, she was taught to avoid any med­i­cal claims or sweep­ing med­i­cal state­ments. She’s al­ways very, very care­ful about that, Rosanna em­pha­sises.

Though she has a suc­cess­ful nu­tri­tion blog — rosan­na­davi­son­nu­tri­tion.com — Rosanna is care­ful about how much she puts on­line. “I’m still work­ing out ev­ery day how com­fort­able I am with so­cial media,” she says. “You know, it’s chang­ing all the time, and with Snapchat now, you’re ex­pected to share ev­ery­thing. Some days I feel happy shar­ing, and oth­ers it feels like a step too far.”

Wes­ley, she adds, doesn’t love be­ing in­cluded in her post­ings and she never fea­tures their home. Re­ally, Rosanna says, she tries to keep her ac­tiv­ity to recipes and nu­tri­tion-type posts.

“I’m quite shy, nat­u­rally,” says Rosanna. “So that’s where I’m com­ing from. I still won­der why any­one would want to know what I’m hav­ing for lunch, but they do. There’s def­i­nitely a voyeurism to it all. It’s be­come a nec­es­sary part of be­ing in cer­tain ar­eas of busi­ness now, but I could see my­self com­ing off all so­cial media in the fu­ture.”

To some ears, a claim of shy­ness might seem lu­di­crous com­ing from Rosanna Dav­i­son. She is a model, af­ter all, who has put her­self on show for a liv­ing for years, even posing naked for Play­boy. That is dif­fer­ent, though.

In fact, it was when her first book, Eat Your­self Beau­ti­ful came out last year, that Rosanna felt re­ally naked and felt that she was re­ally re­veal­ing her­self. It was very per­sonal, says the woman who turned veg­e­tar­ian at 11 and then ed­u­cated her­self on al­ter­na­tives to meat pro­tein in her diet. The book did well and she’s thrilled by that, and now her forth­com­ing fol­low-up will fo­cus more on food and fit­ness.

But she got her fair share of crit­i­cism, too. Not least, co­me­dian Oliver Cal­lan had a go at her. He took a se­ri­ous pop, com­ment­ing on “the irony of some­one

‘I still won­der why any­one would want to know what I’m hav­ing for lunch, but they do. There’s def­i­nitely a voyeurism to it all . . . but I could see my­self com­ing off so­cial media’

wear­ing more make-up than Ron­ald McDon­ald spout­ing about keep­ing things nat­u­ral”.

Again, Rosanna seems un­fazed. “I had such a good laugh about that,” she says, chuck­ling over her mint tea in a Foxrock vil­lage cafe, close to the home she shares with Wes­ley. She’s not afraid to go out with­out make-up, she says with a laugh, though it is part of her job to look good. She has an im­age to up­hold, but she’s “like a scruff ” go­ing to the gym.

Per­haps her at­ti­tude is pure per­sonal pos­i­tiv­ity, but it could also be that grow­ing up with a fa­mous dad, Chris de Burgh, taught her that it’s best to smile through the slings and ar­rows. She gets more than enough pos­i­tive af­fir­ma­tion and pos­i­tive press, so why let the bad stuff bother her?

This, of course, is also a by-prod­uct of grow­ing up and get­ting older. The rea­son Rosanna is so keen on her 30s, she

says, is be­cause in­con­se­quen­tial things don’t bother her so much any more. She talks about how she al­ways said yes to ev­ery­thing in the past, but now she sees that it’s OK to say no some­times.

“I used to think I was hav­ing a good day if I fit as much as pos­si­ble in to it,” Rosanna said. “But then, by the end of the day, I’d be too ex­hausted to do any­thing or en­joy any­thing. I was just dashing around. It wasn’t nec­es­sary. “My res­o­lu­tion this year has been to de­clut­ter,” Rosanna says. “Last year was so stress­ful with the book and ev­ery­thing, so this year has been all about feel­ing able to say no.”

Does Rosanna feel she’s the kind of good-girl char­ac­ter that has to say yes in order for peo­ple to like her?

“No,” she an­swers. “That sort of worry is gone. I left that in my 20s. Be­cause that’s just part of life; you can’t al­ways do ev­ery­thing and keep ev­ery­one happy.”

It’s not just be­ing older, though, Rosanna says. Be­ing mar­ried has made far more of a dif­fer­ence to her life and her at­ti­tude than she had ex­pected. She and Wes­ley are to­gether a decade this year, but still, get­ting mar­ried in the sum­mer of 2014 changed things.

“I love be­ing mar­ried, and I had no idea how it would change our re­la­tion­ship, or if it would, be­cause we’d been liv­ing to­gether for five or six years, but it def­i­nitely makes you closer and makes you look out for and take care of each other more. We rarely even ar­gue any more. There’s just no point any more. We’re both aware of just shut­ting our mouths, in­stead of get­ting worked up about some­thing.

“I’m def­i­nitely more re­laxed about things,” she says, ad­ding with a laugh that, “you don’t care so much if you’re not look­ing per­fect. You’re not look­ing for any­one else or any­thing. I’m def­i­nitely more re­laxed in that re­gard, and I’ve be­come one of those peo­ple who has other cou­ples over for din­ner or drinks. Ev­ery­thing we do is in cou­ples.”

Club­bing, apart from ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances, is off the cards, then, for the do­mes­ti­cated Dav­i­son. The baby sub­ject comes up, in­evitably, al­beit as a prod­uct of the voyeuris­tic, so­cial-media con­ver­sa­tion. Char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally, Rosanna is cheer­ful in the face of the in­tru­sion into her fer­til­ity. Wes­ley loves kids, and she’s “very broody”, but she has a busy year ahead and she’s de­ter­minedly not tak­ing on too much. Also, she points out po­litely, they don’t even know if it will hap­pen for them, which is a nice way of say­ing, this is re­ally no­body else’s busi­ness.

Cer­tainly, she is at a point in life where “fam­ily is ev­ery­thing”. She laugh­ingly recog­nises that her pri­or­i­ties have shifted since the days of Club 92, but in the best pos­si­ble way. And any­way, we all know that among the young ones in the Leop­ard­stown club, Rosanna looked noth­ing like an oul one, and ut­terly im­pec­ca­ble; as she al­ways, un­al­ter­ably does.

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