Gail: “Sleeping rough was my rock bottom – but now I’m the happiest I’ve ever been”
Gail Porter tells Closer why she loves strangers hugging her in Sainsbury’s and how her teenage daughter Honey has been her rock
With her warm smile and infectious giggle, it’s hard to believe that Gail Porter has battled such relentless trauma for over a decade. After a meteoric rise as a TV presenter and model in the 1990s, work dried up when she was diagnosed with hair-loss condition alopecia in 2005, which tied in with the end of her five-marriage to Toploader’s Dan Hipgrave, dad to her daughter Honey.
Adding to Gail’s misery, she also suffered from anorexia and horrific depression, which saw her sectioned and diagnosed with bipolar disorder. At her lowest point, she was homeless for a whole year because she couldn’t pay her rent. While Gail says she was able to crash on friends’ sofas, when she had nowhere to go she slept on a park bench on Hampstead Heath.
But Gail credits her close relationship with Honey, now 15, for pulling her through.
“A lot of my friends say that I wouldn’t be here now if it weren’t for Honey,” says Gail, who’s currently writing a book about her roller- coaster life. “I can’t believe she’s going to be 16 this year. She’s absolutely perfect. She’s the strongest person I know and my best friend. We talk about everything and she’s definitely a fighter like me. Now she’s older, she understands how hard it’s been for me.
“She’s figuring life out at the moment and, although she can do anything she wants, part of me hopes she doesn’t go into showbiz. Honey is amazing at maths. We watch Countdown together and she even beats the host Rachel Riley! I hope she does something with that.”
And brave Gail, who also tragically lost her mum to breast cancer in 2009, says after surviving so many knocks in life, she’s finally turned a corner and has found true happiness.
“This is the happiest period of my life,” smiles Gail. “I have great friends around me, I’ve just started renting a flat in North London and I’ve got a cat! Sleeping rough was my rock bottom and I’ve been deeply depressed. I want to make the most of every day now.”
She adds, “I was in Sainsbury’s the other day and a complete stranger ran up to me and started hugging me. I just thought, ‘Crack on!’ She told me that she’d also battled depression and thanked me for being so open about my own troubles. I wanted to cry my eyes out. It made me feel that if I can make someone else feel good, I’m not useless after all.”
And Gail says taking up running and having her eyebrows tattooed by Karen Betts, whose charity The Gift Of Confidence boosts people’s self esteem through restorative treatments, has really helped her.
FULL OF ENERGY
Gail, who is currently single, says, “I’m up early and running every morning. I’m training for Race For Life’s 5K and it’s given me so much positive energy.
“The idea of having my eyebrows done freaked me out because I’m not a fan of those really strong Towie-style brows. But Karen did them so naturally, I burst into tears when I saw them because it made my face feel less scrubbed out and I could feel girlie again.
“I used to always wear baseball caps because I was so self-conscious about my appearance. I felt too ugly to even wear dresses, but now I’m taking them out of the wardrobe again.”
And former model Gail – whose naked body was famously projected on to the Houses Of Parliament as part of a magazine
stunt in 1999 – admits that, although her hair is partly growing back, she no longer cares whether it returns fully. Gail says, “My hair is coming back as white fluff so it looks a bit like a halo, but it’s come back and gone so many times, I don’t waste time thinking about it. Even though my naked arse has been seen by millions, I’ve never felt sexy or had much selfconfidence. I don’t think I’m pretty, but I’m a good person and I can make people smile. “The Kardashian-led big bum and gigantic lip culture doesn’t mean anything. The message should be that beauty comes from within. Just be yourself – you only have one life.”
‘I want to make the most of every day now’
● For more info, go to www. karenbetts.com
Here with Honey and ex-husband Dan in happier times
She says she wore caps as
she was so self-conscious
Having her eyebrows tattooed by Karen
Her naked image on was projected to the Houses Of Parliament in 1999