‘I starved myself to be like Darcey’ Shirley Ballas opens up on the extreme lengths she took to slim down

She may have a figure that defies her age, but Shirley Ballas has opened up about her crippling battle with her appearance, and revealed that her insecurities got so bad she started ‘starving’ herself to compete with Darcey Bussell on Strictly.

Speaking about joining the show as head judge in 2017, Shirley Ballas – who has previously admitted to weighing herself everyday – confessed, "For my whole life I’ve never felt, as a female, [that] I was up to scratch.

"When I first went on Strictly I had a little phase at the beginning, you know, when I was sat next to this really beautiful lady, Darcey Bussell – this ballerina, this Snow White beauty – that I stopped eating until I looked at myself and realised I looked so gaunt."

This deep-rooted lack of confidence is one of the reasons Shirley, 59, had a boob job when she was 41, going from a 32B to a 34DD, though she recently had her breast implants removed due to health fears.

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Shirley explained how her ex-husband Corky Ballas, who she was married to from 1985 to 2007, would regularly tease her about her smaller chest. And she claimed his jibes contributed to her lack of self-confidence.

"I thought, 'To save this,I just need to make myself more attractive!'" she said.

"For years, Corky was a jokester. He’d tease me with things like, 'You’ve breasts like two currants on a breadboard!'

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"It’s like a little pickaxe that [endlessly] goes chip, chip, chip, until, in the end, you think you’re ugly."

Corky previously admitted that he and Shirley ‘would argue every day’ when they were married, and insisted that she was only attracted to him for his money.

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"I think [Shirley’s] initial attraction was that I had a wealthy background, and family," he said. "She called me 'Mr Millionaire'.

"But the problem with marrying your partner is you confuse the love of dance with the love of a person. Back then I thought we were in love."

Shirley has now met a new man, Danny Taylor, 46, and she revealed to our sister publication Woman that he has changed her outlook, and improved her self-esteem massively.

She said, "All through my life I’ve lacked self-esteem and now I’ve met this wonderful man who is so amazing and he loves everything about me just the way it is."

Long may it continue. We’re so glad to see how much happier you are, Shirley!

Jack White is Celebrity Content Director at Future, working across Women's Lifestyle brands such as Woman&Home, Woman, Woman's Own, Women's Weekly and GoodtoKnow. When he's not interviewing your favourite stars or writing about the latest make-up/break up, you'll find Jack searching for new Gemma Collins memes, singing (badly) in the office or binge-watching crime dramas.