Shirley Ballas said she has struggled with her self-esteem all of her life and revealed she has “done all sorts” to feel more confident about herself.
The Strictly Come Dancing head judge spoke to Prima magazine about how she is learning to be less guarded and show more of her personality while on the show so she can connect with the audience.
The professional dancer and choreographer, 61, has spent the last few weeks undergoing tests after fans spotted a lump under her arm during an online video, but she recently confirmed the test results so far looked “absolutely fine”.
Ballas told Prima magazine: “I have struggled with my self-esteem all my life.
“I’ve done all sorts to try to make myself feel more confident: I had my teeth straightened and fat drained out of my arms and legs; I thought doing my boobs would make my husband at the time like me more, but I was doing it for the wrong reasons.
“You have to love yourself first. That’s my message to every woman.”
The dancer discussed how she is tackling these issues and learning to be more herself while judging on the dance competition.
She added: “That’s something my son Mark said to me: I need to drop the walls because people can spot it when you’re being guarded.
“They see right through it, so I might as well be the real me.”
Ballas admitted that creating these walls was a coping mechanism and a “way of drowning out negative voices”, but said it had led to her feeling “very alone” in the past.
“I don’t think that’s a very healthy thing to do – it definitely had an effect on both my marriage and my friendships”, she said.
Ballas, who is one of the most renowned and decorated professional dancers in the world, explained that her health is her priority now at age 61 and focuses on keeping fit and eating well.
She said: “I work out on my Peloton bike and do yoga. I also try to drink two litres of water a day. My downfall is my sweet tooth!”
The January issue of Prima is on sale from 2nd December.