‘When I was younger, I thought that being famous would feel like something. I looked at David and Victoria Beckham and I thought “Oh my God, when all the cameras are pointed at them they must feel…something”. I said to myself, “When you are famous something must switch. You must feel different”’
Charlotte Crosby has been in the public eye for almost 10 years. Thrust into fame on what would become the highest-rated show in MTV UK’s history, Geordie Shore, she admits she wasn’t necessarily prepared for the notoriety that came her way. Chatting to her from her new home in Houghton, Sunderland, she says she spent the first few years of her public career searching for a feeling even she can’t quite explain.
‘When I got onto the cast of Geordie Shore I was waiting like “Yes, that feelings going to come”’ she tells me over the phone. ‘Then we filmed the whole show and I still didn’t feel any different. I thought maybe once the show aired I would. So I waited, I was so eager to get this feeling. But it came out and nothing changed. In the whole 10 years since, I have never ever had that feeling I always thought I was going to get.’
Instead, what Charlotte did get was a public and tabloid media fixated on following her every move. Her relatability, hilarious outbursts and raw honesty on Geordie Shore gave her a core fan base that has followed her ever since that first season. Through tumultuous friendships, public breakups and an abundance of TV gigs, she’s become a successful entrepreneur in her own right.
From her own MTV show, ‘The Charlotte Show’, regular clothing lines with In The Style and a range of fitness DVDs and books, she’s built an empire that has afforded the £1million mansion she currently speaks to me from. Which, incidentally, is the current focus of the tabloids. Charlotte getting new patio doors sparked three articles alone.
We connected because of a few of those articles a couple of weeks ago. While the stories were seemingly about her home renovations, it was clear they were being used as a smokescreen to showcase pictures of her (overseeing said renovations) without makeup on and to encourage discussion about her changing appearance. ‘Charlotte Crosby gives rare glimpse of herself without make-up at home in Sunderland,’ one read. ‘Charlotte Crosby goes make-up free as she oversees renovations on her Sunderland mansion,’ another was headlined.
As a result, she was the top of Google’s trending searches and Facebook posts about her make-up free face were getting tens of thousands of comments, she says. Seeing such a non-newsworthy story trend felt archaic, and we wrote just that. Moments after publication, I received a DM from a very emotional Charlotte, thanking me for putting into words exactly what she needed to hear.
‘I was having a shit day and that one article you did turned that all around for me,’ she says. ‘It was one of about ten stories and nine of them were awful, but yours was good so I focused on that and I’m still on a high from it now.’
Having such a strong emotional response from one positive article, it would appear Charlotte has truly been put through the mill when it comes to negative press and appearance-shaming. ‘As a woman, you can’t go through life making any decision without being massively scrutinized in any shape or form,’ she says. ‘It’s horrendous.’
‘Two years ago, I went to the National Television Awards and I’d got all glammed up so I felt a million dollars,’ she says. ‘I went out on the red carpet - which I get really anxious to do anyway – and after I saw a photo that I loved. I thought like I looked like a move star.
‘I posted in on my Twitter,’ she continues. ‘And the thread of comments below was just loads of men tearing me apart for my looks. I don’t know whether I was on my period or just having a sensitive day, but seeing so many bad comments really affected me. But honestly, that was probably the only time I’ve gotten upset about trolling.’
It’s surprising really, how little Charlotte insists she isn’t affected by negative comments. On the outside looking in, it’s hard to believe anyone could be subject to such intense scrutiny for so long and only let it get to them one. But for Charlotte, school bullying was way worse than any trolling she’s ever received.
‘I was called every name under the sun and believe me that was tough, going into school every day wondering what I’m going to get called today, face to face with no escaping it,’ she explains. ‘Online you can block certain words, disable your comments, you don’t have to read articles about yourself and certainly not comments.’
But despite remaining unphased herself, Charlotte does despise the way women in the public eye are dissected. Particularly, she points to the reaction to her rhinoplasty in 2015. Since her nose job, Charlotte has had corrective surgery on her breasts for a genetic condition called Symmastia (where breasts are like a uniboob and so don't have cleavage) after being trolled for the way they look. She had implants put in at the same time which she has since had removed due to pain. She's also had face fillers.
The contrast between how a woman is treated compared to a man is sickening.
‘It took me five years to decide about the rhinoplasty,’ she says. ‘I was already a bit insecure about my nose and then I was seeing it in more angles than I would’ve if I wasn’t on TV. I just wasn’t happy with it. I tried to live with it when I was 25 I felt old enough to make the decision for real.’
‘The kind of stick I got for being honest about that was horrendous,’ Charlotte continues. ‘I had one TV appearance where I actually felt really backed into a corner about my decision being awful. And then the next week, I saw men on This Morning talking about hair transplants and being applauded for their bravery speaking about something they were insecure about. The contrast between how a woman is treated compared to a man is sickening.’
Being so open about what she’s had done is a double-edged sword, she says, because you open yourself up to criticism. ‘I know so many people who go out of their way to keep every single thing they’d had done hidden,’ Charlotte says. ‘I used to think, “Why would you want to lie about it?” But now I look at it and almost wish I’d done the same.’
But she can’t do that, she admits, because she feels too responsible for the countless young people that follow her. Charlotte has over 7million followers on Instagram alone, with many of her fans teens. ‘I realise I’m a huge influence on a lot of people, when I was 21 I didn’t take it quite as seriously but with age, I have taken on that responsibility.’
That being said, she thinks she handled her role model position well when it comes to her nose job in particular. ‘I don’t regret having a nose job and I don’t think it sent a bad message because I told everyone at the time I didn’t rush into it,’ Charlotte explains. ‘Everyone says, “Why did you have to change yourself? You should be happy with how you look!” but people enhance the way they look all the time with makeup. Parents put fixed braces on their children to improve the look of their teeth and don’t get criticised. I do not agree with people getting things done willy nilly but if someone’s not confident about something, don’t beat them up about changing it.’
While she understands her responsibility to be careful with what she promotes, she says it’s also down to parents to safeguard their child – and when it comes to social media, schools to educate them on the downfalls.
On that topic of social media and mental health, she suggests formal education on how the highlight reel nature of social media and encourages everyone towards the trend towards of ‘positive trolling’ - where people who don’t necessarily comment post more positive responses to outweigh the negative ones others can receive.
For those in the public eye like herself, she wants an end to the Daily Mail comment section and gossip websites like Tattle Life. ‘I never have anxiety but when I typed my name into the search bar of Tattle Life I’ve never felt anxiety like it,’ Charlotte says. ‘My whole body was shaking, it’s what I picture hell being like.’
That being said, she insists that the majority of trolling does not impact her mentality. Why? Because of her positive mental attitude.
‘I think we’re our own worst enemies and trolling is such a big thing because we’ve made it that way,’ she says. ‘There are people every single day in my inbox and comments saying the loveliest things, everyone needs to stop dwelling on the negatives and notice the nice comments. I’ve never wanted to walk away from what I do because I get thousands of comments every week from people telling me I’ve made their week. I post a photo and someone will say “You look beautiful, you’re glowing”. That’s what I focus on. I would never, let trolls mess with my life when there’s thousands of people saying amazing things to me.’
That’s exactly why, despite the publics obsession with her every move and daily takedowns of her life, she would never change the career she’s had. Even if she’s never experienced ‘the feeling’.
‘I live my life as a free spirit and I don’t think I’ll ever change, I’m glad about that,’ Charlotte concludes. ‘When I’m 80 I’ll probably still be getting torn apart for something just because I’m living my best life.’