Dear Rebecca Adlington, Stop Crying About Your Looks And Be An Inspiration To My 11-Year-Old

14/08/2014 16:56 | Updated 22 May 2015

Dear Rebecca Adlington, stop crying about your looks and be an inspiration to my 11-year-old

Dear Rebecca Adlington,

I've just watched you on 'I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here' and felt the need to give you a hug, along with a few words of wisdom.

You were crying, see. Tears of self-pity, I think (unless a creepy-crawly squirted you in the eye). Because of the way you look, and the way model and Miss Universe Amy Willerton makes you feel insecure about your body.

You said you've had to put up with abusive comments about your looks for years, saying: "It's making me very, very insecure that I have to look [a certain way]. For me, I was an athlete.

"I wasn't trying to be a model, but pretty much every single week on Twitter I get somebody commenting on the way I look."

And as you cried, it made me angry – because I need you to be strong for my 11-year-old stepdaughter and girls like her. Because girls like them need women like you to inspire them, to rise above all the bullsh*t about looks and body shape. To rise above all that pathetic, juvenile, trolling tw*ttishness on Twitter.

Who cares what anybody says about you: they're pathetic, they're jealous – because you won two Olympic gold medals. But all that effort, all that work, all that ambition, all that achievement dissolved in the tears pouring down your face last night. Because you seemed to accept that looks are everything. It didn't matter that you are a blonde Goddess, with a body to die for.

All you cared about was what some morons thought about you. And that somehow, because you're not as pretty as 21-year-old Miss Universe (well, who is? It's called Miss Universe for a reason) that you were somehow a lesser person.

That is not what this housedad wants to hear, as I strive to instil a healthy work ethic into my growing stepdaughter.

Let me tell you about her. Last night, at 7 O'clock, she strode into the living room, her hair scraped back, her face glowing, her brow steaming with sweat, and dropped her sports bags on the carpet. And then she collapsed on the settee before declaring: "I'm starving. What's for dinner?"

A few minutes later, she was wolfing down a plate of chicken tikka masala and rice and telling me about her day.

"It was amazing. We totally trashed the opposition. I scored four. We were AWESOME."

I looked at her and smiled: "I presume you're talking about the hockey match?"

"No, football," she replied. "Hockey was last night. Durrr!"

She lives for sport, my stepdaughter. Hockey, football, gymnastics, swimming – the same sport you, Rebecca, excelled in. She doesn't give a monkeys about make-up and boys and pop bands. Oh, I know all that will come, but for now, she's obsessed with sport. Competitive sport. Trouncing the opposition.

Even though she is lithe and leggy, she is utterly unselfconscious about what she looks like. And utterly oblivious to what other girls look like. She's just living in the moment, unaffected by Facebook, and Twitter, and Snapchat, and the threat of cyber-bullying that comes with so much social media.

She doesn't care what anybody thinks about her because she doesn't know what anybody thinks of her. She just exists in a glowing bubble of sporty endeavour. And sometimes, her mum and I wish that bubble were aspic.

For out there, in the big wide world of growing up reality, there is a whole fest of bitchiness waiting to pour its poison onto her, attempting to erode her confidence and make her doubt all the aspects of herself that she doesn't even think about.

Is her hair perfect? Is her nose too big/small? Is she too fat/thin? Is she pretty enough? All part of growing up, they say, but wouldn't it be great if girls like my stepdaughter had role models that made them realise that such stuff is nonsense? That what you do and how you live your life is more important than how you look and how you preen?

I mean, for God's sakes, girls are now eating COTTON WOOL BALLS soaked in orange juice to make them feel full rather than eat real food because it might, you know, put a bit of meat on their skinny bones. It's just horrific.

Looks aren't everything, Rebecca. You're 24, only young, and when you get to my age (and my wife's) you'll realise that all those carbon-copy clones with their super-teased hair and pipe-cleaner bodies will just be baggy sacks of bones, with flappy jowls and Grand Canyon wrinkles, who will only have photos of their former pretty sleves to look back on – whereas you will have two Olympic gold medals. Wow!

So dry your eyes, pet, and take a leaf out of that other great Olympian, Dame Kelly Holmes, who said at the Women of the Future Awards 2013 this week: "The Olympics showed girls that you can be whatever type of woman you'd like to be and still have sport as an outlet.

"They also showed how sport should be used as a health and fitness tool, and that's inspired young females to think differently about their appearance rather than how skinny or fat they are."

That's inspirational, Rebecca. Bawling about morons' opinions of your looks isn't.

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