The editor of British Vogue has revealed that at the age of 10 she was banned from eating potatoes because her mother thought she was getting 'really podgy'.
The humiliating childhood experience so affected Alexandra Shulman, now 55, that she has subsequently refused to feature diets or promote the use of super thin models in Vogue under her editorship.
On Radio 4's Desert Island Discs last Sunday, Alexandra said she could still remember the taste of her primary school canteen's mashed potato – and the devastating day her headmistress said she wasn't allowed any.
"My mum, I think I was about 10, was worried I was getting really podgy so she said to the headmistress of our school 'can you make sure Alexandra doesn't have potato?'" she recalled.
"I can still see it now, we'd have mashed potato in a Pyrex bowl with that pool of butter soaked into the middle of it and it would be on the table at school. And I love mashed potato."
She said that it was 'for some reason, best known to themselves' that the school decided to announce 'in front of everyone' that she was not allowed to have any because of her weight.
"But I've survived," she added.
Despite being initially criticised for not looking like a fashion mag editor when she took over at British Vogue in 1992, Alexandra says she has not put pressure on herself to look a certain way, and is unfazed by ageing.
"I don't compare myself with the models, or the young people in the office," she said. "I know people think I'm a bit peculiar about this but it doesn't really bother me. In general I feel quite happy with how I look."
Alexandra also added that being a mum has made her better in her role as an editor, revealing she could 'immerse' herself in her son after having a bad day at work.
"I think you just are a mum as soon as you have a child," she said. "The moment I had Sam, everything in my life became better. Certainly work. I was able to have this other thing that was more important."
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