Davina McCall on bullies and faking it until you make it

The super glam, super cool Davina McCall always seems so confident on our TV screens. She’s chatty, bubbly and a woman we all wish we were friends with. But behind the cameras, what is Davina really like?

We caught up with our favourite TV presenter to find out. Together we talked all things confidence, body image and why faking it until you make it is the best rule to live by.

Image Credit: Rex Features

Image Credit: Rex Features

1. What were you like when you were younger?

When I was at school, between the ages of 14 and 17, I had cripplingly low self-esteem. I projected this bubbly self-confidence all the time but I didn’t feel it inside. People say to me that I’ve always seemed really confident but it’s not true. When I’m not confident I fake it. I do it even now. It’s in the way that I stand, the way that I sit, the way that I dress – it’s everything. When you start to do those things you begin to feel it. When I first did the BAFTAs I was terrified and I thought that I had to fake it. I did and in the end I had a really fantastic night. It’s such a cliche but really fake it until you make it.

2. Have you gotten more confident as you have got older?

It’s only been in the last two years that I have started to say that I am good at what I do. So no I haven’t ever been really confident, even if it might seem that I am. I was a total wreck as a teenager. I felt that I had a huge hole in my life. I was a tortured soul and that is why I turned to drugs to try and fill the hole that I felt that I couldn’t fill any other way.

3. What is the best bit of life advice you can give?

I think that watching these YouTubers can be really confidence-boosting. They have a really positive effect. I watch TV but my children watch YouTube, it’s pretty much the same thing. These guys are being honest and talking about their feelings. If you are at university or studying a great confidence-booster is getting a side job. I had a Saturday job in a shop and it completely transformed my self-esteem. I learnt a lot of life skills and I did waitressing too. Dealing with chefs who want to stab you because someone wants their lamb well done – it’s all a learning experience.

I have had some low times in my life. Early on in my career I presented some turkeys. I presented a chat show and I was pregnant and it was just awful. I was very, very emotional and I really thought it was the end of my career. It was so bad, literally people were coming up to me and hugging me in Sainsbury’s! My husband gave me some amazing advice though that I still think about today. He said that failing is temporary and not trying is much worse. That is something that I live by.

4. What advice do you have about loving your body?

Exercise is amazing. Joining a team or a movement is incredible for boosting self-esteem. The other things is what we do to ourselves to look good is important. But how far do we go? Us women need to learn to love ourselves for who we are. I want to set this example to my daughters. I also tell them that if someone pays you a compliment, say thank you. Don’t give it back. Don’t do any of this “no you look amazing” thing. They have paid you a compliment because you ARE lovely.

5. What is your advice for dealing with bullies?
If someone is being mean, cruel or unfair to you it can be really, really horrible. Here’s some advice though – there’s this visualisation task I do which sounds completely crazy but it works. I imagine putting up an umbrella to protect myself from the nasty things they are saying. I imagine sitting on the floor and putting my umbrella up in front of me. What they are saying to me is just washing over the umbrella and I stay dry underneath. You have to think that sometimes people have things going on at home. Sometimes there is a personality clash that you can’t get over, but you need the tools to protect yourself.

Image Credit: Rex Features

Image Credit: Rex Features

6. Any more tips?
Dress to impress, sit at the front of the room, be present, keep your eyes open. If you do all these things then you will start to feel confident. Trust me.