Ashley James is becoming quite the force to be reckoned with. Making her name on Made in Chelsea, the 28-year-old has since added TV presenter, model, jewellery designer and charity ambassador to her CV. And all in a few years. Add to that the fact that she’s just completed the London Marathon, is launching a blog and is the new face of George’s swimwear range, and we feel suitably lazy. Not for long, though; we hot footed it over to meet Ashley to find out exactly how she fits it all in, how she copes with her body dysmorphia and her secrets to being truly body confident. We also got some pretty nifty bikini advice. Not so lazy, now, are we?
Congrats on becoming the face of George’s swimwear collection, Ashley! Tell us, what made you want to work with them?
I’ve been a fan of George since I was little – my mum was this big Asda shopper. I made my first George purchase at 15; it was a floral tunic top. Actually, I still have it in my wardrobe today!
Do you have a fave piece?
It’s so hard to choose but I adore the red bikini, mainly because the high waist is super-flattering but also because it reminds me of Baywatch!
Bikini top, £8, George
Bikini bottoms, £5, George
Most of your fans know you from Made in Chelsea. Are there any secrets you can spill?
People always question whether I actually went out with Ollie but I really did! It’s not as scripted as people think. The producers set up circumstances, such as bumping into your ex but other than that it’s all real life. The producers are super strict about it – if they think someone is playing up to the camera, they’ll cut the scene.
You’ve spent a big part of your career as a model – would you say your attitude towards it has changed as you’ve gotten older?
I’m definitely more confident. I started catwalk modelling when I was 16 but I wasn’t the cookie cutter shape, and the rest of the girls were quite derogatory about my boobs. I used to eat pizza and they’d call me fat. I gave it up for a few years but now I’m much happier. The industry is way more forgiving now – my attitude has changed because fashion has changed, which is so encouraging.
How do you keep your body in tip-top shape?
I try to keep my diet as balanced as possible. I feel sluggish if I constantly eat unhealthy food but sometimes I just can’t help myself! I don’t want to restrict myself from having the things that I like to eat; Having a bit of what you fancy every now and then is the healthiest approach. I’ve also just discovered Barry’s Bootcamp and it’s insane. The combination of weights and running is ideal for keeping my body in check.
You’ve just completed the London marathon – congrats! Do you think training for it has changed the way you perceive your body?
Having a goal keeps me motivated. It’s simple – the more exercise I do, the happier I am in my body. I suffer from body dysmophia so when I look in the mirror my mind sees something very different.
How did you cope with body dysmorphia?
It was so difficult. I didn’t fully understand what it was and was suffering from panic attacks. My confidence hit rock bottom and the reason I decided to talk about it was because I felt so many other people had it but no-one wanted to speak up. I didn’t want to seem like a victim, I just wanted people to realise you can be a smaller size and still struggle with body issues. However, surrounding yourself with people you trust makes a big difference.
You look amazing in whatever you wear! Do you have any tips on dressing for your shape or size?
If I like something I wear it, whether it suits my body or not. For example, I wore a Versus Versace dress to the Batman Vs Superman premiere and let’s just say wasn’t made with big boobs in mind! My agent said I shouldn’t wear it but I was like ‘I feel good in this,’ so I wore it regardless! The key to looking good is showing off the parts of your body that you’re most confident with – not necessarily what others think are your best.
Check out our fave pieces from the new collection below and scroll to the bottom of the page to watch Ashley’s holiday packing challenge.
Swimsuit, £12, George
Bikini top, £8, George
Bikini bottoms, £6, George