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Image / Living / Culture

Holly Willoughby talks mum guilt and rethinking her view of her ‘ageing body’


By Sarah Finnan
02nd Nov 2021

Holly Willoughby / Instagram

Holly Willoughby talks mum guilt and rethinking her view of her ‘ageing body’

Holly Willoughby talks body shaming, ageing and the constant tug of guilt that comes as part of being a mum.

Most know Holly Willoughby as the effervescent presenter that lights up our TV screens every morning. One of the usual suspects on This Morning, the popular breakfast show she co hosts with close friend Phillip Schofield, Willoughby is sunshine incarnate – a woman so full of life that she somehow manages to make Monday morning seem like a party… the minutes-long compilation videos of her and Schofield laughing (of which there are plenty) are instant mood boosters if you’re in need of some extra serotonin this Tuesday evening. 

Now adding published author to her already long list of career achievements, the presenter has been even busier than usual as of late promoting her new book, Reflections. An exploration of what it means to live a beautiful life, Holly described it as a personal account of her innermost thoughts and musings. 

“This book is my celebration of how inner and outer beauty can work together in perfect harmony,” she wrote on Instagram earlier this year when she first announced the big news. “I hope this book will start conversations, whether they’re about how to find your signature lipstick, reclaim your sexuality, or treat yourself more kindly – and, ultimately, what it means to feel beautiful, confident, complete.” 

Recently speaking out about some of the topics that she covers in Reflections, Holly has been reminiscing on the many life lessons she’s learned along the way. How to embrace her ageing body, for example. Chatting to Fearne Cotton on her Happy Place podcast, Willoughby admitted that though she’s definitely been overly critical of herself in the past, she’s trying to see things in a much more positive light these days. 

“As you’re getting older when you hit your 40s, things change quite rapidly actually,” she told Cotton. “We are heading towards that kind of menopausal time, skin is changing, hair is changing, body’s changing – even having had a baby, the shape of your body completely changes.

“I think that it’s really important in those moments, rather than look down and go, ‘Oh my God, look at everything changing, I’m getting old, I’m getting more wrinkled. Oh my God, my t*** are around my knees.’ Instead of looking down, you’ve sort of got to look up with it and go, ‘God, my body was able to carry a baby, and my boobs breastfeed three children and they were fine’,” she continued. 

“You’ve got to go, ‘Yes my face is starting to sag and my eyes are bloodshot and the rest of it, but I’m healthy and I’m okay and getting older is a privilege because not everyone else gets to be here.’”

Later touching on how she manages to juggle it all, Willougbhy told The One Show that she’s not immune to the constant tugging guilt that comes as part of being a working mum. “I feel guilty about everything. It’s totally normal but what I would say is – and this is what I really have to focus on – where’s the guilt coming from? Because I think the problem with working mums is that I’m feeling guilty because I’m not there to drop my kids off in the morning, because I have to go to work,” she said. “What I’m feeling guilty about is that, in some way, I’m telling myself that I clearly don’t love my kids because I love my career more than my children, which is why I’m choosing to do this. And of course, that’s not the case. I know that’s not the case because I know I love my kids more than anything on this planet. So why am I thinking like that? And it’s because I believe that’s what everyone else is thinking,” she confessed. 

“You just have to re-evaluate whose opinions you’re living by. Are they yours or someone else’s?”

Holly’s new book, Reflections, is available to buy online and in all good bookstores now.