As head judge on Strictly Come Dancing, Shirley Ballas seems to ooze confidence, however, the reality is a little bit different.
The dancing star, who had her breast implants removed last year, told Kate Thornton on White Wine Question Time that she is a work in progress, trying to learn to love herself that bit more.
“Low self-esteem starts with me,” she said. “I have to learn to be comfortable in my own skin, which to this day is still a bit of a struggle.”
Such is the struggle that she exclusive revealed to Thornton that her fellow Strictly colleagues know not to compliment her when at work.
“I'm not comfortable at Strictly with anybody who says, 'Oh, you look great. You're brilliant!'” she revealed.
Listen: Shirley Balls reveals what she really thinks of this year’s Strictly Come Dancing
“Everybody knows not to comment. It's uncomfortable for me. I like to do the best job and stay focused and go into my world.”
Ballas, who turned 60 in September, believes her low self-esteem comes from her childhood when she received insults about her weight and skin.
She said: “You don't forget them, you know, you don't forget them. It's really strange.”
This low self-confidence led to the judge embarking on a strict diet for her first season on Strictly Come Dancing – something she says she will never do again.
She told Thornton about that time: “If was to get super thin as I did in 2017 on Strictly and drop down to a size six, it was hard work. It was almost not eating. I cannot and will not do that to myself again!”
Ballas says she felt threatened at the thought of appearing on TV alongside Darcey Bussell – and that she didn’t want viewers to think she looked her age.
“This was in my own head,” she admitted.
“Darcy Bussell was so slender and so tall and so graceful, and she just seemed - in my own mind - everything I wasn't. I just took those extra steps to make sure the dress was hanging right, and the makeup was right, and the hair was right.
“I didn't want anybody to think, 'OK, here's a woman in her, late fifties all fuddy-duddy’. I didn't want that feeling.”
Born and raised in Wallasey, Ballas said it’s taken until recently for her to start liking who she is, and that’s partly thanks to her partner, Danny Thomas, who is 13 years younger than her. He’s convinced her to love the person behind the show woman.
“I have a good partner and he loves every part of me: warts and all, as they say,” she said.
“He's a very accepting person, so he's helped me along the way with my self-esteem for sure – but the only person who can truly help me is me. And I'm in the process of doing that.”
Coming from the very glamorous world of ballroom and Latin dance, Ballas has spent most of her life wearing makeup and fake nails and says she’s slowly starting to accept the real her.
“Look at that, no false nails!” she laughed, showing her natural nails to Thornton.
“All my life I have all these big talons and eyelashes and makeup - and now I'm comfortable in a pair of sweats and very little makeup!”