Move over J Lo and Beyonce, this girl has the perfect curves in all the perfect places.
"i tried so hard after they left to make my heart hard. and now you have undone all my hard work."
‘I’ve cried, felt fat and thrown clothes around. But I’m now happy with my body’
Girls Aloud’s Kimberley Walsh on marriage, meltdowns and making friends with her figure
When we first see Kimberley Walsh, she looks like a '50s swimwear goddess. We're in awe of her glamorous hourglass figure. Not that she's aware of it.
She smiles falteringly as she places a shawl around her hips, trying to hide them from the camera. "I've got extreme proportions," she explains - her way of saying she has a tiny waist and a J-Lo-style bum.
During her year off from Girls Aloud, which has seen each member pursuing solo projects, Kimberley, 28, has been trying her hand at TV presenting. We're here today to talk about her new documentary on jeans, part the history of denim and its cowboy origins, part our love/hate relationship with them.
"How traumatic is jeans shopping?" Kimberley asks. "It's as if it's designed to make us feel bad about ourselves. You know what size you are, but it doesn't work with jeans. If I buy skinny jeans, I have to go a size bigger, but with high-waisted ones, I might be two sizes smaller. Does anyone else find it a painful experience or am I out there on my own?" We tell her we've shed tears jeans shopping.
"I've cried too, in vile changing rooms with horrible lighting," she confides.
And that's the thing about Kimberley. Within minutes of meeting her, you feel you can tell her anything. She's the Girls Aloud member who has always seemed one of us. Down to earth, a girls' girl, a womanly woman, a typical Yorkshire lass. She shares our frustrations and our fears. And while we've watched her band mates get skinny, Kimberley has maintained her curves.
So is she happy with her body? "I'm happy with my waist, it's small so I can accentuate it," she says. "My legs are my least favourite. But I'm comfortable in figure-hugging clothes. I'm a woman - I may as well make the most of it. If you try to hide in baggy clothes, you just look bigger."
But Kimberley's honest enough to admit that there have been occasions when she has been on the brink of tears over her body. "Hasn't everybody?" she asks. "You're getting ready to go out, you're feeling a bit fat, nothing fits and you just want to wear a bin bag"
In reality, Kimberley has nothing to worry about. Slipping in and out of swimwear today, she looks amazing. And she confesses that while she has tried to lose weight in the past, she worries less about her shape these days.
"Maybe I like myself more. There's nothing I'd consider cosmetically changing about my body. I'm a wuss and I'd be scared!"
Instead, Kimberley keeps fit by doing Davina McCall's workout DVD and walking, which came in handy when she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief last year. "That was very hard. Cheryl and I both hated it," she confesses. "We were lucky to have each other. To be with someone you're really close to when you're doing something like that makes it a lot easier."
Cheryl is, of course, Cheryl Cole, 26, fellow Girls Aloud member and one of Kimberley's best friends. But while they are undoubtedly close, recently there's been no getting away from rumours of a rift in the band. Particularly with LA-based Nadine Coyle, 24, who is said to have become increasingly isolated from the rest of the girls. Not true, says Kimberley.
"We're still in touch, although we don't see each other that much because we're all busy," she says. "We text all the time, and if anyone is doing anything exciting, we're there to support them. Soon we'll have discussions about when we should start recording again."
She admits, however, that they're not in as regular contact with Nadine: "She's been in LA for over three years, so we don't see as much of her. The time difference means she's asleep when we're awake, so it's not as easy to stay in touch."
What about the rumours that Nadine doesn't want to be involved with the next Girls Aloud album? "That's not the case," Kimberley insists. "I've heard nothing from her to suggest that. We were all getting on really well when we finished the tour. "We've been together seven years, so we know each other really well. We never argue. We have disagreements, but only if we've got different opinions about things we're going to do with the show."
That said, it's obvious that Kimberley, Cheryl and Nicola Roberts, 24, have the strongest bond. And it's Kimberley and Nicola who have been there to pick up the pieces after Cheryl's split from her love-rat husband, footballer Ashley Cole, 29. Kimberley and her boyfriend, singer Justin Scott, 28, used to go on double dates with Cheryl and Ashley. So has she seen Ashley recently?
"No, I haven't," Kimberley replies. Her normally expressive face is blank, but she says it without malice or regret. We ask if Cheryl's OK.
"I don't want to talk about it because we're really close. I wouldn't discuss any of my friends in that way," she says.
Kimberley might be an open book when it comes to herself, but with her friends she is incredibly loyal. And in the fickle world of showbiz, that's as precious as gold.
Kimberley was 21 when she won a place in Girls Aloud on ITV1's Popstars: The Rivals in December 2002. At the time, she'd been pursuing an acting career after attending the Stage 84 theatre school in Bradford, where she grew up. In 2000, she'd lost out on the role of Coronation Street's Maria to Samia Smith. While getting into the band was the stuff of dreams, fame brought its own pressures.
"We're role models, and there's nothing we can do about that," she admits. "It's hard to take on because I'm only human. If I make mistakes, I hope people forgive me or learn by them because I can't put pressure on myself."
That's easier said than done - Kimberley is a perfectionist and a bit of a worrier. To combat stage fright, she pretends to be Beyoncé who, along with J-Lo, is her body hero. "In my head, when I walk out on stage, I pretend to be Beyoncé for the first five minutes. She's a good alter ego for me," she smiles. "She's an amazing performer and I've always thought it was good that there are people like her and Jennifer Lopez, who have a similar body shape [to me], especially when you've looked at Kate Moss all your life!"
Despite her star status, Kimberley is unfalteringly polite, even when asked the question she's heard a million times: Will she and Justin - her boyfriend of seven years - ever marry? "It's become more of a thing for other people than for us. When the time feels right, it will happen," she says. "Or it might not. Maybe we'll continue as we are. We're in it for the long haul. We've withstood a lot already. We live together and we've got loads of commitments together."
Kimberley is not afraid to admit that her parents splitting up when she was six has made her more wary about marriage. "I look at Justin's mum and dad, who are really happy together, and think it's amazing. But my parents didn't stand the test of time, and it makes you think more about making that sort of commitment. There's nothing I don't know about Justin, nor him about me. But for some reason it's scarier when you've seen it not work, and I'd like it to work."
She's very close to her sisters, Sally, 31, and Amy, 23, both actresses. Sally has just had a small role in Coronation Street. Her brother Adam is an events manager, but they all went to the same stage school and "any opportunity we got, we would be dancing and singing. My mum is a music teacher and my dad played in a band, so we were like the Von Trapps! Although I don't remember much about my parents being together. For me it was normal for them to be apart."
While Kimberley says she is "not ready" for children yet, she's already a stepmum to Justin's daughter Chloe, 12, from a previous relationship. "I thought I might have issues with him having a child because his first experience of that role is not going to be with me. But when I saw him with her and saw what a good dad he is, it made me love him more," she admits.
The pair met on the music circuit. Justin was in the boy band Triple 8, which was signed to Polydor, the same label as Girls Aloud. His band split after two top 10 hits - so has it been hard for Justin to watch Kimberley's career go stratospheric?
"I can see how it wouldn't be easy for some people, but he's really chilled out and secure. If he does feel bad, he never shows it, so it's never interfered with our relationship," she explains.
"We don't really have big rows. We have arguments. They used to escalate into bigger ones, but neither of us wants that, so we've learnt to cut them short," she adds. "I don't want it to be me who says the thing that goes too far. You may have won the argument, but you'll end up feeling bad."
Kimberley is a mixture of incredibly strong yet very vulnerable. You imagine she must have had to toughen up over the last seven years.
"I've got more wary of people since being in the group because of the industry," she agrees. "I don't trust as easily, which is a healthy thing.
"But I trust Justin. I haven't any reason not to. You've got to trust each other. Keep on as we are and hope it continues."
Wise words. And ones that could be as much about Girls Aloud as they are about Justin.
Last edited by Maeve; 13-06-2010 at 10:26 AM.