Shirley Ballas stopped eating because of insecurity over Darcey Bussell’s figure

Strictly Come Dancing 's Shirley Ballas has revealed she stopped eating because she felt insecure about fellow judge Darcey Bussel's slim figure.

The star said wanted to become "super thin" and dropped to a size 6 after joining the judging panel in 2017 alongside Darcey who she "always admired".

Before joining the show Shirley, 60, hadn't worked in TV before and said she didn't want people to think she was a "fuddy duddy".

Shirley said: "It was in my own head. I was going on with this most beautiful woman who I always admired, Darcey Bussell, and she was so slender and tall and so graceful.

"She just seemed, in my own mind, everything I wasn't.

"So, I just took those extra steps to make sure the dress was hanging right and the make up was right and the hair was right.

"Not in competition with her, but in competition with myself to not want to let anyone down. I didn't want anyone to think 'oh here's a woman in her late 50s' or a fuddy duddy, I didn't want that feeling."

Shirley also said her physical appearance was regularly criticised during her career and she had to work hard to slim down.

She said: "I always had a very curvy shape.

"To get super-thin as I did in 2017 on Strictly and drop down to a size 6, it was hard work.

"It was almost not eating.

"I cannot and will not do that to myself again."

Shirley described Darcey as "lovely and really encouraging" and said although she missed her when she left the show, she felt like she "could be herself".

The judge also claimed she had been bullied by 'men at the top' of the dance industry shortly before she joined Strictly.

She said: "My industry is a male dominated industry and for many years as a young child I experienced bullying and then it intensified from when I was about 50.

"Up until I was 57, it was really quite intense. There was people at the top stopping me getting little judging jobs for £50."

She explained she once had a judging job in Bulgaria, which featured friends who were retiring and wanted her to watch and judge their show.

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But she claimed the group employing her to judge the show were warned "she's not fit material".

She alleges they were also warned "if you employ her we will take your licence".

Shirley said the remarks were "just obscene".

She said: "I got to find out through the back-channels who said what. Even though I've never confronted them to this day I know who said exactly what, I know exactly what stopped me."

Shirley said as a single woman she could do the work of nine people, adding: "powerful men didn't like a successful woman".

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