Melanie C has told the Brendan O'Connor Show on RTÉ Radio 1 that her self-acceptance and compassion came with age.

The Spice Girls singer-turned-solo-star said "actually overcoming some quite difficult personal challenges" had also helped immensely and inspired her new song Who I Am.

"I've talked quite openly about mental health issues I've suffered with," she continued.

"I've had depression over the years and when I was younger I suffered with an eating disorder. So I think when you just finally allow yourself to be proud of some of the difficulties you've overcome then you can kind of find that place to start liking yourself a bit more." 

"Did the depression and the eating disorder, was that something that kind of developed around the time of the Spice Girls and the pressure that that would've brought?" asked the presenter.

"It really did," Melanie C replied. "I can't pinpoint exactly the reasons why. But definitely, you know, huge life change with becoming very famous, well-known, in the public eye, lots of travelling, being under a lot of pressure to perform... There was a lot for us to deal with as young people. Unfortunately some of the aspects of that I did find quite difficult to deal with."

She said she feels people talk "much more openly about all things" now, be it the pressure on young women or mental health in general, than when the Spice Girls became household names.

"Back then we didn't have social media, which young people have a whole new world to deal with now, a whole new set of pressures. But at the time the tabloid media, especially here in the UK, it was difficult. That seems to have eased now, but I think every generation has new things to kind of deal with."

When asked if the tabloids had put "lots of pressure on her", Melanie C replied: "I remember reading lots of things about myself which were very hurtful. And when I look back now over old articles it's quite shocking. Some of the language that they used to use, they would never get away with it now."

At the end of the interview, Melanie C was asked for her message to young people, and teenage girls in particular.

"I think going through what we've been through, with Covid, I think it's been a challenging time for everybody in different ways, whatever your situation is. And I know personally for me I've had days where I've felt quite low.

"Speaking more to young people who are maybe having issues with body image, I would say reach out to somebody, and I would say reach out to a professional. I was embarrassed, I was ashamed for many, many years. I was in denial. I didn't want to talk about it. I didn't want anybody to know. It felt like a weakness."

She concluded: "I just think now, there are so many negatives about the Internet, but one of the great things about the Internet is that there's lots of resources and there are great charities out there. I would just say reach out to people, speak.

"If you don't feel comfortable speaking to somebody you know, whether a family member or a friend, then reach out to somebody online who can help. Definitely professionals I would always advise to speak to, because it just really helps to get it all off your chest."

If you have been affected by issues raised in this article, please visit: www.rte.ie/helplines.

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