Steps Claire Richards my eating disorder hasnt gone away – but I know my triggers

Claire Richards spent years battling an eating disorder after being told to lose weight as a teenager when she was auditioning for iconic pop group Steps.

More than 20 years on, the mum of two says told OK! that while it hasn't gone away completely, she knows her triggers and is able to keep herself healthy.

“When I auditioned for Steps, they told me they loved my voice but I’d have to lose weight to join the group. So I began a strict diet, joined a gym – but only lost half a stone, initially," she explained.

"If someone told me that today, I’d tell them where to go. I was only 19 years old and 9st, but I had it in my head I was the ‘fat one’. It sent me on a spiral that lasted years. It was only after I left Steps that I went the other way and began to put on weight again."

Claire, who adds that she has been both dangerously thin and obese, says there is a lack of understanding around the issue but that she’s learnt to strike a happier balance.

“I’m not going to say the eating disorder has gone away completely – like a lot of women, I’m always criticising myself," she said. "But I’ve learnt to give myself much more of a break.

"As long as I feel comfortable in my clothes, I feel OK when I look in the mirror. I don’t starve myself any more, I don’t let it get out of hand. I eat healthy meals and I don’t go to extremes. I know my triggers.”

Speaking this summer to Vicky Pattison on her podcast The Secret To, Claire described the pressure put on young women in the industry when she was first starting out.

Before joining Steps she was part of a girl group called The Scan-Dolls, and said her and her bandmates were all "curvy girls" and told to diet, despite being size 10 to 12s.

"That whole Kate Moss, heroin-chic, was a thing and they wanted everyone to be really, really skinny… So, we were all put on a diet.

"That diet was interesting because we were encouraged to eat fish fingers, peas and baked beans and have like a 900-calorie diet."

As well as addressing her struggles with health body image, the singer also opened up to OK! about suffering crippling perimenopause symptoms. The mum of Charlie, 16, and Daisy, 13, said she felt stuck at home as she struggled with the effects.

“This last year has been a weird one,” she says. “I started getting perimenopause symptoms and I was like, ‘Hold on a second, I don’t like this.’

"I was asked to do The Masked Singer and the anxiety was horrendous. I was having the worst palpitations pounding through my neck. I didn’t feel I could give it my best at all, but in the end I got through."

Claire Richards’ new solo album Euphoria is out now

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