Jade Ewen (Sugababes Jade)
Sugababes’ Jade ‘Why I hated being thin’
She joined the band in a cloud of controversy, but here Jade tells No.1 magazine her side of the story and why she decided to take on the role of Miss Ultimo.
Jade Ewan may not be the most familiar name to many. She sang at Eurovision and had bit parts on TV but it was when she joined the Sugababes, just as the only original member of the band, Keisha, was reportedly ousted that she suddenly hit the headlines. There were rumours that Keisha didn’t know she was no longer a member until she heard Jade had replaced her.
Then there was news of other band member Amelle being treated for exhaustion and Keisha ranting on Twitter about the insinuations she was a bully. But now Jade is trying to put all of that behind her and look to the future.
Here, she explains to No.1 what really happened when she joined the Sugababes and the body
hang ups she had to overcome before posing as Miss Ultimo.
hang ups she had to overcome before posing as Miss Ultimo.
You’re the new Miss Ultimo, how did that come about?
I was approached by Michelle Mone and obviously I love the Miss Ultimo collections so I definitely couldn’t say no when they asked. I just thought ‘YES I really want to do it!’. But then there was an after-thought once I had agreed to it of, ‘Oh wow, I’ve got to stand in my underwear in front of the nation.’
Did you panic slightly about posing in your underwear?
Yeah I did. It’s things you don’t really think about, because when you’re on the beach in a bikini you think, ‘Oh big deal everyone’s doing it.’ But actually, when you’re by yourself in a room, you start thinking ‘Oh my grandma is going to see this, and my brother is going to see this.’ But the underwear is really tasteful and I love it so I’m really proud of that I did it.
Were you nervous taking up the role of Miss Ultimo after the previous Miss Ultimo – Peaches Geldof – was fired?
It’s funny you should ask that because, to be honest, I joined the Sugababes in the middle of the biggest controversy. With that I felt like I was thrown in the deep end so now with everything else I think, ‘Oh well, I’ll just take it in my stride and get on with it.’
Do you have any body hang ups?
I used to be really conscious about my weight. I’ve always been really thin and when I was younger people used to say I looked ill because I was very long and bony. I did a lot of dancing so even though I was eating loads I seemed to always be losing weight as opposed to putting it on. For years it was something I was really conscious about and I would always wear really baggy clothes because I didn’t want people to make comments. But I feel like I’ve really started to fill out and have a lot more shape. I feel a lot more confident now compared to when I was a bit younger.
It’s interesting that everyone knows it’s offensive to make fun of someone for being overweight yet people see no problem with calling someone too thin…
Yeah taunts like that used to really hurt me and so I have all of the sympathy in the world for people who struggle with their weight or struggle to lose weight. But I always used to be envious of people who had more shape because I felt really unattractive to be quite honest. My family are half Mediterranean and half Caribbean so all the women are curvy naturally and I was just this skinny little thing. Everyone would say, “Oh you look so ill, you look like a little boy, you need to eat!” So I didn’t feel very feminine, I felt like, ‘Oh my God I need to eat, I need to eat.’ So it is strange that people don’t consider it to be an insult to call somebody too skinny but it is to say somebody is fat.
Do you have to watch what you eat?
I just have to make sure that I eat enough as I lose weight so easily – especially with the work schedule we have sometimes. You’re on the road doing gigs and I want to stay a healthy weight so I just make sure I eat properly.
There is some dancing with the Sugababes but with your extensive dance background the routines must be a walk in the park for you?
Yes it’s pretty chilled at the Sugababes but they do dance a lot more than they ever have in the past so there is more of a routine to it. But we sing everything live and we have three-part harmonies so we try not to throw in too many moves.
What was it like to suddenly become a member of one of Britain’s biggest bands whilst the Keisha controversy was going on?
I was so excited about the opportunity and for more than what people really knew because at the time I wasn’t ready to tell everyone to be honest. But I’ve always loved singing – it was my dream – so I took the opportunity after the decision had been made by the previous line up that they weren’t going to continue. I was under the impression, ‘Okay I’ve come into this and everyone’s made their decision and it’s not like I’m kicking somebody out.’ I was just so excited to be there. But then the excitement literally lasted a couple of days and then after a while it suddenly turned really negative. I felt like a lot of the anger then became directed at me as though I was in on this scheme to end Keisha’s career and I found that really difficult to deal with. It was a similar thing, I felt, with Alesha Dixon. I could really relate to her with the Arlene Phillips thing on Strictly Come Dancing.
Was it difficult knowing that everyone was coming to their own conclusions about you?
Yes, all of a sudden people have an opinion of you. I am a carer for both of my parents as both my parents are disabled, and although of course I love music, the opportunity to be in the Sugababes meant that I could live my dream as well as provide and give my family a better quality of life. So my reasons weren’t to end anybody else’s career. I felt I was unfairly judged for it. But now I feel like it’s turned around and become very positive, people know more about us as a line up and what we do. It’s always difficult to adjust when you’re so used to something.
Even for me having to sing old Sugababes songs and sing Keisha’s part was something that I found weird, as a fan! But the good thing is, when people come round to you, I see it as, ‘Well I’ve earned this now’. It’s not like I went in thinking ‘Okay I’m going to be famous and you should like me just because.’ The fans I have now I feel are loyal to me because I deserve to be in the group.
However harsh people are out there, I am my own worst critic – my mum always says that. I am always 10 times worse on myself, but you can’t please everyone, you just have to make yourself happy.And you just have to accept that sometimes the tabloids blow things out of proportion… But the thing is, I’ll put my hands up and say that I used to read newspapers and be like, “Oh my God, did you hear…” I’d read those papers believing everything that I saw in them. But when you’re on the receiving end of it, sometimes it’s not even based on any truth – it’s just completely made up. You feel like you’re walking around going, “It’s not true!”
Do you think joining the band at such a turbulent time has made you form a deeper bond with the other band members?
Yes definitely and I’m so glad that we had each other. The girls have been there before because they had both been the ‘new girl’ before. But no one had ever been in this exact situation before so we were all experiencing it together.
Where they supportive of you becoming the new Miss Ultimo?
Yeah they were! Heidi sent me a congratulations text but she said I must be crazy. She said she would never do it because you have to be really brave. So it was actually Heidi that made me think, ‘Oh yeah… what am I doing?!’ [laughs] But I’m really glad I did it. My mum says to me – she doesn’t mean it in a horrible way – but she says, “Now is the best you’ll ever look. As you get older you’ll deteriorate slowly. So you might as well make the most of it – take all the pictures and then you can show your grandkids in years to come.”
Do you have any lingerie confidence boosting tips for the No.1 readers?
Well I’ve recently discovered through Miss Ultimo that the retro shaped bra cups, there’s one called Candy Shop long line bra, are really good for cleavage enhancement. It just makes breasts look a lot more perky and the shape is really flattering! The range is gorgeous, the patterns are really playful and sexy.
I love fashion and sometimes I go through a phase where I‘m really into a trend and then I find that my underwear is not really going with my outerwear. But Miss Ultimo is really up to date and on trend! You can actually extend the whole look right down to your underwear! You feel quite special and you’re like, “Look… I’ve even got the matching knickers!” [Laughs]