Former Big Brother star Alex Lee has spent more than £30,000 transforming her look, saying seeing herself on TV was “actually painful”.
The 24-year-old, from Whiteleas, South Shields, appeared on the reality show in 2011 and said she was “absolutely horrified” when she watched the programme back.
Her self-confidence plummeted to such a low that she was diagnosed with body dysmorphia, an anxiety disorder that causes a person to have a distorted view of how they look and to spend a lot of time worrying about their appearance.
She’s since overcome her anxieties by spending a fortune on procedures she feels have improved her looks.
Alex, who works as airline cabin crew, said: “When I came out of the show and watched it back, seeing myself as actually painful.
“I just thought, ‘is that how people see me?’ It wasn’t the image I wanted to portray whatsoever and I was so upset with how I looked.
“The support I got from the show was fantastic and it was such a good experience, I don’t have any regrets about doing it.
“But seeing myself on TV was such a shock – I was absolutely horrified. I didn’t think I looked like that at all.
“When I met people who’d seen the show, they’d always say how funny I was – I was always the funny one and never the pretty, blonde one.
“It all progressed from there really. I wanted to make myself feel better about the way I looked so I got lip fillers and then moved onto botox and started to progress onto bigger procedures like facial fillers, eyebrow and lip tattoos and laser liposuction.
“Every time I got a procedure I felt like I was enhancing and a bit of confidence started to come back.”
Alex says she barely recognises the 18-year-old girl who appeared on Big Brother, and reality make-under show Snog, Marry, Avoid before that.
She said: “I used to go on nights out wearing basically a bra and knickers and I thought I looked lush. I can’t believe how ballsy I was then, I was so confident, and I just lost all that.
“I didn’t even want to go out the house because I was so down about the way I looked. I didn’t wan to do any TV work or press because I was so concerned with how I looked and what people were thinking when they were looking at me.
“It was something that I thought about 24/7, what I looked like from this angle, and what that person could see when they were looking at me. I just hated myself. I was at rock bottom and I knew it wasn’t right so I went to the doctors and he asked if I thought I was body dysmorphic.
“I read up on it and knew that was it. I didn’t know what had happened to that strong, bubbly, girl I’d been. It was a four-year battle for me, but I’ve beaten it now and I’m so much happier with the way I look – I’ve got my confidence back.”
Alex, who finished third when she appeared on Big Brother, has spent £30,500 on procedures since 2011, but doesn’t regret a penny of it.
She said: “I made a substantial amount of money after Big Brother by doing appearances in clubs, and I also invested a lot of the money I’d made in property and small businesses.
“And of course, I went straight back to my career after coming out of Big Brother, because being an air hostess is what I always wanted to do, and I love it.
“If you asked me how I felt about myself a few months ago, I was still really low, but now I’m a lot stronger. I still don’t think I’m quite as confident as I was when I was 18, but I’m getting there and I’m so much happier with how I look now.
“There are a couple more things I want to have done, but mainly it’s just upkeep – my botox, lip and face fillers are something I couldn’t go without.
“If you’re unhappy about something and you have the means to change it, then why shouldn’t you? I don’t see why you should live with something you’re unhappy about if you don’t have to.”
Alex, who now lives in Solihull, near Birmingham, now leads an extravagant lifestyle and has expensive taste. She wears designer labels like Chanel, Alexander McQueen and Jimmy Choo, spends hundreds of pounds on clothes, and drives a Range Rover Vogue TDV8, a car which can cost up to £160,000.
She added: “Not everyone can afford things like this but I’ve worked hard for my money and I’ve invested it wisely.
“I have Big Brother to thank for giving me that push but I know that I was the perfect housemate because I went in there for the right reasons. I wanted to have fun and a good experience, I wasn’t desperate for fame.
“But now that I’ve got used to this kind of lifestyle, I couldn’t go back.”
What has Alex spent her money on?
Since 2011, Alex has spent £30,500 on transforming her look.
Here’s a breakdown of the procedures she’s had and how much they’ve cost her:
Face filler - £6,000
Nasolabial folds (smile lines) - £250
Marionette lines (side of the mouth) - £250
Lip fillers - £6,000
Nose job - £5,000
Botox - £3,000
Eyebrow tattoos - £500
Lip tattoos - £500
Chin construction - £4,000
Vampire facials (injecting blood back into the face) - £2,000
Laser liposuction - £3,000