It was the late 90s and everyone wanted to look like Britney... lip gloss, crop tops, pert boobs and long, lithe bronzed limbs. Bushes were out, Brazilians and Hollywoods were in. In effect, my frames of reference as a young woman were porn stars who modelled themselves on young girls and skinny blondes.
Sadly, I didn't quite fit the mould. The hair on my head was short, brown and spiky; and the hair on my body was pretty much the same.
Unlike a lot of women who suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), I have never suffered from acne or struggled to control my weight, but my symptom has always been excess hair and when I say excess, I mean EXCESS. My leg hairs were dark and bristly and each follicle seemed to sprout in groups of three. I could shave in the morning and be hairy again by the evening. My bikini line was impossible to control, with thick dark pubic hairs creeping down my upper legs and up to my belly. The more I shaved or waxed, the more ingrowing hairs I got and having tried in vain to get the little buggers out, I was left with an extensive amount of scarring. All in all, it was a huge mess and had an even huger effect on my confidence and mental wellbeing.
One of the areas that this really affected was my relationships with men. I used to dread getting naked as I imagined that they would be shocked and even disgusted by what they saw. Preparation for a night with my long-term boyfriend involved hours of shaving, trimming and applying stage makeup to my legs and bikini area (the type that they use to cover tattoos in movies) so that he never knew what I really looked like or how I felt about myself (even though we dated for 3 and a half years.) I also will never forget a guy informing me that he would really fancy me if it wan't for my monkey arms. People can be so cruel and when someone addresses the one thing that haunts you day in day out, it can have a long-term effect.
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Eventually, I decided that I needed to do something as the hair situation was making me so unhappy. I had arrived in London and was at the start of my radio career working three different jobs. Rather than buying designer handbags or putting the money away for a deposit on a house, my first pay checks went towards laser hair removal. I went to a clinic called SK:N and when they explained to me the difference that laser could potentially make, I cried with relief. Why hadn't I done this sooner?
I had six sessions where they blasted my legs, my bikini line, my tummy, my toes....basically everything short of my arms. Following the initial six, I also had a couple more top-ups. It was bloody painful, I'm not going to lie. I used to bite my hand as they dealt with my bikini line, which is without a doubt the most sensitive area and don't even get me started on my bum (yes, I even got that done!)
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Well I'm sitting here now, 10 years later, and I can honestly and absolutely tell you that it was the best thing I have EVER done. (Well apart from getting married and having kids etc...but you know what I mean!). All these years later, my legs are practically hair-free and all my scars have gone. I get the odd hairs around my bikini area that I shave off but overall, I have about 5% of the hair that I used to.
Laser cost me more than £1,000 but the confidence it gave me and the fact that I can now get my legs out in the summer without worrying, made every penny worth it. On my podcast, I often talk about positive body image and how we should all be proud of who we are and what we look like, but sometimes there are things that affect us at such a deep level that we need to take action.
Nicola's chart-topping podcast, The Outspoken Beauty Podcast, is available to download at iTunes and via your favourite podcast platform. For all the latest episode and celebrity guest news follow her on Instagram .