Jodie Marsh is a woman that has overcome personal demons from her childhood and raised herself and her career to incredible heights. A successful model, television star, savvy businesswoman and a champion bodybuilder, Jodie is an inspiration to us all, especially in her response to negativity. On a personal note, I could not wait to interview her for Women Make Waves and she was even more wonderful, accommodating and passionate than I hoped.
Women Make Waves (WMW) – You’ve carved yourself an incredible career by being a rare combination of gorgeous and intelligent. Have you had a lot of support along the way?
Jodie Marsh (JM) – I get a lot of support now but I had none in the early days, other than from my mum and dad. I took a lot of stick for wearing skimpy outfits and for being a glamour model and actually had a really tough time trying to deal with that. I never really understood why women felt the need to belittle other women. I lashed out at people when I was younger, but only AFTER they’d torn me to shreds for no reason because I was hurt, angry and young and didn’t understand it. These days the support is incredible and most people nowadays know me for being a champion bodybuilder and an anti-bullying campaigner. I’m also a modern day feminist, a REAL one. I believe that women ARE equal to men and that we can do anything we want in life, including taking off our clothes if we so wish.
WMW – The ‘Bullied’ program that aired in 2013 was a remarkable and eye-opening piece of television journalism and gave a huge insight into you as a person. Did it make you feel vulnerable?
JM – No I didn’t feel vulnerable, I was just grateful to be doing it and helping people, as it had been my dream to do so since I was 15 years old. Bullied was a two part mini-series but a year previous to that I had made a show called My Secret Past (also about bullying) and the film crew took me back to stand at my school gates. I felt physically sick, as I’ve never been there since I was young and never wanted to go back there.
WMW – Do you think that viewers were surprised to learn that someone as confident and attractive as yourself was bullied? Did you get a good response to the program?
JM – The response was overwhelming. So many people came forward to me on twitter and Facebook and told me their stories. I will never forget one woman, who was 43 years old, and had been married for 20 years who broke down and told her husband that night about the bullying she suffered at school. They’d been married all that time and she’d never had the courage to tell him until they sat and watched my show together! I think it’s kind of common knowledge, now, that I was bullied so I don’t ever think viewers are surprised but I definitely think my strong character helps to break incorrect perceptions. I’m proof that bullying can happen to anybody.
WMW – What was the catalyst that made you decide to put your painful childhood bullying experiences behind you and focus on yourself and your initial career as a model?
JM – I didn’t put my bullying behind me until I was about 30! I think that was due to lack of help and advice and I was emotionally scarred for so long. Focusing on my modeling came about BECAUSE of the bullying – they called me ugly every day so I decided that instead of being a victim, I would be a survivor and I would ‘prove’ to the bullies that they were wrong. The only way my teenage brain could think to prove how wrong they were was to become a model, because I reasoned I couldn’t be “ugly” if I graced the front pages of magazines.
WMW – Congratulations on becoming the INBF champion, it’s an incredible achievement but what made you begin bodybuilding? Has it brought you even more mental strength as well as physical definition?
JM – Thank you very much. Yes definitely, I am the happiest I’ve ever been. Bodybuilding has given me self-worth, self-respect and has allowed me to truly love myself. I kind of fell into it through friends who were already involved in the sport and the rest is history. It is without doubt the best thing I’ve ever done.
WMW – Have you been disappointed by inappropriate comments in the press and Internet trolling about female bodybuilders? Why do you think people feel they have the right to make disparaging comments about someone who has clearly invested time and effort into their body?
JM – No I never feel disappointed, I feel pity. Having studied bullying for so many years, I know categorically that trolls and bullies are the ones with the issues, not the person they are being nasty to. They feel they ‘have the right’ because something is badly wrong in their life (they aren’t loved, they don’t have any money, someone has just died, they are overweight or underweight etc), and they lash out in anger. Deep down they’d probably love to be even half as fit as a natural female bodybuilder but instead of getting off their arse and doing something to make that happen, they hide behind computer screens and act all mad at the world.
WMW – Do you think that the ‘sisterhood’ has all but disappeared now? It seems as though women, towards others, commit a lot of trolling. Isn’t it time for us to start supporting each other rather than belittling?
JM – It’s definitely time to support each other. We’re here in the days of equality and we can do anything our hearts desire so we should embrace this and help each other. I put a great quote on Instagram the other day:
“You can tell who the strong women are. They are the ones you see building one another up instead of tearing each other down”
This says it ALL!
WMW – Are women in the bodybuilding scene more supportive and appreciative of each other?
JM – Like anything in life, you get lovely, helpful, supportive people and then you get the jealous, nasty, aggressive ones. I’ve met some incredibly strong and beautiful women through bodybuilding who are now some of my closest friends.
WMW – I saw a great quote yesterday, it read ‘”We need to teach our daughters to become somebodies, not somebody’s”. Do you agree with this?
JM – Yes I totally agree with this. Nobody should be controlled by another person, not in any form or disguise. There is no excuse.
WMW – What projects do you have lined up for the future? Will you be extending your massively successful JST JODIE line and competing in more bodybuilding contests?
JM -Yes my range of products is expanding all the time. We are currently arranging a deal for my products to go into another major high street chain (the products are already in GNC stores nationwide). I’m so excited for the future of JST JODIE. Not only do I have the best and highest quality range of gym, weight loss supplements, meal replacements and fat burners, but so many women have transformed their bodies using my products that the pride and joy I feel is off the scale! I’m the only bodybuilder and the only celebrity out there who not only OWNS my brand (I’m not just paid to endorse it) but who also used my own products to become the champion!! I am living, walking proof that my products work.
I am also about to start filming 4 new TV shows for TLC. I’ve just finished filming two already, so there will be a total of six new shows for next season. After that I am going to compete again and yes, TLC are going to film it!
WMW – If you could offer one piece of advice to women, what would it be?
JM – Don’t ever settle.
The JST JODIE range is available here.