Hall of Fame Review: Baring My Heart by Chanelle Hayes & Anna Pointer (5/5)

Friday 4 July 2014
Appearing on the eighth series of Big Brother in 2007, Victoria Beckham lookalike Chanelle Hayes quickly became a national talking point thanks to her tears, tantrums, and explosive relationship with fellow housemate Ziggy Lichman. 

As one half of golden couple "Chiggy," feisty Chanelle was propelled to stardom and soon established herself as a darling of the British tabloid press and magazine cover girl. But despite being one of the most successful BB housemates of all time, with a flourishing modeling career and even a foray into the pop world, there is so much more to Yorkshire born-and-bred Chanelle than showbiz ups and downs. 

For the young mum’s life has been etched with tragedy, right from the moment she was born in prison in November 1987. Just a few months old, she was orphaned when her drug-addicted mother was brutally murdered, and she was sent to live with foster parents before later being adopted. 

With the real reason for her mother’s death shrouded in secrecy, Chanelle’s teenage years were marked by an agonizing quest for the truth—which saw her go to extreme and devastating lengths for answers, including attempted suicide. Her rocky past has also been plagued by eating disorders, while Chanelle’s romantic history has been defined by heartache and despair. And despite doting on son Blakely, born to soccer player Matthew Bates in 2010, her volatile relationship with the child’s father played out through the courts to a miserable end. 

At times brutally honest and astonishingly sad, Chanelle’s story does not make for easy reading, and she is the first to admit that she is no angel. But amidst all the heartbreak are humorous, wry observations and moving anecdotes which would soften a heart of stone. And in spite of all her troubles, Chanelle has emerged a stronger, happier woman, who has finally tackled her demons and can now embrace a brighter future with confidence.

This is probably one of the best celebrity autobiographies I've read, and I've read a lot of them. Chanelle is easily in my Top 5 Big Brother housemates of all time and today still makes the front cover of the biggest magazines, whether it's Men's magazines or the weeklies. She's the rare type of glamour model that men love but that women can relate to. She carved a career for herself at a time when it wasn't as easy as it is today. With the likes of TOWIE and Twitter it happens overnight seemingly. A lot of people have an opinion about her, some negative but she also has a lot of fans. Personally I think she's fantastic and this book only made me an even bigger fan than I already was.

Baring My Heart is a very apt title as Chanelle has done just that. This is a no holds barred, brutally honest account of her life. Starting with her prostitute mother being murdered when she was only a baby, you'd imagine that to be pretty bad, but her teenage life was then plagued with problems started off by her need to know the truth about her mother from her adoptive parents who didn't want to tell her until she was 18. I was shocked to read most of what went on, some of which would have destroyed the strongest of people but somehow she overcame it all and one day accompanied her friend to a Big Brother audition with no intention of auditioning herself. Well, I think we all know what happened next.

It's shocking at times to read some of the things she has been through and to realise she is only two years older than me. As a glamour model people may not agree that she is a role model but I disagree and say that she is. The modelling is only one side of her. Underneath is a woman who has faced her fair share of problems and is telling her story perhaps in the hope that if even one person can take something from it then she's achieved something by telling it. She is a role model for anybody finding out they have been adopted, anyone who has had an eating disorder, anyone who has been in a troubled relationship, felt suicidal or attempted it. She's certainly a better role model than some of the more well known celebrities of recent times.

Chanelle doesn't claim to be perfect, nor does she cover up her mistakes in life, either by leaving them out of the book or making excuses for them. Speaking with searing honesty, she talks about events that most women would rather forget than relive all over again for other people to read. I can't think of anything in the book that she didn't hold up her hands and take responsibility for, despite the heartache she has lived through it is not an attempt for sympathy at all. Alongside all that though there are some great stories, not least when she met Victoria Beckham at a book signing. And Chanelle's fans know she isn't afraid to voice her opinion, which she does here. I loved the comments about a certain BB contestant I had certainly forgotten about. I could easily sit with Chanelle for hours having a good bitch. She is also very honest about her time in the BB house, say no more but prepare to be shocked! The honesty also continues with what she talks about after leaving the house, which anyone who has read about her in the press will know what to expect.

I think Chanelle fans will enjoy this book, and love her even more for telling her story. As a relatively short book (242 pages) it packs one hell of a punch and is a story that deserves to be read. It's crazy how different her life could've been if one or two things had happened differently. But then I guess that's the case for all our lives. As for the haters, they might perhaps learn a thing or two if they bother to read it. And the one thing that haters can't take away from Chanelle is the fact she is an amazing mum to her son Blakely, anyone following her Twitter can see the love she has for her son. I can't reccommend the book enough, Chanelle I feel has been incredibly brave sharing her story and appears to finally be happy and settled. The only thing I wanted more of in the book were pictures as there was only one section! Other than that I really enjoyed the book.

With thanks to John Blake Publishing for the review copy

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