THIS year, body image was the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week.

Body image can negatively affect anyone.

In some cases, a negative image of yourself or comments from others can lead to mental health problems.

Newport born model and TV presenter Ayesha Perry-Iqbal is on a mission to make sure the issue is discussed.

She knows all too well the struggles people who body image and mental health issues face.

Growing up, she dreamed of being a model and actress.

In an interview with

Glamour Magazine

Ms Perry-Iqbal revealed she was told she would not make it in the industry because her legs were "too big."

“I believe body image is such an important topic to talk about," she said.

"How you feel about your body can affect multiple aspects of your life from job choices all the way through to relationships.”

Ms Perry-Iqbal was also told by a director at just 16 that she was ‘too pretty to play the fat best friend and too fat to play the lead.’

South Wales Argus:

(Ayesha Perry-Iqbal on the set of Naked Beach. Photo credit: Channel 4 / Barefaced TV)

Speaking to the South Wales Argus, Ms Perry-Iqbal talked about how she felt on hearing those comments.

“When I was younger, of course comments about my body image affected my mental health," she said.

“I have always been curvy, and I have always loved the stage. I was turned away from drama school and told I would never make it in the industry because my legs were too big.

“As a sixteen-year-old girl that put so much pressure on me to be skinny just so I could pursue what I love.

“I definitely suffered with body dysmorphia and would always focus on my weight so I could be this ‘ideal’ of what society deems as ‘beautiful.’

"It took some time to come to terms with it and accept my body for what it is, but I'm much better off for it now.

“I realized in my 20’s that actually, I am beautiful just the way I am.

“I am happier when I am curvy and it shows not only in my life, but in my career.

“So, if someone doesn’t want to book me because of my size. Their loss. I will not damage my physical and mental health just to keep others happy.”

That attitude has certainly helped in her career. In 2018 she became one of the hosts on Channel 4’s body positivity reality show - Naked Beach.

The series, brought to Channel 4 screens by Barefaced TV– was created to help people love their bodies.

South Wales Argus:

(Ayesha Perry-Iqbal, fourth from left, with co-hosts of Naked Beach. Picture credit Channel 4 / BarefacedTV)

Ms Perry-Iqbal was one of the body positive hosts.

She said: “I am so proud to be a part of this positive movement and encourage men and women to love themselves just the way they are.”


Ms Perry-Iqbal has had to deal with her fair share of social media trolls.

She said: “I respond to them by living my best life.

“I don’t have the time to pay attention to people’s negativity. I just continue to live out my purpose and enjoying my life in every way possible.

“You get one life, why waste it on people who don’t know you or have your best interest.”

Ms Perry-Iqbal has been using her platform through the show and her 270,000 + social media followers to spread body positivity and help others to love themselves through showing how she loves herself in the best possible way.

When asked for some tips for those with less body confidence in themselves to improve, Ms Perry-Iqbal said: “Firstly I would say by looking at yourself in the mirror.

“I mean not just a glance, but really looking at yourself in the mirror and see the person standing in front of you, pay attention to all the different parts of your body and see them just as they are. Not the image you have of them in your mind.

South Wales Argus:

(Ayesha Perry-Iqbal is using her own bod confidence to inspire others to love themselves. Picture credit: Channel 4/Barefaced TV)

“Secondly, and what has helped me, is an affirmations board.

“I wrote down all positive comments to myself in bright colours on a board. Even things I didn’t believe at the time but wanted to.

“I then put the board somewhere in the house I had to walk past every day so I had no choice but to see it.

“Those positive words started to replace the negative ones in my mind. I even went ahead and said them out loud to myself in the mirror when looking at my body.”

As Ms Perry-Iqbal has shown, dealing with mental health and your own body confidence issues can be a long and daunting road. But as she has proven, once you are confident in yourself, you will be happier for it.