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Tuesday 17 October 2017

It's just as bad to label someone anorexic as fat

POPULAR model Pippa O'Connor tells Andrea Smith that becoming a mum has empowered her to be positive.

Pippa O'Connor
Pippa O'Connor

'I OFTEN get asked about having a second baby, and how I answer depends on my mood. Some days I'll say I'm not having another one, and other times I'll say I'm pregnant with twins. The answer is that I don't actually know myself yet."

I'm having tea with model Pippa O'Connor at House in Leeson Street, and she's discussing being mum to 15-month-old Ollie.

"He looks like me, but he's cheeky like Brian," she says, referring to her TV presenter husband Brian Ormond. "Ollie is very independent and strong-willed and he thinks it's great craic to climb on tables to get a reaction out of me. Brian is very hands-on, and Ollie just adores him. He gets so hyper when he sees him and it's lovely seeing them have that bond."

Pippa first met Brian in 2007 at model Sara Kavanagh's birthday party, though telling him that she thought he was cute when she saw him on the reality TV programme Popstars a few years previously was a rookie mistake. Brian got endless fun out of comparing her to Katie Holmes, who had posters of former husband Tom Cruise on her wall when she was growing up.

They were married in 2011, and Pippa thinks they have similar personalities as both are opinionated Leos. "I actually think Brian has made me mellower because he is so opinionated it drives me mad," she says. "What I love is that he's really easy-going and kind-hearted."

Brian has a daughter from a previous relationship, Chloe, who is now 13, and Pippa says she is great with the baby.

The model is looking forward to working on Ireland's Pregnancy & Baby Fair at the RDS next month - it offers shopping, expert advice, professional services and family entertainment.

Pippa loved being pregnant, aside from developing gestational diabetes, and says that having Ollie has given her more of a routine.

"My family life is very stable, even though my career is hectic," she says. "Nobody can prepare you for becoming a mother, and for me the most challenging moment came two weeks after having Ollie. I realised that this was serious and I was completely responsible for this little person forever, and although I obviously knew that already it just clicked then.

"I was breastfeeding Ollie but he was the hungriest baby, and it was unbelievably hard. The doctors even told me that I was doing great with the feeding, but not to feel bad if I wanted a break. It's just a hormonal rollercoaster, and for the first eight weeks there are a lot of up and down days, and then it all falls into place and gets easier."

For the first few years, she and Brian lived in an estate in Newcastle, but when Pippa was seven months' pregnant they moved to Meath.

"I was thinking ahead and wanted a bigger garden," she says. "We found somewhere we loved on the Dublin border, 10 minutes from the Navan Road. I'm a country girl from Kildare, so I like being out there because it's so peaceful."

Although it's peaceful, Pippa's house is on a road that's quite busy, and she was devastated when her beloved Bichon Frise dog, Lily, ran out and was knocked down and killed six weeks ago.

"Lily was only five and I adored her," she says. "Brian got her for me and Ollie was really enjoying playing with her. It was a complete accident, and she was killed instantly. I was absolutely distraught. I think people who don't have pets don't really get it because they think it's only a dog, but they're part of the family."

Neither Pippa nor Brian has what you might call a steady job. Both are freelancers, though they are luckily in demand. Brian is currently presenting the Money Spinner game on RTE, but with the lack of routine in their work, how do they juggle baby Ollie's childcare?

cram

"Ollie is in creche two days a week," says 
Pippa. "I try to cram everything into three days a week and work my schedule around Brian as much as I can. Luckily, he's usually around during the day and is busy with the lottery at the weekends."

Pippa's parents separated when she was only a year old, and she has a great relationship with both. She is also very close to her siblings, Susannah and Cian, and went to work with her brother for two years as his PA when she was 20 - they killed each other, she says. While Cian won the showjumping gold medal at the Athens Olympics, he subsequently lost the title after his horse, Waterford Crystal, tested positive for a prohibited substance. Happily, he won a bronze medal at the London Olympics in 2012 with his horse, Blue Loyd 12.

Pippa turns 30 next month and says she feels better than ever. Becoming a mother has empowered her, and she is a huge advocate of positive thinking. She used to care if someone criticised her, she admits, but it doesn't bother her now.

"It goes over my head, because I'm a mother and a wife now and I'm happy," she says. "I have friends who are panicking over their love lives or careers, but I tell them to just relax. If you're giving out negative energy, nothing is going to click or feel good. I am so much more positive these days. If your family are healthy, nothing else really matters."

appearance

What about her looks, though? As a model, does she worry about getting older in a career that is based on your physical appearance?

"People say it feels right being in your 30s," she says. "I feel like I'm on the brink of good things, career-wise, and don't worry about getting older. Maybe I would feel different if I had wrinkles, but I'm not obsessed or thinking about Botox or anything like that."

While many models are into fitness, Pippa attributes her slender figure to luck. She hasn't been to the gym in three years, and says that she isn't toned or fit and couldn't run five miles.

"I eat salads and wraps, but if I want chips I will have them and wouldn't give it a second thought," she says. "I have a sweet tooth and I wouldn't deny myself something. My meals are generally good, and afterwards I would have chocolate or biscuits. Brian is the same. He loves bread but it doesn't agree with him so he tries to stay away from it. He says I'm the bad influence when it comes to food."

A photo of Pippa and Brian was taken recently at a film premiere, and she was wearing a leather skirt with a baggy top. She subsequently read comments on a magazine's Facebook page saying she was only wearing the top to hide the 'fact' that she is anorexic.

heart

"It's not true. If I was younger I could have taken that to heart," she says. "I think it's as bad to call someone anorexic and too thin as it is to call them fat."

As well as modelling, Pippa has her own fashion and lifestyle website, www.pippa.ie. While she has great clients who regularly book her for modelling jobs, Pippa's ultimate aim is to be a businesswoman.

"I could probably keep going, but I don't see myself modelling in another three to five years," she admits. "I want to build a brand. I'm collaborating with a company, Miller & Lamb, on my own line of wedding invitations. I want to do things in the beauty and fashion industry too. I'm very determined. Becoming a mother has given me more of a fire in my belly, and I feel like now is my time."

Ireland's Pregnancy and Baby Fair, sponsored by SMA, takes place at the RDS, Dublin, on August 30 and 31. www.pregnancyandbabyfair.ie

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