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Take heart, girls, even the perfect Miriam felt insecure at 16


EVERY school had one. Among a gaggle of girls there was always one who stood out from the crowd. Confident, gorgeous, slim, glossy-haired and popular, she had it all.

Guys wanted her, girls wanted to be her. Even teachers treated her with more respect than her spotty classmates.

Unless, dear reader, you were the chosen one in your school, you'll be more than familiar with the feelings of inadequacy that surfaced every time you laid eyes on this perfect specimen.

Fast forward to adulthood and that's exactly how many women feel when they see some of the more successful women in Irish life.

How many budding writers out there would desperately love to swap places with the best-selling author Maeve Binchy? And the country is awash with women juggling motherhood and careers, all the while wondering how mum-of-eight Miriam O'Callaghan makes it look so easy.

Yet appearances aren't always what they seem. These two wildly successful women have revealed that their path through life wasn't always a bed of roses.

Who would have thought that the glamorous Miriam considered herself to be "an ugly duckling" as a young girl? And as for Maeve Binchy, she spent her youth in the mistaken belief that "the eyes of the world" were turned on her. As she herself put it, there was nothing sweet about being 16.

Their reflections on those troublesome years are revealed in a new charity book With Love From Me To Me, which features letters from some of Ireland's most famous faces, addressed to their 16-year-old selves.

Frankly, I find it deliciously refreshing to learn that even those who were destined for fame weren't always quite so sure of themselves.

Sometimes, learning of another person's shortcomings, or at least their own perception of their failings, provides an immeasurable boost to our own egos. It's the reason we reach for those celebrity magazines.

After all, we all like to view photographs of stunning actresses and singers on the red carpet, attired head to toe in designer gear.


But when it comes to boosting our own self-esteem, these pictures are more likely to make us reach for a bar of chocolate to complement a session of self-loathing.

Yet, show us a shot of a celebrity with an obvious hangover and we immediately cheer up.

Paris Hilton with badly-applied fake tan? Jennifer Aniston's cellulite? Angelina Jolie's bad hair day? They're the pictures that prove to us that we're all human, and all susceptible to the same flaws.

Further-more, it triggers a feeling that even apparently perfect people suffer from the same insecurities as the rest of us.

Unless some strange quirk of technology allows us to get a message through to our 16-year-old selves, future generations are also doomed to muddle through their teenage years carrying a bagful of self-doubt.

Still, thanks to the likes of Miriam and Maeve, we're beginning to realise that even the popular teen you always wanted to be is probably riddled with the same baggage.

Some-how, we're not feeling quite so jealous any more.