Portrait: Girl on top

As a little girl, Denise Van Outen loved to parade in her pixie boots and Wham! scarf. But the presenter of a new TV show about sex says that, while she still enjoys dressing up, it's undressing she likes best now
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Indy Lifestyle Online
I was a cutesy kid. I looked very much like I do now, except I was slightly chubbier, with blond ringlets. As I've got older my hair's got much straighter, but as a baby it was quite curly. I was a child model for knitting patterns and things.

I'm the baby of the family - and I act like the baby, I play on it. I think I sussed that one out quite early on. I was my dad's little angel whom he used to spoil, and I can still use it to my advantage. If my washing machine breaks down, he'll come to my rescue.

I wasn't shy, but my mum says I would never, ever get changed in front of anybody. On the beach I'd have to have the towel up, and if she was talking and let it drop, I'd go, "Mum, mum, mum, mum, mum," which is odd. It's probably why I've gone the other way. I was always dressing and undressing; now it's the undressing I particularly like.

I was a very girlie little girl. I had Girl's World, a head on a stand. I used to sit and play with it, I would do the hair and make-up, and I was obsessed with that.

I was a late developer. Then I shot up. I was quite tall when I was about 14, but very skinny, I was twiglet-looking. All my friends had boobs, so they could wear little tops and jeans, and look good. But I didn't even buy a bra with cups, I bought a sports bra and wore that for ages. It wasn't until I turned 18 that my boobs developed, then I thought, "Right, now's the time to show them off!"

My mum was your average Marks and Spencer mum. I was more into getting dressed up. At junior school I used to insist that I wore my little pixie boots, and my denim jacket with the collar, and my Wham! scarf. I was into fashion, but I'd always try and dress a little bit differently - although nine times out of ten it would go wrong, I'd look a mess.

I love buying clothes, but I like a bargain, and I still spend my days walking down Oxford Street, going into stores I've always shopped in. I have got the odd Gucci jacket - I'd be lying if I said I hadn't. And the Louis Vuitton bag. But most of those were gifts. I love Top Shop and Miss Selfridge. Fashions come and go, so there's no point in spending huge amounts, unless it's something to keep. Like my Louis Vuitton bag, which I will use for years and years. Then it's worth it.

I'm really quite lazy, I don't do any exercise, I can't motivate myself to go to the gym, but then, being honest, I guess that's because I've never really needed to. I'm very lucky - although, considering I have to squeeze into size eight samples for photo shoots, I should really tone my body up, I'm talking about an inch that I could easily lose, and it's pure laziness that I don't, I guess. I try to eat healthily if I can, but not because I'm scared of putting on weight.

I wear make-up nearly all the time. My boyfriend gets really annoyed, because I'll put on a bit of blusher and lip gloss just to go to the shops. He says, "It's not a fashion show." If I'm going out to a club I'll take forever to get ready. But then, my friends usually come over and we all get ready together: music, drink, pinching each other's nail varnish. If I'm on my own, and I'm really going for it, It'll take me about an hour from start to finish. But I enjoy it because I quite like the transformation.

People do recognise me now and I enjoy it. I guess it's easier being a presenter than a soap actress, when people think you're your character. With me, what you see is what you get. That's what I tell every man I date: "What you see is what you're going to get."

I'm 25, and aging isn't a problem at the moment. Nothing's dropped just yet, and I look forward to the day it does. I think age is beautiful. No, I do, I do. If I'm happily married with five lovely children, I won't be bothered. I'll live in the country and wear wellies. I think wellies are quite sexy, actually. There's something quite, "phwoar!" about them. I've got a great pair of Barbours.

I used to be a ballet dancer. I started baby ballet when I was about three. You basically had to act out a story, you'd have a teddy bear and you'd lay it in a basket, sit down, sing a song, it wasn't like proper ballet, but I liked it. I had years of training, and I could go back into it if I wanted, you never really lose it, I'm using my body a lot these days - with Jay. I don't exercise, I sexercise. It does me good, that's why I'm smiling. I'm a very happy bunny.

Denise Van Outen hosts `Something For The Weekend', a show about love, sex and relationships, at 11pm from Friday 17 September on Channel 4

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