Watch: Lisa Snowdon on domestic violence and 'pain and hurt' she's been through
Lisa Snowdon is one of Britain’s most successful media figures. Presenter of numerous TV and radio shows, podcaster, one-time model for Gucci and Vogue, successful women’s health campaigner… the list goes on.
Yet at the beginning of her career, the star’s life was blighted by five years of abuse at the hands of an unnamed ex-partner.
“It’s still hard for me to talk about it,” Snowdon, 50, told Kate Thornton on Yahoo's UK podcast White Wine Question Time. “I parked it… for a long time. I didn't have the tools in order to actually process what I'd been through.”
The abuse took place when Snowdon, now 50, was a young model, still suffering from low self-esteem left by school bullying. Her abuser left her with a broken arm and black eyes, and threatened to kill anyone she told. The situation ended when she found the courage to flee, her possession tossed into bin bags.
It was decades later, when comforting a contestant on Britain’s Next Top Model, that the presenter decided to reveal her own story. “I could see how much pain she was in,” she said. “I just had to… show her that she's not alone, and that it happened to me.”
The revelation that domestic abuse happened to public figures like Snowdon, who once famously dated Hollywood star George Clooney, caused a public outcry. But she refuses to back away from the subject. “You can have such brilliant breakthroughs without having these powerful conversations,” she said.
Snowdon now splits her time between her media and campaign work. She has worked with Refuge, which reported a 25% increase in calls to its domestic abuse helpline during lockdown. “I just know how difficult it is when you… can't get out of it,” she told Thornton. “So I just wanted to highlight that… just offer some comfort.
Listen to the full episode to hear Lisa Snowdon discussing her experience of domestic violence as well as her most recent menopause struggles
During lockdown she also felt “brave” enough to start discussing her personal experience of menopause including low mood, hair loss and feeling “bat**** crazy”. “It's the loneliest, most terrifying place to be,” she told Thornton. “You don't recognise yourself.”
Snowdon went to a menopause specialist Dr Naomi Potter for help. Today she co-hosts a podcast Midweek Menopause Madness with Dr Potter, sharing the “tools” she learnt herself, and conversation around the subject. “I want to do it for all of the women who feel like they want to just fade into the background and give up and be invisible,” she said, “because that is not acceptable to me.”
Snowdon is currently campaigning to “make changes within Parliament” for women to have access to “free” and easy access to HRT, and for the introduction of menopause education in schools.
“We get taught about periods and pregnancy and puberty – perimenopause was never mentioned, menopause is never mentioned,” she told Thornton. “The men in our lives need to know about this too. Men are affected too – it's our partners. It's our colleagues.”
With her well-being improved, Snowdon appeared on Celebrity MasterChef 2022. “I don't think I could have could have done it two years ago,” she said, “but I just thought while I'm in this good space… quickly do it.” Having failed in the past to come top in I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here! and Strictly Come Dancing, she was determined this time to do better.
Not that working in a hot kitchen during menopause proved easy. “I'm sweating. I'm having hot flushes!” she joked. “They do shout, and then you’ve got knives and it's, like, really dangerous!”
While she emphasised that she “didn't actually say really bad words” to MasterChef judge Gregg Wallace, she did ask: “Can I just get on with this now, I'm really up against it!”
Snowdon’s competitive spirit and resilience paid off. She was crowned Celebrity MasterChef Champion 2022.
Today, the presenter’s difficult early experiences are far behind her.
Happily engaged to entrepreneur George Smart, previously her friend for 15 years, she told Thornton she has a “fire back” in her “belly”, and is “just getting started”.
Through her campaign and charity work, that includes being more determined than ever to ensure she never leaves behind those struggling as she once was.