An icon, an inspiration, a role model — Cheryl Ann
Cole Fernandez-Versini (born 30 June 1983) is all of these. But, beneath the surface, there is an anguished, tortured young woman. This is the true story behind Cheryl, Britain's favourite anguished tortured icon, inspiration, and role model.
Cheryl's lifetime battling against trauma and adversity began in 1983 when she was born in Newcastle. She grew up in a close-knit, working class salt-of-the-earth family who were always there for her, because that's what family is for. She lived on a council estate with her loving father, Gary, who is like a brother to her, her mother, Joan, who is also like a brother to her, and her brother Garry who is her brother (he's the one who is not in jail).
Despite Cheryl's poor upbringing, she was determined to battle her way out. She participated in and won many child modelling competitions. But behind her award-winning smile, there lay a traumatic secret. Her close-knit family who were always there for her was falling apart. Her parents separated when she was 11, leaving scars that would run deep under the surface and create the tortured soul that we now know and love.
Weighed down by the burden of her tragic family life, Cheryl struggled in school. However, her teachers still recognised their pupil's star potential, as the first page of this school report shows.
|“||There is no doubt that Cheryl tries her best at school. She's an honest tryer she is, but beneath her exterior of dedicated professionalism there is an enigmatic sadness. If she is to succeed in her exams, Cheryl must focus on finding her smile from within as well as on the outside. Read the full story of Cheryl's year 10 spring term exclusively inside.||”|
Cheryl left school at the age of 16 with few qualifications. This was a desperate disappointment for her. She spent the next few years waiting tables as she waited for the world to recognise her talents. Cheryl was the best waitress she could be. She gave waitressing her all. Whenever someone placed an order with Cheryl, she would come out there and she would deliver. Her customers would never know that with every plateful of steak and chips she served, a delicate flower was dying inside. In 2002, Cheryl decided that she would have to take action in order to turn her life around and rescue her fragile self esteem. She decided to take part in an ITV reality talent show.
From the moment Cheryl stepped into the audition room for Popstars: The Rivals, it was clear to the show's judging panel that they had uncovered a world class act. Gerri Halliwell, a pop star whose solo career had been sadly curtailed through lack of personal tragedy, thought she was gorgeous. Pete Waterman didn't know what to think. As the series progressed, Cheryl did suffer criticism from the judges, but she was strong. This was her dream and she was determined to give 110 per cent no matter what. Maths was one of those exams she'd failed at school.
Cheryl remained strong enough to win a place in the girl group created by the show. Under the tutelage of Louis Walsh, an expert in the marketing of hot young women, the group, known as Girls Aloud, was very successful. But Cheryl was still plagued by her troubled past, with the tabloids sharing stories of how she got suspended from school for fighting another pupil. Cheryl was strong, kept her chin up and held her head high. She is a fighter after all. She was determined to move on to bigger and better things, like fighting with nightclub toilet attendants.
At The Drink nightclub in Guildford, in January 2003, Cheryl innocently took a lollipop from a toilet attendant's stall without paying. The attendant asked her to pay for the sugary treat, clearly unaware of just how much Cheryl wanted this. Cheryl attacked the fucking bitch, putting aside her heartbreak at not being allowed the sweets to punch the attendant repeatedly in the face. The hard-working star was dragged away by security and appeared in court later that year. Would the judges sentence Cheryl to 120 hours' community service for assault occasioning actual bodily harm? It was a yes from them. Cheryl later expressed regret at the incident, but stated that she was acting in self defence. "My brothers taught me: if someone hits you, you hit them back. Especially if you're pissed out of your mind at the time."
In 2004, Cheryl met and fell in love with England footballer Ashley Cole. The pair happened to live in the same exclusive block of flats. Ashley appeared at her door one day. He told her she was well fit and asked for her number so he could text her later. According to sources, Cheryl believed that he meant every word of it. She thought Ashley had tremendous potential and she hadn't seen the best of him yet. She wouldn't see that until he started sending her picture messages.
Love blossomed between the couple and they were married in 2006, in OK! Magazine. However, the relationship was tragically doomed from the start. They were very different people. She was the delicate English rose of the nation's most beloved all-girl singing quintet, he was the talented Premiership footballer, considered by experts in the game to be "a bit of a wanker". Cheryl was a victim of her attraction to bad boys. Her kind and caring ways make her determined to see the best in them. During their marriage, Cheryl would repeatedly defend her man and his "beautiful soul," despite the controversy over his humongous salary and his being a wanker. Some would say Cheryl was guilty of loving the wrong one. No. If anything, she was guilty of loving too much. Ashley, meanwhile, loved too many.
In January 2008, it emerged that Ashley had had drunken sex with a pretty blonde he met at a nightclub. There followed weeks of soul searching and mental torture for Cheryl, the highlight of which was when she was spotted in public without her wedding ring. Cheryl would eventually make the courageous decision to give Ashley another chance. Cheryl became an inspiration to all women who choose to stand by their man. Hers was a decision made with dignity and an endearing vulnerability. The marital drama also happened to coincide with a big career break. In 2008, Cheryl debuted as a judge on The X Factor, where she won plaudits for her brave dignity and her crying. The following year she released her first solo single "Fight for this Love," about a woman who stands up to bravely hold together a troubled relationship. The single was a massive hit and sold over a million copies.
In February 2010, it emerged that Ashley had had drunken sex with a pretty blonde he met at a nightclub. When Ashley paused in between sex sessions to vomit on the hotel carpet, he vomited on Cheryl's hopes and dreams. He vomited on her trust. As the news broke, the star, who had been recording her eagerly awaited second album in LA, made a despairing dash for the airport. The exhausted and emotional star jetted home to an empty house, where her wounded soul contemplated a future without the love of her life. Cheryl made the courageous decision to divorce Ashley. In doing so, she became an inspiration to all women who choose to kick out their cheating scumbag husbands. Having made her decision, Cheryl acted quickly and filed for divorce before that Summer's football tournament. She put England's World Cup dreams ahead of herself. She is a martyr for her country and a brave, troubled hero. England is very lucky to have her.
World's Sexiest Woman
A funny thing happened to Cheryl after she stepped aboard the unstoppable X Factor publicity juggernaut. The country suddenly noticed that she was extraordinarily good looking. 98 per cent of British men fancy her. The remaining 2 per cent are either blind or closet homosexuals. This led to a landslide victory in FHM's 100 sexiest women poll two years running. It is a remarkable achievement for a humble geordie lass. "Cheryl is an amazing style icon, but more amazingly she's still just an ordinary girl from Newcastle," says her £45K-a-year stylist, Victoria Adcock.
Cheryl's unprecedented levels of beauty have not gone unnoticed in the advertising world. She was snapped up in 2009 to be the new face of L'Oreal. It was a natural progression, with her glossy, shiny, mojo-filled locks. Millions of women wanted to know - how does she get her hair extensions to look so good?
The Summer of 2010 was meant to be a positive time of renewal for Cheryl. Having separated from her husband, she embarked on a successful tour as the support act for her good friends, the Black Eyed Peas. Her love life was also doing well, having embarked on some exciting alleged relationships. The most serious and prolonged alleged relationship was with dancer Derek Hough, who starred alongside Cheryl in the raunchy video for Parachute, the third single from her debut album. It was while the alleged couple were away on an alleged romantic holiday to Tanzania that disaster struck. Cheryl had caught the deadly tropical disease malaria.
As her her strength wilted, Cheryl soldiered on with media commitments and the new series of the X Factor. Everyone thought her tiredness was due to the hectic schedule she had been keeping to distract herself from her turbulent marital drama. In fact, she was seriously ill and collapsed dramatically during an X Factor photoshoot. Luckily, there were cameras present and the shocking scenes were televised on ITV1 two months later.
Cheryl's condition deteriorated rapidly. The fragile icon spent most of her days sleeping in bed. On the occasions she awoke, all she could do was sob. Whether she was crying due to the physical pain of malaria or the pain of her traumatic personal life is still not clear. Friends, family and the magnificent will.i.am held a daily vigil by her side as a guiding star slowly dimmed. Cheryl's weight plummeted, her skin went pale and her hair became dull and lifeless. Some feared that she might never judge again. Thankfully, those who entertained such dark thoughts had underestimated her Geordie fighting spirit.
On Thursday July 29, 2010, to the shock and alarm of the world's media, Cheryl ventured outside for the first time since her collapse. Cheryl made a courageous trip to a Guildford coffee shop, where she ordered a frappuccino - full fat to build up her strength. It was a display of fearlessness that was a credit to Cheryl and a credit to the human condition. Cheryl was once again an inspiration to millions and also helped raise awareness about malaria. Somewhere in Africa, there is a young child who will have seen Cheryl battle with the disease and that child will use a malaria net, or at least know about them. Cheryl is a force for good in this world. She suffers so we don't have to.
On the surface, Cheryl seems to have the perfect life. She is famous. However, this doesn't stop her worrying about the future. Will she ever find a partner she can trust and build a family with? Will she be asked to judge on Simon Cowell's new American version of the X Factor? If so, how would the move to America affect her emotional wellbeing? Can she take her dogs with her?
No matter what the future holds for Cheryl as she bravely traverses the maze of celebrity endorsements, this nation's sweetheart will remain a cultural icon, a shining light, a northern lass made good as she battles against her inner anguish.