I’m A Celebrity star Gemma lays it all on the line in an emotion documentary about an often taboo subject, and it makes for fascinating viewing says Emma Bullimore
Image: Channel 4)
Just when you think Gemma Collins has done every TV show under the sun, she throws us a curveball – a deeply personal documentary on a subject we rarely talk about.
Unlike her memorable appearances on talent shows such as Dancing on Ice, I’m A Celebrity and MasterChef, this isn’t a showcase for the reality show diva known as the GC.
Instead, Gemma Collins: Self Harm & Me on Channel 4 on Wednesday, was an intimate portrait of a struggle she has faced for decades – largely in silence.
It took Gemma a long time to talk to her fiancé and close friends about her tendency to self-harm and now she’s telling the world.
She speaks to a therapist on camera and reveals that she started cutting her arms at the age of 13. To this day, she has no idea what possessed her to do it, only saying that she felt some kind of release.
She continued cutting herself, finding ways to hide the scars and keeping it a secret over many years.
She explains that she has been terrified to speak out, worrying about how she would be judged.
Although she no longer self-harms, Gemma admits she fears that one day she will feel compelled to start again, especially if she fulfils her dream of becoming a mum.
Gemma is surprised to learn how common self-harm is, particularly among young people, and hopes to play her part in breaking down the taboo around the subject, attending support groups and meeting fellow survivors.
But if she wants to get to grips with her own history, she’ll need to look closer to home. Every conversation with the therapist comes back to Gemma’s parents and their reaction to her self-harm when she was a teenager.
The star is incredibly protective of her family and keen to shut down any mention of her mum, but eventually she faces up to an important conversation.
Chatting to her mother, she realises that they see Gemma’s self-harm very differently and she’s clearly disappointed they’re not on the same page.
Ultimately, they don’t make much progress, but the TOWIE star is clearly relieved to speak more openly about the issue and to realise she’s not alone.
You might think we see enough of Gemma on TV, but when was the last time someone started a national conversation about the surprisingly common act of self-harm?
If Gemma can get survivors talking – and their families, too – then it can only be a good thing.