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Confidence crisis Radio star and influencer Melissa Riddell says she's 'had to learn to love myself'

I was not a confident young girl and I didn’t like anything about myself"

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BEAUTY: Melissa works with various brands

BEAUTY: Melissa works with various brands

BEAUTY: Melissa works with various brands

Melissa Riddell is the Cool FM radio presenter, influencer and brand ambassador who loves to chat and always has a smile.

With 76,000 Instagram followers she’s a model of confidence.

But the 27-year-old admits that confidence was hard-earned.

As a teenager Melissa struggled with self-doubt and says it took years to grow into the outgoing success story she’s become.

The Portglenone woman is the sultry voice of Cool Goes Quiet every Monday to Thursday night, switching to high energy for the station’s early morning Weekend Breakfast shows.

As an influencer she works with skincare company Dermalogica, BPerfect, the global brand from Northern Ireland, and has made a name for her fashion reels with River Island, Boohoo, PLT and Zalando. She’s also one third of the What’s Happenin’ Podcast with Connor Coates and Curtis McCosh.

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YACHTS OF FUN: Melissa on holiday

YACHTS OF FUN: Melissa on holiday

YACHTS OF FUN: Melissa on holiday

If it all looks like a dream job, that’s because it is, says Melissa, but she has no qualms about sharing her feelings on the work it took to get there.

As well as the drama degree at Liverpool University and learning the ropes at the Cool Academy, her personal journey took the presenter from someone who felt she wasn’t good enough to a fashion and beauty role model.

“I was not a confident young girl and I didn’t like anything about myself,” she says.

“When I was 18 social media was only beginning and you were constantly seeing other beautiful people, but you don’t know how much they are editing their photos.

“I have learned to love myself. Life is hard and you can constantly feel you’re not good enough, especially in the industry I work in, and if you meet men and they make you feel less than.

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Jet set lifestyle: Melissa enjoying the high life in Dubai

Jet set lifestyle: Melissa enjoying the high life in Dubai

Jet set lifestyle: Melissa enjoying the high life in Dubai

“Now I feel that if I had nobody, I would still be fine because I love and respect myself. When you love and respect yourself other things will fall into place but if they don’t it doesn’t matter because you have your own back.”

She’s urged anyone who’s struggling with self-belief to ignore the voice that says they’re not good enough, whether it’s from themselves or someone else.

“It’s easy to look in the mirror and point out what you don’t like.

“With past relationships I have let other people tell me who I was and once you come out of that you’re at this crossroads. I believe I am a good person but that was a long process.

“It’s about being nicer to yourself. Speak to yourself how you would speak to your best friend.

“You would never tell your best friend ‘you look terrible without make-up’.”

Melissa’s followers regularly reach out to her and one of the most common comments is that they feel lonely.

Lockdown has exacerbated those feelings by cutting off social contact and she believes it’s important to acknowledge their emotional state and offer some hope.

“So many girls are saying to me they are lonely. It’s been a really difficult time and you can’t socialise, and you don’t meet people so it’s hard to make friends.

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BEAUTY: Melissa works with various brands

BEAUTY: Melissa works with various brands

BEAUTY: Melissa works with various brands

“I’m hoping things will be back to normal soon.”

Melissa started out on YouTube at university making videos as an early screen test. She wanted to learn how to present to camera and had to come up with something to talk about so the fashion and beauty blogging came about naturally.

“That’s how it started, as a way to help with where I wanted to go career-wise.

“It helped me get to Cool FM, which I absolutely love. It’s my dream job and I’m lucky to be able to do what I do.

“I didn’t know influencing would be a career as well.”

With thousands of followers, integrity is imperative, and as an influencer there are strict guidelines about declaring paid content, as well as a responsibility to be honest.

Melissa has declined approaches from brands – she’s too polite to name them – who wouldn’t be a good fit.

And she’s comfortable with the extra exposure that comes with the job.

“There is a pressure to look good, but it doesn’t consume me,” she says.

“I have a skincare ambassadorship, so I show my real skin. As long as you are honest that’s the important thing.

“I don’t like to disappoint people, and there are so many people who buy products because I say they are good so I feel like it’s my responsibility that they will love it.”

The presenter says she’s been lucky enough to continue working as normal during lockdown and has no complaints about missing a holiday last year given what others have gone through.

She’s missed her regular gym workouts with mixed martial arts champion Leah McCourt, who set Melissa up with partner Scott Harvey, an MMA fighter.

To cope with watching him in action in the sometimes brutal sport she has learned more about it.

“There are so many ways you can win or lose a fight. I learned what I know from Leah’s classes so when it comes to him getting in the cage, I understand what’s happening.”

She is about to spread her wings from the family home with parents Ivan and Aileen, but says they’ve loved the last year when the pandemic brought two of her three siblings back under the same roof.

They had already been brought even closer together when Melissa’s sister Sharon suffered a stroke 18 months ago at the age of just 28.

Recovery

She has since made a full recovery, and it’s given the family a new outlook on life.

“A stroke has a different impact on everybody, but she is amazing, and she has recovered so well. She has worked so hard to get back to herself, and if you met her you would have no idea.

“There were moments when we didn’t know what would happen and it brought us closer as a family.

“We are all a lot happier now and my parents are always saying you only have one life, so enjoy life,” says Melissa.

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