‘There’s Huge Pressure To Look A Certain Way’: STELLAR Sits Down With Erin McGregor

The finalist gets candid about motherhood, getting out of a rut, and her famous family.

I didn’t know what to expect when it came to shooting Erin McGregor for our cover. I’d liked her on Dancing With The Stars, but besides that, I didn’t really know anything about her. Sure, I knew about her family – brother Conor and even sister Aoife have been the subject of lots of headlines, and
of course Conor is a world-famous athlete known everywhere; mixed martial arts and boxing are popular.

But what of the eldest McGregor sibling? Fans of DWTS may know that the 36-year- old blonde is a mum-of-two, a former hairdresser, and a former competitive fitness model. She had baby Harry 21 months ago, and daughter Taylor when she was 18 years old. She lives with her partner Terry, and from what I saw on shoot day, she is every bit as gas and feisty as she seems. But she’s also incredibly easy to work with, absolutely miniature in the flesh, and a complete dote.

When we meet, it’s a couple of months after her turn on telly. I wonder if life has settled back down for her? “Having a baby that’s coming up to two keeps me on my toes, and having a teenager too, they keep me dancing!” she laughs. “I do miss the dancing, it was one of my childhood dreams and something I always wanted to do. I miss the performing, and I miss my friends I made doing the show.”

Erin has since talked about feeling stuck in a rut after having Harry. “I love being a mother but there was a little part of me that didn’t really know who I was anymore, and things I enjoyed before Harry like fitness and fashion and socialising, I didn’t have the same excitement for them and I’d lost motivation.”

It got to the point where I was nearly becoming anxious to go out. DWTS defo helped me get back out there, and re-motivated to do things. I think that what it really did for me was help me to realise that once you put your mind to something, you can do it. I’d been telling myself, ‘you’re not good enough, stay in the house coat and don’t got out’ – just negative thoughts, but I learned that if you keep on pushing through, you can overcome.

“I personally overcame the fear of what other people thought of me, and that was a huge thing for me even before TV. I would’ve allowed what other people thought of me to affect me, so this has helped me become stronger and have a thicker skin.”

I mention that brother Conor seems to have an endless amount of self-belief and confidence – doesn’t she possess similar traits? “My personality is a bit different, everyone is different. Maybe I’m wrong, but it might be the fact that I’d just had a baby; I’m a girl, and I think there’s huge pressure on women to look a certain way and be a certain way, I as a woman feel that every day.”

A few years ago, Erin was pursuing life as a fitness model, competing in bikini and physique contests. “If I’m honest, I started that because I had, and have, huge insecurities about my figure as a woman, and I thought this might help it. But I was two weeks out from competing again the following year, and I decided it wasn’t worth it.”

For me, it was actually bringing out more insecurities, literally pointing out every part of the body that could be better for stage. Right now, it’s not the right place for me to be in. I’m really good on goals and focusing so that wasn’t the hard part, it was actually afterwards. Stage physique is not real, you cannot maintain that level of leanness, so going from having a full six pack to a bloated belly, it’s very difficult to not kind of judge yourself.

I think Erin is pretty hard on herself, because I can tell you right now that she’s in fab shape. So much so that you would never ever guess she’s a mother to a toddler and 17-year-old. I wonder what it was like being a teen mam. “There are pros and cons to having a baby younger and older – the difference is that when I was younger, I was on my own with Taylor for most of it. I had to go back to work when she was three months old to finish my apprenticeship as a hairdresser.

I had that huge drive to make sure she was provided for. I was quite young so energy levels were so different, you could stay up half the night and get up for work and it wouldn’t take that much out of me. With Harry, I’m constantly tired, to the point where I think ‘what was I tired for before him?’ But now as an older mother, I’ve a bit more time and patience, and Terry is also there.”

Her partner Terry came to collect Erin from the shoot, and he seems like a lovely guy, friendly and warm, and who Erin says held things together at home while she was competing on DWTS. I ask if Erin expected this boost in profile, if she had any desire for fame – especially considering that she’s certainly seen all sides of it with her brother’s success. She says it was never about that, but about her love of dancing.

I’d probably put that out into the universe a long time ago that I wanted to dance and perform, I’m a big believer in the law of attraction, so when it came back to me I was obviously not in a very con dent place and I doubted doing it. I knew there would be criticism, I knew what people would say about why I was given this opportunity to be on TV. But I thought I’d be insulting the universe if I didn’t take it. I’m very lucky, and I’d never take it for granted. I’m just a girl who had a dream who always wanted to be a dancer, so I thought why would I let anyone hold me back?

Why then didn’t she pursue her dream earlier? “Well as a child I dipped my foot into every type of activity going and played around with a lot of stuff but then teenager stuff started taking over. I’d no real interest in the commitment that it took to stay in anything. The dance world is very competitive, it’s a sport. So I got distracted with teenage life, but it was something that never left my heart.”

I say that her parents must be quite a couple to raise the family that they have. “We all have quite strong personalities in the house, we’re quite determined people. My parents believe that hard work and determination equals success. We’re a working class family, never afraid of hard work and that was instilled in us from youth. I remember dad working 16 hours a day to come home and provide.”

And she says that dealing with Conor’s global fame is a strange concept. “The word ‘famous’ is so weird, it doesn’t feel like that to me. I feel like I’m watching somebody I love fulfil their dreams, watching someone do something people say they can’t do, and it gives me hope and motivation whether it’s business, parenting, sport, losing a few pounds, whatever it is. I’m really happy to be a part of it all, watching someone succeed so well. We’re just a normal family, with an extraordinary athlete.”

But it must be tough to read what people have to say about her family? “What people don’t realise is that there is somebody behind the pictures, a person behind that headline and a family behind it. I just think that people should be more aware of what they write on social media.”

So what’s next for Erin? “ There have been a few suggestions for TV work. I’m hoping that’ll be something. I was driving yesterday and I thought ‘okay Erin, where are you going now?’ Wherever it is, I hope it’s something I really enjoy. I just think to the universe, it’s up to you now, you deliver what it is I need to do next. That’s how I work things.”

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