29 May 2006

The phrase "new year, new you" couldn't describe anyone better than 34-year-old Daily Mirror reader Claire Takacs, from Clevedon, Somerset, who is one of three lucky women who has won the chance to change her life for the better.

Daily Mirror'I feel like a real woman'

The phrase "new year, new you" couldn't describe anyone better than 34-year-old Daily Mirror reader Claire Takacs, from Clevedon, Somerset, who is one of three lucky women who has won the chance to change her life for the better.We were flooded with entries from readers desperate to take up our opportunity of winning cosmetic surgery from The Harley Medical Group, dental treatment, a new hairstyle and coaching on their diet and lifestyle - all absolutely free. Last week we unveiled the first of our three winners. Today we tell the story of Claire Takacs, whose life has been transformed both physically and mentally by the treatment. Claire lives with her husband Luigi and two children from a previous marriage, Ellie, 12, and nine-year-old Liam.Claire's Story She looks so fabulous in her figure-hugging evening dress, that it's difficult to believe that Claire felt herself to be less than a complete woman. Yet for the past 11 years she has felt so unfeminine that she's hidden herself away. Her flat chest and up-turned nose affected her confidence so badly that she slouched forwards and angled her face from view. "I never thought my nose suited my face," she says. "I was always teased about it at school but stuff like that can make you feel self-conscious your whole life. "I always hated the fact that my nose pointed upwards and you could see up my nostrils. I never liked having my photo taken, but when I did, I'd always angle my face downwards so the camera didn't point right up my nose," she says. And after breast-feeding both her children, her once pert 32D breasts were left deflated and floppy - leaving her feeling physically inadequate. Even on her wedding day last year, Claire says her flat chest made her feel self-conscious. "I wasn't completely happy because I couldn't fill the top of my dress," she says. "Not even with the help of chicken fillets. "I didn't let it spoil the day but I had to make a conscious effort not to dwell on it. And my favourite wedding photos are the ones where I'm holding my bouquet in front of my chest so you can't see how flat I was." Claire was never a busty blonde - nor has she ever wanted to be. "I was always happy for my 32Bs," she says. "They weren't big but they were firm and a nice enough shape. And because they had a bit more volume to them then, I could crate extra oomph when I wanted to with push-up bras." But after the physical demands of breastfeeding, small-but-pert was replaced by small-and-saggy. "I'd gone up to about a D-cup towards the end of my pregnancies, which was fine by me, but after I finished breastfeeding and lost the baby weight, my boobs didn't go back to how they were before. They looked like a couple of burst balloons," she says. "I was left with excess skin and nothing to fill it." Although her bust went down to a 34AA, Claire says it wasn't her cup size that she was most worried about but that her boobs sagged so badly. I was so self-conscious about them I even started getting round-shouldered from where I'd hunch myself up to try and disguise them." And when Claire met her husband Luigi four years ago (after four years alone following the break-up of her first marriage), the thought of revealing her body to a new man for the first time filled her with dread. "I felt I had to warn him: I've breastfed my children and that's the way I am', the first time we were together intimately," she says. "I felt really insecure but Luigi reassured me it wasn't a problem and he's been reassuring me ever since. He's always telling me I'm beautiful and sexy and I've always believed that's what he thinks. But it was hard for me to feel beautiful and sexy when I had this boyish body and boobs. "It's never been a problem to him, but it was to me because it made me feel self-conscious. I want this relationship to last for ever, but I did worry that my boob paranoia might not one day sour it. I know when you've got a complex like that it can get out of hand, no matter how much your partner reassures you. "Luigi knew how I'd felt and we'd discussed saving up for implants. But I work part-time and money's tight, so it seemed wrong to deprive the kids of things to pay for my surgery, so I never thought about it seriously." It's not easy to feel much sympathy for a tall, slim blonde griping about her looks, but as Claire points out, just because you haven't got any weight to lose it doesn't mean you haven't got body issues. "People said: You're so lucky. You've got nothing to worry about being slim. But they didn't know what I looked like without my clothes on," she says. "Yes, it's nice to be slim, but as I'm 5ft 7in with broad shoulders, once my boobs dropped and deflated, it affected my sense of femininity. I just wanted to feel womanly again." But then Claire won our New You competition with The Harley Medical Group and her problems were sold. "I couldn't believe it," she says. "I've never even entered a competition before - talk about beginner's luck. "I feel so privileged to have been given a once-in-a-lifetime chance to feel happier about myself and boost my confidence. "It's for me, not for anyone else. It's about how I feel about myself and making me feel better." "But winning this competition isn't just about how I look," she adds. "The whole experience has given me a massive confidence boost and helped me to tap into an inner strength I never knew I had before. "I always needed reassurance from those around me, but now I've learned to find what I need within myself. I think that's going to make me a better mum, a better wife and a happier person all round."Read more about breast enlargement, rhinoplasty procedures and our cosmetic surgery guide. Contact us today to book your free breast enlargement or rhinoplasty consultation with one of our highly qualified Nurses.