'Lara Croft' Lucy's eating disorder message

Her jet-set lifestyle is what many a Rotherham girl dreams of.

A 1 million, five-carat diamond glitters on Lucy Clarkson's engagement finger, top modelling jobs take her around the globe and home is either Knightsbridge or Miami's chic South Beach.

And if that doesn't turn you green with envy, how about this? She gets to shimmy her perfect size 10 figure into stunning dresses once worn by the biggest sex symbol of all time – Marilyn Monroe.

But Lucy's life wasn't so glamorous when she was throwing up 30 times a day.

The price she paid for her fame was a crippling eating disorder.

Lucy, whose star rose when she was announced as the official Lara Croft model while a pupil at Wath Comprehensive, does not attempt to hide from the brutal truth of what she became...

A binge-eating bulimic. A mess.

In fact, the still down to earth Yorkshire girl is determined to make everyone else talk about it, too. Lucy is about to embark on a tour of schools and universities – she hopes Wath will be one of the first – to talk about how terrible life is when an eating disorder gets a hold.

"I have always been very open about the fact that I had an eating disorder," says Lucy, who has also set up a special website- www.lucy-clarkson.com to raise awareness.

"It makes me angry when I see very thin celebrities who are clearly not their natural body shape denying it. That sends out the wrong message. There are girls as young as five saying they think they are too fat."

The career so many must envy her for was the very thing that made her ill.

"The industry wants you to look a certain way. For Lara Croft they wanted me to be quite muscular, so I was working out with a personal trainer. My curves were in demand from lingerie companies and men's magazines, but the fashion world pressured me to be skinny.

"Sample sizes are always a size eight and if you can't fit into any of them you feel mortified," she says. "But I think I'd had an awareness of weight for a long time – I love my mum to bits but for as long as I can remember she's been on a diet every Monday, as are lots of women.

"We all need to address the way we think about size and body image and start presenting a better example to young girls," she says sagely.

Lucy remembers the day it all started to go wrong for her:

"I was in Italy, I was 22 and I'd eaten too much pasta.

"I felt really bloated so I made myself sick."

Convincing herself she had found an easy route to staying slim, she carried on.

"It got a hold on me. I would go out in the morning and spend 70 or so on biscuits, cakes and sweets then throw it all up.

"You actually become addicted to being sick – I would be sick up to 30 times a day.

"In fact I now have a fear of public toilets because I once blocked the loo on a plane to Dubai. I felt so ridiculous, so embarrassed."

Her hair started to fall out and her nails to crumble as her weight tumbled to 8 stones – a very low weight for a statuesque six-footer.

She now weighs a healthy 10 stones.

"I was too thin. But I was working in Paris at the time and they loved me that size. I got jobs that I wouldn't have got normally.

"How sad it is that no matter how thin you are, there is always someone who will celebrate it," she says angrily.

She got over it "with a lot of medication and therapy".

Lucy explains: "I was bulimic for four years and it took me three years to get over it.

"Actually, the campaigning is also a part of my recovery process. I hope it will help children and young people, and also that it will stop me from failing."

I'm happy now and enjoying life again

Lucy was on the road to recovery when she met her fiance, Michael Parnes.

He is the nephew of jeweller Gerald "Crap" Ratner and the son of disgraced city trader Anthony Parnes, who was jailed as one of the

Guinness Four in the Eighties share-trading fraud.

They met in London's exclusive Tramp nightclub in 2005, which sounds like it might be a gossip column cliche until Lucy chirpily tells you the real story behind it.

"I was on a disastrous double blind date. I didn't like my guy at all and my friend didn't like hers. Then this handsome man with beautiful blue eyes came over to our table. He knew the man I was with. We clicked straight away and I ditched my date!"

The courtship was of the fairytale whirlwind kind. "Within a week he had moved me out of my apartment in Chelsea and into his – he told me he knew a good thing when he saw it," she giggles.

He proposed with that spectacular diamond ring this summer. She can't tell me too much about it, because a magazine deal is in the pipeline, but I glean it's a five-carat princess-cut baguette which often has to be consigned to the safe because it's too valuable to wear when she's working. It's a far cry from the tat his uncle once bragged he had made his fortune from.

Before stock-broker Michael, 29, there had been some very famous boyfriends – illusionist David Blaine ("a lovely man but not right for me") and heart-throb actionman actor Vin Diesel.

"I met Vin in Paris, at a swish hotel bar," she says when I ask how on earth their paths crossed.

Mum Julia, a fan of Vin's movie Fast And Furious, spotted him in a crowd and had to explain to her daughter that he was a famous actor.

"Later he walked up to our table and asked me if I knew who he was. Mum was brilliant. She stood up and said: Well do you know who SHE is?"

chuckles Lucy.

"We had an on-off relationship for a couple of months in France and L.A," she says. "But he was a typical A-list celebrity and he lived that life. He was so ridiculously busy.

"He would arrange to pick me up for lunch, but get called away to something urgent and send his PA instead. She'd have been instructed to take me to a spa for the afternoon.

"Why would I want to spend hours in a spa with a woman I'd never met before?"

Lucy also found the fickleness of Planet Celebrity love off-putting.

She says: "Actors always seem to be falling for their latest co-stars.

I wouldn't want to let myself go and fall in love with someone who would go off and cheat on me."

Lucy's clearly an old-fashioned girl at heart – who still feels home is the Flintway semi where she and sister Gemma were brought up.

"Michael and I go up to mum and dad's every month," she reveals. "My gran calls him 'me old cockerspadger' and my dad likes to take him for a pint before Sunday lunch. Michael loves it there and says our visits to Wath are the only time he sleeps properly. It can be quite noisy in Knightsbridge."

But then, it's handy for Lucy's favourite pastime – riding the Queen's horses up and down Hyde Park's famed Rotten Row.

Those pony lessons in Blackamore stood her in good stead, but you can't imagine that mum and dad Clarkson ever imagined the little girl they cheered on at local gymkanas would one day be exercising the horses of the Household Cavalry twice a week.

To be on the safe side, Lucy wears a body protector when she's riding.

An injury could wreck her career. She's currently the face of Pearl Drops and, come 2010, will be acting in a British-made action movie – and the former Lynx Minx gets to go to the glitziest parties in town.

She recently wafted down the red carpet at the London premiere of Sandra Bullock's new movie in a white chiffon gown once worn by Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – and her new engagement ring.

The dress was on loan from a private collector in L.A.

"I've worn several, including the white pleated one from Seven Year Itch, and the pink satin one from Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend.

They fit perfectly on the waist but are a bit too big at the bust,"

says the size 10. "It's incredible to wear something of hers – I'm such a fan.

"Sometimes my life seems so surreal. Have I landed on my feet? Yes. And I have no regrets. But the business can be so nasty. Cruel, actually," she says.

"You know what, I'd never send my own daughter into this business. I would be too frightened for her."