She was shamed for her weight and nicknamed "Duchess of Pork" which affected her mentally. She was also constantly compared with Diana, who was often considered as the more glamorous "wife of Windsor."
The Duchess of York, Sarah "Fergie" Ferguson, garnered attention from all over the world after she met Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, at a party at Windsor Castle on the outskirts of London, back in 1986, reports CNN. All eyes were on her as they got married a year later and she went on to give birth to two beautiful girls. Now that she was being recognized, it didn't take too long for the tabloids to follow her around.
Most of them were mean and condescending, and headlines making fun of her weight splashed all across the front pages. She was even given a cruel nickname - the Duchess of "Pork". Some even pitted her against Princess Diana, her childhood friend, states PEOPLE.
This tabloid nickname and relentless bullying caused the Duchess to struggle with anxiety over her public image.
"I had major mental health problems because of the trauma," said the Duchess. "It's taken a great deal of work because I believed every word that the front pages told me. It was self-shame. I'm stratospherically sensitive."
It didn't help that the tabloids kept comparing her to Diana, who was often considered as the more glamorous "wife of Windsor."
"In the '80s, it was Diana looking beautiful, and there was fat, frumpy Fergie," she said, adding that these were the comments made about the two of them by the media. "We were just there for people to make a lot of money. At the time we both didn't realize that."
Somehow, this also made them offer support to each other. "Diana and I both had our own mental health issues, and she and I used to talk," recalls the Duchess. "She said, 'Fergie, remember one thing: When you're at the top of the pedestal, it's so easy to fall off. And you're at the bottom. You just climb up.' We were positioned as saint and sinner. And the most important thing was to remain robust together, and we did, no matter what anyone wrote."
The 61-year-old Duchess, whose debut novel, Her Heart for a Compass, is due August 3, said that being bullied by the media affected her so much that she even went to apologize to her daughters Princess Eugenie, now 31, and Princess Beatrice, now 32. "I'll never forget walking in one day to see my girls, and I said, 'I'm so sorry, girlies, because I really think I've destroyed myself,'" she recalls. "That is really dark. I had to work hard on the self-sabotage to explain it."
However, she made sure her daughters would be able to avoid being targetted by the tabloids, and she credits herself for being a "good mom."
"I'm self-deprecating and British. But [one thing] is I'm a really good mom," she said, according to PEOPLE.
"And I'm a good mom because, in growing up, when the girls used to say, 'Why can't we do that?' I would say, 'Well, I've already made those mistakes. The world's press has written about my mistakes, so you don't need to make them now. So I've gone ahead of you to clear the way so that you can dream and grow and be who you are.'"
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Jeremy Selwyn - WPA Pool