EXCLUSIVE Saira Khan at 53: “I’m proud to show off my body – I feel sexy!”

The TV star on receiving death threats for posing in a bikini and why she loves “tweakments”

Sara Khan

by Neeru Sharma |
Updated on

She’s been flying the flag for older women and body confidence for years, showing off her “real figure” on social media and urging others to embrace their stretch marks and “wobbly bits”. And now Saira Khan reveals she’s going one step further in a bid to celebrate her age – by ditching her signature brunette bob. In the past year, a spate of celebrities, from Andie MacDowell to Melinda Messenger, have said they’re embracing the look in order to age gracefully – and Saira says she’ll soon be following suit.

"I’ve decided I’m going to go grey in my 50s,” the 53-year-told tells Closer. “If we’re really talking about embracing myself, well I feel so confident right now that I’m going to own it and go for it! I put the question to my followers on Instagram, and over half of them said yes, others said it would be ageing, but I’ve seen women go grey and they’ve empowered me. Just look at Dawn French, she looks great! It’s a headache getting it coloured every couple of weeks, not to mention expensive. Also, I want to show my kids that you’re not defined by looks. At the end of the day, it’s only hair!”

Saira, who is mum to Zachariah, 15, and Amara, 12, with husband Steve, has long been defiant about continuing to wear a bikini in public, despite receiving abusive comments from within the Muslim community for daring to bare all. Testament to her feisty attitude, the former Loose Women panellist admits she has no plans to stop soon. “I’m so proud to be in a bikini, yet in my culture I’ve experienced death threats for showing myself. I can’t tell you how much trolling I’ve had. I say, ‘Bring it on’ – because I’m not going to stop. People are scared of powerful women, because when we own who we are, we change the world!”

With her son Zachariah and daughter Amara

She adds, “For women in my community and my culture, it’s so important to see what a fit, healthy body looks like and how it ages, because we don’t see it, as a lot of it is covered all the time. I fully believe that if you can’t see it, you can’t be it. We need to show off our bodies in order to get vitamin D – otherwise it really won’t serve you well later in life.”

When it comes to looking after her body, Saira has just returned from Jason Vale’s Juice retreat in Portugal, also favoured by the likes of Carol Vorderman and Alison Hammond, after experiencing “menopausal bloating” which she said left her looking “six months pregnant”. Now she consciously pays attention to what she eats in order to avoid sugar spikes and “maintain my waist”.

Saira's not afraid to be in a bikini

She says, “As you hit the menopause there are lots of things you have to watch, like the thickening of the waist, weak bones, hormonal changes, depression, and anxiety. A lot of it is to do with your diet and physical activity. I love sugar and I wish I could have it all the time, but I can’t, because I want to feel good about myself and I don’t want that hormonal roller coaster. I can’t afford to be like that every day because it gets me down. I’ve cut it out as much as I can and, actually, I feel better for it. I’ve noticed big changes like weight loss, hormonal balances, more energy and less anxiety.”

She adds, “I’m following a very holistic approach to life. I exercise five times a week at my local gym. I do a lot of weight training to help keep my bones strong. I drink two litres of water a day, and I wear SPF daily.”

Weight training helps keep her bones strong

What’s more, Saira is open about having “tweakments” here and there too and admits that it not only enhances her confidence, but it’s helped her feel like herself again after battling through the menopause.

“I have a little bit of Botox and a bit of filler. When you hit the menopause, it leaves you feeling and looking knackered and angry. When I was around 47, I thought to myself, ‘I want to look fresh and to look in the mirror and feel great.’ I get my nails, hair and feet done, and if it boosts my confidence, why wouldn’t I do something that helps me age better and in turns makes me feel good?”

She adds, “It massively boosts my confidence and makes me feel a little bit sexy. If I feel good about myself, then I’m better for my husband and my kids. Now, I bloody love ageing!”

closer magazine cover
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