Sixties icon Jane Birkin reveals her insecurities in the past

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Sixties icon Jane Birkin revealed she was so insecure about her looks during her first marriage she slept with an eyeliner under her pillow so she could apply it if her husband woke and he wouldn’t think she had ‘tiny, piggy eyes’.

The model, who married composer John Barry while still a teenager, reveals she never believed she was attractive and hid behind ‘a mask of make up’ for years.

The icon, 73, who became a singer and actress, says it wasn’t until her second marriage to Serge Gainsbourg that anyone told her she was beautiful.

Heartache: Sixties icon Jane Birkin revealed during her first marriage she slept with an eyeliner under her pillow so she could apply it if her husband woke and he wouldn't think she had 'tiny, piggy eyes' (pictured aged 18 at her wedding to John Barry)

Heartache: Sixties icon Jane Birkin revealed during her first marriage she slept with an eyeliner under her pillow so she could apply it if her husband woke and he wouldn’t think she had ‘tiny, piggy eyes’ (pictured aged 18 at her wedding to John Barry)

Jane admitted she didn’t ‘look like myself’ until he stripped her of make-up while directing her in the film for his song ‘Je t’aime moi non plus’ when she was 28.

Writing in Elle magazine, Birkin says as a teenager she always felt ‘dowdy’ next to her glamorous mother and older sister until she started buying make-up from Woolworths on London’s King’s Road.

She said: ‘I’d pile on the amount of mascara and eyeshadow – I knew my father was going to scream at me and tell me I looked like Cleopatra or a tart. 

‘By the time I got married to composer John Barry at age 18 I was just a painted face, hiding behind a mask of make-up. I suppose I fitted into the 1960s ‘English pretty’ look at the time.

Candid: The actress, pictured in March, gave the candid insight

Candid: The actress, pictured in March, gave the candid insight 

Her love: The icon, 73, who became a singer and actress, says it wasn't until her second marriage to Serge Gainsbourg that anyone told her she was beautiful  (Jane and Serge pictured in 1972)

Her love: The icon, 73, who became a singer and actress, says it wasn’t until her second marriage to Serge Gainsbourg that anyone told her she was beautiful  (Jane and Serge pictured in 1972)

‘I wasn’t as beautiful as Jean Shrimpton, who was my icon, but the fashion of the time helped, with very short miniskirts and blonde haircuts with a fringe.

‘Throughout my marriage to John, I used to sleep with an eye pencil under my pillow. If he woke up in the night, I could put it on, so he wouldn’t think I had tiny, piggy eyes. There was such insecurity, it was quite crazy – I spent most of my time trying to look like a fashion tableau…

‘It was only when I left John and want to France, where I met Serge Gainsbourg at an audition for the film Slogan, that I finally felt secure in my looks and realised that I had my own kind of attractiveness.

Great beauty: The model, who married composer John Barry while still a teenager, reveals she never believed she was attractive and hid behind 'a mask of make up' for years (pictured with her mother Judy Campbell in 2004)

 Great beauty: The model, who married composer John Barry while still a teenager, reveals she never believed she was attractive and hid behind ‘a mask of make up’ for years (pictured with her mother Judy Campbell in 2004)

‘Very soon after we met, Serge told me I was his idea of beauty, which felt so amazing after my marriage to John, during which I’d often felt unwanted and undesired.

‘No one had ever said that it was actually more attractive to have no chest at all. People might have said that it didn’t matter that much, or it wasn’t important at all, or we’d get by without it.

‘But no one had said they’d always imagined they’d be with a girl who looked half like a boy – someone with no chest and big hips, like I had.

Pained: 'No one had ever said that it was actually more attractive to have no chest at all. People might have said that it didn't matter that much, or it wasn't important at all, or we'd get by without it' (pictured in 2001)

 Pained: ‘No one had ever said that it was actually more attractive to have no chest at all. People might have said that it didn’t matter that much, or it wasn’t important at all, or we’d get by without it’ (pictured in 2001)

‘I remember early on, Serge took me to the Louvre to look at paintings by medieval artists to show me what he meant. He said he’d always been drawn to girls like me when he’d been at art school.’

During her marriage to Gainsbourg, they became a celebrity couple and she regularly featured on magazine covers.

She added: ‘I never imagined that I was particularly beautiful, even then, but I knew that I was what Serge thought was beautiful. I think I only looked like myself for the first time around the age of 28.

‘Serge was directing me in the film for the song Je t’aime moi non plus – he took off all my make-up and I had a short haircut.

Boyish: 'But no one had said they'd always imagined they'd be with a girl who looked half like a boy - someone with no chest and big hips, like I had'

Boyish: ‘But no one had said they’d always imagined they’d be with a girl who looked half like a boy – someone with no chest and big hips, like I had’

‘It was only then that I felt truly secure in my own skin, with no eye make-up or lines tracing my lips, or any gloss really. I felt great with no effort at all.’

Birkin says she remembers her mother suddenly declaring her own beauty had gone and now feels the same herself.

However, the mother-of-three insists she’s not bothered, adding: ‘People tactfully tell I’m still beautiful but I know perfectly well that you just become something else.

‘I’m not worried about it and it’s too late to do anything about it – I’m too scared to have plastic surgery.’

Way back when: During her marriage to Gainsbourg, they became a celebrity couple and she regularly featured on magazine covers

Way back when: During her marriage to Gainsbourg, they became a celebrity couple and she regularly featured on magazine covers

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