Megan Gale’s candid confession
Megan Gale is about as far from what you would expect a supermodel to be like as is humanly possible.
She swears, laughs a lot, has a broad Aussie accent, eats pasta, and doesn't drip in labels. Today she's dressed down in a T-shirt and jeans and is wearing minimal make-up.
In short, Megan is the ultimate anti-diva.
So, it's perhaps unsurprising that she made it her career signature to succeed against the odds, including when she first became a model back in the mid-90s during the height of the super-skinny Kate Moss era.
"When I started modelling many moons ago my 'look' wasn't really the look of the moment," she tells news.com.au
"I was tall, athletic, and I really struggled to get work because of it. My agents weren't like: 'Oh you're fat, you need to lose weight', but there was very much a message of: 'You could do really well if you just lost some weight'.
"It was a matter-a-fact kind of statement, but I didn't want to go to those extreme measures to lose weight, and I naturally don't drop weight that easily. But most importantly, I didn't want to succumb to that pressure, even at that young age it was really important to me."
Marching to the beat of her only drum has certainly worked so far. Over 25 years or so she's graced catwalks around the world, has loaned her face to huge campaigns, including L'Oréal Paris, hosted hit TV show Project Runway Australia and has starred in big screen cinematic successes.
Today, 43-year-old Megan's life is unrecognisable from her carefree modelling days.
Shaun and Megan began dating in 2011, and when it comes to pinpointing the secret to their relationship success, the brunette stunner is pretty sure of the main ingredient.
"Communication," she says, simply. "It's important in any relationship, but especially a romantic one. If you don't communicate clearly, properly and with transparency … it can be really hard. It's hard to both be good communicators and to communicate in the same way.
"Some people communicate by yelling and screaming and overreacting, while some people's way of communicating is not talking about their emotions. We're very direct, and we're very calm when we communicate."
Having been together for two years shy of a decade, Megan is a realist when it comes to relationship ups and downs; she knows that not every day will be rainbows and sunshine.
"Of course, we have bad days," she admits. "But we'll sit and usually resolve it pretty quickly. We never stay upset with each other for long, and we never go to bed on an argument - ever!
"I'm a big believer that you never go to bed angry or leave a house angry. You communicate and just sort stuff out with the people that matter the most. Don't let things simmer because you never know what will happen the next day."
Thankfully, Megan says she and Shaun are generally on the same page when it comes to parenting their adorable kids.
"Luckily, Shaun and I are like-minded with our views on how we parent," she says. "I've had girlfriends who have said that their husband views it one way, whereas they view it another, so who teaches the child what? I think when you don't share the same views as parents it can be really tricky."
Shaun retired last year, and though he was already a hands-on dad, leaving the game couldn't have been more timely given the launch of Megan's new business, lifestyle brand Mindful Life - an ethically sourced, natural skincare range for children.
"It was amazing timing," she says. "Because I had a concern about who would be there for the kids. It's very demanding being an AFL footballer - their schedules are crazy - so when he retired, he did the lion's share of school drop-offs while I was doing this, so it worked out really well.
"Shaun put everything into his football career from a teenager, so it was nice for him to have time to slow it down. He did miss out at the beginning when the kids were born, so he's making up for that now. I already appreciate him and everything that he was in a partner and a dad, but him stepping up into the primary carer role has just taken it to a whole new level."
While Megan is very aware there's an A to Z of celebs launching skincare lines, she has spent real time considering the ethos behind the range.
"It's not about what the products are, it's about what they represent," she says. "They're symbolic of a time of the day when we as parents often try to rush through that feed, bath and bed routine. It's the end of the day, and often you want to get on the wines, chill and just watch Game of Thrones.
"And I get that, I've been there. But often we burn through what we consider to be a chore without actually stopping every now and then to realise that we're missing it all.
"We don't know what's going to happen tomorrow and yesterday is gone, so stop and be aware of the now, especially when you have kids involved."
No stranger to being open with the lows, as well as the highs, Megan revealed in 2016 she had suffered a miscarriage at nine weeks. What's even worse is she had to fly to Italy to shoot for Australia's Next Top Model mere days later.
"Miscarriage is a heartbreaking experience to go through full stop," she says. "But I had to go in front of TV cameras and pretend that everything was fine. It was extremely hard."
Making the decision to talk publicly about her experience and to shed some light on an issue that is "taboo and often swept under the carpet" is just one example of Megan using her position as a platform for positive change.
But she admits fame is a double-edged sword, and the belief that, as a celebrity, she's public property is a tough one for the mum-of-two to swallow.
"After I had my miscarriage I had someone ask me about having baby number two," she says. "I wanted to say: 'Well, I have tried and I've just had a miscarriage'. I didn't, but I wanted to. Their question made me think even more about the fact that I'd just lost a baby. It's like: 'You signed up for it, so we can do and ask what we want'," she says, shaking her head.
"I've lost count of the number of times I was asked about when I'd have kids. Then I had River, and I'd be asked when I was going to have another Even now I'm asked about baby number three. How do you know I haven't been trying? I haven't. But I could have been."
Despite her model background, where looks and youth are the standard currency, at 43 Megan isn't fazed by the passing years. In fact, just like a fine wine, life for the entrepreneur just keeps getting better the older she gets.
"At the height of my time with David Jones I was in my late-20s, early 30s," she recalls. "That's 'old' for a model. Same with acting, I was launching my career at a much older age than usual. And I was 35 or so when I signed on with L'Oréal . Again, to be signed to represent a beauty brand in your mid-30s was almost unheard of. I've never been worried about getting older because the older I get, the more work I seem to have!"
Case in point: The rave reviews she received for Mad Max: Fury Road in 2015. "I did! Imagine that. I mean, no pressure, just stand opposite Oscar-winner Charlize Theron and act!" she says, chuckling. But given that Mindful Life is steadily becoming all-consuming, does this mean the door is now shut on Megan's thespian aspirations?
"No, I don't like closing doors," she says. "I've always left doors open, so it's 'ajar'. Funnily enough, I was talking with my theatrical agent yesterday because they had just heard I launched my business and were asking if I was ready yet. I said: 'Yeah, let's start to talk'."
Looking to the future our chat turns towards wedding plans. I can't miss the sparkling gobstopper of an engagement ring on her finger (Shaun proposed two years ago while Megan was pregnant with Rosie), but as yet there hasn't been any talk of nuptials. So what's the deal?
"Nothing's happened yet!" she says, waving the ring at me. "At the risk of sounding totally unromantic, I've never been that kind of girl who has dreamt about her big day and her dress and special moment. No, it never felt very 'me'.
"I still don't want that big cast of thousands, bells and whistles and carry-on kind of wedding. But I do want to have his name, though professionally I think I'll continue to use my name. I want us to unite as a family in the traditional sense. However, right now it's just another big thing to do."
With fans waiting with bated breath for any wedding news, they're similarly curious about the prospect of the pair adding another bub to their brood. And while she hasn't ruled out having another baby, it's unlikely given her current workload, namely her "third baby", Mindful Life.
Either way, it's clear Megan is in a good place.
"Am I the happiest I've ever been? I would say so. I thought I was very happy before kids, then I became a mum and saw the joy that they bring … that has definitely ramped things up. I can't imagine my life without them now."
The debut product range from Megan's Mindful Life, Mindful Life Child, is available now. See themindfulife.com.
Paul Ewart is a freelance writer. Continue the conversation @_paulewart