What I see in the mirror: Arlene Phillips

'Dancing keeps me strong, but I am 67 and nothing can change that'
arlene phillips
'I like to look as good as I can.' Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Hlcarpenter.com
'I like to look as good as I can.' Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Hlcarpenter.com
Arlene Phillips
Fri 10 Jun 2011 19.02 EDT

Mirrors are part of my life and an ever-changing source of delight, displeasure or even disaster, depending on which one I am looking in. I look in a magnifying mirror when I pluck my eyebrows in the morning, full-length mirrors every day in rehearsal, and I often nervously bring out a compact to check my make-up.

Generally, it is not that I like what I see but that I live with what I see, because there is not a lot I can change. When I am in rehearsal, my tracksuits are carefully placed to disguise parts of my body. I'll think, "My bum looks big today, so a cardigan will hide it."

I like to look as good as I can, and dancing keeps me strong physically and mentally, but I am 67 and nothing can change that. So, although I am constantly analysing what I see in the mirror, I am accepting of my appearance and try not to get frustrated. When I've plucked my eyebrows – which grow at a rate of knots – I quickly turn away from the magnifying mirror, because I know that's what I look like in HD – every wrinkle showing.

I am five foot two and a half, and vary between a size 10 and size 12. I constantly diet. People laugh when I arrive at rehearsal with my box of sliced beetroot and bag of chicory, but if I indulge in a cupcake binge or a large bowl of pasta, it shows. Although I'm still dancing a lot, it doesn't have much effect on my body any more.