You could look at Teri Hatcher and envy her super-skinny body, super-successful career and super-chipper attitude towards being a single mother. She’s dated George Clooney, she floats down the red carpet in couture, looks great on the dance floor and generally gives the impression of being incredibly happy, fun and loveable. And to top it all, she’s written a self-help book based on her life experiences called “Burnt Toast And Other Philosophies Of Life”.

But scratch the surface and you have to acknowledge there’s much more to Teri Hatcher than lipgloss. In April this year, in an incredibly frank interview with Vanity Fair, she explained she’d been sexually molested throughout her childhood by her uncle, Richard Stone. She chose not to reveal this deep and disturbing secret until she was at the peak of her celebrity because, when her career was on the skids, she didn’t want to be seen to be trading on the abuse to garner publicity.

More importantly, she spoke out to support fellow victims and reassure them that you can recover. The interview also disclosed that in 2002, a 14-year old girl, Sarah Van Cleemput, had committed suicide after suffering abuse at the hands of Richard Stone. When Teri found out Stone could not be prosecuted without her testimony, she gave it willingly and secured her abuser a 14-year prison sentence.

So Teri, with great courage, has let her big skeleton out of the closet. Her new book, although not about her childhood tragedy, contains other difficult subjects: the fact that she didn’t have sex on her honeymoon; that men don’t call her back; that she’s riddled with self-doubt- just like the rest of us.

The book talks about her two failed marriages, to trainer Markus Leithold, whom she married in 1988, and actor Jon Tenney, whom she wed in 1994; the birth of her daughter Emerson in 1997; her career highs (Lois Lane in The New Adventures of Superman and Susan in Desperate Housewives) and lows (making bath salts). You get a real sense of who Teri is and you genuinely like her for it.

Self-deprecating, funny, honest and constantly working on herself, her book Burnt Toast says to the rest of us, ‘This is what I’m learning about living as a single mother, woman, human being= maybe you’ll find it useful, too.’ And you do. We opened it in a cynical frame of mind, but felt very buoyed up by it. So before you buy it yourself (and spend hours exclaiming, ‘She’s talking about me!’), we thought we’d give you a dose of what the straight-talking Teri’s done to date.

‘My first and total priority in my life is being my daughter’s mother. And as far as Emerson is concerned, I think it’s more important for me to try to be a good role model than to tell her how to be. And it’s important for her to see me making mistakes and either learning from them or apologising for them- because then she sees that if I don’t have to be perfect, she doesn’t, either.’

‘I’m a woman who carries around all these layers of fear and vulnerability. I’m trying to be my powerful me; it’s in there, but I have to find the strong part underneath the layers of “I’m shit. I’m never going to go anywhere.” But I have the tools to work on it myself.’

‘If you want to be open and generous and loving, and somebody creams you, you just move on to the next guy. But I’d be lying if I said letting myself fall in love was an easy thing for me. That’s probably the scariest thing for me to do. So I spend a lot of time alone, and if I’m lonely, I find healthy ways not to be. I read a good book, go for a walk, call my friends. Or just allow myself to be lonely. We don’t have to be happy all the time.’

‘When I meet someone, I do worry more about if they will like me and less about if I will like them. But I’m better than I was. There was a time in my twenties when I’d go out with a guy who would cheat or not call back or not be available-all those behaviours that women have gone through tolerating. And you can usually pick those qualities out during a 50-minute dinner- the same amount of time it takes to pay your therapist! So now I’ll say, “Nice meeting you. Goodbye.”

‘I want to have that deep, knowing trust where you feel you can be the completely exposed dark, reckless pit of yourself with someone and they still love you.’

‘I wouldn’t call myself shy, really, but I’m never going to be your instant best friend. But when I get to know you and we become friends, I’ll jump in front of a bus to save you.’

‘When you turn 40, you understand that there is a finish line. Age makes you wiser. And I do think that, in many ways, I’m more interesting now than I was 20 years ago. Even if my body doesn’t agree.’

‘I hope I never feel like the only way I’ll get a job is if I get [surgery] done, but I don’t have a judgement about it. I have girlfriends who’ve had stuff done to make themselves feel better- and they’re not even in the business.’

‘I think you’re really lucky if you get an opportunity like this once- and I’ve had it twice! It’s like planets aligning. I told my mom yesterday that I don’t think the planters have ever lined up so clearly in my life. They’re so aligned that I’m having my period and I don’t even have cramps. What’s interesting about being my age and getting a second chance is that I don’t think of [Desperate Housewives] as a springboard to other things. I don’t have a higher goal, like being a movie star. It’s great just to be here.’

‘This is the big Hollywood secret- we all have a lot of help; fabulous designers who give us fabulous dresses and fabulous hair and make-up people- I just sit there and drink champagne.’

‘I’m a great cook. In fact, I like to cook for everybody on the show. I make killer chocolate-chip cookies and amazing roast chicken.’

‘I find it incredibly peaceful to wear my cap and tracksuit and drive my old truck. I don’t gamble and I don’t have an addictive personality, but there’s something about a garage sale I just can’t resist.’

‘My book, Burnt Toast, explains how to set better priorities, how not to be afraid of what you want and how to treat yourself better- how to avoid eating burnt toast, which is what, metaphorically, I watched my mother do.

‘We don’t treat ourselves well enough. You don’t have to lose one pound; you don’t have to get a great job; you don’t have to get a boyfriend- you can just start treating yourself well right now! So I want to start treating myself better and I want you to start treating yourself better, too.’

‘I did not marry bad guys, but, ultimately, I didn’t make good choices. I think there’s nothing worse than being lonely in a marriage and I absolutely was. Now my ex-husband, Jon, is a big part in my daughter’s life and we’ve remained friends.’

‘I only wanted to talk about [being a victim of child abuse] if I thought it was going to help people. But I’m 41, and it’s time for me to stop hiding and accept all the complicated things about me- and then maybe I’ll find someone who wants that whole package, instead of continuing to hide and finding somebody who doesn’t.’

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