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Mariah: "I look better than I did a few months ago...I don't want people commenting on my weight"

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Singer interviews with Chrissy Iley of The Sunday Times Style to talk about music, love, and her insecurities. Photos by Troy Jensen.

On insecurity: She doesn't enjoy being snapped by the paparazzi, however. So many contradictions. "I am a pretty insecure person," she says, "but I have to get over that because this is the reality of my life. I look better than I looked a few months ago, but I am definitely not one of those people who says, 'I look amazing today.' I have to point out this is a rented house - I would never have overhead lighting. High hats, they call them. In my apartment in New York, it's all recessed lighting, chandeliers, candles. This lighting is abusive."

On dieting: "Yes. My diet is very bleak." Bleak is one of her favourite words. She giggles. "I overuse the word because there is a lot of bleakness going on. My bleak diet is horrendous, but I don't want to tell anyone about it because it's none of their business." She looks tiny. Even her much-photographed breasts are reined in. Whatever it is, I tell her, the bleak diet is working well. She sinks further back into her pillows. "I just don't want people commenting." It seems she is hurt by nasty comments. I saw a photo of her online recently eating ice cream. "Ice cream? Not on the bleak diet," she says. "That must have been very old."

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On growing up in a single-parent household: She once said that growing up without a strong male figure in her life on a day-to-day basis affected a lot of her decision-making. "My perspective on that has changed. I don't think it was because I was without a father figure, I think there were lots of elements about my childhood that made me who I am. Some made me stronger, some made me more vulnerable. It was a combo plate."

On performing: Does she feel happy? "Sometimes. You just have to find the comedy in everything. There's so much nonsense that's just not worth spiralling over. I had the whole summer off. I was relaxing with the kids. Right now, there's a lot on. I do really enjoy performing. I like having an experience with people, trying to make them feel that they are not just watching an untouchable person. I want them to feel like they are in my living room."

On marrying James Packer: She describes her ideal day as "lying on the beach without a camera or a phone, surrounded by pink sand and the water". That sounds a little honeymoony. Is the wedding planned? "It's a secret." It's really happening, though? She waves the brick at me. "I'm not doing this for laughs." That ring is pretty hilarious. "I enjoy it. When you grow up without a lot of things... I try not to take things for granted." Still, she has two failed marriages. Is she not burnt from the experience? She looks very serious. "I am very traditional. I have babies, it's more appropriate. I don't know if most people can relate to that, but that's just how I feel." She won't elaborate on the relationship itself, however. "If I start talking about this relationship, people will interpret it in their own way, so I think it's safer for everyone involved to just not talk about the very personal aspect."

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Tags: black celebrities, interview, mariah carey, photo shoot
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