Jay Camilleri, a 27-year-old model from London, shot to fame back in 2009 when he appeared on the experimental TV documentary-series Dirty Sexy Things on Channel 4. Eight years later and after dating pop star Sam Smith, Camilleri is still making waves on social media and inspiring his thousands of followers.
On Dirty Sexy Thing, Camilleri had was described as “an irritant by his fellow models”, having argued with three other people on the show. Despite all of this, the series had explored his character as insecure, with certain confidence issues surrounding his body.
In 2016, while dating British popstar Sam Smith, Jay revealed how his determination to make it in the fashion industry (appearing in campaigns for Topman, Kurt Geiger and Puma) had actually left him battling anorexia and bulimia a couple of years after his TV debut.
Jay was overweight as a child, weighing over 100 kilos by the age of 15. “I couldn’t stop, I kept on eating and eating,” he sad. “I’d come home from school and raid the cupboards”. Soon, he became a rebellious and misbehaving child in school “to distract from the weight issue”, also realising form a young age that he was bisexual.
Soon, however, he started missing meals when out with friends, using his party lifestyle as an excuse. By age 18, he was 50 kilos, having shed half his weight in just three years. “If I was shooting, I wouldn’t eat for days beforehand to make me look slimmer,” Camilleri had told FEMAIL.
At one point, Jay recounted the moment when a tattooist actually stopped tattooing him mid-appointment. “You could see my ribs,” he had told the Daily Mail. “I was getting a tattoo on my spine and the tattooist refused to carry on because he said it was just going into bone”.
Jay would work out six times a week, twice a day, although he would only do cardio, because he “didn’t want to build muscle mass”. He suffered constant painful stomach cramps and his teeth are “seriously eroded”, and at his smallest size, he wore XS tops and women’s 26 inch waist jeans.
A couple of years later, aged 20, his friend helped him to tackle his illness by taking him to a restaurant, ordering dinner, and telling him he wouldn’t be allowed to leave until he had eaten everything.
Admitting it was the push that he needed, that fateful night lead to Jay seeking counselling and gradually gaining 25 kilos over five years.
Back in March 2016, it was confirmed that Jay started dating international popstar Sam Smith. The two had reportedly actually bonded over their past issues with weight. “I suffered hell with anorexia and now I love my food and put on weight if I’m not careful,” Camilleri had said. “Sam’s lost weight, but he’s supportive”.
Nearly a decade after first making it big time on TV, Jay Camilleri has amassed over 11,000 followers on his Instagram account and more than 25,000 on Twitter. Now, he wants to help other young men like him battling eating disorders by raising awareness of the issue.
Looking decidedly healthier now, Jay regularly posts photos of when he was younger, following them up with cheeky captions and hashtags like “#lostthat6pack” and “#foundfosters”. In another post from last November, Jay said, “I’m not as slim as I was, but for once, I’m happy with where my body is going”.
One of the questions which Jay’s followers regularly ask, of course, is about his non-British sounding surname.
Camilleri also has some Maltese fans who constantly ask him whether he has any connection to the islands is, and it turns out he does. “My family is of Maltese descent, yes,” Jay told Lovin Malta.
Last month, it was revealed that Sam Smith’s new single Too Good At Goodbyes is actually about breaking up with an ex-boyfriend. Speaking to ITV News, Sam Smith had said the breakup had left him at the point of emotional “breakdown”. After suffering a burnout, Smith, who in 2016 won a Golden Globe for the James Bond single Writing’s on the Wall, had actually decided to take an extended break from music to spend some time with friends and family.
Who’s to say whether this song, the first single in nearly two years, is actually about Camilleri?