A PICTURE can say a thousand words, and barely a day goes by without Helen Flanagan posting a stunning selfie or gorgeous family snap – so it seems there's a lot the star has to tell her fans.
The ITV Coronation Street actress, 33, has grown up in the spotlight, undergoing an obvious transformation from child soap star to glamour puss model and proud parent… but how much have you really picked up on?
As her life has evolved over the years so have Helen's poses and selfies – revealing plenty of potentially cryptic messages fans may have missed.
While she's previously been labelled 'trashy' by mum-shamers commenting on her lingerie posts, experts say there's more to them than meets the eye.
Speaking exclusively to Fabulous online, body language expert Judi James says: "Helen’s body language suggests a narrative that is common with child stars.
"She seems to have inherited a strong desire to please, which appears from some of her eye expressions and her micro-gestures and subtler non-verbal signals to be in conflict with doing what actually pleases her.
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"Her emotional ‘sweet spots’ seem to come from her acting, being a mother and being a bride.
"She hit the buffers on the bridal front and her ‘go-to’ response before and after is her glamour work.
"This is something she is clearly easily successful at, although after her daughter’s birth she developed a trait of empathy: seeing what she does through the eyes of her daughter, and this does seem to cause some kind of conflict for her.
"Helen’s Marilyn Monroe tattoo might also provide a huge hint to her personality and emotional needs.
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"Like Marilyn she has a natural talent with her beauty and her body.
"But there are clues that, like Marilyn, her authentic happiness comes from relationships, and parenthood."
Here, we take a closer look at Helen's transformation over the years, and what her body language and poses reveal…
Early modelling days
After leaving Weatherfield for the first time in 2012 and free from the constraints of being a soap star, Helen, then 21, started to ramp up her modelling career, posing first for a Specsavers campaign.
Judi says: "Helen’s body language here is demure and very ‘girl-next-door’ wholesome, with the sexual body poses looking almost accidental.
"Here eyes are as wide as her smile and the hand to face gesture looks coy.
"Her head is tilted, signalling a desire to be liked, but not a desire to shock."
Pushing the boundaries
Later that same year Helen – who started dating her now ex-fiancé Scott Sinclair in 2009 – entered the I'm A Celebrity Jungle, and was eventually eliminated fifth.
Judi says: "Helen got to showcase her incredible body in a very family-friendly way via these classic shower scenes on I'm A Celeb.
"This exposure allowed her to blend her personality with her ‘pleasing’ tendencies of showcasing her body but without losing
the kind of wide-ranging fanbase from Corrie."
However later that same year the actress caused a real stir – by posing in lingerie with a gun held to her head, and inadvertently reposting it just after a shooting in the US.
Judi adds: "Child stars making the transition into adult stars with often make the leap with overkill body language rituals.
"They often want to shuck off the ‘sweet kid’ branding as quickly and as emphatically as possible with some often shocking and controversial body language statements.
"That looked like Helen’s version and there’s a hint of fear that
suggests even she knows she’s gone too far in her desire to show rebellion and that this look is not really authentic Helen."
A very sexy star is born
The following year things began to really hot up for Helen, and she won FHM's sexiest woman in the UK poll in 2013, posing for her first ever sexy shoot.
Commenting on her mag front cover, Judi says: "Her body language in this ‘playful’ pose looks designed for her by the photographer or stylist rather than congruent and natural.
"It’s teasing and it makes a great cover but her eye expression suggests it’s not showing the real Helen.
"Helen’s body language becomes incongruent or contradictory in these poses that announce a total shift to glamour.
"Her eye expression often looks teasing but a lot of the time she has her fingers to her mouth in a gesture of insecurity and her cardi sleeves pulled up over her fingers in a suggestion of a desire to hide."
Mum's the word
In complete contrast to her public profile, when Helen became a mum to first daughter Matilda with Scott in 2015, the tone of her family photos were completely different.
Helen and Scott are also parents Delilah, born in 2018, and Charlie, born in 2021 – and Judi believes it's Helen's family album pics that show the real, happy her.
Judi says: "In contrast with the concealed eye expressions and the sexual projections this seems to be a key body language sweet spot for Helen.
"With her new baby she has no need to hide behind sexual poses and masks of make-up.
"Natural and bare-faced, we are shown the truth of her feelings here because they are ones of genuine happiness at last.
"Her eyes are revealed because this is an authentic eye smile with no need to overact.
"She looks fulfilled, confident and congruent."
A triumphant (Rovers) return
Despite the attempts to distance herself from her former soap fame, Helen then returned to Corrie in 2017.
However, she made it obvious her old Rosie Webster image was still long gone, by posing for a very grown-up, sophisticated shoot.
Judi says: "Helen seemed to have thrown herself into an attempt to erase every trace of the child star before her return to the Street.
"Here, she is only covering her breasts with one hand and her pose looks as sultry as her facial expression.
"It suggests she wants to go back on her own terms.
"However the eye-narrowing gesture hides her signature pale blue eyes – suggesting a possible inner lack of confidence that she is trying to hide and mask."
In the past Helen has felt the need to defend her decision to pose for more risque shoots, saying: "There’s nothing wrong with doing lingerie shoots.
"And my glamour modelling was always tasteful and fun."
Wedding and engagement woe
Sadly Helen and footie ace Scott split in July 2022 after 14 years together – and it seems like Helen has struggled to move on, still wearing her engagement ring after the break-up and posting photos in wedding dresses.
Judi says: "Helen’s other fulfilment in life might have been not a
marriage but a wedding.
"She opted to pose in her wedding dress for International Women’s Day and posting an idealised app-produced wedding pic, where she looks like a doll bride.
"After a relationship split, celebs usually pose in a revenge dress but only Helen has made that a wedding dress.
"She seems to be announcing to the world that all she ever needed for happiness was her children and a wedding.
"She seems to be telling herself that her heartbreak has made her stronger with these ‘who needs a man?’ poses.
"Helen’s trait of the wedding dresses and of still wearing her engagement ring looks defiant but it suggests she might struggle moving forward in her life."
Despite this, a source recently told The Sun she is ready to find love again, saying: "Helen’s officially back on the dating scene.
"She’s been seeing someone on/off for a while but has said they’re better off as friends, but she did really like dating him.
"Everything’s really casual and she’s taking things slow – she doesn’t want anything serious."
Hitting back at haters
Finally, since having children, Helen has proudly continued to flaunt her fabulous figure and remained true to herself – however this has also meant she's often been the victim of vile 'mum-shaming' trolls online.
Not that she lets this get to her, as her selfies show.
Judi says: "Helen is emerging as a confident, fulfilled woman who is more in control of her life and hopefully her career.
"There are so many moments over the years when her happiness and her body language signals align and if she is still channelling Marilyn now it seems to be the Marilyn who was controlling her own career and progressing with her acting talent rather than the rather vulnerable woman at the start of her career.
"The change in Helen’s body language poses has been enormous since she gave birth.
"Previously her stunning and pale blue eyes tended to be hidden, along with her authentic identity, suggesting a lack of inner confidence.
"She often tried to look as unlike her authentic self as possible once, as she switched around with different looks.
"Now she is totally and undeniably Helen, meeting the camera with her eyes in a signal of feelings of enhanced control, making her look relatable and more relaxed about ‘baring’ her personality along with her body.
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"She looks proud to be a mum but also proud of the way that she looks, too.
"Her body language mood looks genuinely relaxed and playful, suggesting she’s taking the lead making her own decisions about her poses now rather than being choreographed, as she seemed to have been in the older photos."
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