‘Dicko’ BREAKS SILENCE on hurtful comments made to Paulini

The former Australian Idol fat shamed contestant Paulini during a live show and drew national outrage way back in 2003.
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A tearful Ian ‘Dicko’ Dickson has broken his silence on his controversial comments made to Paulini Curuenavuli on Australia Idol some 20 years ago during his time on the 2023 season of I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!

The surprising comments came during a heartfelt conversation with KIIS FM drive time co-host Woody Whitelaw where he admitted that his brutal comments ”still haunted” him to this day.

For those needing a history lesson, the hard-hitting former judge of Australian Idol told Paulini that she needed to ”choose more appropriate clothes or shed some pounds.”

The backlash at the time was immediate and sparked national outrage.

”I don’t feel like that guy Dicko on television 20 years ago,” a teary Dicko admitted.

”I am a different person. It is interesting for me to feel how that impacts on the person I am today. I imagine there is still stuff I am still repressing there, there is stuff I am still hiding away from myself.

”Maybe each time I tell it and it invokes an emotion in me, it takes me nearer to working out how I actually feel about it. It probably tears a layer away and that is a good thing.”

The now infamous gold dress that Dicko criticised Pauline about.

(IMAGE: Network 10)

Reflecting on the public outrage, and why he said what he said, Dicko then admitted to Woody that he had a ”chip on my shoulder.”

”I had to prove myself, but I just set about trying to be the cold hard facts guy and it was pretty brutal at times,” Dicko said candidly.

“If Paulini had come to me at the record company and the stylist had been there and she had walked out in that dress and said this is what I am wearing to the ARIAs, I would have advised her against it. I didn’t want to hurt her and I promise you, if she had walked a red carpet wearing that dress 20 years ago, there would have been comments made in women’s magazines.”

The polarizing persona also admitted that it wasn’t until a viewer wrote to him, furious about the fat phobic comments Dicko had made, as well as how they had directly triggered his own teenage daughter who was battling anorexia.

”He said, ‘this is your fault…she was an Australian Idol fan and when you said that comment to Pauline, she spiraled out of control and she is now in hospital, she might die and if she does, I am going to hold you personally responsible’,” Dicko recounted.

When Australian Idol launched in 2003, Mark Holden, Marcia Hines and Ian ‘Dicko’ Dickson were on the judging panel. During his time on the show ‘Dicko’ was the mean judge, akin to the likes of Simon Cowell.

(IMAGE: Channel 10)

Choking back more tears as he continued, Dicko said that as a father of two now adult women of his own, he was shell shocked.

”To feel that my comments might have driven a beautiful young girl, the apple of her father’s eye, into a hospital ward where she could die, is really hard,” he said.

“Look, you’ve got to accept responsibility and I am prepared to accept in that long society struggle to get there, I am one of the villains that brought us here and I can’t change that.

“We do live in a different world now. I would like to have learnt from it.

“I would like the world to have learnt from it.”

When reflecting on the problematic nature of his fat phobic and body shaming comments made to Pauline 20 years ago, Dicko started crying on I’m A Celeb…

(IMAGE: Channel 10)

In a previous episode of I’m A Celeb, Dicko also admitted to fellow castmate Domenica Calarco that he would ”never” make the same comments today and that he was a ”different person” in a different world.”

Paulini herself has also spoken out about being at the centre of the drama, revealing to in 2017 that she thought times had changed for the better.

“I think it has changed a lot; there’s no way anyone could do that today. People would just be outraged. There’s no way,” she said.

“And anyway, they shouldn’t be able to. These are often young kids standing up there being judged. We have so many problems with young girls who don’t think they’re skinny enough. There’s so much pressure about this mold that you have to fit into – it’s all crap.”

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