Toft Simonsen - 2007 - Renée Toft Simonsen
By Karen Seneca, 28.
has time for
enjoys taking care of family and writing books full time.
has been 25 years since Renée Toft Simonsen was proclaimed
Face of The Eighties, but the still beautiful model has found her own
niche far from the catwalk.
She has become a full time author
so while husband Thomas Helmig travels around the country on tour she
takes care of children, books and house in Risskov.
mostly I who am at home at the moment, but it’s going well.
The children are big now, the youngest is 8 and the eldest 14 so there
is energy to commit to several things", says Renée Toft
Simonsen, who became a qualified child psychologist in 2002.
don’t work as a psychologist but write the whole time and
work on several different projects e.g. as a mentor in Kvinfo. And it
is nice to always have someone at home when the children comes home
Renée Toft Simonsen has been a member
of Plan Denmark’s board the past 10 years and has now chosen
to put her heart into yet another organization which fights for
children’s rights – the newly established
Children’s Heart Foundation which will be working to improve
heartsick children’s conditions.
"I think that I
myself have a lot and am very fortunate so I want to give something in
return. Especially in these petty times it is important to do what you
can. And children’s hearts have always interested me a lot
– I am a qualified child psychologist, write
children’s books and have a lot of children myself."
To lose a Child
Tholmas Helmig’s daughter, Marie,
Renée’s Ulrikke and Jens Kristian nor the mutual
child Hugo has suffered from serious illnesses, but Renée
can easily empathize with the fear of losing a child. Therefore she did
not hesitate to join the board when she was encouraged to by Henrik
Eriksen from Rigshospitalet’s (Copenhagen’s main
"I have tried to go to the
hospital with a little boy of two who has a high fever and the doctor
says his neck seems stiff. You immediately think meningitis. Or
when my son had to be operated for hernia and you watch him fall asleep
from the anesthesia, it seemed like he was dying – I broke
Apart from RFT, the Children’s Heart
Foundation’s board includes amongst others Casper Christensen
and Henning Dyremose.
Many thanks to Tina for the
28. February 2007
|danish SE OG HÖR
|danish HER & NU
Klavs Bo Christensen
B.T. 4. March 2007
|danish SE OG HOR
to Karen Seneca!
29. January 2009
August 2007 #34
|danish BÖRN & UNGE 28 - 31. August 2007
FEMINA August 2007 #34 - Sanne Berg
Sondag 20. August 2007 #34 - Britt Lindemann
danish Nyhedsavisen, 21. August 2007:
Renée Toft Simonsen
Author and psychologist
Renée Toft Simonsen has previously written childrens books but has her debut next week as author of adult books.
If I were not talking to you I would…
Be on my way into my house and preparing for next weeks publishing of my book which is a novel for adults.
I should never have…
Picked up the phone, ha ha ha.
I hate myself when…
I do not hate myself. But I am not good when I make mistakes. I have to get better at that.
The piece of music that has meant a lot to me is…
The music from the movie "Schindlers List".
Historical person I would most have liked to be…
Katarina The Great, Marie Antoinette or Elisabeth I. Someone at a big
royal court where big robes were worn and there were intrigues etc. I
would have loved to be part of some royal court stuff.
When no one is looking I might…
Pick my nose.
If I had not met my partner and was going on a romantic vacation I would go with…
The last time I spent DKK 1.000 was…
For my sons birthday. He got DKK 1.000 and various things.
People erroneously perceive me as…
A confident person. Many think that because I have succeeded with
something I can not feel insecure. But that is not true. Those two
things are not connected.
Lately I have really felt like…
The most embarrassing thing that has happened to me is…
I can not remember. It takes a lot before I think something is
embarrassing. But my children always think I am really embarrassing.
THANKS TINA SO MUCH for the translation!
By Niels Ole Qvist, 27.
Renée Toft Simonsen: I
can forgive unfaithfulness
It is usually only in a fantasy this happens: suddenly you are sitting
in a corner in a somewhat sleazy bar in central Århus and
talking about orgasms, sex toys and unfaithfulness with a woman who has
been called the worlds most beautiful woman.
But here we are in the intimate half darkness and Renée Toft
Simonsen cannot help smiling widely at the situation.
"I have certainly never been here before", the 42-year old writer,
psychologist and ex-top model says and looks around the worn down bar
with decades of smoke clouds encapsulated in walls and chair seats.
Between us lies Renée Toft Simonsens new book which is
published thursday with the title "Tuesday Morning". It is a
dark and gripping story about six women who meet in the steam room at
the swim bath "Spain" in Århus and share fateful
stories. One of the women ends up being beaten to death, another
pursuits the "uncomplicated screw", a third is victim to her husbands
unfaithfulness with a young blonde.
Renée does know the piercing of the heart but is capable of
fighting exactly that fear.
"Am I afraid of unfaithfulness? Not with the one I am with now. But
again… Should it happen, I would probably be able to
forgive. 20 years ago I would have said "Get out!", but my situation is
different today. We have four children and a long history together.
Should all that be ruined by a one-night stand? I think that the older
you get, the better you get at accepting that things like that happen",
says Renée Toft Simonsen and reflects more on the fear of
"However, you never quite know how you will react. In previous
relationships I have been exposed to unfaithfulness and it was
extremely uncomfortable and well… it did end with the
relationships ending", she adds.
Renée Toft Simonsen, who in the 80s lived an apparently
deeply glamorous life on the glossy cover of life as a supermodel in
New York, still does exclusive modeling jobs. But today she especially
enthusiastic about one thing: writing. She is the advice column editor
of the weekly magazine Femina and has had great success with the
childrens books about Karla.
Close to giving up
It has been a long, rewarding and sometimes fatiguing process writing
"Sometimes I have been close to giving up, but fortunately I have
always been able to see it becoming cleaner and cleaner in its
expression with every rewrite", she says.
Feminism and womens battle are perhaps not the first words you
associate with Renée Toft Simonsen. But in the book there is
a straight line back to the 70s very real depictions of womens lives.
"There is no superwoman or super detective who handles it all. It is
completely ordinary women, certainly with hard destinies but still
yes… ordinary", she says.
Her husband Thomas Helmig has taken the poetic photo on the cover. The
sun shines in the soft waves in the Århus bay where an angel
is dissolving under her halo.
The motif hits the atmosphere of the book. You think of Tove Ditlevsen
– the undisputed interpreter of womens life in Danish
literature – when reading the book. An endorsement that
results in a happy smile from Renée Toft Simonsen.
"I LOVE Tove Ditlevsen. She is sort of a heroine", she says.
Plagued of fear
The main character of the book, 38-year old Iben, is plagued with
anxiety which is closing in on her. Renée calls the anxiety
a "monster" which she herself has fought since her youth.
And exactly here she hides one of the many paradoxes of her
personality: the supermodel who has been admired by millions on
billboards and magazine covers around the world cannot stand being the
centre of attention. She hates, really HATES, presentation rounds. She
has never given a speech and does not like strangers watching her eat.
She is afraid that her hands will start shaking.
"If you asked me to give a speech right now, I would die of fear. When
younger I was distressed but I have learned to live with it and accept
that this is me. But I am deeply impressed with Thomas who can stand on
a stage in front of thousands of people", Renée adds.
During periods, anxiety has played a big part in her life, but today it
only bites occasionally.
"The worst part is actually fear of fear itself. That it will control
too much of your life", she explains.
Renées book main character Iben starts the rise from the
abyss of anxiety through the growing kinship with the women she meets
at the swim bath. At the same time, hot sun centre sex helps her move
"It was a lot of fun writing that scene. It is hard to describe; it is
the good old… well, in and out. How do you describe it so it
becomes intense? I have tried to do it so the reader will feel it
here", Renée says and puts her hand on her midriff.
Sex and sex toys
The women in the steam bath talk a lot about sex and sex toys. One has
never had an orgasm and is fine with that.
"Some women are like that. I hear that. But I wouldn’t do it.
If you’ve first had an orgasm, well then you want one again!"
says Renée and elaborates: "Many women openly talk about the
lack of desire. It is a way to break the curse. Sex toys can be a help,
too", says Renée with one of the many grins.
In the book, the young wild Karla offers to instruct the others in
using a dildo.
"That’s the way it is", says Renée to the
wondering reporter: "The women in my life are very straightforward.
They give each other sex toys… they say: you have to try
this one". Well, we can also help buy it. What happens in the steam
bath in the book is very close to my reality", says Renée.
She shares another thing with her characters: the annoyance that
eternal youth does not last forever.
Parting with youth
"I spoke to my dad about it recently. Renée, there is
nothing great about getting old, he told me! And no, who thinks it is
great? There is something sad about reaching your 40s. I can still see
myself on the beach on Anholt, running with the wind in my hair. But I
am not 25 anymore. There are things that you have to say goodbye to.
The decay of the body is another knife to the flesh.
"I don’t like at all that my knees wrinkle… And
from now on it only gets worse. When you turn 50, the bodily functions
get worse. But there are also advantages… experience, right?
"I am happy about the overview of my own life, over so many things. You
start getting bigger historical insight, bigger understanding for our
culture, stuff like that. You can see connections you could not see
when you were younger", Renée adds.
She is excited about the reception of "Tuesday Morning" which she
started writing when she spent a year with her family in a Spanish
"I am happy about the book. But also vulnerable. I guess you always
are, when you put yourself out there."
After one and a half hours in the soft deep of the bar the interview is
over. None of the eagerly listening men in the room have said a word
while we have talked. You understand their silence:
"The face of the 80s" has apparently other faces than what for two
decades has shone so glossily, invulnerable and without scratches from
thousands of glittery ads.
to Tina for the translation!
|Claus Bech Andersen
|danish B.T. 26.
18. July 2009
||Thanks to Susanne!
By Christina Alfthan,
Renée Toft has
suffered from anxiety attacks for 20 years
Renée Toft Simonsen is fed up with being portrayed as
picture perfect. So now she has written a womens book which is about
anxiety neuroses, violence and how a friend can help start up the sex
It is always fun to pry a bit into celebrities personal life. But when
it is about Renée Toft Simonsen and Thomas Helmig and their
blended family then there is nothing much to pry into. Because they
lead a terribly normal life and gladly talk about their life and the
daily routines at home in the house in Risskov.
So it is no secret that Renée Toft Simonsen was a top model
in the 80s and lived a jetset life based in New York only to stop her
carrier suddenly before time and go back to Denmark. Here she had two
children with her then boyfriend, chose to become a single mom and
moved to Århus where she grabbed Thomas Helmig from his model
It has now been 12 years and there is no longer much drama in
Renées personal life. Now she is a psychologist and writer
and the wild times have only been in the childrens books about Karla.
But now Renée also wants to write for adults and today she
makes her debut with her womens novel "Tuesday Morning".
To say things out loud
With the novel she is again on the front pages of the
newspapers and magazines because Renée is a grateful victim
to the press. She talks. About this and that and the intimate sphere is
not something she worries so much about.
"I love saying what no one dares to talk about. Therefore I also write
about sex in my new book. Here there is, amongst others, a woman who
has never had an orgasm and that is indeed a bummer. Do you remember
when you were 15 and afraid of saying what you liked?" she asks and
"Some women never dare. But you have to say things because otherwise we
are not moving on, right? And here you can use your friends and
practice at saying it to them. And if you think it is disgusting
borrowing your girl friends sex toy, then you can just go with a friend
to a sex shop, right."
And then she puts the phone down because Thomas Helmig has to be kissed
while you are listening in.
He says he would like to pick up the children today and
she says "okay" and "Bye, bye baby". Then she is back again.
"The book is about the woman Iben, who has an anxiety neurosis and who
has isolated herself completely from the world. But then she decides to
do something about the problem, and she begins going to the swim bath
every Tuesday morning. Here she meets a group of women who are friends
and who swim at the same time and she slowly gets to know them. She
sits and listens to them in the steam bath where they talk about sex
toys, violence and unfaithfulness, and via them she gets on with her
life. It is a development story", Renée explains.
But how on Earth has she come up with the idea for a book about anxiety
She has because she herself has suffered from anxiety attacks for 20
years. For example, she cannot eat soup in big groups and she will
never give a speech. But it is taboo talking about anxiety and
therefore it has to see the light of day, she believes.
"When you have an anxiety attack, it is like sitting in a plane which
you think is crashing. You get paralyzed with fear. Walking into a
supermarket or giving a speech can be like that", she explains.
The first time she had an anxiety attack was at a party in New York and
she did not know what it was. She could not be bothered looking into it
so she dealt with it with a rum & coke. But the anxiety slowly
got worse and gradually she understood what it was about.
"The anxiety was one of the reasons I stopped modelling. I had to stop
and take care of myself. And the best way to get rid of anxiety is to
talk about it. Say it loud and it goes away", she says.
But it has not been the story people have wanted to hear from
"When I said it, people thought I was kidding. No one asked more about
it. It is not something anyone wants to talk about. But now I have
begun to speak and talked about it. I hope it will help other people in
the same situations as me", she says.
In the book it is a strong womens network that is the way back to life,
and Renée does indeed not think that good girl friends can
"I think that there has always been a strong kinship between women.
Women’s lives are linked together across everything. I also
have my own "sauna club" with my friends. From my oldest friend Dorte
to those I have from the mothers group. And it is a gift. Good friends
who take care of you in the most respectful way. That is worth its
weight in gold. But you only get good friends if you dare opening up
and talking about what is difficult", says Renée.
She has spent a lot of time talking about her anxiety and wondering why
especially women are gripped with anxiety. And with a psychology degree
up her sleeve she has an educated guess:
"Anxiety is a breakdown inside of you. Basically it is about wanting to
be loved and accepted. I was not loved enough as a child. My parents
were very young when I was born. They were Marxists and wanted to
realize themselves and it was like "Go away, we are going to have sex".
It was not always a lot of fun", she explains.
Something to struggle with
Therefore the children’s upbringing is something
which is very important to her.
"I really believe that you should think about what you praise your
children for. Because you risk that they hide away those sides that are
not praised. You have to be careful because not many children are that
strong", she says. She also thinks that you should teach children to
see the possibilities of growing in hard times and therefore she
sometimes puts the children’s problems upside down.
"It is through the hard times you grow. So when my children get upset,
I will say "Well. You have got a problem there. All of us need
something to struggle with."
FIVE SHORT ONES FOR RENÈE:
What do you admire the most about yourself? - "My potential for development."
Which trait about yourself do you like the least? - "That I can get too testy when I am angry."
What do you regret the most? - "The times when I have yelled at my kids in a bad way."
What do you like the most in your daily life? - "The days when I do not
have any plans and can just hang out and do what I want."
What would you have liked to know 10 years ago? - "That it does not help to scold. Either children or men."
About Renée Toft Simonsen
Was elected Face of the Eighties at 17 and worked for 7 years as a model in New York.
Is 42 and married to Thomas Helmig.
Has 3 children and a step child with Thomas Helmig from his previous marriage.
Is a qualified psychologist and works as an author.
Lives in Risskov in Arhus.
Tina so much
for the translation!
|danish Ekstra Bladet 2009
|danish NORDJYSKE Stiftstidende - 30. August 2007 - David Bering
||danish HER & NU 7. October 2009 #40 David Bering
||Big THANK YOU to Heidi!
||Thanks to Susanne!
|danish Nyhedsavisen - 30.
August 2007 - Poul Madsen
|danish Arhus Stiftstidende
2. September 2007
16. September 2007
|Very special thanks to Karin!
September 2007 #10 - Bjarke Johansen
|Many, many thanks
Mark og Bjerre
|danish Kulör October 2007
October 2007 - Kasper Thye
to Susanne & Tina!
|danish Ekstra Bladet
4. November 2007
February 2009 #2
|danish HER & NU
11. February 2009 #7
17. September 2009
|You can see the trailer
of "KARLAS KABALE"
|THANK YOU, Tina!
||Thanks to Susanne!