The Masked Singer's Ella Hooper on 'intense' toll of filming the show

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·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
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Viewers of The Masked Singer were less than impressed when fan favourite, Baby, was eliminated right before the finale.

But the Aussie star inside the costume, Killing Heidi's Ella Hooper, was just happy to have made it that far in Channel 10's popular reality TV show.

Ella Hooper on The Masked Singer.
Aussie rocker and Killing Heidi lead singer, Ella Hooper was unmasked as the Baby on The Masked Singer. Photo: Channel 10

"I stayed in a lot longer than I even thought I would, 'til just outside the finals," the 38-year-old tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

The music icon admits that donning a giant baby costume for a televised singing competition was a left-field move for her but one she was 'really glad' to have made.

"I think the experience will be with me for a while," Ella laughs. "It was so fun but it was so intense; it was actually really hard work."

Indeed, the masked celebs make their performances look effortless, but it's a whole other story inside those bulky, heavy and hot costumes.

"I was so sweaty, I was bright red like a beetroot," she says. "The second I came off stage, as much as I loved her [Baby], I was like, 'Get her off me, I'm dying!'"

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Ella Hooper wearing a red and white striped long sleeved top and red jeans. Photo: supplied.
Ella has shared her love of shopping secondhand clothing. Photo: supplied.

Op shop 'til you drop

Now she's no longer sweating it out inside a giant baby costume, Ella can return to her normal wardrobe which, she explains, is packed with secondhand and vintage gems that she's picked up while op-shopping.

"I'm a passionate op-shopper, I always have been. I've always enjoyed and vastly preferred shopping secondhand," she says.

Op shopping has allowed Ella to cultivate her own, unique sense of style which has been a key part of establishing herself as an artist and a lead singer.

"I like the fact you don't end up looking like everyone else. Growing up wanting to be a rock star, that's really important, like, you literally can't just go out in the same gear that everyone else has, you want to stand out, you want to craft a look."

Adam Pedretti, Jesse Hooper, Ella Hooper and Warren Jenkin of the band Killing Heidi of the band Killing Heidi arrive for the 15th Annual ARIA Awards at the Capitol Theatre on October 03, 2001 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Peter Carrette Archive/Getty Images)
Ella with her Killing Heidi bandmates at the 2001 ARIA Awards. Photo: Getty Images.

For that reason, Ella says she tries to avoid purchasing brand new clothing from 'fast fashion' retailers as much as she can.

But there's also the immense environmental and ethical impact of our churn-and-burn approach to fashion. Each year, the average Aussie buys 27kg of clothing — 23kg of which gets chucked in landfill after it's worn a few times.

Needless to say, this isn't sustainable or kind to the planet.

In 2018 alone, the fashion industry accounted for some 2.1 billion metric tons or four per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. That's equivalent to emissions by the entire economies of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom combined.

In contrast, choosing to get nine extra months of wear out of our outfits can reduce their carbon, water and waste footprints by around 20-30 per cent.

"So it's twofold," Ella says of her love for op shops and garage sales. "One, to look good and two, to save the planet."

Ella Hooper wearing a leopard print outfit against a leopard print curtain. Photo: supplied.
Op shops helped Ella create her own unique, rockstar sense of style. Photo: supplied.

Garage sale goodies

It makes sense then that Ella jumped at the chance to partner with the non-profit Garage Sale Trail ahead of its annual, nationwide Festival of Pre-Loved Stuff in November.

"Garage sales are the funnest kind of op-shopping because you have all that interaction with people. It's like a street party and you all get talking, I love that social element," she says.

And one of those people you might stumble across, if you're hitting the trail in regional Victoria at least, is Ella herself.

"I'm actually gonna throw my hat in the ring, put my money where my mouth is and host a garage sale too," she says.

You never know, you might be as lucky as one of Ella's garage sale customers a few years back who scored a 'divine' pair of Prada cowboy boots that Ella herself had bought second hand.

An acoustic guitar in an open case next to a pair of tan cowboy boots and a sign reading 'Garage Sale Trail'. Photo: supplied.
You never know what second-hand goodies you might find on the Garage Sale Trail. Photo: supplied.

"I ended up letting the boots go at a garage sale for a ridiculous price, basically for nothing because I saw this young girl who looked at them like I had looked at them, like she had never seen anything as incredible in her life.

"She was carrying a guitar case and I was like, 'You can have them!'"

And for those who turn their noses up at shopping secondhand, or are put off by the idea of buying other people's old, dirty stuff, Ella has this advice.

"Don't be afraid because people usually have a bit of pride around what they're selling and it'll be washed and fresh and clean.

"And also just think about how 'clean' it is in an environmental and ethical sense. Flip that story!"

The Garage Sale Trail will adhere to local COVID-safe guidelines and will offer touch-free QR code payments with PayPal. There are also online events where Aussies can buy and sell secondhand goodies without leaving the house.

Garage Sale Trail 2021 will take place over three weekends from November 6 to 21. Visit garagesaletrail.com.au to find a sale near you.

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