Former Miss Universe Australia Renae Ayris farewelled 2018 with a clutch of swimsuit shots on her Instagram feed – and welcomed the new year with a revelation that drying herself when she gets out of the sea is a huge feat.
Ayris, who placed third runner-up at the 2012 Miss Universe contest, has a “massive” terror of towels.
The 28-year-old Perth social media influencer and dancer revealed her odd fear during an Instagram question and answer session with her 190,000 followers on New Year’s Day.
“For anyone that doesn’t know, I have a phobia of towels,” Ayris, 28, answered when asked what scares her most.
That confession led to the obvious question: how does Ayris, who appeared on SBS reality documentary series First Contact in 2016, dry herself at the beach or after a shower?
“Heaps of you have asked this,” Ayris said in the Instagram story.
“For the beach I get the Turkish towels which are kind of just material and feel nothing like a towel.”
She was willing to go there, outlining the rigorous regimen she undertakes at home to prepare her towels for use.
“For showers, I have to find seriously soft towels that have a ‘velvety’ side. They have to be dried in the dryer (not outside) and washed with lots of softener,” she said.
It’s when Ayris steps outside her comfort zone and has to check into accommodation that her phobia gets real.
“I struggle going to hotels – the towels are gross and I have goosebumps writing this.”
She swallowed her fear in November at Bannisters Hotel, Mollymook, posting a snap of herself and her gym owner fiancé Andrew Papadopolous both swathed in white towelling robes.
“Couples that robe together stay together,” said Ayris, smiling gamely, despite her proximity to the cotton towelling.
Ayris first went public with her towel fear in Maxim magazine in August 2015, saying she freaks out “just thinking about them”.
She said visualising having a towel on her head or in her hands “is like nails on a chalkboard”.
The New Daily contacted Ayris for comment. She did not respond and her post, pictured below, was removed soon after. She replaced it with a post that said she had a fear of snakes.
While the model’s towel phobia seems unusual, she’s far from the only celebrity with a less-than-commonplace fear.
According to various reports, many stars have a fear of animals including Kristen Stewart (horses), Orlando Bloom (pigs) and Scarlett Johansson (cockroaches).
Tyra Banks has been afraid of dolphins “since I was eight or nine”, she told People magazine. “I have dreams that I am in a pool and there are dolphins bumping me and I’m frightened.”
Nicole Kidman is unafraid of snakes or spiders (in July 2018, a video she posted to Instagram of herself catching a giant tarantula made global headlines) but can’t deal with butterflies, she’s said.
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Nicole Kidman (@nicolekidman) on
Eggs were the undoing of master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock: “That white round thing without any holes,” he said once.
“Have you ever seen anything more revolting than an egg yolk breaking and spilling its yellow liquid?”
Billy Bob Thornton is afraid of antique furniture (“Maybe it’s a past life thing and I got beat to death with an old chair”), Oprah Winfrey can’t stomach chewing gum and Pamela Anderson is averse to mirrors.
Megan Fox won’t touch paper that isn’t laminated, she once told Jimmy Fallon, and Matthew McConaughey gets “anxious just being near” revolving doors.
Helen Mirren has a phobia of speaking on the phone: ‘It makes me so nervous. I always avoid picking it up if I can.”