Supermodel Erin O'Connor has come to the defence of curvy catwalk models -- hitting back once more at the fashion industry's obsession with size zero.
The 32 year old, who was once heavily criticised for her emaciated appearance along with waif Kate Moss, insisted her own superslim figure was the result of being tall.
And the gorgeous fashionista, who mentored young models on last year's hit RTE series The Model Agent, said she was now a healthy size 12. Erin's support of curvier models contrasts with the superslim girls she helped to select for the Model Agent series, many of whom were smaller than a size 8.
Successful winner Carrie Ann Burton and runner-up Amber Jean Rowan, who continue to do well following their stint on the reality TV series, wear a tiny size 6-8. Other contestants Laura Keohane and Sharon Touhey, who are now with Morgan the Agency, both wear a size 8. "When I first started out, I was held up as a negative example of being too skinny and I never wanted to make other women feel bad about their bodies. I was just growing into my height. But I think this skinny craze comes from LA, where they aspire to be a very specific body type."
The multi-millionaire model said it was crazy for people to think that a size 12 was too big for the catwalk. "It's totally mad. I'm a size 12 and I'm a working model."
The model, who has close links to Ireland as her father is from Ballycastle in Co Antrim, admitted she was concerned about how the pressure to be thin affects younger models.
"I'm always stunned at how much they're affected by the pressure to be perfect. It's so overwhelming. I was 6ft by the time I was 15. We can all be self critical but I found that when someone else tried to criticise me it made me angry." Once described by Karl Lagerfeld as "one of the best models in the world", Erin's support for fuller figures is in stark contrast to those made by her close friend and Model Agent colleague Fiona Ellis, who criticised Irish women for liking their calorie-laden carbohydrates too much.
Broadcaster Gerry Ryan took the model scout's comments that "girls are shorter in Ireland" and "they like their carbs" to mean Irish women were "fat midgets" causing uproar among Irish agencies.
Meanwhile the quirky beauty, who was once advised to have a nose job, said she still enjoyed strutting her stuff on the catwalk. "It's nice to see everyone's reactions and it's great to have such an enthusiastic audience," she said.