Mother of 13-year-old Irish model defends daughter's fashion career: 'She's happy and looks great'
An Irish mother has defended her decision to let her 13-year-old daughter embark on a modelling career.
Brenda McCleary has been criticised since her daughter, Darcy Brittain-Dissont, signed with CMPR modelling agency, but she maintains she is "mature" enough for the industry.
The Derry mother-of-two denied claims that Darcy had undergone a makeover in order to appear older in photographs and said she has always looked older than her age.
"I think the pictures speak for themselves. She doesn't really look like a 13-year-old, and they pretty much represent Darcy as she looks in everyday life," Ms McCleary said.
Read more: Meet Ireland's next top model - aged only 13
"People have been assuming she's 16 from about the age of 10.
"She's just one of those girls that has grown up early, not just physically, but also she's very mature. I think she's well able to take this on."
Brenda said she couldn't be prouder of her daughter and believes the signing has helped to boost Darcy's confidence, after she was subjected to schoolyard taunts regarding her appearance.
"I think she looks great and she's happy as well," she said.
"Every mother wants to see their child do something that she's happy doing.
"She used to get a little bit of a hard time, as does everybody that stands out a little bit. She's turned what was potentially negative into something more positive. I think it's great."
There was shock over the young model's age after she made her catwalk debut at the launch of Belfast Fashion Week.
However, Brenda said she accompanies her daughter to every modelling job and she doesn't believe starting out at such a young age will have a detrimental effect on her .
"I think Kate Moss has said she suffered from starting modelling so early, but she was on the world stage, not Belfast, so it's a world away," the Derry woman said.
Speaking on RTE's Mornings with Dave Fanning, Darcy also said she has no intentions of letting her potential modelling career get in the way of her schoolwork and sporty lifestyle.
"I'm going to focus more on my sport and my academics and basically just do modelling as a hobby outside of school whenever I have the time to do it," the 13-year-old said.
"I haven't picked my GCSEs yet, but I know I want to go to university and pursue all the things I wanted before the modelling even started."