THE Voice finalist Richie Hayes is tired of being branded 'the little man with the big voice'.
The panto performer believes that the hit talent show has given him the opportunity to be heard as a talented singer and no longer viewed as a comic actor.
Richie, at just 5ft, said that the format of the show, where judges have their backs to the stage, gave him confidence and provided him with an equal platform against the other contestants.
"It was part of the reason I went in. There is no point ignoring the elephant in the room about my stature and that," he told the Herald.
"Society has a lot to answer for in terms of ticking the box, I didn't tick all the boxes. I didn't fit the image.
"During the boyband era, I was never going to standing in the middle of everyone with their six packs. That was always an obstacle in my way."
Richie (35) visibly flinches every time presenter Kathryn Thomas refers to him as 'the little man with the big voice'.
Although he said that there have been some negative slurs, most have been supportive.
But he says that everyone should get over the issue of his low stature at this stage.
"You always get the odd comment, the big boys on Twitter, hiding behind their keyboards," he said.
"Of course you do get a few gobsh**** but I have to say the reaction in general has been extremely positive. The other contestants have no issue with my height."
Richie, from Waterford, has topped the polls a number of weeks on the show.
His wife Erica from Clonshaugh, Dublin, said: "Richie's appearance would always have an issue in his career but now he is taken seriously as a singer -- no funny costumes, no messing," she told the Herald.
Erica (33) met Richie when she was dancing in panto said that when they first started dating, said that his height wasn't an issue for anyone except strangers.
"If we'd walk into a bar, he'd hear a comment, he'd be more sensitive to it," she said. "I said to him after a while 'Stop being a victim, they'll only affect you if they let you'.
"So I suppose I gave him tough love. You have to grin and bear it. You can't change it."
She said that Richie has benefited immensely from his experience on the show and he has become more confident as the weeks go on.
"It's amazing. I have heard him sing quite well in the studio but I had never heard Richie sing rocking stuff until last week with the Steve Tyler song.
"There are loads of colours to him that I have never expected."