herald

Tuesday 27 September 2016

'I was called names over my size, but now I've won a modelling contest'

Seana saw off 2,000 competitors to win competition
Seana saw off 2,000 competitors to win competition

A Dublin mum has beaten off competition from over 2,000 entrants to win a plus-size modelling competition in the UK.

Seana Sweeney (31) said she was "totally shocked" to have won the annual Star in a Bra contest, which was voted for by the public.

But she revealed how she has struggled with body confidence in the past - and is delighted to now be a positive role model for Irish women.

A single mum to eight-year-old Dru, the Clondalkin receptionist has overcome many challenges in the past to reach self-acceptance.

"I absolutely hated my body growing up," she said.

"I was always bigger and more awkward than my friends, who were all gorgeous and petite. I had big everything - big freckles, big lips, big bum, big hips.

"I hated all of it. It eased a bit when I became pregnant; I began to appreciate how amazing my body was.

"I've come through to the other side, and am genuinely happy in my own skin."

She was even verbally abused on the streets when she was about 14-years-old and called "thunder thighs" by a stranger.

"I was young and at the time, I took it to heart. I was mortified. But I look back now and I realise I'm having the last laugh."

Seana, who works with LED Lighting, also contracted acute pneumonia and septicaemia due to exhaustion when Dru was just 10 months old.

She said the weight just "fell off" and she quickly went down from 11st to 9st.

She said she looked "dreadful" and realised it was pointless to fixate so much on her weight.

Dwell

"What mattered was getting better and being a great mum to my little boy," she said.

"I think a lot of girls went through what I did growing up.

"I still have my little things that bother me, but I don't tend to dwell on things as much. I'm more positive about things and if I have a roll of fat here and there, it doesn't bother me.

"I'd like to think that other women would look at me and think, 'She's the same shape or a similar size to me'."

Seana now has a contract with plus-size agency Bridge Models, in London.

The receptionist has also become and face and body of lingerie brand Curvy Kate thanks to her figure.

"There is a bit of work here but it's not as regular as it would be outside of Ireland, so I'm delighted to be joining this agency as the UK is a much bigger market," she said. "I'm also the first woman to win it who's also a mum, so I'm delighted about that too."

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