In the first event of its kind for this country, a Co Kildare woman is celebrating after winning Miss Pin Up Ireland hosted in Dublin.
32-year-old woman Sue Kelly is getting set to perform in front of over 15,000 people at Miss Pin Up International in London on September 24.
The size 16, 5’8 part-time model and office worker is hoping that her victory at Miss Pin Up Ireland in The Convention Centre will encourage more Irish women to celebrate their curves.
She thinks that as a nation we have begun to despise ourselves unless we are stick thin. And no wonder as she says she’s got nasty comments from other women about her weight.
At a nightclub in Naas recently, a woman, in her thirties, approached Sue and said: ‘there is something on your chin’. Sue responded, ‘it must be lipstick’ only for the the woman to quip ‘check your other chin.’
Although Sue, herself from Naas, tries to brush off such cattiness, she admits it can be upsetting. She is hopeful that her success at Miss Pin Up Ireland and the subsequent awareness of the international competition will help women to remember that beauty comes in all sizes.
Since she started modelling a few years ago, Sue has featured on TV3’s popular Xpose along and has modelled on catwalks around the country. Her dream is to become a full-time model.
However, she was not always confident in her body shape and suffered from depression.
Five years ago, Sue was a size six, but still felt that she needed to lose weight. She exercised daily.
She said: “It took me a long time to realise that being skinny was not what was to going to make me happy. I was never happy counting calories.” Ms Kelly fears that she could have been ‘sinking into an eating disorder’ when she injured her back at work, rendering her unable to exercise daily and leading to her putting on weight again.
Now she does not follow a ‘super strict’ diet but is still healthy. Her boyfriend Jason Yourell is extremely proud of her and feels that at size 16, her body shape is more attractive than her former size six.
“You can be healthy and be a plus size. I don’t deny myself food, but I eat well, I still eat chocolate. I walk in the evenings, I dance.” She never thought that her dream of being a model would be realised while a size 16. A friend who encouraged her to get some photo shoots done for an agency spiralled into a success story.
“I never thought in a million years that I could do this. I am very proud of myself. Now I can say, when I am 80 years old, ‘look what I did.’ I have to pinch myself when I look at my photos, this time two years ago, I could not look at myself as I thought I had too much weight.”
Meanwhile, Mallow woman Emma Finn, a runner-up at the Miss Pin Up Ireland competition, also harboured a dream of becoming a model but first followed a different path.
24- year-old Emma, a photography student at St John’s College, has seen her self confidence soar since she made a few changes in her life.
“I actually spent a few years studying Chemistry at UCC. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do. I am so glad that I changed.”
However, when she joined the photography course, she grew passionate about photo shoots.
“Models are usually tall and slim. I am only 5’3, so I put the idea of modelling to the back of my head for a long time.”
“I spent a lot of my younger years being miserable about my body shape, especially my teenage years. It has taken a bit of time to get past that. It is ongoing, I still get days that I get upset if something does not fit.”
However, vintage fashion was to be her liberator: it suited her dress style and accentuated her curves.
Every weekend, Ms Finn now models at vintage fairs in Limerick. She has also become very interested in performing in World War 2 re-enactments.
Usually sporting vintage classic curls, at Miss Pin Up Ireland, she had a shaved head, thanks to a recent charity event.
Her boyfriend , David Hayes, from Dromahane, is proud of her involvement in Miss Pin Up Ireland and also finds her shape attractive. Emma is hopeful that her change in attitude will discourage others from excessive diets.
She said: “I try to keep fit, I do a bit of walking. The great thing about Miss Pin Up is that it is for women of absolutely any size.” Meanwhile, organiser of Miss Pin Up Ireland’s first event, Dolores Murray, revealed that 10 women have already signed up for next year’s event at The Convention Centre.
“The girls gave an amazing performance and were so diverse, some were singing, some were pole dancing. It is not just a beauty pageant, it is about personality,” she said.