AT the end of a busy day Mollie Chapman loves nothing better than to strip off, pop on one of her 15 bikinis and head off to her local pool.
And as a "religious" fan of Love Island, the 22-year-old takes her inspiration from the increasingly skimpy outfits worn by contestants – even if it means risking a backlash from cruel trolls online.
“I'm a size 18 and love wearing skimpy Love Island bikinis. As an added bonus, you get a better tan," she says.
"In the past anonymous online trolls have called me fat. If they have got issues with my figure then it’s their problem – not mine.
“I go at least twice a week for a swim. Yes I’ve got wide hips and a big chest but when I look in the mirror, nowadays, I see a gorgeous hourglass figure."
Love Island contestants have previously described the painstaking efforts they go through to hone their bikini bodies, with Amy Hart last month revealing she weighed just nine stone after skipping work to go to the gym.
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Mollie, who lives in Manchester and is a videographer, describes herself as “curvy” and “mid-sized", but proudly insists that "every body is a bikini body".
“It grinds my gears the way the term is used to divide and rule," she says. "It’s why I push myself into flaunting all of my curves, stretch marks and rolls in bikinis of MY choosing.
“Yes my thighs are thicker and have stretchmarks – but I love them. They are a part of me and make me who I am. I like to remind myself that each of my "imperfections" is just another beautiful and unique characteristic to show off.”
As a teenager, Mollie says she felt insecure about her figure and would wear a shirt over her bikini, even when swimming in the sea.
“I was always conscious about other people looking at me," she says.
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“I recognised my self-consciousness was making decisions for me – but didn’t know what to do about it.”
The turning point came when she asked a friend for advice about how they’d handle awkward feelings about their body.
The advice from her pal was simple yet life changing: “Show off that body!”
“It was a massive lightbulb moment for me," she says. "That’s when I decided to face my fears. I was around 18 when I decided to push myself into it.
“As I’ve got older I’ve become really empowered. Now when people look at me in a bikini I know they’re thinking “how great does she look!” And now I feel confident and sexy.”
With thousands of social media followers, Mollie wants to spread her body confident message around the world.
She says that while in her student days, trolls would call her "fat or meaty", the words now bounce off her.
“Anyone who puts themselves out there online is going to get the odd unkind comment," she says.
"Nowadays those words don’t mean anything to me because I refuse to give them a meaning. That way I don’t give the words any power. We ALL have body fat.
“Trolling someone is more of a reflection of the person. It is unavoidable and I just put it down to jealousy.”
'We all have the same insecurities'
As an influencer, Mollie hopes to follow in the footsteps of models like Felicity Haywood, Ashley Graham and Tess Holliday in flying the flag for larger ladies.
“I have got a presence on social media. I’m all about promoting self-love. I don’t want girls in their teens to get sucked into the aesthetics of life online being a certain way.
“We all have the same insecurities, even so loads of young people use filters and it worries me.
“There are so many apps to help you tweak your pictures so you have perkier boobs, shinier skin and a thinner body.
“We all know none of us look like that in real life.
“I like to remind myself that social media is an advertising platform. So many of the images are filtered. Yet we are all physically different living the same life.
Mollie credits her boyfriend Ben Suthers, 24, a bar tender, for also helping her love her curves.
“My boyfriend makes me feel so gorgeous. We have been together three years. He is one of my main sources of confidence and is a fantastic support system. If I have the odd day of anxiety he tells me I am beautiful. He has helped me change how I see myself."
And Mollie has a message for producers of the show.
“All of the Love Island girls this year are slim," she says. “I’m sad there aren’t more Love Islanders – men and women – with different body types.
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"A wider range of representation would better reflect who we are as a society.
"The producers should be pushed to represent their viewers. Being curvy or mid-size – or different body shapes – just isn’t talked about enough.”
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