Limerick Voice reporter Katherine Gannon spoke to Stacey Dineen, a 20-year-old model, singer, songwriter and actress, who despite her soaring career, still faces daily body-shaming.
Stacey, who is from county Limerick, thought the bullying she faced over her weight from pre-school was finally over when she was announced winner of the “The Fashion Hero” TV series at just age 18.
Stacey has been subject to body shaming since age four, eventually leading her to dropping out of secondary school.
When asked about growing up in Limerick, Stacey said “It was hell. I only lasted in playschool for four days because I was being bullied and I started being body conscious.”
“From primary school I only have bad memories. A bully called me ‘Mount Everest’ and stabbed me with a compass,” she added.
Stacey was determined to have a different experience in secondary school. Convinced her weight was the root of all her problems, Stacey spent the summer before secondary school on an extreme diet in the hope that bullies would not tease her in September.
“I was clinically depressed in 6th class at age 12. The summer before secondary school I starved myself and lost four stone.”
“I had one meal a day – beans and rice like I saw on “I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here”, and walking six times a day. I became obsessed by weighing myself every day.”
The bullying continued into secondary school, and by Junior Certificate, Stacey had missed more days that she had attended and eventually left school entirely before completing her Leaving Certificate.
Stacey now explains how even as an international body positive activist, with 91k Instagram followers, she still has days where she cannot face the comments people write on the photos she posts.
“Social media can be so toxic. I turn comments off for most of my Instagram posts because I am afraid that one comment will make me spiral into depression.”
In 2016 Stacey, aged 18, won “The Fashion Hero” which is a TV series filmed in Canada with the aim of promoting health in the fashion industry as opposed to fitting into an unachievable standard of beauty.
After winning the show, Stacey returned to Ireland with the hope of being signed to a plus size modelling agency closer to home, yet discovered that these agencies also had very particular standards of their own.
“The reason I went to The Fashion hero was because I liked the message behind it, if I go into a plus size agency now, they have a list of requirements.
“I sent my photo to an agency before I and the first thing, they asked me was “how bad is your cellulite” so I decided not to apply,” Stacey said.
After being disheartened by the modelling industry, at 19 Stacey travelled to Los Angeles to pursue singing, however felt the music industry is also largely dominated by appearance.
“Ninety percent of the music industry is about looks and sexualising women and that’s not for me,” she said.
“A record label in the UK contacted me three years ago, and before even hearing my voice asked me to send photos of myself and even if I couldn’t sing, they would work around it if I had the look and willing to wear sexy clothes. So, I turned that down.”
However, Stacey stuck to her morals, promoting her pure talent which has now led to her first album being distributed by Rema Records in Los Angeles, who have distribution deals with Sony Records.
“I am currently using Camden Records in Dublin to record it my album, and I will bring it to L.A. in January. My first song came out last month.”
Stacey’s first single “I Would” is now available on iTunes