As a person born with achondroplasia – a genetic condition that can lead to stunted limb growth – it took a brave leap of faith for Operation Transformation leader Marie Clear (32) to put herself on a national TV show.
ut the part-time care assistant from Cashel, Co Tipperary, has hailed RTÉ’s weight-loss programme for giving her a “whole new lease of life”.
As the first little person to feature on the hit show, viewers saw her getting upset as she appealed for people to “be kind with their comments” as she has struggled with her body image for so long.
“I did get very emotional and overwhelmed because I was being revealed as a leader and I didn’t like looking at myself and seeing myself for the first time.
“But this week, my mindset has totally changed. I couldn’t give two hoots now what people think any more so it’s put me on an amazing journey,” she said.
“Growing up, I’d always have had people staring at me and name-calling so I was very worried about putting myself on national TV and what the comments were going to be like.
“The ‘m’ word would have been used a lot and I was just panicking about all that, getting myself totally worked up about what I was going to see this on all the social media channels.
“But I didn’t see one (bad) thing. All I saw was positive comments. I have opened up to everybody and they’re just seeing me for who I am and what my daily life is like. And it’s just about getting that word out there for all the little people, to be kind and it’s exactly what I’m getting.”
Her hard work has already started to pay off, and she has dropped 5lbs
In the past, she endured “scary” incidents like being physically lifted up by a random stranger while on the dancefloor in a club in Cork. It made her avoid going to venues outside of her home town where she said everyone has been “lovely”.
Boosted by the support she has received while on the show, she is now planning her first night out in Dublin on February 6 after being invited up by The George bar.
“I’m going to be more open and start going out again. Why should I miss out? I’m going to really enjoy going out in Dublin. There’s going to be a big gang of us and it’s going to be amazing,” she said.
Before the show, she had up to four cans of Coke daily and had a starting weight of 10st 3lbs.
She has had her diet and exercise plan specifically structured to suit her physical needs by show experts Niamh Buffini and Dave Malone.
Her hard work has already started to pay off, and she has dropped 5lbs and has been hailed as an inspiration by some viewers.
“Loads of little people, including mums, have gotten in touch with me because of my meal plan. Little people are prone to weight gain so we do have to be really careful with our diet,” she said.
“I’m just feeling good in myself.
I couldn’t give two hoots now what people think any more
“This is the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. I’m finally doing something about my weight and I’m looking forward to the future.”
Fronted by Kathryn Thomas, Operation Transformation is broadcast on Wednesdays on RTÉ One at 9.30pm