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MARTINE McCutcheon was famously branded “the chubby girl” in Love Actually – but behind the scenes, the actress has continued to battle personal demons over her weight.
This week, the 45-year-old stunned fans with two shots of her svelte body and “endless legs” as she relaxed in her garden with a cool drink.
Martine McCutcheon showcased her toned physique and ‘endless legs’ on Instagram this weekCredit: Instagram
The new snaps came 18 years after being branded ‘the chubby girl’ in Love Actually, which she starred in alongside Hugh GrantCredit: Kobal Collection – Rex Features
The former EastEnders actress and Perfect Moment singer noted she was in her “happy place” as relaxed in a chair with her legs on the table.
But Martine wasn’t always as happy with her body – after being the target of body shamers online and weight jibes on screen.
Her career began at four years old, when as a child star she featured in adverts for Pears soap and the American drink Kool-Aid.
After that, she became a model and briefly toured with the girl band Milan before getting her big break in acting.
‘The chubby girl’
In the 2003 Richard Curtis film, Martine’s character Natalie was the butt of several jokes about weight.
Martine, pictured above, starred in adverts for Pears soap and Kool-Aid from four years oldCredit: Social Media – Refer to Source
She played Tiffany Butcher in EastEnders from 1995 until 1999 – pictured alongside soapstar husband Ross Kemp, who played Grant MitchellCredit: BBC
She was branded “plumpy” by her father and referred to as “chubby” multiple times in the beloved Christmas rom-com.
In the final scenes, love interest Hugh – who played the prime minister – also referenced sleights about her size by commenting: “God you weigh a lot!”
“Oh, shut your face,” Martine fired back as the pair smooched on screen.
Love Actually ‘misconception’
In the years that followed, many fumed over the allegedly sizeist comments in Love Actually but the actress defended the film in a 2017 Cosmopolitan interview.
Martine said: “You’re meant to go, ‘No, she’s not [overweight], I think she’s lovely.’”
She insisted that Natalie was meant to be “a beautiful girl” – highlighted by her being able to “turn the prime minister’s head”.
The scene where Hugh Grant’s character told Natalie: ‘God you weight a lot’
Martine insists the ‘chubby’ jibes in Love Actually were not meant as an insultCredit: Alamy
Martine said the jibes were meant to help other women realise that their “issues” with weight “weren’t real issues”.
She explained: “Every woman thinks there’s something wrong with them when in actual fact… they are perfect and lovely as they are.
“[Natalie] was meant to be the embodiment of that and I think sometimes people have missed that point.”
Feeling like a “piece of meat”
Despite Martine’s call for body positivity, the star revealed she wasn’t always as confident about her physical appearance.
Due to “growing up in the public eye”, she felt “scrutinised” and pressure to maintain a slimmer frame during her younger years.
In 2016, she said: “I was always conscious of staying as thin as I could be.
Martine, pictured around 19 years old, spoke of the pressure to keep ‘thin’ during her younger yearsCredit: Rex
Martine (centre), alongside Milan bandmates Dionne and Claudia, whose first song came out in 1992Credit: Rex Features
“It looked better on camera, meant I could fit into size 8 sample sizes and it was easier and more affordable with stylists.”
When asked how many hurtful comments affected her, she admitted “there were hundreds” and said she body shamed “loads of times”.
“People spoke about me like I was a piece of meat and I can’t believe that’s still going on in this day and age,” Martine added.
‘Dangerous’ snubs she started to ignore
Martine revealed it “took a long time” to learn not to “care what people think” and find happiness from within.
“It’s water off a duck’s back because I have an anchor within myself but it’s so dangerous when you are younger,” she said.
Martine believed comments she received when she was younger were ‘dangerous’Credit: Empics
She fell in love with singer-sonwriter Jack McManus and the pair married in 2012Credit: PA
After having a C-section for her son, she gradually started exercising again but maintains she “didn’t put any pressure” on herself like she did in her younger years.
Martine said: “I am who I want to be and, most importantly, the weight I want to be when I want to be it.
“If I choose to be a size 10 or a size 16, it’s my choice. Women’s weight fluctuates, and the constant comments on size is boring.”
At the time, Martine was at a size 12 and felt she was in a “nice place” where she was less obsessed with her appearance.
She continued: “I’m not fighting anything either way.”
‘Squidgy’ stomach she learned to love
But like many mothers, Martine did have difficulties trying to shift pregnancy weight and the effects it had on her body.
Martine revealed she found it hard to lose weight she gained while carrying her son, Rafferty
Despite having a ‘squidgy’ stomach, Martine said she preferred having a ‘curvy body’Credit: Instagram
She said: “One thing I cannot change though is that my stomach has become soft.
“No matter how curvy I was in the past I always had a flat stomach but now it’s squidgy.”
However, Martine felt the change to her body shape was “worth it” whenever she looked at her son and added: “What can you do?”
A year later, she explained that having a “curvy body” was better – but she did miss the days when she was slimmer.
In 2017, she told the Daily Mail: “I hate the fact that I am not skinny… I am 5ft 7in and I’ve big boobs and hips and a little waist.
Martine appeared on Loose Women one-year after giving birth to her son Rafferty in 2016Credit: Rex Features
After starting the Cambridge Weight Plan, the actress lost at least a stone and 21 inches from her bodyCredit: @martinemccutcheon
“I actually prefer a curvy body, but for ease every day, it would be lovely to be straight up and down – then you can throw on anything and it will hang nicely.”
Losing weight and feeling great
Martine managed to lose one stone and 21 inches from her body thanks to following the Cambridge Weight Plan.
She said her journey was “a tiny bit slower than the average person” because of health battles with Lyme Disease, chronic fatigue syndrome ME and Fibromyalgia.
On Instagram, the star wrote: “I took things a little more slowly whilst feeling more energised and even with health issues I’ve still managed to do it!”
Martine revealed her body mass index (BMI) was “in a much healthier range” after five weeks on the weight loss plan and she’s continued to tone-up since.
Martine with her son Rafferty, who is now six years old, who she credits for helping her to lose weightCredit: Instagram
She was revealed to be the Swan in ITV’s The Masked Singer earlier this yearCredit: ITV
Martine told HELLO! magazine motherhood helped to change how she felt about being famous and her appearance.
She said: “It sounds like such a cliché but having Rafferty really did put everything into perspective.
“All those things I’d worried about all my life – the career, the weight – all seemed trivial in comparison to this little person we had created.
“Once I’d got that perspective, the rest seemed to fall into place.’
‘Health and wealth’
Martine carried on with her self-improvement journey and this year seems positive about the future and her figure.
Last month, she told The Sun on Sunday she felt “more fulfilled, confident and sexy” than she did in her twenties.
Martine showcased her slimmer frame this year and been signed-up to a modeling agencyCredit: Instagram
The actress, who marked her 45th birthday in May, has been praised for her body transformationCredit: martinemccutcheon/Instagram
Martine added: “People always thought I was really confident, but it was a good act. Genuine confidence took time for me.”
In April, she was signed to Elite Model World – a feat she described as “a dream come true” that she was “SO excited” about.
The following month in an Instagram post to mark her birthday, the star wrote: “Ready to walk into the next 45 years with health, wealth, family, friends, fun & style!”
Yesterday, she shared a sultry snap of herself relaxing in the garden, which received more than 37,600 likes and reams of positive comments.
They included Saturdays star Frankie Bridge, who wrote “those legs!” alongside the fire emoji and singer Pixie Lott who posted heart-eyed emojis.
Nadine Coyle commented that Martine looked “absolutely stunning!!!!!”.
Louise Redknapp posted several applause emojis along with the comment: “Yes babe.”