By J J Anisiobi

She has faced criticism in the past from people over her weight gain.

But now Claire Richards has hit back at the comments, and insisted that she is finally at ease in her own skin.

The Steps star said she has learned to love her size 16 figure, proving the fact by stepping out wearing a pair of tight skinny jeans.

Bouncing back: Claire Richards is fighting against the internet trolls who labelled her fat and says she is happy with her size

Earlier this year, the 34-year-old star was targeted by internet trolls who labelled her a 'lazy hippo' and a 'pig'.

But despite the barrage of abuse, Claire insists that she will not punish herself and has vowed to fight back against the bullies.

Although she expected to hear a few comments about her weight, having changed significantly since her size 10 days when Steps first hit the spotlight, Claire said she had not predicted the extent of the abuse she would receive.

She told Heat magazine: 'I didn't expect the nastiness of some of the messages posted online.'

Confident girl: The Steps singer was out in London with friends and wore a pair of skinny to reinforce her point that she is happy in her own skin

Now and then: Claire has put on some considerable weight since she first became a pop star back in 1996

The most offensive comments Claire was subjected to included: 'Claire looks like she's eaten the rest of Steps' and 'Stop shoving pasties in your gob'.

She told the magazine: 'It's amazing what people feel they can say online. I used to question if I really did look disgusting.

'But I'm not going to kill myself at the gym because someone I don't know has called me fat on Twitter.'

Yo yo: Claire has battled with her weight in the past and has gone from being a size 8 to a size 20, before reaching her current size 16

Feeling good: The blonde singer was surprised at the amount of abuse she received about her weight since rejoining Steps, earlier this year

Her defiance against the faceless bullies was reinforced when she stepped out for a shopping trip in London, last week.

She dressed in a pair of unforgiving skinny jeans which showed off her full figure, teaming the tight trousers with loose black blouse and a leopard-print scarf.

The mother-of-two has consistently battled to maintain a slim figure - at her lightest she was an 8st 7lb size 8 before bulging to a 16st 7lb size 20.

Pretty woman: Claire, pictured today at the ITV London Studios, says that she has also received some positive messages about her body size

Having admitted that her yo-yo-dieting is down to her addiction to food, Claire stresses that it is like a drug to her.

Once she satisfies the craving, the void must be filled once again with more food.
Despite the hundreds of negative comments Claire has also received plenty of positive comments and support.

She said that although the trolls do make her really angry, she is comfortable in her own skin and their words don't hurt her anymore.

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