Former 'X Factor' contestant shares years-long mental struggle after cruel comments from judges

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The X Factor contestant says she was publicly fat shamed. (ITV)

A former X Factor contestant has shared the story of her years of struggles with her mental health and body image after being told by judges that she was overweight.

Samantha Reay took part in the first series of The X Factor in 2004, where she was told that she had a nice singing voice but that her weight was a problem.

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Nearly 20 years on, she has told another of the show's former contestants, Amelia Lily, in a BBC podcast about talent shows that she still feels the after effects of the harsh comments from judges Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne.

The podcast, The Talent Factory: Inside the Music Machine shares a clip of Reay's first audition where Cowell tells her: "You sound nice, but you look like a shop girl," going on to tell her that she needs "a lot of work."

Reay replies: "I know what you’re saying, that I’m overweight basically. I'm working on it."

However, Cowell says of her comments that she is overweight: "You are. You really are."

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Walsh then says in his judging: "I'm going to say no, because I think it's mission impossible, Simon."

Reay was eventually put through to the next round after being told by Osbourne to go on a diet before they saw her next.

In the podcast, Reay explained: "I was overweight at the time and I was publicly shamed for being overweight when it actually turned out that I was pregnant with my eldest son, Logan."

(left-right) Kate Thornton, Simon Cowell, Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh with the Best Comedy Entertainment Programme award they received at the Bristish Comedy Awards 2005.
Kate Thornton hosted The X Factor, judged by Simon Cowell, Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh. (PA)

The mum-of-four added: "The X Factor has had a long-term effect on me. I ended up having a gastric bypass and it's a situation that I continue to deal with and I don't think it'll ever go away.

"I'd like to think times have changed and people are a lot more outspoken now. I wasn't at the time because I just felt like that was normal back then and obviously we all know it wasn't.

"But I am glad that I can see change happening now."

Scott Mills attending the launch of Strictly Come Dancing 2014, at Elstree Studios, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire.
Scott Mills spoke about his experiences on Strictly. (PA)

Lily speaks to a number of former talent show contestants in the podcast about their treatment during their time on TV and what was going on behind the scenes, including Joe McElderry and Danyl Johnson.

But as well as X Factor and Pop Idol contestants, she also interviews celebrities who have taken part in talent shows - including BBC radio DJ Scott Mills, who was mocked by judges after his performances on Strictly Come Dancing.

Mills admitted: "I got absolutely annihilated by the judges and as much as you do try and remember in your head that it's a TV show, it's very hard to not let it get you down, and it did, to be honest."

A number of statements from Cowell's reps and the production companies involved read out in the podcast state that contestants were offered support after appearing on the show.