Kate Upton believes she became an ''example for girls'' following the criticism aimed at her by Sophia Neophitou.

The Sports Illustrated model was stung by comments made by Victoria's Secret casting agent Neophitou in 2012 criticising her curvaceous figure.

At the time, Neophitou said the underwear company ''would never use [Upton]. She's like a page-three girl, she's like a footballer's wife, with the too-blonde hair and that kind of face that anyone with enough money can go out and buy''.

Although the comments upset her, Upton now believes the critique made her career and won her many female fans who were proud of her for embracing her figure.

Speaking to Alexa Chung in Vogue, Upton said: ''I was just being myself and living my life, and then, whenever the criticism started, I did (think I could be a positive role model for women). I just thought how I'm going to come out of this will be an example for girls.''

Upton admits it was tough for her to initially break into the fashion world because of her physique but she never lost her belief that she could make it.

She said: ''My biggest fight and it's weird that in the press they'll be like, your biggest fight was with the industry and the designers, and I'm like, no, my biggest fight was with my agents, trying to get them to sign me into the castings.''

Now the 22-year-old beauty is established in the fashion industry she says many of the people she works with have become like ''family'' to her.

'The Other Woman' star said: ''Once you're in the fashion crowd, it's almost like a family. They're so loyal and so supportive, and I talk to most of those people on a daily basis.''