Kate Upton’s rocket to fame, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover, has landed her in the middle of a heated debate over model weight, including allegations her iconic cover image was digitally altered to make her look thinner.

Upton, who is 5’10” tall, has always been known for her voluptuous curves. But new reports have surfaced that she almost didn’t make the cover because she gained weight last summer and was considered too “curvy.”

Check out Kate’s photos; click to enlarge.

Only after her friends intervened and convinced her to hit the gym, did she firm up enough to make the cover, according to The New York Post. “She’s not your typical model… She will eat anything. She’s not assuming. She’s not into herself. She’s not very affected,” a friend said.

Upton confirmed that view herself. “I never deprive myself. If I’m craving something once a week, then I’ll go have it… Ice cream or whatever, I just eat the foods I like,” she said during a cover party at club Crimson in New York.

“I have to give credit to my trainer. He definitely kept me motivated in staying in shape… I’ve always been naturally curvy, but of course I had to get used to being in the public eye,” she added.

Fortunately, Upton is only 19 and can easily lose weight, as well as gain it. A few extra gym sessions and she was ready for the spotlight. But a comparison of the cover photo with recent shots of the model suggests that her image may have been digitally altered to make her look even thinner.

Magazines, principally fashion titles, have been criticized for publishing unrealistic images of women, that are impossible to duplicate in real life.

Despite Upton’s wholesome beauty, Victoria’s Secret creative director Sophia Neophitou told The New York Times that Upton would never walk in the brand’s fashion show, because her beauty is “too obvious.”

She said Upton was “like a footballer’s wife, with the too-blond hair and that kind of face that anyone with enough money can go out and buy,” obviously suggesting, gasp, plastic surgery.

In fact, Upton has modeled for both Beach Bunny swimwear and Victoria’s Secret swimwear.