Soul icon Aretha Franklin has spoken out in defence of her recent weight gain, saying she is proud to be a voluptuous woman. The RESPECT star regrets starving herself for four decades to maintain a figure which would be accepted by the music industry. But now the 63-year-old insists her fans are seeing the 'real' Aretha, who loves food, on stage for the first time. She confesses, "For a long time I suffered so much trying to be what other people expected me to be and look like. "I definitely was never meant to be a model-type walking down a runway - I'm just Aretha singing what she feels in her heart and soul."