Melbourne model and fitness entrepreneur Steph Claire Smith has hit back at the "ridiculous" criticism she's received after posted a photo of her wearing a mask at the beach.
Steph, who is co-founder of online fitness programme Keep It Cleaner, shared a picture on Instagram from her local beach.
In the caption, Steph wrote that she was "incredibly grateful" for the fact she lived close enough to visit the sea.
"Just getting to sit on the beach for an hour without having to 'exercise' as an excuse to be there was heavenly," she wrote.
But Steph's post soon received dozens of comments from people who criticised her decision to wear a mask – despite it being mandatory in Victoria and proven to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
"Don't understand the mask out in the open fresh air??" one person wrote, while another added: "Seriously wearing a mask in open air at the beach?"
"Take off the mask! Just because the government makes something law doesn't make it right," another commented read.
"It's clearly not about health when you have to wear a mask even when outside/not in a crowded place."
But Steph's other followers defended her decision to wear a mask and slammed the "ridiculous" comments from people who claimed it wasn't needed.
"It was a cracking weekend here in Melbourne and the beach was probably pretty packed with other people enjoying some vitamin D ... just because she's alone in the picture doesn't mean she was alone on an entire beach," one follower argued.
Steph also addressed the controversy over her picture on her Instagram story, writing that she had "just wanted a photo at the beach" and was "not going to argue" about the points raised in the comments.
"To all the people questioning me wearing a mask or thinking it's ridiculous - here in Melbourne we have to wear one anytime we're outside of the house," she said.
Steph said she was "absolutely not getting paid to wear a mask and promote it", as some had accused her of doing.
"I just wanted a photo at the beach ... and didn't want to bend the rules or promote breaking the law by not wearing a mask," she wrote.