A former Australian reality TV contestant turned social media influencer has been criticised after she modelled a "bikini" made out of disposable face masks.

Vanessa Sierra, who appeared on the second season of Australian Love Island last year, posed for a racy photo with her boyfriend, Luke Erwin, in which she tied two masks across her breasts and another as a makeshift pair of undies.

"Most people bin their used face masks, we recycle them," she captioned the Instagram image.

But the provocative snap, which is used to promote her OnlyFans account, was swiftly slammed by her 135,000 followers who accused the 25-year-old of "wasting" good medical supplies.

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"So people can't find masks to wear because Vanessa is using them as bikinis," one angry fan wrote.

Followers branded the use of the masks 'a waste' but Vanessa insists they were 'used' and destined for the bin. Photo / Instagram
Followers branded the use of the masks 'a waste' but Vanessa insists they were 'used' and destined for the bin. Photo / Instagram

"Medical staff is [sic] dying due to lack of equipment, such a waste," another fumed.

Another said: "Very controversial post and a bit insensitive to the current times."

However, Vanessa has defended the post to news.com.au, stressing as she did in her original caption the masks were destined for the bin.

"I'm not bothered by the comments … when you're in the public eye people are always quick to attack and judge everything you do," she said.

"I'm just out here trying to make light of a pretty rough situation for all of us. Most people bin their used face masks, I recycled mine."

Responding to the backlash with fans direct in the comments, she said: "They're literally used, disposable masks guys relax."

Last week, Vanessa shared a photograph of herself in hospital, urging people to "be careful" after suddenly falling ill.

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"I have no recollection of the last 4 days except that I woke up in hospital after almost losing my life," she wrote.

Fans thought she had COVID-19 in the past after sharing a photo of herself in hospital. Photo / Instagram
Fans thought she had COVID-19 in the past after sharing a photo of herself in hospital. Photo / Instagram

"To everyone out there please be careful and take extra steps to protect yourself during these tough times.

"Remember to never leave your loved ones on bad terms because anything can change in an instant."

She went on to say she was "grateful to still be here", sparking concern from fans she had contracted coronavirus.

"This photo was taken after I got moved from the intensive care unit. I don't owe an explanation to anyone," she later said in the comments. It is still unclear whether she battled Covid-19.

Australian healthcare workers have previously reported shortages of important personal protective equipment in hospitals across the country as they deal with coronavirus.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website