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MelanieW 10th August 2006 00:21

Charlotte Coyle (major article)
I just found a really significant article in a newspaper called The Scotsman about Charlottes show, which is airing tomorrow (tomorrow - already! - for those lucky Brits!). The link is here:

but below is all of the important text.

Its sad and frustrating to think that things are even worse for plus sizes in the U.K. Even sadder is that fact that many of the shortcomings of the full-figure fashion industry in Britain are just as applicable to the U.S. industry.

Size always matters

Thu 10 Aug 2006

CHARLOTTE Coyle is gorgeous: 5ft 10in, all glossy golden hair and aquamarine eyes, and she's got the kind of cheekbones that Kate Moss would crawl through a mile of mud just to stand next to, plus a wide smile which has helped make her a successful model in America. So it seems strange that she can't find modelling work in the UK. But then, Coyle is a size 18.

This 24-year-old from Derry in Northern Ireland represents the growing number of plus-size women who are fed up with a perceived bias in the fashion industry against what she calls "bigger girls". So fed up, in fact, that earlier this year Coyle organised her own beauty contest, exclusively for size 16 and up, called Beauty Reborn.

The fruits of Coyle's labours will be shown tonight in Channel 4's F** Beauty Contest, part of its Shap[e of] the Nation series. What started out as an attempt to "make a documentary about seeing curves in a positive way," as Coyle puts it, soon became a revealing exposé on just how resistant the British fashion industry seems to be about embracing the idea that anyone over a size 12 could possibly want to dress fashionably. She is speaking to me from Derry, where she is currently awaiting the renewal of her American work visa, having given up trying to find modelling jobs in the UK because, it seems, her size is unacceptable - even to modelling agents who cast for plus-size fashion retailers.

"I was prepared for the rejection," she says, referring to the initial response she got when trying to rally commercial support for Beauty Reborn. "I knew [a top designer] wasn't going to ring me and say, 'darling, of course you can have 12 dresses for your contestants,' but after a few weeks of constantly phoning people in the industry, looking for sponsorship for the contest and getting nowhere, it became really disheartening and upsetting."

In one scene from the documentary, Coyle pays a visit to her London agent, who produces a tape measure and tells her off for gaining weight, informing her that if she remains a size 18, she won't get work as a plus-size model, as the clothes will be too small. Evidently plus-size can mean no bigger than size 16 in the modelling world, whereas the real women who buy these clothes go up to size 34.

"It affected my confidence," she says now. "It was really hurtful. The thing is, when you actually see the plus-size models in the UK they're not big at all: they're slim. None of them have bigger-than-average hips. It's hard for a young woman to walk into a store that sells bigger clothes and see images of girls that aren't even a size 14 advertising them."

So what of the "bigger girls" who auditioned for Coyle's beauty contest? She was quite overwhelmed by their enthusiasm. Ranging from size 14 to size 34, some 200 women turned up at the open auditions, all of them keen to stalk down the catwalk and feel beautiful, and also, perhaps more importantly, to be heard.

As one girl in the documentary says: "I'm 5ft 7in, I'm a size 16 and I've got red hair. To the fashion industry, I seem to be invisible." Criticised by one contest organiser (and several unsuccessful candidates) for leaving out some of the largest women, Coyle eventually whittles the original number down to 12, most of whom are sized between 16 and 24. As part of their journey to the contest, many of the women have to confront personal issues regarding their size.

"Some of the girls, [although they] didn't have low self-esteem, were self-conscious," Coyle says. "And I put them on a stage. A lot of them freaked out. Some didn't care, they were like, 'I like my body.' But there were a few who were really self-conscious, and that comes from years of abuse. It also comes from magazines, it comes from ad campaigns, from being constantly told you're never good enough."...

Let's look at the statistics: the average dress size in the UK is a 14-16, with almost half of British women a size 16 or over, a fact that non-specialist high-street fashion stores are having to accommodate. Most routinely now go up to a size 18, and some - such as M&S - beyond that. Top designers, however, have been slower off the mark.

"It really is quite staggering," says Coyle. "I love looking at fashion magazines and seeing all the models - I think they're beautiful - but I also want to open a magazine and see someone bigger who is a positive role model, such as Sophie Dahl [used to be]." Dahl started her catwalk career as a voluptuous size 16, but has since lost weight and is now as slender as most models. "There's no one out there any more," Coyle laments....

"Look at Kate Moss, despite everything, she's still been on loads of magazine covers this year."

But there is a growing voice of dissent...Curvy celebrities have been landing some lucrative advertising contracts, too: Kelly Osbourne is the face of Accessorize, while Charlotte Church munches Walkers crisps in their current ad campaign. The latest wristband craze is one that comes with the positive message "LOVE YOUR BODY!"...

In the US, things work rather models and beauty contests, are becoming the norm. Miss Plus America, which runs on the slogan, "The Robe. The Crowns. The Integrity", is a nationwide event attracting TV coverage, big-name sponsors, and celebrity endorsement.

"People don't care in America," says Coyle. "When I lived there I always felt good about my body."

Coyle borrowed a number of ideas from the US pageant system for her own contest - even participating in a Miss Plus International to pick up tips - including the moment when the girls have to describe their own feelings about entering the competition. There is no swimsuit section, but that doesn't mean the clothes are frumpy old sacks: a range of stunning corsets make a memorable appearance.

"With a lot of plus-size campaigns, it's women in 'older' clothes," Coyle says. "But I'm young, I wear nice clothes, and I don't want to be represented by someone who's wearing a woolly jumper."...

For Coyle, however, who as a professional model with an impressive overseas portfolio can't easily find work in the UK, that day is a long way off.

"The contest isn't going to change the fashion industry," Coyle admits. "But I just wanted [to tell women] that if you are over a size 16, it's OK, as long as you feel good about yourself."

HSG 10th August 2006 07:25

Re: Charlotte Coyle (major article)
Originally Posted by MelanieW
CHARLOTTE Coyle is gorgeous: 5ft 10in, all glossy golden hair and aquamarine eyes, and she's got the kind of cheekbones that Kate Moss would crawl through a mile of mud just to stand next to, plus a wide smile which has helped make her a successful model in America.

Apart from a few pointedly unnecessary elements, this is a refreshingly positive article. In particular, it is extremely gratifying to see Miss Coyle's beauty praised by the mainstream press. This journalist even acknowledges that "it seems strange that [Charlotte] can't find modelling work in the UK," so imagine how full-figured women themselves (along with admirers of plus-size beauty) feel about this incomprehensible situation. It is an all-too-typical example of the plus-size industry failing to take advantages of its best opportunities (i.e., its finest talent).

As described in the article, the scene involving the model's agent is infuriating. The most serious shortcoming of plus-size modelling is that the girls are generally far too thin. How maddening, then, that whenever a true goddess comes along who is genuinely full-figured and gorgeous, elements in the industry attempt to diminish her to the faux-plus parameters that the public finds so unsatisfying. This is a recurrent problem on both sides of the Atlantic, and has deprived the industry of some of its greatest stars.

Also, Charlotte's point about the overly "mature" tone of some plus-size advertising, and how this fails to represent women her age, is extremely timely, in light of recent discussions about, Figure, and the dearth of younger plus-size models.

Miss Coyle's heartfelt observations about her contestants' self-esteem issues are extremely moving. She is obvious speaking from experience, as anyone who read last year's profile of Charlotte in The Mirror will remember. Charlotte's own success in overcoming her body-image concerns makes her a perfect role model and aspirational ideal for voluptuous vixens everywhere.

Miss Coyle's program promises to be enjoyable and entertaining, and will surely change many minds about the true nature of feminine beauty.

The Brits can tune in tonight at 21:00 (9:00 P.M.) on Channel 4, while the rest of us, well . . . we will simply have to wait.

Charlotte's first Torrid cover:

- Charlotte's videos to date . . .

Kaitlynn 10th August 2006 15:14

Re: Charlotte Coyle (major article)
Charlotte is also in today's issue of the Belfast Telegraph.

And for once, they actually included a picture- which makes all the difference in the world!

Best quote:

Charlotte said: "I am happy with who I am and my body. I don't diet anymore...I have realised you can be sexy and beautiful, no matter what your size."

I hope more women begin to feel this way, thanks to Charlotte and her fellow plus-size models.

Slainte_Ms 10th August 2006 18:33

Re: Charlotte Coyle (major article)
Woooohh!!...Can not believe this...well done Charlotte ....Gooooo onnnnn!!! I know this girl from school and she used to work across the street from me...I remember her tellin me she was going to America but never knew she got into this......... her personality alone will carry her above and beyond!!...

Looking very well in her pictures and defo flying the flag in America!!
Wishing you every success Charlotte!

Miss Demeanour 10th August 2006 18:59

Re: Charlotte Coyle (major article)
Having just seen the programme, I must say it was rather fabulous and a complete breath of fresh air. The title was somewhat cringeworthy, but that's not entirely unusual here, unfortunately. It might have made more people watch even for those just wanting to have a 'look'.

I can't say there was anything bad about the programme at all. While some people may have tuned in for a stare, there was nothing but positive images here. Had I known it was on I'd have bought tickets myself, and maybe even entered lol!

I'm look forward to any repeat so that I can make a note of the wardrobe suppliers and send them a note to thank them for supporting the event - and to send me a catalogue.

I would like to thank Charlotte for perservering with the project - I was just about in tears towards the end. It was excellent, I truly hope it's an annual event. It's about time.

Nel 12th August 2006 11:38

Re: Charlotte Coyle (major article)
I was SO completely inspired after watching Charlottes show!

I am currently studying fashion at university, at a campus dominated by fashion related courses, therefore surrounded by skinny Kate Moss wannabes. Therefore as a UK size 18-20, am well in the minority. This has led to my a huge deflation in the (verging on over) confidence I posessed before I started the course, and am now more wallflower than the flourishing 20year old glamourous fashion student I should be. I feel now that I'm beginning accept it, and work with the positives, instead of concentraing on hiding the negatives.

Watching the show has reinforced my passion for bringing plus size fashion to mainstream UK. I struggle to find clothes on the high street that fit and flatter, and any plus size websites only seem to cater for women who are happy to be frumpy.

I am now even more determined to change the UK fashion industry, to provide sexy, fashionable, amazing plus size clothing, and see larger women as attractive, not just an inconvenience that must be hidden away, in masses of black fabric.

M. Lopez 23rd August 2006 13:47

Re: Charlotte Coyle (major article)
I came across a new Charlotte Coyle article today, and though I'd pass along the link. It's from an Irish newspaper:

It's so exciting to see Charlotte getting all this attention. I hope that with her increasing celebrity status, she manages to do for Europe what models like Emme, Kate Dillon, etc. did for the U.S., in advancing size celebration. Here's Charlotte's best quote in the article:

“I think women as a whole are becoming cheesed off about being compared to models like Kate Moss. The fashion industry needs to wake up to this, and once people begin to realise that being big isn’t a curse, then things will hopefully get better all round...

“It’s time the public realised being skinny doesn’t mean you’re healthy and neither does it mean you’re attractive or sexy.”

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