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Old 18th October 2006   #1
Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 1,784
Default Beauty Reborn: What it was really like . . .

Many of you will recall that just over a month ago, while we were all discussing Charlotte Coyle's beauty contest, a new visitor to this forum named "ftseboy" informed us that he had attended the Beauty Reborn event in person, and shared a few thoughts about the experience.

This contributor has now done us an even greater service by contacting one of the show's twelve finalists, named Tracy, and recording her "insider's perspective" of Beauty Reborn. By merging her impressions, as a contestant, with his, as an audience member, our kind visitor has assembled a fairly comprehensive account of the event, from start to finish. (This narrative will be more meaningful to visitors who first watch the complete video of the show, which is linked on our video gallery.)

And so, without further ado, here is a chronicle of Beauty Reborn, from two people who experienced it in person.

* * *
All of the contestants replied to this Internet advert:


Are you size 18 or over, and think there is too much pressure to be skinny?

Charlotte Coyle is a successful plus-size model who wants to persuade the world that you don't need to be skinny to be beautiful, happy, sexy, and confident.

To prove her point, Charlotte is setting up a beauty/fashion contest to celebrate women with a fuller figure.

The event will be filmed as part of a Channel 4 documentary.

We are looking for plus-size women to be involved in the contest.


Auditions were held in both London and Manchester over two days. The London audition was held in an exclusive hotel in Mayfair. The girls were first photographed, and then asked to fill out an application form, including questions about size, height, etc. Each contestant was then interviewed by Charlotte and her friend Emit. Tracy was asked how she felt about being a plus-size woman, and why she thought she would be a role model to others. She believes that most contestants were asked the same questions.

The hopefuls were then asked to wait for two hours while the judges decided who would go through. The girls were bought back and twenty of the 150 hopefuls at the London auditions were selected to go through to the next round.

The forty girls who were shortlisted from both London and Manchester were subseqently called or visited by the film crew. The final twelve were then chosen: Tracy, Rachael, Michelle, Erin, Carly, Juliet, Sandra, Chantel, Vicky, Josie, Serena and Zoe. Each girl was then told that she would attend a training weekend in the country, in two weeks time.


The contestants arrived from all over the country to Woodrow High House in Amersham, Buckinghamshire--right in the heart of the English countryside.

They were all seated together. Everybody made their introductions, and nervously waited for what was coming next. Charlotte came downstairs and explained what she had planned for the Beauty Reborn event. They were told that it would be a "burlesque"-themed evening, and that everyone would be wearing corsets. Charlotte then informed the contestants of the prize for winning.

The contestants were then told to get into their tracksuits to practise how to strut on the catwalk. Both Charlotte and Emit trained the girls on the catwalk to the sounds of Andrea True's "More, more, more."

It was important to Charlotte that the contestants did not frown, or try to mimic the heroin-chic models. Instead, they were to look confident, friendly, and fed!!! As shown on the show itself, some girls found it harder than others, and many of them felt that it was hard to break away from the images of current models. Some were simply not confident enough.

Everybody then had lunch, which was obviously filmed, and much to the amazement of the girls, they were expected to cheer as chocolate éclairs were brought in.

More practice followed. Each girl was then interviewed by the film crew, and asked how she felt about being a bigger woman, and what experiences she could share. This was followed by the corset fitting. The crew filmed all of the girls being measured and fitted for their corsets.


All of the filming on this day was omitted by the editors--unfortunately so, as Tracy said that it was one of the highlights of the show. They were all taken to salon of celebrity stylist Daniel Galvin, one of the judges for the final. Each girl was then given a mini-makeover by the professionals. The stylists were instructed to create a new look for every contestant and makeup tones and hair colour were decided for the show at Café de Paris.

Charlotte gave a very uplifting speech about how important the competition was, and how many women would be inspired by it.

Training--following Saturday

All of the girls had to meet up at a hired venue in London to practise their walk to music. The songs that were chosen for the final event were "More, more, more" and George Michael's "Flawless." Every girl was given a one-on-one by Emit, the dance instructor, as Charlotte felt that a lot more work was needed on their catwalk strut.

The girls were gathered together, as Charlotte disclosed the situation with Vicky's pregnancy. Supposedly, there were many more discussions than were shown on film, and many of the girls were upset that a women who was seven months pregnant and a former contestant of many non-plus-size competitions was still allowed to compete.

After the decision was made, the fittings for the first smart/casual round were filmed (again, all omitted from the show). Marks & Spencer and Anna Scholz provided the outfits, and each girl had to grab for the outfit she most wanted. Tracy tells me that it was all very well-mannered, hardly the plus-size riot they might have been looking for.

The Event

Tracy tells me that everybody was nervous on the Sunday when they arrived for their last training session, and looked forward to the final event.

They all entered Café De Paris to see, for the first time, where they would be performing. Their nervousness increased when they saw their catwalk being taped together, and when they practised, for the first time, to the music of the show.

Each girl was then taken to get her hair and makeup completed. Tracy said that she felt like a real star sitting in front of the heavily-lit mirrors, with hair and makeup technicians all around her. Every contestant spent at least an hour getting prepared, and Tracy thought that every women looked completely transformed by the end of the session.

Charlotte then informed the girls that they would have to give a three-minute speech when on stage. She cleverly decided not to give them the questions that she was going to ask, so their responses would sound natural.

Café de Paris was a perfect venue for the show, a true arena for these gorgeous, bountiful women. I would never have known that right when I arrived, the girls had just finished their last practice-run of the show.

We sat there for about ten minutes, in a heavily male-dominated crowd. (I'm not sure where the cameras were filming, as on the show, it looked as if no men attended at all.) Then the lights went down, and the stunning vision of Charlotte Coyle in a black-and-gold corset elegantly walked onto the stage, and exclaimed, "Welcome to Beauty Reborn!"

She then gave a five-minute talk on why this issue meant so much to her, explaining her teenage hatred of her bigger body. She was eloquent, articulate, and spoke from the heart. It was a brilliant opening to the show.

Each girl was introduced as she walked onto the stage. There were clear favourites from the beginning--Rachael, Michelle, and Tracy--were being cheered louder than the other contestants.

Each contestant strutted her stuff in the smart/casual round. Most of the outfits were very nice, but I felt that a couple were a little bit old-fashioned. Then, six girls had to answer Charlotte's questions. I felt that each contestant was very eloquent.

The short break between rounds was filled by a burlesque dancing troop. Disappointingly, however, only one of the twenty-odd girls was full-figured.

Then came the climax to the evening--the corset round. I can honestly say that all of the girls looked elegant and confident, even the ones who I didn't consider attractive. Another six girls spoke about their experiences, and the crowd were asked who they thought the winner ought to be. The names of our two favourite girls, Rachael and Tracy, were still being exalted above the rest.

The competition was over and the girls went backstage to await the results. Tracy said that the atmosphere was electric, and that all of the girls felt proud of what they had done. Numbers were exchanged, model agents came down, and everyone was busy with something until the results were announced.

I'm going to be honest with you Heinrich, when the decision was read out by Charlotte there were a couple of seconds of silence, as both the contestants and the crowd seemed stunned by the decision. I certainly was. I'm still not sure why Zoe won.

Anyway, I've virtually written a novel about Beauty Reborn, but it was such an exciting show!!!

* * *

It is fascinating to learn more about the many scenes that never made it to the final broadcast. A longer cut would have given the public time to get to know each of the contestants a little better, and to root for their respective favourites. An entire second catwalk round involving casual attire, more closely resembling conventional plus-size modelling, would have made the program feel more "upmarket." The Sunday training/makeover session sounds like it was a marvellous experience, and if it had aired, television viewers could have picked up some styling/cosmetics tips for themselves.

From the articles about Charlotte Coyle that have appeared in the British press since the contest aired, we know that a great deal of footage involving Charlotte ended up on the cutting-room floor as well, such as her interviews with various luminaries of the fashion industry on the issue of size and fashion. Those are probably the segments that are most acutely missed, in the final cut of the show.

We are deeply grateful to ftseboy and to Tracy for sharing their impressions of Beauty Reborn. Until and unless Channel 4 ever releases a longer version on DVD, this candid account provides the best available description of what the event was like. It makes Charlotte's achievement in putting this show together even more extraordinary.

Let us hope that the ossified British fashion industry finally recognizes what a superstar it has in Miss Coyle, and capitalizes on her talent and beauty to take plus-size modelling, and full-figure fashion, to an entirely new level.

- Charlotte at Close Models

Last edited by HSG : 18th October 2006 at 10:26.
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Old 18th October 2006   #2
M. Lopez
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Join Date: August 2005
Posts: 587
Default Re: Beauty Reborn: What it was really like . . .

Oh wow, I loved reading this account! I am very, very grateful to "ftseboy" for writing it up and sharing it, and to Tracy for dishing out those juicy bits of behind-the-scenes gossip! It makes watching the show a much richer experience.

After reading this, I can well imagine what it must have been like to participate - the excitement, the nerves, and ultimately, the tremendous feeling of accomplishment. I think all of the participants should be proud of what they achieved. In the all-too-brief glimpses of Beauty Reborn itself, the girls looked remarkably professional and "put together." Charlotte's insistence on rigorous rehearsal really paid off.

And Charlotte is frankly my top plus-size heroine of all She has single-handedly done more to bring timeless beauty to the UK than all British plus-size retailers put together. I particularly appreciate her insistence that the show have an upmarket quality, with high production values.

It's really interesting to read how the film crew "nudged" certain scenes in a specific direction, for entertainment value. It's understandable, though, since this was made for prime-time TV. I think the show had amazing integrity, and was very positive, despite the fact that it could have benefitted from a longer cut. And above all, it allowed 2.3 million people to see Charlotte Coyle. That's a revolution in itself!
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Old 21st October 2006   #3
Join Date: March 2006
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 71
Default Re: Beauty Reborn: What it was really like . . .

I think Charlotte is doing a wonderful work for the Culture of Beauty at large. I am glad for the inside look at Beauty Reborn. What I find interesting is that at certain times the young women had to be encouraged to be more confident in their beauty, to be encouraged not to compare themselves to the "heroin chic" skeletons in high fashion. I look forward to that time when plus-size women won't be shy in any way about their beauty, for it will already be self-evident, but people will not be blind to it.
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