Charlotte Coyle, hailing from Derry, Northern Ireland, is a woman who breaks barriers. In the mid-00’s she was integral to the plus size movement in the UK, and went on to build an impressive career thereafter as a plus size model then makeup artist.
why she’s revered ✨
- Pioneered the UK’s first “plus size beauty pageant” which was televised to millions of viewers
- One of the UK’s first plus size models
- Outspoken about beauty at any size
I was very young when I first came across Charlotte. Maybe only 12 years old, but I was already a similar size to her and I found her to be relatable and fierce: the perfect role model to inspire me as a pre-teen struggling with body issues.
early modeling and rise to fame
Charlotte traveled to New York in the early 00’s and famously won a plus size modeling competition. She went on to have success modeling for Torrid in the US, and as Marks and Spencer’s first female model of size in the UK.
fat beauty contest
Charlotte’s early fame had put her firmly at the center of the, admittedly, fledgling plus size movement in the UK in those days. Therefore, when British broadcaster Channel 4 decided to launch what they deemed would be a provocative documentary, Fat Beauty Contest, Charlotte was almost certainly the first name on the list to host and run the “competition.”
The wording used to describe the show is certainly interesting. Though I find nothing wrong with it, the connotations behind “fat” to the general public (certainly in 2006) almost seek to mar the “beauty contest” part of the title. The UK, never short of media drama, may have sought to promote this for the shock value of seeing fat women parade on a catwalk. Indeed, one of the first pieces of narration wonderfully says “Charlotte’s adverts sparked a stampede of big women to the auditions.” 🙄 Classic passive aggressive fatphobia much?
Nonetheless, the show went on, and Charlotte was tasked with finding a group of plus size women who would compete in a “beauty pageant” for the first time.
Though the foundations for the program appeared sketchy, and it seems like she wasn’t given a ton of support, Charlotte takes over the program, leading from the front and essentially “whipping” the women into shape to deliver the best final product they can. The documentary is fascinating and while may have been conceived for its “shock factor” it certainly would’ve been inspiring for many women of size to see relatable role models on national television.
It would take a few more years with the rise of social media for the plus size movement to truly get underway, but as an early first step, the documentary has its place.
Charlotte’s passion for empowering these women is really in focus throughout. She is often firm, bordering on aggressive when speaking about the realities of being a plus size model in a society, back then, that didn’t fully embrace plus women. She comes into her own as a powerful role model.
teaming up with velvet d’amour
Velvet is another highly inspirational woman who I’m going to be discussing at length in due course, but she runs a popular plus size magazine/site called Volup2. When I say plus size, I mean they showcase genuinely plus size women.
Charlotte has worked extensively with Velvet both as a model and makeup artist for various shoots. It seems wherever Charlotte goes, she attracts attention in the form of leading women in our movement!
As of today, Charlotte isn’t active on social media and is all but retired from modeling. She leads a quiet life back in Northern Ireland.
charlotte’s outfit inspo 👗
Unfortunately, as Charlotte isn’t active on social media, there aren’t too many recent outfit ideas I was able to curate. But I’ve still picked out some awesome fits from her days as a plus size model that are easy enough to recreate today.
You could call this image a “meeting of the minds” because not only is Charlotte striking in the blue dress, but the dress was made by none other than famed plus size designer Monif C. The dress is a “Marilyn” convertible in cobalt blue.
I remember seeing this picture appear online somewhere and thinking “wow, I didn’t know I could flaunt my legs like this.” Charlotte gives off an almost celestial vibe draped in the sharp blue and going full model with the look at the camera. Truly awesome!
This image is admittedly quite old, but I did find a number of Monif C.’s convertible dresses available here if you’re interested in recreating the look. I’d actually argue the dress is a little short on Charlotte’s tall frame but the current options look pretty long now.
This is, I believe, from the same shoot so one can assume this is also a Monif. C dress. I love the strong red details in the wrap around belt and flower on her hand. Considering this was in the early 2010s, this was some photoshoot! You can really get a sense of Charlotte’s “aura” for want of a better word here, completely controlling the shot with her gaze and lightly swaying her hips.
- Charlotte is 5 foot 11 inches tall
- She wears a UK size 18/20 (US 14/16)
- Bust: 40”
- Waist: 39”
- Hips: 52”
These measurements were taken from Charlotte’s earlier days as a model. Either way, she is a role model for tall BBWs everywhere.