RBy CORINNE ABRAMS September 21, 2006 THE skinny models debate has dominated this year's London Fashion Week. But stunning plus-size model Charlotte Coyle, 24, has been campaigning for healthy catwalk stars since earlier this year. Read on to find out about her battle with the fashion world. At 5ft 11ins and size 16-18, I thought I was much too big to get into the modelling industry - until I was spotted working in a hair salon in the US. In America plus-size models are in high demand and I easily got plenty of work, but when my visa ran out I came back to the UK expecting to continue my career. Once here, I encountered so much prejudice against my size I decided to do a Fat Beauty Contest TV show to raise awareness on the issue. The programme was a roaring success but privately I was having a battle with my agent over my weight. She said: 'You are a really beautiful looking girl but we need you to lose eight inches off your body.' Super-slim ... catwalk model Lily Cole I measured myself all the time and watched what I ate but I soon realised the slimming was affecting my self-esteem. Eventually I told the agent I couldn't work with her anymore and signed up to a new one who shares my view on what a plus-size model should look like. The truth is, most 'plus-size' models used in ads are not really that big. The fashion houses want girls who are size 12 or 14 to model their larger ranges. They aren't big, they are normal sized! It must be frustrating for any woman walking around a plus-size shop to see that most of the models showing off the clothes are only a size 12. While researching the Fat Beauty Contest show I spoke to a lot of designers who said it would be too expensive to make plus-size ranges. But I think they are too scared to make the step out on their own. It would be amazing for a designer to go against the rest of the industry and run a big campaign. There is so much pressure on the models to get thin. I had one 'straight-size' model friend in New York who just ate vegetables and water. She would get bad mood swings because of her diet. Now she's given up modelling, put on weight and become a size 14 - she looks and feels fantastic. Women with healthy bodies should be celebrated, not made to feel bad. When I see girls of my size walking around with their heads down, looking uncomfortable, it makes me feel so sad. I hope the recent debate signals a backlash, that opinions in the industry could be changing. Young girls growing up need positive role models in fashion - it's shocking that some girls of seven are being treated for anorexia. The fashion industry has to take some of the responsibility for that. Just the other day I was at a London Fashion Week show. Some of the models on the catwalk were naturally thin and looked beautiful. But there were others who appeared to be suffering from anorexia. I am so glad the debate about skinny models on the catwalk is raging. I will keep trying to spread the message that people should be happy with themselves regardless of what size they are.