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Page last updated at 06:19 GMT, Thursday, 17 July 2008 07:19 UK
Size 16 girl in Miss England final

By Andy Brownstone
Newsbeat reporter


Chloe talks about making it to the final

17-year-old Chloe Marshall is making history this weekend as she becomes the first ever size 16 girl to take part in the Miss England final.

It comes as pressure continues to mount on the modeling industry over the size zero issue.

The teenager from Cranleigh in Surrey, gave up training to be a beautician after being snapped up by a plus size model agency.

At 5ft 10in, 12st 5lb and a 36E, she is keen to point out that the average UK woman is a size 16 like her.

She told Newsbeat: "I've always been bigger than most girls.

"Last year I went on a really strict diet and got down to a size 12, but I just looked like skin and bones, it didn't suit me.

"I eat healthily, I go to the gym a lot. This is just the size I'm meant to be."

And Marshall says far from wishing she was like other skinnier girls, it is actually the opposite.

Role model

Chloe Marshall
Chloe says she finds it hard shopping for the right size clothes

She said: "I've had so many emails from parents and daughters, even boys, saying how much of an inspiration I am to them.

"They realise they don't have to starve themselves to look beautiful.

"They look at me as if I'm a role model because I'm curvy and healthy as well."

And she is about to go into business, producing a clothing range for people like her.

The model said: "We want to bring out a plus size range for teenagers because at the moment we don't have anything really like that.

"I find it so hard to go shopping for the right clothes that will fit me and suit my figure.

"Not everyone wants to wear black and white if you're big, you need a bit of excitement."

First squaddie model


Katrina chats about Miss England and the Army

And there is another first for the competition, in the form of Lance Corporal Katrina Hodge.

The 21-year-old squaddie is the first person from the armed forces to be in the contest.

When she joined the army five years ago, she turned up sporting blonde hair and a pink suitcase, which led to the nickname 'Combat Barbie'.

The military clerk, who was honoured for disarming an Iraqi rebel in 2005, says she is in the competition to try and convince more females to join up.

Lance Corporal Katrina Hodge
Katrina Hodge wants to prove she can be a soldier and a 'girlie girl'

She told Newsbeat: "I'm not in Miss England to show I'm the most beautiful woman in England, that's not what it's about.

"I'm in Miss England because I want to promote the armed forces.

"I am girlie and I am in the army. I like having the two flip sides of life, being a tomboy when I'm at work, and girlie when I've finished."

The 21-year-old was studying at the BRITS school, in the same year as Adele, when she decided she wanted to join the army.

But she says if she had to choose between the catwalk or the parade ground, being a squaddie would come out top.

Not old fashioned

Although beauty pageants often get criticised for being old fashioned and sexist, every year over 20 000 girls compete to try and get into the Miss England final.

The event is not currently televised.

But last year the official website, which has photo galleries of all the girls, got more than 3.5m visitors in the month leading up to the final.

Organiser Angie Beasley said: "The girls in the Miss England contest are real women, all shapes and sizes.

"Any one of them would make better role models than some of the role models young people look up to today."

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