Twenty women from across Canada, including two from Newfoundland and Labrador, are ready to duke it out for a modelling contract and a $1,000 shopping spree from Addition Elle, the plus-sized clothing retail chain. 

Clarenville teacher Michelle Martin decided to enter the contest to prove to her students that beauty has no bounds. 

"I just wanted my students to know you can apply for things ... you can do what you want to do if it's positive and it's happy, and you are being you," Martin said.

"One of the sales ladies came up to me and said, 'Did you know we are looking for a new Addition Elle model?'"

It all started when Martin was back to school shopping in St. John's. 

Martin said she didn't think much of it at first, but eventually, the idea of being a plus-sized model started to pique her interest rather than frighten her. 

"Maybe I should apply, maybe I should be a role model for my friends, my students and my family ... and that got me here."   

So far, Martin is in first place out of thousands of women in North America to be the fan favourite of Addition Elle's 'Do you have great genes?' model search. 

'The fact that so many people believed in me is so heartwarming.' - Michelle Martin

"I am just a normal person. The fact that so many people believed in me is so heartwarming." 

Martin, who wears size 18, said she hasn't always been as confident. That's why she wants her students to feel better about themselves now, when they are young. 

"Because you are a different size, or you're a different race, or you have different amounts of money than other people, I don't want people to think you're not equal. And I want everyone to know that you are beautiful," Martin said. 

Martin is joined in the top 20 by Leah Bess of Stephenville. 

Rather than putting each other down, the two women have formed a new friendship and are rooting each other on in the contest. 

Voting for the fan favourite closes on Tuesday, then the top five models will be flown to New York City where they will compete for the top prize.