Tyra Banks was told she was too fat to be a model.

The 44-year-old supermodel has had an incredible career which has included her being the first African-American star on the cover of a Victoria's Secret calatogue, and ended up becoming one of the original Angels, but when her career was just starting out she felt torn between two versions of herself and struggled with her place in the industry.

In an extract from her new book, 'Perfect Is Boring', she said: ''At the start of my career, I lived in a two body' world. One was full of beautiful white girls who would excitedly be like, 'OMG, you are so skinny!' The other was my beautiful African-American community of friends and family, who were always trying to fatten me up.''

After she began to gain weight in her 20's, casting agencies told her she was too big to model and advised her against pursing jobs in the high-fashion industry.

The 'America's Next Top Model' creator continued: ''The modeling world, on the other hand, felt differently. They weren't happy. In fact, they were p***ed. I will never forget a certain man from the industry and the look on his face as I sat across from him at lunch. I thought he was about to tell me I'd booked a huge job, but he said, shaking his head, 'You've had your moment. There are only about two or three girls who can become icons every 10 years, and you couldn't possibly do that. You can be a catalogue girl now.' ''

But her mother, Carolyn London-Johnson, inspired her to rethink her attitude toward modelling, and focus her energy on working with the clients who embraced her ''ass'' rather than focused on her weight.

The Sports Illustrated model explained: ''Now, she said, 'Write down every client in the industry that likes ass.' 'Ass?' 'Who likes that ass?!' she demanded. By the time we'd finished our pizza, I had a list of commercial clients who booked the bold and bootyful. I sat back and looked at the list, now mottled with grease stains and dots of tomato sauce, and I slowly started to smile. My career didn't have to be over. It just had to be different.''