Hello, World! Angela’s Journey – Part I. (Written by Liz Nord)

Photographed by Lindsey Bowen

Hello World,

I am Angela Jones. I am a mother, daughter, sister, wife, friend, partner, and a plus-size model. I have not always felt great about my body, but I have gained strength, and learned to love myself – just the way I am.

My friend, Elizabeth, and I decided to start Plus-Size Models Unite to create an on-line community where women can share their personal stories; exchange ideas; discuss the plus-size modeling world; create a supportive and positive atmosphere; and promote self-acceptance, positive body image, and self-love – no matter what our size or shape.

Plus-Size Models Unite is for women who have struggled, do struggle, will struggle, or have attained self-acceptance, self-love, healthy living, and a positive body image. Our hope is that you will find comfort in reading the stories and advice other women share, and that you will contribute your stories, ideas, tips,  pictures, videos, and modeling experiences to help inspire other women along their journey.

My Story

When I was a little girl, I remember being referred to as sturdy, strong, bigger-built, and big-boned. I remember my grandparents commenting on my build, and other people commenting on the physical differences between my sister and me. I did not think about the comments or comparisons when I was a child. It did not faze me.

I was in fourth grade the first time someone made fun of me. One of the neighbor boys called me “fat,” and I honestly had no idea what he was talking about. However, after a few times, I started to realize that he was being mean, and I ran home crying to my mom. My mom was wonderful, supportive, and my greatest advocate. She called the boy’s mother, and the boy apologized. Unfortunately, that was only the beginning of my trouble with body image.

In sixth grade, I started to become frustrated with my body. Our class had to “weigh-in” for P.E. It was the first time that I was embarrassed about how much I weighed. I couldn’t relate to any of the girls in my class. My classmates were sharing with each other how much they weighed, and I was horrified. My weight was up there with the boys’, and I was embarrassed. It was the first time, of many, that I lied about how much I weighed. I ate healthy food, exercised regularly, and took good care of my body. I was active in sports, and loved the feeling of being part of a team. I should have felt good about myself, but I did not.

Kids teased me and laughed at me because of my freckles, mole, and body. My mother called my mole a “beauty mark.” I took pride in that, and I felt unique and special. On the bus, boys would tease me about having a “big butt.” I never had a comeback – I would just take it. I did not know what to do, and I was shocked that people could be so mean. It hurt.

I had great family friends that attended both elementary and high school with me. They were boys around my age, and they stood up for me. They were respectful and always nice to everyone. I will never forget their kindness, and we are still friends today. Other kids were so mean. I knew a girl at school who was overweight. Kids called her “Heavy Evy,” and that made me furious. I remember watching her run into the bathroom crying. I knew how she felt.

In high school, I remember a girl calling me a “whale” and a teacher telling me that he “liked my butt.” I did not understand why people were making such inappropriate comments because I did not feel that I was overweight. I had many friends, and I was active in school activities and sports. It was all so confusing and made me feel self-conscious. I didn’t like to wear snug, tailored clothing or draw attention to myself. I was embarrassed. I tried to cover up my mole with foundation and thought about having it removed many times. I felt like I never looked good enough.

Every morning, I became frustrated when trying to get ready for school. I searched for something to wear that seemed acceptable, and I would panic and sweat from anxiety. I would become so frustrated that I would throw a fit and yell at my mom. It was horrible. I did not feel pretty. In high school, I constantly asked my mom if I was fat.

I continued to struggle with body image, even though I had my mom as a solid role model. She treated her body with respect, took good care of herself, and was never controlling about what we ate. As time went by, I went through many different eating habits. I would only eat a potato with mustard or cabbage with mustard. I would eat only salads and no carbohydrates. The only condiments I used were mustard, ketchup, and salsa. I never starved myself, but if I started feeling hungry, I would preoccupy my mind with a bike ride, walk, or run.

My bout with bulimia started right after I graduated from high school. I moved to Hawaii to attend college. I was living by myself in a dorm room, I did not know many people, and I was lonely. I met some girls, and I immediately noticed how skinny they both looked. I wondered how they stayed so slim. I soon found out. They would eat tubs of ice cream and then throw up.

I had never heard of such a thing, and I was disgusted. I went home alone, and started picking myself apart. I stood in front of the mirror grabbing my fat, thinking that I would feel so much better if I could only make “it” go away. The first time I made myself throw up I was in my dorm, and I threw up in a grocery sack. I didn’t binge and purge. I would eat healthy and purge. My problems with body image intensified, and I began throwing up in the bathroom at work. A co-worker caught me purging once. She was very kind and offered her support. I moved back home, to Washington State.

I started receiving positive reinforcement regarding how “good I looked.” I was always confused by the compliments because I felt like I was dying on the inside. I put on a happy face, and said I looked “good” because of healthy diet and exercise. I was running religiously. I ran a marathon, several half-marathons, and worked out constantly. I eventually ruined my teeth from all the acid that I produced while throwing up, and I have two fake molars now because of my bout with bulimia.

I moved to Beverly Hills to become a nanny. For the first few months in California, I did not purge. I didn’t know anyone there, and I became lonely again. I didn’t feel like I fit in and the purging started. My frame was the smallest it has ever been. A woman, who I worked for as a nanny, called my mom to express her concerns. My mom had already suspected something was wrong.

When I moved back home, I confessed to my mom, and she was heart-broken. I continued abusing my body up until the day I met my husband, Taylor. The timing was good, and I was ready to make a positive change. I promised Taylor and myself that I would never abuse my body again, and I have kept that promise. I have thought about doing it, but I have kept my promise. I had my priorities wrong, but I am not ashamed of what I went through.

After having children, I developed a deeper respect and appreciation for my body. I realized a woman’s body is amazing and capable of creating wondrous miracles.  I have a daughter now who is looking up to me as her role model. I am teaching my children to respect and love their bodies.

I pretended for a long time that the unhealthy part of my past never existed, but I am hoping this experience helps bring me closure, and will help other girls and women, who may be going through a similar experience. We want Plus-Size Models Unite to be a great place for women to inspire each other.

We will be posting more articles regarding Angela’s journey. Share your story!

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35 Responses to “Hello, World! Angela’s Journey – Part I. (Written by Liz Nord)”

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  5. Hey this is a good looking site, is wordpress? Forgive me for the foolish question but if so, what theme is? Thanks!

  6. Hello World!
    If you all know any FILMMAKERS who are discusses issues of body image, challenging rigid beauty ideals, eating problems or related topics..please have them contact me! We are looking for new films to screen at our 2011 body image film festival!
    Jill Andrew Festival Founder & Director
    http://www.bitemefilmfest.com
    info@bitemefilmfest.com

  7. Mandy Lee Wilson Says:

    Hi Angela! Thanks for finding me on Facebook. I was so excited to see your pictures. Your story is inspiring and so meaningful to me. Thanks for the strength you have for women! You are and always have been an inspiration to me, more than you will know! Thanks again Angela.

  8. Rikki White DeVoss Says:

    Angela! I found this on facebook and I am so proud of you. I always looked up to you in highschool and wished I was pretty like you and confident! I to have always delt with self asteam issues and still do. Just got back into the gym and im hoping to find my healthy natural weight. After two boys, the body just isn’t what it use to be! he he Thank you for being so brave, I don’t feel so alone any more. You are absolutley beautiful and have a beautiful family. God bless

  9. Absolutely fabulous idea! As the director of a nonprofit for eating disorders in Maryland, we are trying hard to help people of ALL sizes with eating disorders. Most people with binge eating disorder are overweight or obese. There aren’t enough services for those with BED and many are going untreated without the help they deserve.

    Thanks for all you are doing!

    Sharon R Peterson, LCSW-C
    Founding Director of EDN Maryland

  10. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by VoiceinRecovery. VoiceinRecovery said: Angela's journey with #Bulimia & #bodyimage & creation of blog Plus Size Models Unite http://bit.ly/9GG8J5 […]

  11. VoiceinRecovery Says:

    This is an amazing post & I adore this blog. As an eating disorder, body image, diversity in fashion supporter, and healthy living advocate, blogger, etc I really can relate to a LOT of this and love sharing this blog with others.

    Thank you for what you do and continue to use your voice 🙂

  12. Kristen Medeiros Says:

    You have always been a very beautiful women inside and out. Your inner beauty has made you even more georgous, and thats all that matters. You are a strong, healthy and couragous women. I know readers will be touched by your inspriring story. Congratulations!! I am so proud of you. You have such a beautiful family.

  13. Angela and Elizabeth,
    You are such an inspiration for women. I am glad I stumbled upon this fantastic site. What you are doing is BEAUTIFUL! I am a size 14/16, what does that exactly mean…who cares. I don’t! Because all I see when I look in the mirror is the beautiful almond eyes I get so many compliments on. I see the beautiful teeth my dentist wants to model dentures after, hahaha. I look at the gorgeous lips so many pay for. I see those thick thighs my boyfriend loves to look at when I walk. Most importantly I see Me and the Me that I after 36 years I have grown to accept and adore. Women, we are beautiful!

  14. leah douglas Says:

    PLUS SIZE GLAMOUR MODELS WANTED 18+ ALL RACES AND ALL SIZES ABOVE 12″ ARE WELCOME TO AUDITION.

    We at Luscious Beauty’s are looking for Beautiful plus size models, to star in are newly developed glamour magazine.

    You must be aged over 18 and have valid proof of this & have team player attitude with a great look!

    **MUST BE COMFORTABLE WEARING BIKINI, LINGERIE or nude **

    Applicants must send information with photo for application to be valid

    The casting will involve a test shoot session in a central London studio were you will need to bring your own clothing to see how photogenic you are and also how well you work within are team this will cost you £30.

    We will most importantly do a 1-2-1 Interview.

    If you are selected you will be placed on the agency books for the above work (Paid £500 per picture used front cover models will get more) – as well as a glamour Modeling Career in an up and coming glamour magazine.

    lusciousbeautys@rocketmail.com

  15. *Waves from across the ‘Pond’*

    Here in the UK, we’ve struggled with body dysmorphia for years. Thankfully, we now have a little bit more of a realistic attitude towards body image, and although a wealth of celebrity images still influences both men and women, advertisers are beginning to realise that the airbrushed image of a perfect woman is merely a figment of some exec’s imagination and are starting to invest in ‘real beauty’ campaigns. The public’s reaction has been very positive as a result, and companies like Dove who actively promote this concept have seen their sales increase dramatically. Real women are all shapes, sizes and every damn one of them is beautiful in their own way. One of our best advocates is a chap called Gok Wan, who has championed the concept of every woman’s ability to be beautiful, regardless of size or shape. What it really boils down to is confidence. Take me. 5’8″, auburn hair (down to my thighs – I’m allergic to hairdressers) and green eyes. OK, so far, so good. But I’m no size 10. I’m an extremely muscular size 12/14. Rather than go for the conventional look which would mean starving myself (and consequently making myself miserable beyond belief), I’ve chosen to work *with* my body. As a result of a love of martial arts, bodyboarding and weights, I now have what could be described as an ‘athletic’ figure. The size 14 bit is on account of my *ridiculously* powerful back, shoulders and arms, but I promise you, there ain’t a ‘bingo-wing’ or an ounce of cellulite in sight! The crunches are killers, (seriously, who invented those buggers? I want speaks with them…), the martial arts (I’m a Tomiki Aikido black belt and Krav Maga enthusiast) and the bodyboarding all help towards my general cardio fitness and, at 43, I can apparently pass for 10 years younger. And my husband LOVES my figure.

    I suppose my advice to any woman looking longingly at the unobtainable and frankly ridiculous images that we are bombarded with every day is to stop trying to be something you ain’t, kiddos. Work with what you’ve been given and make the most of it. Yep, it takes hard work, yep, it takes committment. But walk tall, be proud and screw the execs and their dumb-arsed ideas of what constitutes the ‘Perfect woman’!

    Vive la Revolution!

    Kes

  16. I ‘AM SO GLAD THAT I READ YOUR STORY, BECAUSE KNOW I CAN STOP
    KILLING MYSELF AND REXAMINE WHY I NEED TO BE AND LOOK LIKE A
    WAIF TO BE ACCEPTED. I USED TO BE RAIL THIN IN JUNIOR HIGH, AND IN HIGH SCHOOL, AND FOR ME IT DID NOT LOOK HEALTHY. I’VE GOT WEIGHT ON ME, BUT I NEED EXERCISE TO BE HEALTHY, WHERE DO YOU STAND ON THIS ISSUE OF NOT WANTING TO LOOSE IT ALL? I’VE GOT A CLASS REUNION COMING UP AND I WANT TO LOOK GOOD, HAVE YOU ANY SUGGESTIONS?

  17. Hello everyone. Im loving the encouragement. I’d like to share a little synopsis of my story.
    First Ill begin with stating that I am a single mother of two.
    I am a greatful survivor of a tragic automobile accident almost 8 years ago, March 2002. The crash resulted in me experiencing many problems including weight gain. It was very hard for me, at 27yrs old to adjust to a lifestyle of restrictions filled with a routine of pain medications required daily to aid -tolerate chronic pain. My normal enjoyment of life as a young independent mother of two was shadowed and replaced with movie nights from Mommy’s bedroom. The weight gain, medications, stress, and limited activity increased and elevated other health issues including surgies the last of which was considered” major” 85% of a major organ removed in October 2008.
    After fully recovering from the surgery,life began to get better. However, finding a solution for obtaining energy and getting some weight off was still a struggle. Over the past 3 years Ive tried it all from weight watchers to gyms, nutritionist to health clinics,attempting to loose a few pounds, rid all of the medications, and get back to enjoying life.
    October 2009 I came across some wonderful products that have begun to assist me in EACH area of my life that had been restricted over the past 7yrs.
    Since Nov 2009 Ived lost 23lbs without dieting, “excerising”, surgery or pills even with the holidays. Ive have been off all pain medications!!!
    I am so excited about my future.
    Looking forward to more inspirations as well as perhaps being an inspiration.
    Thanks

  18. Sharmaine Safholm Says:

    Hi Angela! Thank you for starting this site and for sharing your story! I only wish I had known about your struggles while we lived in Hawaii so that I could have helped in some way. But, I feel like each of us has our own journey to obtain the growth we need.. and your story will now inspire many others. I’m so proud of you!

  19. Dear Angela,
    I’m deeply touched by your story and by the courage and wisdom you demonstrate by generously offering your Self so wholeheartedly and transparently. I cannot fully imagine the impact of our societies idealized and romanticized images of beauty on either more naturally full figured girls and women or anyone for that matter that may not fit an idealized mold. I do hear that in your experience and understandably so the combination of inappropriate feedback from some HS faculty and children running their own negative projections contributed to self-judgement and a temporary, albeit lengthy and painful, separation from your own atunement to your essential beauty and Beloved nature.

    How wonderful that it seems you have the loving support within and about you, in marriage, family and friends as you more and more honor your gifts… Blessings you way as you also honor your apparent calling to be of service as you are through this site by reaching out to your extended family of sisters who may be well served by your honesty, compassion and your co-creating a safe venue within which women & men can learn and grow. As husband and parent of two beautiful young daughters, I’m touched, respectful of your journey and cheering you on in your evolving success!

    In Gratitude,
    Gregory

  20. Thanck’s for your inspiring post:)
    I was in a very bad situation like two years ago.I moved in Germany when I was nineteen years old and worck in a affice from nine in the moorning untill eight in the evening..so pretty much the whole day.
    I didn’t realize at the begining what I was doing to my body but after three years when I saw that the larger size of pants doesn’t fit me anymore and see that I can’t wear tight t-shirts anymore because my stomach became huge I was shocked!
    My worck in the office meant sedentarism..I was siting on the chair the whole day and ordering french fries or nudels for lunch and after worck I was eating some junck food like Mc Donald’s ,had one or two cups of beer and not to mantion the chocholate bars and cakes I was eating every day!
    I went up to 180 ibs in just two years.Before I was 100 ibs.
    I didn’t consult any doctor.The people who opened my eyes were my parents.They told me that I’m to young to be overweight and my father told me to start doing abs exercises.I order a abs machine and start eating clean.
    Yes-EATING CLEAN and being active is the only key to become what you want to be!
    Eating clean is the easyer and healthyer way to maintain a thin body.This doesn’t mean to be anorexic.
    This mean to eat a lot off vegetables,fruits,oatmeal and lean protein like chicken or turkey breast.
    Definettly deep fried or fried foods are out of the equation.Cackes and chocholate are bad as well:)
    This is the natural way to become healtyer and feel good about yourself.Saturated fat is the worst fat you can put in your body..and saturated fat you not gonna find it in natural foods like whole grains,veggies and fruits.
    I start eating clean,have five meals per day every two hours,eating a lot of natural foods and since that moment I went down to 89 ibs.
    Maybee sounds to less but I feel healthy and perfect.I know I am healthy from the inside and feel good in the way I am.Even If I do it every two hours I know what I’m puting in my mouth and I am glad I found this way to mantain my weight.Hope my comment is gonnae helpfull for some.
    Never say never!Everything is posible how long you know what you expect from yourself and how long you try to eat natural.
    This mean being active and eating clean.

    • Dear RLK,
      Thank you for your comment. Plus-Size Models Unite is a place for all women of every size, shape, and age; but I have to tell you that your comments are concerning to us. We do not agree that “Yes-EATING CLEAN and being active is the only key to become what you want to be!” We believe in healthy living, and we do not promote diets or restrictive living.

      We wish you the best on your journey.

      Plus-Size Models Unite

  21. angela….. this is a very touching story, and one that many women can relate to.. Thank you for sharing that and i am sure it will help women see that they too can overcome this
    xxxx

  22. cortney covert Says:

    Angela,
    I have had body issues my whole life and can relate.I also did many unhealthy things to my body to lose weight,than I found fitness and learned about diet.Being a strong healthy woman has inpowered me and given me confidence.I’m 34 and just now embrassing my body.

  23. Thank you for sharing your story!

  24. This hits such common ground among girls/women. Several women close to me have struggled with bulimia or anorexia. I am encouraged by the help they got from professional therapy. The therapists were really able to bring the issue into a clear, focused light and offer tools to avoid their further self-abuse. This forum will provide much needed support!

  25. shannon campbell Says:

    You are such a beautiful person inside and out. I appreciate your story and can see myself or friends having had similar experiences. You are not alone. Coming up on 20 years of being out of high school, I just recently decided to pull the old cheerleading skirt out of an old trunk. Was I thinking I could really just slip it on? Ha! What a laugh! It looked so small. Size 7. I remember feeling how fat I was compared to all the other cheerleaders who wore size 0-5. When I shared that with my husband he said, “Are you serious? Girls are so hard on themselves.” We are. Now, I would love to have my high school body back. Is that realistic after having two kids? Angela, you have always inspired me to run, you make me appreciate my curves, and you are just sexy! Keep it up! We need more women like you.

    • Thank you so much for your comment Shannon! I’m glad I inspired you to run,but you did the same for me! We were a good running team! Remember when we were in Abercrombie and Fitch and we had to ask the girl who worked there to get the ladder to get our sizes!!! Things have sure changed, then, I was embarrassed, today, I am proud!
      Love you!

  26. I am an advocate for your cause and want to express my sincere compassion and appreciation for the stories you have shared. I come from a family of women, strong women, who have always loved me for who I am, and especially now for who I’ve become. I can speak for all of us when I say that EACH and every women has thought and obsessed about her size to a point where it has wasted away the joy in any given day, weeks, and even years. I became fatigued by this wastefullness and found liberation after my first child was born. Like Angela, I felt a new appretiation for my body. Shortly ther after I started a photography buisness for women geared at “capturing the changing seasons of our lives” and making women feel beautiful about who they uniquly are. It has been the gift of a lifetime to affect womens self esteme through my work, and it has changed me in so many ways. And as a mother, I have pondered one very important question…. Is it possible for my girls to skip all of those wasted moments, days, and years of self doubt and critisism? Is it really possible that they could go through life totally in control of their own self image? This brings me back to Angela, with a strong mother always supporting her. No matter what I do as a mother, there will always be the growing years. There will always be that kid, or that teacher who’s mother and Father DID NOT give them what they needed, and so they acted out on everyone. They hurt people because they were hurting. So the Question is, how do you answer back? I think it’s simple, when you see someone who is hurting, REACH OUT. Teach our children to recognize meaness as a CRY FOR HELP. We can change the world by changing one person. If nothing else, they tend to leave you alone when you expose their vounerability. Likewise, we need to do the same for eachother as adults. I am in a play right now, Back to the 80’s where I get to sing and dance Micheal Jackson, I get to sing some amazing songs, and funny enough I’m doing a little strip tease as well…. My first instinct was to go on a diet and loose 10 pounds. That lasted for about a day and then I realized… what the hell, I’m Hot, I’m 34 and they’re beggin’ me to take my clothes Off!! (not all the way) So, My point is…This is a journey, and life is a stage. No one really cares how much you weigh, or if your ten pounds more or less when your up there… It’s How you pull it off and play it out that leaves you and others around you wanting more… of you… and that’s what count’s!

    Thank you Angela, I’m you fan, and you friend…
    Lindsey

    • Lindsey,
      Your amazing….you have inspired me in so many ways, you have no idea. I was one of your first clients when you started up your photography for women and I was nervous. After the photo session was done, I felt as if I had healed just a little bit more. You made me feel beautiful. I felt like a supermodel walking out of your home that day and I remember telling my friends that they needed to go experience it as well. I still do. Thank you my friend for commenting on our blog, I hope you share this blog with others and we look forward to hearing from you again soon.
      Your friend,
      Angela

  27. Well done Angela!!

  28. Valerie Lefkowitz Says:

    Hi Angela, What an inspiring story, and what a wonderful forum. I’ve added it to my bookmarks:-)

    • Thank you Valerie. I am so glad you enjoyed our blog. Thank you for checking it out and visit us again soon! We have some exciting things planned, including some new interviews. Take care.
      Angela

  29. Angela, I am proud of you. 😉

  30. Dear Kathy,
    Thank you so much for your reply! The whole point of this blog was to inspire others and I am so happy that it did. I am really excited for you to begin your journey, I know you can do it!!! We are going to be adding recipes, workouts and hopefully many other inspiring stories, so I hope that you will keep us updated on how you are doing and keep checking in. Take care and I will be thinking of you.:)
    Angela

  31. Kathy Florence Says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. It is very inspiring.
    I was moderately overweight as a teenager. The way I was treated I thought I was a heck of a lot heavier than the other kids. My self image had been impacted at an early age. I continued to gain weight. Have been on many weight loss plans and programs. I denied for many years how heavy I was, because people began to say oh you are not that heavy.
    The past few month I have began another journey of making lifestyle changes. I am going to be 50 this year and I am determined to be in better shape than I was at 30.

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