Wilhelmina Model Julie Henderson Talks About Body Image, Notre Dame, Spirituality, The Meaning of “Plus Size”, Curves For Change, Being An Athlete, and More!

Photographed by Paul DeLuna

Julie Henderson is a plus model signed with Wilhelmina NY and Model Management UK in London. She has worked with many of the best photographers in the business and has graced the pages of numerous magazines. A few of Julie’s many clients include L’Oreal, La Redoute Paris, Target, H&M, Avenue, Evans UK, and Macy’s.

Julie studied acting and worked for the Broadway show Sex, Relationships and Sometimes…Love and was in the film August with Josh Hartnett. Julie also earned a Marketing degree and excelled in basketball at Notre Dame.

Julie is the oldest of four children. Her sister, Cat, lives next door to her in NYC. Cat is working as an assistant Stylist. Julie has always, and still is, a tomboy; she started playing basketball at age ten.

Photographed by Lisa Holgrave

Some people still hold the outdated thought that “beautiful” women are not intelligent. What do you have to say regarding this topic, Ms. Notre Dame Alumni?

My first thought to that was…where are those people at? They are certainly not in my world! I come from an upbringing in which the more you have inside, the more you share with the world. The more you grow yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually — the more the outside is a reflection of that! The more connected I am with the Light, (god, whatever you call it) then my physical self reflects that connection. Also, while growing up I didn’t care about being pretty. Pretty got you nowhere on the court; it actually hurt you. So, that was always the last thing on my mind. I still laugh sometimes that being pretty is my “so –called job.”

Notre Dame was really good for me in a lot of ways…I met some of my best friends there. I learned how to balance having no time with having a million things to do. I learned how to handle pressure with everyone watching you. Notre Dame offers a lot of support to their students; even now that I’ve graduated, the ND family is one of my biggest supporters. They were actually the first people to see my Italian Vogue story and tell me about it! Notre Dame has alumni everywhere, and they are very loyal! Deciding to go to Notre Dame was one of the best decisions I have made in my life.

Photographed by Jessica Scott

Have you ever struggled with self-esteem or body image issues in the past? If so, how did you reach the point of accepting and loving your body as it is?

I guess it’s because I grew up being an athlete, but I always wanted to have a strong body that would be able to push people around on the court. I grew up very close with my dad who always taught me that my body was strong like his. I have the female version of his body actually. Henderson bodies are big and strong and can take a lot.

I always took care of my body because that meant I played sports better. I never understood the whole skinny concept; those girls were too easy to knock over on the court. lol. I was quite big when I was playing in college.

The funny thing is that I’m in best shape of my life now. I have an amazing trainer, Donnie Raimon (best friends husband), he is an ex navy seal. He taught me how to eat for my body type; I have lots of food allergies: no soy, no dairy, no wheat, no gluten, and no nuts! I fly to Miami every six to eight weeks for new work outs and my body has never felt better!

What advice would you give to young women who are struggling with self-esteem, confidence, or body image?

Self-esteem, confidence, and body image are such fickle things. I would tell girls to put their focus on other things first:

Find some sort of spiritual path. That’s the only thing that keeps me sane and stable (Kabbalah), but it can be any spiritual path; yoga practice, church, temple, meditation, or Abraham –Hicks (I’m a big fan of) because self-esteem comes from knowing yourself, and for me, the only way I know myself is by having a spiritual connection. That is really my main concern/focus –am I connected to the light? Light=god=an ongoing force of energy that is constantly flowing throughout the universe that is only love.

When I’m connected then I have confidence. Also, there are times I’m not feeling so great about myself. Karen Berg is always saying that whenever I am full of me, me, me, then there is no room for light; so I try to make room for the light to come in and share with others. When I have issues with myself, I take the attention off myself by focusing on what I can do for others (that’s what I work for, but don’t always do. lol). In my opinion, that’s where true self-esteem comes from.

Photographed by Lisa Holgrave

Who do you consider a hero or role model?

I have several. When I was growing up it was between Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, and Michael Jordan. Now… the one woman who I look up to in this world, more than anyone, is Karen Berg. She is the co-founder of the Kabbalah Center. She is the woman of all women in my book! She does it all! I strive to be like her every day. She has dedicated her life to making the world a peaceful place.

What misconceptions do you think society has of plus-size women?

A lot! This one gets on my nerves as well! I am told all the time that I’m not plus size! What people don’t get is that the average woman in America is a size 12/14. People believe that plus size means out of shape or bigger. I’m a 6’1” 190-pound plus-size woman who is in shape. Because I’m in shape, I can’t be plus size? There are many meanings to plus size, but people like to put the plus size term under one umbrella. There can be many versions of beauty and there can be many versions of “plus.”

Photographed by Seth Sabal

Where do you like to shop for clothes and who are your favorite designers?

Bloomingdales is my heaven on earth. Stella McCartney is my favorite designer: I love her Adidas line; it’s so me– sporty and fashionable in one mix! I love Elizabeth and James. Right now, all I wear are gap skinny jeans and American Apparel t-shirts with a blazer!

We know you love shoes! Who are some of your favorite designers?

I wear a size eleven, so it can be quite difficult…I love payless for summer sandals, shop at barefoottess.com for larger shoes (they can be a hit or miss), and Nordstrom (on-line) has my size as well.

What are some of your favorite beauty products or must-haves?

I am a product junky. My last buy for face lotion (Katy Hanz recommended this to me; she is in love with it) was Bee Yummy Skin Food. It’s raw and organic (Live Live & Organic store in NYC or on-line at  (www.live-live.com/).

I also use many products from ISA’s Restoratives (www.isasrestoratives.myshopify.com). She actually grows the herbs in her garden and then cooks them up in her kitchen. She makes wonderful amazing products! I take her Chaste Tree tincture every day. I also love her yarrow and blue chamomile face cream.

Photographed by Jessica Scott

Please tell us about your athletic background. Was it hard to go from being a tomboy athlete to a being a model?

Yes very. Modeling actually made me bring out the girl in me. I took dance classes to become graceful and learn my body. Now I know how to tap into both aspects of myself.

Out of all the places your modeling has taken you – where is the most memorable?

Bali/Madagascar, it takes forever to get there! It was really hard to see the poverty level there. We stay in these fancy resorts while the people around us are living out of cardboard boxes, etc. Very difficult!

Paris is my all time favorite; I never get enough of it!

What are you excited about right now?

Curves for Change. I love bringing whole board together to work on this project! It’s quite amazing to see!

Photographed by Lisa Holgrave

*Thank you, Julie!

**Julie Henderson and Kate Dillon, along with all the ladies on the Wilhelmina WCurve Board, are teaming up for a great cause – Curves for Change. We will keep you posted on all the Curves For Change sponsored events, such as the run/walk this Fall and information about the two charities Curves For Change is sponsoring this year: Hardy Girls Healthy Women & The Komera Project.We’ll also let you know when the Curves for Change web site goes live. Sage Salzer is working hard on the web site right now!


16 Responses to “Wilhelmina Model Julie Henderson Talks About Body Image, Notre Dame, Spirituality, The Meaning of “Plus Size”, Curves For Change, Being An Athlete, and More!”

  1. […] remarks about thinner women. And now on America’s Next Top Model All Stars, plus-sized model Julie Henderson was introduced not as ‘plus size‘, but ‘fiercely […]

  2. Julie might be 190 pounds, but she’s 6-feet-3! So factor that in on the plus-size debate. Anyway, Julie was no bench-warmer at Notre Dame. She played in more than 100 games and was a great rebounder if a so-so offensive performer. And she was on good teams; the year after she graduated, ND won the national championship.

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  6. iloveonlybbw Says:


  7. im not trying to be funny but why are you a plus size model? your not plus size at all i’d give anything to be beautiful like you your not over weight at all.

  8. This is good blog message, I will keep this in mind. If you add more video and pictures because it helps understanding 🙂

  9. I have sent this adress to my daughters ! It is beautiful and peaceful to see other sizes as model and it is good for the image of the women ! I’m scarred to see how all the tenagers are obsessed by their size and what is the image they wish to look like. Probably the gay influence in the fashion world is playing some role in this result … Women must know that most of the men love these size ha ha !!!
    Nevetheless congratulations for this initiative ! GREAT !!!!!

  10. Michelle Says:

    Thought provoking interview – I particularly like her comments on her spiritual connection which brings her back to helping others instead of focusing on herself. Yet another intelligent and beautiful young lady.

  11. It’s wonderful to see a model who boldly states her weight at 190. She shows that weight is not necessarily unhealthy, “obese” or anything but the most perfect, fit shape for an athletic & curvy women. I’m sure this would be a shock to those who think it’s not possible to be at that weight without an ounce out of place.

  12. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mish , Mish . Mish said: @YumYucky amazing interview http://bit.ly/d7Yk0q and it sparked my 4am post this morning. I Just LOVE what she said abt. body image […]

  13. Great “aha” moment for me – “There are many meanings to plus size, but people like to put the plus size term under one umbrella. There can be many versions of beauty and there can be many versions of “plus.”

    Until I started reading this blog, I thought you had to be overweight to be plus size. Many people still think this. Thanks for continuing to break down this belief!

  14. what a beautiful woman. As someone who struggles w/ body image/weight/etc. it’s so refreshing to see her say that ‘it’s fickel’ and that it’s about focusing on something else. I love this. Thanks so much!

  15. Tiffani Maynor Says:

    This is truly a testimony. Many women to include myself are very self concsious about who we are. Its hard at times especially when you have been a victim of mental abuse. The voices are startling, you keep hearing them. “You are not good enough”, “You will never make it,”. You can’t do anything.” I am conquering those voices and trying the hardest to move forward. Thank You! Kate and Julie

  16. I appreciated you pointing out that there are many different definitions of “plus.” I think that doesn’t get talked about enough. People imagine that “plus size” means a certain, identical look, rather than a broad range of possible looks. Maybe “plus” just means “real variety,” in a sense!

    Great interview!

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