Archive for the Designers Category

Australian Model Fiona Falkiner Says, “If you put your mind to it–anything is possible!”

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Australia, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Celebrity, Confidence, Designers, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Funny Experiences, Hobbies, Inspiration, Media, Models, Movies, My Story, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Sports, Trade Tips, Travel, Unique Beauty, Work, Your Story with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2011 by Liz

Here is the beautiful Fiona…

I grew up in a small country town in Victoria near the coast called Birregurra. After school, I went to university where I studied to earn a BA International Studies. But, my passion was always to become a makeup-artist, and I am currently undertaking a makeup course in Sydney, which I am loving. In 2006, I was a contestant on The Biggest Loser. After the show, I started modeling and since signing with Bella Model Management over a year ago, I have been working as a plus-size model and studying.

How did you start your career as a model?

I met an agent whilst in the Biggest Loser house who told me I would make a great model. When I came off the show, I was told I was too big to be a regular model and too small to be a plus model as I was a size AUS 10/12.

In one word, how would you describe your agency, Bella Model Management?

Superb!!!

Do you have any funny modeling stories you would like to share with us?

I am very allergic to cats and on a shoot recently I started sneezing and my eyes turned red and itchy, I was sure there was a cat in the house so the whole crew were searching the house for a cat, when the makeup artist realized that the blanket she was wrapping me in after each shot was the rug her cat slept on.

Have you ever suffered from self-esteem or body image issues?  If so, what advice would you give to young girls or women who are currently struggling?

I grew up always being bigger than other girls my age; I really struggled with my body image all through my teens and early 20s. I guess being a contestant on a weight loss show demonstrates how much my size bothered me. On the series, I went from a size AUS 18/20 to AUS 10/12 but within six months I had put a lot of the weight back on.

It has taken many years, but I can say that the life I lead now is all about balance, and I know within myself that if I am being healthy, I will be happy, and it has nothing to do with what it says on the scales and when you let that go and love the skin you are in–your life will turn around. I am a healthy size AUS 14/16 now am at peace with my body and love my curves.

How do you define beauty?

Beauty comes from within, looks are superficial and will fade, but true beauty lasts forever as it shines from within.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Believe in yourself and pursue your dreams. If you are doing something you’re passionate about, you’re much more likely to be successful than doing something you’re not interested in.

How do you stay fit? Do you have a favorite workout?

I have done pretty much every workout in the world. These days I prefer not to work out in a gym as I like the outdoors and I live close to one of the most amazing walks and beaches in the world, Bondi

Beach. So, in summer I do the Bondi to Bronte walk 4 or 5 times a week. It takes an hour door to door and has lots of stairs and stations where you can do little exercises along the way. I also love swimming, netball, and tennis. In winter, back at the gym my favorite class is spin class thanks to Bob Harper!

What is your go-to outfit?

LBD, Killer Heels, and red lips.

Favorite pair of jeans?

I have a pair of Embody Jeans, which are amazing and I get compliments every time I wear them, they are designed by fellow plus-size model Natalie Wakeling so the sizing is amazing as she gets the curves.

Who is your style icon?

Marilyn Monroe, my Idol!

Do you have an all-time favorite model? Why?

I am a bit old school. I love the old classics Marilyn and also Sophia Loren.

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

A really good moisturizer is essential. I get very dry skin and moisturize at least twice a day.

Can you share one of your beauty tips with us?

Drink lots and lots of water for a clear complexion, and I rub rosehip oil around my eyes before bed every night to help fight the wrinkles.

What is one thing that may surprise us about you?

I have a learning disability and can only retain a small amount of information that is spoken to me at any one time…makes life tricky!

If you could go back and talk to yourself at the age of 13, what would you say?

Stop being so critical of yourself, you have the whole world ahead of you, and you can achieve anything you put your mind to. Don’t let self-doubt cloud the way!

What do you love about yourself and why?

My easygoing nature; I get along with pretty much everyone and anyone.

What do you love about yourself and why?

My easygoing nature; I get along with pretty much everyone and anyone.

Favorite movie?

It would be a toss up between Gone With The Wind and Pretty Woman.

Favorite book?

I love anything by Wilbur Smith and Bryce Courtenay; love the epics!

What is your signature scent?

Miracle by Lancôme. I have been wearing it since I was 16.

If you could hop on an airplane and go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

A tropical Island where Gerard Butler would be waiting with open arms and a cocktail!

Who is your role model or hero? Why?

My Uncle, John Falkiner. He has lived his whole life doing what he loves and loving life. He is a Mountain Climber Adventurer who lives in Switzerland and he let nothing come between him and the lifestyle he loves.

What are you excited about right now?

I am looking at heading to New York in the not too distant future, to pursue modeling and makeup. It will be a fun new adventure! Interesting to see if I can crack the US market! My dreams are in five years time to be published in Vogue as either a model or a makeup artist–either way big dreams. If you put your mind to it–anything is possible!

*Thank you, Fiona!

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Model Caroline Worsley Says, “The best thing you can do for yourself is to choose to live your life with people who you love.”

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Designers, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Funny Experiences, Inspiration, Models, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Sports, Trade Tips, Travel, Unique Beauty, Work, Your Story with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2011 by Liz

What inspired you to get into the modeling industry?

After going through my teenage years in conservative Northern Virginia in the 90’s and trying to express myself some rather interesting outfits involving Laura Ashley and Doc Martin combinations, I knew that I was destined to work and live in a community that embraced diversity! That’s probably one of the reasons I ended up in NYC, and therefore working in fashion. The idea that I could work and travel, while meeting new people, really appealed to me.

How did you start your career? (We read that you first started as a “fit” model and then made the transition into “plus” modeling.)

I was studying International Relations at NYU and playing with my new city friends at the same time. After I graduated, I needed to work while I decided if I was going to pursue the law degree I always thought I wanted. Instead, thanks to a dear friend and stylist, I ended up in an episode of House of Style and in a music video. She also directed me to fit modeling, which I was paid for in clothes! I was hooked. I started plus modeling in Miami–it’s a pretty typical tale, I was at a party and I met a booker who told me I should try plus modeling, which I had never heard of before. I called him up, and ended up working with his agency immediately! The rest is history.

What are the differences between a straight, fit, and plus model?

Straight size models are your runway models, who have crazy proportions that allow the clothes to hang on them like hangers. Thin, tall, narrow hips. Fit models are a perfect size for runway–usually a 4; for catalogs, a 6-8, for plus, a 16-18. I was a 4 at the time–narrow, but, at 5’9″, not tall enough for runway. Plus models are now basically an 8 and up in NYC; in other markets, you need to be a “full” 12-14 (not 10-12) because in the American markets, you need to be able to fit in sample size 14, which is usually pinned to a fit model who is a size 18. It’s all crazy! Basically, the most important part of any of these divisions of modeling is that you need to be perfectly proportioned in order to wear the clothes well. A pin here, a clip there–it will work wonders, whether on a size 2 or 12. Oh, and the differences in the models? Well, plus models are the coolest, the most fun, and the best to work with, of course!

What advice would you give to aspiring models?

Do it! We live in an amazing, changing world where women and men of all sizes and ethnicities are showcased–it’s not just about one look anymore. But be realistic–no one loves the grunge look anymore. If you are going to visit a potential agency, it is absolutely imperative that you are pressed–that is, clean hair, clean face, clean look. You’re more likely to get noticed if you keep it simple. Remember, modeling is not acting–it’s your job to make the clothes look good, not to be the star of the show. Behind the scenes–stay professional but be charismatic! It’s a tough business and there is a lot of competition, so a client will remember the girl who is on time, looks well rested, and has a great laugh and smile. Networking is the single most important factor to focus on when you are working as a model–talk with other models about their agencies, communicate with the makeup artist, stylists, and production crew, and stay friendly! It will always benefit you to learn more about the business.

What do you love about your job?

I love the travel, but it can be a true challenge. That’s my most honest answer! I’ve been lucky enough to live and travel extensively through modeling. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to make friends around the world, and–more importantly–to be able to visit friends and family. If I worked a typical job with two weeks off a year, I would never be able to visit my friends and family as much as I have over the past 10 years of modeling. On the same note, I’ve been booked for a big job the same weekend as a friend’s wedding, and had to take the job. It’s totally Murphy’s law–as soon as you plan time off, or a vacation–you’ll get that job you’ve been waiting for! Since you essentially work for yourself, it’s very difficult to say “no” to any work, because it’s just as easy for the client to work with someone else, and you may not get the opportunity again. I also love the community of modeling–especially in the plus community, which started out much smaller than it is today. Now, there are genuine superstars, and plus girls are in mainstream magazines throughout the US, like V Magazine, Glamour, and Vogue. In Europe, plus girls have been working and recognized much more than they have here in the States. I say, it’s about time!

In terms of your career, what has been the best advice you have ever been given?

Stay out of the sun! It is not your friend. You may think it makes you look fresh and youthful, but the reality is, the sun sucks the beauty and moisture out of your skin and replaces it with spots and wrinkles. I’m a water girl–I grew up sailing and going to beaches. I LOVE the outdoors. But now, I wear a hat and SPF 100. My friends think I’m crazy! But you know what? I’ve noticed a big difference–so wear your sunscreen!

Photo taken by- http://www.jessicalavoiephotography.com

Out of all of the places your modeling career has taken you, where has been the most memorable?

Modeling made it possible for me to live seasonally, following the warm weather and sunshine. It also gave me the ability to work and live in the Netherlands, and when I went to live there for a summer a few years ago, I met my amazing husband! So now we live between the US and Europe.

Do you have any funny modeling stories you would like to share with us?

WOW. There are so many fun stories–honestly, it’s a great job, you get to meet so many people and typically you are all thrown together in a small room with clothes, makeup and hair, so you can get a little loopy after a while. Maybe when I had to do a wedding shoot and I looked like something Axl Rose threw out in the garbage? Rocker hair with extensions that didn’t match, and a wedding dress?!!? A makeup artist that wanted to SHAVE my eyebrows? That was a nutty day.

Please tell us about your blog, Miami Style Watch!

MiamiStyleWatch has been evolving since 2005! It’s about everything I love in Miami, and beyond. I’ve re-named it EverythingCaroline, because it’s really more about what I like, rather than just Miami. It’s a big world out there! I’m just moving my focus more to travel and writing, rather than simple blog entries–one of my best friends has been pushing me to write a book, so I think I’m going to use my blog as a test market.

Have you ever struggled from self-esteem or body image issues? If so, what advice would you give to young girls and women who are currently struggling?

I went to all girls’ school growing up, so I was lucky enough to be surrounded by other girls going through the same issues, but minus the boys. Sports were a requirement, as well, so between volleyball, soccer, basketball, and lacrosse, I pretty much ran off most of my issues. I dieted like everyone else, of course, but I have a wonderful mom who told me (and still tells me) that I am perfect just as I am. When you hear that enough, you actually start to believe it. I love food too much to ever deprive myself for too long. My advice to women who are struggling with issues would be to look around and make sure that they are surrounding themselves with positive influences and good people–the best thing you can do for yourself is to choose to live your life with people who you love. For girls, I have to say that the best thing is to look forward, and realize that your hormones and emotions are haywire because you are growing into your body! Many of the details that you don’t love about yourself will probably end up being your favorite parts once you get past your teens.

What do you wish you would have known in high school?

I wish that I wasn’t in such a rush to “grow up!” Our school was very competitive, and I was on a fast track to a top college, so I never stopped to breathe, take time, and think about what I really wanted. But then again, I was 17 when I graduated. Does anyone know anything then? Where you ever teased or bullied? Totally, completely, 100% bullied. I rode a bus to school for 6th and 7th grade and there were a bunch of boys that absolutely tortured me. I would sit at the back of the bus, or the middle, or the front, and they would yell things at me–really awful, hurtful things, and I would just take it. What could I do? I would just wait until we got to the girls’ school so I could get off the bus and start my day. Those same boys would prank call me later on, and then walk by my house. It was some sort of Neanderthal way to get my attention, I suppose. I never told anyone of authority about it because it made me sad and I was embarrassed. One of the boys that teased me grew up to be a rocker, performed in South Beach, invited me to his show, and dedicated a song to me. Really? But life goes on, it definitely made me stronger, and I’ve learned how to talk to my kids (when I have them) about dealing with bullies. And after that, please–you think dealing with a tough agent or client is difficult? I only need to put myself back on that bus and remember–in the grand scheme of life–it just doesn’t matter.

How do you define beauty?

Life is beauty!! Everyone is beautiful if they are good to others! I believe in energy, life, and love–how would it be possible for anyone to judge another. But modeling isn’t just about beauty–it’s about marketability. It’s nothing personal. One person’s definition of beauty is so very different from another’s–that is why it’s so important to have your own conviction, and to believe it yourself.

What makes you uniquely beautiful? (what do you love about yourself and why?)

I have a fierce determination to get what I want, and I will literally stop at nothing until I’ve succeeded. Not in a weird, psycho, stalker way–I just don’t understand the word “no!” What is a fun fact about you? I talk to my cats–a lot, and often. They are brother and sister, 14 years old, and I got them on a road trip from NYC to LA one year. I bring them everywhere with me–they’ve been on the road from NYC to Miami over a dozen times, they’ve flown across the country, and we all flew to the Netherlands last year to live for the summer. I had been on the trans-Atlantic flight so often, the airline attendants knew me–and they gave my cat his own seat!

You consider yourself a “healthy-nut”, what does being healthy mean to you?

Watch what you put in your body, and on your body. I rarely eat packaged foods–I’ve been a “pescetarian” (vegetarian, but I eat fish) since I was 14, so meat, pork, and poultry are not a part of my life. Believe it or not, this eliminates a lot of bad choices when you go to a restaurant. My favorite foods are fruits and vegetables. I don’t really eat dairy, and I’m also a believer in a raw diet, so I try to eat as fresh as possible. That said, I’m not at the farmer’s market at 6 am picking out the best tomatoes, but I do love my Trader Joe’s!

What would we find in your make-up bag?

My girlfriend just turned me on to L’oreal primer. It’s amazing. Other than that, eyelash curler, mascara, Nars blush (which I all too often use as eyeshadow, too). And lip gloss always. And, of course, sunscreen.

Do you have any quick make-up tips to share with us?

Wash your face, don’t forget the sunscreen, condition your hair, and wear mascara.

What is your signature scent?

It’s from a little French company and very hard to track down… a little secret.

What are you most proud of?

That I have maintained a close relationship with my family and friends for my entire life, and I can pick up the phone and call any one of them and know that we’ll have a great conversation.

Who is your role model or hero? Why?

I don’t have any particular role model, but I do admire strong women whether or not I believe in their politics, it’s the conviction that impresses me. In books, I always gravitate towards strong female leads.

What are some of your favorite books?

Wow, I read a lot, and it’s not all intellectual. I am a big escapism; I think it’s from being raised an only child. Right now, I’m reading the Game of Thrones series, but there is a long list of books that I often re-visit, as well. I love fantasies! I also happen to adore Jane Austin, especially my favorite, Pride and Prejudice.

Who do you have on speed dial?

About 10 people who I talk to on a regular basis, including my husband, my mother, my father, and my best friends.

What is your most treasured possession?

My brain.

What music is on at home?

Lush is one of our favorite online radio stations, mostly female vocals with an electro beat. I’m definitely into bluegrass, and I also love rock, but that’s more for driving, running, and biking!

Guilty pleasure?

100%, definitely, absolutely–shopping, reading English tabloids–the Daily Mail is my favorite, Page Six every morning, and Philip Galanes “Social Q’s” in the NY Times. Also, I always read about real estate, wherever I travel. The best kind of window shopping!

On a day off in Miami, what would your perfect day consist of?

Wow, that’s a difficult question–there are so many wonderful ways to spend a day in Miami! I recently had an amazing Friday there–we started with cafe con leche and empanadas at Charlotte Bakery (one of my Miami vices!), followed by lunch and an afternoon of swimming at the Soho Beach House, a quick stop at the Mondrian Pool, a pass-by Monty’s Happy Hour, and then dinner at Burger & Beer Joint. All on bicycle, of course!

Who is your style icon and why?

I can’t help but love watching Kate Moss. Also, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Michelle Williams, Diane Kruger, and Diane Keaton. I absolutely adore Dolly Parton, though I don’t think her style suits me 🙂 Funny enough, I don’t dress like any of these women!

How would you describe your style and what is your go-to outfit?

Creative Caroline. I’ll wear almost anything, as long as I don’t think anyone else is wearing it. My go-to outfit is definitely a dress with a jean jacket and sunglasses. If it’s cold, then skinny jeans and boots with a huge scarf.

What is your go-to statement accessory?

Sunglasses, my wedding ring, and a smile!!!

Where do you love to shop for clothes?

Everywhere! Favorite pair of jeans? I’m totally digging a pair of Joe’s Jeans I just bought–distressed cargos with zippers and padding and fun things like that. They’re tight, but I’m not really into baggy clothes. When you have curves, you want to show them off, not hide them! I also have a great pair of William Rast for Target skinny jeans in a great wash that I’ve been rocking.

Are you an online shopper? What are your favorite sites to shop from?

eBay is pretty amazing, but sometimes I get “eBay goggles” and end up buying some weird stuff. That’s why I use eSnipe- you set a price and it bids for you. Sooooo key to preventing bad shopping decisions!

Do you have a favorite model? Why?

Maggie Rizer is gorgeous–I went to a Victor & Rolf exhibition in Antwerp that featured her in one of the rooms, and it totally changed my perspective on her. They did an entire show with only her–under layers and layers of clothing. It was spectacular. Tilda Swinton is from another planet and we should love her for that. I think Cindy Crawford is absolutely amazing, and epitomizes healthy living. I also think Kristy Hume is ethereal. My favorite plus model is Tara Lynn–she has an amazing figure and a face to match. And that new girl, Lindsay Wixson, has the most amazing lips ever!

Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?

Still working, traveling with my family, and loving life!

What are you passionate about?

Family, friends, and living life to its fullest.

What is one of your most favorite childhood memories?

Sailing with my family, going to the beach, enjoying the outdoors. Playing with my little brother because he was the cutest baby ever!

What are you passionate about?

Family, friends, and living life to its fullest.

What are you excited about right now?

I’m looking forward to an amazing summer! Thank you for this interview!

*Thank you, Caroline!

Tara Laughton Says, “Be around positive like-minded people, and do things that you love and make you happy. Don’t try to change yourself for others or what is presented to you as beautiful by the media. Bask in your own difference—it’s what makes you, you.”

Posted in Australia, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Designers, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Food, Hobbies, Inspiration, Media, Models, Music, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, Travel, Unique Beauty with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 19, 2011 by Liz

I’m Tara Laughton. I love being a model with all the dressing up, makeup, and being in front of the camera.  I’m signed with Bella Model Management, Click Model Management, Okay Models Hamburg, and UK Model Management.   Some of my clients include, Cosmo, David Jones, Myer, Australian Womens Weekly Magazine, TVSN (Television Shopping Network), Bild der Frau, Maggie T, Ezibuy, Sara, and Prima Magazine.  I love summer, warm weather and sand, making bracelets, being with friends, enjoying great food, and I loooove to see a great movie.

Please tell us where you are from, and how you got started in the modeling business. 

I’m from Sydney, Australia.  I first went to a modeling agency when I was twelve as I stopped growing at eleven and was super tall.  However, I didn’t start modelling until I was seventeen. I met someone who knew an agency owner and was happy to take me in to see them.  I started working straight away.  However, I worked for a few years but then had trouble keeping my weight down.  So, I kept involved in the industry organizing parades, dressing models, and styling.  I’d often kept trying to diet, which disheartened me. It’s frustrating in hindsight that I kept trying to change myself.  So, I had someone mention that a plus model agency had started and Chelsea was the person to call.  My first job was David Jones Catalogue.  And I haven’t looked back it’s been a great journey!

Please tell us about the Model Mentor Program.

It’s about educating young girls about the modeling industry, teaching them what is expected of them as a model on jobs, and teaching them to treat themselves as a professional within it.  If you prepare and present yourself as a professional, people love that.  And also, about getting girls to nurture themselves in a positive way, to accept themselves as they are, and believe in themselves because within the industry there can be a lot of rejection and you need to prepare yourself for that.  I also have a course for girls who may not become models, but want to know all about how to learn tricks for taking great photos, how to walk like they’re on a catwalk, and to also get them to learn about themselves in a positive way and to accept who they are as they are to be more confident in their world.  Just wanting to spread the positive body image to all young people, how to be a lady, and present yourself well. 

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 have struggled with my weight. It was really hard when I couldn’t keep my weight down for so called “straight sized” modelling, and I always got told you need to lose weight you’ll never be able to model unless you’re smaller.  So it’s a real blessing to be able to model for plus size, be accepted to do so, and to show women a different shape and size that they might identify with and just see the energy of the photo.  I hope they see my happiness, find their happiness and love, and accept who they are as themselves!  It’s taken me a while to accept myself at different weights and to just be happy no matter what!  I think the trick is kindness to oneself.  Do what you love–it will make you glow with confidence and positivity.  It’s always an evolving process of accepting and loving yourself the same with life always evolving, changing, and learning more.

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

Talk to other supportive women and friends or seek professional help!  Always remember you are beautiful just as you are!!! Be around positive like-minded people, and do things that you love and make you happy.  Don’t try to change yourself for others or what is presented to you as beautiful by the media. Bask in your own difference—it’s what makes you, you.

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

I love that I’ve been able to travel overseas. I get such an excited giddy feeling when about to get on an overseas flight traveling to New York, Hamburg, & London and to work there has been such a gift.

Who do you consider a role model or hero?  Why

All women. We all have a story, and I love hearing and asking questions about people’s lives.  But as far as women I’ve seen in images, I love Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe, Marie Cotillard, and Crystall Renn.

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

I like girly feminine skirts and dresses–nothing too short on me!  So I like to shop for vintage dresses from the 50’s, Country Road, and I like some Ralph Lauren dresses. I basically see what I like, and I’m not too fussy on the designers.  But I also love some jeans, little flats with a white singlet, add bright accessories, a great handbag, and sunglasses.

Do you have a favorite workout routine?  

I love the x-trainer at the gym, but I really like to do some exercise every day. It’s good for your mind and helps you sleep well.  So, I do cardio and weights most days of the week.  And if I get sick of the gym, it’s always great to get outside and walk or swim at the beach more especially in Summer.

Who do you consider a role model or hero?  Why

All women. We all have a story, and I love hearing and asking questions about people’s lives.  But as far as women I’ve seen in images, I love Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe, Marie Cotillard, and Crystall Renn.

What is your go-to outfit?

Either a great dress and heels or white singlet and jeans!

What are your beauty must haves? 

Moisturise, moisture–mist some paw paw ointment on my lips, and I love those makeup wipes so quick and easy when you’re in a hurry!

Lipstick or Lipgloss?

Gloss, but I love red lipstick!  I have a Chanel compact that has red in four textures, gloss, matte, metallic, and moisturizing lipstick!

What beauty invention has made the greatest impact on your life?

Toe nail polish–the lovely colours so uplifting for my mind on my toes. I love Klorane dry shampoo–extends the life of a great blow dry and texturizes the hair when trying to make lush beach wavy hair!

What do you wish you would have known at age 13? 

The confidence I have now to speak up for myself and that everything would be ok.  I worried a lot.

What is your signature scent?

Philosykos by Diyptique and Bronze Goddess by Estee Lauder.

What would your perfect day be like?

I love to go to the gym early to wake myself up. A nice omelette for breakfast.  Get myself ready. I love that getting ready part–doing your hair and makeup, and you just know what you want to wear and you feel good. Then go out with girlfriends for lunch and hear what they’re up too. Perhaps some time at the beach.  I really love a good movie too.


What is your favorite meal? 

Hmm. That’s hard. It could be a lush steak and salad or another day I feel like ice cream… I love macaroons and pear jelly belly beans! I have a sweet tooth.  But, I like the way more whole food make me feel and how good it is for you.

What is a fun fact about you? 

I think I’m pretty good and being silly in a fun way–just not taking myself to seriously, but maybe that’s not so much a fun fact!  Just check out this… my favourite song  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxzN5hB0Kqk

What is one of your favorite childhood memories?

All the horse riding I did. I just love horses. They are so beautiful.

For those of us who haven’t traveled to Australia, please tell us a little about your homeland.

I guess it’s a pretty relaxed way of life. Everyone loves the beaches, coastal life of surf and sand, and then when you head into the centre of Australia—its vast dry red dirt and the magnificent Uluru and Northern Territory has such amazing wildlife. I spent some time camping there.  There’s a lot to experience here. Seeing Sydney Harbour is so amazing when you come home from overseas.  But I so want to travel back overseas to Europe and America. It’s always amazing seeing what you don’t have at home and experiencing new cultures and ways of life… all the diversity.

What makes you uniquely beautiful?

I love my smile and eyes. They are what I most notice in other people to see how they’re feeling.  I’ve also been told that my laugh is pretty funny and memorable!
“I don’t diet. I don’t believe in it.”

Are there any special projects that you are involved with that you would like us to tell the readers about? 

I’m about to be the face of a fabulous product and that’s all I can say about that!  I’ve also been making some gorgeous bracelets made of semi-precious materials, silver, and glass with cute charms and medals, which I love making. I’ve included kids’ bracelets and hair clips. I’ve been selling them to local markets and people in New York and London purchased some. I’ve called it Ladybird T you can find it on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Ladybird-T/153538161328739.

Olivia Coyne Says, “Be kind to yourself – you only have one body, one life, and only the moment to live it.”

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Australia, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Designers, Eating Disorders, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Funny Experiences, Hobbies, Inspiration, Media, Models, News, Parenting, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2011 by Liz

Photographed by Claudio Raschella

Olivia Coyne is a plus model from Australia who is signed with Bella Model Management.

How did your career start as a model?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been told I should be a model. I took it as a compliment and never thought anything much of it, “thank you…how kind…maybe one day.” It wasn’t until my boss, a woman whose opinion I value very highly, said to me that I should try out to be a plus-size model. I knew that there were plus-size models in the market, but I never knew how to tap into it. I called BELLA late one night after work and Chelsea answered. We spoke for ten minutes, I sent off a few pictures, went in for an interview, and it’s just been a rollercoaster ride since then. Yes, it would’ve been nice to have a ‘scouted’ story, walking down the street, someone saw me etc. – but I think my story is one of ambition and having a goal and doing something about it. I would still be walking up and down the street waiting for someone to see me – hello, see me!! Ha!

Have you always known you wanted to be a model?

The fashion and media industry is always something I’ve had an interest in–catwalks, magazines, clothes, shopping, trends, designers, and of course the models, did I mention magazines? I used to read Vogue every month religiously and the models were untouchable. They were the girls that didn’t exist in this world; they were from somewhere else. I idolized them and wanted to know all I could about their lives. I think it when I hit 14-15 years old and I realized I could never look like those girls. I didn’t have the frame for it, and once I researched it a bit, I didn’t really care too much for the unhealthy lifestyle. I had to keep reminding myself that the size 4-8 models are built that way – you cannot change your body type, but you can change your attitude. Knowing that there are other young girls out there, like I was, idolizing these models, scares me sometimes. I only hope young women understand that international catwalk models are from, another world, they are born with a frame and structure that can hold minimum body fat – it’s not normal. Yes, they make it work for them, but for the rest of the population, a healthy lifestyle should be the main aim of the game – physically and mentally.

What are your thoughts on the term ‘plus’ size model?

I think the market is calling us ‘plus-size’ because they’re still coming to terms with the fact that ‘plus-size’ models have made it onto the scene and we’re making a breakthrough. The industry has really embraced plus-size models and it has all happened so fast – the demand was there and the models were waiting! I think in time, the term will fade, just as the idea of being plus size will become the norm and accepted as regular. Plus size is only used in the industry because next to the Vodinova’s, Kerr’s, and Buchanan’s we are plus size – the industry will adapt in time. It’s a positive step and every client that uses and embraces plus-size models should be recognized as making a conscious effort to improve the standards of Australia’s media credibility.

Photographed by Claudio Raschella

Have you ever struggled with self-esteem or body image issues? If so, what advice would you give to girls and women who are currently struggling?

When I was younger, I always knew I was different, taller, broader, and conscious of my demeanor; that I wasn’t like all the other girls. People, friends, and even strangers would comment on my physical appearance and the way I carried myself even before I opened my mouth or they knew my name. I just thought that this happened to everyone – apparently not. I knew that I could never be as thin as my friends or as skinny as the models on the catwalk, and that in itself took some time to develop – but still I beat myself up about it inside. I went through a period where I had a distorted view of what was right and wrong for my body. I would count calories and monitor my eating patterns and those of others. I was consumed by consumption. The light bulb moment for me, and I still have them, is seeing young women, thin young women who cannot exercise, have a fun night out, hold a conversation, or have no energy for life all because they are still obsessed by their eating habits and have no time to enjoy eating. The relationship I have with food is healthy and realistic. I view food as energy for living, one needs healthy nutritious food and often. Food is entertaining with friends, its long lunches, relaxing dinners, healthy lunches, and respecting food and nutrition.

What does being healthy mean to you?

Healthy means balance. Healthy means having a sustainable lifestyle and not living to excess – moderation is key. There’s not much to it really. Yes, it’s easy to stray off track every now and then, but that’s the whole idea of moderation and balance – off track, on track.

What are you currently dreaming of?

I dream of Sydney, I’ve dreamt of Sydney, I longed for Sydney – I love this city. I embrace this city with everything I have. I’m dreaming of New York though – I want to love that city. I want to live in New York – soak myself in New York and embrace and encourage New York – I want to love New York.

Photographed by Claudio Raschella

Where do you love to shop for clothes?

I love Oxford St in Sydney – untapped treasures and local designers. Some of my favourite everyday day brands include Country Road, Sussans (this goes with that), Witchery, General Pants Co for something different and edgy, David Jones for the latest collections, Myer for the sales, and Cosmopolitan Shoes when I like to dream.

What is your go-to outfit?

Every day, anytime is jeans, flat shoes, singlet top and cardi, necklace, and scarf. Nighttime – invited out – nothing to wear is long black strapless dress, high heels, messy tousled hair, smoky eyes, sparkly earrings, and clutch. It’s all about working with what you have, confidence but not too much. You’re out to have a good time, day or night; you have to be comfortable in your own skin. You have to love yourself first before someone else can. Be confident and others will see that in you and respect you for it.

What is your fashion obsession?

Okay, here it is – my fashion obsessions – through and through, for a number of years now, I’m prepared to admit it, just between you and me – scarves and necklaces. I wear scarves around my neck, on my head, tied to a handbag, around my waist as a belt, around my wrist as a top over jeans or a kaftan on the beach– anywhere. Thick, woolly, loose, thin, patterned, plain, beaded, decorative, warm, short, homemade, knitted, long with tassels or fringes, or silk. If you have it–I want it, if I own it, I’ll wear it. Necklaces are a guilty and my not so private obsession. As with the scarves, wear them any which way or whatever, big, small, heavy or light, charmed or simple, multi stranded–accessories are made to be worn and adored.

What are your favorite beauty products or must-haves?

30+ SPF tinted sunscreen, Estee Lauder Double Wear eyeliner, Avon mascara, and pale lip balm. I’m into dark eyes and light lips at the moment, I’m tapping into a 60’s mod theme, trying to make it work for me! I hope it’s working for me. Ha.

Do you have a favorite skin care line?

I believe in switching skin care regimes and brands every few months. One must keep the skin guessing, it should not get too comfortable. Just as your life and routines change, so too should your skin care regime, but keeping a few reliable staple items. I’ve always used a Garnier deep pore face wash and Nivea Crème. I add in Garnier Caffeine Eye Roll On, L’Oreal Night Cream, and L’occitane hand cream. Always drink at least two liters of water a day – good skin comes from the inside out – but great products always help!

What is a quick beauty tip you would like to share with us?

Always wear sunscreen; it’s plain, simple and makes sense. Australia has such a harsh climate that we cannot afford not to wear sunscreen, at least 30+, and if it’s tinted, that’s another plus! Also, don’t ever forget to wash your make up off – panda eyes are never a good look, not matter how much fun the night before was!

Favorite nail color?

Dark red. It’s seductive at nighttime, and fresh and fun during the day. It goes with most items of clothing and jewelry sparkles 10 times as much against the dark hue.

Photographed by Claudio Raschella

Do you have a favorite workout?

My favourite workout routine is a run or walk – I have the route down pat!  I’m such a local, I love this city!

What are your favorite sites to visit online?

Vogue.com.au, has great info, latest trends, great catwalk clips from around the globe, good tips, and up to date product releases – what better way to love a magazine than to love its online sister! I also love Taste.com.au – 3 o’clock in the afternoon – quick, what’s for dinner!?

If I turned on your iPod, what would be playing? 

Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Miami Horror, the Bagraiders, Temper Trap, and Madeline Peyroux – nothing wrong with a bit of a mix!

If you had one piece of advice to give other girls your age, what would it be? 

Be kind to yourself – you only have one body, one life, and only the moment to live it. Respect your body for what it is. Don’t ever get hung up on what you’re not, what you don’t have, or where you’re not. Love your body and understand it. Respect your shape and make it work in your favour. Play around with shapes and styles, experiment with colours and looks – have fun with your look. Don’t be hung up on your appearance, there is more to a young woman than the way she looks. Personality and confidence is key and it’s something that people can sense. Others sense when you are not comfortable in your own skin and when you hide who you really are – be yourself and others can love you for it.

What do your friends think of your modeling career? 

My friends support my decision and are very excited in its developments – like most people they are astounded that as a size 12, is considered plus size. The term is not an accurate view of models in the industry today. 12 + is the average – it is about transforming the view of society to understanding that plus size is not plus size.

What is the best gift you’ve given to someone?

I think the best gifts are experiences. I’ve given concert tickets, centrepoint tower climbs, restaurant vouchers, and tours. The best presents are those you cannot buy yourself and when you share an experience with someone, the memories are endless.

Photographed by Claudio Raschella

What makes you uniquely beautiful?

My attitude. I am a very optimistic person and I like to see the best in everyone. I believe in living in the moment and making the most of every experience. Learn from people and learn from mistakes. I think my attitude for myself has developed immensely in the last few years. I’ve learnt to love who I am and recognize what I have to offer others. One’s attitude should be reflective of values and morals, a way of life.

What is your biggest accomplishment? 

Buying my apartment. It was such an adventure to get to where I am now. The saving, the paperwork, the solicitors, the real estate agents, the open houses, the schedules, and finally the settlement, it was almost like a part-time job – glad to be on the other side of it. I learnt a lot about the industry and a lot about myself. About what I value, the lifestyle I was after, and what I wanted from owning an apartment. My family was very supportive throughout the entire process; I couldn’t have done it without them.

What is the best thing your family does to support you?

The best thing my family has done for me is support me in my decisions and respect my opinions. I was never forced to do anything I didn’t believe in. Never underestimate the value of a steady support network – friends and family that are there for you, through it all. Those who support your values and share common morals. Being able to make your own decisions, your own mistakes, and learn from them is a big part of growing up. The key is growing old without growing old. Always maintain a sense of youth and ensure those around you respect you for it.

Who is your role model or hero? Why?

My mother is my role model. Karen is supportive and strong. She is loving, caring, patient, and funny. My Mum has always been there for me–an ear to listen and advice for any occasion. Her sense of style, self-worth, and respect – I have learnt a lot and will continue to learn from her every day. We chat every other day and catch up on the happening of the week. Stories galore. She fills me in on the family life, and I update her on the adventures I have in Sydney.

Tell us a fun fact about you…

I’ve been skydiving in Prague. I have a tattoo of a star on my wrist that I got with my Mum. I lived overseas for four years when I was young; I went to American International Schools. Sometimes my American accent comes out when I’m telling a story or singing a song. If I ever meet an American, the accent comes out straight away – it’s tragic! I own my apartment, bought it 18 months ago; hello mortgage and principal & interest repayments! Is that fun ?

What are you excited about right now?

I am excited for Summer 2011! The word of the Summer is ‘balance’. Work hard, play hard, eat well, and sleep deeply (on Sunday nights!).

Thank you, Olivia!

Alison Hamata Says, “Be comfortable in your own skin, love what you have, and work it!”

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Designers, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Ford +, Inspiration, Models, New York, Unique Beauty with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2011 by Liz

Alison Hamata is a plus model from Canada who is signed with Liz Bell in Vancouver, Canada and Ford + in New York.

Tell us how you felt when you signed with Ford NY!

Signing with Ford was an awesome experience. I was definitely a little nervous, but so excited to start this new chapter in my life. When I first walked into their office, I was a little intimidated, but everyone there was so welcoming and enthusiastic so it was definitely a cool experience.

What has your experience been like so far… being a Ford + Model and living in NYC!!!

Being a Ford + Model has been a really great experience. Living in NYC and being a Ford Model has been really cool. I think it has matured me and made me a stronger and more confident person.

How do you define the term ‘plus’ model?  What is the reaction you get when you tell others you are a ‘plus’ model?

Well technically, it’s someone above size 6. But I define it as a healthy, beautiful, and confident girl. The reaction I get is always a positive one. Mainly the reaction I get is that they say we are such great role models, and that makes me proud.

What do your friends think of your modeling career?

I have the best friends; they are all incredibly supportive.

What did your parents say when you told them that you wanted to be a model?

I first got approached when I was 11; actually by Ford NY. Of course, my parents said no way because I was far too young. But later on when I was about 16, I was approached again by Liz Bell Agency, an Agency in Vancouver, and they were much more comfortable with the idea.

What are your goals for your future?

I would love to go to University get a degree as well as play volleyball on the University team, go to cooking school, travel the world, get really good at hockey, learn to play the drums, oh, and world domination.

In your spare time, what do you enjoy doing for fun?

I really love cooking. I watch the Food Network way too much for my own good. I also love playing any type of sports, especially volleyball, soccer, and field hockey. I read a lot and of course hanging out with my friends and boyfriend.

What would be your ideal date?

My ideal date would be doing something spontaneous like going on an adventure or doing something out of the ordinary. However, it should always end with lounging on the couch with popcorn and a movie. I think you can get to know someone best when you take them out of the everyday routine.

What 5 items are in your handbag that you couldn’t live without?

Gum, hand lotion, iPod, a novel, and lip balm.

What’s playing on your iPod?

The new Chromeo album, Miike Snow, The Strokes, The Black Keys, Counting Crows, Cut Copy… too much to name!

How do you stay fit and healthy?

I usually go to the gym 3 or 4 times a week. My routine is 40 minutes cardio, 20 minutes strength, and 20 minutes core. As far as eating, I think you can have everything as long as it’s in moderation. I’m a vegetarian too, so I think that helps with being healthy.

How would you describe your style?

I would describe my style as edgy but with feminine accents.

What is your go-to outfit?

Right now my go-to outfit would be my black skinny jeans, my dark grey suede combat boots, white and navy striped t-shirt, my military green style belted anorak, and because it’s freezing out, a scarf and slouchy pompom toque.

Favorite jeans…

I just bought a pair of black Citizens of Humanity skinny jeans from Anthropology and they are crazy soft!! I love them.

Style Icon…
I love Zooey Deschanel’s style. Her outfits always have classic cuts with a 1940’s girly style, but with a cool twist.

Signature Scent…

Mark Jacobs Daisy

How do you define beauty?

Well, my Mom always says “It’s what’s on the inside that counts”. And that’s so true. Beauty to me is not only what’s outside, but mainly what is on the inside. Outer beauty will fade with age, but what you are like as a person will always remain.

What is the best beauty advice you have ever been given?

Be comfortable in your own skin, love what you have, and work it!

Lipstick or Lip gloss?

Lip Gloss. My very favourite is Smith’s Rosebud Salve. It’s not sticky and it makes my lips so soft.

What makes you uniquely beautiful?

I think I am a genuine person, I try to always be kind and caring.

What is one of your fondest childhood memories?

Spaghetti Fridays with my family. Also learning to cook and bake with my Grandma Karen.

What do you miss most about your homeland, Canada?

I miss everything! The mountains, beaches, and all its beauty. My family, friends, and boyfriend of course. Oh, and poutine. Which I’m 98% sure you don’t know what that is. Let me tell you. Fries covered in gravy covered in cheese curds. Yes, genius.

What is a fun fact about you?

I’m obsessed with the TV show The Office. Jim is amazing. I will marry him one day.

What is your philosophy?

Do what makes you happy, treat others as you’d like to be treated, stay true to yourself no matter what, and no regrets.

Thank you, Alison!

International Model Bree Warren Says, “Everyone has those moments of self-doubt and times you wish you could wave a magic wand but at the end of the day, you need to have faith in yourself.”

Posted in Australia, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Designers, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Inspiration, Media, Models, Plus-Size Modeling, Shopping, Travel, Unique Beauty, Wilhelmina with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2011 by Liz

Bree Warren grew up in Brisbane, Australia. She is a newcomer on the international modeling scene after spending three years studying Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Journalism before taking up modeling full-time in late 2010. Bree is currently signed with Wilhelmina NYC, Brigitte Models Germany, Hughes Models London, Dallys Models Brisbane, and BGM in Sydney. She comes from a really sporty family and has grown up playing loads of different sports. After high school at age 18, she traveled the world on a gap year visiting twenty different countries and has even spent time surfing in Canary Islands, Hawaii, and Bali. Bree wants to encourage young women to have confidence in themselves.

Please tell us how you started your career as a model. Was modeling something that you always wanted to pursue and why?

I was approached when I was shopping in Brisbane and a few days later, I signed with Dallys. At the time, I was at a university and working part-time for a TV station, so it started off as a side project. In July 2010, I decided I wanted to try modeling full-time so I booked a flight to NYC and signed with Wilhelmina. It has all gone on from there.

Obviously I knew about modeling, and I have always loved fashion but I wouldn’t say it’s something that I had always wanted to do. I was given a couple of agency cards when I was a teenager but I was really busy with school and sports so I never did anything about it.

What does the term ‘plus’ model mean to you? Do you think of term “Plus” as offensive?

Modeling (like any industry) has different roles and requirements, ‘plus’ is just one of those. The term doesn’t faze me at all. Models can be plus, straight, editorial, runway, commercial, or catalogue and it’s all part of the job. There’s a really big range in shapes and sizes even for plus models so if anything it keeps the fashion industry interesting. I don’t really think it should be thought of as one vs. the other. Curves or no curves – there is definitely room for both!

What do you enjoy most about modeling?

Every time you work, it’s totally different. I like the travel, variety, and fast pace of it all.

In terms of your career, where would you love to see yourself in 5 years? Who would you LOVE to work with and why?

I would love to say I’m someone who has everything planned out and organized…but I’m so not. I don’t like to get too far ahead of myself so I’m just taking the opportunities and doing the best I can. Hopefully, I will be working with some big names and travelling to beautiful places.

Do you have any funny modeling stories you would like to share with us?

I once wore a dress made out of chocolate by couture designer Richard De Chazal. It was quite funny because it was a hot day and the bodice kept melting in the sun during the press conference.

Is there one person you have met in this industry that has had a positive impact on your life in a big way?

I don’t think there is any one person but the industry has so many creative and engaging people who have a lot to offer. I almost take something different away from each person I meet.

Do you have a favorite workout routine?

Ha ha. I wouldn’t call it a ‘favourite’ but I try to fit in the gym whenever I can. Unfortunately, most of the fun outdoor workouts don’t go so well with the London winter.

What has been the piece of advice you have ever been given?

Be confident with who you are, work with what you have, and most of all be a nice person.

Have you ever suffered from body image or self-esteem issues? If so, what advice would you give to young girls and women who are currently struggling?

Everyone has those moments of self-doubt and times you wish you could wave a magic wand but at the end of the day, you need to have faith in yourself. Sometimes life can be a little suffocating so work out what your strengths are and use them. Don’t waste time with the rest.

What kinds of pressures do you see the girls in your life facing these days? What can we, as mentors, do to better address these issues?

This is hard because the pressures really vary from girl to girl. I think the key is to stay positive and levelheaded about everything in your life. Negativity only attracts more negativity.

Who taught you about real beauty?

My mum. She is so bubbly and always looks amazing despite having one of the most basic beauty regimes I have ever seen. You don’t need all the extras to be beautiful.

What do you wish you would have known at the age of 13?

Don’t wish your life away. Enjoy the age you’re at! Oh and look after your teeth.

Were you ever made fun of or teased as a child?

Of course, there is always the odd joke at your expense but nothing major no. To be honest, I managed to steer pretty clear of all that. I have always been taught to rise above it and treat people how you would like to be treated.   

What is a fun fact about you?

I’ve been mistaken for Nadine Coyle (from Girls Aloud) in London but it doesn’t last long because my accent totally gives it away.

What do you love about living in London?

It is so much fun! There is always so much to do. Sometimes I actually get a bit worried because I don’t want to miss out on anything.

On a day off, how would your perfect day be spent in London?

Brunch at Borough Markets, shopping at Portobello road, and a night out with all my friends anywhere with a good view.

Lipstick or Lip gloss?

‘Melon Mania’ Luminous Lip Veils by Napoleon Perdis

My beauty essentials are…

Benefit Posie Cheek tint, Dior Show Mascara, and Tigi Rockaholic Dry Shampoo.

What is your go-to outfit?

Flowy top, skinny jeans, colourful scarf, and blazer or leather jacket.

What are your favorite pair of jeans?

Bettina Liano

Where do you love to shop for clothes?

New York and London are amazing but sometimes I find the best items in very odd places so my eyes are always peeled. Actually, I’m pretty sure I could find something to buy anywhere. It’s a little bit of a problem!

How would you describe your style?

It goes from one extreme to the other. I don’t think your wardrobe should have rules. I am just as happy at charity shops and flea markets as I am in Marc Jacobs. I am generally pretty casual but I dress it up with chunky jewelry or heels.

What are your favorite sites to visit online?

It’s geeky but I visit the news websites all the time. I like to know what’s going on and it keeps me sane. Style wise I would say Fashiongonerogue.com and Style.com are my favourites. Aside from that, I am on You Tube way too much.

What are you listening to right now?

Passion Pit, Band of Horses, and I have been playing Rolling in the deep by Adele a ridiculous amount of times lately.

What does being healthy mean to you?

Finding the balance between eating well, exercise, and a fun social life.

What makes you uniquely beautiful? What do you love about yourself and why?

I am a pretty happy, easy-going person, and nothing really stresses me out.

In my purse you would find…

A really big mess. I keep bits and pieces of everything. It works well for me but other people might think it’s a bit of a disaster.

What is one of your favorite childhood memories?

Definitely family holidays. My dad has this thing about going to different beaches wherever we are in the world. I have probably been to every single beach on the East Coast of Australia at least once.

What are you excited about right now?

Working in Sydney for a couple of weeks, a holiday in Byron Bay with a big bunch of friends, and finding a new apartment in London!

*Thank you, Bree.

Our Interview with Russian Model Katya Zharkova

Posted in Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Designers, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Inspiration, Media, Models, New York, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, Travel, Unique Beauty, Wilhelmina, Work, Your Story with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2011 by Liz

Katya Zharkova is a plus model from Russia. She was born in a small city called Smolensk, and she grew up in Moscow. Katya started modeling at age fourteen, and still models today at almost thirty years old. She graduated from Moscow University of Art and Culture as a TV producer. She created shows on Russian TV. Her friends advised her to go to a casting call for a TV show in Moscow and she got a second job as a TV presenter. She hosted a show where she helped women love themselves. Before coming to the United States, Katya worked with Russian and European designers. She decided to come to Los Angeles, and signed a contract with Wilhelmina agency and moved to New York. She has worked with Forever 21, Silver Jeans, Pure Energy, Cabi, Avenue, Macys, MC Patterns, Ulla Poken, and Fashion To Figure. Now, she is working on an autobiography – it’s a story about a plus-size model traveling all over the world.

Please tell us how you started your career as a model?

My mom is a photographer. I wasn’t the prettiest newborn, and my grandmother always use to say that I would turn from an ugly duckling into a swan. My mom use to take pictures of me every day thinking that it would help me become prettier. When I was nine, somebody told my mom you have a very cute boy, she decided I should be acting. So, I got the role of a girl who wasn’t very attractive, and every day she sat down in front of the mirror trying to persuade herself she was the most beautiful and charming person in the world. At the end of the movie, she really blossoms into this beautiful thing. That taught me to do the same thing in real life. Later in life, my friend took me to a modeling agency, and the first thing they told me was that they would accept me only if I lost weight and they gave me six months. I tried but didn’t succeed, and in 1997, they opened a plus-size department in her agency. Since then, some of the designers in my town started sewing a plus-size line especially for me. That made me realize I could be on the covers of major magazines and every boy at school who was teasing me about being fat was wrong! At one of the runway shows, I was seen by the editors of Moscow Fashion Magazine and moved to Moscow to work for them and study at the University.

Did you always dream of modeling and why?

My dream started in childhood when I believed in myself and thought I was beautiful, but boys were saying I was fat. I was never skinny, and I liked the fact that I was healthy. I wish there were more people like me on the covers of major magazines–healthy and confident! I want young girls to eat properly without starving themselves just because being skinny is in fashion. I want all the runway models to be size 8-16 and not 0-6. I want plus-size modeling to be popular in fashion all over the world along with the skinny models.

What do you think people would find most surprising about modeling?

There are no real rules in modeling; you never know what will happen tomorrow. You can be very talented with a great portfolio and a great body, but there are millions of beautiful and talented people. You have to be very lucky to get the job. It’s the way things happen. Modeling is a very tough job and you have to be at the right time at the right place.

Did modeling come naturally to you?

I think I blossomed thanks to my beautiful photos that say a lot! I want people to realize that you can be beautiful no matter what size you are. It’s very important to love yourself the way you are!

What did you study while attending Moscow State University?

At the University of Art and Culture, I studied acting, filmmaking, and producing. I use to work and study at the same time, but my mom was always strict with me regarding my education. If I wouldn’t get a degree, she wouldn’t let me go to the United States, so it’s thanks to my mom that I successfully graduated with a degree in Organization of Student Festivals, and wrote a thesis called “Education of young people through TV media”. As I was an experienced model by that time, I was able to work as a host of one of the shows and viewers were happy to see a healthy and beautiful woman. I think the fact that I was plus size made me unique and it also helped me believe that one day I will be on the cover of major fashion magazine.

When you made the decision to move to NYC, what would you say was the biggest culture shock? Did you know how to speak English?

I moved to NY in a rush. I was already living in Los Angeles and working at Wilhelmina. I was enjoying a slow and relaxing way of life–swimming in the ocean and studying English. On the 29th of September, I got an email form Ameerah (she works at Wilhelmina in NYC), and she told me she really liked me and would love to represent me, but that I would have to move to NYC in order to work with her. We discussed it with my LA agent Tricia, and she told me I should definitely go. I already worked with the big labels like Forever 21, Pure Energy, Silver Jeans, and Cabi, so moving to NYC seemed quite logical and it was kind of the next step in my career. So, I rented a car and drove all the way to New York, thinking I must be crazy but that I was reaching my dream. I had a funny incident on the way to New York. I ran out of gas in Philadelphia, so I left the car and had to walk two miles to the nearest gas station. Right after I walked out of the car, I saw a police officer looking at me with a smile and asking me what has happened and if he could help; that was like a scene from a movie. That was a real shocker! He drove me all the way to the gas station and then back leaving with the words, “Welcome to Philadelphia!” All I said was, “I Love you America!”

What do you miss most about your homeland, Russia?

My entire family lives in Russia, and I really miss them. I miss my mom, my niece, my brothers, and my husband. I have a huge family but thanks to Skype, I can see everybody I miss every single day.

What do you love most about living in NYC?

I love the weather in New York; it changes quite fast. Everybody is extremely friendly, and you can say hi to hundreds of people and everybody will react positive.

What would you say is the best advice you have been given, in terms of your career as a model?

Never postpone anything for tomorrow! Love yourself the way you are and people will start loving you. Never give up and all you dreams will come true.

What has been your most memorable modeling experience and why?

So far, the most memorable experience for me was the first shoot abroad–the shoot for the Elena Miro’s magazine. It was shot in Egypt. We were shooting the Spring/Summer collection, and I couldn’t speak English at all. It was a week in a sunny Egypt and my first modeling experience outside of Russia–I was crying from happiness. I realized that my dream came true, and I’m on the cover!

Do you feel plus modeling is helping redefine beauty?

I do believe that plus-size modeling has redefined all the usual beauty standards. It’s very important to live in harmony, be yourself, and do what you love the most. You have to be confident and that’s the only reason I’m here in America right now. I don’t want my kids to ever experience what I went through. Every time I go shopping in Moscow, it’s impossible for me to find anything in my size, especially if it’s something trendy and fashionable. Size 8 is usually the biggest size they carry. My husband and I, once tried to purchase jeans in my size and the shop assistant offered me a men’s model. Of course, we laughed and didn’t take it seriously, but can you imagine how many young girls went through the same issue, thinking, “I’m so big that there are no jeans for me”. And that kills your confidence, society and media creates insecurity for people who are bigger than size 8. That’s how young girls become depressed. I’m strong, but even I had issues trying to find myself and it wasn’t easy.

Have you ever suffered from body image issues? If so, what advice would you give to young girls and women who are currently struggling?

We worry about the way we look because we are trying to find love. We want to be liked. Unfortunately, the reflection in the mirror won’t help you find happiness. If you have a strong personality, and if you can laugh and enjoy yourself, people will accept you the way you are. Also, you might think that skinny and beautiful women are happy, that’s not always true. I know so many examples that contradict that. I know so many beautiful Russian celebrities who are miserable in their life! When I ask my husband how he fell in love with me, being so big and not perfect, he doesn’t even understand what I’m talking about. I’m the most perfect person in the whole world for him and the only thing that he remembers when he first met me was my laugh. I truly love to smile. So my advice is the more you laugh the better.

What do you wish you would have known in high school?

My dream from my childhood finally came true, and I see all the boys from school grow up. I see what kind of girls they like now and they realize I’m not fat at all anymore. I would love to have known that in school. Though, I did believe that being slightly bigger than others would help me in life.

Where you ever teased or bullied?

I was teased at school; they used to call me a train and I never understood that. Can I be that huge?

Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?

Would love to be at the Oscars with one in my hands

What is your dream job as a model?

The cover of US Vogue–impossible sometimes can be possible.

On a day off, what would your perfect day consist of?

If I was able to meet up with my friends and enjoy the weekend in a great mood – that means it was a perfect day! Also, I love dancing – it’s always fun!

What is a fun fact about you?

I’m far from perfect when it comes to speaking English and because of that, many of the things that I say generate much laughter among my friends, many times unintentional. But I’m very sincere and emotional, so everybody understands me.

Is there something you have always wanted to learn or try, but haven’t yet?

I want to learn skydiving; one day I’ll do it!

We love your Silver Jeans shots! Please tell us about your experience modeling for Silver Jeans?

I really loved their concept. It’s basically friends on vacation. It was just like my weekends in real life. Talented people around you–jokes, guitar, dancing, and lots of fun. I grew up with my older brother and he always used to invite friends to our parent’s country house; that was a lot of fun. That’s what I experienced again at the Silver jeans shoot. That was a reminder that my dreams were meant to come true, and I was there despite the fact that I’m size 10-12. I was with three beautiful American boys, three skinny models, and me Katya Zharkova, a plus-size model. What else do you need to become happy? Pair of comfortable jeans and real friends close to you.

Do you have a favorite pair of jeans?

My favorite pair of jeans are waiting for me in LA. I was in such a rush when I was moving to New York that I forgot them at my friend’s place. They are light blue in color and they are vintage in look now. They are completely ripped at the knees; that means they went through a lot and you have to respect that. Hopefully, I will be able to get them back soon.

Where so you love to shop for clothes?

I like really unique things and my taste is very eclectic. Clothes reflect your mood and also remind you of the favorite moments of your past. That’s why I kept a lot of pieces that remind me of certain things in my life. When I shop, I usually look for something special. Something that my girlfriend would never pick–something that will show my unique style and reflect my personality. Shopping in the US is amazing because there is a great variety of things in my size and that lets you experiment and find the new you. And, that makes it so interesting.

Who is your style icon?

I would say Marilyn Monroe is a style icon because of her Hollywood glamour and a breezy sensuality.

What is your go-to outfit?

Black leather jacket, a pair of dark blue jeans, and of course, a pair of high heels. Russian girls love high heels.

What are your must-haves in your make-up bag?

I always have waterproof mascara. You never know what can happen, so you always want your eyelashes to be at their best! Powder, blush, and, the most important thing–pink lipstick.

Where is your favorite place to snowboard?

I think the mountains of Vancouver are the best place to go snowboarding!

What do you love about yourself and why?

I like the fact that I can enjoy life. I can wake up in the morning and say, “Life I love you”. I can walk around the city, enjoying every moment of it

How do you stay healthy and fit?

Every morning, I eat oatmeal; I also do yoga twice a week–that’s my secret to beauty.

What are you excited about right now?

I’m really excited about going to Seattle, and working for Nordstrom’s. I’ve seen Seattle in so many movies; I would love to see it in real life. And, I’m always looking forward to work!

*Thank you, Katya!