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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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Cheyney Barrieau Says, “Beauty is from within you. It’s not make up, highlights, or the newest trendiest clothing and shoes. Beauty is honesty, beauty is love, and beauty is caring.”

Posted in Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Celebrity, Confidence, Entertainment, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Hobbies, Inspiration, Media, Models, Movies, My Story, Parenting, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Shopping, Wilhelmina, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2011 by Plus-Size Models Unite

Cheyney Barrieau is a veteran of the modeling world. She has worked with many high profile clients including: Brooks Brothers, Talbots, GUESS, Ross Simons, Playtex, Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor, Brookstone and Casio just to name a few.

It all started for Cheyney while walking down 5th Avenue in her hometown of Manhattan one day. She was picked off the street by an editor for Seventeen Magazine and was offered her first job at age 13 – and the rest is history! Her long hours in front of the camera blossomed a fascination and love for all things photography. As a working model, she knows the impact and message a photograph can have and thrives to create beauty and intrigue in all her work. Visit Cheyney Barrieau Photography to learn more about her passion and talent of photography.

Cheyney now resides in West Hartford, CT with her husband Gib and two kids, Lulu and Max and is represented by Wilhelmina NYC.

How did you start your career as a model?

It sort of fell into my lap, actually. An editor from Seventeen Magazine approached me on the street and gave me my first job. I was 13 and had no experience whatsoever, but I was SUPER excited!

What do you find most enjoyable and most challenging about modeling?

I cannot lie – I love the catering! It totally makes my day to walk into a studio and see a complete layout of food just waiting for me. The hardest part is having people constantly point out your flaws straight to your face. It has taken a while to develop a thick skin towards it, but there are still times it feels as if I’ve been slapped in the face. And, for the record–yes, I have been brought to tears at a casting by comments made to me by a potential client. But ONLY once.

What was your most embarrassing modeling experience?

It was early in my career. I was in rehearsal for a runway show I was booked on when during my ‘walk down the catwalk’ the designer shouted out in front of everyone that he thought my thighs were too fat for his clothes. Every hair on my neck stood up on end and I felt a huge burning sensation come over my entire body. I was humiliated beyond belief. Everyone, including other models, had heard this but, by the grace of God, my face didn’t react and I held my cool. Somehow, I stayed straight-faced even though I was SO close to tears. I didn’t want to let anyone see me crumble–I had to handle it elegantly. I have never forgotten that incident and, unfortunately, never will.

When you started out, where you a “natural” or did it take quite a bit of practice? What advice would you give to aspiring models, as they pursue their own careers in the modeling industry?

When I started out modeling, I went from zero to sixty in one job. It was a crash course in modeling 101, and I was terrified. I knew nothing and tried not to show my rookie status. I remember faking that I knew what to do, how to walk, how to pose, etc. but I’m sure someone must have seen through it at some point. Modeling always takes practice–You can start a natural, but to evolve. You need to practice no matter who you are. Lots of people approach me and ask me how to break into the business. I tell them to start right at the beginning. Get some pictures and start submitting to agencies. I do warn them about the commitment level they need to have and to also know that there is a huge percentage of rejection. It would be wrong of me as a mentor to mislead aspiring models in saying it’s an easy business and everyone is trustworthy.

When you tell others that you are a ‘plus’ model, what is their reaction? How do you define the term ‘plus’ model?

I get bewildered reactions. Most people I tell are not in the industry, and they don’t understand that a size 8 is plus in the fashion world. You should hear what people say when I tell them about that–they are appalled! It’s hard having to explain the plus-size modeling/straight-size modeling issue to people; they don’t always understand.

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

I don’t have an all-time favorite model, but I do have an all-time favorite modeling era–the 90’s. The music video for George Michael’s Freedom was one of the best music videos ever made. Those four gals are icons.

What would we find in your handbag? (Since you are a mama, I’m sure you have just about everything in there! lol)

Besides the sea of diapers, sippy cups, and snacks, I always have my phone, wallet, sunglasses, a Pellegrino Limonata, several chapsticks, and my iPad. Whether I need to pull up Sesame Street episodes on iTunes or just mess around on Facebook while waiting at a casting, it’s the most convenient piece of technology ever!

Favorite movie?

Toss up between Back to the Future and Weekend at Bernies. 

Favorite Books?

Frank McCourt’s books make me laugh out loud.

How do you like to start your day?

C.O.F.F.E.E.

How do you define beauty?

Beauty is from within you. It’s not make-up, highlights, or the newest trendiest clothing and shoes. Beauty is honesty, beauty is love, and beauty is caring. Beauty is putting others before yourself, and realizing that good deeds are returned tenfold. 

Tell us about your beauty routine…

Hair ~ I have a TON of hair. It’s daunting. John Frieda’s Sheer Blonde products and Acai Brazilian Blowout Conditioner are a MUST. Frederik Fekkai’s Glossing Cream is always within arm’s reach at all times. My hair gets grumpy when I let it air dry because its wavy, so I blow dry it straight then use a 2′ barrel iron for those Victoria Secret type waves. SO worth the time and effort. I always get asked for lessons!

Make-Up ~ If I’m lucky enough to have a few minutes to put on make up in the morning, concealer, and eye liner are my must haves. I don’t get a lot of sleep with a three month old, so I need all the help I can get to make my eyes look refreshed and cheery!

Skin ~ I always exfoliate–it makes a HUGE difference in your skins appearance (and also how make up sits on it). After that, toner and moisture are my staples–you can never have too much moisturizer in the winter months!

Fragrance ~ Issey Miyake. Enough said.

What is your go-to outfit?

Jeans and a black V-neck Sweater.

Lipstick or Lip gloss?

When chapstick isn’t dressy enough, I’m a lip gloss gal. MAC lip gloss in Prrr.

You have been married for 4 years…what do you enjoy most about married life? What is one thing you love about your husband?

Married life is great. We were married at 22 years old, right out of college. Most people looked at our situation with wide eyes and dropped jaws–they couldn’t understand why we would get married at such a young age. We are both very old school traditional and we really wanted to start a family. My husband is my best friend. We do everything together. We can finish each others sentences, or look at each other and just know what were thinking without saying a word. I love his sense of humor and he can always make me laugh!

What do you and your husband enjoy doing together?

We both have our hands full right now with work and kids, so just sitting with each other on the couch at night to watch our favorite TV shows is a real treat. 

You are a mother of two BEAUTIFUL children. What has motherhood taught you?

Wow – being a mom is no simple task. It is 24/7 on duty and making sure everything is the best it can be, given the circumstances. Motherhood has taught me about what is REALLY important in life. Sweating the small stuff is SO overrated–there is a bigger picture that you need to see. It’s not about me anymore – it’s about my kids and what they need. 

What is your favorite part of being a mother right now?

My 18-month-old daughter has just learned to hug. It is the most amazing thing to feel her little arms wrap around your thigh and squeeze tight. 


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

No diaper changing, silence, and an antique store.

What are you passionate about?

I love photography and getting that perfect shot that speaks to you. 

What is a fun fact about you?

My grandfather, Nunnally Johnson, was an Academy Award nominated screenwriter and producer. He was under contract with 20th Century Fox and launched the careers of Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall, and, Betty Grable among others into super stardom. He has written and produced many films such as, How to Marry a Millionaire, The 3 Faces of Eve, The Dirty Dozen, and The Grapes of Wrath. You can find more at films at imdb.com. He cast my grandmother, Dorris Bowdon Johnson, as Rosa Sharon in The Grapes of Wrath against Henry Fonda. Dorris and Nunnally were Hollywood royalty back in the day. My grandmother would tell me story after story about Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall, and Humphrey Bogart–who she lovingly and comfortably referred to as “Bogey”. My grandparents were a super social couple back in the day. She always had the behind the scenes stories and anecdotes that no one else new.

I loved the story of Marilyn and my grandmother crammed in a bathroom stall at the film premiere of How to Marry a Millionaire desperately trying to get Marilyn out of a dress she had been sewn into because she desperately needed to go to the bathroom. Designers would bid to make gowns and clothes for my grandmother for all her film premiers and gala events. None of those gals had model bodies in today’s standards. They were all size 8-10-12 and they were considered the most beautiful women in the world. Marilyn had a chest the size of Texas and that would never hold up in today’s world of modeling. The girls of the past used their womanly curves to their advantage–and boy did it work for them! Nowadays, plus-size models are compared to Marilyn Monroe and that’s an honor to me!!

Not only are you a model, but you are a photographer as well! What inspired you to get into photography?

I LOVE taking pictures! Modeling has really taught me so much about photography and what it means to take a great picture. I love how people can speak through the lens.

Do you find it hard to balance work and family life? What have you found that is helpful in keeping a balanced life?

Working while having a family is difficult. There seems like there is never enough time for both. Making sure you have time for yourself and your interests keeps you sane.

What are you excited about right now?

Right now, I am excited about the simple things in life: Preschool for my daughter, belly laughs from my 3 1/2 month old son, and a date night for my husband and me!

Thank you, Cheyney!

International Model Robyn Lawley Says, “There is So Much More to Life Than Fitting Into Size 6 Jeans, and I’m Glad I Realized This Sooner Than Later.”

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Australia, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Celebrity, Confidence, Entertainment, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Funny Experiences, Hobbies, Inspiration, Media, Models, Movies, Music, New York, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Radio, Recipes & Food, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Sports, Trade Tips, Travel, Unique Beauty, Wilhelmina, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 18, 2010 by Liz

Cosmopolitan Magazine

Robyn Lawley is a plus model from Sydney, Australia. She is signed with Bella Model Management in Australia, Model Management in the UK, Okay models in Germany, and Wilhelmina in NYC, USA.  Some of her clients are David Jones, Nordstrom, Cosmopolitan magazine, Madison Magazine, Kohl’s, New Look, Spirito, Ezibuy, and more. Robyn enjoys films, music, making music, watercolor painting, cooking, eating, rock climbing, and traveling.

Robyn wrote, “I’m a model beyond a size 10 and I love my job. I get to travel the world, and at the same time promote healthy shapes and let audiences know that it’s okay to be who you are. Embrace your body for what it is, exercise, eat as healthy as you can, and have fun. There is so much more to life than fitting into size 6 jeans, and I’m glad I realized this sooner than later.”

Photographed by Kane Skeener for Cosmopolitan Magazine

How did you begin your modeling career?

She started modeling at the age of sixteen, when I won a modeling magazine competition, but I didn’t model for long, as I struggled to keep my weight down. Two years later after seeing success in Abby Valdes and Crystal Renn, I signed with Chelsea from Bella Model Management.

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

I think all women and men, for that matter, go through this most days. Try to focus on something else; sometimes we get so self involved that we miss out on everything passing us by. Take up a sport you enjoy or a hobby you would like to start. Confidence can come from achieving even the smallest of things.

Try not to compare your body to that of celebrities or top models because what you see is not always true (especially with Photoshop ruling the planet). Work with the body type that you have and just enjoy that you can see, that you can hear, and that you can walk. Both my mother and my older sister have worked, and still are working, with disabled people and it really can make you think that spending so much time pinpointing your flaws is hiding what you are really about.

Photographed by Simon Upton for Madison Magazine

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

I think the most troubling thing is the amount of concern that we have over beauty. We no longer even care if someone has a good soul; we care more if they have lost the most weight or are taking up a certain exercise. I hate when I start researching what a celebrity does; it gets so time consuming. Later, I think my god I could have been practicing guitar or rock climbing. I just wish the beauty/entertainment industry didn’t have such a hold over our self-esteem. I do remember, though, when I was fourteen, I had no idea what cellulite was until I saw a magazine in a grocery store harpooning females with it on their cover. I remember going home straight away to inspect my thighs. From then on, I always wore board shots; even in competitive swimming. Did I have cellulite? No, I didn’t, but that magazine made me feel ashamed of my body. I will always blame them for making women, especially teenage girls, feel ashamed of their bodies. We should be empowering women and pushing them further in their lives, not making them inspect their thighs.

Having just recently moved to NYC, what has your experience been like so far?

It’s tricky to say; I both love and hate NYC. It’s just so different from Australia. It can be a shock to the system. I feel like I’m riding a rollercoaster—from crazy parties to crazy people chasing you to awesome shopping. It’s definitely one of a kind.

Where do you like to shop for clothes?

LONDON!!! It’s the best place to shop in the world. I love Camden markets and Topshop UK. I am finding Williamsburg, Brooklyn (where I live) has awesome vintage.

Photographed by Georges Antoni

Do you have a favorite workout routine?

I love playing sports. One thing I miss is team sports. I can’t do any because my routine is so out of whack with modeling. I love rock climbing though because it doesn’t feel like exercise; it just feels like a fun challenge and boy it’s challenging. I try to hit the gym about four times a week. I really miss my personal trainers in Sydney, Australia. In NYC, they are so expensive that it’s not worth it. If you find you are a person who lacks the motivation or knowledge, investing in a trainer, even just for a month, is well worth it. Even just to learn the safe way of working out at a gym and what types of exercises are good for your body type.

What are your favorite beauty products or must-haves?

I love Benefits new High Beam face illuminating cream that you put on your cheekbones for the healthy glow, Lancôme’s New Définicils Precious Cells Mascara, and of course, good old trusted Paw Paw ointment for my lips.

Do you have a beauty secret or tip you would like to share with us?

Make sure you wash your face twice a day; tone and then moisturize. Sounds dreary, but once it becomes habit it’s second nature.

Photographed by Kane Skenner for Cosmopolitan Magazine

What are you listening to right now?

EVERYTHING–I LOVE MUSIC! The top five albums I listen to all the time are the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack, The Boat That Rocked soundtrack, Juno soundtrack, the best of Janis Joplin, and La Roux’s first album. But, I like anything from Bloody Beetroots, to Jimi Hendrix, to Rolling Stones. Going to festivals is one of my favorite things to do.

Favorite movie?

Gah, that’s like favorite song–too hard to pick. I’m a movieaholic. My favourite thing is watching a good movie. They can make me feel comforted– especially movies from my childhood. When I’m homesick, I watch all my old favorites.  As a young girl, my dad and mum would drive me and my sisters about an hour to watch movies at the Royal Australian Air Force Base because my dad was in the air force, and tickets were $2 each and we would all get a killer python each. Simple pleasures in life tend to be the best. 🙂

On a day off, what would your perfect day be like?

Waking up to my cute boyfriend back home, then getting sushi with my best girlfriends, later catch a movie with them and my man, and then going dancing at a club with awesome music with my awesome sisters.

What do you love most about modeling?

I love the confidence it gave me. I do admit I was struggling to accept my weight. I just couldn’t get over the fact that I was once an Australian size 6-8 (USA size 4-6). When I joined Bella, my confidence was pretty low, and I doubted that Chelsea, my agent, would sign me. I was lucky she gave me a contract on the spot and about a year later, my confidence was the strongest it had ever been, I felt unstoppable and still do. 🙂

What do you do to prepare for a photo shoot and what are your must haves in your modeling bag?

I wash my hair the night before and put a heat protector on my ends. The morning of, I wash and cleanse my face. I then use a good quality moisturizer and Paw Paw on my lips. I always take my own mascara because I have very sensitive eyes, and I don’t want to obtain any eye conditions.

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

I think most people find modelling very glamorous, but trust me it can be anything but that. I hate when I have to walk around or get something with my hair is in curlers and I look like an old grannie.

I had a funny week though recently, when I was in Fiji for a Cosmopolitan shoot. I decided to go horse riding on my day off. The horse they had was tiny, but I didn’t get to see it until I had paid. I felt sorrier for the horse because it would have to lug me around, but I didn’t want to seem like a chicken so I went riding anyways. Once I had finished my thighs were so sore– more than usual. When I reached the hotel, my inner thighs were blue and bruised so bad that when I showed the stylist, she gasped… LOL–not good for a swimwear shoot.

Photographed by Georges Antoni

We would LOVE to hear about your experience walking in the OneStopPlus.com Fashion Show!

Yeah that was so great, I knew it would be a bid deal, especially when I arrived to see where it was. I was so lucky, I only got the job last minute as I did not go to the casting, they spotted me at a go see and decided to use me.  It was very empowering experience and I hope they do more.

What is a fun fact about you?

I like to do voices. I can do Gollum from lord of the rings, exorcist chick (pretty scarily well, so much so that I shocked a boy that I was dating once; he got so scared that he threatened to punch me if I ever did it again, and naturally I do it to him every time I see him. ha-ha), Stitch from Lilo and Stitch, and E.T.

What do you love about yourself and why?

I suppose I love that I rarely say no to anything; consider me the yes woman. I have always been like that ever since I was a little girl. I would give anything a chance. I’m not sure why, but I just never wanted to miss out on something I might have found fun, whether it be sky diving, jet skiing, rock climbing, canyoning, or travelling; anything really deserves a chance.

What is one last thing you would like to say?

Don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself and have fun. My mother always said laughter is the best medicine and by god, she’s right! 🙂

*Robyn talks about acceptance. This is a great video!

**You can learn more about Robyn at her blog: http://reviewmerobyn.blogspot.com/

***Thank you, Robyn!

Nicole LeBris Talks About Embracing Your Body, Beauty, Fashion, Confidence, and Her Transition from Makeup Artist to Modeling

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Celebrity, Confidence, Designers, Fashion, Inspiration, Media, Models, Movies, New York, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, Unique Beauty with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2010 by Liz

Nicole LeBris is a plus model based in New York and Miami. Before Nicole started modeling full-time, she was a hair and makeup artist. As a hair and makeup artist, she worked on Bill Clinton, John Legend, Carol Alt, Billy Baldwin, Isaac Mizrahi, Jimmy Kimmel, and many others. As a model, Nicole is represented by Dorothy Combs Models in Miami (her mother company), Model Service Agency in New York, Hughes Models in London, and Brigette Models in Germany. She grew up spending her summers in France and spent her junior year of high school there as well.

Hi, world! I’m Nicole LeBris. So a little about me…Miami and Jersey City is where I call home, although I grew up in Westchester, in the New York City area. Modeling has been my full-time job for the past six years. It’s been a slow and steady progression, switching rolls from behind the scenes as a makeup artist, to being in the spotlight as a model and I couldn’t be happier. I feel truly blessed and fortunate to be able to choose this path and very proud of how far I’ve come. Modeling has allowed me to see some very interesting cities across the country and abroad, and to work with some really talented people. I’ve made great friends in this business and truly enjoy almost every day I spend on set. I’ve modeled for clients such as Kohl’s, Lane Bryant, Vanity Fair, Fruit of the Loom, Belk, Shopko, Catherines, Fashion Bug, Just My Size, and Target. 

How did you get started as a full figure model?

I actually first started as a makeup artist working on films, TV spots, and commercial print. I made a lot of industry connections, and got the push from many people to give it a try. I’m glad that I did. 
 
Have you ever struggled with low self-esteem?  

Of course! It’s been a long road for me. I’m very confident these days, but that wasn’t always the case. Grade school was tough. I was bigger than everyone was and I hated it. I definitely struggled with body image, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized my body is a blessing. I take care of my body, and love it, and it does me good in return. 🙂  
 
What advice would you give to girls and women who are struggling with body image and self-esteem issues?

I would say embrace your body. You only have one body in this life so take care of it and be proud of it. If you are confident in your body and yourself, it will show to other people and will only work in your favor. 
 
What do you love about yourself?  

Physically, I love my body and my unique features such as my dark eyes and light hair, my small waist, and curvy hips. Personality wise, I love my sense of wonder, my curiosity, and my sense of humor. 

Who inspired you to become a professional make-up artist?  

I’m not sure whether someone inspired me specifically, but my mom is the one who put the idea in my head. She told me that she thought it would be something interesting to do when she was younger, but she couldn’t afford school and didn’t know where to go. I always loved colors and painting, and I always played around with makeup at home. I worked two jobs in high school, and that’s where most of my money went– to makeup.
 
What are some of your basic skin care tips that you think are really important?

Moisturize and sleep. Many people are scared of oil, but I love using it on my skin, especially at night. 
 
Lip gloss or Lipstick? Do you have a favorite brand?

I’m more into chapstick or rosebud salve on an everyday basis, unless I’m really going out on the town. Then, I’ll do lipstick just dabbed on my lips and topped with gloss! I love to play up a pout! 
 
What is a really quick way to change a day look to a special occasion or night-time face?

Black eyeliner smudged around the lash line, an extra coat of mascara, and add a coat of gloss to your lips.

Where do you love to shop for clothes?

I love Zara for jackets, BCBG for dresses, Cacique for bras, and almost always stop at H&M and Forever 21 when I’m on a shopping spree. I also love Anthropologie. Guess heels and boots fit me like a glove.
 
Who are some of your favorite designers?

Michael Kors and Zac Posen. I love Armani dresses! 

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

Two things I can’t live without are my rosebud salve and eyelash curler. I’m all about keeping my skin and lips moisturized. My eyelash curler opens my eyes and can make me look awake if I don’t have time for a cup of coffee. 

How do you define beauty?

Beauty can be so many different things to different people. For me, beauty is something that inspires me. If “it” makes me feel something and excites me, I think that is a sign of beauty.

What features do you love to accentuate and why?

I love to accentuate my eyes in the way they contrast with my hair and skin, so I usually darken them even more and use liner to make them really pop. Body wise, I love to accentuate my waist. I have a real hourglass shape that I love, so I dress with a lot of belts and dresses that hug my curves. 

What does being healthy mean to you?

For me, being healthy means feeling good both mentally and physically. Balance is important. I believe in the idea of everything in moderation. Too much or too little of one thing is not good, especially with diet and exercise.

What are you excited about right now?

I’m excited about all the buzz around plus-size models. People are talking about Crystal Renn’s book (Hungry: A Young Model’s Story of Appetite, Ambition and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves), the controversy surrounding her size, and the banning of the Lane Bryant video with Ashley Graham. I think any publicity is good publicity for us right now. When I say I’m a plus-size model, I still get one of two reactions. They look me up and down and say, “You’re not fat” or “What do you do for your day job?”. A lot of people don’t know what a plus-size model is. So, I think all the buzz in the media, negative or positive, is really a great thing for our industry. 

*Thank you, Nicole!

To learn more about Nicole, visit her websites at www.nicolelebris.com and www.nicoleheidi.com.

Amber Cather Gets Real About Acting, Body Image, Self-Esteem, Life, and the Guidelines for Plus & Straight Models.

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Celebrity, Confidence, Designers, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Inspiration, Media, Models, Movies, My Story, New York, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, Travel, Unique Beauty with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2010 by Liz

Photographed by Amber’s mom, Bonnie Cather

Amber Cather has been a professional model and actress since she was nine years old. Amber has been featured on many TV shows such as, “The Vampire Diaries”, “The Guiding Light”, “Ed”, “Conan O’Brien”, and she guest starred on “Law & Order: SVU”.  Amber played the lead role in the movie, “Missy’s Revenge”, and supporting roles in “Fishers of Men” and “Duane Incarnate”. She has also been in Victoria’s Secret and Mederma Commercials. She currently lives in Blue Ridge, GA with her husband; three-year-old daughter, Natalie; and their cat, Shelby.

Photographed by Bradford Willcox

How did you get started in the modeling industry?

I started modeling when I was nine. I was always a huge ham, and I loved being in front of the camera and on stage. So, I told my mom I wanted to model. She took me to an agency in Atlanta called Kiddin’ Around. I got signed and started working.

Was going from a straight model to a plus model a hard transition for you?

I’m not going to lie; it was incredibly hard. In the beginning, a lot of photographers and other models made me feel lesser, like I wasn’t a real model any more. Then, I started traveling a lot and working more and it didn’t bother me as much. I was still doing what I loved and getting to see the world, so I was happy.

Please tell us more about your transition from a straight model to a plus model.

I switched to plus after I had gone home to Georgia to visit my mom for a while. When I went back to New York, I was heavier than when I had left. I was exhausted from trying to get the weight off and then some. It seemed like they were always asking me if I could lose more and more weight. I noticed that the plus-size girls had also gotten smaller. When I first started modeling, “straight” size models were around a size 6 and some of the “plus” size girls were around a size 18/20. I saw the plus girls and they looked like curvy, beautiful women. So, I thought to myself, it would be much easier just to eat a whole lot more and gain weight and probably more fun, so that’s what I did. I was able to get up to a small size 12, but that was actually with a lot of effort.

Photographed by Cressida Wilson

What does the term “plus” mean to you?

To me, it just means fuller figured models.

What are your feelings on the term “plus” model?

The term “plus” doesn’t bother me. I think it’s better than a lot of other words the industry could probably come up with!

Do you think models should be divided into straight and plus size categories?

I do think that straight size and plus size should be divided. There are two different audiences that are being marketed to, so I think it makes sense for them to be divided. I think beauty campaigns, however, should be open to straight-size and plus-size girls.

Is there a fine line between plus model and straight model body measurement requirements? When is a model “too small” to be a plus model or “too big” to be a straight model?

I think the guidelines for what is considered straight size and what is considered plus size are specific and non-specific at the same time. If you are larger than a size 4, you are a little too big to be straight size, and if you are smaller than a 10, you are a little too small to be plus size. However, if you are caught in this no man’s land, there are clients that don’t mind if you pad up to make yourself larger. So, potentially, you could be a size 6 or 8 and be a plus-size model. It’s not that common, but it happens. I’ve actually just now lost just a bit too much weight, and I am being put back into the straight category since I am now a size 4 again. It was a healthy and easy transition for me this time. I think because I didn’t lose weight for anybody else and I didn’t feel any pressure to do it. I just wanted to get healthy and in shape to be a role model for my daughter. My weight naturally dropped down to a 4.

Photographed by Blake Davenport

Not only are you an amazing model, you are also an actress. We would love to hear about your acting career. What do you enjoy about acting?

I started acting just a little bit after I started modeling. There was a nationwide search for a girl to play the part of Cybill Shepherd’s daughter on the sitcom, Cybill. I sent in a video audition through my agent. It finally came down to Katherine Heigl, Alicia Witt, and me. I flew out to LA to read for the executive producer, and while I was there, I got a manager for acting. While I lived in NY and was straight size, I did quite a bit of acting as well. I had a small day part on “Law & Order: SVU” and did a film called “Duane Incarnate”. I took a break from acting while I was fuller figured. I am now and have just recently started auditioning again. My next project is a role in a film called “Fishers of Men”. We film October 5. I’ve always really enjoyed acting…maybe even more than modeling. I like to talk a lot and love performing.

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

Yes, I have. I had a thyroid tumor when I was seventeen, and had to have a total thyroidectomy. Before my surgery, I was naturally a very thin girl. A month after my surgery, I had gained 40 pounds. It was incredibly hard to deal with, especially at such a young age. I wasn’t comfortable in my skin at my new size, so I barely ate for a long time to get back down to a size 2-4 and continue working as a straight size model. The advice I would give girls that are struggling with body image and self-esteem issues is to try to embrace who you are. Everyone looks and feels their best when they are at their natural size and are healthy. I didn’t feel good when I was forcing myself to be too thin for me and I didn’t feel good on the opposite side of the spectrum when I was forcing myself to eat and be heavier to be able to get close to a full size plus model. I still struggle sometimes and the thing that grounds me the most is my daughter. I don’t want her to grow up hearing her mommy putting herself down because I don’t want Natalie to think that is ever acceptable.

Photographed by Amber’s friend and fellow plus model, Cressida Wilson

What is your definition of beauty?

My definition of beauty? That’s a hard question. Obviously, inner beauty shines the brightest. There are girls that are absolutely stunning on the outside, but if they have a bad attitude or mean disposition, it diminishes their beauty.

Do you think plus models are helping redefine beauty?

I think some plus models are helping redefine beauty. Again, I really think being healthy is the most important thing and that’s what I think is going to help redefine beauty the most. I have had the pleasure of working with some amazing plus models that truly embodies what I think a woman should be, and I have had the misfortune of working with girls that are the complete opposite. As a whole, I think it’s good for women to have a wider variety of sizes of women to look at, as examples of what we consider beautiful.

Photographed by Blake Davenport

What does being healthy mean to you?

Being healthy to me means taking care of yourself in every way. Body, mind, and soul. I think it’s important to eat healthy, but not go crazy. I still eat what I want, and I think that’s important. Allowing ourselves some indulgences sometimes is healthy, too! Staying active is healthy. I recently started dancing again because it’s one of my first true loves, makes me happy, and is helping to keep me fit. Keeping your attitude and mind healthy is just as vital. Being kind, open, patient, and learning new things…that’s all-important to me, and I try my best to live that way. I fail sometimes, but I try! I’ve come to the realization, that for me, my healthiest size is a little on the small side for plus and a little on the large size for straight. So far, I’ve found that I’ve actually been working more, and I think it has to do with the fact that I feel better than I have in years and it shows in my work.

Where would you like to see the fashion and beauty industry in five years?

I would like to see the industry accept body types that are in between what is now straight size and plus size. I would also like to see some of the “straight-size” girls gain just a little weight, and some of the “plus-size” girls lose a little weight. Just my opinion…please don’t hate on me for it! I feel like in some editorials they exaggerate the thinness of girls for shock value and do the opposite with plus girls. It’s not beautiful to me.

Photographed by Tanja Tremel and Jasmin Arbes

What has been one of your most memorable modeling experiences?

One of my most memorable modeling experiences was probably my first runway show in NY when I was seventeen. It was so exciting!

What would be the perfect day with your family?

A perfect day with my family is when we take Natalie somewhere that she really enjoys and then have dinner in the evening, watch a movie together, and all go to bed. Pretty simple, but it’s my favorite.

What is one thing your daughter has taught you?

She has changed my life in a way that I think only mothers truly understand. She’s changed everything. The way I look at the world, in general, is entirely different now. Having her made me take a long, hard look at myself and realize there was a lot I wanted to change. She’s also taught me a lot of patience!

What has been your proudest moment?

My proudest moment is anytime anyone meets Natalie.

How would you describe your style?

I am not a typical model at all! You won’t see me in some really cool outfit and amazing shoes with accessories that only a stylist would be able to come up with! My style is very simple. I like clothes that fit well, and that I think are pretty.

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

I must have an eyelash curler, mascara, tweezers for my eyebrows, blush, a barely tinted lip gloss, and Dove Sensitive Skin soap.

Photographed by Blake Davenport

What do you love about yourself and why?

I love the fact that I’m very real and open. Some people don’t like it I suppose, but I prefer that over a lot of the people who need to grow up. I try not to put on airs or a facade of what my life is or has been. What you see with me is pretty much what you get…mostly.

Who do you consider a role model or hero?

My mom and my sister. My mom because she has been through a lot and is an incredibly strong woman, even if she doesn’t realize it. My sister because she is simply amazing. She is always in a good mood, she is smart, she’s an incredible mother and friend, and she’s funny. She’s just inspiring.

Do you have a hidden talent or something we would be surprised to learn about you?

I love math and word games. I love all games, actually. My husband and I have even gone to some cornhole tournaments. Haha! It’s a crazy fun game! My best games are probably spades, ping-pong, and Nintendo 64’s 007. I almost forgot–I’m freakishly good at grab machine games. I have cleaned several out before and had them turned off on me. So, every time I see one, I have to play. I’m obsessed. Ha ha!

Bridal Guide Magazine

If you had one wish, what would it be?

I would wish to be content. It always feels like I’m working towards something else and/or for better all the time. I would love to know how it feels to just be and be okay with that.

What are you excited about right now?

I’m excited about my life! I’m excited about how my career is going. I’m excited to see my daughter grow up. I’m always excited!

*Thank you, Amber!

** You can learn more about Amber at http://ambercatherinc.com/.

Sierra Lisa Speaks Her Truth! She’s an Amazing Woman! We Are giving Away Ten Free DVD’s to the First Ten People Who Email Us. See Details at the Bottom of this Post!

Posted in Art, Body Image, Celebrity, Confidence, Eating Disorders, Entertainment, Events, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Food, Hobbies, Inspiration, Media, Movies, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, TV, Your Story with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2010 by Liz

Sierra is a dedicated and passionate filmmaker. Her goal is to make films that influence people to reflect on different aspects of life, question the status quo, and become independent thinkers. She has directed several films in high school that showcased at the Moondance Festival. One of them, The Ice Cream, won Best Short Film award, and a third place ROP award in Film Production. At California State University, Northridge; she produced, directed, wrote, edited, and worked on several short films including STARving, which was one of the five projects to be funded by the school’s film program her senior year.

Sierra has worked in the entertainment business since she was sixteen. Included among her many clients are San Diego Chargers owner, Alex Spanos and renowned singer, Gloria Loring. Currently, she works with Leeza Gibbons as the producer for the radio show Hollywood Confidential as well as Leeza’s in-house video and audio editor.

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 yourself and your body as it is.

It is estimated that 8 million people in the United States are suffering from an eating disorder and, much too recently, I was one of them. In high school, I would rather have died than admit I had the problem, but now having surmounted bulimia, this experience most significantly impacted my life. Training to be an actress at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA), the pressure to be thin engulfed me and I began believing that any harm I endured was a worthy sacrifice for my art. My bulimia began with frightening ease and quickly spiraled into a compulsive nightmare. It is due to the help of a teacher named Kim Wield that I was able to triumph. My evolution from nonchalantly beginning bulimia, uncontrollably continuing in it, and ultimately overcoming the fight has dramatically shaped my views on life.

Sitting down for rehearsal of a female dance number, I listened to my perfectly toned choreography teacher suggest that we start eating healthier foods while avoiding crash diets. In practically the same breath, she ended her pep talk by saying she did not want to see any flab on the stage and she followed with a laugh so sharp it pervaded my very being. I looked down at my 16-year-old body, quickly compared myself to the other girls (each of whom was making her own comparison), and came to the conclusion that I was the fattest girl in the room. I frantically started on a 500 calorie diet in hopes of dropping the flab by opening night, which was a mere eight weeks away. When I failed to lose the expected weight by the second week, I broke the diet in a bingeing frenzy and decided to voluntarily vomit for the first time.

Throwing up my food was scarily simple and, since I had binged on candy, it did not taste as bad as I thought it would. It started as a way to “cancel out” the fact that I broke my diet, but soon I realized I could eat anything I wanted as long as I purged after every meal. I continued this pattern for nearly two years, alienating myself from everything and, being that I was lying to everyone that I loved, my relationships began to disintegrate. I strove to be perfect only to find that I was falling short in every aspect of life, including my own happiness. It was when I started thinking about cutting open my thighs to perform amateur liposuction that I realized I needed serious help. As I searched for peer advice to no avail, I stumbled across a woman who would change my life forever.

One day in her acting class, Kim Wield openly shared her fight with bulimia and I developed a trust in her that was only possible because we shared a similar experience. During a one-on-one evaluation with Kim, I divulged that I was bulimic and could not stop. In the cold, sterile classroom, she looked at me with warm honesty and said, “Sierra, listen to me. You are beautiful.” I shrugged her off, but she continued, “Sierra, you are beautiful.” I felt uncomfortable as she saw through my disguise and she persisted until I started to cry. In that moment, I had the epiphany that I really was beautiful and decided that I was going to change the way society evaluates beauty.

My attempt to obey a demand to be thin, my struggle with an overwhelming disorder, and my recognition of beauty has significantly changed how I see the world. I am committed to creating a more positive perception of beauty in our culture because every person should know his or her own beauty. I feel it my duty to share my story in hopes that people, young girls in particular, will learn from it. Film is a way to recognize the beauty in our everyday surroundings and, more importantly, in ourselves. Through my films, I want to change the idea of beauty, so that I can contribute to a societal epiphany like the one Kim helped me achieve. Beauty, as it is presently defined, is too narrow-minded and I want to assist in shaping a more diverse meaning.

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

I would say to any girl who struggles with her body image that she is beautiful. No matter what anyone says, you are beautiful. On the days I can’t see my own beauty or I’m freaking out about my jeans not fitting, I try to find at least one thing I believe to be beautiful about myself. Some days I only find one thing, but usually I can build on that one identification to find maybe two or three or more. If I can’t find a single quality I like that day, I’ll try to think of any positive comments I have received and focus on that positivity.

Sierra instructs.

What inspired you to write and direct STARving?

This film is based on my experience as an actress in an arts high school where the pressure to be thin caused some girls to exercise instead of eat at lunch and commonly develop eating disorders. Having surmounted bulimia myself, I now strive to illustrate the unhealthy consequences of accepting our society’s absurdly oppressive standard of beauty and hope to help shape a healthier, more balanced, cultural viewpoint. While it is well-known that eating disorders can be directly linked to the pressure exerted by our media culture’s increasingly unrealistic standards of beauty, STARving highlights the profound impact, both negative and positive, that teachers, parents, and peers have on young women. Awareness is pivotal in shifting the tide of this unhealthy societal epidemic and my goal with STARving was to raise a consciousness regarding how our actions, even when seemingly small, can greatly affect those around us. STARving strives to raise awareness about the power that we, as everyday individuals, parents, teachers and peers, have to promote healthy attitudes, thus protecting young people from these dangerous beliefs and destructive behaviors.

How has the film been received? How do you feel about your movie being shown at the Cannes Film Festival?

It has been wonderfully received so far and I would love more people to see it. Having it screen in Cannes was very exciting! I’m also so proud that it was selected for one of the most recognized female film festivals La Femme Film Festival among other festivals. What’s most exciting about these opportunities is they help get STARving seen. My hope is that the people who see the film will use it as a starting point to help open the doors of communication regarding body image and ultimately begin a new era of acceptance within our culture.

When did you become interested in film/cinematography?

I’ve loved film ever since I was a child! As far back as I can recall, I have always wanted to be involved in the entertainment industry in some way. Whether I’m an actor, editor, director, set designer or PA; it doesn’t matter the title; just that I’m fulfilled by working with people who are forwarding a positive message through film.

You have worked with Leeza Gibbons since 2005. What do you love most about her?

What I love most about Leeza is that she is so positive and funny. She does everything in her power to uplift the people around her. Whether it is through her charity work or just by saying something supportive, Leeza takes the time to care.

Sierra with actors.

What fascinates you most about people?

The ability we have as individuals to make a difference, positive or negative, throughout life. Causality is probably the most amazing factor I can identify in what makes me who I am today. I’m endlessly fascinated with how people make decisions and how those choices can affect the future. My dad always used to say, “No shame, blame, or regret” and I still use that phrase as a reminder to find the positive in every experience I face. I wouldn’t be the person I am without all the events that have shaped me.

What do you love about yourself and why?

I love the curve of my body and how soft my skin feels because it makes me feel feminine. I love that I can easily see the beauty in others, and I’m not shy to give honest compliments because I know that by saying one positive phrase I can improve a person’s day. I love that I’m so positive and laugh at the simplest things because it makes me feel good. I love that I have solid viewpoints and the intelligence to make a sound argument because I refuse to question my integrity. I love my face because it’s so expressive and how my eyes light up when I smile. I love that I snort sometimes when I laugh really hard and that my friends make a game of seeing who can get me to snort the most. I love that I am constantly trying to improve my life and the lives of those around me. Most of all, I love that I can learn from my mistakes and become stronger despite difficult experiences.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

Love yourself as you are right now, because this moment is all that matters.

You are a busy lady! What advice would you give to a college student trying to balance work, school, and personal time?

Time management! I keep a calendar, and I’m an avid supporter of to-do lists.

What are some of your hobbies?

Karaoke! Directing, acting, modeling, photography, dancing like no one is watching, game nights hiking, taking spa days, travelling, camping, and passionate conversation about anything and everything. I also enjoy critically analyzing films with my friends because it helps me grow as an artist.

Who inspires you?

The people who inspire me are those who can find beauty in others, those who are proud of their body despite any outside influence, those who are gracefully opinionated, and anyone who is passionate about creating a better world.

Who do you consider a role model or hero? Why?

Kathryn Bigelow is a major role model for me because she defies the status quo and gender expectations normally expected of women. She has a specific point of view and strong artistic integrity. In terms of broadening the status quo of beauty, Margaret Cho was the first celebrity that ever made me feel like I had a voice in the media as I deeply related to how she felt about her body and the overwhelming pressure to be thin in Hollywood. I also dearly admire Savannah Dooley and Shonda Rhimes for choosing plus-size actors to play normal roles, because it is disturbingly common to see plus-size people ridiculed on television. I applaud them and similar individuals who have become a driving force in stopping that type of hatred.

What are your favorite beauty must-haves?

Sheer Cover, liquid eyeliner, and mascara are my beauty must haves.

Where do you like to shop?

I really love thrift shops, Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, and Express for my clothes shopping, but everything else I find on eBay.

Sierra explains shot.

Please tell us what you think of ABC Family show HUGE?

I LOVE HUGE! Savannah is a great friend of mine and I remember when she was telling me about pitching the show after passionately discussing our own struggles with body image. I’m so proud of her and the HUGE team for creating such a unique show. They are absolutely helping push the societal pendulum in a healthier, more accepting direction. Finally, I’m seeing plus-size people on television who are portrayed as human instead of the limited typecasting that is common in the business. Hopefully, this will be the beginning to seeing much more diversity in common television shows.

Do you feel plus-size modeling is helping redefine beauty?

Absolutely! When mass media features only a limited type of beauty, those who don’t fit into those confines often feel like they have no voice or are unworthy in some way. With plus-size modeling, people who previously had no voice begin to feel accepted and that acceptance yields more understanding, which then creates less hatred.

What are you excited about right now?

I’m excited about everything happening in my life right now and the positive people who surround me!

What are your goals for the future?

I would love to have a hand in creating a more diverse and accepting culture. I want to become a director and create art that helps forward a culture wherein the “plus-size” label is no longer needed. I want to travel and experience other cultures. Ultimately, my greatest goal in life is to leave this world in a much better condition than it was when I came into it and in whatever capacity I am able to do so, I’ll make that effort.

*Thank you for everything, Sierra!

** The first ten people to email Angela at angela@plussizemodelsunite.com, will receive a free copy of the film STARving.

Model and Actress Celina Lorenz Talks About Her Definition of Confidence; Feeling Beautiful, Smart, and Sexy on Your Own Terms; and Much More!

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Celebrity, Confidence, Designers, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Funny Experiences, Inspiration, Lane Bryant, Movies, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, Unique Beauty, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2010 by Liz

      

Photographed by Patrice Casanova      

Celina Lorenz has graced the pages of Elle, InStyle, Glamour, Figure, Prevention, and Plus Model Magazine. She has appeared on Access Hollywood, The View, Fox News, The Queen Latifah show, and broadcasted nationally, via satellite, to local TV stations showing plus-size clothing. Celina has traveled the country and the world for her long and steady career. She looks forward to continuing to be a representative of fuller figure women and reshaping the standard of beauty. Here she is…      

      

Photographed by Stanley Debas      

Please tell us about your first modeling job with Emme on the Oprah Winfrey show.      

That was my very first job! I was very “green,” and I literally was star struck when I met Oprah! I spent two days at Harpo Studios preparing for her show about beauty “in all sizes.” Emme and Christine Alt were the guests. My first thought about Ms.Winfrey was, “Wow, she’s a lot shorter in real life!” lol. It really was surreal to be there, in the Green Room and in the dressing room. I think Oprah does a lot of good things with her show, and she certainly does that for the fuller figured woman. She was super nice and very down to earth. Meeting her was amazing!      

What was that experience like for you?      

As I said, it was surreal. From a modeling perspective, it was a great “first job,” because I did have some hesitation when I first started modeling. For instance, would I be able to make a living, etc. Being that this was my first booking and on such a global scale, I think the appearance helped give me the confidence I needed to continue pursuing this as a career. But, don’t get me wrong, it takes a lot of drive and determination.      

Eventually, when I moved to NYC, I remember saying to myself, “Quitting is NOT an option.” Like any model, rejection is all part of the job. Whether you are a plus-size model or straight size, you become so in tune to “your look” as we are constantly picked apart by photographers, make-up and hair stylists, art directors, and the clients themselves. If you don’t have a thick skin, or some sort of healthy coping method for this kind of continuous scrutiny (whether you are on set, at a show, or at a casting), you risk letting it get into your head and get you down. Women who are not models may do this as well, with all this nonsense in the media these days, so it’s my belief that we professional, working models really have to remember to have perspective on the scrutiny we face on a daily basis.       

      

Photographed by Jessica Lavoie      

Please tell us about your experience as a television hostess and other TV appearances such as Comedy Central and the Chappelle Show.      

Working on the Chappelle Show was great fun! I’ll point out that they weren’t looking for a “plus-sized model”; they were looking for the blonde “bombshell” type to play off of Paul Mooney’s character. It was really cool that Mr. Chappelle, Paul Mooney, and the producers totally saw me as THAT: as a sexy, beautiful model, not a sexy beautiful “plus-sized model.” That rarely happens. The “sexy” part is usually cast with a straight size model, but not this time. They didn’t see me as a size 12 model who was sexy; they just saw a beautiful woman. In casting me alongside the other model, who happened to be straight size, they sent the message that it didn’t matter our size. A beautiful woman is a beautiful woman. I love that.      

How did you transition from modeling to TV?      

As far as the “transition” from film to television, I haven’t crossed over entirely. I’ve worked on other Comedy Central shows, filmed pilots, etc., but my main work is fashion. If anyone needs a spokesperson for a clothing line or anything of that sort…let me know!;-)       

How has the plus-size modeling industry changed over the last decade?      

Great question! When I started, there was nowhere near the emphasis on “beauty in all sizes.” It seems like it has really taken off in the last several years, and I’m amazed at the positive feedback we get. The irony is that the “plus models” typically (and on the average), don’t wear plus sizes in our everyday lives, but that doesn’t matter to me as much. What matters is that we are seen–with our curves! If you look back at Sophia Loren, Jayne Mansfield, and Marilyn Monroe, all those voluptuous starlets from decades ago, they were incredibly vivacious, curvaceous, sensual, and so feminine! Honestly, it’s my experience that men love curves. Now, I’m not saying that curves are better than “no curves,” but that the media should stop sending the message that you have to be “thin” to be pretty. It’s just so old already! I don’t even think like that anymore. When I look in the mirror, (and this is the God’s honest truth) I don’t look in the mirror and think, “I’d be prettier if I got down to a size 6.” My mind doesn’t even enter that realm, as it may have years ago. I am, who I am. I try to stay fit, and I take care of myself. I love dining out, drinking good wine, and enjoying life’s pleasures too much to deprive myself. I have no problem being a “renaissance woman” and not missing out on life.       

      

Photographed by Jessica Lavoie      

Has plus-size modeling become more or less competitive, more or less accepted in the industry, more or less ageist, racist, etc?      

Let me say, that I don’t think that being a plus-sized model condones an unhealthy lifestyle. To me, it’s more about being beautiful in your own skin, rather than blindly following what the media wants you to. The plus-sized movement definitely has become more accepted in the industry! Being that I’ve been working for quite awhile, I see the “togetherness” that “plus girls” have with the “straight girls.” It’s my experience, and others may disagree, that when we are all working together, or at a casting together, there is no “separation” between the plus girls and the straight girls. I’ve never had an experience where I felt that there is an ‘”us” and a “them.” We are all women, from all over the country, enduring the same crazy career that we all chose, and we are all in this together. Sometimes we even have the same clients, so I see that we are all lumped in together. As far as plus models are concerned, we are working hard just as the straight girls are. I have quite a few straight size model friends, and there is no differentiation in their mind. We are all out there traveling, working, and making’ it happen. In fact, they are all supportive of us! One of my girlfriends’ friends was asking her about her “plus-size model friend” (me) and asked if that gives me the freedom to just “let it go” and eat whatever I want. My friend said, “Heck no! She brings her rear to the gym, just like the rest of us!” That is so true!      

How do you think plus modeling is helping to redefine beauty?      

Just being “out there” in the media. I remember what it was like to be taller and bigger than everyone else was in Junior High. Thankfully, I came from a really supportive family and they never made me feel uncomfortable, so I didn’t suffer from “low self-esteem.” I just had the usual feelings girls get in those pre-teen years. But, had I seen and been exposed to seeing the plus-sized models (as in a size 8-16 model) out there today, I think that really would have helped in terms of seeing an additional standard of beauty. There is a lot farther to go though.      

I think that the “sizeism” that we see in the media and the attention that female celebrities receive when they gain or lose weight is not perpetuated just by the media now. Women themselves perpetuate this by not supporting other women when they don’t look like the “standard” that is seen on TV and in magazines. Often, when a beautiful woman walks into a room, and everyone stops and looks at her, I’ve seen women be the first people to criticize her or measure her up to the “standard of beauty” we see in the media. It’s tiring really. I literally get knots in my back just thinking of how other women can be worse than the media itself when it comes to assessing a woman’s beauty. And, of course, everyone knows that the people who criticize others are just insecure and have their own issues they need to deal with on their own. Just saying. 😉       

      

Photographed by Jessica Lavoie      

Have you ever struggled with self-esteem or body image issues in the past?      

 As I said earlier, when I was a kid, I was literally taller than my teachers were. The thing I hated most was not being able to wear all the cute clothes my friends were wearing back in junior high! At that age, that is considered social suicide! Ha ha! But, my “body image issues” weren’t any more than any other girl at that age. What I’ve learned since then; having carved out a career in this field, and having been privy to hearing women’s personal body-image stories; is that ALL women have them. It’s not just the “big” girls or the “flat-chested” girls. It’s all girls. And, the girls who outwardly fit the mold of the “standard” of beauty are just as critical of themselves too! Body image issues are not just for the “plus-sized” woman. Women of ALL sizes and shapes experience these issues, but perhaps it’s the “plus-size” industry that gets all the heat, because it is the most vocal, and at the forefront of changing the way women look at themselves. I’ve had very slim women give me serious props for doing what we do, and have been told how awesome they think our work is. The “plight of the plus model” resonates with regular, everyday women. I just love that, and I have no problem being a representative of a movement that is all about being who you are, being healthy, and making a statement that says beauty is not one type and certainly not what an ad agency has concocted for you. The strong, often demeaning images that we see in ads, online, or on TV, don’t discriminate in terms of who they are sending their messages to. If you can read or look at a picture, you can get the message loud and clear; that beauty is considered “thin.” That’s not the case. I’m not “thin,” and I think I’m pretty. So there!      

Also, be smart enough and media-savvy enough to take it for what it’s worth, and not let a bunch of people in suits, who are in a boardroom, tell you how you should feel about yourself. Just say, “To hell with them.” And, if someone has a problem with you and calls you fat, skinny, short, ugly, etc…they aren’t worth your time anyway, and well, they are just a negative person who needs to get a life, if you ask me!      

How did you reach the point of accepting and loving your body as it is?      

Through realizing that I can be just as beautiful and sexy on my terms because that is what is most important to me. I know how I want to look, so I try my hardest to be that because that is most comfortable for me. How did I get there? I have self-esteem and a sense of humor. I think that is where it all starts. When you don’t think much of yourself that affects your life in every aspect, not just your body image.      

       

      

Photographed by Jessica Lavoie      

What advice would you give to girls and women, who are struggling with body image and self-esteem issues?      

Wow. That’s a tough question because the answer varies from woman to woman. I don’t think there is a set equation to having self-esteem. But, to start, and something that is universal, (and I tread lightly here because I’ve been in beauty magazines, but here goes)…don’t buy beauty magazines that don’t represent you in them. Until certain magazines start putting models in the editorials and until the companies start making sample sizes bigger than 4-6; so that larger models can be featured alongside the tiny ones; they really aren’t that beneficial to a young woman’s psyche when she is flipping through the pages. Especially a young woman who doesn’t understand that this is marketing — all so she will buy a product. Until beauty magazines start consistently using plus models, or models with a variety of body types (who will fit the samples for the shoot), spend your money on magazines and products that do.       

Also, let’s start taking the emphasis off how we women look all the time. What about our talents, our brains, and our achievements? If we could encourage the young women in our families to develop their talents, their skills, and their brains, instead of commenting and/or focusing on their looks, I think that would make a difference. If this “beauty obsession” is perpetuating itself, then we should try to perpetuate within our own circles, the notion that we, women and girls, are so much more than how we look. Let’s give positive reinforcement for talents, skills, good grades, etc. Perhaps if young women saw, in their own lives, that as much praise was given to girls that achieve things rather than “hotness” then they can relax and not feel so much pressure. Also, get the word out that the girls in all those magazines are airbrushed. Even they don’t look like that. Models are paid to look beautiful. But, the make-up artists, stylists, hair stylists, and photographers are paid to make us look beautiful. It takes a village, people! lol. Also, for the teen girls out there, don’t allow your self-image to be defined by guys in your school or other girls. Don’t listen to them. I know it’s hard, but the sooner you stop allowing others to give you your self-worth, the sooner you are empowered. Okay?        

      

Photographed by Patrice Casanova      

Where do you like to shop for clothes?      

I love J.Crew for everyday type stuff. They have timeless pieces that you can make your own with accessories. Also, the sale rack at Saks and Barney’s is great. Bluefly.com is a great website for designer pieces that have been marked-down, and I shop for hard to find vintagey stuff online. If I get inspired, I’ll just Google whatever it is that I’m looking for and find it online. I’m a big fan of DKNY and I admit, I’m obsessed with Herve Leger dresses.       

What are your beauty must haves?      

Sunscreen! Seriously, I don’t leave home without it. I also wear sunglasses even on rainy days, as the added SPF in the lenses will protect me from getting wrinkles. Also, sleep!      

What are you excited about right now?       

I am very excited about photographer Jessica Lavoie. She is based in NY, and she is a model herself, so she already understands it. She gets what it’s like to be in front of the camera, and she knows how to photograph a fuller figure. It was evident to me, when I tested with her, that her career as a model has taught her how to capture someone’s best features. It’s comforting to know, when you are shooting, that the person behind the camera has an understanding of what it takes to make you look your best. Also, I like that Glamour magazine shot a cover with a plus girl, (Crystal Renn), Alessandra Ambrosio, and Brooklyn Decker. That is a statement. Thank you, Glamour magazine! Oh, and also, thank you Heidi Pratt for being such a wonderful role model to young women, and displaying such a great amount of self-love, by not giving in to silly industry standards of beauty–NOT!!! Lol.      

      

Luas Jones Photography      

      

What does being confident mean to you?      

For everyone, feeling confident means different things. For me, confidence comes from the inside. I’ve felt more confident after a strong run than I have all dressed up just looking good. For me, it’s not about how I look, it’s how I feel. I’ve been a long distance runner for years now. I took a couple of years off a while back, but I’ve always come back to it. When I first moved to NYC and had no money, no gym membership, and was an “aspiring” model, I would run in Central Park. After a while, I’d go farther and farther; soon, I’d run the whole six miles. Then I started to run around it twice. When I am finished with a fast six miler or a strong fourteen miler, nothing defines that moment more for me than feeling confident. It’s my own way of saying to myself, “I’m healthy, and I’m strong.” Also, and I’ve said this before; let’s not underestimate the power of great posture, natural warmth, graciousness, and a beautiful smile. Seriously, if you could bottle that, let me know, because you could make millions for what that does for a woman, in terms of looking and feeling confident.       

Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?      

As my late grandfather used to say, “Don’t let the bastards get ya down.” I think that pretty much sums it up. Be true to yourself, be healthy, and tell anyone who tries to steal your sunshine or says that you are only pretty if you are “this” or “that” to take a hike. 😉      

* Thank you, Celina!   

**You can learn more about Celina at http://www.celinalorenz.com

***How do you help yourself develop a positive self-esteem and body image? What does being confident mean to you? We would love to hear your comments and questions.