Archive for the News Category

A Special Message from Liz & Angela via Plus-Size Models Unite

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Eating Disorders, Family & Friends, Media, Models, News, Parenting, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Radio, Recipes & Food, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Sports, Trade Tips, Travel, TV, Unique Beauty, Work, Your Story with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 10, 2011 by Liz


Liz Nord & Angela Jones ~ Photographed by Lindsey Bowen

We would love to thank each and every one of you for supporting PSMU. We have really enjoyed being a part of such a positive site; sharing stories; and promoting healthy living, confidence, self-esteem, and self-love. Thank you to all of our contributors, models, agents, friends, mothers, writers, and our readers! We truly believe everyone can make a difference if we come together and let our voices be heard, as we have done at PSMU. We all need to be exposed to more healthy, happy, and positive ideas and role models. There are some extraordinary people out there doing amazing things and we need to hear more about them!

This will be our final post via Plus-Size Models Unite. We hope to see you at our new site!

Liz is now freelance writing and editing a wide variety of content both off and online. To learn more or request her services, please visit Liz Nord Creates.

Thank you!

Liz & Angela

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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!

Fashion To Figure to Hold Grand Opening of New Cross Country Shopping Center Store in Yonkers, NY on Saturday, March 5th.

Posted in Body Image, Confidence, Designers, Fashion, New York, News, Plus-Size Modeling, Shopping with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 19, 2011 by Liz

On Saturday March 5th, 2011 from 12:00 to 4:00 PM, Fashion To Figure (FTF) will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of its newest store at the Cross County Shopping Center in Yonkers, New York. FTF is pleased to be joined by special guests Shanda Freeman, co-host of MTV’s hit show Man and Wife and of her own show Shanda Says; City Council Woman Patricia McDow; and Audrey Smaltz, fashion icon and founder of the fashion show production company, The Ground Crew. Also in attendance will be various industry figures including full-fashion models and bloggers.

“FTF is thrilled to be joined by special guests and members of the community to help cut the ribbon of our newest location in the Cross County Shopping Center” said FTF Co-Founder and CEO Michael Kaplan. FTF will once again team up with VH1 Save The Music Foundation and donate 10% of all sales from the day to the foundation, whose mission is to “ensure that every child has access to a complete education that includes the benefits of music instruction,” and has provided access to instrumental music education in dozens of schools across New York.  Kaplan went on to say: “FTF is committed to the local communities in which our stores operate, and to fulfilling the FTF mission of making people’s lives better by providing them with the ultimate full-fashion shopping experience.  We are pleased to begin serving and supporting the Yonkers community.”

Guests are invited to shop, enjoy complimentary light refreshments and enter a raffle give-away to win FTF gift cards every half hour.  There will also be an opportunity to make direct donations to the VH1 Save The Music Foundation at the event.

Details: Saturday March 5th, 2011 from 12:00 to 4:00pm

Fashion To Figure

5160 Xavier Drive

Yonkers, NY 10704

Kings Plaza Shopping Center store in Brooklyn, NY

About Fashion To Figure (FTF):

FTF provides a trendy full-fashion shopping experience exclusively focused on ladies sizes 12-26.  FTF is style by anyone’s definition – a place where you will find the latest fashions at the very best prices.  New fashion arrives in stores every day and personal service is provided by FTF Fashion Stylists.  FTF is dedicated to making people’s lives better through providing the ultimate full-fashion shopping experience and was founded by the great-grandsons of Lena H. Bryant, the revolutionary businesswoman and visionary dressmaker who invented full-fashion more than 110 years ago.  Go to www.fashiontofigure.com for more information.

About The VH1 Save the Music Foundation:

The VH1 Save The Music Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring instrumental music education programs in America’s public schools, and raising awareness about the importance of music as part of each child’s complete education.  To date, VH1 Save The Music has provided more than $47 million in new musical instruments to 1,700 public schools in more than 100 cities around the country, impacting the lives of over 1.6 million children. With the support of people across the country and the 2010-2011 Ambassador Class including: OneRepublic, Chrisette Michele, Nick Lachey, Mandy Moore, Kelly Clarkson, Jason Mraz, Fall Out Boy, Colbie Caillat, it is The Foundation’s renewed commitment to donate one hundred million dollars worth of new musical instruments to ensure that even a greater number of students receive a comprehensive music education in the coming decade.  Get involved and learn more at www.vh1savethemusic.com.

Model Emily Nolan Says, “Real beauty starts with self-acceptance—loving yourself for who you are.”

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Designers, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Food, Funny Experiences, Hobbies, Inspiration, Media, Models, My Story, New York, News, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Recipes & Food, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Sports, Trade Tips, Travel, TV, Uncategorized, Unique Beauty, Work, Your Story with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2011 by Liz

Photographed by Jose Amigo

Emily Nolan was born and raised in Fairfax, Virginia. She is represented by CLICK Model Management (NYC), Dorothy Combs Models, Modelogic Wilhelmina, and The Campbell Agency. Emily has one older brother, Matthew (27), and two younger half-brothers, Riley (14) and Corey (13). Emily grew up playing softball as a catcher at the highest levels of competition. She loves to take pictures, scrapbook, and bake. She describes herself as a “model, entrepreneur, vegan, animal lover, and athlete”.

Photographed by Roberto Ligresti

How did you start your career as a model?

I was typecast as a character in a reality show in Washington, DC and I needed to send the production company headshots. Around the same time, one of my girlfriends convinced me to volunteer for a gig as a swimsuit model on the Fox morning news in DC for Saks Fifth Avenue. Coincidentally, Hilary Rhoda was being interviewed right before I went on. I was curious about how she got started, so I looked it up and discovered that she started at an event called ProScout. I went to ProScout’s weekend-long event, was called back by two big agencies, and the rest is history!

When people ask you to define the term ‘plus’ model, what do you tell them?

I am asked the question all the time, “What exactly is a plus size model?” My answer is simple; I jokingly respond that it’s any model bigger than a sample size 4 or 6. If they’re still curious, I just show them pictures of my beautiful curvy model friends. Most of my guy friends respond like, “Oh my Gosh, you know that girl? She’s your friend? Hook it up, Emily!”

Do you feel that ‘plus’ modeling is helping to redefine beauty?

People hear the word ‘plus’ and immediately assume the model is going to look like a whale and have five double chins. To our advantage, a lot of people don’t expect us to deliver beauty like straight models can, and when they see what we can produce; I think it shocks them…in a good way. It makes them think, “She’s a ‘plus’ model? She’s gorgeous!” 

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

Every model, actress, or entertainer will tell you the same thing. Learn to take “No” in stride, believe in yourself, and work like the devil!

Photographed by Jose Amigo

Have you met someone in the industry that has had a significant impact on your life?

In the beginning of my career, I was called-back by an agent from Elite Miami and I was thrilled to pieces. I sucked it in and stood tall and the first thing she told me was that I should gain five pounds and be a plus size model; not exactly what I had expected, nor wanted, to hear. Needless to say, I was determined to stay in contact with her and keep her updated on my progress. I trained as a fit model for Silver Models in NYC for three to four months, and during my fifth month of training, I called the agent at Elite and told her I was ready to make the transition. She sent my pictures to Dorothy Combs in Miami and I was asked to contact her directly. I literally stepped off the train I took up to NYC to meet with Click’s plus division, and I got a call from Dorothy saying that she wanted to represent me. The next day, a well-known photographer that I had tested with called Click and scheduled a personal meeting for me, I walked out of Click’s office with a contract and a shot at self-employment! …If the agent at Elite had not been so honest with me, I think I would still be putting in excessive hours a day at the gym, shaping my body as a fit model.

Do you have a funny modeling story you would like to share with us?

Oh my gosh. My first casting ever was for a huge jeans company and they were paying a lot of money; I had no idea what to expect. I wore their brand of jeans to the casting to show that I was serious about working for them. I was so excited at the thought that the people at the casting would notice that I had done a significant amount of research on the company and had worn their brand of jeans, that when they did notice, I had what my Mom calls, the classic case of, “diarrhea of the mouth.” “Oh, I love these jeans! I wear them all the time! They’re so comfortable and fit my curves in all the right places. My Mom loves them, and my Grandma wishes they’d fit her…” and so on. I seriously die laughing every time I think about that casting. Good thing I’m a fast learner!

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?

Oh, totally. Listen, sister. We’re just like fruits and vegetables. We all grow differently. Some of us are bigger and some are smaller. Some of us are plump and juicy, and others are small and tasty. It’s just the way God made us. Unfortunately, the way media depicts the “perfect woman” only accounts for a small percentage of the many beautiful, healthy bodies in this world. As cheesy as it sounds, you really want someone to love you for who you are. One of the most important confident building tricks that I learned from Nigel Barker was to find something about you that you really love, and flaunt it, sister! In my case, I really love my blue eyes, and they’ll never change with my size or age. A mani-pedi always helps, too!

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?

Unfortunately, I see a lot of my girlfriends in the industry, who are naturally thin, hear that they’re not thin enough: the industry wants their women to be impossibly thin, and almost the only way women can attain that body is through food deprivation and disordered eating. In a perfect world, models, agents, and clients would stand up for a healthy body image. Until that day, the most important thing we have as models and role models is a voice. As my great-grandparents would say, “Sister, if you don’t have anything good to say, then don’t say it!” Alternatively, if you have something good to say, let the world hear it!

Photographed by Roberto Ligresti

Who taught you about real beauty?

For the most part, my Grandma and my Mom. I also have some very good friends who have such beautiful souls, that no matter the amount of makeup or labels they wear, they are truly magnetic beauties with unforgettable personalities. Real beauty starts with self-acceptance—loving yourself for who you are.

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

Old Navy Performance Fleeces do go out of style. But, in all seriousness, I’d probably wish I had known I would kiss a lot of good-looking frogs before I found my Prince. And, that I’d grow up to be a model, and more importantly, a role model.

Who is your role model or hero? Why?

My Grandparents. They were born during the Great Depression and grew up with very few “extra” things, which we’re all so use to having nowadays. They raised my family to be compassionate and caring, and above all, appreciate the many opportunities we’re given to work hard, excel, and live the American dream. The most important lesson I’ve learned from them: Family first.

What is a fun fact about you?

I’m superstitious. My left shoe always goes on first. I make my bed the same way every morning. I always drive the same route when I’m going somewhere. The list goes on…

Photographed by Jose Amigo

My beauty essentials are…

Clean, moisturized skin and a beautiful smile. If I’m wearing makeup, it’s usually a little bit of Smashbox HD bronzer or powder (to control the shine of my moisturizer), Smashbox blush in Chiffon or Flush (depending on the season), and I like to curl my eyelashes. I really like the natural look, but if I do wear mascara, it’s Dior Show. A girlfriend of mine is introducing me to a vegan, chemical-free makeup line sold in DC, and I’m really looking forward to making the switch—her skin is so radiant and beautiful.

Lipstick or Lip gloss?

Murad Moisturing and Age Reforming lip gloss, everyday, all day. Smashbox’s nude lip liner in Fair and lipstick in Flawless for a nicer, more naturally defined look.

What is your go-to outfit?

Ha! I love this question. I love my Nike’s, fitted Under Armor sweatpants, and a cute workout tank top. I am such a tomboy at heart. When I go out with friends, I’ll wear skinny jeans, a cute top, and some fun heels. For some reason, guys can’t resist a simple woman who looks great in jeans in a tank top…it’s definitely an equation that works for me.

What are your favorite pair of jeans?

I’m a big fan of my Marc Jacobs jeggings. I also really like J Brand’s new pencil leg jeans, too; my favorite color is in venom because they look a lot like leather, and they’re animal friendly. Both pairs of jeans fit true to size, are slightly stretchy, and long enough! If I’m just casually running around town, I like my Levi’s Curve ID jeans—they’re affordable, comfortable, and they look good!

Where do you love to shop for clothes?

I love to shop at designer discount stores, like Loehmann’s, Last Call by Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom Rack, and Off Saks Fifth Avenue. There’s something about going through the racks and finding that one gem that no one else has found. I found my first Halston dress at Loehmann’s buried in the clearance racks. The original price was marked at $4,500 and got it for maybe $300. That purchase gave me lifetime bragging rights–I am the queen of good deals.

Photographed byJennifer Domenick

Being an athlete, you have a passion for fitness. How do you stay fit?

I love to work out. I try to run five times a week and lift weights three to five times a week. It’s important that I look curvy and healthy. It sends the message that this is my healthy size; this is the way my body is meant to look.

What does being healthy mean to you?

To me, healthy is about a balance. Eat right, treat your body like a temple, work hard, and get your rest. Appreciate your family, be compassionate, laugh a lot, and listen to your heart.

Would you please tell us how long you have been a vegan, why you made that healthful choice for you, and how it makes you feel?

I’ve been a vegan for about a year now. My Mom bought the book, The China Study, for literally, my entire family. She must have bought fifteen copies of it and made us all read it. The book talks about people’s predispositions to diseases and cancers, and how we can prevent the development of those diseases by a vegan diet and good exercise. It’s a real matter of fact book, I really am glad my mom made such a big stink about it.

Healthful reasons aside, I am the biggest animal lover on the planet. I have rescued a countless number of animals, including my mixed Black Lab, Dorey. I even convinced my Grandparents at a young age, that the stray cats living in our back yard were good luck and that we needed to keep them. I have such an immense love for animals and I’m very passionate about advocating for their humane treatment.

I shot with a photographer once who asked me if I knew why the leather in luxury cars was so supple and soft. He proceeded to answer his question and said that it was because the leather was from unborn fetuses—the skin of baby calves that had never seen the sun. Doesn’t it just make your little heart break to know that, not by choice, some animal has to give up their little baby at our own consumer’s expense?

What would we find in your refrigerator?

Mind you, everything that I eat is vegan and gluten free. I wash, chop, and store my fresh fruit and veggies as soon as I bring them home from the store; it really aids in making make healthy choices when you reach for something to satisfy your hunger. I try to eat a very raw diet, when I can, so you’ll find almost every in-season fruit and veggie (a lot of which comes from my older brother’s organic farm) in my fridge. You’d also find soy milk, coconut milk, carrot juice, orange juice, hummus, carrots, broccoli, artichokes, celery, eggplant, peppers, asparagus, veggie-burgers, brown rice bread, Daiya cheese, and leftovers from the local vegan restaurant. I keep frozen fruit in my freezer for fresh fruit smoothies.

In my pantry, I’ve got raw almond butter, as well as raw coconut butter, peanut butter, every type of seed, Go Raw energy bars, every type of raw nut, dried fruit, cereal, blue tortilla chips, my favorite chocolate chip cookie, and brownie box mixes. I’ve always got an extra bag of Enjoy Life’s mini chocolate chips lying around too. Several winter’s ago, my Mom and Step-dad surprised me with a Lello Italian gelato maker because I love to make my own ice cream. My favorite flavor so far is chocolate, and my secret is to add a pinch of salt to the recipe. I just made a pumpkin pie ice cream that’s a close second to my chocolate.

Photographed by Roberto Ligresti

What makes you uniquely beautiful?

I own every inch of my body and my personality. I know that confidence is the key to attractiveness.

In my purse you would find…

Ipod. Murad Age Reforming lip gloss. Louis Vuitton wallet. Essie apricot cuticle oil. Burt’s Bees almond milk hand salve. Face towels for the gym. Hand sanitizer. A Fuji apple and a water bottle.

How would you describe your style?

Comfortably sexy.

Favorite book?

Oh gosh, I love to read. The China Study has most definitely influenced my life more than any other book. Most of my reading though, are books about business; certainly an enjoyment of mine that was passed down from my Grandfather.

Celebrity Crush…

Mario Lopez. Hugh Jackman…oh Lawd!

What are your favorite sites to visit online?

I’m not much of an online shopper so when I’m online, I’m usually on Facebook, vegan/ eco-luxury lifestyle sites, as well as any sites or blogs dealing with news in the modeling industry (especially if it’s plus related).

Photographed by Rick Day

What is your philosophy?

Do what you do: If you’re good at something and you enjoy it, pour your heart and soul into it, give it everything you’ve got. Stand up for what you believe in and always, always, always listen to your gut…and your mother! =)

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

Wake up without an alarm, go for a nice run, throw a swimsuit on, and go out on the boat with my family and friends. I’ve also lived the whole fantasy of being alone on an exotic beach under an umbrella with a good book where hot cabana boys are at my service…that doesn’t seem like such a bad “perfect day” either.

What is one of your favorite childhood memories?

Being the first one picked for any sports during recess. I was the kickball queen. I was also the only girl on my block, growing up with a bunch of boys: While most girls were learning how to kiss boys and apply makeup, I was learning how to check boys with my hockey stick on roller blades. Needless to say, my parents never had to worry about, “beating the boys off with a baseball bat.”

What are you excited about right now?

Oh goodness. I’m fairly young in the plus industry, so it’s really exciting for me when I get to meet all of the stunningly beautiful women who have pioneered the plus movement. Cindy Lauper once said that you should never meet someone that you idolize because you’ll only be disappointed; I doubt that I’d ever regret meeting Emme, or Brooke Shields for that matter.

*Thank you, Emily, for everything you do and for being one of our strongest supporters!

* You can find out more about Emily at http://mlestyle.com/ and http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=706953358#!/pages/Emily-Nolan/149048695137826

Model Camilla Hansen is an Advocate For Finding Your Own Personal Style, Embracing Your Creativity & Helping Animals.

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Designers, Family & Friends, Fashion, Inspiration, Italy, Media, Models, New York, News, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, Travel, Unique Beauty, Wilhelmina, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 5, 2010 by Liz

Camilla Hansen is a plus model who is originally from a small village  in Southern Denmark. She started modeling at fourteen years old as a straight model. After four years, she changed to plus modeling. She has lived in Istanbul and Milan, and currently lives in New York City. She is represented by Model Management UK in London and Wilhelmina in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. Some of her clients include Marina Rinaldi, Elena Mirò, Jessica London, Macy’s, Fiorella Rubino, Avenue, Ulla Popken, Burda, Persona, and Bloomingdales. Her hobbies include fostering and volunteering for an animal rescue center in New York, photographing, and getting lost in new cities.

How did you start your career as a model?

I started my career as a model when I was fourteen years old. A few friends had suggested that I should contact an agency, and after a while, I decided to try it out. I sent some pictures to an agency in Copenhagen (the capital in Denmark) but because I feared rejection, I did it without telling anyone at all–not even my family.

The same day the agency received my pictures (which by the way were just random personal shots); they called me up and told me about a modeling competition that they had going on at that moment and that they wanted me to be a part of. I, of course, was so excited and immediately accepted. After that, everything happened very fast. I told my family about the happy news and a few days later, we went to Copenhagen to attend the casting for the finals. I became one of ten finalists out of thousands of applicants and a few days after the casting, the finale was held. I won.

What do you enjoy most about modeling?

What I enjoy most about modeling is not just one thing. It is the combination of several things. Getting to travel and experiencing new cultures. Getting to unleash my creative side and being inspired by all the creative people around me. Hopefully, inspiring young girls to accept their body as it is. These are just a few of the things that I enjoy about modeling.

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

I have indeed suffered from low self-esteem and body image issues. When I started modeling, I was constantly told by agents and a majority of clients that I was too fat and that I had to lose weight. Even though my parents have always had my back and have supported me throughout my career, you will reach a point where it is just too difficult to ignore the comments being made about your body and unfortunately, I started believing what they said was true.

All of a sudden when I looked in the mirror, I no longer saw that slim girl that I previously had seen. Instead, I started seeing all the problems that everyone, except my family, kept bringing to my attention.

When I started modeling, I decided that I would only do it for as long as I found it enjoyable. After four years, I had had enough. Enough of the comments. Enough of the insane diets. Enough of not feeling confident. So, when Wilhelmina wanted to sign me to their plus-size board, I jumped right on. It was my way out. I started eating regularly and healthy, and I stopped weighing myself every day. All of this slowly made me feel happier, both about my body and my life. Rome wasn’t built in a day though, and being confident about your body doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process, but once you reach that state of mind it is indescribable.

Therefore, my advice to any girl/woman is to be YOU. Find your natural size where your body plateaus whether that is a size 0, 12, 22, apple shape, pear shape, hourglass, or whatever and rock that. The most beautiful, attractive, and intriguing women that I have met in my life so far, may not necessarily have met the fashion industry’s criteria on what beauty is but they were comfortable in their own skin and for that I admire them.

Do you feel plus modeling is helping redefine beauty?

I definitely feel plus modeling is helping redefine beauty, but as is acting, etc. Nowadays, it has become more common to see women of all shapes and sizes on the cover of and in various magazines, as well as in TV series. The fashion industry has (hopefully!) realized that consumers need and want to see someone they can relate to.

What does being healthy mean to you?

Healthy, to me, is eating healthy and regularly. Healthy, to me, is a state of mind. Healthy, to me, is taking care of your body.

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

Here is the thing. I try as much as possible to live a life with no regrets. I am happy with who I have become so why regret any of the things, both the good and the bad, that have been part of that process? When I was thirteen, I was still a child and I learn by doing, so I don’t wish I knew anymore than I did because then I very likely wouldn’t have gone down the path I have.

What feature do you love to accentuate?

It depends what mood I am in. Sometimes, it is my legs and other times it is my waist or my bust. It depends.

Photography is…

A way of expressing my creativity. I am not a great writer, painter, or dancer, but I still have such an incredible amount of ideas and visions in my head that I need to get them out somehow. That’s what photography does for me.

We know you love heels! Do you have a favorite pair?

Ha ha, I do indeed! My dad’s nickname for me is Imelda Marcos. I feel that heels can make or break an outfit, especially as I hardly ever wear jewelry. This is also, why I don’t have a favorite pair of shoes. I love all of them, as they are all good for different occasions and outfits.

I recently read an article about three shoe lovers, and one of them gave a quote that I absolutely adore and can relate to. She said, “What I like about shoes is that anybody can wear them. There is no size-zero debate about shoes.”

What is your go-to outfit?

I actually don’t have a specific go-to outfit. In the Fall/Winter, I wear a lot of black and there is a certain model of black Dr. Denim jeans I wear quite often. I actually have own three pair of the same model because I wear them so often and love them a ton. During Spring/Summer, I try to switch it up a bit by wearing cute and colorful dresses that accentuate my curves.

Who is your style icon?

I don’t have any style icons. I believe in wearing what is comfortable yet flattering to my body shape. Once again, it is all about being YOU instead of trying to imitate other people.

Rosie

Have you always been a dog lover? Do you have any dogs now?

I have always been an animal lover, not just a dog lover. I had rabbits when I was still living at home and I rode horses for a very long time, which by the way, to this day is the best sport I have ever partaken in.

Though I always took care of a lot of dogs, I never had my own dog and I don’t plan on getting one in the near future as it is a huge responsibility, and I am not at the stage in my life where I am able to make a ten to twenty year commitment. When the time is right, I will (without a doubt) get my own dog, but that is just not now.

Instead, I decided a while back to start fostering for a dog rescue (Posh Pets Rescue) here in New York. That has been a great decision. Basically, what we do is to take the dogs off the euthanizing list, out of the shelters and place them in private homes until they are adopted. In periods when I am not working, I will usually have one or two dogs at my apartment.

It keeps amazing me how people can give up these dogs, as most of them are perfectly healthy and well-behaved dogs that have just been dumped on the street, as if they were a useless bag of garbage.

When I got my first foster dog, Rosie, a beautiful, well-behaved, housebroken, and kindhearted Bichon Fris, I was heartbroken. How could anyone just leave this little gem to fend for herself on the street? I was close to losing faith in humanity, but then something amazing happened. Rosie was put up on our website (www.poshpetsrescue.org), on petfinder.com, and on several other sites and the applications just started rolling in.

As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and after going through a lot of applications and interviews little Rosie was adopted by an incredibly sweet woman who already had another Bichon. All of these applications made me realize that even though there will always be the occasional cold-hearted person there are at least twenty good ones!

Who is your role model or hero? Why?

My parents and grandparents. For the love and unlimited support they have always given me, my younger brother, and each other. I strive to be like them.

Your family is a big part of your life. What is one of your favorite childhood memories?

One incident that sticks out, and that I think of often and was a long time ago, is when my brother and I played dress up. Even though he was a boy playing with cars, super heroes, etc., he let me put him in a dress, put makeup on him, and place a big bow in his hair. Only someone who truly loves you will let you do something like that to them.

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

Every single place I’ve traveled to has made an impact on me as a person. In Texas, I had a Mexican driver who was also a trained chef. He taught me some incredible Mexican recipes. When I lived in Istanbul, a friend and I were almost shot by the mafia. When I went to Colombia for a job, we stayed and shot at a highly guarded mansion and the mother of the house showed me a few traditional Colombian dishes; one of which you have to use at least five different kinds of potatoes. I could go on like this, but my point is, as I said in the beginning, that every place has made an impact on me and who I am as a person today. I believe that it makes us better people to experience and accept the differences in the different cultures all over the world.

Where do you shop for clothes?

Anywhere I find anything flattering really; sometimes that is at very cheap stores and other times at more pricey stores.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

When my grandmother, with whom I was very close, was alive, she used to always tell me: “Smile at the world and the world will smile back at you”.

Though she went through some very hard times in her life, she was one of the most genuinely positive people who I have ever met. Because that was one of the things about her I admired the most, I try to live by it even though I do fail sometimes.

What do you love about yourself and why?

I don’t just love one part; I love me as a whole. I have finally completely accepted my body as it is and I am happy with whom I am as a person.

What are your favorite beauty products or must-haves?

My very favorite beauty product is a makeup remover from Bioderma. Every time I work, I wear a lot of makeup and it can be very hard on the skin if the makeup remover you use is not good.

Do you have a beauty tip to share with us?

Being in a business where appearance matters a lot, I attempt to take very good care of my skin. I cleanse my skin every night (no exception) with a milky cream cleanser, then with an alcohol-free skin tonic, and I finish off my routine by applying eye cream and a good lotion. In the morning, I re-apply the lotion which contains SPF 30. That is my best beauty tip–take good care of your skin, even if it may seem like a hassle because it will benefit you in the long run.

Lipstick or Lipgloss?

I naturally have very red lips and therefore don’t wear anything on my lips in my everyday life. Bit, I love to pump it up every now and then with a deep red lipstick (Chanel Rouge Allure – 09 – Lover) if I go out for dinner, an event, or something like that.

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

A perfect day off for me would be spent with my family. Especially after I have moved to New York and they are all in Denmark, it has made me realize just how much we should all treasure the time we have together because you never know when that time might be up.

What is a fun fact about you?

A fun fact about me is that I never liked wearing dresses when I was younger. I always preferred being outside climbing trees and getting dirty.

What are you excited about right now?

Right at this moment, I am excited about several things. OneStopPlus.com gave New York fashion week its very first plus-size fashion show, and I got to be a part of it, which is something I am very proud of. Elena Miro once again put on an amazingly beautiful and well-done show during Milan fashion week. Last but not least, I am over the moon that I once again got to work with the talented people at Vogue, which resulted in a short-film that should be coming out very soon.

*Thank you, Camilla!

**You can watch Camilla’s video and find out more about her at http://www.vogue.it/en/vogue-curvy/how-to/2010/03/camilla-hansen.

Plus Model and Embody Denim Designer Natalie Wakeling Shares Her Story and Offers a 15% Discount to You For One Week! Her Jeans Are Awesome and For Women of ALL Sizes!

Posted in Australia, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Celebrity, Confidence, Designers, Entertainment, Fashion, Ford +, Media, Models, News, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, Unique Beauty, Your Story with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2010 by Liz

Photographed by Anna Bertalli

Natalie Wakeling is a plus-size model and clothing designer from New South Whales, Australia. Natalie is the youngest of four daughters. She grew up surrounded by a strong influence of fashion and a desire to be a model. In 1999, Natalie was one of Australia’s first plus-size models to appear in consecutive editorials for Cosmopolitan magazine. She helped to break the stereotype that only straight models should appear in mainstream magazines. In 2006, Natalie Wakeling created EMBODY DENIM, which is a denim line for every women of every size who has ever struggled to find a perfect pair of jeans.

First plus model used for Australia’s Cosmopolitan magazine.

How did you begin your career as a model?

I was quite athletic, had a solid build as a teenager, and had secret aspirations of being a model. I just happened to be too big for straight size modelling so I pretty much gave up the thought of ever being a model. When I left school, I trained as a photographer and make-up artist. One day, I was working on a shoot as the make- up artist, when the photographer said that I should try plus-size modeling and that the best agency was BGM Models. I met with Darrianne Donnelly, the agency director, and she signed me immediately. I have been with her since I was eighteen years of age.

Was it hard for you to make the transition from straight to plus modeling?

Letting go of all the fears that you harbour about putting on weight was hard, but I soon relaxed and enjoyed being the size that I was, which allowed me to be a model. It was a little scary to decide that I was no longer going to skip meals and exercise like a maniac to remain thinner than I was supposed to be. As soon as I started to land some major photographic campaigns, I found that my inner confidence grew and I started to understand more about myself.

Photographed by Anna Bertalli

Do you feel that plus-sized models are becoming more widely accepted by today’s media?

The change has been quite phenomenal over the past two years. My agency, BGM Models, has been slowly chipping away at the mainstream fashion Industry for over a decade now, and I’m glad to say that things have moved forward quite dramatically here in Australia in the past twelve months. We now see plus-size models included in main fashion festivals, along with magazines using bigger models in every issue.

I was honoured when asked to be the face of ‘Every Body Counts’ Fashion Festival in Perth, Western Australia. To have reached a point in my career where I stay in five star hotels, be met at the airport with a limousine, and to treated like a queen is awesome. Whilst in Perth, I had the privilege of meeting other well-known fashion designers and attending VIP events. I even managed to deliver a speech to a full house, which included Jerry Hall. The ‘Every Body’ parade featured fifteen women of all shapes and sizes. It was a huge success and was special for the fact that it was included on the main programme.

Here is another article about The Perth Fashion Festival:

http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/lifestyle/a/-/lifestyle/7919319/fashion-launch-for-every-body/

What inspired you the most when creating Embody Denim?

Beside the natural desire to exceed in something you love, I desperately wanted to wear an amazing pair of jeans designed for my shape. The concept of my brand was very different. My jeans are made for different body shapes without focusing on the size.

Photographed by Marvin Joseph. The group shot includes BGM models Kate Hislop, Natalie in front,Laura Wells, and Kiralee Martin.

What was the first pair of jeans you created?

For my first collection, I designed four styles – Babe, Body Love, CHIC, and Ice Queen. Since then I have expanded my range to include twelve fabulous styles.  I have also designed a jacket and skirt to add to the collection. I’m currently working on my fashion range, which I hope to launch in 2011.

Do you have a favorite cut from Embody?

I love the ‘Bella’ style, as it is just so glamorous and holds everything in the right place.

I love that you created jeans for every body type…brilliant!  Was that difficult to achieve?

The sampling process is tiresome, but once I had the measurements figured out for certain body types,  it all just fell into place.

How many pairs of jeans do you own?

Every style I have ever made in every colour–maybe around 20 + pairs.

Photographed by Marvin Joseph. Natalie modeling her Embody Denim. Natalie is the designer and she is constantly updating the styles (for all sizes) to correspond with the current fashion trends.

What Embody cut has been the most popular?

Everybody loves the ‘Bebe’ and ‘Tempt’ narrow styles. These two styles are totally different, being the Bebe more suited to apple body shapes and the tempt narrow being perfect for pear shaped ladies that struggle with gapping waistbands.

Are there any trends coming out next season that we should be keeping an eye out for?

I will be releasing a brand new crop style jean with lots of detailed panels. It is the perfect jean that manages to make everyone look a size smaller. We are still love the holes and rips and even the acid wash, denim is so varied now that you can pretty much wear whatever you want. I definitely recommend dressing for your shape rather than trying to wear the hottest look of the moment. Confidence is the sexiest thing you can wear.

We all love denim, but what makes denim so important to you?

I guess denim is like a third child to me. To be able to create something and make it work has been a challenge and it has been wonderful to be able to make so many women feel good about themselves whilst wearing Denim that I have designed.

What do you love to pair your embody denim with?

I love a bit of a rock chic feel.  Something sexy under a blazer always looks hot.

Natalie had just been signed with Ford and was able to wear a high end designer Sass and Bide for this photo shoot.

What has been your favorite memory since creating Embody?

I have so many. I guess the day I was able to do my own photographic campaign was really exciting. It was so much fun to direct from behind the camera and to be the boss for the day.

Who would you love to see wear a pair of your jeans?

I have a very long list, but if it was a celebrity, I would love to see a pair on Beyonce.

Where can Plus-Size Models Unite readers find Embody Denim?

It is very easy you can buy direct from http://www.embodydenim.com.au/. I also offer free international shipping.  I would also like to offer your readers a special 15% off for one week.

**To redeem, please email sales@embodydenim.com.au with plusmodelsunite in the subject line. Please mention the size and style that you wish, and Natalie will email you a discount link.

This photograph is from Natalie’s very first shoot with Cosmopolitan ten years ago.  It was eight pages long and made Natalie’s career what it is today.

Have you ever struggled with body image or self esteem issues?

I think every time my body has gone through a radical change, such as the teenage years and after having babies, I start to think about how I can improve my body.

What advice would you give to young girls and women who are struggling?

I think you need to ask yourself– is it really your body your unhappy with or is it another problem?

Talk to your best friend or parents about your issues.  Sometimes it’s as simple as going for a walk to make you feel more at ease with yourself and your body. Check out all the gorgeous curvy women that are really doing well for themselves by just being the way that they were meant to be.

What do you love about yourself?

I’m a pretty approachable person and always laugh very easily (sometimes too loud).

The Men’s Style magazine shoot was a first for a plus size model.

What are you excited about right now?

The possibilities of the future. Not knowing what’s around the corner from one week to the next.

*Thank you, Natalie!

How to Build Self-Esteem and Confidence by Elizabeth Nord

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Confidence, Fitness & Health, Inspiration, News, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Your Story with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2010 by Liz

Photographed by my five-year-old daughter, Olivia.

I’ve been thinking about self-esteem and confidence lately. Over all, I am a confident person. I feel confident about my capabilities and my ability to succeed at reaching goals that I set. I think I’m intelligent, loving, strong, brave, adventurous, fun, athletic, organized, a good writer, a great mom, and I am competent in many other areas. But, sometimes I let fear of failure hold me back from setting new goals or moving forward. I think it’s a lingering self-esteem issue from my childhood. At times, I forget my own self-worth. Now that I’ve realized what has been holding me back, I’m not going to let that happen anymore. 

I want to set a good example for my daughters. I want them to be confident, love themselves, and feel a strong sense of self-worth. Most importantly, I want to be the best and happiest that I can be, for me. I think we all do. Now that I have decided to consciously set that goal, I know that I will reach it.

Many women struggle with self-esteem or confidence issues so I asked therapist and Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Patricia Born, MS, to share a list of things women can do to build self-esteem and confidence. The below list was created by Patricia. The list is not verbatim because we were having a discussion and direct quotes would take away from the essence of our conversation. Here is the list:

  • Deal with any baggage or demons from your past that influences your future happiness. You may need a mentor or therapist to work through the muck.
  • Nurturing is a wonderful thing, but not if you are nurturing or doing something for someone so that they will like you. We cannot get our value from what other people think of us. We must value ourselves for who we are without the need for outside approval.
  • Always treat yourself with respect.
  • Meet your basic needs. This may seem obvious, but sometimes it’s not, and we all need to be reminded to take care of ourselves. I see that more clearly now looking back at the early days and sleepless nights of raising my daughters.
  • Allow yourself to express yourself in the ways that you are gifted. Give yourself permission to write, draw, sing, work, run, dance, create, or do whatever helps you express your gifts whether or not someone else finds them valuable.
  • Tend to your spiritual development and expression.
  • Always talk positive to yourself. You can analyze yourself in a healthy way without critiquing or being negative, judgmental, and condemning.
  • Figure out what your basic values are so that you can try to live your life consistent with that.
  • Be humble. When we talked about what the definition of humble means to us, it was not the textbook version. It was doing things not because you are trying to earn accolades or praise, but doing something just because that is simply what you want to do. It’s being yourself without needing approval or acclaim from others.
  • Have a voice and believe in it.
  • Remember that how you feel is always valid. Trust yourself and your feelings.
  • Love yourself for who you are right now! We are all a work in progress.

There is so much more to say on this topic, but this is a good start. This is a great list to print out or share with your friends. What would you add to the list? What do you think it takes to have healthy self-esteem and confidence? When you are feeling less than, how do you pick yourself up?

*Thank you for your insightful words of wisdom, Patricia!