Archive for the Your Story 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

Advertisements

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!

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

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

What inspired you to get into the modeling industry?

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

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

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

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

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

What advice would you give to aspiring models?

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

What do you love about your job?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please tell us about your blog, Miami Style Watch!

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

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

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

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

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

How do you define beauty?

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

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

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

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

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

What would we find in your make-up bag?

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

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

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

What is your signature scent?

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

What are you most proud of?

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

Who is your role model or hero? Why?

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

What are some of your favorite books?

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

Who do you have on speed dial?

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

What is your most treasured possession?

My brain.

What music is on at home?

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

Guilty pleasure?

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

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

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

Who is your style icon and why?

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

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

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

What is your go-to statement accessory?

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

Where do you love to shop for clothes?

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

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

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

Do you have a favorite model? Why?

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

Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?

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

What are you passionate about?

Family, friends, and living life to its fullest.

What is one of your most favorite childhood memories?

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

What are you passionate about?

Family, friends, and living life to its fullest.

What are you excited about right now?

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

*Thank you, Caroline!

Rebekah Brambila Says, “The people you love, who love you in return, are not lying when they tell you how wonderful you are!”

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Entertainment, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Inspiration, Models, Plus-Size Modeling, Recipes & Food, Self-Esteem, Trade Tips, Travel, Unique Beauty, Your Story with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2011 by Liz

Meet model Rebekah…

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

My cousin told me that you could apply to work as a model for Torrid.com through their internet site. So, I took the chance, sent in some pictures my mom took of me on our front porch, and I was called in for a go-see!

A bit later Torrid sent me and some models to Katie Halchishick and Bradford Wilcox (founders of Natural Model Management) for a modeling class. The class went great and at the end of the day, we set up some future test shots, and I was signed from there!

What does being a part of Natural Model Management mean to you?

To me, being a part of Natural Model Management means being a part of a team, and a movement that shows girls how to dream big! Natural doesn’t just say, “Love your body”; it gives girls role models who actually live out their commitment of self-love…no matter their shape, or size!

Natural Models and Healthy is the New Skinny recently went to Placer High in Auburn, California to talk to their students about its new program Perfectly UnPerfected. You were a part of this amazing experience. Please tell us about it and why this movement is so important.

Let’s face it, high school can be a really hard four years for teenagers. Their feelings can be so tender during this time as kids are trying to discover who they are, and how they fit in.

Previous to this event, we were told that 80 percent of girls at this campus wished they could be skinnier, and that they hated their bodies. 80 percent! That shows just how important it is to find a solution to this way of thinking and feeling.

What the PUP Program and Healthy is The New Skinny are trying to do is help students foster feelings of individual worth. It was amazing to me how well the students took to heart our message of self-acceptance, and they did so in such a short amount of time. After only one set of assemblies, the students showed such positive signs of how they felt about themselves and each other.

Students also realized the absolute power they have in changing what the fashion world views as beautiful. Many girls were told for the first time that there really is no standard or size when it comes to beauty. Beautiful is just perfectly unperfected people striving for a healthier lifestyle.

What do you enjoy about modeling? What is it about your career that brings you joy?

Everything! Haha! But in all honesty, as much as I love taking pictures in fun clothes and pretty make up, I really love meeting new people. I love talking to people about their lives. Everyone has a story, and it’s always really inspiring to hear them.

I also love how unique and hard working my agency is. The people I work with are so passionate about making a change for the better. I couldn’t be surrounded by better people. 

Currently, you are attending college in Hawaii at BYU. What has your experience been like in college so far? What is your major?

College has been a huge learning experience for me. I went to BYU-H not knowing a single person, hoping things would just work out. At school, I learned how to be a part of a family wherever I am. Friends, roommates, and even the people I work with became my family away from home. It’s amazing the strength that can bring to a person.

I am majoring in Exercise Sport Science. I LOVE it! The professors I have are so helpful and really care about my success as a student. Plus I get to take some fun classes like flag football and rugby!

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

Sun, sand, and surf! I love the North Shore and could spend all day there! At night, I love going to my favorite snack shack “Kava Roots”, ordering an acai bowl, and listening to locals sing at open mike night. I would definitely end my day with a late night long board ride around campus with my roommie.

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?

Body image and self-esteem issues were a big part of my life from my late high school years, into my college years. I could not get past that feeling of not feeling good enough. The people I loved most could tell me a million times how perfect I was just being me, but I never could take it to heart. It took being sick and tired, of being sick and tired, for me to make a change.

If I could give any advice to girls and women struggling with body, or self-esteem issues, it would be to trust the people you love, and lose yourself in doing good for others.

The people you love, who love you in return, are not lying when they tell you how wonderful you are! Listen to them and lean on them for support.

Even in times when I felt the worst about myself, when I fully divided into helping others, I felt worlds better. It’s amazing how you can find your most beautiful self when focusing on the needs of others.

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?

I really think the list is never-ending. But, a huge pressure I see right now is the struggle between the modern and tradition values of what a women should be. Today there are so many standards society pressures on women: being thin, beautiful, mothers, successful businesswomen, educated, homemakers, etc.

I think the example mentors need to set is that a women can be many things in one lifetime, even if not at the same time. We need to experience joy in what we do accomplish, and not beat our self’s up over what we have yet to fulfill. 

Who taught you about real beauty?

My momma. She is the kind of lady who takes dinner to our neighbors when they have a baby, and who gets up numerous times in the middle of the night to check on her kids when they are sick. To me, that’s true selfless beauty.

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

Thirteen was a happy age for me. But, I do wish I would have known what a bad idea it was to wear my hair in a pony-bun everyday that school year!

Who is your role model or hero? Why?

I feel fortunate to have so many, but one of them is my older sister Lizzy. She is one of the most kind-hearted people I know. She is my best friend, and has always stuck by me and taken care of me. There is nothing in this world like a sister.

What is a fun fact about you?

I can po-go stick with no hands.

If you could travel anywhere in the world on a vacation, where would you go?

Oh gosh, too many places! Some on my list are Ireland, Greece, Bali, Jerusalem, India, Brazil, Morocco, and New Zealand. But for starters, I would love to visit New York!

Lipstick or Lip gloss?

Chapstick! haha! I’m a chap stick junkie! I love Burts Bees Pomegranate chapstick. It has such a good tint of color but looks really natural. When I want to look a little more bold, I always turn to MAC Russian Red lipstick.

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

Tweezers! Oh gosh, I have always had huge eyebrows. I remember my mom plucking them for me when I was in sixth grade! Talk about a great beauty invention!

What are your favorite beauty products or must-haves?

I love Olay’s daily defense face lotion. It has SPF 30, which is really important, since I spend so much time in the sun.

Do you have a quick beauty tip to share with us?

Drink lots of water! I know people say it all the time, but it really does work wonders.

What is your go-to outfit?

Jeans, a peasant top, cute sandals, and turquoise jewelry. This is coming from a hippie at heart.

What are your favorite pair of jeans?

I love my dark wash super skinny jeans from the Forever 21 Plus section. They are cute, AND they were only 11.50!

Where do you love to shop for clothes?

I like to thrift shop for cool vintage pieces, but I also love it when my grandma goes to Mexico and brings me back cool peasant blouses. I love fabrics that I can breathe in.  

What does being healthy mean to you?

To me, healthy is actively doing what’s good for your body. Its more than eating right and exercising. Healthy is laughing, loving, learning, exploring, serving, creating, hugging, singing, playing, and just being plain silly! 

Do you have a favorite workout routine?

I love playing flag football! I can definitely hold my own while playing with the boys. I love playing different sports too. I grew up playing soccer, and last semester my roommates taught me how to play tennis and basketball, which I loved!

What makes you uniquely beautiful?

I love that I come from two very different ethnic backgrounds. I am half-Mexican, and half Irish. I think that diversity makes me beautiful.

In my purse you would find…

Sharpie markers, lots of Chapstick, and receipts with gum stuck in them! haha!

What are you listening to right now?

Right now, my favorite songs are Let’s Get Together by The Youngbloods, San Francisco by Scott McKenzie, and Peace Train by Cat Stevens. But my all time favorites include U2, Stevie Nicks, and Coldplay.

What are your favorite sites to visit online?

I LOVE the blog put on by my agency, Healthyisthenewskinny.com. It is such a fun place to share ideas, get fashion/beauty tips, and build confidence. The best part is that everyone can be a part of the blog!

I also love the blog colormekatie.blogspot.com. It’s so creative and it can’t help but to make you feel good. 

Favorite beach on Oahu?

Sunset Beach is one of my favorites. The water there is just so clear and blue. I also like Castles beach because it is a great beginners surfing spot. But you can’t visit Oahu without going to Waimea Bay, it’s a must!

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

Don’t laugh too hard, but I have always wanted to learn how to Krump! haha! I’m not much of a dancer so I am sure I would look ridiculous, but it just looks like SO much fun!

Where would you like to see yourself 10 years from now?

Ten years from now, I would love to be married and have a family. I want to be done with my Masters, and have a job working with and counseling teenage girls.

What has been the best advice you have ever been given?

I hated hearing this when I was younger, but my parents would always tell me to “thicken up my skin”. Basically, not to take the bad things people say to heart, and not to listen to all the negative things people can say. It’s a lot easier said than done, but it sure does come in handy!

What is Rebekah’s philosophy?

I just believe that life is a journey meant for happiness. Trials along the way make us stronger, but I’ll never come up against anything I can’t tackle.

What is one of your fondest childhood memories?

I remember being about seven years old, sitting on top of my playhouse in my back yard. I loved feeling the wind from up high. I can still see myself with my arms spread out like a bird, pretending I could fly. Whenever I feel down on myself, I think of that little girl. She reminds me to be more carefree, to be a little kinder to myself, and to remember how great life is.

What are you excited about right now?

After taking a semester off, I’m really excited to go back to school! I’m also excited about being a part of Natural Model Management, and the Healthy is the New Skinny movement. I’ve got a great feeling about it all. :]

One more thing… A Recipe

I LOVE making Green Drink in the morning! Drinking a glass in the morning helps me to feel really energized. Plus, its super simple to make and super good for you!

1/2 peeled cucumber

1 peeled apple

1 stalk celery

1 handful of spinach

Juice of 1 lemon

Fresh mint leaf to taste

Blend ingredients together. Add water until you obtain desired texture. Keep chilled in the refrigerator, and shake it before you drink!

*Thank you, Rebekah!

International Model Tracie Stern Says, “For me, my journey has been more about self acceptance and less about size acceptance.”

Posted in Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Celebrity, Confidence, Entertainment, Events, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Funny Experiences, Hobbies, Inspiration, Lane Bryant, Media, Models, My Story, Parenting, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Trade Tips, Travel, TV, Unique Beauty, Work, Your Story with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 12, 2011 by Liz

Tracie being awarded the Female Pioneer Award at the Virginia Fashion Awards.

Please tell us about Understudies Consulting.

Understudies was developed by my brother and I. I wanted to create an outlet that encompassed everything I have learned in my life and that would give me an opportunity to share it with people.  Understudies Consulting consists of 3 workshops to primarily bring focus to the inner beauty of society.  I know that sounds so broad, but our programs not only reach out to young aspiring models and designers, but also to kids ages 8-18 and to women as well.  Each program has specific focuses, whether it’s healthy living, regaining self confidence, learning about oneself or accepting your inner beauty and learning to work with it, instead of fighting it…the most fulfilling part is getting to work with the girls and seeing their eyes light up when they ‘get it’…it’s such an awesome and privileged experience to work with them.

You were awarded the Female Pioneer Award at the Virginia Fashion Awards, Congratulations!!!  Please tell us about he event and why this award is so important to you.

THANK YOU!  It was a lot of fun…the red carpet and everything.  The Virginia Fashion Awards works to honor local VA talent, including designers, photographers, up and coming models, hair and makeup artists, etc., who are working to make a difference in the fashion community here.  In 2010, I was awarded a “Special Achievement Award” as a Female Pioneer.  Over the past two years, since I arrived here in VA, I’ve tried to work hard to mentor young talent and help guide them to a prosperous career in Fashion.  By doing this, I’ve been privileged to have been welcomed into the industry here as a local and treated as such.  When the committee notified me of the award, I was thrilled!  The reason I am so proud of this award is because I was given the award not based on the fact that I am a “plus size” model, but because I am a model.  Period.  It’s very refreshing to not be recognized because of my size, but instead, to be recognized because of my talent and accomplishments.

Set photos from “The Fire that Sweeps the Pine”

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

Growing up, I was always taller than the boys in my class.  It wasn’t that I was ‘bigger’ per say, just taller.  In high school, I accepted my size and build by playing sports and found out that was an advantage and not a shortcoming.  I earned a lot of respect because of my athleticism.  For me, my journey has been more about self acceptance and less about size acceptance.  I think that is where our focuses need to be. If you accept yourself, others will too.

What kinds of pressures do you see the girls in your life facing these days?

A lot of the same pressures we faced at their age, but on steroids!  LOL  Girls are learning to sacrifice their innocence a lot sooner than we did.  In my generations, girls were losing their virginity at 16, sometimes 15 (which wasn’t approved of, but accepted.)  Today, girls are experimenting so much earlier. I think the youngest I’ve encountered was 12!  Drugs will always be around, but I don’t think they are as predominant in this generation as they were in mine.  There is a lot more support and knowledge out there on this subject.  Last but surely not least is bullying. My generation called it teasing.  I was a victim of it and it definitely had a hand in shaping me into who I am today and how I handle things.  I recently wrote a blog on this topic, it was very therapeutic to see it out there and to know that my words may have helped someone.  Bullying is a frightful way to see just how powerful words are. Again, it’s about self acceptance, if we are secure in who we are, there is not room for others to knock us down.

What can we as mothers and mentors do to better address these issues?

First, keep the lines of communication open. One of the biggest things I’ve noticed is that my kids just want someone to talk to, without having to worry about being judged.  The worst attitude to take with them is an “I told you so”…I hear that a lot from the moms when referring to specific issues.  Second, spend more time with your kids!  In today’s world we are moving faster, getting busier, and generally falling completely out of touch with the younger generations.  The less we participate, the less influence we have, results in the less our opinion matters.  Kids want to be talked to, not talked at.

Set photos from “The Fire that Sweeps the Pine”

Did your mother teach you about real beauty?

My moms generation was taught to never leave the house without lipstick on…my mentality at 13/14 years of age was to basically leave the house with the goal of not drawing attention at all.  I developed very early, grade 3 I believe, and I always stood out.  Not knowing what I had to work with, not accepting myself, affected my outlook on day-to-day life.  I embraced and lost myself in sports and was perfectly fine with being tagged as a ‘jock’.  It was low maintenance, I was respected amongst the guys and I wasn’t talked about or compared too.  I didn’t have to be the cheerleader or the skinny girl, I had to live up to the jock tag and that worked really well for me.  Until I was about 16/17 years of age when catching the eye of a certain guy started to make me focus on my appearance more and my mom was there ready and waiting for the opportunity to take me shopping and share the joys of being girly.

Who is your role model or hero and why?

I don’t think I have just one role model.  For me, I try to take the best of everyone I meet or love and adapt that into my personality and way of living life.  Whether it’s being as honest as I can to a friend or taking the bull by the horn to move a business idea forward.  All of me is made up of little bits of everyone I know, good and bad…Heroes…WOW that’s such a big word for someone to live up to.  To start, my dad is one of my ‘heroes’ for his perseverance and strength, my mom for her unconditional love and devotion to her kids and now grand kids.  One of my long time and closest friends, Trish, whose world crashed around her a couple of years ago and instead of curling into a ball and letting it consume her, she stood up and controlled the situation to the point of success.  My husband, who has sacrificed his family time and watching his babies grow up so he can serve and protect this country.  Again, there is a hero in everyone who is in my life…each one for a different reason.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Hm…I guess that depends on what part of my life the advice was for.  Being married with kids, I get advice all of the time…where business is concerned, “What you look like might get you in the door, but it’s what you know that will keep you there.”  This is a mantra of mine, I teach it to my kids/students and I try to live it.  Where work is concerned:  “You aren’t successful when you book a job, you are successful when you get re booked for the same job.”  That’s one of my favorites.  Ooh, ,the one piece of advice I got very early on in my career, it was given after I had book a series of big jobs in a very short period of time and I will admit that my head got a bit inflated…my agent at the time sat me down and said “Who do you think you are?  Do you not realize that there are 10 other girls standing behind you and waiting for you to fall so they can step up and take your place?”  That statement has stayed with me all of these years and has helped me to keep me grounded because it’s very true and has motivated me to try to stay one step ahead of the competition.

Tracie with a few of the girls she mentors.

What has been your proudest moment?

These are really great questions!!!  You guys are making me really think here…As a mom, I have proud moments frequently, could be when my six-year-old hits a home run or brings home a piece of artwork that is beyond his age.  Or when my baby got potty trained! LOL  When my husband make Chief in the US Navy, I was very proud.  As a model, I’m very proud of my body of work.  I’m proud of the clients and models I’ve worked with, I’m proud of the runways I’ve walked, and I’m proud that I’m still around.  LOL

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

When my husband is home and my kids are in school, that’s the perfect day.  I get some quality time before and after school with my kids and during the day, when my husband and I are alone, we have our own time to do whatever we want.  Sit in the quiet, shop, have lunch…my perfect day is balanced between all the men in my life.

Do you have an all-time favorite model?

Linda Evangelista.  She has always been my favorite model and motivator. Linda is one of those models that can transform herself into almost any look and sell it.  She’s been a blond, brunette, and red head and she rocks each look as if she’s looked like that her whole life.  To me, Linda was the model who taught me about diversity and branding.  She was the one model who never conformed to just one look, she took chances and made them work for her, when other models of her generation remained safe.

Favorite Jeans?

Victoria’s Secret. I have an hourglass figures, long legs and a high waist. It’s VERY hard for me to find jeans that fit my curves properly and flatter me to my standards. The only jeans  have found, so far, are from Victoria’s Secret.

Tracie’s husband on deployment.

What is your go-to outfit?

Anything neutral.  I don’t do a lot of color in my clothes, only my accessories.  This way, no matter what is dirty, I always have my favorite things to wear…LOL…Right now, my favorite outfit is:  Nude colored leggings, white tunic tank top, and a long, cowl neck camel colored sweater with leopard flats or tall brown riding boots.

Favorite online sites to visit?

Craigslist, my husband and I are remodeling our house and you can find some great stuff for sale.  It’s like going to a garage sale from your couch! LOL  Alloy.com, this site is great for all ages. They carry junior sizes 0-25 I believe and have pant lengths to 37″.  Hips and Curves is becoming one of my new favorites.  They offer really unique pieces and their models are realistic and flattering.  I love to window show on the net, so I tend to jump from site to site…just depends a lot on what I’m looking for.


Photographed by Marco DiFlorio

You have been married for seven years.  What do you believe is the key to a happy marriage or relationship?

Love, compromise, trust, respect, and sacrifice.  I lived a life for so many years involved in only me.  I traveled the world by myself, only had to get myself up, and I just had myself to shop for.  Now, I have a family, mortgage, school fees, etc.  It’s not all about me.  I’ve had to set my own priorities aside on occasion to help my husband achieve a goal, but he has had to do the same in order to keep the balance.  My husband is currently deployed for 9 months.  Honestly, trust and respect are huge components to our marriage right now.  He is doing his job, not only protecting us, but providing for us. It’s my job as his partner to do what needs to be done back home.  It’s not easy, and there are days, trust me when I want to quit. I think him, our love, four kids, our home, and our future and know this isn’t permanent.  It’s a compromise on both sides.  You do what you have to do, just as you would for anyone you loved who needed  you.

What do you love about motherhood?

I think that should read ‘love and hate’ LOL…as I mentioned my husband is deployed.  So I am a single parent until he returns.  Some days are harder than others. I love that everyday I wake up to little Scotts running around my house, giving me hugs and kisses.  That last sentence can also go in the other directions…waking up to literally little Scotts RUNNING around…I love the uniqueness of my children.  They are these future leaders in my care.  God entrusted me to raise these children and it’s AWESOME to see who they are each morning when they wake up.  As they learn it’s like seeing multiple personalities emerge.  There have been days where I wold like to change my name…and sometimes I tell the kids my name isn’t MOM anymore and that they need to call me Jen.  It’s funny to watch their faces twist up…*snicker*…


Photograph by Marco Di Florio

What makes you a Domestic Diva?

Some days the fact that I had a shower!  My job in life is to be all that God wants me to be.  It that’s a mom one minute, a fashion consultant another, a volleyball coach, chauffeur, nurse, cook, cleaning lady or model..I take each minute as it comes and when it’s too much, I stop.  Take time to reflect, prioritize and then continue on.  It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you have focus, a plan and gas.  (In the car…not personally..HAHAHAHA)
 
What is a fun fact about you?

I have modeled since the age of 5.  I was studying to be an RCMP (Canadian Mounted Police) officer in school.  Modeling offered me an opportunity before law did and so I decided to take it.  I figured I was only a failure if I didn’t try.  I guess I made the right decision…


What are you thankful for?

How big do you want this article to be….? Haha.  I’m thankful for my family.  I’m thankful for the opportunities they gave me growing up that put me in the right direction.  I’m thankful for my career.  If it wasn’t for modeling, I wouldn’t have anything that I have in my life.  I met my husband in Sydney, Australia while I was down there modeling.  Had I not gone down there, fate may not have stepped in and I wouldn’t have my beautiful children.  I’m thankful for the privilege of being a model.  I’ve traveled the world, lived life most people couldn’t even dream of, and now I have a husband, children, and stability.  I truly believe I have had the best of both worlds.  I could really go on and on…everything in my life has been brought to me because of the choices I have made and the guidance I’ve been given, I’m thankful for every person that has come into my life because good or bad, they have changed my life and been a valuable part of where I am now.

What are you excited about right now?

I’m excited about the future.  Recently my career has been moving me away from the traditional print work side of modeling and has been opening up the doors to film, television, and spokes modeling.  I mentioned earlier that I have been cast in a film.  This film will be submitted to film festivals and also to the Academy.  It just premiered this week.  I know I’ve done a lot in my lifetime, but there are some days I wake up and just have this feeling that I haven’t even scratched the surface yet of what is in store for my life.  That’s what I’m excited about…tomorrow.

Tracie Stern ~

www.understudies.us
International Plus Size Model
http://www.factorwomen.com/Chicago.aspx
Recipient of the Female Icon Award Virginia Fashion Awards 2010

*Thank you, Tracie!





Our Interview with Russian Model Katya Zharkova

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

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

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

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

Did you always dream of modeling and why?

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

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

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

Did modeling come naturally to you?

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

What did you study while attending Moscow State University?

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

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

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

What do you miss most about your homeland, Russia?

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

What do you love most about living in NYC?

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

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

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

What has been your most memorable modeling experience and why?

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

Do you feel plus modeling is helping redefine beauty?

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

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

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

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

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

Where you ever teased or bullied?

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

Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?

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

What is your dream job as a model?

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

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

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

What is a fun fact about you?

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have a favorite pair of jeans?

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

Where so you love to shop for clothes?

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

Who is your style icon?

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

What is your go-to outfit?

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

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

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

Where is your favorite place to snowboard?

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

What do you love about yourself and why?

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

How do you stay healthy and fit?

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

What are you excited about right now?

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

*Thank you, Katya!

It’s Plus-Size Models Unite’s 1-Year Anniversary Today ~ Plus Model Angela Jones’s Personal Story…

Posted in Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Confidence, Eating Disorders, Family & Friends, Fitness & Health, Food, Parenting, Plus-Size Modeling, Recipes & Food, Self-Esteem, Your Story with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2011 by Liz

One year ago today, Angela and I published our first piece for Plus-Size Models Unite. We have both put our heart and soul into creating this community for women of ALL sizes to share their personal stories; exchange ideas; discuss body image, self-esteem, confidence, fashion, beauty, health, and a plethora of other topics.

Plus-Size Models Unite embraces women of every shape, size, ethnicity, and age, which includes women who are short, tall, plus, thin, and every woman in between. We applaud diversity and support women to find the inner strength to accept, respect, and embrace their uniquely beautiful self. We encourage self-empowerment and confidence.

On our 1-year anniversary, we decided to re-publish our first piece, which is Angela’s personal story that we wrote together.

Thank you to all our readers and contributors who have made Plus-Size Models Unite what it is today. We appreciate your love and support!

I started an additional website for parents called www.secretsofmoms.com; I’d love for you to visit us there or share the site with all the moms you know.

Thanks again,

xx

Elizabeth

Here is Angela’s story…

Photography by Marc von Borstel

 

Hello World,

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

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

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

My Story

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Every morning, I became frustrated when trying to get ready for school. I searched for something to wear that seemed acceptable, and I would panic and sweat from anxiety. I would become so frustrated that I would throw a fit and yell at my mom. It was horrible. I did not feel pretty. In high school, I constantly asked my mom if I was fat.  She always told me “Angela, you are perfect just the way you are.”  I never believed her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photographed by Lindsey Bowen

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

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

The days that I deal with body image issues are far from over, I do have those days where I wake up and feel blah, or wish a shirt wasn’t so tight or jeans weren’t so snug, but I deal with those feelings differently now and I acknowledge the fact that it is completely normal to feel this way and it isn’t the end of the world!  I realize now that is not a priority for me, my priority now is my health, my happiness and my family.   I have a family who needs me, a husband who loves and respects me and kids who adore me, they need me and I LOVE me.  I love me for who I am, I love my mole on my face, I love my butt, these physical features make me unique and different.  I have learned the importance of being healthy and living a healthy and active lifestyle.  I want to set a good example to our kids show them how to respect our bodies and take great care of them.  After all, they are the only ones we’ve got!

This blog has helped me grow so much as a woman, wife, mother, and friend.  I have also come to realize something else very important and that is having a passion.  For me, sharing this story and hopefully helping others who may be struggling with body image issues or an eating disorder is my passion.  I felt so alone during my darkest time and I want everyone to know that they are not alone, it will be okay, and it is possible to heal and make it through tough times.  Having a passion, helps us feel alive, gives us something to look forward to and work towards. A few months ago, I spoke to Placer High School in Sacramento, California, with the Healthy is the New Skinny team for our Perfectly UnPerfected project.  I shared my story along with my very inspirational team.  Those students needed us, they needed to hear our stories.  Kids today are wanting to see healthy, vibrant, and happy role models.  I am still on a high from our trip to Placer High.  There is no amount of money that could ever come close to the fulfillment I receive daily from being a wife, mother, and living with my passion.

*To view Elizabeth’s parenting blog, visit www.secretsofmomsblog.com. Please share the link with all your friends!

**Also, please pick up the April issue of Redbook magazine. Elizabeth talks about the long-term negative effects of dieting. The April issue will be on newsstands in the next couple of days, if it isn’t already there!

Thank you!