Archive for Books

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!

Advertisements

Model Danielle Redman Says, “Beauty is in your character. It’s about your knowledge, your humor, how you deal with daily situations, and how you carry yourself.”

Posted in Art, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Designers, Entertainment, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Food, Ford +, Hobbies, Inspiration, Media, Models, New York, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Recipes & Food, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Sports, Travel, TV, Unique Beauty, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2011 by Liz

Danielle Redman is a plus model with FORD Models. She is from a small farm in Iowa. Danielle has an older sister, two older brothers, two half sisters, and two half brothers. She grew up riding horses and playing with any kind of animal that she could find from a snake or lizard in the garden to cows in the pasture.

How did you start your career as a model?

When I was fourteen and shopping in a mall, I was scouted by Mother Model Management who asked me if I ever thought about modeling. They put on a modeling contest and I got runner-up.

What advice would you give to aspiring models?

Be confident and believe in who you are whoever you are. It’s about being yourself.

What do you love about your job?

I love that I’m doing what I always dreamed of, which is travel the world meeting new and interesting people while it’s getting documented.

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

A photographer at a job once told me to be myself because no one else can be that.

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

My favorite place is South Africa. We had a shoot at a cheetah ranch and we were able to go in and pet the baby cheetahs.

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’ve had and am still working on self-esteem issues. Do what makes you feel good and happy. Really get to know yourself. Surround yourself with people who love and adore you but who will also tell you the truth. Good friends are irreplaceable. Also, if you eat a box of Oreos, like I do sometimes, don’t feel bad about it. I’m not saying do it all the time, just don’t tell yourself that you won’t have something, life is too short for limitations; just keep it balanced.

What do you love about yourself?

My big ass and my big lips.

How do you define beauty?

Beauty is in your character. It’s about your knowledge, your humor, how you deal with daily situations, and how you carry yourself.

What is a fun fact about you?

I was raised on a small farm and grew up riding horses.

How do you stay fit and healthy?

I run and do yoga on occasion. I have two dogs that I walk on a regular basis. As a child, I was always active and constantly on the move so I think the muscle memory helps, but what it really comes down to is the food. I love fresh smoothies and salads. I’m a big fan of anything fresh and raw. The more the better.

What would we find in your make-up bag?

Cococare lip balm, YSL mascara, and Cargo concealer right next to my own personal hand cream concoction.

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

Keep it simple and show your skin. I think all skin is beautiful so don’t cover it up. If you do a lip, go light on the eye and vice versa.

Who is your role model or hero? Why?

My mama. She raised four kids on her own.

Style Icon?

I love older classy gentleman’s style. Really simple clean lines.

What is your go-to outfit?

Mens oversized button down, skinny jeans, and oxfords with my arm full of bracelets.

Where do you love to shop for clothes?

I like to mix it up between thrift shops and small shops wherever they may be.

What are your favorite sites to visit online?

Besides Plus-Size Models Unite, I love tumblr blogs. There are a few good ones: my blog~ http://www.horsewithwings.tumblr.com .  Also, http://www.thesweetdreamer.tumblr.com and http://www.hummingbirdlovegorilla.tumblr.com.

What are some of your favorite books?

Just Kids and all of Chelsea Handler’s books.

Who do you have on speed dial?
My mama.

What is your signature scent?

I love Bvgaria Jasmin Noir. It’s a clean musky scent.

 

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

Riding horses in the forest.

What music is on at home?

Florence And The Machine is on repeat at the moment, along with one of my good friends Theophilus London. Also big fan of Mark Ronson, Kanye West, Edward Sharpe, The Magnetic Zeros, and Phoenix.

What do you enjoy most about living in NYC?

It’s amazing how you really can do anything in NYC. There’s so much talent and history here. Live music, poetry, someone’s painting, someone’s crunching numbers…in every cube of space there is someone.

What do you miss most about home?

I miss the fresh air and all the green open spaces. I love seeing my family and my two little nephews. Also, I left my horse Oscar at my mom’s farm, so I always love going home and seeing him and going for a ride.

Where would you like to see yourself in ten years?

I would love to see myself on the big screen. That’s what I’m striving for.

What is one of your most favorite childhood memories?

Riding my horse around the farm with my older brother. We would make our own trail rides and be gone all day.

What are you excited about right now?

It’s exciting seeing the industry changing–adding more diversity in the girls between race, size, and age. It’s amazing seeing all types of women. We are all beautiful.

*Thank you, Danielle!

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

This is a Story About Letting Go of the Past and Finding the Strength & Courage to Change Your Life! The Difference Between a Caterpillar and a Butterfly By Marala Scott

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Confidence, Family & Friends, Inspiration, Media, My Story, Self-Esteem with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2010 by Liz

Marala Scott is a screenwriter and a multi-award winning author of the memoir, In Our House: Perception vs. Reality. In her book, Marala shares her personal story of a horrific childhood at the hands of her father and her journey to happiness and peace. Marala’s story is especially powerful because she was able to rise above her past and become a strong woman determined to break the cycle of violence. She is an advocate, inspiration, and role model for women and men who are suffering from abuse.

Oprah Winfrey acknowledged Marala as an “Ambassador of Hope” in 2009. Member of Congress, Mary Jo Kilroy, presented Marala a Special Congressional Recognition of outstanding and invaluable service to the community. United States Senator, Sherrod Brown, recognized Marala for advocacy to prevent child abuse and domestic violence. Ohio House of Representatives gave Marala special recognition for humanitarian concern for hosting the inaugural HEAL event. Marala Scott and Tre Parker received a proclamation from Mayor Counts of Powell, Ohio, recognizing and commending their work on Domestic Violence and Child Abuse. Mayor Michael B. Coleman, from Columbus, Ohio, awarded Marala with a Certificate of Recognition for her dedication to raising awareness of domestic violence and child abuse nationwide.

Here is Marala’s story…

I am at a wonderful point in my life where I see things now as I wish I had a long time ago. I truly love myself therefor; I am able to love life as it is. I chose to make a substantial contribution and investment into making my life what I want it to be, instead of letting it turn out however it does. I’ve empowered myself by not accepting what was as what will be my future. With every new day, I have an abundance of phenomenal opportunities to set goals and shape my own life. I want you to be able to see that you can accomplish the same, regardless of your life up until this point! We all have the tendency to spend time pointing out imperfections about ourselves and in our lives instead of embracing who we are and being excited about the wonderful and educational journey we are on called, life. We want perfection and we already have it; we just have to see it. Beauty is an evolution of self from the inside out. For me, it is a combination of my faith, compassion, experiences, morals, passion, drive, peace, confidence, happiness, and laughter topped off with a radiant smile. What can a smile do? A smile can instantly change the energy around you including your own.

The perception of my childhood (Discussed in the book In Our House: Perception vs. Reality, by Marala Scott and Tré Parker) was that it was ideal but the reality was horrific, dark, and destructive. The anger, rage, and violent abuse my father generously and routinely shared, combined with the unimaginable fate my mother met caused my life to be a hellish nightmare. I was more familiar with the negative emotions that were instilled in me than anything else. Pain and fear clouded the essence of who I was created to be, and I didn’t know who I wanted to be. The abuse was so vile that it obliterated my mother, and separated the family. For many years, my father reminded me with a constant stream of assurance that I was stupid, ugly, useless, and good for nothing. I was left with feelings of worthlessness, uncertainty, and pain, among others that are able to shatter any young mind. Every time I looked in the mirror, I could hear my father’s voice trying to seep deeper into my psyche and alter my own self-image.  

One day I smiled back at my reflection in the mirror and my spirit lit up. Beyond the initial reflection, I could see that my father had caused me pain, but he had not touched my spirit that belonged to God. For many years, I kept going back into my past and constantly revisiting, therefore reliving all of the pain and damage that I had suffered through. It wasn’t until I realized that we don’t walk backwards, so I had to stop living in the past and make positive and inspirational changes walking forward into my future. If I didn’t want to change my thought process and life then I would be stuck in this place of dysfunction for the rest of my life. I knew then what I needed to do. I received a full scholarship to run track in college. I found things that I loved about my appearance and embraced them all. I focused on helping others instead of focusing on myself. I discovered where my best skills were and combined them with my strongest passions. I revealed that I was good for a lot of things. I refused to see myself as my father saw me. Although my father was intelligent, powerful, and successful, he didn’t have the power to destroy me, too. I wasn’t going to give him permission any longer, and I wasn’t going to prove anything to him. I fought to become the person I am for no one other than myself. 

As time passed, my spirit evolved from a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly. The butterfly was the same caterpillar all along, but the beauty was on the inside and no one saw it until I was able to see it and let it out. No one could change the negative thoughts I had about myself until I got rid of those thoughts. The only way to remove my pain was to walk away from it and leave it in the past where it occurred. The transformation from caterpillar to butterfly was just waiting to come out–when I was ready. Now, I am at a place in my life where I put myself. It is where I decided I wanted to be. I am responsible for my own happiness, goals, morals, and everything relating to me. I love my life! I have beautiful, intelligent, fun-loving, and strong children. My amazing husband is perfect for me. He makes me smile at the mere thought of him. My faith is in God and I give Him all the glory for allowing me to see exactly who He created me to be. This life is God’s gift to you. Don’t let someone else run it or tear it down. It’s up to you to determine the path you want to take. You decide if you want to carry unnecessary luggage through life, and how heavy you want it to be. It’s your choice to live and die a caterpillar or emerge into the beautiful butterfly that you were created to be! Don’t try to control everything and everyone around you. Just control your own actions because that’s when you’ll see a difference.

Hugs,

Marala Scott

Here is a poem that I wrote.

Forgive

In my journey through life, there are many things that I’ve learned, but one of the most important lessons is how and why to forgive. Because of my childhood, I had a lot of pain and with pain came the responsibility of carrying a heavy suitcase filled with mistrust, doubt, and anger. Overall, I had no faith in anyone but I could always count on the contents of my luggage. One thing I knew for sure was that what was inside my luggage would bail me out of every situation. If I met someone who seemed like he would make a great boyfriend with wonderful character, well I’d simply pull out mistrust. If I needed someone to count on, doubt was always there. But, my big protector was anger. Anger was a little greedy as it took up most of the suitcase. Everywhere I went I just had to take that burdensome piece of luggage with me. Regardless of where I was in life, it didn’t take long for me to remember to open my luggage and let the contents run my life.

One day, I turned around, realized that I was alone, and tired, but I had no one that would carry my heavy luggage. No one wanted the burden. Many people had their own luggage. So, I had to keep dragging it along throughout my life, and allowing the contents to keep holding me back because although I took it everywhere, it wasn’t wanted anywhere. With tearful eyes, I dropped to my knees, in faith, and prayed for God to help me with this problem. What was I to do?

There was one little word that flooded my heart and invaded my heavy spirit. That word was forgive. I huffed and refused. Why would I? That’s cowardly of me to let the people that hurt me the most off the hook. I can’t … I won’t. I’d been carrying the luggage so long anyways that I didn’t need anyone to help me. Sure, it would be nice but … forget it. The contents of my luggage protected me from everyone. So, I picked up the tattered handle and dragged my luggage around a little longer until I realized that it was wearing me down. My heart was heavy, and I was sad. I wasn’t moving at the pace I could have, if I didn’t have this big, heavy piece of burdensome luggage, and when I opened it, oh, look out! I prayed again, in faith, that God would answer me. He did, but the same little word came, yet again, forgive.

I was deeply troubled because I knew that if I did … forgive … it meant that everything I’d been through was for nothing. Everyone that hurt me and caused me great pain got off the hook. Just like that, they would be forgiven for everything they did to me. What about my pain and suffering? Surely, I wasn’t going to let anyone off the hook. So … you guessed it, a few more long years passed with me dragging my luggage. Although I was a bit unhappier because of mistrust, doubt, and anger, I felt safe with my luggage. The contents sure caused a lot of problems and losses. There came a point when I wasn’t confident it was worth keeping that luggage anymore so I prayed, again. This time, I opened my heart and asked God to help me, because it was too big a task for me to take on alone. He did, as He had before, and it was a process that I was finally willing to undertake. I had nothing to lose but mistrust, doubt, and a lot of anger.

I didn’t forget anything that happened to me as a child, but I realized how many years I wasted dragging that luggage. The forgiving wasn’t for anyone other than me. They’d probably forgotten what they did to me or perhaps they had asked to be forgiven at some point. Some of the people who hurt me, I never even saw again but I thought the burden of carrying that luggage was protecting me. It wasn’t. It was destroying me. Just me. I had wasted years, for nothing. Why was I so determined to be angry, when I had a whole wonderful life ahead of me to enjoy with the past long behind me with each waking day.

It wasn’t until I let the word forgive have true significance in my life that I began to truly live. I was able to let go of that luggage and take any flight I wanted without penalty of that heavy bag. The power mistrust, doubt, and anger have are destructive. The act of forgiving someone is an amazing release to your spirit. When I did, I realized the pain in my past allowed me to help others in my future. Forgive. Try it soon. Don’t waste your valuable life the way I did.

Love & Blessings,

Marala Scott

*You can learn more about Marala and her book at  http://www.inourhouse907.blogspot.com/ and  http://www.inourhousebook.com/index.php.

**Thank you for everything you do, Marala!

Abby Valdes Talks About Fashion, Motherhood, Beauty, New York Fashion Week, Modeling Tips, Not Feeling Perfect Enough, and The Best Advice She’s Ever Been Given!

Posted in Australia, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Designers, Fashion, Ford +, Inspiration, Models, New York, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, TV, Unique Beauty with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2010 by Liz

Abby on a shoot in Istanbul,Turkey for Faik Sönmez.

Abby Valdes is a plus model from Australia, who currently lives in New York City. She is signed with FORD NY and Bella Model Management. Abby has six sisters and one brother. She has lived many places throughout Australia. As a child, she spent her time with her “mum,” siblings, and cousins in mud baths, water holes, water fountains, and under a Chai Tent.

Ford + NY lured Abby to sign with them two years ago, which she says, “was an easy decision to make as I’m still a bit of a gypsy. I’d rather sit on the floor than sit on my couch!” She travels to Europe and Australia often for work. She most frequently travels to South Africa, Spain, Germany, and Australia.

She loves reading books on subjects such as esoteric philosophy, world religions, art, metaphysics, and critical mass; and she reads a million fashion magazines, which are piled up all over her apartment.

Abby is a single woman, which she says, “is not good because I want to have eight kids! So, I need to get a move on! Well, maybe six kids… or I could settle for four, but that’s the lowest!”

How did you get started in the plus modeling industry?

I guess how I got started is an age-old models tale. My best friend always said that I should model, but I was busy working in finance in Australia. One day, on a TV show called “Today Tonight”, she saw a competition for Bella Model Management. They were searching for ‘plus size’ models. She sent in a picture of me for the competition and was contacted by Bella Model Management soon after. She was told that I had made it to the televised finals in Sydney. This is when she told me the news! But I was convinced that my finance career was the way to go so I contacted Chelsea Bonner of Bella Model Management and told her that although I was very flattered that I had made it to the finals, I actually had a different career and couldn’t come to Sydney! Chelsea was so lovely that she offered me a contract on the spot! So, I decided to do some modeling on the side and see if I could make some extra cash. And that I did! So much so that after about six months or so, I had to make some decisions about which career I wanted to pursue because I couldn’t continue to do both as they were both very time consuming. I decided to move to Sydney to see where modeling could take me. It wasn’t long before I was traveling around the world for work and then finally moved to New York City! I’ll always be grateful to Chelsea for having the foresight and faith in me! 🙂

Who are some of the clients you have worked with?

In Oz (Australia) I did all the brands that we know and love like Berlie/Platex, Bonds, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Cleo, Womans Weekly, Maggie T, Sara, Freewoman, Mysize, David Jones, Myers, and I could I could go on…

In New York, I have amazing clients such as Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord and Taylor, Bloomingdales, Marina Rinaldi, Tommy Hilfiger, etc. I have worked extensively throughout Europe, in particular London and Germany. I have just recently finished shooting in Berlin for Otto and in Istanbul, Turkey for a client called Faik Sonmez.

Australian Women’s Weekly Magazine.  Photographer David Gubert. Stylist Julie Russell.

What advice do you have for aspiring plus models?

I would tell any aspiring plus-size model that they have made a good choice! The plus-size industry is the best of both worlds! You are encouraged to be healthy, which means that you are allowed to eat, ladies! You must eat a balanced diet and not be too skinny! Thank the lord!

You should approach several agencies in your state. See what advice they have for you and try to follow their constructive ‘advice’. Do remember that ‘plus size’ models, in general, are required to fit the same modeling criteria as straight-size models but without the ‘skinny part’. You should be tall and attractive (not necessarily Claudia Schiffer beauty) and attractive girl next door works too!

Everyone starts out somewhere, so learn your craft. Study magazines and how models move. What expressions they show on their face and practice, practice, practice! Before you know it, you will be a pro!

How do you prepare for a shoot?

I make sure I get plenty of rest so that I look fresh and relaxed. I make sure my hair and nails are perfectly maintained, and that my skin is moisturized and hydrated with loads of water and vitamin C powder. Then I show up to the shoot with heaps of my usual morning energy that usually make everyone wonder what special little pills I’m on! Which are vitamins, honey!

Abby on a shoot in Istanbul,Turkey for Faik Sönmez.

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

Gosh, all the time and every day! For me, I have always struggled with the idea that I was not perfect enough. And, although I love my curves, they meant I was always going to be considered a ‘big’ girl. When in reality, I grew up surrounded by women who had hips and shape that had taught me otherwise!

So every day, or on the days I am not feeling my true worth, I counsel myself. I tell myself what every mother should tell their child. That I am valuable and, that like all people in this world, I am acceptable and valid. I am beautiful because I am woman. No matter what society tries to trick you into believing, my body is healthy, sexy, and womanly! And I will not change it for anyone else’s preferences.

What has been the best advice you have been given?

Well, I advise myself to always follow my own heart no matter what. You are bound to make mistakes, but when you follow your own heart, you learn what you need to know!

Australian Women’s Weekly Magazine.  Photographer David Gubert. Stylist Julie Russell.

How would you describe New York City.

Is nothing like Oz! New York City is a melting pot of some of the most creative and inspiring people I have met. NYC is a buzz with chaotic energy, which is what I love. There are a million amazing people and things to do, and the people are all from somewhere else, but living in New York!

How do you define beauty?

I define beauty as a feeling! Do you feel beautiful? You should! We ALL have beautiful qualities both spiritually and physically. If someone else fails to recognize this, then they are shortsighted and victims of a fast becoming archaic society of one standard of beauty!

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

Hmmm…Well typically, I try not to be a big product kind of girl. However, I do have a cupboard filled with all sorts of products that I never use! But my must haves are: Strawberry Chap stick that I massage onto my lips for a plumping effect, Dove Essential Nutrients Protective Tinted Moisturizer for the face in a honey tint for both protection from the sun and a refreshing natural moisturizer, Maybelline New York Define-a-Brow eyebrow pencil to fill in my gaps, and also Maybelline Volume Express to pump up my eye lashes. I love my mascara! Other than that, I use Frederic Fekkai Ageless Creme Luxe Hair Treatment to help my hair recover from all of the hot tools used to torture it daily.

Marina Rinaldi Campaign

Where do you love to shop for clothes?

I love ‘Opp Shopping’ and I can’t seem to pass one by without popping in quickly! ‘Opp shopping’ is what Australians call a ‘Thrift Shop’. It stands for ‘Opportunity;’ someone else’s trash is another person’s opportunity… Something like that. I just went to the Garage with a friend and found two of the most amazing 1930’s dresses! I can’t wait to find somewhere to wear them!  At the moment, I am obsessed with lace. I buy vintage and new lace tops and wear my strapless black bra underneath! Love it! That’s what you’ll see me wearing every other day right now, with my dark grey fedora from Sydney. 🙂

But, I also love me some online shopping at the moment as it is easy to do from anywhere in the world.  I shop online at www.style.com, www.planetblue.com, www.freepeople.com, and www.singer.com. I also love a new and awesome Australian store that opened recently in Darlinghurst called ‘Desordre’ –they have the hottest new trends! I also love House of Harlow for vintage inspired accessories and clothes.

Who are your favorite clothing designers?

Ooohhh, if I had an unlimited budget I would cover myself in Balmain and Balenciaga boots! I also Herve Leger dresses when you want to show off your ample curves! In Oz, I love Sass & Bide. Romance Was Born is making some cool stuff. I like Paul & Joe. I also like Karen Walker for her mix of streamline and eclectic fashion.

What is your go-to outfit?

My go-to outfit is a pair of skinny grey jeans, t-shirt, and a Bolero.

Australian Women’s Weekly Magazine.  Photographer David Gubert. Stylist Julie Russell.

What do you like to do in your down time?

In my down time, I am either reading about Quantum Physics (yes, really!), The Power of the Subconscious Mind, or something obscure. I also LOVE markets, especially flea markets, and I like hanging with my mates.

What do you love most about motherhood?

I love everything about motherhood! Even when it’s tough and heart breaking. I couldn’t imagine anything known to man who is more rewarding and magical that growing a human being inside of you! We are amazing beings! Plus, the kisses and cuddles are the best – when you can get them!

Abby on a shoot in Istanbul,Turkey for Faik Sönmez.

The OneStopPlus.Com Fashion Show  was the first plus-size show held during New York Fashion Week. Please tell us about it.

OneStopPlus.com Fashion Show was awesome! There were eighteen of us plus-size girls and it was held in the Lincoln Centre, smack bang in the middle of Fashion Week. We didn’t realize what a big deal it would be but, it turns out that it was news worldwide! About bloody time!

I’m happy to say, I made it into the New York Post (see below)! The energy was so amazing, and you could just feel how excited everyone was to see the show! It was a fun show and well received. Let’s hope this is just one of many more to come! In truth, I would love to see all the fashion shows have a couple of plus-size models in each and every show and not even making a big deal out of it because its ‘normal’ and not a big production based on a ‘new trend’ or about being ‘diverse,’ but rather because they are showing that they represent all women! That would be awesome!

Picture from New York Post. Abby (in middle) during New York Fashion Week at the OneStopPlus.com’s Fashion Show.

Of all of the places your modeling has taken you, which is your favorite destination thus far?

It has to be all the islands of the coast of Italy and France! That’s the life! I dream of island living! Sun, good food, water, friends, and family are my idea of heaven.

What are you excited about right now?

I’m excited about life! You never know what is waiting for you around the corner. I love to be surprised! But, specifically I am looking forward to starting my own business and hopefully finding love! 🙂

*Thank you, Abby!

Kate Dillon has Brains, Beauty, and is an Advocate For Environmental & Humanitarian Causes Such As The Komera Project

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Celebrity, Confidence, Designers, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Inspiration, Media, Models, New York, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Travel, Unique Beauty, Work, Your Story with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 5, 2010 by Liz

Kate Dillon is known in the fashion industry as a groundbreaker and a passionate advocate for environmental and humanitarian causes. For 19 years, she has leveraged her career in fashion to campaign for positive body image in the media, eating disorders awareness, and global poverty reduction. Her work has been widely featured in the media, including on Anderson Cooper 360, Good Morning America, and the PBS NOVA series as well as in Vogue, Glamour, and People. In order to be a more effective advocate, Kate completed a Master’s in Public Administration in International Development at the Harvard Kennedy School in 2009 where she won two academic awards. Now back in the fashion industry full-time, Kate continues to model while serving as vice-president of the Komera Project, a fund that provides scholarships for secondary education to girls in Rwanda.

Who are you signed on with and who are some of your clients?

I signed with Ford about two months ago after fourteen years with Wilhelmina, and my major clients are: Marina Rinaldi, The Avenue, JC Penneys, Kohl’s, Talbots, Bloomingdales.com, and Macys.com

Please tell us how you got started in the modeling business and about your transition from “straight” modeling to “plus-size” modeling. Was that a difficult transition for you to make?

I started modeling when I was seventeen years old. I was at my usual hangout, a coffee shop in San Diego where I grew up, when I met a photographer who got me into modeling. I was not especially into fashion, and I certainly did NOT think of myself as model material, but it seemed like a great opportunity. I started working out of LA until I finished high school, and I loved having this double life – nerdy high school chick most of the time, burgeoning fashion model in LA once a week or so… The trouble was I could not stay super skinny. I moved to NYC and Paris when I graduated high school and I loved the travel and the people I met in the fashion business, but the pressure to be thin was killing me – MOREOVER I hated that I was perpetuating this illusion, this super-thin ideal. Here I was starving myself to be thin and then foisting this image on women – this was NOT the impact I wanted to have on the world. So, I quit modeling and was pretty much clueless about what to do for about two years. I gained about 40 pounds (about a size 10) as soon as I quit and started doing some soul-searching. Then a friend mentioned plus-size modeling. I  had worked alongside Christine Alt and Emme as a skinny model, and I remembered thinking they were so cool and brave –  I actually thought, “I would never have the guts to be that big”… Well, I found the guts and the transition to plus was super easy because I was so sure of myself. I knew that being beautiful, fashionable, and successful had NOTHING to do with size, and I loved kind of challenging the fashion world to recognize that. I have always been a bit of a rebel. =) The only real challenge was in the beginning – and this happens to a lot of plus models, I think – at first I started to feel guilty if I worked out or ate a salad so I gained A LOT of weight in my first year as a plus-size model. Some people really remember me at that size – like a 14 – but it wasn’t sustainable for me… Eventually I realized exercise and healthy eating is just fine and returned to my “natural” size…

Was there a specific event or sequence of events that led to your decision to stop modeling for the “straight” modeling industry?

I did a lot of shows and editorial, but I was always told to lose like 5-20 pounds (at 120 I have no clue how to do that!).  Before one show season, I got a bad intestinal virus that lasted about ten days – use your imagination. =) Well, needless to say, I lost a lot of weight, and when I turned up at the shows Paris all these editors were like “you look amaaaaaaaaazing” and I remember thinking, “Wow, THAT’S what it takes to be beautiful around here? Yuck.” That was pretty much the beginning of the end…

Would you define what the term “plus” means in the modeling industry? (We get this question all the time from our readers who are not in the industry. It would be wonderful for someone like you [so well-known, established, intelligent, and admired] to answer that question.)

Well, thank you for the compliments!!!!  I get this a lot, too. In the industry “plus size” means size 14W and up. A “plus size” model models those clothes for the catalogs and advertisements of those who produce those sizes. Occasionally – like my work for Talbots and Gucci – a brand that does not cater to “plus sizes” will hire a plus size model. Plus-size models come in many shapes and sizes – it’s pretty cool, actually. Some clients like bigger girls and some like smaller girls. Some mix it up. There is a lot of diversity…

You have been open regarding your struggles with body image issues. How did your struggles affect your self-esteem? How did you reach the point of accepting and loving your body as it is?

I accepted my body, as is, when I was twenty-one years old. I was walking down the beach feeling so self-conscious about my “big” arms and my thigh cellulite. Suddenly, I realized that it was very likely that every woman on the beach was ruining this gorgeous day at the beach – just as I was – obsessing over her imperfections. I decided to get over it – that it was more important to be happy, grateful for life’s mystery, and as smart as possible. It really was like a switch flipped in my brain. And I never looked back. Since then, I have had a pretty healthy self-esteem body-wise. However, that’s largely because my sense of self-worth is actually NOT tied to my appearance. I love to be pretty and sexy, but I am more concerned about making a contribution to the world and being a kind person – these are the things I struggle to achieve these days – I am working on it! But, my self-esteem lags when I’ve been judgmental or bitchy or when I am not doing enough… When I was in graduate school I was so overwhelmed by all the talented people around me – my self-esteem really took a beating! But I think it’s normal – and healthy – to have periods of high and low self-esteem.

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

Well, in our society it is certainly understandable for a woman to have body-image/confidence issues. My advice is to cut yourself some slack, acknowledge you have issues, and then decide to focus on something more meaningful. Decide to get an A on your next test, volunteer at an animal shelter or a retirement home, something… Think about what you love and care about and devote yourself to that – the act of following your dreams and/or being altruistic will boost your confidence. And always always always treat yourself the way you would treat your best friend.

Have you read any good books that help promote positive self-esteem and healthy body image that you would recommend for girls, pre-teens, teens, or women?

The poem “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou has been in the back of my mind since I was twenty-one years old (fifteen years).

How would you describe your current approach to potential clients and your modeling career?

Grateful, professional, and I try to give them something exciting – I try never to go on autopilot. I learned that from Crystal Renn, actually. She gives it up like its Italian Vogue every time.

Do you feel that furthering your education and earning a degree in International Development at Harvard helped build your confidence or changed your perception of yourself or life?

Emotionally, Harvard was really difficult for me. As I mentioned above I was very intimidated by my classmates (even though they are the sweetest, most compassionate, most supportive group of people on the planet, and truly amazing human beings), and the coursework was extremely challenging. I lost about ten pounds during graduate school because I was so stressed! But it was probably the first time in my life I had to struggle and it was sooooooo good for me ultimately. I was deeply humbled. Studying International Development, I expected my perception of the world to change, but it really didn’t. However, my perception of myself changed dramatically. I am still trying to figure out what to do with my degree. I have been thinking a lot about the impact of the fashion industry on the development issues I care about most: the environment and empowerment strategies for women and girls. This April, I designed and moderated a panel on fashion and sustainable economic development at the Harvard International Development Conference. It’s a work in progress. =)

We know that you are an environmental activist. With that in mind, we would like to know where you like to shop for clothes and who your favorite designers are?

Excellent question! I am pretty militant about the clothes I buy these days – I go for environmentally sustainable fabrics like bamboo and hemp and stick to organic cotton. In New York, I shop at Kaight and Barneys where I can find Loomstate, John Patrick Organic (my absolute fave), Josh Podoll, Samantha Pleet, and Camilla Norrback. The mainstream exception I make is the Gap, Inc. They are great company that is truly committed to improving the lives of the workers who produce their clothes, and I expect they will announce an organic line any day now… Redcats, who own the Avenue, are also a great company – they sponsor eco-fashion week in Paris and have a strong environmental policy…

What are your favorite beauty must haves?

I use Suki everything for skin care. Suki pure facial moisturizer and the foaming exfoliating cleanser rock my world. For make-up, I love Korres concealer and lipsticks. Both brands are environmentally conscious. Suki is all organic and fair trade.

Do you have a favorite workout routine?

Hahaha. Well since I got pregnant, I don’t do much anymore! I used to run 3-6 miles three times a week and did vinyasa yoga about twice a week. These days I do a 30-minute elliptical workout or a swim a few days a week and go to prenatal yoga once a week. In my non-pregnant state, I love to do races – triathlons and runs so I am usually training for something. But I avoid gyms. I like to exercise outside – even in the cold! I ran a 15K last December in 25-degree weather – my crowning athletic achievement. 🙂

What does being healthy mean to you?

Being able to be physically active, being reasonably flexible, and laughing every day.

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

Morocco

Who do you consider a hero or role model?

Role models: My mom and dad. Hero: Girls all over the world who struggle – against unimaginable odds – to be educated and empowered.

Please tell us about the Komera project.

The Komera Project provides scholarships to girls in Rwanda who have the ability and desire to attend secondary school, but who lack the financial resources to do so. I co-founded this initiative with my friend, Margaret Butler – a former professional runner, who lived in Rwinkwavu, Rwanda for a year. I became interested in educating girls in Africa in 2007 when I visited a school in Zimbabwe – it was freezing and I was wearing about a thousand bucks worth of Patagonia’s finest fleece, and most of the students didn’t even have shoes. They wore torn cotton sweaters and shorts and skirts with no tights. The teacher had to lead them in a song and dance in between lessons to keep themselves warm. Then I found out that many of them walked one to three miles just to get to school every day, and that because there was no secondary school in the village most would not attend high school. It was so awe-inspiring to see how hard these kids worked in formidable circumstances. They knew education was the only chance in the world they had. Komera has a website with more in-depth descriptions of our mission and programs as well as some data about educating girls. www.komeraproject.org

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Running for public office. Teaching high school. Modeling. Who knows!

What are you excited about right now?

My baby boy due December 14. =)

*Thank you and congratulations, Kate!

**To learn more about the Komera Project or help Kate’s cause please visit www.komeraproject.org.

***’W Curve,’ the division for full-figured models at Wilhelmina, have formed Curves for Change (C4C)- a platform to collectively pursue charitable activities. They will be a hosting a fundraising event which will be a 5k run/walk this fall in NYC (date to be announced). Proceeds will go to the Komera Project and Healthy Girls Hardy Women. Here is the Curves for Change link if you want to find out more about the upcoming fundraiser. http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/curvesforchange?ref=ts

Margaret Dilloway Talks About The Pressure To Be Thin, Dieting, Exercise, Gaining Confidence, & Finding Your Passion

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Family & Friends, Fitness & Health, Food, Inspiration, Media, News, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Travel, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2010 by Liz

Photographed by Bradford Rogne

Margaret Dilloway is a stay-home mom and writer who recently relocated to Hawaii with her three kids and husband. Her book, How to Be An American Housewife, will be published by Putnam Books on August 5, 2010.

Here is Margaret…

When I was younger, I wanted to be a model. Agencies told me I needed to lose a few pounds first, because being five foot nine and 125 pounds wasn’t quite skeletal enough. Luckily, living with my parents was not unlike living with a couple of Ralph Lauren modeling scouts, so unapologetic were they about telling me I needed to lose weight, so these new people telling me the same thing didn’t faze me.

“I had a twenty-two inch waist when I was your age,” my mother told me one day when I was a teenager. “You’re so big.”  Then she tsked at me as though I’d failed a math test. The last time I’d had a twenty-two inch waist was in third grade. 

At the time, it didn’t occur to point out she was also about six inches shorter than me and that I’d have to lose a kidney or two to have the same measurements. My waist was twenty-five inches. 

I was crushed at the time, but it’s not quite as intentionally cruel as it sounds. Since then, my readings and anecdotal accounts from Asian friends have told me that this type of appearance criticism was common from their mothers, too. A Japanese mom, at least of my mother’s generation, doesn’t care about your self-esteem; she expects you will be confident anyway. She cares that you succeed to be happy. She doesn’t want you left behind because you were weak enough to eat a bag of Chips Ahoy. And if you have to will your genetics to submit to you, then so be it.

My father, who apparently was born in 1820, advised me against exercise and weight training, though he did think the weight loss was a great idea. Sweating was unladylike and weights were a no-no. “You’ll get big arms, like a man,” he said. 

Being young and inexperienced, I did not debate this. Instead of exercising, I lost weight through food restriction. It worked pretty well, but I lost tone in my upper body, the tone I’d had as a kid from climbing trees and doing monkey bars. I was beginning to veer toward a pear shape, despite being so thin. No matter how big my head started to look, my saddlebags never quite disappeared. The general shape of my body did not change.

Always shy, not just garden-variety shy but so-shy-that-a-psychologist-should-have-been-consulted-shy, I began telling myself that the root of my problems was my body confidence. Once I reached a smaller size, all my problems would be solved. I would love my body and be happy and therefore I would be able to talk to people without problems. I would talk in class without fear. I would be popular. My voice would be loud in choir class. I would sparkle, if only I were thin and did not eat that piece of cake like a bad girl. 

My dieting obsession continued through college. In college, you’re supposed to become more open to the world and experiences, but in many ways I became more insular and protective of my interior. No Freshman 15 for me. Here I’d get a cup of milk for my powdered Slim-Fast from the dining hall and drink it in my room, knowing that all the women at my all-women’s college would tell me I was wrong. Because I knew I was, but not how to fix myself. And then I’d go to the gym and work out on the cardio machines (still no weight training for me). 

I signed with a modeling agency and never booked a job. Perhaps the problem was the fact that I didn’t have the appropriate naturally rangy model’s frame, especially during that gamine era of the 1990s. Maybe it was my carefully blank expression I liked to use, so as not to impose too much of my personality on anyone. Maybe it was because I was truly too commercial for the fashion-y jobs I was trying out for, or that I was too white for the Asian jobs and too Asian for the white jobs. Or maybe it was that I just didn’t care all that much.

Sometime after college, I moved to Washington State to be near my boyfriend, now my husband, who was in the Army. On a whim, I went over to Seattle Models Guild to see if I could still model at the ripe old age of twenty-three. I was told not that I was too old; but that I needed to lose ten pounds, and I’d be in. I lost the weight and got approved and got a list of photographers to interview. As I traipsed around Seattle, talking to photographers, I began to feel something familiar. Hopelessness and profound irritation. My old friends. I should do this, I told myself. This is my chance. But for once, I paid attention to my gut. I didn’t even want to try. 

Instead, I got a job at a newspaper, writing stories about local theatres and Army life. I got sent on a big cargo airplane, a C-141. I shot machine guns with the Army Rangers. I had a generally good time. I started to actually live.

And write. This was it. The writing. I’d always written before, since I was a little kid, and it was always the one thing I would consistently get awards for. I’d always been good at it without trying, and now I began to try.

In writing, nobody cares what you look like. No one was telling me my ass was too big.  Something important snapped into the place in my brain. As I did more stuff and felt more competent, I realized my size didn’t matter. I began to develop an actual personality. I’d never felt so liberated. 

I began writing more during this time. The most important piece was a short play that got a read at a local theater, about a Japanese woman and a tumultuous relationship with her daughter. The inception of my first published novel.

Then, at 25, I had my first baby, a girl. I gained a rather impressive amount of weight during the pregnancy. Cows, in the form of steak or ice cream, became my diet staples.

For the first time, I was eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, aided and abetted by my husband and demanded by my baby. 

And I had never been so hungry. 

The weight came off quickly as I schlepped a huge baby in a heavier car seat. I nursed. I hefted enormous bags of equipment around with my spindly little arms. I pushed my newborn in a stroller to far-off parks to gaze at leafy trees. I propped her up and sang every jazz standard I ever heard to her. I danced with her. Always wanting her to see more, I held her up until my upper body trembled and ached.

Then one day, eventually, something remarkable happened. 

I had biceps.

Triceps. And upper back strength. My core was strong. My shoulders were muscled.

And I wasn’t a pear shape any more. 

All I’d needed, all this time, was muscle. Finally, I’d discovered my body was more than skin and bones. It was a machine that worked for me. A miraculous machine that could make humans out of nothing and propel me up mountains and across oceans. The more I did, the more confident I became.

I began going to the gym in earnest, doing weight training, lots of cardio. I’ll never be a real athlete, but I do what I can. My husband made me do the Army Ranger obstacle course, and for the first time in many years, I did monkey bars, swung on ropes, and jumped over walls. I took a community college tennis class and found out I was pretty good. I learned how to swim properly. I relearned what came naturally to me as a kid: it’s fun to get out and do physical stuff.

When I found Plus-Size Models Unite, I was dumbfounded. First by the realization that plus size is size 8 to 18, covering a diverse group of women. Second, by how beautiful these women are. Women who have measurements not unlike mine. 

It took me back to my teen years, when I thought I was morally wrong, somehow, for having hips. I couldn’t help but think if I’d seen this website when I was younger, a site celebrating gorgeous women with curves, I might have been better off, far earlier.

Now I have two daughters and a son. What I want them to know, what took me so long to figure out, is it doesn’t matter what size you are. I could be a size 4, but then I wouldn’t have enough muscle tone to carry a basket of laundry upstairs, and what good would that do? I am the size I am supposed to be. The size I need to be to live well.

What matters is this: Do you eat five fruits and veggies every day? Can you run a couple of miles without keeling over? Can your fingertips reach past your toes? Can you stand-up paddleboard without losing your balance? Swim out as far as you want to see where the sea turtles hang out in the wild? 

Can you enjoy your piece of cake?

*Thank you, Margaret!!!

Photographed by Bradford Rogne

**Here is a summary of Margaret’s new book How To Be An American Housewife.  The book is available August 5, 2010 or you can pre-order it today.

How To Be An American Housewife is about the strong pull of tradition, and the lure and cost of breaking free of tradition. Set in California and Japan, it tells the story of Shoko, a Japanese woman who married an American GI as a way of improving her and her family’s fortunes, moved with him to the States, and tried to learn how to be a proper American housewife; and her grown daughter Sue, who finds her own life as an American housewife is not at all what her mother would have wanted for her, or even what Sue had hoped for herself. When Shoko’s illness prevents her from making a long-awaited trip to Japan to be reunited with her brother, she asks Sue to go in her place, and the trip changes both women’s lives in unexpected ways. With beautifully delineated characters and unique entertaining glimpses into Japanese and American family life and aspirations, this is also a moving mother and daughter story. Interspersed with quotations from Shoko’s guide to being an American housewife, this is a warm and engaging novel full of surprising insight.

 ***If you would like to find out more about Margaret check out her web site at http://margaretdilloway.com/.