Archive for Celebrity

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

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

Here is the beautiful Fiona…

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

How did you start your career as a model?

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

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

Superb!!!

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

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

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

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

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

How do you define beauty?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your go-to outfit?

LBD, Killer Heels, and red lips.

Favorite pair of jeans?

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

Who is your style icon?

Marilyn Monroe, my Idol!

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

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

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

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

Can you share one of your beauty tips with us?

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

What is one thing that may surprise us about you?

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

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

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

What do you love about yourself and why?

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

What do you love about yourself and why?

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

Favorite movie?

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

Favorite book?

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

What is your signature scent?

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

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

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

Who is your role model or hero? Why?

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

What are you excited about right now?

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

*Thank you, Fiona!

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Kamari Brown Says, “My advice to women is instead of letting society and the media define your beauty, let it help you see how beautiful you are, just the way you are, by surrounding yourself with positive role models and people.”

Posted in Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Entertainment, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Inspiration, Media, Models, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2011 by Liz

Kamari Brown is a twenty-five year old plus-size model who grew up in Seattle, Washington; England; and Germany. Kamari’s father was in the military and her family is European. She is 1/4 British, 1/4 German and 1/2 African-American. Kamari currently lives in New York City. She is signed with agencies in smaller markets and overseas in Europe and South Africa, and she is currently developing her book with her mother agent to approach the larger agencies.

How did you get started as a plus model and what does being a plus model mean to you?

I started plus-size modeling for two reasons. First, I’ve always been a creative soul, having started in acting, moved to dancing, and now modeling. For me, modeling allows me to be a different character and tell a story using the clothes, my eyes, body movement, and facial expressions. I actually find it more challenging than acting because we have less mechanisms to tell a story. But that is also why I love it more.

Second, I wanted to be part of the movement that is helping women love their body, no matter if they are a size 2 or size 20. I know personally I’ve struggled throughout the years with accepting my body the way it is, having seen only skinny models/women being deemed as beautiful. The more we infiltrate the media, the louder we are and the more lives we change.

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

In Seattle, where I spent a lot of my time growing up, most, if not all the women, around me were thin.  Additionally, the media was pushing images of Barbie like women in our faces, deeming them as the most beautiful. It was very difficult being a larger or big-boned (that term always made me feel better) mixed girl there. I was really uncomfortable in my own skin and body for so many years and it wasn’t until Destiny’s Child came into the scene that my views started to change. For the first time, seeing Beyonce, a woman of my complexion with hips, thick legs/thighs just like mine, being hailed as beautiful by the media and my peers around me, made me start to accept my curves and see how beautiful they were. My advice to women is instead of letting society and the media define your beauty, let it help you see how beautiful you are, just the way you are, by surrounding yourself with positive role models and people.

Who is your role model or hero? Why?

My biggest role most is Bono from U2. I love everything he stands for and I aspire to be like him. He found a way to use his love for music to help bring world issues–another one of his passions–to the forefront of the media. My biggest passion is fighting for human and animal rights. In college, I studied Human Geography, where I focused on human rights/trafficking and slum/squatter settlements. After moving to New York, I became very active with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and ran their Tap Project campaign last year. I more recently started working with the ASPCA, an animal rights organization. I always wanted to find the vehicle to really make a difference, much like Bono, and I hope that in time, modeling can be that vehicle for me.

What do you love about yourself and why?

I’m blessed to have lived in so many places growing up from Seattle, Europe, Miami, and now New York. It changes your perspective on life and give you an insatiable appetite for life and success. I know some people I went to high school with in Seattle only ever wanted to stay there and get married. I was and still am the complete opposite of that. I want to explore the world and help people along the way and in many respects, feel like my potential and desire to conquer the world is never ending. I know no boundaries and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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

My mum bought me a Clarisonic Mia for my birthday and that is the best thing I’ve ever used on my face! While it’s a bit expensive, it’s well worth every penny because it leaves your face clear and refreshed.

Where do you like to shop for clothes?

I have to admit, I’m an online shopping gal! I buy mostly from English stores that deliver here, ASOS is one of my favorites and they just opened an American version of their site. I also love Dorothy Perkins, Monsoon, Top Shop, and H&M. I’m a walking advertisement for them (H&M). They really should hire me to model for them, I rock out their clothes like nobody’s business. 😉 Plus, they just started a plus line… there is no reason to not hire me now!

Celebrity Crush?

David Beckham!

What does being healthy mean to you?

I believe being healthy means feeling good in your own skin and being confident. For me, feeling good is a balance between getting all the nutrients I need as a vegetarian, working out about 3-4x a week, and treating myself to my favorite foods once or twice a week.  I don’t believe in diets because they are gimmicks to lose weight fast in an unhealthy manner. If you eat well, work out, and treat yourself occasionally, you’ll feel good on the inside, which shows on the outside.

I could never have enough…

Protein shakes and Indian cuisine! Being a vegetarian, I’ve always struggled getting enough protein, so protein shakes are a great way to get the daily protein I need and recover from my intense workouts.  Plus, they taste like dessert, and who doesn’t love that? And Indian cuisine has the most vegetarian options on a menu, all of which I love. I’m not a big fan of soy meats, I actually just prefer true vegetable dishes, which Indian and Thai restaurants have.

What do you love about NYC?

I love being around all the different cultures and having access to some of the best food in the world, except I haven’t found a place yet that has proper English Chips! I will say that New York City is the only place in the States that I felt like I fit in. Because the norm here is being YOU and not conforming to anything, I feel really comfortable here.

You also work at MTV. Tell us about working at MTV and who are you currently listening to?

I work in Integrated Marketing at MTV, where especially we integrate clients into our programming and/or build custom programs for them on-air, online, on-the-ground, and mobile. The best example of what we do is the MTV TJ Search, which was a custom program we built for ZYNC from American Express, and the winner was actually a beautiful plus gal, Gabi Gregg. I have to say, I’m really lucky to have a job that I love and am excited to go to each day. There are always celebrity sitings in our building and concerts on my floor – Graffiti6 was the most recent. I have the biggest crush on the lead singer, Jaime Scott, he’s delicious!

As far as what I’m currently listening to, I would say I’m listening to a lot of Graffiti6 and Ke$ha. I’ve also been listening to a lot of 90’s grunge/alternative music, like R.E.M., Stone Temple Pilots, Oasis, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, etc. I was lucky enough to live in Seattle during the 90’s when these bands were up-and-coming and it was an incredible time to be there and be part of the movement.

Where would you love to see yourself in 10 years?

Married to David Beckham, living in London with our beautiful mixed children. That’s pretty realistic, right? 🙂  I would love to a successful plus model who is traveling the world, working with NGO’s to help people in developing countries, and be a visual and influential advocate for human/animal rights.

Thank you, Kamari!

Plus Model Radio Host Chenese Lewis Says, “I think women of all shapes and sizes are beautiful and should all be celebrated without limitations.”

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Body Image, Celebrity, Confidence, Entertainment, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Media, Plus-Size Modeling, Radio, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, Unique Beauty with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 6, 2011 by Liz

Chenese Lewis is a positive body image and self-esteem advocate. She is the current President of the Hollywood Chapter of the National Organization for Women, the Ambassador of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), sits on the Celebrity Board of the non-profit organization Fed Up, Inc., and made history by being the first woman crowned Miss Plus America in 2003. Her unique story and prestigious career have been featured by countless media outlets such as Dr. Phil, The Insider, E! News, EXTRA, The National Examiner, iVillage, Figure Magazine and USA Today. Lewis is the creator and host of Hollywood NOW’s “Love Your Body Day,” an annual event where women of all sizes come together to celebrate a day of self-acceptance, to promote positive body image and to show that you don’t have to be a size 0 to be beautiful. Her 2010 Love Your Body Campaign, where she posed nude with America’s Next Top Model, Whitney Thompson, garnered international media attention and magnified her role as a leading positive body image advocate. Chenese attributes her success by not conforming to society’s ideals of beauty but rather showing by example that you can be beautiful and confident regardless of your size. Chenese Lewis is the epitome of the plus-size woman.

Please tell us when and how you got your start in the modeling world.

The first time I learned that plus models exist was in the summer of 2000 when a convention came to my town looking specifically for plus-size models. I went to the open call and was chosen to go to their convention, I thought I was on my way to the top! But it turns out nothing much came out of the convention, besides lots of money gone down the drain. After I came home, I decided to research more online, through which I discovered the plus community. Through my research, I found that I didn’t have the stats to be a agency repped model at the top agencies. I was very disappointed and confused as to why I was the right size to shop in plus-size clothing stores but not the right size to model for them. However, I didn’t let it discourage me, and although I still have limited  opportunities available to me as a plus size model, I’ve found my niche in the community in other ways and try to get in front of the camera whenever I can!

Do you feel plus modeling is helping to redefine beauty?

I think it has helped to redefine beauty to a degree. I think plus models have helped by showing curvier, healthier physiques in main stream media, which is great. But in all honestly, a lot of industry plus models should be on the straight board, and some women who would be fabulous plus-size models don’t get a chance.  I understand that models don’t represent the average woman, however that in itself perpetrates unrealistic ideas of beauty in some ways. The fact that a plus size model and a plus size woman is not necessarily the same thing, limits the amount of redefining the industry truly has. I think women of all shapes and sizes are beautiful and should all be celebrated without limitations.

We would love to hear about “Love Your Body Day”!

The National Organization of Women created Love Your Body Day in 1998. When I joined the Hollywood chapter they weren’t doing anything to celebrate the day, since I was already doing things to promote positive body images and it’s my passion, I was appointed Love Your Body chairperson of the local chapter and was able to completely create and execute what I envisioned a Love Your Body Day celebration to be. 2010 marked the 5th year I produced the event and every year it gets bigger and better! Hollywood NOW Love Your Body Day is a free community event for women of all shapes and sizes that promotes positive body image. The day consists of entertainment, free goodies, vendors, and a fashion show. Hollywood NOW Love Your Body Day has grown into a weekend of events that includes a launch party and body image panel discussion as well.

Hollywood NOW’s Love Your Body Day is not only about promoting healthy body image, but also promoting diversity, ending racism, stopping violence against women, and marriage equality.  When you meet others who are struggling with these issues, what advice do you give to them? Where do you tell them to go to find inspiration and support?

Love Your Body Day is basically about body image. However, that day is only one small part of what the organizations focuses on and fights for. As you mentioned, the organization, in addition to promoting healthy body image, also promotes a host of other issues that are important to women. Besides inspiring women to be better the organization focuses on action by working to change laws and fighting injustice.

The photographs of yourself and Whitney Thompson are gorgeous. Not only showing both of your individual beauty, but also the beauty of women supporting women…friendship. I think the feelings behind the photographs and what you both stand for is truly beautiful. Please tell us about the photo shoot with Whitney.

Whitney is a champion for positive body image and passionate about it like myself, so I thought she would be a perfect fit to host this year’s Love Your Body Day festivities. Every year I have a photo shoot with the celebrity host, but none have gotten close to the attention of this year’s photo shoot. Whitney is a top model so I let her create the concept for the photo shoot and she suggested nude, although I had reservations about doing it, I was all for it because I knew it would get a lots of attention, but I had no idea how much! The nude Love Your Body campaign we did together literally created an international media buzz; it was on every major blog and entertainment website in the world. We even got to do an interview for E! News and all the attention helped make this year an overwhelming success. It was really great working with her and I think she’s an awesome model.

As the host of Plus Model Radio, have you ever been star struck by one of your guests on your show? If you could interview anyone in the world, who would it be? Why?

Yes, I have been star stuck before. The one interview that comes to mind is Emme! You would have never known listening to the interview because I know how not to let my nerves show and move forward with whatever I’m doing. Besides the radio is a breeze compared to being on camera or publicly speaking at an event. If I could interview anyone in the world, it would be Oprah! I love her and she is such an inspiration to me. She is plus size, so she would totally qualify to be a guest on the show.

Have you ever struggled with self-esteem or body image issues in the past? If  so, how did you reach the point of accepting and loving yourself? What advice would you give to young girls and women who are currently struggling?

No, I’ve never had that problem. I am very fortunate that I was never criticized or belittled for my weight growing up. As a result, I never thought there was anything wrong with me because of my size. I had a very happy childhood and in high school was very social and popular. A lot of people ask me this questions and I think the question we should start asking women is when did you learn to hate yourself and your body, because I don’t think a child comes into the world with those insecurities, it’s a result of your environment and influences. I would tell someone struggling with low self-esteem and body image issues to stop being your own worst critic, you are beautiful just the way you are, and if anyone in your life is telling you otherwise, get rid of the negativity.

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?

Yes, I would recommend “Good Girls Don’t Get Fat” by Dr. Robyn Silverman

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

I wish I would have known that I wanted to pursue a career in entertainment, so I could have gotten started earlier and be further along in my career! However, I believe everything happens for a reason and I wouldn’t change a thing about the path that has led me to where I am today!

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 don’t have kids, or sisters, or nieces so I don’t really have lots of young girls in my personal life. However, I think young girls these days have tons of pressures on them that goes beyond body image. With the internet age they have everything at their finger tips, good and bad, so they know everything and see everything weather it is appropriate or not. I’m a firm believer that it all starts at home and we as mentors have to set a positive example by not only what we say, but more importantly our actions. For instance, you can’t tell a girl that she is beautiful regardless of her size but then you are constantly obsessing about your weight and criticizing yourself, which has a greater impact on her.

How do you define beauty?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We all have our own individual standards of beauty, which is influenced by our families and cultural backgrounds. For me personally, I rely heavily on inner beauty. I’ve notice the higher regard I hold the person, the more attractive they are to me and just the opposite if their personality or behavior is less than desirable. Although I’m human and there are certain physical attributes that I prefer, especially with the opposite sex, at the end of the day I need the inside to match the outside.

What is your secret to happiness?

By living a purpose driven life and not sweating the small stuff! I am extremely blessed and living my dreams, instead of focusing on the negative I focus more on the positive and try to keep an optimistic outlook on life.

Where do you like to shop for clothes?

Literally any where that carries my size. I will shop anywhere from K-mart and Target to Nordstorms and Saks, and everywhere in between. But my three go to stores are Macys, Torrid, and Lane Bryant, and when I’m in the South I go to Dillards. When I have the time I like to go dig through Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, and Ross as well!

Favorite jeans?

I love Applebottom jeans! Not only do they fit me very well, they are hip and stylish.

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

I love MAC cosmetics, for my hair Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Smooth -n- Hold Pudding,  I use Nair on my legs. I always have French Manicure on my nails and toes.

Lipstick or Lip gloss?

Lip gloss, I threw away all of my lipsticks a couple years ago. I like my lips super juicy! I love MAC lipgloss in C-Thru, Oh Baby, Red Russian, and Pink Poodle. I also like over the counter lip glosses like Milani Buzz Worthy Lip Gloss and L’oreal Colour Juice Sheer Lip Gloss.

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

That’s a tough one! I would have to say hair weave/extensions…LOL

What is your signature scent?

White Diamonds by Elizabeth Taylor, I’ve worn several other fragrances, but that’s what my mom wears and I just started doing the same.

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

Either a pamper day where I get my hair, nail, toes, and eyebrows done or a day full of shopping! Hanging out on the beach is fun too!

What achievement are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of having the guts to pose naked in front of the world!

Who is your role model or hero?  Why?

My ultimate role models are my parents because they are who I look to for characteristics and qualities to emulate in my life. However, for career and business Oprah Winfrey!

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

The best advice I’ve been given is to never compromise my morals and values, and to live my life with integrity.

What do you love about yourself and why?

I literally love everything about myself. From the top of my head to the bottom of my feet, I think I’m absolutely awesome! I’m created in God’s image, no reason not to like myself!

What are you excited about right now?

I’m excited about the New Year and all the potential it holds!

Visit Chenese online at:

www.cheneselewis.com

www.plusmodelradio.com

*Thank you, Chenese!

Sheridan Watson, Winner of Tyra Banks 1st Fiercely Real Teen Model Search, Says “Finally, I realized that enough is enough and I decided just to live my life instead of waiting for it to ‘begin’.”

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Celebrity, Confidence, Designers, Family & Friends, Fashion, Inspiration, Media, Models, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Unique Beauty with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2011 by Liz

Sheridan Watson is from West Orange, New Jersey. She graduated from The Montclair Kimberley Academy in Montclair, New Jersey. Sheridan is attending the University of Southern California majoring in Film and minoring in Spanish and Italian. Some of Sheridan’s clients include Macys.com, Macy’s American Rag, Macy’s Her Catalogue, Ashley Stewart, Charming Shoppes, Favianna, Torrid, Faith 21, Plus Model Magazine, and she walked for the Susan Moses Collection for Full Figured Fashion Week.

How did you hear about Tyra’s Show “Fiercely Real Teen Model Search” and what made you decide to enter?

Back in February, my friends and I were playing around on our laptops at school when we stumbled upon a link to Tyra’s Fiercely Real Teen Model Search. We explored around the site for a few minutes and my friends told me that I had to do it. We all sort of forgot about it, but then a couple of weeks later I just sort of said, “Why not?” and took some photos on Photobooth and sent them in. Soon after, I was driving into New York and filming for The Tyra Banks Show.

Tell us about your experience meeting Tyra Banks for the first time?

Meeting Tyra was a little nerve-racking but to tell you the truth that whole day was a blur. I don’t even remember waking up! I think I was just sort of on a high throughout the day at the fact that I was even there, let alone that I won.

Did Tyra give you any advice?

I do remember all the advice Tyra gave me. Most of it had to do with particular poses, how to form shapes with my body. The best advice was probably when she said, “I know this hurts, but trust me it looks great!” I’ve never had a photo shoot where I didn’t recant that statement over and over again for motivation!

Where do you like to shop for clothes?

For clothes, I shop EVERYWHERE. I am a bit of a shopping addict. I actually had to pull myself out of H&M today. I love to shop the Faith 21 plus-size collection at Forever 21, H&M, Torrid, Club Monaco, J. Crew, American Apparel, and countless others. Right now, I am absolutely addicted to the new American Rag Plus Size collection at Macy’s. It is just such cute, young, fresh clothing for the young curvy girl. It’s great to be able just to hit one section of a store and get everything! There are just so many new options, which I never had when I was younger.

Do you have a teacher/mentor/hero who has made a huge impact on your life or a person who you will never forget? What made her/him so special?

I know that everyone probably says one of their parents, but my father is probably the most important person in my life. He grew up in segregated Oklahoma during the forties and fifties and to come to a point where he can sit back and watch his daughter succeed in a completely different world that he was forced to live in. But, I do also look for those in the fashion world for inspiration; I think Crystal Renn, Julie Henderson, and Tara Lynn are all heroes for finally making plus-size models a force to be reckoned with. In terms of teachers, I had a few that I absolutely adored in high school. Shout out to Nicole Hoppe, Nate Burroughs, and Christina Dodge for putting up with me!

Have you ever struggled with self-esteem or body image issues? If so, how did you overcome it and what advice would you give to girls to help them learn to love themselves just as they are?

I’ve definitely struggled with self-esteem and body image issues. I was incredibly overweight from about third grade until ninth grade when I went to a weight loss camp for the summer and lost sixty pounds. I was kept in a constant cycle of “Well, if I lose weight then I’ll finally be beautiful, have a great boyfriend, and get straight A’s!” Finally, I realized that enough is enough and I decided just to live my life instead of waiting for it to “begin”. My advice for girls is just to start living and stop waiting because this is your life and you need to make the most of it. If you need a quick fix then I suggest listening to Mika’s We Are Golden, dance around your room, and make a fool of yourself. It works wonders for you self-confidence, I swear!

What do you love about yourself and why?

I think I love my confidence. Even though I may not feel 100% confident in a mini skirt, I try to exude some sort of comfort so that others take notice. I do think that an outfit is 50% the clothing and 50% the personality.

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

Growing up, I never saw models who looked like me and of course that can scar you. You start to doubt yourself, which is such a dangerous thing for young girls. So, I think that by promoting plus modeling, girls can finally understand that there is no “normal”. People come in all shapes and sizes so it seems useless to keep on comparing yourself to others. Hopefully, I can be part of this change and show girls that they are beautiful just the way they are.

*Thank you, Sheridan!

Here is a piece from Tyra Banks regarding Sheridan and the term “plus-sized”:

http://www.vogue.it/en/vogue-black/tyra-banks/2010/03/sheridan-watson

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

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

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

Cosmopolitan Magazine

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

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

Photographed by Kane Skeener for Cosmopolitan Magazine

How did you begin your modeling career?

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

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

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

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

Photographed by Simon Upton for Madison Magazine

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

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

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

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

Where do you like to shop for clothes?

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

Photographed by Georges Antoni

Do you have a favorite workout routine?

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

What are your favorite beauty products or must-haves?

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

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

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

Photographed by Kane Skenner for Cosmopolitan Magazine

What are you listening to right now?

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

Favorite movie?

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

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

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

What do you love most about modeling?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photographed by Georges Antoni

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

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

What is a fun fact about you?

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

What do you love about yourself and why?

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

What is one last thing you would like to say?

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

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

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

***Thank you, Robyn!

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

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

Photographed by Amber’s mom, Bonnie Cather

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

Photographed by Bradford Willcox

How did you get started in the modeling industry?

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

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

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

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

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

Photographed by Cressida Wilson

What does the term “plus” mean to you?

To me, it just means fuller figured models.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photographed by Blake Davenport

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

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

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

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

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

What is your definition of beauty?

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

Do you think plus models are helping redefine beauty?

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

Photographed by Blake Davenport

What does being healthy mean to you?

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

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

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

Photographed by Tanja Tremel and Jasmin Arbes

What has been one of your most memorable modeling experiences?

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

What would be the perfect day with your family?

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

What is one thing your daughter has taught you?

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

What has been your proudest moment?

My proudest moment is anytime anyone meets Natalie.

How would you describe your style?

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

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

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

Photographed by Blake Davenport

What do you love about yourself and why?

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

Who do you consider a role model or hero?

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

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

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

Bridal Guide Magazine

If you had one wish, what would it be?

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

What are you excited about right now?

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

*Thank you, Amber!

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