Archive for Cosmopolitan

Australian Model Geo Burke Says, “The sooner you can appreciate and respect who you are the happier you will be.”

Posted in Australia, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Funny Experiences, Inspiration, Models, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, Unique Beauty, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 5, 2011 by Liz

Geo Burke is a plus-size model from Australia who is signed with BELLA Model Management, FORD NY, Milk Models, Viviens Models, and Okay Models.

How did you start your career as a model?

At age six, I was asked to model as the flower girl at the Brisbane City Bridal fair for two years. I always remained interested in fashion and intended to become a hair dresser and would spend hours at Toginis hair salon–this lead to being taken to Sydney for the hair expo as a hair model for two consecutive expos. At this time, I entered Miss Australia Model competition and won the first heat. I then went on to Sydney and won Miss Teen Australia 2007. After success in several model competitions, I realised I didn’t want the competitions I just wanted to be a model.

What has surprised you most about the modeling industry?

That I can be comfortable being who I am and be successful in this industry.

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


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

One modelling show, I was made up to represent something on lines of a gothic/emo creature. Then I went shopping and could not work out why I was getting the most horrid looks.

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

That school is such a small environment and we really start learning so much about life after we leave. Also, I think young girls around my age group certainly look at the dolled up, skinny, and rebellious looks rather than an elegant, rich, and romantic looks that a real woman should posses. Like I said before, skinny models and the media are causing a lot of trouble out there and it’s exactly what’s happening to our society in general. I think they girls need to look up to models who posses natural beauty, a beautiful smile, and elegance in their looks.

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?

False impressions from the media forming pressures on them to try to be someone they are not. Help them understand that everybody is unique and it’s important to be themselves with their family and friends.

Who taught you about real beauty?

I think it is in yourself–to find it yourself.

What do you love about yourself and why?

Probably the experience I have gained in being involved with horses since I was five years old. This has taught me patience, commitment, a level of competitiveness, structure, and at times, courage.

Where you ever teased as a child?

Yes. I was teased and bullied at school and it was a very difficult time in my life, but I learnt to deal with it and move on.

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

Yes. I believe everybody struggles with body issues at some stage but everyone must realise there are some things about your image or body you can change or work on and there are others that you cannot. So the sooner you can appreciate and respect who you are the happier you will be.

How do you stay fit and healthy? 

I try to eat healthfully, do personal training sessions, and train and school my horse.

What does being healthy mean to you?

To me, healthy is feeling good about yourself, eating well, and knowing you are looking after your body.

What would we find in your refrigerator?

Fresh fruit, vegetables, and of course, chocolate.

How do you start your day?

I wake up at 6:30 am to feed and muck out stables.

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

Always put primer on your skin before you apply makeup.

In my make-up bag you would find…

Way too much–it won’t even zip up… But, you would find only Mac makeup.

Lip gloss or Lipstick?

Lipstick… by Mac called Vegas Volt

What is your go-to outfit?

At the moment, my black Bettina Liano Play suit… You can dress it up or dress it down!

Where do you love to shop for clothes?

I shop everywhere and buy anything that will compliment my curves.

What are you reading?

Hungry by Crystal Renn

Do you have a favourite picture of yourself?  Why?

My latest Cosmo shoot… As I think it brought it close to home for me that I actually am good enough to be in print in one of my favourite magazine that I actually read.

Fashion Obsessions…


Who is your role model or hero?  Why?

Gillian Rolton, the Olympic horse rider, as she showed true commitment to go on and win a medal when she had multiple broken bones.

Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?

On the front cover of Vogue, travelling the world, and having a big house with a white picket fence, a sporty husband, and a golden retriever.

What is Geo’s philosophy?

Helping people without being fake.

Can’t wait to…

Go overseas with modelling.

If I weren’t modeling…

I would be studying a Law Degree.

Celebrity Crush?

Ryan Reynolds

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

Riding my horses and playing with my puppy dogs.

Biggest Splurge…

Horse Gear

What are you excited about right now?

That my modelling career is starting to kick off…

*Thank you, Geo!


International Model Laura Wells Says, “Emotional health is such a major part of being healthy. Learning to be happy with yourself and surroundings goes a long way towards leading a positive and stress free life.”

Posted in Australia, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Food, Hobbies, Inspiration, Media, Models, My Story, Parenting, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, Travel, Unique Beauty, Wilhelmina, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2011 by Liz

Laura Wells is a plus-size model from Sydney, Australia. She has earned degrees in both Science and Law. She is signed with BGM Models in Australia and Wilhelmina in New York. Her sister, Courtney, is also a model. Laura is currently living in NYC and modeling internationally. She has shared the catwalk with Crystal Renn and many other beautiful women!

We would love to hear how the both of you got into modeling.

Courtney, who is a straight-size model, went to NYC to go see agents about five years ago. I went with her and got asked by a few scouts if I was a plus-size model. At that stage of my life, I didn’t even know such a model existed and I really had no interest in modeling at all. That was my sisters department and I was busy at a university and traveling at the time. When I got back to Australia, I got in contact with BGM Models had an interview. My agent, Darrianne Donnelly, signed me. My first job came two weeks later and since then, I haven’t looked back.

What advice do you have for aspiring models?

I think one of the most important aspects of modeling is finding an agent that understands what you want from the industry and an agent that you can have a great relationship with. Go with your gut instinct as well. If you feel uncomfortable during a shoot, you should speak up and if you feel like you need more direction, you should always ask for it, as it is a great way to learn more about your body and your best shapes and angles. Be true to yourself. Love yourself and your body, and show how proud you are of yourself through your work. A good model exudes confidence in herself and should be able to convey that to her audience whether it be in print or in person.

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

When I first starting modeling and during high school, I was never really confident with my curves. I also thought of myself as a lot bigger than everyone else, especially my friends. I never really understood that curves were a blessing! Since modeling, I have become a lot more aware of my body shape and finally take pride in the fact that I have a curvy body. I dress to show off my curves and am now no longer afraid to do so. With the increasing awareness of plus sizes and curves in the media, I really think that a positive message is being spread and that anyone that is struggling with body image should take this on board. You have to learn to love yourself and what you have been given in order to lead a healthy life. There are many clothing brands out there now catering towards the plus industry, if you are not sure of how to dress to show off your best features, I think it is a great idea to talk to a stylist and find out what works best for you.

The Cosmopolitan editorial featuring the both you and your sister Courtney is beautiful. What was it like working together?

It was fantastic. It was the first time we have ever worked together and we had a blast! The shoot really showcased just how different our body shapes are and the team did a great job with the styling.

What effect do you hope this editorial, featuring a straight-size model and a plus-size model, will have on the fashion industry?

The shoot definitely shows a diversity of beauty between sizes and it would be great if this beauty were reflected more within the industry. Hopefully, this shoot can propel the industry into realizing that diversity is important and that the plus size industry is here to stay and should be included in editorial work more often. The plus size industry and models instill a great amount of reassurance and a sense of connection with the average woman and have the same ability to sell as the straight size industry.

Do you feel it is important to represent women of different sizes? Why?

Yes, it is definitely important to represent women of not only different sizes, but different ethnicities as well. By representing everyone, it gives people a sense of acceptance and self-assurance. Fashion is for everyone. Clothing is a part of everyday life and it should therefore include every type of person!

What is your go-to outfit?

I usually go for something that hugs my curves, otherwise I can tend to look like a brick. A figure hugging dress, leggings, and boots are at the front of the wardrobe right now as it is winter in Sydney.  I also love a good pair of fitted jeans. I love my jeans from Embody Denim. They fit perfectly and look awesome.

Where do you love to shop?

Since I have been in Europe for most of the year, I have been shopping in Topshop and Zara. We don’t have these shops in Australia and I absolutely love the range they have. The credit card has been hurting but I have bought some great pieces!

Favorite beauty products and must-haves?

Traveling definitely takes its toll on your skin, so I always have a good moisturizer with me. I think I must look like a freak on the plane sometimes because I am constantly re-applying moisturizer to my face every hour. It’s like obsessive-compulsive behavior, but I know if I don’t do it, my skin will break out, and that’s not always the best when you jump straight off a 36-hour flight into a shoot!

I have a big supply of cleanser and a strong eye makeup remover on me at all times. Sometimes eye makeup remover can be a life saver, especially when you finish a shoot with crazy makeup and have to get onto public transport (yes, we models often take public transport, none of this private drivers, haha) A little bit of remover can be the difference between you getting a whole lot of strange looks on the subway!

I also carry a concealer/ highlighter pen with me. They are great for covering those unwanted blemishes and adding a bit of sparkle under the eye!

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Every piece of advice I get from both my mum and dad has usually been spot on. Even though there has been times and different ages in my life when I didn’t listen, at all, or though that it was completely ridiculous, their advice has always been right in the end!

What do you love about yourself? Why?

I love the fact that I am able to adapt to any situation I am thrust into. Modeling in different countries means dealing with language barriers and situations that are completely different than the norm. I have always been able to make the best of any situation and stay positive during the tough times. Being mindful and making an effort to speak in the native language, no matter whether it is a simple ‘hello’ or a full conversation, goes a long way to showing the client and the shoot team that you are an open-minded person and willing to make an effort.

My way of adapting to new countries and situations includes doing a little research before I get there, not only so I know a little about the country and people but so that I know I will be safe and know exactly where I am going and how I am getting there. Being one-step ahead and always prepared with enough money, a map, and a phone is a good strategy to keeping yourself safe and fitting in with your new surroundings.

What does being healthy mean to you?

I believe that being healthy is a mixture of physical and emotional health. Having a balanced diet and exercise routine is a must have. Its fine to treat yourself but over-indulging can get the best of you on most occasions. I try to mix up my diet and exercise so that I don’t get bored or stuck in the same routine. When I go to the gym, I usually do the classes they offer, as I need some form of motivation and the class and the teacher provide that.

Emotional health is such a major part of being healthy. Learning to be happy with yourself and surroundings goes a long way towards leading a positive and stress free life.

What are you reading right now?

It may sound nerdy but I am reading a book called ‘Heaven and Earth, the missing science of Global Warming’. I have a science degree and a law degree and try to keep up to date on current issues in the environmental science field. I am actually really loving this book right now. I tend to read more non-fiction than fiction novels.

What are you excited about right now?

I am excited about my move to NYC. I have been signed with Wilhelmina in NY. I can’t wait to hopefully start working for some great American brands.

*Thank you, Laura!

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 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:

***Thank you, Robyn!

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

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

Photographed by Anna Bertalli

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

First plus model used for Australia’s Cosmopolitan magazine.

How did you begin your career as a model?

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

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

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

Photographed by Anna Bertalli

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

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

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

Here is another article about The Perth Fashion Festival:

What inspired you the most when creating Embody Denim?

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

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

What was the first pair of jeans you created?

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

Do you have a favorite cut from Embody?

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

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

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

How many pairs of jeans do you own?

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

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

What Embody cut has been the most popular?

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

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

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

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

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

What do you love to pair your embody denim with?

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

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

What has been your favorite memory since creating Embody?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you love about yourself?

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

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

What are you excited about right now?

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

*Thank you, Natalie!

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,,, and 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. 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’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!

Australian Model Penelope Benson Talks About Confidence, Beauty, Fashion, Modeling, Health, Body Image, and Much More!

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Australia, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Designers, Eating Disorders, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Funny Experiences, Inspiration, Models, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, Travel, Unique Beauty, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2010 by Liz

Photographed by Claudio Raschella

Penelope Benson is a plus model currently signed with BELLA models in Australia. She is twenty-three years old and she has been juggling full-time university with modeling for the past three years. Now that she has earned her degree, she plans to dedicate 2010 and onward to taking her modeling career as far as she can and she has plans to meet with international agents later this year.

Penelope is extremely lucky to work for both MYER and David Jones department stores, and plus-size brands such as Taking Shape 14+, BeMe, Free Woman, and Sara for EZIBUY. She has graced the pages of the highest selling fashion and lifestyle magazines such as Australian Women’s Weekly, Madison, Cosmopolitan, and Shop Til You Drop; just to name a few.

L’Oreal Fashion Festival Unzipped Parade wearing Rio Underwear. Photographed by Lucas Dawson.

Please tell us where you are from, and how you got started in the modeling business.

I’m from Kirribilli in Sydney, Australia. I started modeling by simply approaching BELLA Model Management about three years go. I still can’t believe I built up the courage to go meet with my agent, Chelsea Bonner; I think about it all the time. I actually use to feel funny about people knowing that I wasn’t ‘scouted’ so to speak.  I didn’t want people to think of me as vain or arrogant, but after a few years on the job, I’ve learnt that I have everything to be proud of by having the guts to stop just thinking about modeling and start doing it! It makes me happy and feel fulfilled as well as enabling me to figure out who I am, what I want and set goals to achieve it – just like anyone who is doing their dream job. Some people grow up wanting to be doctors, lawyers, designers, actors, etc… me? I want to model.

Are there any special projects that you are involved with that you would like us to tell the readers about?

I am actually involved in something but it’s not my project to spill the beans over just yet.

Photographed by Paul Suesse

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 your body as it is?

Absolutely. I’ve struggled with my weight and self-esteem since I can remember. I’ve been to dietitians at two stages in my life (during school) to try to control my issues. As a teenager, I was always concerned and worried about how I looked. I was the tallest out of all of my gorgeous but naturally petite friends, so knew I stood out. I even stopped going to the beach for a whole summer with my mates because the thought of being in a bikini in public haunted me and I never wanted to be compared. My friends laugh about what I do now — seeing me down to my underwear in catalogues. Self-acceptance came over time. It’s obviously a personal journey. Now I can confidently say that I do not have a problem with the way my body looks in any way. I’m as comfortable in a cocktail dress as I am in my underwear, and if you stuck me in a room with a thousand eyes on me, I still wouldn’t have a problem. I know I’m healthy because I treat my body well and I LOVE having curves.

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

Don’t let your life pass you by. If you want to be happy, have confidence and be proud of who you are. I will admit, from my own experiences, sometimes it feels good to self-pity and get down on yourself, especially when you’ve been in a rut for a while, but it’s only because you don’t have to try. Ultimately, you have to want to feel better and change things. I think one of the reasons that led me to my own personal acceptance was my desire to simply live a happy life and I think most people would be with me here. Life’s here for living, I know that if I didn’t take my own steps in growing then I wouldn’t be living out my dream right now. I never would have met with these incredible opportunities. Treat your body and mind well, and never give up on the search for your own happiness. Oh, and stand up straight and keep your shoulders back!

Photographed by Claudio Raschella

What does being healthy mean to you?

I think being healthy means knowing your body – respecting it but also never denying yourself. Along with eating nutritious food, I also believe exercise is a major part of the whole of healthiness. It really is essential, not just to expend energy created from food, but as a way of having better digestion and clearing the mind.

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

I just shot my first television commercial for Fine Form Lingerie and that was memorable! It’s quite different and challenging trying to move and pose at the same time! Another really memorable shoot was for Australian Women’s Weekly because I had wanted to shoot for David Gubert ( ever since I started modeling. I love his photographs and he always makes ladies look glowing and delicious. Lastly, a shoot that really had a huge effect on me was in 2008 for a MYER AW 09 catalogue. We shot and stayed in a small town called Marysville in Victoria. The place was so quaint but honestly breathtaking. Two months after we shot there, bush-fires swept through the whole area devastating everything in sight and killing over 250 residents. It seriously rocked me.

Photographed by Anna Bertalli

Where do you like to shop for clothes and who are your favorite designers?

I go to Cheap Monday for my jeans and pants because they go to my size, Nathan Smith for good cotton tee’s and tops, and David Jones for my shoes… I have a slight addiction to shoes.

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

Smashbox foundation primer and Giorgio Armani Hyrda Glow SPF 15 foundation are the best. I also love Lola by Marc by Marc Jacobs at the moment… oh, and last but definitely not least: Cetaphil face wash!

Do you have a favorite workout routine?

I walk/run 5 days a week. I don’t usually have time on weekends but I make time everyday to exercise for at least an hour. Some weeks I switch it up with swimming.

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

Hmm… I’m always laughing and enjoying myself on the job! Actually, I got to carry a Chihuahua down the runway at a recent show for L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival and it piddled all over my hands from shock!

Australian Womens Weekly shoot. Photographed by David Gubert.

Who do you consider a good role model or hero?

Career wise, the Crystal Renns and Tara Lynns of the world are earning some serious respect from me at the moment. However, closer to home, I would have to say the girls from my agency, both my agents and BELLA models because we’re all around each other so much and we’re all doing the same thing. All of us go to each other for advice and encouragement. We all want the same things and not only do we want them for ourselves, but we want them for each other. Even if only one of us succeeds, it’s a victory for us all and we know that. But, if you, the reader, are encouraged by me or this interview then you inspire me and you are my hero! I haven’t had the best role models or heroes in my life.  I’ve kind of had to figure it all out myself and be my own role model, in a sense. I’m lucky I found something that has brought out the best in me; it’s something I love and that I’m able to be paid for.

What are you excited about right now?

The future! I have so many things that I want to do. I feel like they are becoming more possible every day with plus-size models becoming ever more present in fashion magazines and advertising. I’m excited about taking work overseas. It’s a scary when I think about the likes of who I’ll be competing with, but I just see it as another challenge. If I never go, then I’ll never know!

*Thank you, Penelope!

**What are some of your favorite beauty products or must-haves? What is your favorite workout routine? Who do you consider a good role model or hero? What are you excited about right now?

Plus Model Emily Towner Talks Beauty, Body Image, and Italian Vogue Curvy!

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Funny Experiences, Inspiration, Models, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, Travel, Unique Beauty, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2010 by Liz

Photographed by Michael Creagh

My name is Emily Towner and I just turned 18 this month! I am originally from Atlanta, Georgia, but I now reside in New York City! I started modeling right after I turned 16. I am with Allure Model Management in Atlanta, as well as with Wilhelmina Models in New York and Miami. I am finishing my senior year in high school. I attend an online private school, which enables me to be able to pursue other ventures. Some of my clients include Persona by Marina Rinaldi (Italy), Elena Miro (Italy), JC Penney, Schwab (Germany), and Bloomingdales. I have also been featured in Cosmopolitan Magazine, a Good Morning America segment for Glamour Magazine, Seventeen Magazine, and Lucky Magazine!

How did you get started in the modeling industry?

The summer before my junior year in high school I had some pictures taken with a local photographer and submitted them to my mother agent in Atlanta, Allure Model Management. I started doing some local jobs around Atlanta, and I decided that it would be best to go to New York and look for an agency! I signed with Wilhelmina in February of 2009!

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

I believe that everyone struggles with self-esteem or body image issues at least once in their lives. For me, coming to accept and love my body and myself as I am always comes down to taking a step back and not being so overly critical of myself! I am often a perfectionist, but that is both my best and worst habit. Although it can be difficult, I try to concentrate on my good qualities instead of dwelling on my bad ones! My advice to girls and women who may be struggling with these issues is to find one great quality that they love about themselves and focus on that!

Photographed by photographer

Where do you like to shop for clothes?

There are a lot of great vintage shops in New York City, which is primarily where I shop. I love going to thrift and vintage stores and trying to find a great deal on something that is original! I have gotten some really great jewelry and blazers in thrift stores everywhere. My grandmother used to live in Florida and they had some wonderful shops there as well!

Do you have a favorite workout routine?

I belong to a gym and like doing group classes such as aerobics, Pilates, and yoga. I usually try to go to classes at least three or four times a week.

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

My favorite foundation is actually a tinted moisturizer by Laura Mercier. It gives enough coverage without being too thick and heavy. It is very light, feels as if I am not wearing any makeup at all, and still looks flawless! Right now, I am very into a beauty line called “Fresh.” I have their Soy Face Cleanser, Soy Face Cream, and Sugar Lip Treatment! However, I am also a big fan of original Noxzema as a cleanser and have been using it for years. I have very dry hair and since it is always being worked on, it tends to get damaged easily. I use Redken Smooth Down Butter Treat as a daily conditioner. It is the only thing that detangles and repairs my hair!

Photographed by Laura Rose

Who do you consider a role model or hero?

I consider my mother to be both my role model and hero. Last year my mother was busy taking care of my grandfather full time, but yet she still made time to come to New York, motivate me, and help me keep a positive attitude, outlook, and perspective on life.

What is your favorite photograph of yourself and why?

My favorite photograph of myself is one from a photo shoot I went to where the photographer had this amazing green dress. I like the expression on my face. I feel as if this photo portrays me as I really am! (First photo shown at the top of this post.)

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

As a model, you always have to be prepared for anything on a photo shoot! One time, I was at a shoot that was all about geometrical shapes. My hands were painted completely black for the entire eight-hour shoot. I could not eat, use my phone, or go to the bathroom without getting black paint everywhere!

Photographed by Gary Wood

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

Out of all of the places my modeling career has taken me, the most memorable place I have been is Milan, Italy this past February for fashion week! I walked in the Fall/Winter 2010-2011 show for designer Elena Miro. The trip was also very exciting because while I was there I got to shoot two videos for Italian Vogue Curvy on the new Vogue Italia website!

Where do you hope your modeling career takes you?

I want to continue to pursue modeling and achieve success in this industry as well as continue to be able to travel all over the world for my job! I also hope that my modeling career will open up doors for other opportunities. I love to sing and write songs and hope to one day establish a career as a singer! I am getting ready to put some of the songs I have written on my own YouTube channel, they should be ready within a few days, be sure to check it out!

Photographed by Michael Creagh

Thank you, Emily. You are fantastic! We are excited to see what the future has in store for you!