Archive for Dieting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks again,

xx

Elizabeth

Here is Angela’s story…

Photography by Marc von Borstel

 

Hello World,

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

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

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

My Story

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photographed by Lindsey Bowen

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you!

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Life Doesn’t Start After Losing the Last Five or Ten Pounds. Live Your Best Life Now! Guest Post by Erin Henry.

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Eating Disorders, Fitness & Health, Inspiration, Media, My Story, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Unique Beauty, Your Story with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2010 by Liz

Photographed by Karine Basilio

I am so excited to be a contributor to such a positive website. When I first looked at Plus-Size Models Unite, I was inspired by the amazing women featured, but also really struck by the support these women were offering to one another regarding healthy body image and self-acceptance. Having had so many struggles with these issues myself; it feels good to know I wasn’t alone. I’m excited to be a part of this movement to help women love themselves inside and out!

I’m happy to say I’ve come full circle in my journey of learning to love my body, but it wasn’t easy. There were many years of self-loathing, criticizing, and thinking that if I could only lose two more pounds my life would miraculously change overnight and all of my wildest dreams would come true. I thought being very thin was the key to happiness. Well, what I can tell you is that your life can most definitely change overnight, but losing that last two pounds that you are convinced is weighing you down has nothing to do with it. It is important to be at a healthy and comfortable weight for YOU, but we are all different and that’s the beauty in us all.

It’s easy to be caught up in insecurity about your tummy roll or fuller hips, especially when I recently saw a top fashion magazine now claiming a size 4 to be curvy and there seems to be an endless stream of Victoria’s Secret catalogs in my mailbox every day. Who is signing us all up to receive these? Who looks like that? Well surely, if you look like that you must have a perfect life in every regard right? Do I have to be that skinny to love myself? Does this sound familiar to anyone? I did a lot of this type of thinking for a lot of years! Here is my story, and how I turned it all around.

Photographed by Alexander Neumann

I grew up in a suburb of Portland, Oregon. It was beautiful. Green, clean, and full of fun outdoor activities. I spent my free time camping, skiing, and hiking. When I got to high school, I was on a highly competitive volleyball team and the sport was a huge part of my life. We did a lot of training, and I loved that I had an athletic body and my mother had taught me how to eat well to support my endurance. I thought I looked pretty good and was a happy and healthy young woman.

People had suggested for years that I try modeling so one summer when I was fifteen; I finally decided to give it a go by sending some pictures to agencies. I was immediately accepted by some big names and I thought it would be a good way to save some money until I went off to college. I was always very tomboyish and, up until then, had never really thought about having a delicate frame or a tiny waist. The first time I went to the agency that I decided on and the measuring tape came out, somehow I knew I was in trouble. Sure enough, according to the agent I had some extra inches lurking around my 5’11” figure. But, the promise of big money and travel if I lost the inches was enough to put me on the first diet I could find. That was the first time I remember thinking…If I could just lose five pounds….

I did lose the five pounds, but then of course I thought if I could lose more weight my career and life would be even better. So, I did…and nothing changed besides the fact that I was able to model for some catalogs and my mind was constantly consumed with thoughts of food. I never use to think about food unless I was hungry, then I’d eat whatever sounded good, and the thought would go away until my next meal. When you diet to extremes like I had begun doing, you’re never really satiated so you think about food nonstop. It became a distraction from what should normally be on a teenage girls mind. It was somewhere my mind would wander more and more. If I were tired of thinking about my friends, schoolwork, sports, or my family; then I would just find a new diet to think about and follow. Diets became a distraction from whatever was really going on in my life. Even the things that were exciting and fun. I had a wonderful high school experience and a lot to be grateful for, but my mind was starting to become focused on food deprivation more and more. That was no way to live.

Photographed by Becca Thorpe

I was definitely thin at this point, but the parts of my body that had recently been pointed out to me as fat still seemed fat to me. There were always the same spots I picked on and would resort to complaining about when I was having a bad day. In fact, I would turn to these “flaws” even when I was having a great day and they would bring me down. I am now convinced this is something women do to themselves as some form of unnecessary self-torture. Some way to keep ourselves down at a certain level because we think we aren’t worthy of feeling like more. I think we have all done this to ourselves at some point. And trust me, even the girl or woman that we look at and think have a perfect figure has had negative thoughts like these.

When I was eighteen, I left college to pursue modeling full-time in Paris. I was a girl they said had so much potential, and I should have been thrilled but I don’t remember this as a particularly happy time of my life because I felt that everything was riding on whether or not I could be skinny. I was getting a great response from clients and I just couldn’t walk away. Sure enough, I was instructed to lose more weight once I arrived in Paris. Surely, this was the last time and then life would most definitely be fabulous! And, fabulous in Paris nonetheless! It all sounded so glamorous. The problem was dieting alone wasn’t going to do it, so I went to some extreme measures in an attempt to shave that last bit of weight off.

It still wouldn’t budge, so I was shipped off to Germany with the other “overweight” girls and told to work on it while I modeled for unglamorous catalogs for a while. I felt like I had won a consolation prize but I wanted to be the best. I recently came across some photos of me at this time, and I was thin and beautiful but in every picture I looked absolutely empty and terrified. I had dug myself into a very deep hole.

Photographed by Fiorenzo Borghi

I was homesick living overseas so eventually I moved to New York where I had a career as a catalog and commercial model, and I never made it back to Paris, but I also never stopped trying to get into that perfect sample size they had given me the measurements for because that had become my ideal of perfection. In New York, I was allowed to be a bit bigger but not much and my weight was a continual struggle. I missed out on so much happiness because I was always torturing myself for not being thin enough. I avoided social events involving food and was at the gym more than I care to remember. I finally lost that weight and right when I thought the true rewards for my efforts were right around the corner, I ended up in the hospital for five days. I came close to kidney failure but the doctors dismissed me after rehydrating me and temporarily patching me up.

Over the next few years, I was in the hospital four more times with the same issue when finally a doctor came to me and asked me if I wanted to live a long time, because the path I was on wasn’t going to get me there. All of the dieting and over exercising was taking a dangerous toll on my body. Finally, someone stepped in and realized all of the destructive things I had been doing to mold myself into that perfect ideal of thinness I had formed in my head. This was my wake up call. The quest for my perfect figure, which I believed would lead me to true happiness, actually landed me in the hospital five times close to kidney failure. Hmm… Something definitely wasn’t working here. I was unhappy, unfulfilled, unhealthy, and all this for what? So, I made a decision.

Photographed by Becca Thorpe

I chose life. I knew I needed to take some time off from measuring tapes and sample sizes so I left New York, quit modeling for a few years, and started to remember all the things I used to love before I got lost down that road of self-torture. I traveled, went on dates, laughed, tried different careers, built meaningful relationships, played volleyball again…and I ate all of the things I had deprived myself of for so long. And it was fun! I felt alive again. I learned that being who you are doesn’t have to be a struggle, even though so often we make it one.

I did go through a period of time where I started to seriously overindulge, but I think it was my body’s way of making up for lost time. And lost dessert! After a few months of eating recklessly, my body began to tell me what it needed. Maybe one day it needed some dark leafy greens because it craved iron or calcium, and maybe another day it absolutely needed a piece of salmon to boost my healthy fat intake. Once I really started to listen to my body’s cravings and learned to give it the nourishment it yearned for, I truly began to live a healthy life again. Not only was I physically healthier, but on a personal level I was healthier as well. When you don’t have to spend every waking moment thinking about dieting and your next meal, you have the opportunity to think about your life and how you want to live it.

A few years later, I found out I could have a career as a healthy shaped model. It was actually in demand! I moved back to New York, started my modeling career again, and enrolled in school to learn about holistic health and nutrition. From there, I have taken numerous courses in holistic healing such as herbal medicine and breathwork. The thing I treasure most about my education is that I continued to learn that there’s so much more to being a healthy person than just what you eat. While proper nutrition is very important, the day-to-day thoughts and feelings we have are important as well. It was difficult for me at the beginning, but I learned to feel my thoughts and feelings and sit with them instead of trying to distract myself with the thought of another diet or starvation plan. Maybe my body is not perfect, but by learning to find things about it that is beautiful every day was what changed my life overnight.

Photographed by Fiorenzo Borghi

We all have so many things that make us beautiful and that we can be grateful for. Our thoughts and feelings affect every cell of our body. So true health for me meant learning to think positively more than negatively. Learning to really feel things like love, compassion, forgiveness, hope, and joy have been one of the greatest blessings of this whole journey.

The best way I know how to describe holistic healing is that it is health based on the “whole” person. You are what you eat, but you are also what you think, feel, dream, do, and love. I am continuing to learn about mind/body healing because not only do I want to help others learn to love and honor their body; I want them to learn to nourish it inside and out. After all, we only get one.

*Thank you, Erin!

**We will be reading much more from Erin in the future and we are looking forward to it!

To view Erin’s first piece for the Huffington Post visit~

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/erin-henry/spirituality-for-beginners_b_811256.html?ref=fb&src=sp