Archive for Eating Disorders

A Special Message from Liz & Angela via Plus-Size Models Unite

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Eating Disorders, Family & Friends, Media, Models, News, Parenting, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Radio, Recipes & Food, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Sports, Trade Tips, Travel, TV, Unique Beauty, Work, Your Story with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 10, 2011 by Liz

Liz Mangini & Angela Jones ~ Photographed by Lindsey Bowen

We would love to thank each and every one of you for supporting PSMU. We have really enjoyed being a part of such a positive site; sharing stories; and promoting healthy living, confidence, self-esteem, and self-love. Thank you to all of our contributors, models, agents, friends, mothers, writers, and our readers! We truly believe everyone can make a difference if we come together and let our voices be heard, as we have done at PSMU. We all need to be exposed to more healthy, happy, and positive ideas and role models. There are some extraordinary people out there doing amazing things and we need to hear more about them!

This will be our final post via Plus-Size Models Unite. We hope to see you at the new site that is coming soon!

Thank you!

Liz & Angela


Olivia Coyne Says, “Be kind to yourself – you only have one body, one life, and only the moment to live it.”

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Australia, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Designers, Eating Disorders, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Funny Experiences, Hobbies, Inspiration, Media, Models, News, Parenting, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2011 by Liz

Photographed by Claudio Raschella

Olivia Coyne is a plus model from Australia who is signed with Bella Model Management.

How did your career start as a model?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been told I should be a model. I took it as a compliment and never thought anything much of it, “thank you…how kind…maybe one day.” It wasn’t until my boss, a woman whose opinion I value very highly, said to me that I should try out to be a plus-size model. I knew that there were plus-size models in the market, but I never knew how to tap into it. I called BELLA late one night after work and Chelsea answered. We spoke for ten minutes, I sent off a few pictures, went in for an interview, and it’s just been a rollercoaster ride since then. Yes, it would’ve been nice to have a ‘scouted’ story, walking down the street, someone saw me etc. – but I think my story is one of ambition and having a goal and doing something about it. I would still be walking up and down the street waiting for someone to see me – hello, see me!! Ha!

Have you always known you wanted to be a model?

The fashion and media industry is always something I’ve had an interest in–catwalks, magazines, clothes, shopping, trends, designers, and of course the models, did I mention magazines? I used to read Vogue every month religiously and the models were untouchable. They were the girls that didn’t exist in this world; they were from somewhere else. I idolized them and wanted to know all I could about their lives. I think it when I hit 14-15 years old and I realized I could never look like those girls. I didn’t have the frame for it, and once I researched it a bit, I didn’t really care too much for the unhealthy lifestyle. I had to keep reminding myself that the size 4-8 models are built that way – you cannot change your body type, but you can change your attitude. Knowing that there are other young girls out there, like I was, idolizing these models, scares me sometimes. I only hope young women understand that international catwalk models are from, another world, they are born with a frame and structure that can hold minimum body fat – it’s not normal. Yes, they make it work for them, but for the rest of the population, a healthy lifestyle should be the main aim of the game – physically and mentally.

What are your thoughts on the term ‘plus’ size model?

I think the market is calling us ‘plus-size’ because they’re still coming to terms with the fact that ‘plus-size’ models have made it onto the scene and we’re making a breakthrough. The industry has really embraced plus-size models and it has all happened so fast – the demand was there and the models were waiting! I think in time, the term will fade, just as the idea of being plus size will become the norm and accepted as regular. Plus size is only used in the industry because next to the Vodinova’s, Kerr’s, and Buchanan’s we are plus size – the industry will adapt in time. It’s a positive step and every client that uses and embraces plus-size models should be recognized as making a conscious effort to improve the standards of Australia’s media credibility.

Photographed by Claudio Raschella

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?

When I was younger, I always knew I was different, taller, broader, and conscious of my demeanor; that I wasn’t like all the other girls. People, friends, and even strangers would comment on my physical appearance and the way I carried myself even before I opened my mouth or they knew my name. I just thought that this happened to everyone – apparently not. I knew that I could never be as thin as my friends or as skinny as the models on the catwalk, and that in itself took some time to develop – but still I beat myself up about it inside. I went through a period where I had a distorted view of what was right and wrong for my body. I would count calories and monitor my eating patterns and those of others. I was consumed by consumption. The light bulb moment for me, and I still have them, is seeing young women, thin young women who cannot exercise, have a fun night out, hold a conversation, or have no energy for life all because they are still obsessed by their eating habits and have no time to enjoy eating. The relationship I have with food is healthy and realistic. I view food as energy for living, one needs healthy nutritious food and often. Food is entertaining with friends, its long lunches, relaxing dinners, healthy lunches, and respecting food and nutrition.

What does being healthy mean to you?

Healthy means balance. Healthy means having a sustainable lifestyle and not living to excess – moderation is key. There’s not much to it really. Yes, it’s easy to stray off track every now and then, but that’s the whole idea of moderation and balance – off track, on track.

What are you currently dreaming of?

I dream of Sydney, I’ve dreamt of Sydney, I longed for Sydney – I love this city. I embrace this city with everything I have. I’m dreaming of New York though – I want to love that city. I want to live in New York – soak myself in New York and embrace and encourage New York – I want to love New York.

Photographed by Claudio Raschella

Where do you love to shop for clothes?

I love Oxford St in Sydney – untapped treasures and local designers. Some of my favourite everyday day brands include Country Road, Sussans (this goes with that), Witchery, General Pants Co for something different and edgy, David Jones for the latest collections, Myer for the sales, and Cosmopolitan Shoes when I like to dream.

What is your go-to outfit?

Every day, anytime is jeans, flat shoes, singlet top and cardi, necklace, and scarf. Nighttime – invited out – nothing to wear is long black strapless dress, high heels, messy tousled hair, smoky eyes, sparkly earrings, and clutch. It’s all about working with what you have, confidence but not too much. You’re out to have a good time, day or night; you have to be comfortable in your own skin. You have to love yourself first before someone else can. Be confident and others will see that in you and respect you for it.

What is your fashion obsession?

Okay, here it is – my fashion obsessions – through and through, for a number of years now, I’m prepared to admit it, just between you and me – scarves and necklaces. I wear scarves around my neck, on my head, tied to a handbag, around my waist as a belt, around my wrist as a top over jeans or a kaftan on the beach– anywhere. Thick, woolly, loose, thin, patterned, plain, beaded, decorative, warm, short, homemade, knitted, long with tassels or fringes, or silk. If you have it–I want it, if I own it, I’ll wear it. Necklaces are a guilty and my not so private obsession. As with the scarves, wear them any which way or whatever, big, small, heavy or light, charmed or simple, multi stranded–accessories are made to be worn and adored.

What are your favorite beauty products or must-haves?

30+ SPF tinted sunscreen, Estee Lauder Double Wear eyeliner, Avon mascara, and pale lip balm. I’m into dark eyes and light lips at the moment, I’m tapping into a 60’s mod theme, trying to make it work for me! I hope it’s working for me. Ha.

Do you have a favorite skin care line?

I believe in switching skin care regimes and brands every few months. One must keep the skin guessing, it should not get too comfortable. Just as your life and routines change, so too should your skin care regime, but keeping a few reliable staple items. I’ve always used a Garnier deep pore face wash and Nivea Crème. I add in Garnier Caffeine Eye Roll On, L’Oreal Night Cream, and L’occitane hand cream. Always drink at least two liters of water a day – good skin comes from the inside out – but great products always help!

What is a quick beauty tip you would like to share with us?

Always wear sunscreen; it’s plain, simple and makes sense. Australia has such a harsh climate that we cannot afford not to wear sunscreen, at least 30+, and if it’s tinted, that’s another plus! Also, don’t ever forget to wash your make up off – panda eyes are never a good look, not matter how much fun the night before was!

Favorite nail color?

Dark red. It’s seductive at nighttime, and fresh and fun during the day. It goes with most items of clothing and jewelry sparkles 10 times as much against the dark hue.

Photographed by Claudio Raschella

Do you have a favorite workout?

My favourite workout routine is a run or walk – I have the route down pat!  I’m such a local, I love this city!

What are your favorite sites to visit online?, has great info, latest trends, great catwalk clips from around the globe, good tips, and up to date product releases – what better way to love a magazine than to love its online sister! I also love – 3 o’clock in the afternoon – quick, what’s for dinner!?

If I turned on your iPod, what would be playing? 

Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Miami Horror, the Bagraiders, Temper Trap, and Madeline Peyroux – nothing wrong with a bit of a mix!

If you had one piece of advice to give other girls your age, what would it be? 

Be kind to yourself – you only have one body, one life, and only the moment to live it. Respect your body for what it is. Don’t ever get hung up on what you’re not, what you don’t have, or where you’re not. Love your body and understand it. Respect your shape and make it work in your favour. Play around with shapes and styles, experiment with colours and looks – have fun with your look. Don’t be hung up on your appearance, there is more to a young woman than the way she looks. Personality and confidence is key and it’s something that people can sense. Others sense when you are not comfortable in your own skin and when you hide who you really are – be yourself and others can love you for it.

What do your friends think of your modeling career? 

My friends support my decision and are very excited in its developments – like most people they are astounded that as a size 12, is considered plus size. The term is not an accurate view of models in the industry today. 12 + is the average – it is about transforming the view of society to understanding that plus size is not plus size.

What is the best gift you’ve given to someone?

I think the best gifts are experiences. I’ve given concert tickets, centrepoint tower climbs, restaurant vouchers, and tours. The best presents are those you cannot buy yourself and when you share an experience with someone, the memories are endless.

Photographed by Claudio Raschella

What makes you uniquely beautiful?

My attitude. I am a very optimistic person and I like to see the best in everyone. I believe in living in the moment and making the most of every experience. Learn from people and learn from mistakes. I think my attitude for myself has developed immensely in the last few years. I’ve learnt to love who I am and recognize what I have to offer others. One’s attitude should be reflective of values and morals, a way of life.

What is your biggest accomplishment? 

Buying my apartment. It was such an adventure to get to where I am now. The saving, the paperwork, the solicitors, the real estate agents, the open houses, the schedules, and finally the settlement, it was almost like a part-time job – glad to be on the other side of it. I learnt a lot about the industry and a lot about myself. About what I value, the lifestyle I was after, and what I wanted from owning an apartment. My family was very supportive throughout the entire process; I couldn’t have done it without them.

What is the best thing your family does to support you?

The best thing my family has done for me is support me in my decisions and respect my opinions. I was never forced to do anything I didn’t believe in. Never underestimate the value of a steady support network – friends and family that are there for you, through it all. Those who support your values and share common morals. Being able to make your own decisions, your own mistakes, and learn from them is a big part of growing up. The key is growing old without growing old. Always maintain a sense of youth and ensure those around you respect you for it.

Who is your role model or hero? Why?

My mother is my role model. Karen is supportive and strong. She is loving, caring, patient, and funny. My Mum has always been there for me–an ear to listen and advice for any occasion. Her sense of style, self-worth, and respect – I have learnt a lot and will continue to learn from her every day. We chat every other day and catch up on the happening of the week. Stories galore. She fills me in on the family life, and I update her on the adventures I have in Sydney.

Tell us a fun fact about you…

I’ve been skydiving in Prague. I have a tattoo of a star on my wrist that I got with my Mum. I lived overseas for four years when I was young; I went to American International Schools. Sometimes my American accent comes out when I’m telling a story or singing a song. If I ever meet an American, the accent comes out straight away – it’s tragic! I own my apartment, bought it 18 months ago; hello mortgage and principal & interest repayments! Is that fun ?

What are you excited about right now?

I am excited for Summer 2011! The word of the Summer is ‘balance’. Work hard, play hard, eat well, and sleep deeply (on Sunday nights!).

Thank you, Olivia!

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; I’d love for you to visit us there or share the site with all the moms you know.

Thanks again,



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 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!

Hot Topic: Body Image, Self-Esteem, and the Media by Liz Mangini

Posted in Body Image, Confidence, Eating Disorders, Media, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2011 by Liz


Filippi Hamilton on the catwalk on the left and photoshopped on the right.

I read the recent Glamour magazine article, “Shocking Body-Image News: 97% of Women Will Be Cruel to Their Bodies Today” and it made me think of my daughters and all the young boys and girls, teens, and women who have or will struggle with self-esteem and body image issues at some point in their lives.

The Glamour magazine article said, “On average, women have 13 negative body thoughts daily—nearly one for every waking hour. And a disturbing number of women confess to having 35, 50, or even 100 hateful thoughts about their own shapes each day.” The article went on to say, “In a University of Central Florida study of three- to six-year-old girls, nearly half were already worried about being fat—and roughly a third said they wanted to change something about their body.”

These are very disturbing statistics. More than ever before, the body hatred epidemic is beginning at a younger age. How can we stop this? A few ways we can help break the cycle are by loving and accepting our bodies the way they are, setting a good example for our children by not talking negatively about our bodies, not buying into the false imagery the media is selling, giving kids the tools they need to build their self-esteem and confidence, and having conversations with our kids about the reality of the artificial images and messages they are exposed to. I also think we should have more diversity in the media. The recent rise of plus models have helped expand the idea of beauty and acceptance, but I wish those women were used alongside straight models with more regularity. I also hope to see more un-manipulated pictures of men and women of varying shapes, sizes, ethnicities, physical abilities, and ages, which includes people who are short, tall, plus, thin, and every woman in between. Is that too much to ask?

We live in a society where the media, magazines, and some celebrities are sending unhealthy unrealistic messages about the definition of beauty. We see pictures in magazines of unattainable beauty—it’s not attainable because it’s fake. Sometimes the models in the pictures are airbrushed and computer enhanced to the point of absurdity (as seen above). Women, girls, boys, and men are being sucked into illusionary expectations of beauty and the effects of that can be very damaging psychologically and physically. The effects of the unrelenting images and messages can lead to low self-esteem, body image issues, eating disorders, unhealthy living, and in some cases death. No, I’m not being overly dramatic.

According to the Department of Health, “It is estimated that 8 million Americans have an eating disorder – seven million women and one million men. Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents. 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25. 50% of girls between the ages of 11 and 13 see themselves as overweight.” A study by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reported that, “5 – 10% of anorexics die within 10 years after contracting the disease; 18-20% of anorexics will be dead after 20 years, and only 30 – 40% ever fully recover”. This is reality. Women and men are dying to be “beautiful”.

I recently heard Oprah interview Janet Jackson about her new book called, “True You”. Janet talks about going through a phase in her life when she hated her body so much that she would literally bang her head against the wall out of frustration. When Oprah asked when Janet thought her body hatred started, Janet said it started as a child. She said that her brothers would tease her, not realizing what a profound negative affect it was having on her psyche. She has struggled for years to recover. Everyone has their own potential trigger, whether it’s teasing from peers or family, images in magazines or shows, peer pressure, or a parent who spoke negatively about their own body in front of their kids or who didn’t treat their bodies with respect. Unfortunately, this is the story of many men and women both famous and not.

We should encourage and empower boys, girls, women, and men to break the cycle of negativity and self-hate and to love and embrace their bodies as they naturally are. It took me a long time, but once I decided to embrace my body as it is, my confidence has soared! I feel more empowered now and have such great respect for what my body is capable of doing.

With so many people struggling to love themselves, it makes me think something needs to radically change. How can we put a stop to this? Who defines beauty? What drives the media? How do you define beauty?

I define beauty as the inner light that shines through your eyes, smile, laugh, words, actions, and touch. The light that is lit by love, kindness, patience, joy, intelligence, hope, strength, a warm heart, and confidence in your unbound uniqueness.

Here is the Today Show interview with model Filippa Hamilton:

Here is the full Glamour magazine article.


Three Plus Models Join New Parenting Web Site! Are You a Momma? We Would Love You to Join Our New Community!

Posted in Confidence, Family & Friends, Food, Inspiration, Models, Parenting, Recipes & Food, Self-Esteem, Shopping with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2011 by Liz

Hi, everyone!

Elizabeth just started another website called Secrets of Moms Who Dare to Tell All (

Plus Models Angela Jones, Kate Tunnell, and Cheyney Barrieau are contributing as well as several other fabulous women! It’s going to be a great and a wonderful place for mothers to go to share their stories and advice and will discuss both light and serious issues!

This website is for all you parents out there who want to hear the real ins and outs of being a mom. We will discuss the moments, days, feelings, and experiences that most moms don’t usually share with anyone but their closest friends. Almost every mom I’ve met has said that no one ever told her what it’s really like to be a parent. You hear about how wonderful, fun, and lovey everything is (and that’s true), but people don’t tell you about the craziness, unpredictability, and all-encompassing reality of what it’s like to raise kids. I wish I would’ve known the truth sooner, so that I never would’ve felt like a failure for not being perfect. Thankfully, I don’t feel that way anymore–what is perfect, anyway!?! I am perfectly unperfected and so are you. Let’s help all the mom’s out there feel good about themselves and their children, by being real.

This is a place for EVERYONE to have honest, direct dialogue without judgment. Secrets will be told and almost anything goes. We will cover every topic imaginable–the good, the bad, and the funny. Let yourself be heard! Dads are welcome too. Please share your stories, send us comments and pictures, and tell the truth. As long as you are speaking your truth, you are welcome here. Please be kind to each other, interact, and ask questions.

Liz Nord is the creator of She is a wife and mother of two daughters ages six and nine. She loves family, running, reading, seeking knowledge, baking, laughing, innovating, traveling, in-depth conversations, sunshine, and outdoor adventures. She earned a B.A. in Communications, and completed graduate editing courses at the University of Washington. Liz has published articles in a number of magazines, newspapers, and on numerous websites. She has been a guest on the Leeza Gibbons talk show, Hollywood Confidential, and serves on the Editing Certificate Advisory Board at the University of Washington. She is also the co-creator of Plus-Size Models Unite.  Liz is passionate about promoting positive self-esteem, healthy body image, and confidence.  She believes in cultivating who you are truly meant to be and embracing your unique self.

We are an eclectic, intelligent, fun group of women, who are all here to share our parenting experiences.

Cheyney Barrieau is a mother of two beautiful children – Lulu, 18 months, and Max, 3 months. She is born and raised in New York City and now resides in West Hartford, CT with her college sweetheart hubby, Gib. Cheyney was a straight-sized model with Wilhelmina Models and moved to WCurve after having two children back to back. As well as being a full-time mom, she finds the time to continue her modeling career, showing young girls it’s perfectly fine to show off those curves!

Andrea Dodd is a fully domestic homeschooling mom of a newly blended family; two girls of her own, ages 10 and 7; and inherited son, 8. When Andrea is not teaching, you’ll find her coaching and playing volleyball, baking, reading with a glass of red, or behind the lens, growing her budding photography career, Life iluli Fotography, which has been featured on Plus Size Models Unite.

Andrea went to a Seattle Junior College, and then off to Arizona State University, studying Nutrition. She’s passionate about family (including those sisters by choice), health, positive living, and relishing those glimpses of momentary bliss mothering bestows.

Angela Jones is a wife, mother of two children, a model, and an eating disorder survivor. She is also the co-creator of the website Plus-Size Models Unite, a contributor to Healthy is the New Skinny, and a speaker for the Perfectly UnPerfected (P.U.P.) Project. Angela enjoys spending time with her family and friends. In her free time, she loves to take walks, run, dance, bake, or spend time at home. She is passionate about promoting healthy living, confidence, and self-love to girls and women around the world.

Janell Kaufman is a graduate of Western Washington University with a degree in English Literature and Communications. She is a stay at home mom of a ten-year old girl and a, recently adopted, seven-year old boy. She over volunteers at her children’s school, is highly emotional (read: cries all the time), and often puts her foot in her mouth. Janell has been an avid journal keeper for over 25 years and is currently working on a fiction novel, when she can find the time.

Cassandra Mack, MSW is a trained social worker, national girls’ empowerment expert and the founder of Strategies for Empowered Living Inc., a New York based human development company dedicated to helping people succeed and grow. She has written over ten highly successful books including: “Cool, Confident and Strong: 52 Power Moves for Girls,” “The Busy Woman’s Little Book of Motivation,” and “Say It, See It, Believe It: The Affirmation Activity Journal for Girls and Their Mothers.” For more information about this contributing writer go to:

Molly Pitts grew up in a small town outside of Seattle. She attended Western Washington University looking to graduate with a degree in communications, but transferred to The Art Institute of Seattle to follow her love of filmmaking and video production. After graduating, she worked in the industry for a few years ending at The Gates Foundation where she was a video editor. Molly is now back in that same small town being a mom and laughing as much as she can at the craziness we call parenting. She has three girls’ ages five, three and 8 months. Her oldest and youngest are biological and the three-year old was adopted from Ethiopia. She joined their family when she was just six months old.

Kate Tunnell is a new mom to a nine-week old son and a nine-year old stepson. She is a plus-size model who is originally from New Jersey—yes, the Jersey Shore. Kate worked in NYC, and then moved to Texas after meeting her husband on a model search tour. She loves making a home for her family and enjoys all the adventures of having a new baby. Kate loves telling young girls and women that it’s okay to have curves, embrace your body, and don’t think you have to be thin to be beautiful!

Come visit us at! Thank you.

Sierra Lisa Speaks Her Truth! She’s an Amazing Woman! We Are giving Away Ten Free DVD’s to the First Ten People Who Email Us. See Details at the Bottom of this Post!

Posted in Art, Body Image, Celebrity, Confidence, Eating Disorders, Entertainment, Events, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Food, Hobbies, Inspiration, Media, Movies, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, TV, Your Story with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2010 by Liz

Sierra is a dedicated and passionate filmmaker. Her goal is to make films that influence people to reflect on different aspects of life, question the status quo, and become independent thinkers. She has directed several films in high school that showcased at the Moondance Festival. One of them, The Ice Cream, won Best Short Film award, and a third place ROP award in Film Production. At California State University, Northridge; she produced, directed, wrote, edited, and worked on several short films including STARving, which was one of the five projects to be funded by the school’s film program her senior year.

Sierra has worked in the entertainment business since she was sixteen. Included among her many clients are San Diego Chargers owner, Alex Spanos and renowned singer, Gloria Loring. Currently, she works with Leeza Gibbons as the producer for the radio show Hollywood Confidential as well as Leeza’s in-house video and audio editor.

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 and your body as it is.

It is estimated that 8 million people in the United States are suffering from an eating disorder and, much too recently, I was one of them. In high school, I would rather have died than admit I had the problem, but now having surmounted bulimia, this experience most significantly impacted my life. Training to be an actress at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA), the pressure to be thin engulfed me and I began believing that any harm I endured was a worthy sacrifice for my art. My bulimia began with frightening ease and quickly spiraled into a compulsive nightmare. It is due to the help of a teacher named Kim Wield that I was able to triumph. My evolution from nonchalantly beginning bulimia, uncontrollably continuing in it, and ultimately overcoming the fight has dramatically shaped my views on life.

Sitting down for rehearsal of a female dance number, I listened to my perfectly toned choreography teacher suggest that we start eating healthier foods while avoiding crash diets. In practically the same breath, she ended her pep talk by saying she did not want to see any flab on the stage and she followed with a laugh so sharp it pervaded my very being. I looked down at my 16-year-old body, quickly compared myself to the other girls (each of whom was making her own comparison), and came to the conclusion that I was the fattest girl in the room. I frantically started on a 500 calorie diet in hopes of dropping the flab by opening night, which was a mere eight weeks away. When I failed to lose the expected weight by the second week, I broke the diet in a bingeing frenzy and decided to voluntarily vomit for the first time.

Throwing up my food was scarily simple and, since I had binged on candy, it did not taste as bad as I thought it would. It started as a way to “cancel out” the fact that I broke my diet, but soon I realized I could eat anything I wanted as long as I purged after every meal. I continued this pattern for nearly two years, alienating myself from everything and, being that I was lying to everyone that I loved, my relationships began to disintegrate. I strove to be perfect only to find that I was falling short in every aspect of life, including my own happiness. It was when I started thinking about cutting open my thighs to perform amateur liposuction that I realized I needed serious help. As I searched for peer advice to no avail, I stumbled across a woman who would change my life forever.

One day in her acting class, Kim Wield openly shared her fight with bulimia and I developed a trust in her that was only possible because we shared a similar experience. During a one-on-one evaluation with Kim, I divulged that I was bulimic and could not stop. In the cold, sterile classroom, she looked at me with warm honesty and said, “Sierra, listen to me. You are beautiful.” I shrugged her off, but she continued, “Sierra, you are beautiful.” I felt uncomfortable as she saw through my disguise and she persisted until I started to cry. In that moment, I had the epiphany that I really was beautiful and decided that I was going to change the way society evaluates beauty.

My attempt to obey a demand to be thin, my struggle with an overwhelming disorder, and my recognition of beauty has significantly changed how I see the world. I am committed to creating a more positive perception of beauty in our culture because every person should know his or her own beauty. I feel it my duty to share my story in hopes that people, young girls in particular, will learn from it. Film is a way to recognize the beauty in our everyday surroundings and, more importantly, in ourselves. Through my films, I want to change the idea of beauty, so that I can contribute to a societal epiphany like the one Kim helped me achieve. Beauty, as it is presently defined, is too narrow-minded and I want to assist in shaping a more diverse meaning.

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

I would say to any girl who struggles with her body image that she is beautiful. No matter what anyone says, you are beautiful. On the days I can’t see my own beauty or I’m freaking out about my jeans not fitting, I try to find at least one thing I believe to be beautiful about myself. Some days I only find one thing, but usually I can build on that one identification to find maybe two or three or more. If I can’t find a single quality I like that day, I’ll try to think of any positive comments I have received and focus on that positivity.

Sierra instructs.

What inspired you to write and direct STARving?

This film is based on my experience as an actress in an arts high school where the pressure to be thin caused some girls to exercise instead of eat at lunch and commonly develop eating disorders. Having surmounted bulimia myself, I now strive to illustrate the unhealthy consequences of accepting our society’s absurdly oppressive standard of beauty and hope to help shape a healthier, more balanced, cultural viewpoint. While it is well-known that eating disorders can be directly linked to the pressure exerted by our media culture’s increasingly unrealistic standards of beauty, STARving highlights the profound impact, both negative and positive, that teachers, parents, and peers have on young women. Awareness is pivotal in shifting the tide of this unhealthy societal epidemic and my goal with STARving was to raise a consciousness regarding how our actions, even when seemingly small, can greatly affect those around us. STARving strives to raise awareness about the power that we, as everyday individuals, parents, teachers and peers, have to promote healthy attitudes, thus protecting young people from these dangerous beliefs and destructive behaviors.

How has the film been received? How do you feel about your movie being shown at the Cannes Film Festival?

It has been wonderfully received so far and I would love more people to see it. Having it screen in Cannes was very exciting! I’m also so proud that it was selected for one of the most recognized female film festivals La Femme Film Festival among other festivals. What’s most exciting about these opportunities is they help get STARving seen. My hope is that the people who see the film will use it as a starting point to help open the doors of communication regarding body image and ultimately begin a new era of acceptance within our culture.

When did you become interested in film/cinematography?

I’ve loved film ever since I was a child! As far back as I can recall, I have always wanted to be involved in the entertainment industry in some way. Whether I’m an actor, editor, director, set designer or PA; it doesn’t matter the title; just that I’m fulfilled by working with people who are forwarding a positive message through film.

You have worked with Leeza Gibbons since 2005. What do you love most about her?

What I love most about Leeza is that she is so positive and funny. She does everything in her power to uplift the people around her. Whether it is through her charity work or just by saying something supportive, Leeza takes the time to care.

Sierra with actors.

What fascinates you most about people?

The ability we have as individuals to make a difference, positive or negative, throughout life. Causality is probably the most amazing factor I can identify in what makes me who I am today. I’m endlessly fascinated with how people make decisions and how those choices can affect the future. My dad always used to say, “No shame, blame, or regret” and I still use that phrase as a reminder to find the positive in every experience I face. I wouldn’t be the person I am without all the events that have shaped me.

What do you love about yourself and why?

I love the curve of my body and how soft my skin feels because it makes me feel feminine. I love that I can easily see the beauty in others, and I’m not shy to give honest compliments because I know that by saying one positive phrase I can improve a person’s day. I love that I’m so positive and laugh at the simplest things because it makes me feel good. I love that I have solid viewpoints and the intelligence to make a sound argument because I refuse to question my integrity. I love my face because it’s so expressive and how my eyes light up when I smile. I love that I snort sometimes when I laugh really hard and that my friends make a game of seeing who can get me to snort the most. I love that I am constantly trying to improve my life and the lives of those around me. Most of all, I love that I can learn from my mistakes and become stronger despite difficult experiences.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

Love yourself as you are right now, because this moment is all that matters.

You are a busy lady! What advice would you give to a college student trying to balance work, school, and personal time?

Time management! I keep a calendar, and I’m an avid supporter of to-do lists.

What are some of your hobbies?

Karaoke! Directing, acting, modeling, photography, dancing like no one is watching, game nights hiking, taking spa days, travelling, camping, and passionate conversation about anything and everything. I also enjoy critically analyzing films with my friends because it helps me grow as an artist.

Who inspires you?

The people who inspire me are those who can find beauty in others, those who are proud of their body despite any outside influence, those who are gracefully opinionated, and anyone who is passionate about creating a better world.

Who do you consider a role model or hero? Why?

Kathryn Bigelow is a major role model for me because she defies the status quo and gender expectations normally expected of women. She has a specific point of view and strong artistic integrity. In terms of broadening the status quo of beauty, Margaret Cho was the first celebrity that ever made me feel like I had a voice in the media as I deeply related to how she felt about her body and the overwhelming pressure to be thin in Hollywood. I also dearly admire Savannah Dooley and Shonda Rhimes for choosing plus-size actors to play normal roles, because it is disturbingly common to see plus-size people ridiculed on television. I applaud them and similar individuals who have become a driving force in stopping that type of hatred.

What are your favorite beauty must-haves?

Sheer Cover, liquid eyeliner, and mascara are my beauty must haves.

Where do you like to shop?

I really love thrift shops, Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, and Express for my clothes shopping, but everything else I find on eBay.

Sierra explains shot.

Please tell us what you think of ABC Family show HUGE?

I LOVE HUGE! Savannah is a great friend of mine and I remember when she was telling me about pitching the show after passionately discussing our own struggles with body image. I’m so proud of her and the HUGE team for creating such a unique show. They are absolutely helping push the societal pendulum in a healthier, more accepting direction. Finally, I’m seeing plus-size people on television who are portrayed as human instead of the limited typecasting that is common in the business. Hopefully, this will be the beginning to seeing much more diversity in common television shows.

Do you feel plus-size modeling is helping redefine beauty?

Absolutely! When mass media features only a limited type of beauty, those who don’t fit into those confines often feel like they have no voice or are unworthy in some way. With plus-size modeling, people who previously had no voice begin to feel accepted and that acceptance yields more understanding, which then creates less hatred.

What are you excited about right now?

I’m excited about everything happening in my life right now and the positive people who surround me!

What are your goals for the future?

I would love to have a hand in creating a more diverse and accepting culture. I want to become a director and create art that helps forward a culture wherein the “plus-size” label is no longer needed. I want to travel and experience other cultures. Ultimately, my greatest goal in life is to leave this world in a much better condition than it was when I came into it and in whatever capacity I am able to do so, I’ll make that effort.

*Thank you for everything, Sierra!

** The first ten people to email Angela at, will receive a free copy of the film STARving.

Danielle van Grondelle Shares Positive Body Image & Self-Esteem Advice. She Also Talks About Redefining Beauty, Her Favorite Designers, Her Beauty Must Haves & More!

Posted in Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Designers, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Inspiration, Media, Models, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Recipes & Food, Self-Esteem, Trade Tips, Travel, Unique Beauty, Wilhelmina, Work, Your Story with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2010 by Liz

Danielle van Grondelle is a plus-size model who grew up in Rotterdam, Netherland. Danielle’s mother agency is Ego’s Models in Amsterdam. Brigitte Models, Munich, Model Management UK in London, and 12 plus UK in London also represent her. She still lives in Rotterdam close to all of her friends and family. Danielle loves her job, and whenever she has time off, she spends it with the people she loves.

How did you start your career as a plus model?

I was scouted on the street in Amsterdam when I was fourteen years old. Ever since I was fifteen years old, I tried to be a straight-size model, but I was never skinny enough. Even when I was really small, my hips where always too wide. So, I tried every diet there was, but I couldn’t get down to the size they needed me to be. Whenever I booked a job, I was always afraid that I wasn’t going to fit into the sample clothes. After a couple of years, they decided to put me on the “special” board, and I had an odd job here and there. Then I did a job for a magazine with stylist Edith Dohmen. She told me that I would be perfect as a plus-size model. I had no idea what a plus-size model was, so at first I didn’t do anything about it. After finishing school, I had a dream to contact a plus-size agency. After I did, I had a meeting with Ego’s Models and was signed right away. After six months, I quit my designing job to model full-time. That was five years ago, and I absolutely love my job!

Who are some of the clients you have worked with?

I’ve worked with so many wonderful clients. Here are some examples: Avantgarde magazine, BY s’oliver, Evans, Ulla Popken, Marina Rinaldi, Chic magazine, Grazia magazine, Veto jeans, Freundin magazine, Burda magazine, Neckermann, Otto, Happysize, and many more.

What do you love most about modeling?

I love being creative and making a beautiful product in the end. I love traveling and meeting new creative people every day. What I love the most is that I can show the world that plus-size modeling is beautiful, and that I can be a role model for young girls.

Do you think that plus modeling is helping redefine beauty?

I think it is! A woman’s body is lovely in its natural form. If you are naturally curvy, then that’s gorgeous. If you are naturally skinny, then that is also beautiful. The thing I don’t like is when woman are trying to be something they are not. Starving yourself is never beautiful; you can see the lack of nutrition in a woman’s hair and skin. I think that with plus-size modeling, we show the world that curvy is gorgeous and that you don’t have to be skinny to be beautiful.

Have you ever struggled with self-esteem?

No, I have never had a low self-esteem. I think that’s because of my upbringing. My parents always let me know I was beautiful inside and out. I was always very confident in my own skin, whatever size I was.

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

Every body is beautiful; don’t be your own worst critic. Try to focus on the positives, and surround yourself with positive people. And, the most important thing is to love yourself.

Where do you shop for clothes and who are some of your favorite designers?

I am a true clothing junkie. I think a woman can never have too many clothes, shoes, and bags. I love to have expensive key items, like a nice bag, belt or shoes. I love Marc Jacobs, Chloe, Chanel, Betsey Johnson, and D&G; but I love to mix those pieces with vintage. I love belted vintage dresses! I shop a lot at H&M, Topshop, ASOS, and River Island. I love how they translate the looks from the catwalks to the streets. I also love wearing statement jewelry; I make a lot of my earrings myself.

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

I love Clinique 3-Step Skin Care program, and I love Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair and DayWear. Whenever I work a lot, my eyes get sensitive. I found a very good eye makeup remover that’s so soft: Chanel Precision Demaquillant Yeux Intense. I am addicted to lip gloss and lip balm, I love Labello Fruity Shine, and I love Guerlain Terracotta lip gloss.

What does being healthy mean to you?

I am not a big health freak, but I like to be comfortable in my own skin. I drink a lot of water, and I don’t smoke or drink alcohol. I have periods where I am very healthy…so during those times I eat a lot of fruit, vegetables, and steamed fish or lean meat. But, I also have periods were I like to eat whatever I want, and I can now because I need to stay curvy. I think it’s about the balance between the two. Be healthy, but being happy is even more important.

How do you define beauty?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so I love that beauty is so many different things to different people. I think if you are beautiful on the inside, it shows on the outside.

Do you have a favorite workout routine?

I used to be a synchronized swimmer, so I love to swim. I love to shop, so walking around from shop to shop is one of my favorite workouts. Also, I have an exercise machine I use in front of the TV.

What do you love about yourself?

I love that I am very loyal to my friends and family. I am always there whenever the people I love need me.

What are you excited about right now?

My long time goal is to live my life with all the people I love around me! I want to stay healthy and be a positive role model. I am looking to buy my very first home now, so it’s a very exciting time.

One thing I’ve learned is…

The sky is the limit…That is my mom’s motto in life and now my own as well.

*Thank you, Danielle!

**What is your favorite skin care line? How do you define beauty? What is one of the most important life lessons you have learned so far?