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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 Nord & 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 our new site!

Liz is now freelance writing and editing a wide variety of content both off and online. To learn more or request her services, please visit Liz Nord Creates.

Thank you!

Liz & Angela

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International Model Tracie Stern Says, “For me, my journey has been more about self acceptance and less about size acceptance.”

Posted in Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Celebrity, Confidence, Entertainment, Events, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Funny Experiences, Hobbies, Inspiration, Lane Bryant, Media, Models, My Story, Parenting, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Trade Tips, Travel, TV, Unique Beauty, Work, Your Story with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 12, 2011 by Liz

Tracie being awarded the Female Pioneer Award at the Virginia Fashion Awards.

Please tell us about Understudies Consulting.

Understudies was developed by my brother and I. I wanted to create an outlet that encompassed everything I have learned in my life and that would give me an opportunity to share it with people.  Understudies Consulting consists of 3 workshops to primarily bring focus to the inner beauty of society.  I know that sounds so broad, but our programs not only reach out to young aspiring models and designers, but also to kids ages 8-18 and to women as well.  Each program has specific focuses, whether it’s healthy living, regaining self confidence, learning about oneself or accepting your inner beauty and learning to work with it, instead of fighting it…the most fulfilling part is getting to work with the girls and seeing their eyes light up when they ‘get it’…it’s such an awesome and privileged experience to work with them.

You were awarded the Female Pioneer Award at the Virginia Fashion Awards, Congratulations!!!  Please tell us about he event and why this award is so important to you.

THANK YOU!  It was a lot of fun…the red carpet and everything.  The Virginia Fashion Awards works to honor local VA talent, including designers, photographers, up and coming models, hair and makeup artists, etc., who are working to make a difference in the fashion community here.  In 2010, I was awarded a “Special Achievement Award” as a Female Pioneer.  Over the past two years, since I arrived here in VA, I’ve tried to work hard to mentor young talent and help guide them to a prosperous career in Fashion.  By doing this, I’ve been privileged to have been welcomed into the industry here as a local and treated as such.  When the committee notified me of the award, I was thrilled!  The reason I am so proud of this award is because I was given the award not based on the fact that I am a “plus size” model, but because I am a model.  Period.  It’s very refreshing to not be recognized because of my size, but instead, to be recognized because of my talent and accomplishments.

Set photos from “The Fire that Sweeps the Pine”

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

Growing up, I was always taller than the boys in my class.  It wasn’t that I was ‘bigger’ per say, just taller.  In high school, I accepted my size and build by playing sports and found out that was an advantage and not a shortcoming.  I earned a lot of respect because of my athleticism.  For me, my journey has been more about self acceptance and less about size acceptance.  I think that is where our focuses need to be. If you accept yourself, others will too.

What kinds of pressures do you see the girls in your life facing these days?

A lot of the same pressures we faced at their age, but on steroids!  LOL  Girls are learning to sacrifice their innocence a lot sooner than we did.  In my generations, girls were losing their virginity at 16, sometimes 15 (which wasn’t approved of, but accepted.)  Today, girls are experimenting so much earlier. I think the youngest I’ve encountered was 12!  Drugs will always be around, but I don’t think they are as predominant in this generation as they were in mine.  There is a lot more support and knowledge out there on this subject.  Last but surely not least is bullying. My generation called it teasing.  I was a victim of it and it definitely had a hand in shaping me into who I am today and how I handle things.  I recently wrote a blog on this topic, it was very therapeutic to see it out there and to know that my words may have helped someone.  Bullying is a frightful way to see just how powerful words are. Again, it’s about self acceptance, if we are secure in who we are, there is not room for others to knock us down.

What can we as mothers and mentors do to better address these issues?

First, keep the lines of communication open. One of the biggest things I’ve noticed is that my kids just want someone to talk to, without having to worry about being judged.  The worst attitude to take with them is an “I told you so”…I hear that a lot from the moms when referring to specific issues.  Second, spend more time with your kids!  In today’s world we are moving faster, getting busier, and generally falling completely out of touch with the younger generations.  The less we participate, the less influence we have, results in the less our opinion matters.  Kids want to be talked to, not talked at.

Set photos from “The Fire that Sweeps the Pine”

Did your mother teach you about real beauty?

My moms generation was taught to never leave the house without lipstick on…my mentality at 13/14 years of age was to basically leave the house with the goal of not drawing attention at all.  I developed very early, grade 3 I believe, and I always stood out.  Not knowing what I had to work with, not accepting myself, affected my outlook on day-to-day life.  I embraced and lost myself in sports and was perfectly fine with being tagged as a ‘jock’.  It was low maintenance, I was respected amongst the guys and I wasn’t talked about or compared too.  I didn’t have to be the cheerleader or the skinny girl, I had to live up to the jock tag and that worked really well for me.  Until I was about 16/17 years of age when catching the eye of a certain guy started to make me focus on my appearance more and my mom was there ready and waiting for the opportunity to take me shopping and share the joys of being girly.

Who is your role model or hero and why?

I don’t think I have just one role model.  For me, I try to take the best of everyone I meet or love and adapt that into my personality and way of living life.  Whether it’s being as honest as I can to a friend or taking the bull by the horn to move a business idea forward.  All of me is made up of little bits of everyone I know, good and bad…Heroes…WOW that’s such a big word for someone to live up to.  To start, my dad is one of my ‘heroes’ for his perseverance and strength, my mom for her unconditional love and devotion to her kids and now grand kids.  One of my long time and closest friends, Trish, whose world crashed around her a couple of years ago and instead of curling into a ball and letting it consume her, she stood up and controlled the situation to the point of success.  My husband, who has sacrificed his family time and watching his babies grow up so he can serve and protect this country.  Again, there is a hero in everyone who is in my life…each one for a different reason.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Hm…I guess that depends on what part of my life the advice was for.  Being married with kids, I get advice all of the time…where business is concerned, “What you look like might get you in the door, but it’s what you know that will keep you there.”  This is a mantra of mine, I teach it to my kids/students and I try to live it.  Where work is concerned:  “You aren’t successful when you book a job, you are successful when you get re booked for the same job.”  That’s one of my favorites.  Ooh, ,the one piece of advice I got very early on in my career, it was given after I had book a series of big jobs in a very short period of time and I will admit that my head got a bit inflated…my agent at the time sat me down and said “Who do you think you are?  Do you not realize that there are 10 other girls standing behind you and waiting for you to fall so they can step up and take your place?”  That statement has stayed with me all of these years and has helped me to keep me grounded because it’s very true and has motivated me to try to stay one step ahead of the competition.

Tracie with a few of the girls she mentors.

What has been your proudest moment?

These are really great questions!!!  You guys are making me really think here…As a mom, I have proud moments frequently, could be when my six-year-old hits a home run or brings home a piece of artwork that is beyond his age.  Or when my baby got potty trained! LOL  When my husband make Chief in the US Navy, I was very proud.  As a model, I’m very proud of my body of work.  I’m proud of the clients and models I’ve worked with, I’m proud of the runways I’ve walked, and I’m proud that I’m still around.  LOL

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

When my husband is home and my kids are in school, that’s the perfect day.  I get some quality time before and after school with my kids and during the day, when my husband and I are alone, we have our own time to do whatever we want.  Sit in the quiet, shop, have lunch…my perfect day is balanced between all the men in my life.

Do you have an all-time favorite model?

Linda Evangelista.  She has always been my favorite model and motivator. Linda is one of those models that can transform herself into almost any look and sell it.  She’s been a blond, brunette, and red head and she rocks each look as if she’s looked like that her whole life.  To me, Linda was the model who taught me about diversity and branding.  She was the one model who never conformed to just one look, she took chances and made them work for her, when other models of her generation remained safe.

Favorite Jeans?

Victoria’s Secret. I have an hourglass figures, long legs and a high waist. It’s VERY hard for me to find jeans that fit my curves properly and flatter me to my standards. The only jeans  have found, so far, are from Victoria’s Secret.

Tracie’s husband on deployment.

What is your go-to outfit?

Anything neutral.  I don’t do a lot of color in my clothes, only my accessories.  This way, no matter what is dirty, I always have my favorite things to wear…LOL…Right now, my favorite outfit is:  Nude colored leggings, white tunic tank top, and a long, cowl neck camel colored sweater with leopard flats or tall brown riding boots.

Favorite online sites to visit?

Craigslist, my husband and I are remodeling our house and you can find some great stuff for sale.  It’s like going to a garage sale from your couch! LOL  Alloy.com, this site is great for all ages. They carry junior sizes 0-25 I believe and have pant lengths to 37″.  Hips and Curves is becoming one of my new favorites.  They offer really unique pieces and their models are realistic and flattering.  I love to window show on the net, so I tend to jump from site to site…just depends a lot on what I’m looking for.


Photographed by Marco DiFlorio

You have been married for seven years.  What do you believe is the key to a happy marriage or relationship?

Love, compromise, trust, respect, and sacrifice.  I lived a life for so many years involved in only me.  I traveled the world by myself, only had to get myself up, and I just had myself to shop for.  Now, I have a family, mortgage, school fees, etc.  It’s not all about me.  I’ve had to set my own priorities aside on occasion to help my husband achieve a goal, but he has had to do the same in order to keep the balance.  My husband is currently deployed for 9 months.  Honestly, trust and respect are huge components to our marriage right now.  He is doing his job, not only protecting us, but providing for us. It’s my job as his partner to do what needs to be done back home.  It’s not easy, and there are days, trust me when I want to quit. I think him, our love, four kids, our home, and our future and know this isn’t permanent.  It’s a compromise on both sides.  You do what you have to do, just as you would for anyone you loved who needed  you.

What do you love about motherhood?

I think that should read ‘love and hate’ LOL…as I mentioned my husband is deployed.  So I am a single parent until he returns.  Some days are harder than others. I love that everyday I wake up to little Scotts running around my house, giving me hugs and kisses.  That last sentence can also go in the other directions…waking up to literally little Scotts RUNNING around…I love the uniqueness of my children.  They are these future leaders in my care.  God entrusted me to raise these children and it’s AWESOME to see who they are each morning when they wake up.  As they learn it’s like seeing multiple personalities emerge.  There have been days where I wold like to change my name…and sometimes I tell the kids my name isn’t MOM anymore and that they need to call me Jen.  It’s funny to watch their faces twist up…*snicker*…


Photograph by Marco Di Florio

What makes you a Domestic Diva?

Some days the fact that I had a shower!  My job in life is to be all that God wants me to be.  It that’s a mom one minute, a fashion consultant another, a volleyball coach, chauffeur, nurse, cook, cleaning lady or model..I take each minute as it comes and when it’s too much, I stop.  Take time to reflect, prioritize and then continue on.  It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you have focus, a plan and gas.  (In the car…not personally..HAHAHAHA)
 
What is a fun fact about you?

I have modeled since the age of 5.  I was studying to be an RCMP (Canadian Mounted Police) officer in school.  Modeling offered me an opportunity before law did and so I decided to take it.  I figured I was only a failure if I didn’t try.  I guess I made the right decision…


What are you thankful for?

How big do you want this article to be….? Haha.  I’m thankful for my family.  I’m thankful for the opportunities they gave me growing up that put me in the right direction.  I’m thankful for my career.  If it wasn’t for modeling, I wouldn’t have anything that I have in my life.  I met my husband in Sydney, Australia while I was down there modeling.  Had I not gone down there, fate may not have stepped in and I wouldn’t have my beautiful children.  I’m thankful for the privilege of being a model.  I’ve traveled the world, lived life most people couldn’t even dream of, and now I have a husband, children, and stability.  I truly believe I have had the best of both worlds.  I could really go on and on…everything in my life has been brought to me because of the choices I have made and the guidance I’ve been given, I’m thankful for every person that has come into my life because good or bad, they have changed my life and been a valuable part of where I am now.

What are you excited about right now?

I’m excited about the future.  Recently my career has been moving me away from the traditional print work side of modeling and has been opening up the doors to film, television, and spokes modeling.  I mentioned earlier that I have been cast in a film.  This film will be submitted to film festivals and also to the Academy.  It just premiered this week.  I know I’ve done a lot in my lifetime, but there are some days I wake up and just have this feeling that I haven’t even scratched the surface yet of what is in store for my life.  That’s what I’m excited about…tomorrow.

Tracie Stern ~

www.understudies.us
International Plus Size Model
http://www.factorwomen.com/Chicago.aspx
Recipient of the Female Icon Award Virginia Fashion Awards 2010

*Thank you, Tracie!





Fashion To Figure to Hold Grand Opening of New Cross Country Shopping Center Store in Yonkers, NY on Saturday, March 5th.

Posted in Body Image, Confidence, Designers, Fashion, New York, News, Plus-Size Modeling, Shopping with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 19, 2011 by Liz

On Saturday March 5th, 2011 from 12:00 to 4:00 PM, Fashion To Figure (FTF) will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of its newest store at the Cross County Shopping Center in Yonkers, New York. FTF is pleased to be joined by special guests Shanda Freeman, co-host of MTV’s hit show Man and Wife and of her own show Shanda Says; City Council Woman Patricia McDow; and Audrey Smaltz, fashion icon and founder of the fashion show production company, The Ground Crew. Also in attendance will be various industry figures including full-fashion models and bloggers.

“FTF is thrilled to be joined by special guests and members of the community to help cut the ribbon of our newest location in the Cross County Shopping Center” said FTF Co-Founder and CEO Michael Kaplan. FTF will once again team up with VH1 Save The Music Foundation and donate 10% of all sales from the day to the foundation, whose mission is to “ensure that every child has access to a complete education that includes the benefits of music instruction,” and has provided access to instrumental music education in dozens of schools across New York.  Kaplan went on to say: “FTF is committed to the local communities in which our stores operate, and to fulfilling the FTF mission of making people’s lives better by providing them with the ultimate full-fashion shopping experience.  We are pleased to begin serving and supporting the Yonkers community.”

Guests are invited to shop, enjoy complimentary light refreshments and enter a raffle give-away to win FTF gift cards every half hour.  There will also be an opportunity to make direct donations to the VH1 Save The Music Foundation at the event.

Details: Saturday March 5th, 2011 from 12:00 to 4:00pm

Fashion To Figure

5160 Xavier Drive

Yonkers, NY 10704

Kings Plaza Shopping Center store in Brooklyn, NY

About Fashion To Figure (FTF):

FTF provides a trendy full-fashion shopping experience exclusively focused on ladies sizes 12-26.  FTF is style by anyone’s definition – a place where you will find the latest fashions at the very best prices.  New fashion arrives in stores every day and personal service is provided by FTF Fashion Stylists.  FTF is dedicated to making people’s lives better through providing the ultimate full-fashion shopping experience and was founded by the great-grandsons of Lena H. Bryant, the revolutionary businesswoman and visionary dressmaker who invented full-fashion more than 110 years ago.  Go to www.fashiontofigure.com for more information.

About The VH1 Save the Music Foundation:

The VH1 Save The Music Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring instrumental music education programs in America’s public schools, and raising awareness about the importance of music as part of each child’s complete education.  To date, VH1 Save The Music has provided more than $47 million in new musical instruments to 1,700 public schools in more than 100 cities around the country, impacting the lives of over 1.6 million children. With the support of people across the country and the 2010-2011 Ambassador Class including: OneRepublic, Chrisette Michele, Nick Lachey, Mandy Moore, Kelly Clarkson, Jason Mraz, Fall Out Boy, Colbie Caillat, it is The Foundation’s renewed commitment to donate one hundred million dollars worth of new musical instruments to ensure that even a greater number of students receive a comprehensive music education in the coming decade.  Get involved and learn more at www.vh1savethemusic.com.

We Would Love to Know What You Are Thankful For! I Am Thankful For Something That Everyone Can Enjoy by Elizabeth Nord

Posted in Entertainment, Family & Friends, Fitness & Health, Funny Experiences, Plus-Size Modeling, Sports, Travel, Unique Beauty with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2010 by Liz

I’m thankful for my family, friends, health, life, and watching my girls smile and giggle, but today I want to focus on something else that I’m thankful for…nature. No matter who you are, where you live, or what the season, nature has so much to offer on many different levels. I feel inspired when I am outside. I see a world of possibilities. I feel alive, spontaneous, free, brave, calm, and fascinated.

My mother told me that she knew that I loved the outdoors the day that I learned to walk. We were at the zoo, and she said that when I started walking for the first time, I took off running towards an open field. She said that I was completely excited and happy running around the field and rolling in the grass. That was my first real experience with the complete feeling of freedom the outdoors can create!

Most of my best memories, dating all the way back to my childhood, have taken place outside. When I was a little girl, I built tree forts with my friend, Nikki. We didn’t build anything physical; we used our imagination and pretended a canopy of trees was our tree house. I liked to make mud pies too, and Nikki and I tried to sell our painted pinecones to anyone who walked or drove down our street.

When I was too young to know better, I thought I could fly. I wanted to go on an adventure. I thought my invisible wings would let me fly high up in the sky through the clouds and help me see the world from a different perspective. I climbed to my grandmother’s roof and flew—right smack into a tree. From that experience, I learned not to jump from tall buildings without a parachute, and that I could climb trees to get the different perspective that I was looking for.

I played soccer quite a bit growing up, and I still remember one particular game that stands out as my favorite. I don’t remember if I played well or who won, but I remember that it was snowing. We could hardly see the white soccer ball, but it was so much fun chasing the ball around in the snow! It’s always fun to play in the snow!

When I was a pre-teen, I found a litter of feral kittens near our house. I was convinced their mother had abandoned them, so I tried to feed and nurture them day after day and week after week in hopes that they would become my pets. It was an adventure and a challenge for me. After many hisses, bites, and scratches, I realized that sometimes wild animals are meant to stay that way.

As an adult, I love the natural beauty that surrounds us. It may be a flowing river, gorgeous sunset, picturesque mountain, little wild critters running around, the sound of the ocean waves pulling pebbles along the seashore, or a delicate flower—beauty can be found everywhere.

I love to observe nature. I love to watch sea turtles, chipmunks, bears, and horses in the wild. Okay, I have never seen a wild horse, but I’d love to! I am fascinated by the jewels nature has to offer–seashells, gorgeous rocks, fascinating twisting vines, exotic plants, sweet smells, berries that sooth bee stings, delicious raw fruits and vegetables, sand dollars, lightning, stars, a full moon, gorgeous intricate unique patterns on living things, and clouds that look like angels.

I have a love affair with the ocean. I could stare out at the ocean for hours and I have. The ocean calms me and helps me consciously feel my emotions like nothing else can. I am continuously drawn to water. The ocean is so full of energy and life. I love that the ocean is ever-changing. It can be powerful, active, unpredictable, calm, productive, soothing, mysterious, intriguing, fun, scary, and beautiful. I can relax more when I’m outside, even if I’m just sitting in the sun. I am thankful for the cool breeze on my face and the sun on my back.

I like to play outside! It can be swimming, skiing, walking, soccer, paddle boarding, hiking, horse riding, throwing snowballs, sledding, building sand castles, collecting rocks, or whatever… I love it all! I still run around in wide-open fields and beaches—but now, I’m usually chasing my daughters.

When I go for a run by myself, I don’t listen to music and I don’t use a treadmill. That works for me. My mind is clear when I’m outside. When I’m in motion, creative thoughts come to me and decisions are made. Some of my best ideas have come to me while I’m running or walking. When I return home, I quickly run to my notebook to write down my thoughts. Sometimes, I like to run while it’s misting or raining because that motivates me and it pushes me to run faster. Sometimes it feels like the rain has an emotional cleansing effect on me.

I can challenge myself in nature. Learning to ski as an adult was tricky for me, at first. But, I kept going back to the mountains until I prevailed. I love being active with my husband, kids, and friends. It can be a great bonding experience.

I like to investigate. I like to try new trails, hike new places, see new land, and try new things. I like to look under rocks for insects, crabs, or some other unexpected surprise. Nature has so much to offer.

I am hopeful that I am passing on my love of nature to my daughters. They are young and immersed in the fun of the outdoors. They love to play make-believe by a river, watch the clouds make shapes, dance in the rain, swim in the ocean, collect sea shells and sea glass, build igloos, play in the dirt and mud, skip rocks, make snow angels, run through fields, make “homes” for little critters, and catch frogs.

I am thankful for nature and the world of possibilities that it creates. I like the way I feel when I’m outside—I come alive. You don’t need anything, but your imagination, to enjoy the great outdoors. You can have fun, create, play, relax, and learn. Even at thirty-seven years old, I still like to jump over puddles; I like to see how far I can jump without getting wet. It’s the simple pleasures that give me joy.

* What are you thankful for? We would love to hear from all our readers around the world!!

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

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

Photographed by Amber’s mom, Bonnie Cather

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

Photographed by Bradford Willcox

How did you get started in the modeling industry?

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

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

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

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

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

Photographed by Cressida Wilson

What does the term “plus” mean to you?

To me, it just means fuller figured models.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photographed by Blake Davenport

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

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

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

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

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

What is your definition of beauty?

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

Do you think plus models are helping redefine beauty?

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

Photographed by Blake Davenport

What does being healthy mean to you?

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

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

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

Photographed by Tanja Tremel and Jasmin Arbes

What has been one of your most memorable modeling experiences?

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

What would be the perfect day with your family?

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

What is one thing your daughter has taught you?

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

What has been your proudest moment?

My proudest moment is anytime anyone meets Natalie.

How would you describe your style?

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

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

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

Photographed by Blake Davenport

What do you love about yourself and why?

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

Who do you consider a role model or hero?

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

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

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

Bridal Guide Magazine

If you had one wish, what would it be?

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

What are you excited about right now?

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

*Thank you, Amber!

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

Plus-Size Models Unite’s Radio Interview with Leeza Gibbons on Hollywood Confidential

Posted in Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Celebrity, Confidence, Eating Disorders, Entertainment, Family & Friends, Fitness & Health, Inspiration, Media, Plus-Size Modeling, Radio, Self-Esteem, Unique Beauty with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2010 by Liz

Here is the link to our Radio interview with Leeza Gibbons on Hollywood Confidential:

Plus-Size Models Unite’s interview with Leeza Gibbons on Hollywood Confidential

What are your thoughts? What do you love about yourself? Do you struggle to accept yourself the way you are now? How have you overcome self-esteem and body image issues?

*We interviewed Leeza Gibbons and Sierra Lisa, and we will be publishing their interviews in the coming weeks.

**Thank you, Leeza Gibbons and Sierra Lisa. You are both awesome!

Solveig Walkling Talks About Loving Your Body, Healthy Weight Tips, & Modeling Advice

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Australia, Body Image, Eating Disorders, Events, Fitness & Health, Food, Inspiration, Media, Models, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Trade Tips, Unique Beauty, Your Story with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2010 by Liz

Credit to Fernwood Magazine and Photographer Paul Suesse for ACP Magazines.

Love Your Body by Solveig Walkling

I first started modeling when I was sixteen. For me, it was always a means to an end, a great way to help me achieve other goals, and work towards a career that I enjoy and that enables me to do something more worthwhile with my life. I’m aware there are a lot of young girls out there, though, whose only dream it is to become a model. They associate the life of a model with glamour, trips to far-flung locations, and having the world (or at least most guys) at their feet. And, while it can be all that at times, the reality of modeling looks very different.

Often, parents of pretty young girls ask me what kind of advice I would give about a career in modeling. I tell them to make sure they only expose their daughter to the fashion industry if she has a healthy body image and self-esteem, to try to accompany her to as many jobs as possible, and make sure she keeps other interests and goals. Models are objectified and defined solely by their looks, and I know from my own experience you have to have a very level head and good support system to make it in the industry. It’s easy to get sucked into a world of superficiality and lose touch with your own inner beauty over the constant focus on your looks.

As a teenage model, I struggled to accept my body. Where everybody else seemed to see beauty and potential, I saw my flaws and shortfalls. Like most teenagers, I struggled with my body’s changes. I wanted to look more like the heavily made-up and photoshopped ideals I saw in women’s magazines. Strangely, seeing professional photos of me – that made me look exactly like the pictures in magazines… because they were – actually seemed to enhance the feeling of inadequacy. I was painfully aware that my modeling shots were not how I looked in real life.

Now, when I look back at photos of myself as a 16-year-old model, I wish I were able to go back and help myself through that time of body anxiety and insecurity. I’d love to be able to say to my younger self: “Look at yourself, Sol. There’s not a single thing wrong with you. You’re perfect the way you are. Believe in yourself and don’t worry about your looks for one second. Love your body for the amazing places it takes you, the great adventures you’ll have together, and how well and unfailingly it will serve you. Who cares if you don’t look like Claudia Schiffer. Even Claudia Schiffer doesn’t look like the supermodel she is when she wakes up. What makes a body beautiful is the person that’s inside. Everything else is just perception… and smoke and mirrors.” It took me years to come to a healthy attitude towards my body after we got off on the wrong foot. Today, I’m grateful it still works so well after the bad treatment I gave it when I starved myself to look skinnier than Kate Moss. In my warped perspective of the world, at some point, I even believed the poster girl of all things skinny and waif was fat!

I now support The Butterfly Foundation in its mission to change the culture, policy, and practice in the prevention and treatment of eating disorders. I also try to act as a role model for a healthy body image by writing about the issue, helping the charity find sponsors, and hosting a table at their annual ball. I’ll also gladly share my personal story and give advice to those that ask.

Solveig at age sixteen. One of her first ever modeling shots

Here’s a great quote from a page on body image I came across on Deakin University’s website while researching an article. “There is no magic weight loss potion. Learn to like the body you have and look after it.” I’d like to add, “Focus on being healthy rather than a size number. It’ll make life much more enjoyable. A healthy mind lives in a healthy body. And, living life to its full potential will make you happy, a dress size won’t.” Trust me, I know. It might sound like that old chestnut, but it’s really what’s on the inside that counts. And, if you love your body, it’ll love you right back.

My body and I have become a happy healthy item and while we sometimes disagree – for example on how much chocolate I should be allowed to eat without repercussions or how far I should be allowed to run before it throws the towel in – it’s a loving relationship these days. We know each other’s flaws. The mind pushes the body too hard, the body is sometimes too weak (or soft, as the mind would put it)… But really, they love being around each other and wouldn’t have it any other way. And, the funny thing is, the more I just let go of my concerns about size or looks (a tough one when you model), the more I liked what my body naturally wanted to do. Today, I love my body – scars, discolorations, weight fluctuations, and all.

If you aren’t there yet, try finding a few things you like about yours and show it some love. Don’t be hard on yourself. It’s the reason you can experience this wonderful world of ours every day. It enables you to see sunsets, smell the sea, hear children’s laughter, and feel the sun on your skin. If you’re kind to it and look after it, I’m sure it’ll love you right back.

By the way, I now even really enjoy the modeling and thankfully enough, have been doing lots of shoots lately that portray a healthy, happy, and glowing image, hopefully setting a good example for other young girls wanting to model. And, recent changes in the fashion industry make me take heart that lasting changes are afoot for a greater diversity of looks and sizes.

Here are some great tips on healthy weight and body image from the website I mentioned above, if you’d like a bit more advice. If you’d like to share your feedback with me or have any other questions please email me at bookings@solwalkling.com. Thanks to Plus-Size Models Unite for sharing my article.

Credit to Fernwood Magazine and Photographer Paul Suesse for ACP Magazines.

Healthy Weight Tips

  • Be realistic about your need to lose or gain weight. What is your genetically inherited shape? Are you fit? Are you energetic and happy?
  • No food is good or bad.
  • Choose realistic weight loss or gain goals – are they specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely (SMART) based?
  • Learn about non hungry eating and eating associated with emotions .
  • Eat a variety of foods from each food group and vary foods within those groups. Aim for a low-fat, high fibre, and complex carbohydrate diet with plenty of unprocessed foods.
  • Limit processed foods such as take away or fast food meals.
  • Watch meal portion sizes (don’t super-size up).
  • Enjoy food and eat slowly.
  • Don’t skip meals, particularly breakfast.
  • Drink water (1-3 liters per day).
  • Get moving – exercise every day if you can. Both dedicated and incidental exercise. Make sure the exercise you pick is enjoyable and something you will keep doing. Build in variety and look upon exercise as any chance to get up and move.

Definition

Body image is a difficult term to define, however it is linked to our self-awareness, self perception, self-esteem and how we view ourselves in this world. Body image is influenced by many factors including; parenting, gender, culture, media, peers, the fashion and beauty industry, and self-esteem. For example, Western society in the last 40 years or so has promoted thinness as the ideal body shape for women, whereas other cultures revere fuller female figures. The average Australian woman’s dress size is actually 14, not 10 or 8 as portrayed in many areas of the fashion and beauty industry. In addition, it is normal for women to have fat distributed on their hips and thighs and be a certain body weight to facilitate menstruation, fertility, lactation, protect against osteoporosis, and to maintain healthy skin, eyes, hair and teeth. Men are also increasingly under pressure to achieve an ideal body including thinness, muscularity, and definition.

What Can Be Done?

There is no one simple or magical answer to achieving satisfaction with your own body image, however an awareness of what influences body image plus following the healthy weight tips above is a good start. It is also vital to accept and care for who and what you are both physically and mentally. Overall health and well-being is the important goal of which healthy, balanced eating, and exercise is an important part. Caring for your mental health and well-being is also equally important: including focusing on positive achievements, avoiding negative and black/white self-talk, and aiming for a balanced view of self and others in the world.

You can find out more about Solveig at www.bodymindsol and www.solwalkling.com.

 *Thank You, Solveig!

**How do you define healthy? How do you define beauty? What unique qualities do you love about yourself? How do you stay positive? What motivates you to be good to your body?