Archive for Food

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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Model Caroline Worsley Says, “The best thing you can do for yourself is to choose to live your life with people who you love.”

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Designers, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Funny Experiences, Inspiration, Models, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Sports, Trade Tips, Travel, Unique Beauty, Work, Your Story with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2011 by Liz

What inspired you to get into the modeling industry?

After going through my teenage years in conservative Northern Virginia in the 90’s and trying to express myself some rather interesting outfits involving Laura Ashley and Doc Martin combinations, I knew that I was destined to work and live in a community that embraced diversity! That’s probably one of the reasons I ended up in NYC, and therefore working in fashion. The idea that I could work and travel, while meeting new people, really appealed to me.

How did you start your career? (We read that you first started as a “fit” model and then made the transition into “plus” modeling.)

I was studying International Relations at NYU and playing with my new city friends at the same time. After I graduated, I needed to work while I decided if I was going to pursue the law degree I always thought I wanted. Instead, thanks to a dear friend and stylist, I ended up in an episode of House of Style and in a music video. She also directed me to fit modeling, which I was paid for in clothes! I was hooked. I started plus modeling in Miami–it’s a pretty typical tale, I was at a party and I met a booker who told me I should try plus modeling, which I had never heard of before. I called him up, and ended up working with his agency immediately! The rest is history.

What are the differences between a straight, fit, and plus model?

Straight size models are your runway models, who have crazy proportions that allow the clothes to hang on them like hangers. Thin, tall, narrow hips. Fit models are a perfect size for runway–usually a 4; for catalogs, a 6-8, for plus, a 16-18. I was a 4 at the time–narrow, but, at 5’9″, not tall enough for runway. Plus models are now basically an 8 and up in NYC; in other markets, you need to be a “full” 12-14 (not 10-12) because in the American markets, you need to be able to fit in sample size 14, which is usually pinned to a fit model who is a size 18. It’s all crazy! Basically, the most important part of any of these divisions of modeling is that you need to be perfectly proportioned in order to wear the clothes well. A pin here, a clip there–it will work wonders, whether on a size 2 or 12. Oh, and the differences in the models? Well, plus models are the coolest, the most fun, and the best to work with, of course!

What advice would you give to aspiring models?

Do it! We live in an amazing, changing world where women and men of all sizes and ethnicities are showcased–it’s not just about one look anymore. But be realistic–no one loves the grunge look anymore. If you are going to visit a potential agency, it is absolutely imperative that you are pressed–that is, clean hair, clean face, clean look. You’re more likely to get noticed if you keep it simple. Remember, modeling is not acting–it’s your job to make the clothes look good, not to be the star of the show. Behind the scenes–stay professional but be charismatic! It’s a tough business and there is a lot of competition, so a client will remember the girl who is on time, looks well rested, and has a great laugh and smile. Networking is the single most important factor to focus on when you are working as a model–talk with other models about their agencies, communicate with the makeup artist, stylists, and production crew, and stay friendly! It will always benefit you to learn more about the business.

What do you love about your job?

I love the travel, but it can be a true challenge. That’s my most honest answer! I’ve been lucky enough to live and travel extensively through modeling. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to make friends around the world, and–more importantly–to be able to visit friends and family. If I worked a typical job with two weeks off a year, I would never be able to visit my friends and family as much as I have over the past 10 years of modeling. On the same note, I’ve been booked for a big job the same weekend as a friend’s wedding, and had to take the job. It’s totally Murphy’s law–as soon as you plan time off, or a vacation–you’ll get that job you’ve been waiting for! Since you essentially work for yourself, it’s very difficult to say “no” to any work, because it’s just as easy for the client to work with someone else, and you may not get the opportunity again. I also love the community of modeling–especially in the plus community, which started out much smaller than it is today. Now, there are genuine superstars, and plus girls are in mainstream magazines throughout the US, like V Magazine, Glamour, and Vogue. In Europe, plus girls have been working and recognized much more than they have here in the States. I say, it’s about time!

In terms of your career, what has been the best advice you have ever been given?

Stay out of the sun! It is not your friend. You may think it makes you look fresh and youthful, but the reality is, the sun sucks the beauty and moisture out of your skin and replaces it with spots and wrinkles. I’m a water girl–I grew up sailing and going to beaches. I LOVE the outdoors. But now, I wear a hat and SPF 100. My friends think I’m crazy! But you know what? I’ve noticed a big difference–so wear your sunscreen!

Photo taken by- http://www.jessicalavoiephotography.com

Out of all of the places your modeling career has taken you, where has been the most memorable?

Modeling made it possible for me to live seasonally, following the warm weather and sunshine. It also gave me the ability to work and live in the Netherlands, and when I went to live there for a summer a few years ago, I met my amazing husband! So now we live between the US and Europe.

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

WOW. There are so many fun stories–honestly, it’s a great job, you get to meet so many people and typically you are all thrown together in a small room with clothes, makeup and hair, so you can get a little loopy after a while. Maybe when I had to do a wedding shoot and I looked like something Axl Rose threw out in the garbage? Rocker hair with extensions that didn’t match, and a wedding dress?!!? A makeup artist that wanted to SHAVE my eyebrows? That was a nutty day.

Please tell us about your blog, Miami Style Watch!

MiamiStyleWatch has been evolving since 2005! It’s about everything I love in Miami, and beyond. I’ve re-named it EverythingCaroline, because it’s really more about what I like, rather than just Miami. It’s a big world out there! I’m just moving my focus more to travel and writing, rather than simple blog entries–one of my best friends has been pushing me to write a book, so I think I’m going to use my blog as a test market.

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

I went to all girls’ school growing up, so I was lucky enough to be surrounded by other girls going through the same issues, but minus the boys. Sports were a requirement, as well, so between volleyball, soccer, basketball, and lacrosse, I pretty much ran off most of my issues. I dieted like everyone else, of course, but I have a wonderful mom who told me (and still tells me) that I am perfect just as I am. When you hear that enough, you actually start to believe it. I love food too much to ever deprive myself for too long. My advice to women who are struggling with issues would be to look around and make sure that they are surrounding themselves with positive influences and good people–the best thing you can do for yourself is to choose to live your life with people who you love. For girls, I have to say that the best thing is to look forward, and realize that your hormones and emotions are haywire because you are growing into your body! Many of the details that you don’t love about yourself will probably end up being your favorite parts once you get past your teens.

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

I wish that I wasn’t in such a rush to “grow up!” Our school was very competitive, and I was on a fast track to a top college, so I never stopped to breathe, take time, and think about what I really wanted. But then again, I was 17 when I graduated. Does anyone know anything then? Where you ever teased or bullied? Totally, completely, 100% bullied. I rode a bus to school for 6th and 7th grade and there were a bunch of boys that absolutely tortured me. I would sit at the back of the bus, or the middle, or the front, and they would yell things at me–really awful, hurtful things, and I would just take it. What could I do? I would just wait until we got to the girls’ school so I could get off the bus and start my day. Those same boys would prank call me later on, and then walk by my house. It was some sort of Neanderthal way to get my attention, I suppose. I never told anyone of authority about it because it made me sad and I was embarrassed. One of the boys that teased me grew up to be a rocker, performed in South Beach, invited me to his show, and dedicated a song to me. Really? But life goes on, it definitely made me stronger, and I’ve learned how to talk to my kids (when I have them) about dealing with bullies. And after that, please–you think dealing with a tough agent or client is difficult? I only need to put myself back on that bus and remember–in the grand scheme of life–it just doesn’t matter.

How do you define beauty?

Life is beauty!! Everyone is beautiful if they are good to others! I believe in energy, life, and love–how would it be possible for anyone to judge another. But modeling isn’t just about beauty–it’s about marketability. It’s nothing personal. One person’s definition of beauty is so very different from another’s–that is why it’s so important to have your own conviction, and to believe it yourself.

What makes you uniquely beautiful? (what do you love about yourself and why?)

I have a fierce determination to get what I want, and I will literally stop at nothing until I’ve succeeded. Not in a weird, psycho, stalker way–I just don’t understand the word “no!” What is a fun fact about you? I talk to my cats–a lot, and often. They are brother and sister, 14 years old, and I got them on a road trip from NYC to LA one year. I bring them everywhere with me–they’ve been on the road from NYC to Miami over a dozen times, they’ve flown across the country, and we all flew to the Netherlands last year to live for the summer. I had been on the trans-Atlantic flight so often, the airline attendants knew me–and they gave my cat his own seat!

You consider yourself a “healthy-nut”, what does being healthy mean to you?

Watch what you put in your body, and on your body. I rarely eat packaged foods–I’ve been a “pescetarian” (vegetarian, but I eat fish) since I was 14, so meat, pork, and poultry are not a part of my life. Believe it or not, this eliminates a lot of bad choices when you go to a restaurant. My favorite foods are fruits and vegetables. I don’t really eat dairy, and I’m also a believer in a raw diet, so I try to eat as fresh as possible. That said, I’m not at the farmer’s market at 6 am picking out the best tomatoes, but I do love my Trader Joe’s!

What would we find in your make-up bag?

My girlfriend just turned me on to L’oreal primer. It’s amazing. Other than that, eyelash curler, mascara, Nars blush (which I all too often use as eyeshadow, too). And lip gloss always. And, of course, sunscreen.

Do you have any quick make-up tips to share with us?

Wash your face, don’t forget the sunscreen, condition your hair, and wear mascara.

What is your signature scent?

It’s from a little French company and very hard to track down… a little secret.

What are you most proud of?

That I have maintained a close relationship with my family and friends for my entire life, and I can pick up the phone and call any one of them and know that we’ll have a great conversation.

Who is your role model or hero? Why?

I don’t have any particular role model, but I do admire strong women whether or not I believe in their politics, it’s the conviction that impresses me. In books, I always gravitate towards strong female leads.

What are some of your favorite books?

Wow, I read a lot, and it’s not all intellectual. I am a big escapism; I think it’s from being raised an only child. Right now, I’m reading the Game of Thrones series, but there is a long list of books that I often re-visit, as well. I love fantasies! I also happen to adore Jane Austin, especially my favorite, Pride and Prejudice.

Who do you have on speed dial?

About 10 people who I talk to on a regular basis, including my husband, my mother, my father, and my best friends.

What is your most treasured possession?

My brain.

What music is on at home?

Lush is one of our favorite online radio stations, mostly female vocals with an electro beat. I’m definitely into bluegrass, and I also love rock, but that’s more for driving, running, and biking!

Guilty pleasure?

100%, definitely, absolutely–shopping, reading English tabloids–the Daily Mail is my favorite, Page Six every morning, and Philip Galanes “Social Q’s” in the NY Times. Also, I always read about real estate, wherever I travel. The best kind of window shopping!

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

Wow, that’s a difficult question–there are so many wonderful ways to spend a day in Miami! I recently had an amazing Friday there–we started with cafe con leche and empanadas at Charlotte Bakery (one of my Miami vices!), followed by lunch and an afternoon of swimming at the Soho Beach House, a quick stop at the Mondrian Pool, a pass-by Monty’s Happy Hour, and then dinner at Burger & Beer Joint. All on bicycle, of course!

Who is your style icon and why?

I can’t help but love watching Kate Moss. Also, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Michelle Williams, Diane Kruger, and Diane Keaton. I absolutely adore Dolly Parton, though I don’t think her style suits me 🙂 Funny enough, I don’t dress like any of these women!

How would you describe your style and what is your go-to outfit?

Creative Caroline. I’ll wear almost anything, as long as I don’t think anyone else is wearing it. My go-to outfit is definitely a dress with a jean jacket and sunglasses. If it’s cold, then skinny jeans and boots with a huge scarf.

What is your go-to statement accessory?

Sunglasses, my wedding ring, and a smile!!!

Where do you love to shop for clothes?

Everywhere! Favorite pair of jeans? I’m totally digging a pair of Joe’s Jeans I just bought–distressed cargos with zippers and padding and fun things like that. They’re tight, but I’m not really into baggy clothes. When you have curves, you want to show them off, not hide them! I also have a great pair of William Rast for Target skinny jeans in a great wash that I’ve been rocking.

Are you an online shopper? What are your favorite sites to shop from?

eBay is pretty amazing, but sometimes I get “eBay goggles” and end up buying some weird stuff. That’s why I use eSnipe- you set a price and it bids for you. Sooooo key to preventing bad shopping decisions!

Do you have a favorite model? Why?

Maggie Rizer is gorgeous–I went to a Victor & Rolf exhibition in Antwerp that featured her in one of the rooms, and it totally changed my perspective on her. They did an entire show with only her–under layers and layers of clothing. It was spectacular. Tilda Swinton is from another planet and we should love her for that. I think Cindy Crawford is absolutely amazing, and epitomizes healthy living. I also think Kristy Hume is ethereal. My favorite plus model is Tara Lynn–she has an amazing figure and a face to match. And that new girl, Lindsay Wixson, has the most amazing lips ever!

Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?

Still working, traveling with my family, and loving life!

What are you passionate about?

Family, friends, and living life to its fullest.

What is one of your most favorite childhood memories?

Sailing with my family, going to the beach, enjoying the outdoors. Playing with my little brother because he was the cutest baby ever!

What are you passionate about?

Family, friends, and living life to its fullest.

What are you excited about right now?

I’m looking forward to an amazing summer! Thank you for this interview!

*Thank you, Caroline!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks again,

xx

Elizabeth

Here is Angela’s story…

Photography by Marc von Borstel

 

Hello World,

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

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

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

My Story

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photographed by Lindsey Bowen

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you!

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

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

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

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

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

What advice do you have for aspiring models?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your go-to outfit?

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

Where do you love to shop?

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

Favorite beauty products and must-haves?

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

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

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

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

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

What do you love about yourself? Why?

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

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

What does being healthy mean to you?

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

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

What are you reading right now?

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

What are you excited about right now?

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

*Thank you, Laura!

Model Danielle Redman Says, “Beauty is in your character. It’s about your knowledge, your humor, how you deal with daily situations, and how you carry yourself.”

Posted in Art, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Designers, Entertainment, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Food, Ford +, Hobbies, Inspiration, Media, Models, New York, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Recipes & Food, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Sports, Travel, TV, Unique Beauty, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2011 by Liz

Danielle Redman is a plus model with FORD Models. She is from a small farm in Iowa. Danielle has an older sister, two older brothers, two half sisters, and two half brothers. She grew up riding horses and playing with any kind of animal that she could find from a snake or lizard in the garden to cows in the pasture.

How did you start your career as a model?

When I was fourteen and shopping in a mall, I was scouted by Mother Model Management who asked me if I ever thought about modeling. They put on a modeling contest and I got runner-up.

What advice would you give to aspiring models?

Be confident and believe in who you are whoever you are. It’s about being yourself.

What do you love about your job?

I love that I’m doing what I always dreamed of, which is travel the world meeting new and interesting people while it’s getting documented.

In terms of your career, what has been the best advice you have ever been given?

A photographer at a job once told me to be myself because no one else can be that.

Out of all of the places your modeling career has taken you, where has been the most memorable?

My favorite place is South Africa. We had a shoot at a cheetah ranch and we were able to go in and pet the baby cheetahs.

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

I’ve had and am still working on self-esteem issues. Do what makes you feel good and happy. Really get to know yourself. Surround yourself with people who love and adore you but who will also tell you the truth. Good friends are irreplaceable. Also, if you eat a box of Oreos, like I do sometimes, don’t feel bad about it. I’m not saying do it all the time, just don’t tell yourself that you won’t have something, life is too short for limitations; just keep it balanced.

What do you love about yourself?

My big ass and my big lips.

How do you define beauty?

Beauty is in your character. It’s about your knowledge, your humor, how you deal with daily situations, and how you carry yourself.

What is a fun fact about you?

I was raised on a small farm and grew up riding horses.

How do you stay fit and healthy?

I run and do yoga on occasion. I have two dogs that I walk on a regular basis. As a child, I was always active and constantly on the move so I think the muscle memory helps, but what it really comes down to is the food. I love fresh smoothies and salads. I’m a big fan of anything fresh and raw. The more the better.

What would we find in your make-up bag?

Cococare lip balm, YSL mascara, and Cargo concealer right next to my own personal hand cream concoction.

Do you have any quick make-up tips to share with us?

Keep it simple and show your skin. I think all skin is beautiful so don’t cover it up. If you do a lip, go light on the eye and vice versa.

Who is your role model or hero? Why?

My mama. She raised four kids on her own.

Style Icon?

I love older classy gentleman’s style. Really simple clean lines.

What is your go-to outfit?

Mens oversized button down, skinny jeans, and oxfords with my arm full of bracelets.

Where do you love to shop for clothes?

I like to mix it up between thrift shops and small shops wherever they may be.

What are your favorite sites to visit online?

Besides Plus-Size Models Unite, I love tumblr blogs. There are a few good ones: my blog~ http://www.horsewithwings.tumblr.com .  Also, http://www.thesweetdreamer.tumblr.com and http://www.hummingbirdlovegorilla.tumblr.com.

What are some of your favorite books?

Just Kids and all of Chelsea Handler’s books.

Who do you have on speed dial?
My mama.

What is your signature scent?

I love Bvgaria Jasmin Noir. It’s a clean musky scent.

 

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

Riding horses in the forest.

What music is on at home?

Florence And The Machine is on repeat at the moment, along with one of my good friends Theophilus London. Also big fan of Mark Ronson, Kanye West, Edward Sharpe, The Magnetic Zeros, and Phoenix.

What do you enjoy most about living in NYC?

It’s amazing how you really can do anything in NYC. There’s so much talent and history here. Live music, poetry, someone’s painting, someone’s crunching numbers…in every cube of space there is someone.

What do you miss most about home?

I miss the fresh air and all the green open spaces. I love seeing my family and my two little nephews. Also, I left my horse Oscar at my mom’s farm, so I always love going home and seeing him and going for a ride.

Where would you like to see yourself in ten years?

I would love to see myself on the big screen. That’s what I’m striving for.

What is one of your most favorite childhood memories?

Riding my horse around the farm with my older brother. We would make our own trail rides and be gone all day.

What are you excited about right now?

It’s exciting seeing the industry changing–adding more diversity in the girls between race, size, and age. It’s amazing seeing all types of women. We are all beautiful.

*Thank you, Danielle!

Model Emily Nolan Says, “Real beauty starts with self-acceptance—loving yourself for who you are.”

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Designers, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Food, Funny Experiences, Hobbies, Inspiration, Media, Models, My Story, New York, News, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Recipes & Food, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Sports, Trade Tips, Travel, TV, Uncategorized, Unique Beauty, Work, Your Story with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2011 by Liz

Photographed by Jose Amigo

Emily Nolan was born and raised in Fairfax, Virginia. She is represented by CLICK Model Management (NYC), Dorothy Combs Models, Modelogic Wilhelmina, and The Campbell Agency. Emily has one older brother, Matthew (27), and two younger half-brothers, Riley (14) and Corey (13). Emily grew up playing softball as a catcher at the highest levels of competition. She loves to take pictures, scrapbook, and bake. She describes herself as a “model, entrepreneur, vegan, animal lover, and athlete”.

Photographed by Roberto Ligresti

How did you start your career as a model?

I was typecast as a character in a reality show in Washington, DC and I needed to send the production company headshots. Around the same time, one of my girlfriends convinced me to volunteer for a gig as a swimsuit model on the Fox morning news in DC for Saks Fifth Avenue. Coincidentally, Hilary Rhoda was being interviewed right before I went on. I was curious about how she got started, so I looked it up and discovered that she started at an event called ProScout. I went to ProScout’s weekend-long event, was called back by two big agencies, and the rest is history!

When people ask you to define the term ‘plus’ model, what do you tell them?

I am asked the question all the time, “What exactly is a plus size model?” My answer is simple; I jokingly respond that it’s any model bigger than a sample size 4 or 6. If they’re still curious, I just show them pictures of my beautiful curvy model friends. Most of my guy friends respond like, “Oh my Gosh, you know that girl? She’s your friend? Hook it up, Emily!”

Do you feel that ‘plus’ modeling is helping to redefine beauty?

People hear the word ‘plus’ and immediately assume the model is going to look like a whale and have five double chins. To our advantage, a lot of people don’t expect us to deliver beauty like straight models can, and when they see what we can produce; I think it shocks them…in a good way. It makes them think, “She’s a ‘plus’ model? She’s gorgeous!” 

In terms of your career as a model, what has been the best advice you have been given?

Every model, actress, or entertainer will tell you the same thing. Learn to take “No” in stride, believe in yourself, and work like the devil!

Photographed by Jose Amigo

Have you met someone in the industry that has had a significant impact on your life?

In the beginning of my career, I was called-back by an agent from Elite Miami and I was thrilled to pieces. I sucked it in and stood tall and the first thing she told me was that I should gain five pounds and be a plus size model; not exactly what I had expected, nor wanted, to hear. Needless to say, I was determined to stay in contact with her and keep her updated on my progress. I trained as a fit model for Silver Models in NYC for three to four months, and during my fifth month of training, I called the agent at Elite and told her I was ready to make the transition. She sent my pictures to Dorothy Combs in Miami and I was asked to contact her directly. I literally stepped off the train I took up to NYC to meet with Click’s plus division, and I got a call from Dorothy saying that she wanted to represent me. The next day, a well-known photographer that I had tested with called Click and scheduled a personal meeting for me, I walked out of Click’s office with a contract and a shot at self-employment! …If the agent at Elite had not been so honest with me, I think I would still be putting in excessive hours a day at the gym, shaping my body as a fit model.

Do you have a funny modeling story you would like to share with us?

Oh my gosh. My first casting ever was for a huge jeans company and they were paying a lot of money; I had no idea what to expect. I wore their brand of jeans to the casting to show that I was serious about working for them. I was so excited at the thought that the people at the casting would notice that I had done a significant amount of research on the company and had worn their brand of jeans, that when they did notice, I had what my Mom calls, the classic case of, “diarrhea of the mouth.” “Oh, I love these jeans! I wear them all the time! They’re so comfortable and fit my curves in all the right places. My Mom loves them, and my Grandma wishes they’d fit her…” and so on. I seriously die laughing every time I think about that casting. Good thing I’m a fast learner!

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

Oh, totally. Listen, sister. We’re just like fruits and vegetables. We all grow differently. Some of us are bigger and some are smaller. Some of us are plump and juicy, and others are small and tasty. It’s just the way God made us. Unfortunately, the way media depicts the “perfect woman” only accounts for a small percentage of the many beautiful, healthy bodies in this world. As cheesy as it sounds, you really want someone to love you for who you are. One of the most important confident building tricks that I learned from Nigel Barker was to find something about you that you really love, and flaunt it, sister! In my case, I really love my blue eyes, and they’ll never change with my size or age. A mani-pedi always helps, too!

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

Unfortunately, I see a lot of my girlfriends in the industry, who are naturally thin, hear that they’re not thin enough: the industry wants their women to be impossibly thin, and almost the only way women can attain that body is through food deprivation and disordered eating. In a perfect world, models, agents, and clients would stand up for a healthy body image. Until that day, the most important thing we have as models and role models is a voice. As my great-grandparents would say, “Sister, if you don’t have anything good to say, then don’t say it!” Alternatively, if you have something good to say, let the world hear it!

Photographed by Roberto Ligresti

Who taught you about real beauty?

For the most part, my Grandma and my Mom. I also have some very good friends who have such beautiful souls, that no matter the amount of makeup or labels they wear, they are truly magnetic beauties with unforgettable personalities. Real beauty starts with self-acceptance—loving yourself for who you are.

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

Old Navy Performance Fleeces do go out of style. But, in all seriousness, I’d probably wish I had known I would kiss a lot of good-looking frogs before I found my Prince. And, that I’d grow up to be a model, and more importantly, a role model.

Who is your role model or hero? Why?

My Grandparents. They were born during the Great Depression and grew up with very few “extra” things, which we’re all so use to having nowadays. They raised my family to be compassionate and caring, and above all, appreciate the many opportunities we’re given to work hard, excel, and live the American dream. The most important lesson I’ve learned from them: Family first.

What is a fun fact about you?

I’m superstitious. My left shoe always goes on first. I make my bed the same way every morning. I always drive the same route when I’m going somewhere. The list goes on…

Photographed by Jose Amigo

My beauty essentials are…

Clean, moisturized skin and a beautiful smile. If I’m wearing makeup, it’s usually a little bit of Smashbox HD bronzer or powder (to control the shine of my moisturizer), Smashbox blush in Chiffon or Flush (depending on the season), and I like to curl my eyelashes. I really like the natural look, but if I do wear mascara, it’s Dior Show. A girlfriend of mine is introducing me to a vegan, chemical-free makeup line sold in DC, and I’m really looking forward to making the switch—her skin is so radiant and beautiful.

Lipstick or Lip gloss?

Murad Moisturing and Age Reforming lip gloss, everyday, all day. Smashbox’s nude lip liner in Fair and lipstick in Flawless for a nicer, more naturally defined look.

What is your go-to outfit?

Ha! I love this question. I love my Nike’s, fitted Under Armor sweatpants, and a cute workout tank top. I am such a tomboy at heart. When I go out with friends, I’ll wear skinny jeans, a cute top, and some fun heels. For some reason, guys can’t resist a simple woman who looks great in jeans in a tank top…it’s definitely an equation that works for me.

What are your favorite pair of jeans?

I’m a big fan of my Marc Jacobs jeggings. I also really like J Brand’s new pencil leg jeans, too; my favorite color is in venom because they look a lot like leather, and they’re animal friendly. Both pairs of jeans fit true to size, are slightly stretchy, and long enough! If I’m just casually running around town, I like my Levi’s Curve ID jeans—they’re affordable, comfortable, and they look good!

Where do you love to shop for clothes?

I love to shop at designer discount stores, like Loehmann’s, Last Call by Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom Rack, and Off Saks Fifth Avenue. There’s something about going through the racks and finding that one gem that no one else has found. I found my first Halston dress at Loehmann’s buried in the clearance racks. The original price was marked at $4,500 and got it for maybe $300. That purchase gave me lifetime bragging rights–I am the queen of good deals.

Photographed byJennifer Domenick

Being an athlete, you have a passion for fitness. How do you stay fit?

I love to work out. I try to run five times a week and lift weights three to five times a week. It’s important that I look curvy and healthy. It sends the message that this is my healthy size; this is the way my body is meant to look.

What does being healthy mean to you?

To me, healthy is about a balance. Eat right, treat your body like a temple, work hard, and get your rest. Appreciate your family, be compassionate, laugh a lot, and listen to your heart.

Would you please tell us how long you have been a vegan, why you made that healthful choice for you, and how it makes you feel?

I’ve been a vegan for about a year now. My Mom bought the book, The China Study, for literally, my entire family. She must have bought fifteen copies of it and made us all read it. The book talks about people’s predispositions to diseases and cancers, and how we can prevent the development of those diseases by a vegan diet and good exercise. It’s a real matter of fact book, I really am glad my mom made such a big stink about it.

Healthful reasons aside, I am the biggest animal lover on the planet. I have rescued a countless number of animals, including my mixed Black Lab, Dorey. I even convinced my Grandparents at a young age, that the stray cats living in our back yard were good luck and that we needed to keep them. I have such an immense love for animals and I’m very passionate about advocating for their humane treatment.

I shot with a photographer once who asked me if I knew why the leather in luxury cars was so supple and soft. He proceeded to answer his question and said that it was because the leather was from unborn fetuses—the skin of baby calves that had never seen the sun. Doesn’t it just make your little heart break to know that, not by choice, some animal has to give up their little baby at our own consumer’s expense?

What would we find in your refrigerator?

Mind you, everything that I eat is vegan and gluten free. I wash, chop, and store my fresh fruit and veggies as soon as I bring them home from the store; it really aids in making make healthy choices when you reach for something to satisfy your hunger. I try to eat a very raw diet, when I can, so you’ll find almost every in-season fruit and veggie (a lot of which comes from my older brother’s organic farm) in my fridge. You’d also find soy milk, coconut milk, carrot juice, orange juice, hummus, carrots, broccoli, artichokes, celery, eggplant, peppers, asparagus, veggie-burgers, brown rice bread, Daiya cheese, and leftovers from the local vegan restaurant. I keep frozen fruit in my freezer for fresh fruit smoothies.

In my pantry, I’ve got raw almond butter, as well as raw coconut butter, peanut butter, every type of seed, Go Raw energy bars, every type of raw nut, dried fruit, cereal, blue tortilla chips, my favorite chocolate chip cookie, and brownie box mixes. I’ve always got an extra bag of Enjoy Life’s mini chocolate chips lying around too. Several winter’s ago, my Mom and Step-dad surprised me with a Lello Italian gelato maker because I love to make my own ice cream. My favorite flavor so far is chocolate, and my secret is to add a pinch of salt to the recipe. I just made a pumpkin pie ice cream that’s a close second to my chocolate.

Photographed by Roberto Ligresti

What makes you uniquely beautiful?

I own every inch of my body and my personality. I know that confidence is the key to attractiveness.

In my purse you would find…

Ipod. Murad Age Reforming lip gloss. Louis Vuitton wallet. Essie apricot cuticle oil. Burt’s Bees almond milk hand salve. Face towels for the gym. Hand sanitizer. A Fuji apple and a water bottle.

How would you describe your style?

Comfortably sexy.

Favorite book?

Oh gosh, I love to read. The China Study has most definitely influenced my life more than any other book. Most of my reading though, are books about business; certainly an enjoyment of mine that was passed down from my Grandfather.

Celebrity Crush…

Mario Lopez. Hugh Jackman…oh Lawd!

What are your favorite sites to visit online?

I’m not much of an online shopper so when I’m online, I’m usually on Facebook, vegan/ eco-luxury lifestyle sites, as well as any sites or blogs dealing with news in the modeling industry (especially if it’s plus related).

Photographed by Rick Day

What is your philosophy?

Do what you do: If you’re good at something and you enjoy it, pour your heart and soul into it, give it everything you’ve got. Stand up for what you believe in and always, always, always listen to your gut…and your mother! =)

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

Wake up without an alarm, go for a nice run, throw a swimsuit on, and go out on the boat with my family and friends. I’ve also lived the whole fantasy of being alone on an exotic beach under an umbrella with a good book where hot cabana boys are at my service…that doesn’t seem like such a bad “perfect day” either.

What is one of your favorite childhood memories?

Being the first one picked for any sports during recess. I was the kickball queen. I was also the only girl on my block, growing up with a bunch of boys: While most girls were learning how to kiss boys and apply makeup, I was learning how to check boys with my hockey stick on roller blades. Needless to say, my parents never had to worry about, “beating the boys off with a baseball bat.”

What are you excited about right now?

Oh goodness. I’m fairly young in the plus industry, so it’s really exciting for me when I get to meet all of the stunningly beautiful women who have pioneered the plus movement. Cindy Lauper once said that you should never meet someone that you idolize because you’ll only be disappointed; I doubt that I’d ever regret meeting Emme, or Brooke Shields for that matter.

*Thank you, Emily, for everything you do and for being one of our strongest supporters!

* You can find out more about Emily at http://mlestyle.com/ and http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=706953358#!/pages/Emily-Nolan/149048695137826

Model Randi Graves Interview is Smart, Funny, Serious, and Insightful. Randi Says, “You CAN change your life in one second by changing your mind.”

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Eating Disorders, Entertainment, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Food, Funny Experiences, Hobbies, Inspiration, Media, Models, New Jersey, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, Travel, Unique Beauty with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2011 by Liz

Randi Graves is a plus model who is represented by Dorothy Combs Models, in Miami and several other agencies around the world. Lane Bryant is her oldest client of many. She was the tummy for the Lane Bryant Venezia Jean line and the face of their reversible fabrics. She has done shots with Walter Chin, Ellen von Unwerth, and many other well-known photographers. Randi has traveled the world. She is originally from Morristown, New Jersey and said that she is “beyond proud of that. I’m a cheeky Jerseyian.”

How did you get starting in the modeling industry?

On a dare, 13 1/2 years ago. It went like this…my husband said, “If you go to some agencies and see what they say, I’ll buy you dinner.” I said, “And drinks?” He said, “No. You drink too much.” I said. “Fine, but we’re drinking! First this bet, then my tongue piercing, and then dinner.” He said, “Deal.” And, that’s exactly what we did. Wilhelmina was the last agency we visited. We were at the front desk waiting for the receptionist to get off the phone so we could ask about open calls. Susan Georget, my agent for nearly a decade, came to the front desk for some reason. She gave me a stern gloss over. Asked me my size (I was size 10 at the time), wrote her name and number and a photographers name and number down (Michael Keele), told me to get some pictures taken, and to come back when I had done so.

My friend was elated. Me, sadly, all I could focus on was that she had written I was a size 12. LOL! Seriously. I had worked so hard to get into the size 10 jeans I was wearing. My muffin top and I were workin’ it. It wasn’t until one year later that I got those pictures taken and went back to Wilhelmina. They gave me a contract on the spot. I told them I wanted my aunt to look it over and left in a complete state of shock. Numb. You see, I had sat in the front area for nearly an hour as one person after the other was rejected. Some left crying. I had sweat all my makeup off and began to drip copious amounts of water from my under arms and chest. By the time they came for me to go to the back, I was ready for a shower and my great escape back to New Jersey. That moment, with the contract in my hand, has been and will remain to be one of the high points in my life. Someone besides my mother thought I was worthwhile and pretty. It was a nice ride.

Who is your role model or hero? Why?

Oprah Winfrey and Julia Sugarbaker (from Designing Women) are lovely role models to me, and I am my own personal hero. I do hope that doesn’t come across wrong. The hero part, not Oprah and Julia. Oprah is my role model because of her journey. Because of the vessel in which she has walked this earth and accomplished so very much. She’s not white or light, she’s not the stereotypical beauty queen; although, I do believe she once was a beauty queen (http://www.people.com/people/oprah_winfrey/biography), and our society caters to and favors the anti-Oprah vessel. She has crawled and struggled up hills and through valleys. Let no one stand in her way of what she knew she was worth, and she admitted her mistakes along the way. Julia Sugarbaker, oh man! What a spitfire. Controlled and respectful, always with a smile and the utmost lady of southern ladies. But, when the time was right and a verbal ass beating was required, she would let someone have it! LOL! Specifically, articulately, and often with, “Have a good day”. I admire that. Aspire to be that. But, through all my days, I have been the one who saved me. My faith and the life lessons I have learned have held me strong. The people I have met, loved, and loathed have schooled me well. But when it came down to picking myself up, pulling myself together, and getting ‘it’ (whatever ‘it’ may be) done; it was me that was there for me. I think a lot of women can relate to that. This isn’t me saying I’m so wonderful that I give no one credit for aiding me to being who I am today. No, that is not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that I count my blessings and thank all those of you who have helped me to help myself to be the woman I am today who is my own personal hero.

Do you feel that ‘plus’ modeling is helping to redefine beauty?

Redefine? No. Beauty truly, is in the eye of the beholder. Whoever he or she may be. What plus-size modeling or outsize modeling for our UK sisters has done is given the masses a window into other beholders. Our societies’ vision of what beauty is has always been oxymoronic at best. “Be healthy and stay fit” is what we are told and have been told. But, what we see on and in magazines are young girls, very different from women, who are anything but fit. They, as I once was, are consumed with eating disorders and phobias about food, nutrition, and diet. Museums around the world are filled with paintings and sculptures of voluptuous women with their broad hips and ever so slightly plump bellies; I call mine Sheila. These women with their round plump bottoms and thickened waists were adored– goddess-like. They were the definition of beauty. Someone’s definition of beauty. I personally hold that idea of beauty to be self-evident. As I feel others would agree with me. And others won’t…and don’t and that’s ok. It really is. For beauty is not merely defined by a look or a smile, or a firm breast, or an ass for that matter. Beauty is the essence of the vessel within the body and how another sees it and identifies with it. Full-figure models/plus-size models…we are simply saying to our sisters of the thicken thigh tribe, “I see you. And you are beautiful.”

Out of all of the places your career has taken you, which has been the most memorable and why?

Argentina for a Lane Bryant shoot with Mia Tyler, my dearest friend Phillipa Allam, and makeup done by Linda Hay who now works with Heidi Klum and Victoria’s Secret. We stayed at a private resort at the base of this massive mountain where you could ski right into the restaurant and hot tub area, which was just below the restaurant. On our days of shooting, we took a van to the second level of the mountain, and then we took snowmobiles to the top. Clouds were literally passing through us as we shot. It was magic.

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

Welcome to the club if you have or had an eating disorder or self-esteem issue. Unfortunately, it is quite common. Young girls and women have so much on our plates. We are mothers, sisters, friends, and lovers. We are workers, survivors, saviors, and nurturers. We are wives. AND we have to be thin?! Please! Minus being a mother (I am godmother to two lovely boys and one girl), I am all the above, including having dealt with body image issues. I still am. I’m not perfect. Not in mind or body. But what I would say to any young girl or woman who asked…It will be okay. You are perfect just the way you are. Perfectly flawed with a long road ahead of you to laugh away the silly B.S. of yesterday. For tomorrow, you will be stronger because you hopefully learned that you cannot live your life according to what others think of you. Because someone else’s thin, may not suit YOUR body’s structure of thin. That you are defined by what you think of yourself. Period. If you are angry with your thighs, your arms, or your waist…let it go. Replace that pain with love and say to yourself, “Self, I love you just the way you are. But we can be better” and then start from there. Because hating yourself keeps you in a bad place. Stuck. And that’s no good for anyone.

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

Well, first we can (and need to) accept the fact that we are ALL mentors. Whether you are on television or not. We are all in this together, regardless of your political affiliation or financial position in life. And, the pressures I see young girls experiencing today are HEAVY. “Am I the prettiest because I received more votes on FB, or whatever social network, than my friend?” … “Will I be more liked or loved if I perform the best sexual act at an orgy party?” …”Am I better than whomever because of my parents car(s), home, jobs, or lack thereof”….”Can I be famous if I do this one sex video, get paid, and parlay it into something else?” These are real issues affecting our girls today. It’s sad. Their hair, their face, their youth, the size of their skinny jeans, and the price on their designer bags are – according to the young – defining who they think they need to be or who they actually are. And, that is so far from the truth. How is it possible that MTV has a TV show about young men and women – and I use those terms loosely – who are in debt ranging in the $10,000’s when they don’t pay mortgages or taxes on  owned property? It’s insane! Whether an individual wants to admit it or not, women hold the power. We teach others how to see us and treat us.

Our young girls are more valuable than they know. They are mentors. Every young girl that crosses my path is in my life through means of direct communication or six degrees of separation. And, I want them to know this… You CAN change your life in one second by changing your mind. The physical act will be longer and more grueling, but to better yourself is worth the climb. Our young girls are faced with the pressures of being something they are not. And, that translates to them thinking they are not good enough. That is not okay. We, as adults, must take the time out of our day to listen, learn, and guide because we also have pressures and don’t always have the right answer and that is okay. As much as we can teach our young girls and boys, we can also get an education from them. So what do we do as mentors? We also learn to be students and move forward from there.

Who taught you about real beauty?

My mother, my aunt Gwen, and my momaran (my mother’s mom). My sisters, my friends, and those that were my enemies. Every broken soul I have ever met and all those tougher than nails broads. 🙂 The animals I have loved and kept and definitely my husband. The world I have experienced, really.

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

Just because you are watching “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”, Randi, does not mean you have to eat as if you are there. LOL! But, seriously, that I was worth more than I believed. I didn’t have knowledge of self, let alone esteem. I wish I had known that it would all work out so I wouldn’t have been so hard on myself, and I could have enjoyed the ride of youth a lot more.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

From my aunt Gwen. My mom’s youngest sister. She told me years ago that the worst thing anyone can ever say to you is no (and that ain’t so bad) and then turn their back on you. Because they are saying, you are not worthwhile, you hold no threat, and you are not my challenge. She said, double R, when they do that to you, take a deep breath, and show them what you are made of. Give them the element of surprise. For they will not see you coming. And, she was right because in life, which is competition, fortunately and unfortunately – the element of surprise is a lovely card to hold.

What is a fun fact about you?

At any given time, I bust out in song and love singing to my cat Shelby. Sometimes she bites me, other times she just gets kissingly close to my face and stares…How I love my furry babies.

What are some of your hobbies?

I love cooking. Adore it! It’s my way of saying, “I love you”. Writing, brainstorming, playing with my cats, reading, Bikram yoga, talking with people, analyzing people and their experiences, nutrition and how it affects the body, and taking care of my husband. Honestly.

Do you have a favorite beauty tip you can share with us?

I have tons! First and foremost, hydration. It will save your life and skin. Use a washcloth when cleaning your face. It’s the best inexpensive exfoliant you have in your house right now and it works wonders. Peroxide is wonderful for achy ears, throats, funky breathe, and whiter teeth. Adding baking soda to the latter as toothpaste is magic. And, having something or someone to love will make you a more beautiful person.

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

Bumble and Bumble the curl conscious line. Sadly, I cannot live or work without it.

Lipstick or Lip gloss?

Lip gloss. Forever! Generally, any thick sticky brand will do, but I am loving my Chanel Brilliant Levres. It glosses so good. It’s a fantastic fire engine red in the tube, but if put on sparingly, just a bit to coat the lips; it’s the softest pink with magnificent shine. With a heavier hand, VaVaVoom. I am applying it as I think and type.

What is your go-to outfit?

Dresses, dresses, dresses. Even when I was a tomboy, fighting boys for all womankind, I did it in a dress. My closet is over flowing with dresses. Short ones, plunging ones, strap-less, long ones, maxis, and wrap dresses. I can’t get enough or have enough dresses. I think I have a problem.

Where do you love to shop for clothes?

I am a creature of habit, and adore Victoria’s Secret. I’d say 40% of my closet is Vicki S., 20% vintage and/or thrift, and the rest, well, the other places, lol!

What does being a good friend mean to you?

Showing up for your friends lives. That you don’t have to be everything to any one body and vice versa. That sometimes, a little white lie, is what you need to tell, and other times, the truth is the only gift you can give.

What makes you uniquely beautiful?

That I can and will, with my face beat, hair done, and dressed thoroughly to impress, have an in-depth conversation about bowel movements. Anywhere. Any time. What goes in must come out people, and if you are not having a poo at least once a day, something is wrong and we can talk about it. Seriously, call me. I will talk with you about it.

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

Getting my “to do” list done. I cannot rest in a messy house and chill out if I have things to do. All I think about is that I’m not doing my to do list.

Do you have a favorite book?

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou and Heinerman’s Encyclopedia of Healing Juices by John Heinerman. The first, I read so many times my aunt forbade me to read her second copy that my heavy hands shredded, and the latter I refer to often. It is absolutely life changing to read and practice the benefits of juicing. God bless the parsnip.

Do you have a favorite karaoke song or favorite song of all time?

My favorite karaoke song is “Stand Back” by Stevie Nicks and my favorite song of all time is “Stay Gold” by Stevie Wonder.

What does being healthy mean to you?

I love this question, because I have struggled so long with this body. To me, healthy is a sound mind, active body, and a soul at peace. A balanced diet with more live foods than dead and an active sex life that gives you enough pleasure to spread joy. Can I get an Amen!?!

*Thank you, Randi!

Tracie Stern and Randi Graves

We asked Randi’s long time friend and fellow model, Tracie Stern what she loves about Randi.

I’ve known Randi for years, our first shoot together we laughed so hard our client were getting mad at us. I think they stopped booking us together after that…

Randi has been in my life through love, loss, and life in general. She is the god mother to my boys, and she takes that roll very seriously, which is something I love about her….she doesn’t half ass anything.
Everyone should have a Randi in their lives. What I love about her is that she always keeps me in check like a true friend should. She never judges. She comments, she suggests, she challenges you, but she never judges. Plus, her life is like a soap opera so whenever I need a good laugh I call her because I know there is something going on in her life that beats whatever is going on in mine…and her storytelling abilities make even her serious problems come out funny. 🙂

**Thank you, Tracie!