Archive for Lane Bryant

Plus Model Radio Host Chenese Lewis Says, “I think women of all shapes and sizes are beautiful and should all be celebrated without limitations.”

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Body Image, Celebrity, Confidence, Entertainment, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Media, Plus-Size Modeling, Radio, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, Unique Beauty with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 6, 2011 by Liz

Chenese Lewis is a positive body image and self-esteem advocate. She is the current President of the Hollywood Chapter of the National Organization for Women, the Ambassador of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), sits on the Celebrity Board of the non-profit organization Fed Up, Inc., and made history by being the first woman crowned Miss Plus America in 2003. Her unique story and prestigious career have been featured by countless media outlets such as Dr. Phil, The Insider, E! News, EXTRA, The National Examiner, iVillage, Figure Magazine and USA Today. Lewis is the creator and host of Hollywood NOW’s “Love Your Body Day,” an annual event where women of all sizes come together to celebrate a day of self-acceptance, to promote positive body image and to show that you don’t have to be a size 0 to be beautiful. Her 2010 Love Your Body Campaign, where she posed nude with America’s Next Top Model, Whitney Thompson, garnered international media attention and magnified her role as a leading positive body image advocate. Chenese attributes her success by not conforming to society’s ideals of beauty but rather showing by example that you can be beautiful and confident regardless of your size. Chenese Lewis is the epitome of the plus-size woman.

Please tell us when and how you got your start in the modeling world.

The first time I learned that plus models exist was in the summer of 2000 when a convention came to my town looking specifically for plus-size models. I went to the open call and was chosen to go to their convention, I thought I was on my way to the top! But it turns out nothing much came out of the convention, besides lots of money gone down the drain. After I came home, I decided to research more online, through which I discovered the plus community. Through my research, I found that I didn’t have the stats to be a agency repped model at the top agencies. I was very disappointed and confused as to why I was the right size to shop in plus-size clothing stores but not the right size to model for them. However, I didn’t let it discourage me, and although I still have limited  opportunities available to me as a plus size model, I’ve found my niche in the community in other ways and try to get in front of the camera whenever I can!

Do you feel plus modeling is helping to redefine beauty?

I think it has helped to redefine beauty to a degree. I think plus models have helped by showing curvier, healthier physiques in main stream media, which is great. But in all honestly, a lot of industry plus models should be on the straight board, and some women who would be fabulous plus-size models don’t get a chance.  I understand that models don’t represent the average woman, however that in itself perpetrates unrealistic ideas of beauty in some ways. The fact that a plus size model and a plus size woman is not necessarily the same thing, limits the amount of redefining the industry truly has. I think women of all shapes and sizes are beautiful and should all be celebrated without limitations.

We would love to hear about “Love Your Body Day”!

The National Organization of Women created Love Your Body Day in 1998. When I joined the Hollywood chapter they weren’t doing anything to celebrate the day, since I was already doing things to promote positive body images and it’s my passion, I was appointed Love Your Body chairperson of the local chapter and was able to completely create and execute what I envisioned a Love Your Body Day celebration to be. 2010 marked the 5th year I produced the event and every year it gets bigger and better! Hollywood NOW Love Your Body Day is a free community event for women of all shapes and sizes that promotes positive body image. The day consists of entertainment, free goodies, vendors, and a fashion show. Hollywood NOW Love Your Body Day has grown into a weekend of events that includes a launch party and body image panel discussion as well.

Hollywood NOW’s Love Your Body Day is not only about promoting healthy body image, but also promoting diversity, ending racism, stopping violence against women, and marriage equality.  When you meet others who are struggling with these issues, what advice do you give to them? Where do you tell them to go to find inspiration and support?

Love Your Body Day is basically about body image. However, that day is only one small part of what the organizations focuses on and fights for. As you mentioned, the organization, in addition to promoting healthy body image, also promotes a host of other issues that are important to women. Besides inspiring women to be better the organization focuses on action by working to change laws and fighting injustice.

The photographs of yourself and Whitney Thompson are gorgeous. Not only showing both of your individual beauty, but also the beauty of women supporting women…friendship. I think the feelings behind the photographs and what you both stand for is truly beautiful. Please tell us about the photo shoot with Whitney.

Whitney is a champion for positive body image and passionate about it like myself, so I thought she would be a perfect fit to host this year’s Love Your Body Day festivities. Every year I have a photo shoot with the celebrity host, but none have gotten close to the attention of this year’s photo shoot. Whitney is a top model so I let her create the concept for the photo shoot and she suggested nude, although I had reservations about doing it, I was all for it because I knew it would get a lots of attention, but I had no idea how much! The nude Love Your Body campaign we did together literally created an international media buzz; it was on every major blog and entertainment website in the world. We even got to do an interview for E! News and all the attention helped make this year an overwhelming success. It was really great working with her and I think she’s an awesome model.

As the host of Plus Model Radio, have you ever been star struck by one of your guests on your show? If you could interview anyone in the world, who would it be? Why?

Yes, I have been star stuck before. The one interview that comes to mind is Emme! You would have never known listening to the interview because I know how not to let my nerves show and move forward with whatever I’m doing. Besides the radio is a breeze compared to being on camera or publicly speaking at an event. If I could interview anyone in the world, it would be Oprah! I love her and she is such an inspiration to me. She is plus size, so she would totally qualify to be a guest on the show.

Have you ever struggled with self-esteem or body image issues in the past? If  so, how did you reach the point of accepting and loving yourself? What advice would you give to young girls and women who are currently struggling?

No, I’ve never had that problem. I am very fortunate that I was never criticized or belittled for my weight growing up. As a result, I never thought there was anything wrong with me because of my size. I had a very happy childhood and in high school was very social and popular. A lot of people ask me this questions and I think the question we should start asking women is when did you learn to hate yourself and your body, because I don’t think a child comes into the world with those insecurities, it’s a result of your environment and influences. I would tell someone struggling with low self-esteem and body image issues to stop being your own worst critic, you are beautiful just the way you are, and if anyone in your life is telling you otherwise, get rid of the negativity.

Have you read any good books that help promote positive self-esteem and healthy body image that you would recommend for girls, pre-teens, teens, or women?

Yes, I would recommend “Good Girls Don’t Get Fat” by Dr. Robyn Silverman

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

I wish I would have known that I wanted to pursue a career in entertainment, so I could have gotten started earlier and be further along in my career! However, I believe everything happens for a reason and I wouldn’t change a thing about the path that has led me to where I am today!

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?

I don’t have kids, or sisters, or nieces so I don’t really have lots of young girls in my personal life. However, I think young girls these days have tons of pressures on them that goes beyond body image. With the internet age they have everything at their finger tips, good and bad, so they know everything and see everything weather it is appropriate or not. I’m a firm believer that it all starts at home and we as mentors have to set a positive example by not only what we say, but more importantly our actions. For instance, you can’t tell a girl that she is beautiful regardless of her size but then you are constantly obsessing about your weight and criticizing yourself, which has a greater impact on her.

How do you define beauty?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We all have our own individual standards of beauty, which is influenced by our families and cultural backgrounds. For me personally, I rely heavily on inner beauty. I’ve notice the higher regard I hold the person, the more attractive they are to me and just the opposite if their personality or behavior is less than desirable. Although I’m human and there are certain physical attributes that I prefer, especially with the opposite sex, at the end of the day I need the inside to match the outside.

What is your secret to happiness?

By living a purpose driven life and not sweating the small stuff! I am extremely blessed and living my dreams, instead of focusing on the negative I focus more on the positive and try to keep an optimistic outlook on life.

Where do you like to shop for clothes?

Literally any where that carries my size. I will shop anywhere from K-mart and Target to Nordstorms and Saks, and everywhere in between. But my three go to stores are Macys, Torrid, and Lane Bryant, and when I’m in the South I go to Dillards. When I have the time I like to go dig through Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, and Ross as well!

Favorite jeans?

I love Applebottom jeans! Not only do they fit me very well, they are hip and stylish.

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

I love MAC cosmetics, for my hair Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Smooth -n- Hold Pudding,  I use Nair on my legs. I always have French Manicure on my nails and toes.

Lipstick or Lip gloss?

Lip gloss, I threw away all of my lipsticks a couple years ago. I like my lips super juicy! I love MAC lipgloss in C-Thru, Oh Baby, Red Russian, and Pink Poodle. I also like over the counter lip glosses like Milani Buzz Worthy Lip Gloss and L’oreal Colour Juice Sheer Lip Gloss.

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

That’s a tough one! I would have to say hair weave/extensions…LOL

What is your signature scent?

White Diamonds by Elizabeth Taylor, I’ve worn several other fragrances, but that’s what my mom wears and I just started doing the same.

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

Either a pamper day where I get my hair, nail, toes, and eyebrows done or a day full of shopping! Hanging out on the beach is fun too!

What achievement are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of having the guts to pose naked in front of the world!

Who is your role model or hero?  Why?

My ultimate role models are my parents because they are who I look to for characteristics and qualities to emulate in my life. However, for career and business Oprah Winfrey!

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

The best advice I’ve been given is to never compromise my morals and values, and to live my life with integrity.

What do you love about yourself and why?

I literally love everything about myself. From the top of my head to the bottom of my feet, I think I’m absolutely awesome! I’m created in God’s image, no reason not to like myself!

What are you excited about right now?

I’m excited about the New Year and all the potential it holds!

Visit Chenese online at:

www.cheneselewis.com

www.plusmodelradio.com

*Thank you, Chenese!

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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!

Hello, World! Angela’s Journey – Part I. (Written by Liz Nord)

Posted in Art, Articles, Books, & Magazines, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Celebrity, Confidence, Eating Disorders, Events, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Funny Experiences, Hobbies, Inspiration, Lane Bryant, Models, Movies, Music, My Story, News, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Recipes & Food, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, Travel, Uncategorized, Unique Beauty, Work, Your Story with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2010 by Liz

Photographed by Lindsey Bowen

Hello World,

I am Angela Jones. I am a mother, daughter, sister, wife, friend, partner, 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 body. 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 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.

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 because I did not feel that I was overweight. 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 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.

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 moved back home, to Washington State.

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, Taylor. The timing was good, and I was ready to make a positive change. I promised Taylor 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.

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.

We will be posting more articles regarding Angela’s journey. Share your story!