Archive for Oprah

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

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

Source

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the Today Show interview with model Filippa Hamilton:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/33306968#33306968

Here is the full Glamour magazine article.

*I originally published this article on Secrets of Mom’s Who Dare To Tell All. If you would like to visit that site or subscribe to Secrets of Moms, go here. Thank you! Have a great day.

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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!

This is a Story About Letting Go of the Past and Finding the Strength & Courage to Change Your Life! The Difference Between a Caterpillar and a Butterfly By Marala Scott

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Confidence, Family & Friends, Inspiration, Media, My Story, Self-Esteem with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2010 by Liz

Marala Scott is a screenwriter and a multi-award winning author of the memoir, In Our House: Perception vs. Reality. In her book, Marala shares her personal story of a horrific childhood at the hands of her father and her journey to happiness and peace. Marala’s story is especially powerful because she was able to rise above her past and become a strong woman determined to break the cycle of violence. She is an advocate, inspiration, and role model for women and men who are suffering from abuse.

Oprah Winfrey acknowledged Marala as an “Ambassador of Hope” in 2009. Member of Congress, Mary Jo Kilroy, presented Marala a Special Congressional Recognition of outstanding and invaluable service to the community. United States Senator, Sherrod Brown, recognized Marala for advocacy to prevent child abuse and domestic violence. Ohio House of Representatives gave Marala special recognition for humanitarian concern for hosting the inaugural HEAL event. Marala Scott and Tre Parker received a proclamation from Mayor Counts of Powell, Ohio, recognizing and commending their work on Domestic Violence and Child Abuse. Mayor Michael B. Coleman, from Columbus, Ohio, awarded Marala with a Certificate of Recognition for her dedication to raising awareness of domestic violence and child abuse nationwide.

Here is Marala’s story…

I am at a wonderful point in my life where I see things now as I wish I had a long time ago. I truly love myself therefor; I am able to love life as it is. I chose to make a substantial contribution and investment into making my life what I want it to be, instead of letting it turn out however it does. I’ve empowered myself by not accepting what was as what will be my future. With every new day, I have an abundance of phenomenal opportunities to set goals and shape my own life. I want you to be able to see that you can accomplish the same, regardless of your life up until this point! We all have the tendency to spend time pointing out imperfections about ourselves and in our lives instead of embracing who we are and being excited about the wonderful and educational journey we are on called, life. We want perfection and we already have it; we just have to see it. Beauty is an evolution of self from the inside out. For me, it is a combination of my faith, compassion, experiences, morals, passion, drive, peace, confidence, happiness, and laughter topped off with a radiant smile. What can a smile do? A smile can instantly change the energy around you including your own.

The perception of my childhood (Discussed in the book In Our House: Perception vs. Reality, by Marala Scott and Tré Parker) was that it was ideal but the reality was horrific, dark, and destructive. The anger, rage, and violent abuse my father generously and routinely shared, combined with the unimaginable fate my mother met caused my life to be a hellish nightmare. I was more familiar with the negative emotions that were instilled in me than anything else. Pain and fear clouded the essence of who I was created to be, and I didn’t know who I wanted to be. The abuse was so vile that it obliterated my mother, and separated the family. For many years, my father reminded me with a constant stream of assurance that I was stupid, ugly, useless, and good for nothing. I was left with feelings of worthlessness, uncertainty, and pain, among others that are able to shatter any young mind. Every time I looked in the mirror, I could hear my father’s voice trying to seep deeper into my psyche and alter my own self-image.  

One day I smiled back at my reflection in the mirror and my spirit lit up. Beyond the initial reflection, I could see that my father had caused me pain, but he had not touched my spirit that belonged to God. For many years, I kept going back into my past and constantly revisiting, therefore reliving all of the pain and damage that I had suffered through. It wasn’t until I realized that we don’t walk backwards, so I had to stop living in the past and make positive and inspirational changes walking forward into my future. If I didn’t want to change my thought process and life then I would be stuck in this place of dysfunction for the rest of my life. I knew then what I needed to do. I received a full scholarship to run track in college. I found things that I loved about my appearance and embraced them all. I focused on helping others instead of focusing on myself. I discovered where my best skills were and combined them with my strongest passions. I revealed that I was good for a lot of things. I refused to see myself as my father saw me. Although my father was intelligent, powerful, and successful, he didn’t have the power to destroy me, too. I wasn’t going to give him permission any longer, and I wasn’t going to prove anything to him. I fought to become the person I am for no one other than myself. 

As time passed, my spirit evolved from a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly. The butterfly was the same caterpillar all along, but the beauty was on the inside and no one saw it until I was able to see it and let it out. No one could change the negative thoughts I had about myself until I got rid of those thoughts. The only way to remove my pain was to walk away from it and leave it in the past where it occurred. The transformation from caterpillar to butterfly was just waiting to come out–when I was ready. Now, I am at a place in my life where I put myself. It is where I decided I wanted to be. I am responsible for my own happiness, goals, morals, and everything relating to me. I love my life! I have beautiful, intelligent, fun-loving, and strong children. My amazing husband is perfect for me. He makes me smile at the mere thought of him. My faith is in God and I give Him all the glory for allowing me to see exactly who He created me to be. This life is God’s gift to you. Don’t let someone else run it or tear it down. It’s up to you to determine the path you want to take. You decide if you want to carry unnecessary luggage through life, and how heavy you want it to be. It’s your choice to live and die a caterpillar or emerge into the beautiful butterfly that you were created to be! Don’t try to control everything and everyone around you. Just control your own actions because that’s when you’ll see a difference.

Hugs,

Marala Scott

Here is a poem that I wrote.

Forgive

In my journey through life, there are many things that I’ve learned, but one of the most important lessons is how and why to forgive. Because of my childhood, I had a lot of pain and with pain came the responsibility of carrying a heavy suitcase filled with mistrust, doubt, and anger. Overall, I had no faith in anyone but I could always count on the contents of my luggage. One thing I knew for sure was that what was inside my luggage would bail me out of every situation. If I met someone who seemed like he would make a great boyfriend with wonderful character, well I’d simply pull out mistrust. If I needed someone to count on, doubt was always there. But, my big protector was anger. Anger was a little greedy as it took up most of the suitcase. Everywhere I went I just had to take that burdensome piece of luggage with me. Regardless of where I was in life, it didn’t take long for me to remember to open my luggage and let the contents run my life.

One day, I turned around, realized that I was alone, and tired, but I had no one that would carry my heavy luggage. No one wanted the burden. Many people had their own luggage. So, I had to keep dragging it along throughout my life, and allowing the contents to keep holding me back because although I took it everywhere, it wasn’t wanted anywhere. With tearful eyes, I dropped to my knees, in faith, and prayed for God to help me with this problem. What was I to do?

There was one little word that flooded my heart and invaded my heavy spirit. That word was forgive. I huffed and refused. Why would I? That’s cowardly of me to let the people that hurt me the most off the hook. I can’t … I won’t. I’d been carrying the luggage so long anyways that I didn’t need anyone to help me. Sure, it would be nice but … forget it. The contents of my luggage protected me from everyone. So, I picked up the tattered handle and dragged my luggage around a little longer until I realized that it was wearing me down. My heart was heavy, and I was sad. I wasn’t moving at the pace I could have, if I didn’t have this big, heavy piece of burdensome luggage, and when I opened it, oh, look out! I prayed again, in faith, that God would answer me. He did, but the same little word came, yet again, forgive.

I was deeply troubled because I knew that if I did … forgive … it meant that everything I’d been through was for nothing. Everyone that hurt me and caused me great pain got off the hook. Just like that, they would be forgiven for everything they did to me. What about my pain and suffering? Surely, I wasn’t going to let anyone off the hook. So … you guessed it, a few more long years passed with me dragging my luggage. Although I was a bit unhappier because of mistrust, doubt, and anger, I felt safe with my luggage. The contents sure caused a lot of problems and losses. There came a point when I wasn’t confident it was worth keeping that luggage anymore so I prayed, again. This time, I opened my heart and asked God to help me, because it was too big a task for me to take on alone. He did, as He had before, and it was a process that I was finally willing to undertake. I had nothing to lose but mistrust, doubt, and a lot of anger.

I didn’t forget anything that happened to me as a child, but I realized how many years I wasted dragging that luggage. The forgiving wasn’t for anyone other than me. They’d probably forgotten what they did to me or perhaps they had asked to be forgiven at some point. Some of the people who hurt me, I never even saw again but I thought the burden of carrying that luggage was protecting me. It wasn’t. It was destroying me. Just me. I had wasted years, for nothing. Why was I so determined to be angry, when I had a whole wonderful life ahead of me to enjoy with the past long behind me with each waking day.

It wasn’t until I let the word forgive have true significance in my life that I began to truly live. I was able to let go of that luggage and take any flight I wanted without penalty of that heavy bag. The power mistrust, doubt, and anger have are destructive. The act of forgiving someone is an amazing release to your spirit. When I did, I realized the pain in my past allowed me to help others in my future. Forgive. Try it soon. Don’t waste your valuable life the way I did.

Love & Blessings,

Marala Scott

*You can learn more about Marala and her book at  http://www.inourhouse907.blogspot.com/ and  http://www.inourhousebook.com/index.php.

**Thank you for everything you do, Marala!

Model and Actress Celina Lorenz Talks About Her Definition of Confidence; Feeling Beautiful, Smart, and Sexy on Your Own Terms; and Much More!

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Celebrity, Confidence, Designers, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Funny Experiences, Inspiration, Lane Bryant, Movies, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, Unique Beauty, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2010 by Liz

      

Photographed by Patrice Casanova      

Celina Lorenz has graced the pages of Elle, InStyle, Glamour, Figure, Prevention, and Plus Model Magazine. She has appeared on Access Hollywood, The View, Fox News, The Queen Latifah show, and broadcasted nationally, via satellite, to local TV stations showing plus-size clothing. Celina has traveled the country and the world for her long and steady career. She looks forward to continuing to be a representative of fuller figure women and reshaping the standard of beauty. Here she is…      

      

Photographed by Stanley Debas      

Please tell us about your first modeling job with Emme on the Oprah Winfrey show.      

That was my very first job! I was very “green,” and I literally was star struck when I met Oprah! I spent two days at Harpo Studios preparing for her show about beauty “in all sizes.” Emme and Christine Alt were the guests. My first thought about Ms.Winfrey was, “Wow, she’s a lot shorter in real life!” lol. It really was surreal to be there, in the Green Room and in the dressing room. I think Oprah does a lot of good things with her show, and she certainly does that for the fuller figured woman. She was super nice and very down to earth. Meeting her was amazing!      

What was that experience like for you?      

As I said, it was surreal. From a modeling perspective, it was a great “first job,” because I did have some hesitation when I first started modeling. For instance, would I be able to make a living, etc. Being that this was my first booking and on such a global scale, I think the appearance helped give me the confidence I needed to continue pursuing this as a career. But, don’t get me wrong, it takes a lot of drive and determination.      

Eventually, when I moved to NYC, I remember saying to myself, “Quitting is NOT an option.” Like any model, rejection is all part of the job. Whether you are a plus-size model or straight size, you become so in tune to “your look” as we are constantly picked apart by photographers, make-up and hair stylists, art directors, and the clients themselves. If you don’t have a thick skin, or some sort of healthy coping method for this kind of continuous scrutiny (whether you are on set, at a show, or at a casting), you risk letting it get into your head and get you down. Women who are not models may do this as well, with all this nonsense in the media these days, so it’s my belief that we professional, working models really have to remember to have perspective on the scrutiny we face on a daily basis.       

      

Photographed by Jessica Lavoie      

Please tell us about your experience as a television hostess and other TV appearances such as Comedy Central and the Chappelle Show.      

Working on the Chappelle Show was great fun! I’ll point out that they weren’t looking for a “plus-sized model”; they were looking for the blonde “bombshell” type to play off of Paul Mooney’s character. It was really cool that Mr. Chappelle, Paul Mooney, and the producers totally saw me as THAT: as a sexy, beautiful model, not a sexy beautiful “plus-sized model.” That rarely happens. The “sexy” part is usually cast with a straight size model, but not this time. They didn’t see me as a size 12 model who was sexy; they just saw a beautiful woman. In casting me alongside the other model, who happened to be straight size, they sent the message that it didn’t matter our size. A beautiful woman is a beautiful woman. I love that.      

How did you transition from modeling to TV?      

As far as the “transition” from film to television, I haven’t crossed over entirely. I’ve worked on other Comedy Central shows, filmed pilots, etc., but my main work is fashion. If anyone needs a spokesperson for a clothing line or anything of that sort…let me know!;-)       

How has the plus-size modeling industry changed over the last decade?      

Great question! When I started, there was nowhere near the emphasis on “beauty in all sizes.” It seems like it has really taken off in the last several years, and I’m amazed at the positive feedback we get. The irony is that the “plus models” typically (and on the average), don’t wear plus sizes in our everyday lives, but that doesn’t matter to me as much. What matters is that we are seen–with our curves! If you look back at Sophia Loren, Jayne Mansfield, and Marilyn Monroe, all those voluptuous starlets from decades ago, they were incredibly vivacious, curvaceous, sensual, and so feminine! Honestly, it’s my experience that men love curves. Now, I’m not saying that curves are better than “no curves,” but that the media should stop sending the message that you have to be “thin” to be pretty. It’s just so old already! I don’t even think like that anymore. When I look in the mirror, (and this is the God’s honest truth) I don’t look in the mirror and think, “I’d be prettier if I got down to a size 6.” My mind doesn’t even enter that realm, as it may have years ago. I am, who I am. I try to stay fit, and I take care of myself. I love dining out, drinking good wine, and enjoying life’s pleasures too much to deprive myself. I have no problem being a “renaissance woman” and not missing out on life.       

      

Photographed by Jessica Lavoie      

Has plus-size modeling become more or less competitive, more or less accepted in the industry, more or less ageist, racist, etc?      

Let me say, that I don’t think that being a plus-sized model condones an unhealthy lifestyle. To me, it’s more about being beautiful in your own skin, rather than blindly following what the media wants you to. The plus-sized movement definitely has become more accepted in the industry! Being that I’ve been working for quite awhile, I see the “togetherness” that “plus girls” have with the “straight girls.” It’s my experience, and others may disagree, that when we are all working together, or at a casting together, there is no “separation” between the plus girls and the straight girls. I’ve never had an experience where I felt that there is an ‘”us” and a “them.” We are all women, from all over the country, enduring the same crazy career that we all chose, and we are all in this together. Sometimes we even have the same clients, so I see that we are all lumped in together. As far as plus models are concerned, we are working hard just as the straight girls are. I have quite a few straight size model friends, and there is no differentiation in their mind. We are all out there traveling, working, and making’ it happen. In fact, they are all supportive of us! One of my girlfriends’ friends was asking her about her “plus-size model friend” (me) and asked if that gives me the freedom to just “let it go” and eat whatever I want. My friend said, “Heck no! She brings her rear to the gym, just like the rest of us!” That is so true!      

How do you think plus modeling is helping to redefine beauty?      

Just being “out there” in the media. I remember what it was like to be taller and bigger than everyone else was in Junior High. Thankfully, I came from a really supportive family and they never made me feel uncomfortable, so I didn’t suffer from “low self-esteem.” I just had the usual feelings girls get in those pre-teen years. But, had I seen and been exposed to seeing the plus-sized models (as in a size 8-16 model) out there today, I think that really would have helped in terms of seeing an additional standard of beauty. There is a lot farther to go though.      

I think that the “sizeism” that we see in the media and the attention that female celebrities receive when they gain or lose weight is not perpetuated just by the media now. Women themselves perpetuate this by not supporting other women when they don’t look like the “standard” that is seen on TV and in magazines. Often, when a beautiful woman walks into a room, and everyone stops and looks at her, I’ve seen women be the first people to criticize her or measure her up to the “standard of beauty” we see in the media. It’s tiring really. I literally get knots in my back just thinking of how other women can be worse than the media itself when it comes to assessing a woman’s beauty. And, of course, everyone knows that the people who criticize others are just insecure and have their own issues they need to deal with on their own. Just saying. 😉       

      

Photographed by Jessica Lavoie      

Have you ever struggled with self-esteem or body image issues in the past?      

 As I said earlier, when I was a kid, I was literally taller than my teachers were. The thing I hated most was not being able to wear all the cute clothes my friends were wearing back in junior high! At that age, that is considered social suicide! Ha ha! But, my “body image issues” weren’t any more than any other girl at that age. What I’ve learned since then; having carved out a career in this field, and having been privy to hearing women’s personal body-image stories; is that ALL women have them. It’s not just the “big” girls or the “flat-chested” girls. It’s all girls. And, the girls who outwardly fit the mold of the “standard” of beauty are just as critical of themselves too! Body image issues are not just for the “plus-sized” woman. Women of ALL sizes and shapes experience these issues, but perhaps it’s the “plus-size” industry that gets all the heat, because it is the most vocal, and at the forefront of changing the way women look at themselves. I’ve had very slim women give me serious props for doing what we do, and have been told how awesome they think our work is. The “plight of the plus model” resonates with regular, everyday women. I just love that, and I have no problem being a representative of a movement that is all about being who you are, being healthy, and making a statement that says beauty is not one type and certainly not what an ad agency has concocted for you. The strong, often demeaning images that we see in ads, online, or on TV, don’t discriminate in terms of who they are sending their messages to. If you can read or look at a picture, you can get the message loud and clear; that beauty is considered “thin.” That’s not the case. I’m not “thin,” and I think I’m pretty. So there!      

Also, be smart enough and media-savvy enough to take it for what it’s worth, and not let a bunch of people in suits, who are in a boardroom, tell you how you should feel about yourself. Just say, “To hell with them.” And, if someone has a problem with you and calls you fat, skinny, short, ugly, etc…they aren’t worth your time anyway, and well, they are just a negative person who needs to get a life, if you ask me!      

How did you reach the point of accepting and loving your body as it is?      

Through realizing that I can be just as beautiful and sexy on my terms because that is what is most important to me. I know how I want to look, so I try my hardest to be that because that is most comfortable for me. How did I get there? I have self-esteem and a sense of humor. I think that is where it all starts. When you don’t think much of yourself that affects your life in every aspect, not just your body image.      

       

      

Photographed by Jessica Lavoie      

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

Wow. That’s a tough question because the answer varies from woman to woman. I don’t think there is a set equation to having self-esteem. But, to start, and something that is universal, (and I tread lightly here because I’ve been in beauty magazines, but here goes)…don’t buy beauty magazines that don’t represent you in them. Until certain magazines start putting models in the editorials and until the companies start making sample sizes bigger than 4-6; so that larger models can be featured alongside the tiny ones; they really aren’t that beneficial to a young woman’s psyche when she is flipping through the pages. Especially a young woman who doesn’t understand that this is marketing — all so she will buy a product. Until beauty magazines start consistently using plus models, or models with a variety of body types (who will fit the samples for the shoot), spend your money on magazines and products that do.       

Also, let’s start taking the emphasis off how we women look all the time. What about our talents, our brains, and our achievements? If we could encourage the young women in our families to develop their talents, their skills, and their brains, instead of commenting and/or focusing on their looks, I think that would make a difference. If this “beauty obsession” is perpetuating itself, then we should try to perpetuate within our own circles, the notion that we, women and girls, are so much more than how we look. Let’s give positive reinforcement for talents, skills, good grades, etc. Perhaps if young women saw, in their own lives, that as much praise was given to girls that achieve things rather than “hotness” then they can relax and not feel so much pressure. Also, get the word out that the girls in all those magazines are airbrushed. Even they don’t look like that. Models are paid to look beautiful. But, the make-up artists, stylists, hair stylists, and photographers are paid to make us look beautiful. It takes a village, people! lol. Also, for the teen girls out there, don’t allow your self-image to be defined by guys in your school or other girls. Don’t listen to them. I know it’s hard, but the sooner you stop allowing others to give you your self-worth, the sooner you are empowered. Okay?        

      

Photographed by Patrice Casanova      

Where do you like to shop for clothes?      

I love J.Crew for everyday type stuff. They have timeless pieces that you can make your own with accessories. Also, the sale rack at Saks and Barney’s is great. Bluefly.com is a great website for designer pieces that have been marked-down, and I shop for hard to find vintagey stuff online. If I get inspired, I’ll just Google whatever it is that I’m looking for and find it online. I’m a big fan of DKNY and I admit, I’m obsessed with Herve Leger dresses.       

What are your beauty must haves?      

Sunscreen! Seriously, I don’t leave home without it. I also wear sunglasses even on rainy days, as the added SPF in the lenses will protect me from getting wrinkles. Also, sleep!      

What are you excited about right now?       

I am very excited about photographer Jessica Lavoie. She is based in NY, and she is a model herself, so she already understands it. She gets what it’s like to be in front of the camera, and she knows how to photograph a fuller figure. It was evident to me, when I tested with her, that her career as a model has taught her how to capture someone’s best features. It’s comforting to know, when you are shooting, that the person behind the camera has an understanding of what it takes to make you look your best. Also, I like that Glamour magazine shot a cover with a plus girl, (Crystal Renn), Alessandra Ambrosio, and Brooklyn Decker. That is a statement. Thank you, Glamour magazine! Oh, and also, thank you Heidi Pratt for being such a wonderful role model to young women, and displaying such a great amount of self-love, by not giving in to silly industry standards of beauty–NOT!!! Lol.      

      

Luas Jones Photography      

      

What does being confident mean to you?      

For everyone, feeling confident means different things. For me, confidence comes from the inside. I’ve felt more confident after a strong run than I have all dressed up just looking good. For me, it’s not about how I look, it’s how I feel. I’ve been a long distance runner for years now. I took a couple of years off a while back, but I’ve always come back to it. When I first moved to NYC and had no money, no gym membership, and was an “aspiring” model, I would run in Central Park. After a while, I’d go farther and farther; soon, I’d run the whole six miles. Then I started to run around it twice. When I am finished with a fast six miler or a strong fourteen miler, nothing defines that moment more for me than feeling confident. It’s my own way of saying to myself, “I’m healthy, and I’m strong.” Also, and I’ve said this before; let’s not underestimate the power of great posture, natural warmth, graciousness, and a beautiful smile. Seriously, if you could bottle that, let me know, because you could make millions for what that does for a woman, in terms of looking and feeling confident.       

Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?      

As my late grandfather used to say, “Don’t let the bastards get ya down.” I think that pretty much sums it up. Be true to yourself, be healthy, and tell anyone who tries to steal your sunshine or says that you are only pretty if you are “this” or “that” to take a hike. 😉      

* Thank you, Celina!   

**You can learn more about Celina at http://www.celinalorenz.com

***How do you help yourself develop a positive self-esteem and body image? What does being confident mean to you? We would love to hear your comments and questions.