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Australian Model Fiona Falkiner Says, “If you put your mind to it–anything is possible!”

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Australia, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Celebrity, Confidence, Designers, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Funny Experiences, Hobbies, Inspiration, Media, Models, Movies, My Story, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Sports, Trade Tips, Travel, Unique Beauty, Work, Your Story with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2011 by Liz

Here is the beautiful Fiona…

I grew up in a small country town in Victoria near the coast called Birregurra. After school, I went to university where I studied to earn a BA International Studies. But, my passion was always to become a makeup-artist, and I am currently undertaking a makeup course in Sydney, which I am loving. In 2006, I was a contestant on The Biggest Loser. After the show, I started modeling and since signing with Bella Model Management over a year ago, I have been working as a plus-size model and studying.

How did you start your career as a model?

I met an agent whilst in the Biggest Loser house who told me I would make a great model. When I came off the show, I was told I was too big to be a regular model and too small to be a plus model as I was a size AUS 10/12.

In one word, how would you describe your agency, Bella Model Management?

Superb!!!

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

I am very allergic to cats and on a shoot recently I started sneezing and my eyes turned red and itchy, I was sure there was a cat in the house so the whole crew were searching the house for a cat, when the makeup artist realized that the blanket she was wrapping me in after each shot was the rug her cat slept on.

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

I grew up always being bigger than other girls my age; I really struggled with my body image all through my teens and early 20s. I guess being a contestant on a weight loss show demonstrates how much my size bothered me. On the series, I went from a size AUS 18/20 to AUS 10/12 but within six months I had put a lot of the weight back on.

It has taken many years, but I can say that the life I lead now is all about balance, and I know within myself that if I am being healthy, I will be happy, and it has nothing to do with what it says on the scales and when you let that go and love the skin you are in–your life will turn around. I am a healthy size AUS 14/16 now am at peace with my body and love my curves.

How do you define beauty?

Beauty comes from within, looks are superficial and will fade, but true beauty lasts forever as it shines from within.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Believe in yourself and pursue your dreams. If you are doing something you’re passionate about, you’re much more likely to be successful than doing something you’re not interested in.

How do you stay fit? Do you have a favorite workout?

I have done pretty much every workout in the world. These days I prefer not to work out in a gym as I like the outdoors and I live close to one of the most amazing walks and beaches in the world, Bondi

Beach. So, in summer I do the Bondi to Bronte walk 4 or 5 times a week. It takes an hour door to door and has lots of stairs and stations where you can do little exercises along the way. I also love swimming, netball, and tennis. In winter, back at the gym my favorite class is spin class thanks to Bob Harper!

What is your go-to outfit?

LBD, Killer Heels, and red lips.

Favorite pair of jeans?

I have a pair of Embody Jeans, which are amazing and I get compliments every time I wear them, they are designed by fellow plus-size model Natalie Wakeling so the sizing is amazing as she gets the curves.

Who is your style icon?

Marilyn Monroe, my Idol!

Do you have an all-time favorite model? Why?

I am a bit old school. I love the old classics Marilyn and also Sophia Loren.

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

A really good moisturizer is essential. I get very dry skin and moisturize at least twice a day.

Can you share one of your beauty tips with us?

Drink lots and lots of water for a clear complexion, and I rub rosehip oil around my eyes before bed every night to help fight the wrinkles.

What is one thing that may surprise us about you?

I have a learning disability and can only retain a small amount of information that is spoken to me at any one time…makes life tricky!

If you could go back and talk to yourself at the age of 13, what would you say?

Stop being so critical of yourself, you have the whole world ahead of you, and you can achieve anything you put your mind to. Don’t let self-doubt cloud the way!

What do you love about yourself and why?

My easygoing nature; I get along with pretty much everyone and anyone.

What do you love about yourself and why?

My easygoing nature; I get along with pretty much everyone and anyone.

Favorite movie?

It would be a toss up between Gone With The Wind and Pretty Woman.

Favorite book?

I love anything by Wilbur Smith and Bryce Courtenay; love the epics!

What is your signature scent?

Miracle by Lancôme. I have been wearing it since I was 16.

If you could hop on an airplane and go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

A tropical Island where Gerard Butler would be waiting with open arms and a cocktail!

Who is your role model or hero? Why?

My Uncle, John Falkiner. He has lived his whole life doing what he loves and loving life. He is a Mountain Climber Adventurer who lives in Switzerland and he let nothing come between him and the lifestyle he loves.

What are you excited about right now?

I am looking at heading to New York in the not too distant future, to pursue modeling and makeup. It will be a fun new adventure! Interesting to see if I can crack the US market! My dreams are in five years time to be published in Vogue as either a model or a makeup artist–either way big dreams. If you put your mind to it–anything is possible!

*Thank you, Fiona!

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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!

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

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

Photographed by Claudio Raschella

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

How did your career start as a model?

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

Have you always known you wanted to be a model?

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

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

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

Photographed by Claudio Raschella

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

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

What does being healthy mean to you?

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

What are you currently dreaming of?

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

Photographed by Claudio Raschella

Where do you love to shop for clothes?

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

What is your go-to outfit?

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

What is your fashion obsession?

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

What are your favorite beauty products or must-haves?

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

Do you have a favorite skin care line?

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

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

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

Favorite nail color?

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

Photographed by Claudio Raschella

Do you have a favorite workout?

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

What are your favorite sites to visit online?

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

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

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

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

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

What do your friends think of your modeling career? 

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

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

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

Photographed by Claudio Raschella

What makes you uniquely beautiful?

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

What is your biggest accomplishment? 

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

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

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

Who is your role model or hero? Why?

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

Tell us a fun fact about you…

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

What are you excited about right now?

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

Thank you, Olivia!

Australian Model Bonnie McBeath Says, “To have a positive attitude and not be bogged down in negative self-talk and negative people, really helps you feel great.”

Posted in Australia, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Fitness & Health, Inspiration, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Unique Beauty with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2011 by Liz

Bonnie started modeling with Bella Models in Sydney, Australia over five years ago. Because she is based in Melbourne, she has been fortunate enough to continue the most rewarding part-time job (modeling) while continuing to work full-time at a non-modeling job.

This is what Bonnie had to say:

“To be a part of the incredible revolution of a whole industry has been so empowering. Seeing Chelsea Bonner bring new girls in to the agency and watch the pages of magazines get fuller and fuller of Bella girls has been such a thrill.”

Please tell us how you started your career as a model.

I began with a load of encouragement from a friend who assisted for a very active photographer in Melbourne. She suggested I get some test shots. I had no idea what test shots were and felt a little nervous at the thought of spending that amount of money (really, such a small amount in hindsight…) on photos. Unbeknown to me, this particular photographer had worked with Chelsea and her models before and asked to submit my shots to Bella. I was very green and to think that Chelsea has the foresight and eye to see talent that will be well received by the market is quite amazing.

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

I really don’t think that it has redefined beauty, but I think it had redefined editors and casting directors’ ideas of who will sell magazines and clothes. I think the biggest revolution has been the change in the perception that ‘plus-sized’ models are frumpy and mumsy ladies wearing ill-fitting garments made from polyester! I also don’t feel like we are vigilantes out there banging on about ‘representing all the plus-sized women’, but I think we are simply showing different sizes and shapes and diversity in the market.

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

It is always a little awkward. I know a lot of girls resent the term ‘plus’… I think of it as being just an average size.

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

Very early in my contract with Bella, I was invited to be part of a calendar, which featured twelve girls in the most gorgeous, and glamorous underwear I had ever seen. All funds raised from the sale of the calendar were used to help raise awareness for a foundation, which promoted healthy body image and alike. I remember at the time, just being so thrilled to be asked to be part and flown somewhere by the agency. It was so memorable in the early days.

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?

I think every young girl has battled with body images concerns and low self-esteem at some stage. Women are so hard on one another and from a very early age, we are products of our upbringing. Schools are obsessed with getting kids out in the playground and exercising and scrutinizing lunch boxes to make sure there are enough healthy, unprocessed components. Exercise really does do great things for your well being and self-esteem. Whether it is a competitive team sport or simply going for a bike ride, the endorphins that are released are far more potent and valuable to your own sense of well being that any lecture about body image. Tall or short, lean or bumpy, anybody that gets plenty of fresh air and exercise feels and therefore looks amazing.

Who taught you about real beauty?

Definitely my Mum. She is really healthy and happy and loves life. To have a positive attitude and not be bogged down in negative self-talk and negative people, really helps you feel great.

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

It will all be fine!

Growing up in a small country town and with that comes plenty of small country minds. I remember being offered some chocolate by a friend’s dad. He held the block in front of me and then whipped it away saying ‘you don’t really need any, do you?’ while proceeding to offer it to all the other kids.

Going to my High School reunion and hearing whispers saying ‘Did you hear Bonnie is a model now? Wow, things have really worked out well for her, haven’t they!”

What is a fun fact about you?

I was a State Representative Kayaker… It got to the point where I needed either to study my final year at school with proper dedication or have a good go at the sport… I ended up taking the academic road.

Lipstick or Lip gloss?

Definitely Lip gloss. I am a little lazy sometimes and I don’t have to be so fastidious about maintaining it. Clinique’s Air Kiss has kept me going through the years. I have about four on the go at any one time.

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

Oooh, so many. I love nail polish; I wear it CONSTANTLY on my toes. I also love self-tan. It is an instant pick me up… It makes me feel like a million dollars. I will often get a spray tan for no reason at all. I have found a lady who can do all sorts of tricky shading to give tone and definition like you wouldn’t believe. GREAT for swimwear confidence.

My beauty essentials are…

Sunscreen. Every day, summer or winter, hot or cold, cloudy or sunny. I have very fair skin and just hate the feel of the harsh Australian sun cooking my face!

What is your go-to outfit?

Jeans, jeans, jeans! I have dark jeans, light jeans and shorts, and skinny leg jeans. I especially love Charlie Browns Princess Charlotte jeans, though I hear they are not being made any more… They will eventually be so threadbare that they will rip from my legs one day.

Where do you love to shop for clothes?

I tend to shop around a little. Though I am guaranteed to always manage to find something at Witchery. It’s an oldie but a goodie.

How would you describe your style?

Casual and feminine. Lots of flat shoes, sandals, and soft fabrics.

What does being healthy mean to you?

Getting adequate rest. A great night’s sleep will prepare your resolve. You can deal with anything better with enough rest. Feeling weary and cranky, lessens your ability to think and act rationally. Plenty of fresh air and eating properly too. A glass of wine and good belly laugh is great for health and well-being as well!

Do you have a favorite workout routine?

At the moment, I am running a lot. I tend not to get too bogged down in anything too scheduled. I like to run so I can look at people’s gardens and admire the hard work. I keep myself going by saying ‘not long now, soon you will be at the beautiful hedge/rose garden/lavender border’. I like seeing who is out and about in the early morning when I run too.

In my purse, you would find…

Credits cards, receipts for work, make up, phone, and note pad (I used to write on my hand all the time and someone bought me a beautiful note pad with a ‘B’ on the font, use it all the time).

Favorite book?

Maggie Alderson’s, About a Boy. It is one of the very few books that I have re read (a LOT of times)

What are your favorite sites to visit online?

eBay. I love it. I have sold lots of things and bought lots of things. I just love getting rid of the surplus and seeing it go to a good home and purchasing new things with the profit.

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

Read, exercise, cook, coffee, and an afternoon nap. I just love the indulgence of a sneaky afternoon nap.

Is there something you have always wanted to try or learn, but haven’t yet?

I would love to be able to sing. I think it is such a fabulous skill/talent. I sing in car a lot but I am brave enough to admit that it is much nicer to keep for my own tuned ears rather than anyone else.

What makes you uniquely beautiful?

I think a big and genuine smile. I laugh a lot. I laugh when I am happy (obviously) but also laugh in awkward situations. It is a nervous response, but people are so much more responsive to happy, smiling people. I always try to remember people’s name. I love it when people remember mine and it makes people feel great when you greet them by name. Being considerate, caring, and thoughtful makes me uniquely beautiful. It is so much more than superficial looks that make any one beautiful.

*Thank you, Bonnie!

Germaine N Says, “I believe true beauty lies within and it’s in the love and goodness you spread throughout the world.”

Posted in Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Inspiration, Media, Models, Plus-Size Modeling, Unique Beauty with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2011 by Liz

Germaine N. is a model, professional make up artist, and fashion blogger for Healthy is the New Skinny.  She is represented by Natural Model Management.

Please tell us how you started your career as a model.

I got my start in modeling somewhat randomly. I have been a makeup artist for over six years and over the years, I heard countless photographers tell me that I should be in front of the camera. I was barely becoming comfortable with my own skin, so the idea of it absolutely terrified me. So after a lot of persuading I decided to try. My first shoot was amazing I was completely shocked at the outcome, and it really made me think, Wow I might be able to do this. So from there, I did my research (what I suggest to everyone who wants to start modeling) and decided to take those pictures to agencies primarily to get advice, but what happened surprised me even more. On my first open call, I was called back and then later signed with a big named agency. I never saw myself as a model, but everyone else around me did, and it’s funny that one of the things I was teased for growing up would be the very thing to help me shine.

What does being a part of Natural Model Management mean to you?

Being a part of Natural Model Management is like a rebirth for me, not just with my own modeling career but with myself as well. I was previously with a very big “named” agency and had somewhat a bad experience as well as taking my confidence level down to zero. I have always been hopeful and it seemed like this opportunity came at the perfect time. Not only do I know I will achieve many things with Natural Models, but I am extremely excited to give back and make a difference in the lives of young girls–even if it’s only one.

What is your definition of beauty?

I believe there is beauty in everything on this earth and it saddens me that a lot of people in the world are so blind that they can’t see their own beauty staring back at them in the mirror. I believe true beauty lies within and it’s in the love and goodness you spread throughout the world.

What do you enjoy about modeling? What is it about your career that brings you joy?

Growing up, modeling is something that I never ever thought I could do because I never looked at myself as beautiful (mostly because I was teased a lot and was awkwardly taller then everyone).

In terms of your career, what has been the greatest piece of advice you have been given?

Never give up!!!! I almost gave up several times before because I felt I wasn’t where I wanted to be and it seemed like I had more setbacks than triumphs, but  I haven’t given up and I’m pressing forward and I know soon my hard work will pay off.

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

I would say Definitely Puerto Rico for sure. Not only were the people I was working with great, but the culture, food, and people in Puerto Rico were amazing.

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

I have definitely struggled with body image and self-esteem issues. A lot of it started when I was in middle school number one because I was the tallest kid in my class and I was awkwardly chubby. I was teased a lot growing up, it was very detrimental to my self-esteem, and it took me a very long time to recover from it, like after high school at twenty years old. I would say to young girls that, first of all, if you’re teased and made fun of it’s because they see something in you that is great and amazing and they want to put you down for that. Don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd because those that usually do, go on to do amazing things later in life.

The pressures young girls have and even women in general are to be thin, “pretty” perfect, and popular. The sad part about that is all of those are false hoods because no one can be perfect no matter how hard you try, we are all human. I think the most important thing for people is to not try to be like everyone else, but try to be the best and most amazing person you were meant to be.

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

I think the media and entertainment industry, etc. are major culprits and it’s really sad that a lot of the images I see send such deep messages that young girls just don’t understand. I wish I could let women across the world know that 85% of what you see in the media is fake, air brushed, and generated by something. I think as a role model and mentor just being strong, and sharing your own story of strength and overcoming can really help. Also talking about it gets the issues out on the table and can instill confidence.

Who taught you about real beauty?

My mom taught me about real beauty, because no matter what was going on in my life or how I felt she always reminded me of who I was and that I am a beautiful unique creation of God.

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

I wish I could have peeked into the future to see the amazing woman I have become, because then I wouldn’t care about all the teasing and name calling back then. But I will say because that happened to me, I feel I can say look at me now–in your face jerks. I’m not ugly and stupid like you told me–so there!!

Who is your role model or hero? Why?

My mom, because she is the most amazing woman I’ve ever known and she gave me an amazing life despite of all the odds against her she raised me right.

What is a fun fact about you?

I am ridiculously clumsy. It’s hilarious sometimes when I fall just walking or drop so many things. I’d also  say, I’m extremely goofy. I love to laugh, joke, and play because that’s what life is about.

If you could travel anywhere in the world on a vacation, where would you go?

I would go back to Europe, but instead of just London and Paris, I would travel all over and go to Italy,  Spain, and lots of other small places in between.

Lipstick or Lip gloss?

Well a majority of the time I go without makeup so it would be more like Chapstick, but when I like to get glam, I prefer lip gloss, and my favorite color is Prrr lip gloss by MAC.

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

I would definitely say Mascara. I know it sounds so basic, but although I am a makeup artist, a good 75% of the time, I wear only mascara because I love rocking my NATURAL beauty.

What are your favorite beauty products or must-haves?

Top 3 favorite Products:

#1 Revlon grow luscious by Fabulash Mascara

#2 Oil of Olay moisturizer for sensitive skin (I hardly ever get breakouts)

#3 Mineralized skin finish natural by MAC Love, love, love this powder instead of foundation.

Do you have a quick beauty tip to share with us?

Always, always, always use mascara because it gives such a definition to the feature of everyone’s face that is absolutely beautiful, also try sweeping bronzer along the cheekbones and the outer edges of the face for a natural everyday glow.

What is your go-to outfit?

T-shirt, jeans, and boots. I wear boots year round because I just love them!!

What are your favorite pair of jeans?

Honestly, I have so many pairs and I feel like I’m still in search for a pair. I love everything about them.

Where do you love to shop for clothes?

Torrid, H&M, Zara, Forever 21, Gap, and I absolutely love to go downtown LA to the Alley because they have great little trinkets.

Favorite designers?

Although my favorites don’t make clothes in my size I love the structure and designs of Chloe’, Marc Jacobs, and Yves saint Laurent.

What does being healthy mean to you?

Regular exercise, healthy eating habits (not eating junk all the time), and having a positive out-look on life.

Do you have a favorite workout routine?

I love to swim!! I’ve been swimming since I was a little girl swam and played water polo all through high school. I recently had a job as a lifeguard so the water is my second home.

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

I think beauty is the outward expression of the amazingness one possesses inside. I think that I am such a real and genuine person, and every day I strive to treat everyone, no matter what, with kindness. I think that is what makes me uniquely beautiful. I also feel that I completely love myself perfections, flaws, and all. It’s taken me many years to feel that way.

In my purse you would find…

EVERYTHING! First of all my purse is like ten pounds that I can use as a weapon in case of emergencies. I have everything in my purse from bobby pins, nail polish, spoons, lip gloss, mascara, safety pins to granola bars, an apple, and a bottle of water. This is all in conjunction with the normal stuff like your wallet, cell phone, and keys. I’m the person you want to be with in an emergency situation because we could live for day.

What are you listening to right now?

India Arie she is my all time favorite artist!! Love her lots and a new artist Miguel who I love his voice and music style.

Is there something you have always wanted to try or learn, but haven’t yet?

I would say how to Crochet.  I usually have no technical skills, so I believe it might be a challenge.

Favorite movie?

“Serendipity” with John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale…I am an absolute sap and hopeless romantic.

Germaine’s philosophy?

Begin and end each day with positivity, and no matter what, all else will fall into place.

What is one of your fondest childhood memories?

It’s crazy but I really have so many fond memories as a child, and that is because although my mom was a single parent she did everything possible in and above her power to give my sister and me the best life and raise us right. I will say my mom has a great skill of surprise.  I remember when I was young, she told my sister and I that she was taking us to the store so we could find things to organize the entire house and in the middle of the car ride, she told us to reach into the car seat pouch and inside was the coolest fanny pack ever (it was the 80’s of course and it was watermelon shaped) and inside were tickets to Disneyland…so awesome!

What are you excited about right now?

I’m excited about being able to accomplish my own personal and professional goals. I have so much I want to achieve and with the beginning of each day, I feel I’m that much closer to achieving them.

*Thank you, Germaine!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fashion To Figure

5160 Xavier Drive

Yonkers, NY 10704

Kings Plaza Shopping Center store in Brooklyn, NY

About Fashion To Figure (FTF):

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

About The VH1 Save the Music Foundation:

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

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!