Archive for Your Story

Jessica Leahy Says, “True beauty is when someone shows you generosity, kindness, or trust; it’s moments when you can think ‘wow, that was really beautiful thing to do’. Real beauty is seen in someone’s actions, not their reflections.”

Posted in Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Fashion, Inspiration, Media, Models, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, Travel, Unique Beauty with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 10, 2011 by Liz

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

It was through a modeling competition and the prize was a modeling contract. My aunt told me about it and I wasn’t really interested so I put it off. Eventually my aunty convinced me enough and I entered, but only after the competition was over so I didn’t win. But I got a call a few days later telling me that they got my pictures and they would like to offer me a contract. I was stoked and I’ve been doing it ever since.

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

I think plus modeling is certainly opening up what the fashion industry defines as beauty. I think that more and more people who influence the world of fashion are opening their eyes to the fact that beauty goes so much further than the inches of somebody’s waist. Plus models are definitely aiding in this effort to push the industry into embracing diversity, which is a fantastic thing!

How do you define the term ‘plus’ model?

To be honest, I don’t really like the term ‘plus’ model. The actual wording just doesn’t have the best ring to it, you know? It encourages sizeist connotations, when really most of us are just healthy women totally in proportion with our height. Just like how I know many ‘straight size’ models don’t like that term. There should just be ‘models’ with two categories– ‘male’ and ‘female’. Models should represent health, beauty, and confidence!

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

I enjoy the people and the creativity they bring. No two days are the same and every day you work, you get to collaborate with all these different people bringing all this different creative energy and experience. It’s certainly not a 9-5 environment and I love that too!

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

Once I was shooting at a beach and was standing on the side of a rock pool. I was posing for the photographer, there were some people around, and pretty soon, I noticed that there was a group of these young guys watching what was going on. After a few clicks I noticed the boys were starting to get a bit rowdy and were shouting and I couldn’t hear them but I was trying to focus and just zone them out. All of a sudden a huge wave hit me and pushed me into the water! The boys were trying to warn me! I guess the photographer was only looking at what was in his lens so he didn’t see either and he was so apologetic. I was fine and luckily, my mascara was waterproof!

Where you ever teased as a child?

Hell yes! Not crazy teased but I was born in Australia, moved to New Guinea when I was two weeks old and came back at about nine, and girls are mean when they are nine! They already had their clicks and I just had deal with it. Now I look back and I think of it as lucky because I had to embrace my own company, I’m fine being individual and I think it made me stronger, but at the time it was so painful! Eventually, I settled in a made some great mates that I’ve stuck with since!

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

That being an individual is okay. Embrace your inner weirdo! It’s more interesting.

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 everyone goes through some issues with body image and self-esteem. I definitely have but I think that it’s good to remember that you are very blessed if you have a working body, if everything runs right then you’ve already won the jackpot, and if you’re pretty, that is a nice bonus. But looks are not everything. I came to terms with the fact a long time ago that I am not the hottest person in the world, not even close! And I may never even be the hottest person in a room and that’s ok too, because I am the only me, and I will be the best me, better than anyone else on the planet!

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 think there are a lot of parallels portrayed by the media that the lives of young women should mirror the lives of the “celebrities” they see on “reality” TV and on glossy magazines. These parallels are unrealistic and put pressure on young women to feel like they have to look a certain way or dress in a particular brand to be successful in life. I guess there needs to more emphasis on individual journey and individual success. Young women need to know that their lives don’t need to be like it is in the magazines to be whole, fulfilling, and admirable.

Who taught you about real beauty?

My family and friends. I think it would be very hard to really give credit to someone in a magazine or on a screen for teaching you a true lesson in real beauty. True beauty is when someone shows you generosity, kindness, or trust; it’s moments when you can think ‘wow, that was really beautiful thing to do’. Real beauty is seen in someone’s actions, not their reflections.

Lipstick or Lip gloss?

Emma Kid “Scarlett”… It’s the best true red!

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

It’s definitely got to be hair moisturizer. My hair is crazy without it!

What are your favorite beauty products?

Any Kheils product! There face washes are a complexion lifesaver! And Lucas paw-paw ointment! Anyone who has ever tried it knows it’s a revelation!!

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

Wash your face just before bed and when you get up. While you sleep, your skin excretes so much of the junk that hits your faces during the day so you have to wash it off. It will improve your complexion so much.

What is your go-to outfit?

My Swimmers. In summer, I always have a pair shoved in my bag or my car somewhere because I’m always hoping at some point in my day to hit the beach.

What are your favorite pair of jeans?

My “Cheap Monday” Blue velvet jean; I’ve worn them to death!

Where do you love to shop for clothes?

Zara. It’s a joke how well they hit my fashion taste buds!

What features do you love to accentuate?

They are kind of the ones that are too hard to cover up, my boobs and butt. I could wear a sack and you would still know they were there, so I may as well accentuate them well.

What does being healthy mean to you?

Health means having a happy stable balance in your life that suits you. It’s not just about healthy exercise and healthy food; it’s about having inner wellness also.

Do you have a favorite workout routine?

I mix it up all the time but I work out about 6 times a week. It’s not always tough and strenuous, sometimes it’s a solid walk or swim, but other times its weights or running sand dunes, which are killer! But I enjoy exercise, I feel so much better after it!

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

I guess that one of the best things that I like about myself is the only thing that we all have in common, and its being unique. I am put together in such a way that no one else is. Whoever did my blueprint took the time to make me special and one of a kind.

In my purse you would find…

No money because I would have spent it, and paw paw ointment.

What are you listening to right now?

Jonsi. He makes music you can daydream to.

What are your favorite sites to visit online?

Mostly news sites and sports sites. I try to online shop but I’m too impatient to wait to have whatever I buy; the waiting is agony.

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

A prefect day would be a hot day at the beach with good friends, good food, and great wine.

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

I like to learn how to fly a plane. I’m not the greatest person to fly with, I question every noise and hiccup, but I think if I learned how to fly, I might be more comfortable with it.

What is one of your favorite childhood memories?

Growing up in New Guinea we would all spend our weekends at my Granddad’s coffee plantation. It was a big family affair and I would be with my cousins running through the coffee playing hide and seek. It’s a great memory.

What is Jessica’s philosophy on life?

Life is good so live it well.

 *Thank you, Jessica!

Advertisements

Rebekah Brambila Says, “The people you love, who love you in return, are not lying when they tell you how wonderful you are!”

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Entertainment, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Inspiration, Models, Plus-Size Modeling, Recipes & Food, Self-Esteem, Trade Tips, Travel, Unique Beauty, Your Story with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2011 by Liz

Meet model Rebekah…

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

My cousin told me that you could apply to work as a model for Torrid.com through their internet site. So, I took the chance, sent in some pictures my mom took of me on our front porch, and I was called in for a go-see!

A bit later Torrid sent me and some models to Katie Halchishick and Bradford Wilcox (founders of Natural Model Management) for a modeling class. The class went great and at the end of the day, we set up some future test shots, and I was signed from there!

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

To me, being a part of Natural Model Management means being a part of a team, and a movement that shows girls how to dream big! Natural doesn’t just say, “Love your body”; it gives girls role models who actually live out their commitment of self-love…no matter their shape, or size!

Natural Models and Healthy is the New Skinny recently went to Placer High in Auburn, California to talk to their students about its new program Perfectly UnPerfected. You were a part of this amazing experience. Please tell us about it and why this movement is so important.

Let’s face it, high school can be a really hard four years for teenagers. Their feelings can be so tender during this time as kids are trying to discover who they are, and how they fit in.

Previous to this event, we were told that 80 percent of girls at this campus wished they could be skinnier, and that they hated their bodies. 80 percent! That shows just how important it is to find a solution to this way of thinking and feeling.

What the PUP Program and Healthy is The New Skinny are trying to do is help students foster feelings of individual worth. It was amazing to me how well the students took to heart our message of self-acceptance, and they did so in such a short amount of time. After only one set of assemblies, the students showed such positive signs of how they felt about themselves and each other.

Students also realized the absolute power they have in changing what the fashion world views as beautiful. Many girls were told for the first time that there really is no standard or size when it comes to beauty. Beautiful is just perfectly unperfected people striving for a healthier lifestyle.

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

Everything! Haha! But in all honesty, as much as I love taking pictures in fun clothes and pretty make up, I really love meeting new people. I love talking to people about their lives. Everyone has a story, and it’s always really inspiring to hear them.

I also love how unique and hard working my agency is. The people I work with are so passionate about making a change for the better. I couldn’t be surrounded by better people. 

Currently, you are attending college in Hawaii at BYU. What has your experience been like in college so far? What is your major?

College has been a huge learning experience for me. I went to BYU-H not knowing a single person, hoping things would just work out. At school, I learned how to be a part of a family wherever I am. Friends, roommates, and even the people I work with became my family away from home. It’s amazing the strength that can bring to a person.

I am majoring in Exercise Sport Science. I LOVE it! The professors I have are so helpful and really care about my success as a student. Plus I get to take some fun classes like flag football and rugby!

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

Sun, sand, and surf! I love the North Shore and could spend all day there! At night, I love going to my favorite snack shack “Kava Roots”, ordering an acai bowl, and listening to locals sing at open mike night. I would definitely end my day with a late night long board ride around campus with my roommie.

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?

Body image and self-esteem issues were a big part of my life from my late high school years, into my college years. I could not get past that feeling of not feeling good enough. The people I loved most could tell me a million times how perfect I was just being me, but I never could take it to heart. It took being sick and tired, of being sick and tired, for me to make a change.

If I could give any advice to girls and women struggling with body, or self-esteem issues, it would be to trust the people you love, and lose yourself in doing good for others.

The people you love, who love you in return, are not lying when they tell you how wonderful you are! Listen to them and lean on them for support.

Even in times when I felt the worst about myself, when I fully divided into helping others, I felt worlds better. It’s amazing how you can find your most beautiful self when focusing on the needs of others.

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 really think the list is never-ending. But, a huge pressure I see right now is the struggle between the modern and tradition values of what a women should be. Today there are so many standards society pressures on women: being thin, beautiful, mothers, successful businesswomen, educated, homemakers, etc.

I think the example mentors need to set is that a women can be many things in one lifetime, even if not at the same time. We need to experience joy in what we do accomplish, and not beat our self’s up over what we have yet to fulfill. 

Who taught you about real beauty?

My momma. She is the kind of lady who takes dinner to our neighbors when they have a baby, and who gets up numerous times in the middle of the night to check on her kids when they are sick. To me, that’s true selfless beauty.

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

Thirteen was a happy age for me. But, I do wish I would have known what a bad idea it was to wear my hair in a pony-bun everyday that school year!

Who is your role model or hero? Why?

I feel fortunate to have so many, but one of them is my older sister Lizzy. She is one of the most kind-hearted people I know. She is my best friend, and has always stuck by me and taken care of me. There is nothing in this world like a sister.

What is a fun fact about you?

I can po-go stick with no hands.

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

Oh gosh, too many places! Some on my list are Ireland, Greece, Bali, Jerusalem, India, Brazil, Morocco, and New Zealand. But for starters, I would love to visit New York!

Lipstick or Lip gloss?

Chapstick! haha! I’m a chap stick junkie! I love Burts Bees Pomegranate chapstick. It has such a good tint of color but looks really natural. When I want to look a little more bold, I always turn to MAC Russian Red lipstick.

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

Tweezers! Oh gosh, I have always had huge eyebrows. I remember my mom plucking them for me when I was in sixth grade! Talk about a great beauty invention!

What are your favorite beauty products or must-haves?

I love Olay’s daily defense face lotion. It has SPF 30, which is really important, since I spend so much time in the sun.

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

Drink lots of water! I know people say it all the time, but it really does work wonders.

What is your go-to outfit?

Jeans, a peasant top, cute sandals, and turquoise jewelry. This is coming from a hippie at heart.

What are your favorite pair of jeans?

I love my dark wash super skinny jeans from the Forever 21 Plus section. They are cute, AND they were only 11.50!

Where do you love to shop for clothes?

I like to thrift shop for cool vintage pieces, but I also love it when my grandma goes to Mexico and brings me back cool peasant blouses. I love fabrics that I can breathe in.  

What does being healthy mean to you?

To me, healthy is actively doing what’s good for your body. Its more than eating right and exercising. Healthy is laughing, loving, learning, exploring, serving, creating, hugging, singing, playing, and just being plain silly! 

Do you have a favorite workout routine?

I love playing flag football! I can definitely hold my own while playing with the boys. I love playing different sports too. I grew up playing soccer, and last semester my roommates taught me how to play tennis and basketball, which I loved!

What makes you uniquely beautiful?

I love that I come from two very different ethnic backgrounds. I am half-Mexican, and half Irish. I think that diversity makes me beautiful.

In my purse you would find…

Sharpie markers, lots of Chapstick, and receipts with gum stuck in them! haha!

What are you listening to right now?

Right now, my favorite songs are Let’s Get Together by The Youngbloods, San Francisco by Scott McKenzie, and Peace Train by Cat Stevens. But my all time favorites include U2, Stevie Nicks, and Coldplay.

What are your favorite sites to visit online?

I LOVE the blog put on by my agency, Healthyisthenewskinny.com. It is such a fun place to share ideas, get fashion/beauty tips, and build confidence. The best part is that everyone can be a part of the blog!

I also love the blog colormekatie.blogspot.com. It’s so creative and it can’t help but to make you feel good. 

Favorite beach on Oahu?

Sunset Beach is one of my favorites. The water there is just so clear and blue. I also like Castles beach because it is a great beginners surfing spot. But you can’t visit Oahu without going to Waimea Bay, it’s a must!

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

Don’t laugh too hard, but I have always wanted to learn how to Krump! haha! I’m not much of a dancer so I am sure I would look ridiculous, but it just looks like SO much fun!

Where would you like to see yourself 10 years from now?

Ten years from now, I would love to be married and have a family. I want to be done with my Masters, and have a job working with and counseling teenage girls.

What has been the best advice you have ever been given?

I hated hearing this when I was younger, but my parents would always tell me to “thicken up my skin”. Basically, not to take the bad things people say to heart, and not to listen to all the negative things people can say. It’s a lot easier said than done, but it sure does come in handy!

What is Rebekah’s philosophy?

I just believe that life is a journey meant for happiness. Trials along the way make us stronger, but I’ll never come up against anything I can’t tackle.

What is one of your fondest childhood memories?

I remember being about seven years old, sitting on top of my playhouse in my back yard. I loved feeling the wind from up high. I can still see myself with my arms spread out like a bird, pretending I could fly. Whenever I feel down on myself, I think of that little girl. She reminds me to be more carefree, to be a little kinder to myself, and to remember how great life is.

What are you excited about right now?

After taking a semester off, I’m really excited to go back to school! I’m also excited about being a part of Natural Model Management, and the Healthy is the New Skinny movement. I’ve got a great feeling about it all. :]

One more thing… A Recipe

I LOVE making Green Drink in the morning! Drinking a glass in the morning helps me to feel really energized. Plus, its super simple to make and super good for you!

1/2 peeled cucumber

1 peeled apple

1 stalk celery

1 handful of spinach

Juice of 1 lemon

Fresh mint leaf to taste

Blend ingredients together. Add water until you obtain desired texture. Keep chilled in the refrigerator, and shake it before you drink!

*Thank you, Rebekah!

Australian Model Geo Burke Says, “The sooner you can appreciate and respect who you are the happier you will be.”

Posted in Australia, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Funny Experiences, Inspiration, Models, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, Unique Beauty, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 5, 2011 by Liz

Geo Burke is a plus-size model from Australia who is signed with BELLA Model Management, FORD NY, Milk Models, Viviens Models, and Okay Models.

How did you start your career as a model?

At age six, I was asked to model as the flower girl at the Brisbane City Bridal fair for two years. I always remained interested in fashion and intended to become a hair dresser and would spend hours at Toginis hair salon–this lead to being taken to Sydney for the hair expo as a hair model for two consecutive expos. At this time, I entered Miss Australia Model competition and won the first heat. I then went on to Sydney and won Miss Teen Australia 2007. After success in several model competitions, I realised I didn’t want the competitions I just wanted to be a model.

What has surprised you most about the modeling industry?

That I can be comfortable being who I am and be successful in this industry.

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

PROFESSIONAL

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

One modelling show, I was made up to represent something on lines of a gothic/emo creature. Then I went shopping and could not work out why I was getting the most horrid looks.

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

That school is such a small environment and we really start learning so much about life after we leave. Also, I think young girls around my age group certainly look at the dolled up, skinny, and rebellious looks rather than an elegant, rich, and romantic looks that a real woman should posses. Like I said before, skinny models and the media are causing a lot of trouble out there and it’s exactly what’s happening to our society in general. I think they girls need to look up to models who posses natural beauty, a beautiful smile, and elegance in their looks.

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?

False impressions from the media forming pressures on them to try to be someone they are not. Help them understand that everybody is unique and it’s important to be themselves with their family and friends.

Who taught you about real beauty?

I think it is in yourself–to find it yourself.

What do you love about yourself and why?

Probably the experience I have gained in being involved with horses since I was five years old. This has taught me patience, commitment, a level of competitiveness, structure, and at times, courage.

Where you ever teased as a child?

Yes. I was teased and bullied at school and it was a very difficult time in my life, but I learnt to deal with it and move on.

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?

Yes. I believe everybody struggles with body issues at some stage but everyone must realise there are some things about your image or body you can change or work on and there are others that you cannot. So the sooner you can appreciate and respect who you are the happier you will be.

How do you stay fit and healthy? 

I try to eat healthfully, do personal training sessions, and train and school my horse.

What does being healthy mean to you?

To me, healthy is feeling good about yourself, eating well, and knowing you are looking after your body.

What would we find in your refrigerator?

Fresh fruit, vegetables, and of course, chocolate.

How do you start your day?

I wake up at 6:30 am to feed and muck out stables.

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

Always put primer on your skin before you apply makeup.

In my make-up bag you would find…

Way too much–it won’t even zip up… But, you would find only Mac makeup.

Lip gloss or Lipstick?

Lipstick… by Mac called Vegas Volt

What is your go-to outfit?

At the moment, my black Bettina Liano Play suit… You can dress it up or dress it down!

Where do you love to shop for clothes?

I shop everywhere and buy anything that will compliment my curves.

What are you reading?

Hungry by Crystal Renn

Do you have a favourite picture of yourself?  Why?

My latest Cosmo shoot… As I think it brought it close to home for me that I actually am good enough to be in print in one of my favourite magazine that I actually read.

Fashion Obsessions…

Heels

Who is your role model or hero?  Why?

Gillian Rolton, the Olympic horse rider, as she showed true commitment to go on and win a medal when she had multiple broken bones.

Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?

On the front cover of Vogue, travelling the world, and having a big house with a white picket fence, a sporty husband, and a golden retriever.

What is Geo’s philosophy?

Helping people without being fake.

Can’t wait to…

Go overseas with modelling.

If I weren’t modeling…

I would be studying a Law Degree.

Celebrity Crush?

Ryan Reynolds

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

Riding my horses and playing with my puppy dogs.

Biggest Splurge…

Horse Gear

What are you excited about right now?

That my modelling career is starting to kick off…

*Thank you, Geo!

Kamari Brown Says, “My advice to women is instead of letting society and the media define your beauty, let it help you see how beautiful you are, just the way you are, by surrounding yourself with positive role models and people.”

Posted in Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Entertainment, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Inspiration, Media, Models, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2011 by Liz

Kamari Brown is a twenty-five year old plus-size model who grew up in Seattle, Washington; England; and Germany. Kamari’s father was in the military and her family is European. She is 1/4 British, 1/4 German and 1/2 African-American. Kamari currently lives in New York City. She is signed with agencies in smaller markets and overseas in Europe and South Africa, and she is currently developing her book with her mother agent to approach the larger agencies.

How did you get started as a plus model and what does being a plus model mean to you?

I started plus-size modeling for two reasons. First, I’ve always been a creative soul, having started in acting, moved to dancing, and now modeling. For me, modeling allows me to be a different character and tell a story using the clothes, my eyes, body movement, and facial expressions. I actually find it more challenging than acting because we have less mechanisms to tell a story. But that is also why I love it more.

Second, I wanted to be part of the movement that is helping women love their body, no matter if they are a size 2 or size 20. I know personally I’ve struggled throughout the years with accepting my body the way it is, having seen only skinny models/women being deemed as beautiful. The more we infiltrate the media, the louder we are and the more lives we change.

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

In Seattle, where I spent a lot of my time growing up, most, if not all the women, around me were thin.  Additionally, the media was pushing images of Barbie like women in our faces, deeming them as the most beautiful. It was very difficult being a larger or big-boned (that term always made me feel better) mixed girl there. I was really uncomfortable in my own skin and body for so many years and it wasn’t until Destiny’s Child came into the scene that my views started to change. For the first time, seeing Beyonce, a woman of my complexion with hips, thick legs/thighs just like mine, being hailed as beautiful by the media and my peers around me, made me start to accept my curves and see how beautiful they were. My advice to women is instead of letting society and the media define your beauty, let it help you see how beautiful you are, just the way you are, by surrounding yourself with positive role models and people.

Who is your role model or hero? Why?

My biggest role most is Bono from U2. I love everything he stands for and I aspire to be like him. He found a way to use his love for music to help bring world issues–another one of his passions–to the forefront of the media. My biggest passion is fighting for human and animal rights. In college, I studied Human Geography, where I focused on human rights/trafficking and slum/squatter settlements. After moving to New York, I became very active with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and ran their Tap Project campaign last year. I more recently started working with the ASPCA, an animal rights organization. I always wanted to find the vehicle to really make a difference, much like Bono, and I hope that in time, modeling can be that vehicle for me.

What do you love about yourself and why?

I’m blessed to have lived in so many places growing up from Seattle, Europe, Miami, and now New York. It changes your perspective on life and give you an insatiable appetite for life and success. I know some people I went to high school with in Seattle only ever wanted to stay there and get married. I was and still am the complete opposite of that. I want to explore the world and help people along the way and in many respects, feel like my potential and desire to conquer the world is never ending. I know no boundaries and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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

My mum bought me a Clarisonic Mia for my birthday and that is the best thing I’ve ever used on my face! While it’s a bit expensive, it’s well worth every penny because it leaves your face clear and refreshed.

Where do you like to shop for clothes?

I have to admit, I’m an online shopping gal! I buy mostly from English stores that deliver here, ASOS is one of my favorites and they just opened an American version of their site. I also love Dorothy Perkins, Monsoon, Top Shop, and H&M. I’m a walking advertisement for them (H&M). They really should hire me to model for them, I rock out their clothes like nobody’s business. 😉 Plus, they just started a plus line… there is no reason to not hire me now!

Celebrity Crush?

David Beckham!

What does being healthy mean to you?

I believe being healthy means feeling good in your own skin and being confident. For me, feeling good is a balance between getting all the nutrients I need as a vegetarian, working out about 3-4x a week, and treating myself to my favorite foods once or twice a week.  I don’t believe in diets because they are gimmicks to lose weight fast in an unhealthy manner. If you eat well, work out, and treat yourself occasionally, you’ll feel good on the inside, which shows on the outside.

I could never have enough…

Protein shakes and Indian cuisine! Being a vegetarian, I’ve always struggled getting enough protein, so protein shakes are a great way to get the daily protein I need and recover from my intense workouts.  Plus, they taste like dessert, and who doesn’t love that? And Indian cuisine has the most vegetarian options on a menu, all of which I love. I’m not a big fan of soy meats, I actually just prefer true vegetable dishes, which Indian and Thai restaurants have.

What do you love about NYC?

I love being around all the different cultures and having access to some of the best food in the world, except I haven’t found a place yet that has proper English Chips! I will say that New York City is the only place in the States that I felt like I fit in. Because the norm here is being YOU and not conforming to anything, I feel really comfortable here.

You also work at MTV. Tell us about working at MTV and who are you currently listening to?

I work in Integrated Marketing at MTV, where especially we integrate clients into our programming and/or build custom programs for them on-air, online, on-the-ground, and mobile. The best example of what we do is the MTV TJ Search, which was a custom program we built for ZYNC from American Express, and the winner was actually a beautiful plus gal, Gabi Gregg. I have to say, I’m really lucky to have a job that I love and am excited to go to each day. There are always celebrity sitings in our building and concerts on my floor – Graffiti6 was the most recent. I have the biggest crush on the lead singer, Jaime Scott, he’s delicious!

As far as what I’m currently listening to, I would say I’m listening to a lot of Graffiti6 and Ke$ha. I’ve also been listening to a lot of 90’s grunge/alternative music, like R.E.M., Stone Temple Pilots, Oasis, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, etc. I was lucky enough to live in Seattle during the 90’s when these bands were up-and-coming and it was an incredible time to be there and be part of the movement.

Where would you love to see yourself in 10 years?

Married to David Beckham, living in London with our beautiful mixed children. That’s pretty realistic, right? 🙂  I would love to a successful plus model who is traveling the world, working with NGO’s to help people in developing countries, and be a visual and influential advocate for human/animal rights.

Thank you, Kamari!

Our Interview with Russian Model Katya Zharkova

Posted in Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Designers, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Inspiration, Media, Models, New York, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, Travel, Unique Beauty, Wilhelmina, Work, Your Story with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2011 by Liz

Katya Zharkova is a plus model from Russia. She was born in a small city called Smolensk, and she grew up in Moscow. Katya started modeling at age fourteen, and still models today at almost thirty years old. She graduated from Moscow University of Art and Culture as a TV producer. She created shows on Russian TV. Her friends advised her to go to a casting call for a TV show in Moscow and she got a second job as a TV presenter. She hosted a show where she helped women love themselves. Before coming to the United States, Katya worked with Russian and European designers. She decided to come to Los Angeles, and signed a contract with Wilhelmina agency and moved to New York. She has worked with Forever 21, Silver Jeans, Pure Energy, Cabi, Avenue, Macys, MC Patterns, Ulla Poken, and Fashion To Figure. Now, she is working on an autobiography – it’s a story about a plus-size model traveling all over the world.

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

My mom is a photographer. I wasn’t the prettiest newborn, and my grandmother always use to say that I would turn from an ugly duckling into a swan. My mom use to take pictures of me every day thinking that it would help me become prettier. When I was nine, somebody told my mom you have a very cute boy, she decided I should be acting. So, I got the role of a girl who wasn’t very attractive, and every day she sat down in front of the mirror trying to persuade herself she was the most beautiful and charming person in the world. At the end of the movie, she really blossoms into this beautiful thing. That taught me to do the same thing in real life. Later in life, my friend took me to a modeling agency, and the first thing they told me was that they would accept me only if I lost weight and they gave me six months. I tried but didn’t succeed, and in 1997, they opened a plus-size department in her agency. Since then, some of the designers in my town started sewing a plus-size line especially for me. That made me realize I could be on the covers of major magazines and every boy at school who was teasing me about being fat was wrong! At one of the runway shows, I was seen by the editors of Moscow Fashion Magazine and moved to Moscow to work for them and study at the University.

Did you always dream of modeling and why?

My dream started in childhood when I believed in myself and thought I was beautiful, but boys were saying I was fat. I was never skinny, and I liked the fact that I was healthy. I wish there were more people like me on the covers of major magazines–healthy and confident! I want young girls to eat properly without starving themselves just because being skinny is in fashion. I want all the runway models to be size 8-16 and not 0-6. I want plus-size modeling to be popular in fashion all over the world along with the skinny models.

What do you think people would find most surprising about modeling?

There are no real rules in modeling; you never know what will happen tomorrow. You can be very talented with a great portfolio and a great body, but there are millions of beautiful and talented people. You have to be very lucky to get the job. It’s the way things happen. Modeling is a very tough job and you have to be at the right time at the right place.

Did modeling come naturally to you?

I think I blossomed thanks to my beautiful photos that say a lot! I want people to realize that you can be beautiful no matter what size you are. It’s very important to love yourself the way you are!

What did you study while attending Moscow State University?

At the University of Art and Culture, I studied acting, filmmaking, and producing. I use to work and study at the same time, but my mom was always strict with me regarding my education. If I wouldn’t get a degree, she wouldn’t let me go to the United States, so it’s thanks to my mom that I successfully graduated with a degree in Organization of Student Festivals, and wrote a thesis called “Education of young people through TV media”. As I was an experienced model by that time, I was able to work as a host of one of the shows and viewers were happy to see a healthy and beautiful woman. I think the fact that I was plus size made me unique and it also helped me believe that one day I will be on the cover of major fashion magazine.

When you made the decision to move to NYC, what would you say was the biggest culture shock? Did you know how to speak English?

I moved to NY in a rush. I was already living in Los Angeles and working at Wilhelmina. I was enjoying a slow and relaxing way of life–swimming in the ocean and studying English. On the 29th of September, I got an email form Ameerah (she works at Wilhelmina in NYC), and she told me she really liked me and would love to represent me, but that I would have to move to NYC in order to work with her. We discussed it with my LA agent Tricia, and she told me I should definitely go. I already worked with the big labels like Forever 21, Pure Energy, Silver Jeans, and Cabi, so moving to NYC seemed quite logical and it was kind of the next step in my career. So, I rented a car and drove all the way to New York, thinking I must be crazy but that I was reaching my dream. I had a funny incident on the way to New York. I ran out of gas in Philadelphia, so I left the car and had to walk two miles to the nearest gas station. Right after I walked out of the car, I saw a police officer looking at me with a smile and asking me what has happened and if he could help; that was like a scene from a movie. That was a real shocker! He drove me all the way to the gas station and then back leaving with the words, “Welcome to Philadelphia!” All I said was, “I Love you America!”

What do you miss most about your homeland, Russia?

My entire family lives in Russia, and I really miss them. I miss my mom, my niece, my brothers, and my husband. I have a huge family but thanks to Skype, I can see everybody I miss every single day.

What do you love most about living in NYC?

I love the weather in New York; it changes quite fast. Everybody is extremely friendly, and you can say hi to hundreds of people and everybody will react positive.

What would you say is the best advice you have been given, in terms of your career as a model?

Never postpone anything for tomorrow! Love yourself the way you are and people will start loving you. Never give up and all you dreams will come true.

What has been your most memorable modeling experience and why?

So far, the most memorable experience for me was the first shoot abroad–the shoot for the Elena Miro’s magazine. It was shot in Egypt. We were shooting the Spring/Summer collection, and I couldn’t speak English at all. It was a week in a sunny Egypt and my first modeling experience outside of Russia–I was crying from happiness. I realized that my dream came true, and I’m on the cover!

Do you feel plus modeling is helping redefine beauty?

I do believe that plus-size modeling has redefined all the usual beauty standards. It’s very important to live in harmony, be yourself, and do what you love the most. You have to be confident and that’s the only reason I’m here in America right now. I don’t want my kids to ever experience what I went through. Every time I go shopping in Moscow, it’s impossible for me to find anything in my size, especially if it’s something trendy and fashionable. Size 8 is usually the biggest size they carry. My husband and I, once tried to purchase jeans in my size and the shop assistant offered me a men’s model. Of course, we laughed and didn’t take it seriously, but can you imagine how many young girls went through the same issue, thinking, “I’m so big that there are no jeans for me”. And that kills your confidence, society and media creates insecurity for people who are bigger than size 8. That’s how young girls become depressed. I’m strong, but even I had issues trying to find myself and it wasn’t easy.

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

We worry about the way we look because we are trying to find love. We want to be liked. Unfortunately, the reflection in the mirror won’t help you find happiness. If you have a strong personality, and if you can laugh and enjoy yourself, people will accept you the way you are. Also, you might think that skinny and beautiful women are happy, that’s not always true. I know so many examples that contradict that. I know so many beautiful Russian celebrities who are miserable in their life! When I ask my husband how he fell in love with me, being so big and not perfect, he doesn’t even understand what I’m talking about. I’m the most perfect person in the whole world for him and the only thing that he remembers when he first met me was my laugh. I truly love to smile. So my advice is the more you laugh the better.

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

My dream from my childhood finally came true, and I see all the boys from school grow up. I see what kind of girls they like now and they realize I’m not fat at all anymore. I would love to have known that in school. Though, I did believe that being slightly bigger than others would help me in life.

Where you ever teased or bullied?

I was teased at school; they used to call me a train and I never understood that. Can I be that huge?

Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?

Would love to be at the Oscars with one in my hands

What is your dream job as a model?

The cover of US Vogue–impossible sometimes can be possible.

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

If I was able to meet up with my friends and enjoy the weekend in a great mood – that means it was a perfect day! Also, I love dancing – it’s always fun!

What is a fun fact about you?

I’m far from perfect when it comes to speaking English and because of that, many of the things that I say generate much laughter among my friends, many times unintentional. But I’m very sincere and emotional, so everybody understands me.

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

I want to learn skydiving; one day I’ll do it!

We love your Silver Jeans shots! Please tell us about your experience modeling for Silver Jeans?

I really loved their concept. It’s basically friends on vacation. It was just like my weekends in real life. Talented people around you–jokes, guitar, dancing, and lots of fun. I grew up with my older brother and he always used to invite friends to our parent’s country house; that was a lot of fun. That’s what I experienced again at the Silver jeans shoot. That was a reminder that my dreams were meant to come true, and I was there despite the fact that I’m size 10-12. I was with three beautiful American boys, three skinny models, and me Katya Zharkova, a plus-size model. What else do you need to become happy? Pair of comfortable jeans and real friends close to you.

Do you have a favorite pair of jeans?

My favorite pair of jeans are waiting for me in LA. I was in such a rush when I was moving to New York that I forgot them at my friend’s place. They are light blue in color and they are vintage in look now. They are completely ripped at the knees; that means they went through a lot and you have to respect that. Hopefully, I will be able to get them back soon.

Where so you love to shop for clothes?

I like really unique things and my taste is very eclectic. Clothes reflect your mood and also remind you of the favorite moments of your past. That’s why I kept a lot of pieces that remind me of certain things in my life. When I shop, I usually look for something special. Something that my girlfriend would never pick–something that will show my unique style and reflect my personality. Shopping in the US is amazing because there is a great variety of things in my size and that lets you experiment and find the new you. And, that makes it so interesting.

Who is your style icon?

I would say Marilyn Monroe is a style icon because of her Hollywood glamour and a breezy sensuality.

What is your go-to outfit?

Black leather jacket, a pair of dark blue jeans, and of course, a pair of high heels. Russian girls love high heels.

What are your must-haves in your make-up bag?

I always have waterproof mascara. You never know what can happen, so you always want your eyelashes to be at their best! Powder, blush, and, the most important thing–pink lipstick.

Where is your favorite place to snowboard?

I think the mountains of Vancouver are the best place to go snowboarding!

What do you love about yourself and why?

I like the fact that I can enjoy life. I can wake up in the morning and say, “Life I love you”. I can walk around the city, enjoying every moment of it

How do you stay healthy and fit?

Every morning, I eat oatmeal; I also do yoga twice a week–that’s my secret to beauty.

What are you excited about right now?

I’m really excited about going to Seattle, and working for Nordstrom’s. I’ve seen Seattle in so many movies; I would love to see it in real life. And, I’m always looking forward to work!

*Thank you, Katya!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks again,

xx

Elizabeth

Here is Angela’s story…

Photography by Marc von Borstel

 

Hello World,

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

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

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

My Story

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photographed by Lindsey Bowen

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you!

Paulette Osborne Says “Stop spending your time and money on trying to lose weight and enjoy your life.”

Posted in Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Food, Inspiration, Media, Models, My Story, Parenting, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Trade Tips, Travel, Unique Beauty, Wilhelmina with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2011 by Liz

Paulette Osborne is proud to be one of the first mature & plus-size models. She is represented by Wilhelmina. She is the mother of two sons, Kent and Mark, who have both found great success in the entertainment industry, and the grandmother of two children, Maddie and Riley.

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

I started modeling at 40. There were only two agencies at the time–Plus Models and Big Beauties, Little Women. I was living in New Jersey when I heard someone on talk radio talk about modeling, and the first thought in my head was “models are thin, blond, and young”, but I kept listening anyway. A gentleman called in and said he was 40, and told he should start modeling. Then I thought about all those other areas where models are used. I rushed home (this was before cell phones, lol) and called the radio station. I have never done anything like that in my life.

The author was still on the air, and I asked him about women who weren’t a size 8, which was the norm at the time. He told me about Pat Swift and Mary Duffy. I went to New York, and Pat said she would add me to her board, but I had to lose weight and get my tooth fixed. After all, you hear about getting into the business, I was skeptical that it was so easy.

So of course, I had to go to big beauties. The woman who interviewed me was not Mary Duffy, but her assistant. She told me they were running a contest and I could try to enter. She wasn’t very accommodating and I innocently told her that Pat Swift wanted to sign me and she was incredulous. She said that Pat had someone on her board like me and big beauties had tried several models to compete with her to “knock her off her perch” and it never worked.

I left there and RAN back to Plus Models. I guess Pat Swift was smart enough to think if she could get the other model work then she could get me work. Pat told me it would be part time at best, and not to move to New York, but I didn’t listen to her. I moved to New York, never fixed my tooth, and the rest is history.

That’s how I started.

What did you do before you were a model?

I raised two sons in Vermont and when they were school age, I did just about everything there is to do in the restaurant business and ended up as Operations Manager for Bentleys Restaurants. I left Vermont in 1985 and took a 6-month sabbatical in Greece. Then I moved back to New Jersey and I worked in Princeton selling cars. When I first moved to NYC, I was nervous about the modeling industry and sold high-end cars on the Eastside, but I quit after I shot my first commercial for Gitano, Spirit of Family campaign. With that commercial, I got into SAG (Screen Actors Guild) and have been working ever since.

How has the modeling industry changed over the last 20 years?

When I started modeling over twenty years ago, there were only two modeling agencies now there are many more. There weren’t as many designers making plus-size clothing and there certainly wasn’t the respect there is now.

Is there ever a point where someone is considered “too old” to begin modeling or is there a market for all ages?

I think anyone can start modeling. I was over 40. However, there isn’t that much “high fashion”. I do a lot of commercial print and TV commercials. Pharmaceutical companies love me! I had to find all that for myself as my modeling agency did not have the connections for those opportunities.

What advice would you give to women who want to start a new career (any career)?

I would tell them it’s never too late, but find something you are passionate about. Also be prepared to work it, no one is going to hand it to you. However, it could be the best thing you have ever done for yourself. If not NOW, when?

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?

When I look back at myself at 18, I wasn’t “fat”. I went from being a skinny tomboy to puberty and when I developed breasts and hips, no one told me that was natural and I perceived myself as “fat”. So the dieting began. At 18, I had a doctor giving me speed and some type of shot to help me with weight loss. I yo-yo dieted most of my adult life until I moved to New York and became a plus-size model because with all the dieting, each time I lost weight, I would gain it back and then some. So, when I walked out of Plus Models and they loved me for who I was, I began to feel good about my size. Over the years, I maintained a size 16/18 for about ten years, and then when menopause hit, I became an 18/20 and have maintained that for over ten years. I do yoga, bike, walk, and hike. I am always on the go with my grandchildren and traveling. I eat healthy and try to take care of myself, but no longer am I obsessed with diets. I haven’t dieted for over 20 years, and I get upset seeing all the advertising for the multi-million dollar weight loss business. I had a friend who almost died from gastric bypass. 

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

I try to be a role model for my daughter-in-law and granddaughter. I avoid talking about their weight and concentrate on supporting their health. When my granddaughter was six, she called me “fluffy”, which I thought was adorable. She is proud that I am a model.

If you could go back in time to your twenty, thirty, or forty-year-old self, what advice would you give?

I would say stop spending your time and money on trying to lose weight and enjoy your life.

How do you define beauty?

There are so many ways to define beauty. I knew a young woman who was not particularly attractive according to our society standards, but she did not have any self-esteem issues. When I met her parents, I found out that they told her she was beautiful from birth every day and she WAS. Sometimes it’s all perception. In other countries, their ideas of “beauty” are different from ours. I think the most “beautiful” are the people who love life, love people, are passionate about what they do, and are happy with themselves.

How do you define happiness?

Happiness is waking up every day and starting with a clean slate. Everything is possible!

Where do you like to shop for clothes?

I like big department stores. I think Catherines, CJ Banks, Fashion Bug, and Lane Bryant all have something for everyone. I just wish the designers would take what they make for straight-sizes and enlarge it. That’s all. I might make some enemies, but don’t add appliqués, sequins, and other ways that they make those same clothes less attractive. Plus-size women want to wear what everyone else wears.

What are some of your beauty must haves?

Great mascara, peppermint foot soak, and healthy food. It starts from the inside out.

Please tell us about your skin care routine.

Over the years, people ask me what I use for my skin. I would always tell them the skin care I was using at the moment. Now I have come to realize I have good genes. My Mom had beautiful skin and I inherited that. However, I love products from Clinque, Shishedo, MAC, Mary Kay, and my favorite eye cream is Anew clinical eyelift from Avon. It’s a gel for the eyelid and a cream for under the eye.

What is the best beauty advice you have ever been given?

My mother-in-law told me whatever you do to your face do to your neck. I know it’s kind of simple and sounds silly but it’s good advice. So many women spend a lot of time with their skin care and stop near their jaw line.

Do you feel plus modeling is helping to redefine beauty?

I think plus modeling is helping women who are not a size 0 to feel good about themselves. I think the Dove campaign was fabulous. I would have loved to have been a part of that!

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

I would love to go back to Santorini and spend a month there. I would rent a villa and invite family and friends to visit. I spent six months in Greece and Santorini and it was magical and mystical. There are some that believe it’s part of the lost Atlantis. The sky and the sea are the bluest blue. Most of the buildings are whitewashed with brightly colored doors or trim, usually blue. Little churches everywhere–some only big enough for two people. They even have an archeological dig that you can visit. I still haven’t been to Paris and that is on my bucket list. ; )

What achievement are you most proud of?

I know it sounds corny, but I am most proud of raising two sensitive, healthy, and talented men!!  There aren’t enough of those around.

What are you excited about right now?

Being a part of my grandchildren’s lives. Since I raised two sons, Maddie is my first experience with girls and it’s FUN!! I didn’t know what I was missing, but I am happy she’s my granddaughter. I thinking raising a daughter is more difficult. In my experience, boys are easier. I also have a grandson and he is a joy! I love being bi-coastal and spending so much time with them and making new friends. I want to spend more time in Vermont, which is my favorite state. My years spent there were very memorable and I feel like it’s home.

*Thank you, Paulette!