Alex LaRosa

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I recently had the upmost pleasure of interviewing a model who I have been following for quite sometime – Alex LaRosa.
Alex’s confidence and effortless beauty, along with that amazing Plus Model Mag front cover has captured many who are looking for the same confidence and style as she possesses. Alex and I talk confidence, front cover oppurtunitues and why plus modelling still receives a bad reception.

How did you start plus modelling? And do you have advice for girls wanting to pursue plus modelling?

“I first began modeling in 2009 when I started shopping online and was more interested in the models than the clothing, haha! I remember googling plus size models and finding these gorgeous women who looked like me, but had a confidence that I had never seen before. I wanted in! So I emailed some facebook photos into Torrid. At that time, they were still working with unsigned models. I got called in for a go-see and the rest is history.

I always tell aspiring models that doing your research is the most important thing! I suggest Plus Model Magazine’s Modeling 101 section of their blog. When you’re ready to take the next step, I highly suggest Liris Crosse’s Life Of A Working Model bootcamp! And you can always follow my blog, alexlarosa.wordpress.com, where I give you a behind the scenes look at my career!”

You recently appeared in Plus Model Magazine. What was it like starring in such a poignant platform for plus women?

“It was definitely a goal of mine to be on the cover of PMM! It was so huge when Maddy, the editor-in-chief, told me that I was getting the February cover! I’m still incredibly honored to have been given the opportunity to represent a brand that taught so much about self love, body positivity, and the modeling industry. I left that shoot feeling more confident in my ability to make my goals a reality.”

As a model you must get to wear some amazing clothes. But what is your day to day outfit that you are most comfortable in?

“Ha! I’m not gonna lie, I wear a lot of leggings and T-shirts on my days off! But this summer, I’ve been rocking a lot of fun printed sundresses!”

Where is your favourite shop to get fashionable clothes that suit your curves?

“Eloquii has definitely become one of my go to destinations for fashion clothes that I can trust to fit me well! I’m also a huge fan of ASOS, Ashley Stewart, and Zelie For She.”

What is your favourite type of shoot?

“Editorial work is definitely my favorite! It allows me the freedom to take the fashion and make it my own. It’s emotional. It’s creative. It’s one of a kind work that makes me feel ridiculously blessed to have the job that I have.”

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Although we have had massive strides in diversity, our media still seems to ignore plus models in high fashion advertisements and runways. Why do you think high fashion designers are still holding back on using plus models?

“It’s really unfortunate that there are so many designers who remain uninterested in providing great clothes for all people. I believe it is an ego issue. If someone buys into the societal discourse that distinguishes fat as a negative quality, then why would they want to incorporate it into their brand. Eventually, I think plus size dollars will encourage a lot of designers’ decision to be more inclusive.”

There has been some negativity towards plus models and bloggers in the last 18 months, with even celebrities, such as UK singer Jamelia saying that plus models are unhealthy role models for younger girls. What is your opinion on this?

“I think that healthy looks different on everyone. It’s not about a size. It’s not about having visible abs or posting your workout routines on social media. The truth of the matter is unless you are medically trained, you cannot know ANYTHING about a person’s health by just looking at them.  I believe that every  person should make health a priority: physical, mental and emotional. And if you need help with it, find someone with proper training. The opinions of those, like Jamelia, who are not truly invested in the lives of the people they speak down upon, shouldn’t really matter.”

You are an inspiration to not just me, but thousands of women. How is your message for curvy women around the world who struggle with self-confidence and low self-esteem about the way they look?

“We live in a society that sells you an idea that you’re not good enough. It’s a lie. There are multi-billion dollar industries that thrive off of people’s insecurities. So don’t feel bad if you’re not feeling thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough, etc. It’s not your fault. But you can take action to change that. 1.) Surround yourself with people who are also on a magical journey of self love and acceptance. You need people who get it and who will help pull you up when you feel down. 2.) Affirmations are the real deal. I choose a different affirmation each week. I say it out loud to myself when I wake up in the morning, when I’m doing my yoga, when I’m taking a shower, and pretty much any other time I think about it! This week my affirmation is: I welcome abundance, and I will pay attention to the guidance I receive. 3.) Fake it til you make it! Do you want to wear that shirt or that dress, but you don’t feel confident in it. Take baby steps. Wear it to the grocery store. Did you die? Did people point and laugh at you? Most likely not. And if they did, reread the last sentence from the answer to the question above this one! Once you take the first step toward your goal, it is easier to take the next one. Remember, you are capable of anything that you want to accomplish. I believe in you!”

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What does it mean to you to be a plus size model?

“Technically, it means that I model plus size clothing versus straight size clothing. But being able to use my platform to inspire, encourage, and love on other people means the world to me!”

Is confidence something that comes naturally to you?

“Confidence is something I had to work on quite a bit when I was younger. It wasn’t natural to think thoughts like “Oh yeah, I can totally do that” and “Hot damn! I look good.” Now, those thoughts are a lot more normal. I believe that confidence is a practice. It’s a quality that should be practiced regularly because otherwise little bits of fear and doubt come in to ruin all the fun. Building and maintaining confidence looks different for everyone, but I believe the underlying factor is self love. If you love yourself and believe that you have value, it’s a lot easier to be confident in yourself.”

What does the rest of 2016 look like for you? Any projects from you we should be looking forward to?

“The rest of 2016 is looking awesome! I have a lot of AMAZING things happening super soon, but I can’t tell you yet, lol! So make sure to stay connected by following me on my social channels!”

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Hannah Levitt-Collins: Body image in the dance, film and fashion industry

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Being a dancer, actress and model may seem like the dream for many young people; performing in front of thousands and inspiring those who want to break into limelight and get their names out there. But with stardom comes the obvious pressures to conform to a certain look and size.
I speak to Hannah Levitt-Collins, a dancer, actress and model who has danced alongside the likes Kylie Minogue,  was the stunt double for Rey in the new Star Wars movie, and modelled for D&G, about how she deals with her own body image when immersed in the three body-concious industries.

You’re a model, dancer and an actress. Which one came first?

“I trained as a dancer first when i was 16 at Stella Mann performing arts and began my career at 19. Modelling actually kind of just fell into my life as did acting. Acting was such a big part of my dance & modelling jobs so its something i learnt along the way on my jobs.”

Dancing for the likes of Kylie Minogue, Olly Murs and The Kooks must be so much fun and exciting. What style of dance is your favourite?

“My favourite is super feminine & strong commercial dance. I love anything super creative & visually striking. I love working with artists that view their dancers as artists too.”

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How do you prepare yourself the day before a big performance?

“I am usually in rehearsals or doing a dress run of the show before the performance day so I try and be focused & stop myself from becoming nervous. I make sure I eat & sleep enough for sure so my body has the energy it needs for the performance.”

Being a dancer, you must take care of your body. How do you condition your body?

“I do. I am very into my fitness and train at the gym as much as I can with my work schedule. I love yoga & running so they’re my two main things I have to have In my lifestyle. With the pressure of being in shape due to my job it’s very important i feel good in my body. I also need to be strong & fit physically to be sure I do not get injured. A huge key item is my diet. Diet is so important in order to stay strong and fit.”

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You were the double preforming as Rey in the new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens. What did your double role entail?

“I was the picture & physical double for Rey. It entailed learning new skills & a lot of copying Daisy’s movement & imitating them to the best I could. A lot of running as her characters always on the go which is why it was so key I had fitness on my side. It was a the first film i worked on so it was a huge learning curve for me.”

Did knowing that you would be appearing in a big, blockbuster movie change the way you view your body?

“I didn’t feel pressure about the media or public viewing of myself at all. I just was very conscious of keeping my body looking as close to what Daisy’s looks like as that was my job and I wanted to be the best double I could be.”

How did you have to prepare to be Daisy Ridley’s double?

“I was training hard for my fitness as her other stunt double Chloe Bruce is an outstanding female who is so incredibly fit! Also daisy was training so hard for the movie so i felt i needed to keep up!”

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Have you ever felt under pressure to be a certain size in the fashion and film industry?

“In the fashion industry yes. I am a shorter model & have felt I have to be a certain size in the modelling industry as well as the dance industry as those two industries collide a lot. The smallest thing in your body image can make or break a job for you!”

Modelling for Adidas, Selfridges, Harrods and D&G must take a lot of confidence to pull off. Have you always been confident within yourself?

“I haven’t always been confident but yes i am now. It has taken years of work to really love myself for what i am in order to become confident. I have had many low moments where I haven’t booked a job & I’ve thought straight away its because of the way I look. The older I’ve got the more I’ve realised I have to love myself & if people don’t want to book me because I’m an inch to small or to wide then it’s simply have to except I’m not right for that job.”

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In your opinion, what does the high fashion industry contribute to girls’ body image these days?

“I feel in the fashion industry there’s still such a huge pressure for models to be size 0 and fit the stereotypical type of ‘model’. However I feel the plus size and real women look is becoming more popular which is amazing! People are realising & recognising fitness models are breaking through & how much better it is to want to be fit and love our bodies. There’s a huge impact from the social media industry which is effecting the dance and modelling industry as now a days your value is on how many followers you have rather than your talent.  I feel fitness for females is a huge trend at the moment and I really hope it remains that way! We should all embrace our bodies and be as healthy and fit as possible.”

Have you got any tips for aspiring girls who want to be in front of the lens?

“Always be you! My tip is always love yourself & know your self worth. If you want to be a model or dancer go for it and follow your dreams! Just remember you are beautiful no matter what anyone says!”

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Tia Provost

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Being a nature lover myself, and working alongside the curve industry, I was instantly drawn to Tia Provost a couple years ago when on the search for inspirational women. A curve model with the same love of nature, animals and food as me, Tia is a big inspiration for self love, confidence and loving natural beauty. I got the chance to interview Tia about her favourite types of shoots, the modelling industry and who inspires her!

You sport an amazing and enviable curvy figure. Have you ever felt pressure to look a certain way before modelling?

“Thank you!! I didn’t feel I was at a comfortable size when I was a teenager, and like many individuals out there, I suffered with my self esteem and confidence – not that many people knew, I was very good at masking it, but I’m a sensitive soul and things would cut straight to my very being. I would never have my thighs or tummy on display! I would always dress to conceal and distract through my cleavage. I thought if they were looking there then the weren’t looking elsewhere. I didn’t see myself as beautiful or attractive, or even worthy of being with someone. I wasn’t a pretty popular girl that could flaunt around in a bikini. I would avoid the beach, and I didn’t own my first pair of denim shorts until I was 20!!”

Before modelling, did you have another kind of profession dream?

“I just wanted to travel and see the world – and still do!! 
I always said that whatever career I choose it would have to involve travelling…and meeting new people (I love talking! :D) and luckily I stumbled upon my dream career with modelling as it allows me to do all that. But I can’t lie…I still get itchy feet badly! My backpacking side is still in there bursting to get out.”

You’ve modelled everything from high glamour lingerie to raw and natural black and whites. What is your favourite type of shoot?

“Anything in nature! Especially by water! I don’t care what the temperature is or if I have to be out there for 12hrs…I just love being by nature. Its me at my true essence.
Im pretty cruisy, and see everything for its own beauty in its own unique way. Location shoots are great fun as you really vibe off your surroundings and you take on the entire story, it adds another dimension for you. But then theres something so gorgeous about having a clean cut studio shoot. Like everything in life theres pros and cons to all sides.”

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Do you have a “night before” beauty regime in preparation for a photo shoot the next day?

“It depends what type of shoot I’m doing, but honestly – lots of water and sleep!! Staying away from fatty, heavy greasy foods or anything that is going to weigh down on my skin. I want it to be healthy and refreshed so I reflect that in what I fuel my body with, because after all – it starts from inside. I dry brush every morning upon waking and after my shower I use a Natural Instinct moisturiser for my face and chest and organic virgin coconut oil for my legs and tummy.  After a shoot is where my whole regime comes in. I take all my make up off straight away, with coconut oil, using my hands to really give my face a good rub and massage, then get a cloth with hot water to wipe off. I do a green tea face mask to help clear my skin and rejuvenate.”

You inspire so many girls, (including me!) to love the skin you’re in, and embrace our natural beauty. But who inspires you?

“My parents 🙂 They are so supportive and encouraging. The best role models to have guiding me through this life. Our fridge would always be covered in positive sayings and affirmations, and every year we’d repaint it and start again. Mum’s so strong and has amazing believes that she stands by. She has always been into the natural way of life and was frowned upon for how she choose to bring us up, in an organic chemical free household. She’s an avid gardener and I remember sitting outside in the sunshine watching her work away.  Both my parents are extremely talented business owners and I grew up working in the shops from a very young age, which taught me so many useful life skills, such as dealing with people and communication skills. My dad always reminds me of an old willow tree, so peaceful and calming yet so strong and powerful! He has always told me ‘whatever your mind can believe it can achieve’. Louise Hay is also a fabulous uplifting teacher. Actually one of the first things I remember from my childhood is my mum singing her song to us while we were growing up
“I love myself, the way I am, theres nothing I need to change, Ill always be the perfect me, theres nothing to rearrange, I’m beautiful and capable of being the best me I can, and I love myself, just the way I am”

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Last year, a SFU study suggested that plus size models could be sending out an unhealthy message. What is your opinion on this?

“I don’t think it’s a promotion of an unhealthy message I think its a promotion of accepting yourself as you are. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t want to improve on yourself. I am constantly trying to improve myself! But until you love and accept yourself as you are right now in this moment – nothing will change no matter how hard you try as your mindset isn’t there. We all come in different shapes and sizes. For me its not about promoting plus size or straight size or this size or that size, its about promoting whats healthy for you, for your own body.”

What defines a healthy body for you?

“At the end of the day we’re all individuals, and what works for me or what is healthy for me isn’t for the person next to me. I think theres too much of this comparing one another to each other. I can look at someone and see their beauty and their strengths and weaknesses without putting it beside my own and feeling that I’m coming up short. Genetically its impossible to be exactly the same as someone else – and thats what so amazing!!!”

The fashion industry can be a demanding and fierce world. How do you stay confident and positive when many designers are still avoiding using plus models?

“I’m lucky that I have a really good supportive family who keep me very grounded and give me encouragement to keep going. They always have a different perspective for me to consider, which is quiet refreshing to get someones opinion who is outside of the industry, who can look upon something with fresh eyes and see what I’ve been missing with my own. My parents are my best friends. I tell them everything and talk through decisions, getting their advise. I even take them to events when I can! Hahaha. I am also careful on who I choose to surround myself with. My closest friends are some of the most down to earth people that just love rolling around in the grass with animals crawling all over them 🙂 like me, not worrying about what we look like. I am very aware of the industry I’m in…but also that I’m not that industry.  So through my friends and family…and my upbringing, I’m kept quiet grounded. The more mainstream its getting the more designers will open up to using curvier girls. But if not everyone does…well thats their choice.”

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What has been your favourite shoot of all time?

“There’s been a couple that have stood out to me for one reason or another.
Recently I did a shoot for a new brand launching in the next few months, and I love the product and the designer! But then I found out who the photographer was…Jez Smith! It was such an honour to work with him! I have never been so nervous for a shoot!!! Hahaha. I also have to say the shoot I did in NYC for Plus Model Mag, April Issue. It was my first ever cover shoot and for it to be with PMM was such a privilege! The entire team there are so lovely and welcoming its like i’ve immediately been accepted into this one big family. I cant express my love for those guys enough! Maddy – Lucas…you guys are phenomenal!!!”

Many girls are not coming forward and wanting to get into plus modelling. Do you have any advice for someone wanting to represent the “average” sized woman?

“If you have always wanted to try modelling then 100% go for it! Life is to short to have regrets and ‘should have’s’. The biggest advice I can give you – be prepared for rejection. I know thats quiet harsh, but it’s apart of the industry and its gonna happen more times then your accepted. But you need to understand that its not personal, its business, and if you are not what that director is looking for then thats it. Good self esteem as digital photography shows everything! Theres no hiding once you’re in front of that camera. And of course grounded people around you because you can get quiet inflated by your own ego.”

What can we expect to see from you in the rest of 2016?

“If you follow me on snap lots of food; Buddha my dog, and nature hahaha. As I’ve just moved back to Aus to be based here, continue to build myself up within this market, I want to start moving towards more TV roles, and also I’m starting to look at the States and getting my foot in the door in that market…but I am home and struggling with wanting to relax and get lost in nature – but still work at the same time 😀 hahaha Its all a balance after all!”

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Body image and self-esteem with Anastasia Amour

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Anastasia Amour is a body image and self-esteem coach with one goal in life; to help others who suffer from low self-esteem, body image issues, and eating disorders. From her own personal knowledge of eating disorders, Anastasia’s passion is to give a friendly and honest support line to those who need it.With her own help website Anastasiaamour.com which includes her 14 day guide to body positivity for anyone to purchase, I speak to Anastasia about how she started this amazing supportline, and her best tips.

You run the positivity and body image advice website Anastasiaamour.com. When did your passion for confidence and helping people with body image issues start and why?

After recovering from Anorexia, I had a huge desire to help others. From what I’d experienced in my own recovery, I wanted to provide support to others who could relate to me, because I knew what they were going through. I realised that as a kid I struggled with being overweight and I’d gone through countless cycles of yo-yo dieting too… so in terms of body image issues, I’ve got a huge amount of experiences under my belt to relate to a lot of women. I started to pursue formal education in psychology, and the rest started to fall into place from there!

You conquered anorexia and are now a body image and self-esteem coach. Do you find it challenging to coach someone who have anorexia themselves?

It definitely has its difficult moments. Over my recovery and research, I’ve learned that self-care is paramount. I know that I’m able to best serve others when I’m functioning at 100%, which means I need to place my own self-care needs as my highest priority. I’ve become quite good at setting my own boundaries. Whenever I find myself struggling or absorbing the energy of others in a way that’s challenging my own self-love, I take a step backwards and hit pause whilst I regenerate myself.

 How did you conquer anorexia and who helped you?

Through a lot of hard work, relapses, total failures… picking myself up and dusting myself off each time I failed and trying again. It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done and I wouldn’t wish an eating disorder upon anyone. The hardest part of recovery was letting go of the part of me that I’d come to identify with so incredibly strongly for half a decade. The tiny rational voice inside me that started to peek through screamed that I was dying, but the biggest part of me – the disordered part – told me that recovery would kill me. Ignoring that and keeping going was torturous.
I felt such a huge sense of shame and stigma around my illness and my recovery, so I actually didn’t seek outside help – my recovery was entirely self-managed and I wouldn’t ever recommend that to anyone. I know now how incredibly dangerous that was to my physical and mental health and I’m amazingly lucky to still be here talking to you right now! I’m grateful for that every day.
Throughout my recovery, the only person that I actually talked to about my illness was a phone hotline support worker from The Butterfly Foundation, whom I talked to most weeknights. She was a listening ear, and that meant the world to me.

It must be so rewarding supporting others! What is the best thing about being a body image and self-esteem coach?

It’s immensely rewarding. The best thing for me is getting to be a support network for those who feel like they’re totally alone. In my own recovery I felt that sense of isolation so deeply, so having been on the other side of the battle, I know what it feels like for the women that I coach. It’s so rewarding when I see my clients have those “lightbulb” moments and watching them start to flourish.

Many people find it hard to control their weight, and this can turn into negative thoughts and activities. How would you say is the best way for someone to take a step in the right direction regarding their anxieties about weight?

A lot of people don’t realise that the body and mind aren’t things that should be controlled or conquered, but rather elements that need to work in harmony together. It’s impossible to have a healthy body if the mind is preoccupied with enforcing strict or arbitrary standards and likewise, it’s incredibly hard to have a healthy mind if you’re treating your body badly. Negative body image has a snowball effect over time and the longer you leave it, the more deeply ingrained those anxieties can become. I always recommend to my clients that whenever they start to notice their body insecurities becoming louder and louder in their minds, they take a step back and instead of judging those thoughts – really listen to what those thoughts are telling them. From there, you can start to unpick the root cause of the thoughts and start to heal the anxiety. Body anxiety is usually a symptom of deeper emotional conflict.

Confidence is something many people lack. They may have received negativity from others, or are negative to themselves. Is confidence easy to gain?

Yes and no!
No, because it’s no small task to go about undoing years of damage of the words of others and yourself that have been cemented in your mind. It takes time, effort, careful unpicking and rebuilding your self-esteem.
But also yes, because once you start doing the work I mentioned above, things start to click and you begin to realise that YOU and you alone are in full control of defining your worth. And that is an absolutely beautiful moment of revelation.

Anastasia’s 3 tips for body positivity:

1.Don’t be afraid to audit your life. Think about who you follow on social media, the people that you spend time with and the information that you consume… ask yourself how all of these elements impact your self-esteem, and take steps to surround yourself with positivity!

2. Commit yourself to making self-care an integral part of your daily routine, rather than just a “band aid” for when you’re feeling low. Find out the self-love practices that work for you, and know that your self-love practices don’t have to look like anyone else’s! Think of them as an opportunity to really get in touch with yourself and your mind-body needs.

3. Don’t underestimate the importance of joyful movement – exercise is important to not only physical wellbeing, but mental health too. If you can find ways of moving that make your mind and body sing, then you’ll reap the rewards. Even if it’s only twirling around your living room to your favourite songs, that still counts! Find what works for you and don’t be afraid to think outside of the box  ☺

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Petite and Curvy: Selini Angelini

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With the fashion industry day by day accepting more curvier models and celebrating diversity, us curvy girls are starting to feel like we are taken more seriously. However, many curve and plus size models are over the average height for women, too.
I speak to the gorgeous Selini Angelini about being petite and curvy, and how she feels representing us shorter girls who tend to be ignored in the mainstream fashion industry.

The fashion industry is finally using curvier models walk the runways and model their clothes, however there is still a lot of negativity from people that think this is “unhealthy”. Why do you think people are still reluctant to embrace body positivity?

“Well I am not really sure to be honest. I believe that people who judge or feel uncomfortable with it, are just insecure or unhappy with themselves. I know a ton of women that work out every day  for 6 hours and only eat a salad. But nobody complains because they’re “fit” in our society. This is not healthy to me. Like people who use drugs to stay slim. To me seeing women that are happy with their body, mind and lives just have a different aura, I admire this aura a lot by plus size women.”

There is a standard height that designers and brands will use. Why do you think the fashion industry ignores shorter girls?

“Well this is something that’s kinda stupid. But in one way I believe it’s because of the clothes.  For example jeans length. This may need more work to adapt them, but in other way I think its kinda stupid. So many female stars, singers or actress are short. I know a ton of fullfigured short women. It’s important not to be insecure about your height, no matter what agencies say or not. Just be yourself and do the best. I never wanted to change. I like me short.”

A lot of “curve” models are quite tall and some clothes that they model look very different on us shorter girls. Where do you shop for cute clothes and lingerie?

“Well, for my jeans I shop most in H&M or Bershkha. H&M have amazing jeans. I am not really a brand person. I have some brands like Armani shirts, Tommy Hilfiger, Bench or Lacoste but I prefer white shirts and blue jeans and my Gap hoodie. Simple.
 I love Morgan (Morgan de Toi). It’s an elegant, sexy brand from France, and all their clothes suit me perfect! Especially dresses. It just fits my curves perfect! Mango has awesome pieces too! I like Lipsy dresses and Miss Selfridge too. They have some cute pieces! But I am not a fashion blogger, I am very simple in clothes.
 But in Lingerie, oh my heart opens! I have so much lingerie. I would wanna have more but because of my chest size they don’t fit me. This makes me more mad, then the fact that I am too short for an agency. I wear a lot Chantelle, Gossard, Triumph and I have pieces from Bon Prix and H&M (Bodysuits). I ordered from Dita von Teese collection (which is a little too small on my chest), Hunkemöller, Passionata, Freya, Lascana & Panache. I love Calvin klein panties and I have every colour.
Definitely one of my goals is to have my own lingerie line, with sexy badass pieces for bigger cups!
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Do you have any fashion tips/recommendations for short girls?

“Just take your time to go shopping. And don’t shop at only at one place. I like to shop with my mama the most, she is amazing. We have kinda same bodytype and she always helps me. She is so honest about what looks good or not. Sometimes too honest!

“Drop the plus” has been a debate going around social media the past year. What do you think? Keep or drop the “plus” in “plus size”?

“Definitely keep. Its’s kinda how everything started and this presents us and other women with fuller figures. But in another way I understand when people wanna be called just a “model”. But it’s not a big thing to me, to be honest, things like this don’t cross my mind or give me sleepless nights.”

You inspire me to be more comfortable and confident with my body. But what model inspires you?

“Thank you! Well I don’t have models that inspire me in the way to be more comfortable in my skin, because I never really struggled. But I admire strong women. I admire Angelina Jolie, she is my fave. She never kept a secret about her past and she lived her madness to the fullest. Madonna is a big idol to me, with her open mind and provocation she helped a lot of women to feel free in their sexuality. Maria Callas, she was the epitome of art and because of her ambition and vulnerability. Also, Velvet d’Amour is amazing to me. I have admired her since I was 21! And after I met her, she is a total sweetheart –  Definitely a dream come true. Frida Kahlo, Mae West, and of course the beauty of Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loreen, Jayne Mansfield and Monica Bellucci. My favourite model I follow on Instagram is Esther Andersen and I really hope to meet her!
But the reason why I feel comfortable in my skin is my mama. She is the prettiest and strongest woman I have ever met. I wanna be like her one day!”
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Have you always been body confident?

“Well I definitely had a struggle with my body when I was 9/ 10 years old. I came very early into puberty and I wasn’s so happy about it. The boys in class started to like me and get interested because of my different bodytype, and the girls always beat me on my chest. So I only wore big hoodies and I prayed that my chest wouldn’t grow anymore. This was a very hard time for me and  I only felt good when I was in Greece on holidays. I could wear top and normal clothes because a lot of Greek women are very curvy, so I didn’t felt wrong.
But I always felt good because of my weight and I am happy with myself.”

What are your tips for women who want to be more confident with their bodies?

“When you want to feel more comfortable, you should do things in life that makes you happy. I started dancing and athletics when I was 6 years old and I did it for 8 years. Sport is very good and helps you a lot to feel and to know your body. Don’t go after unrealistic shit and don’t watch too much topmodel show’s or women on IG with 73827 filters and photoshop from head to toe. Don’t be around women that only talk about beauty and surgery as this doesn’t bring you further in life. Be you. Be proud of you. Pray to god. Make yourself a ritual and be proud of it. Set yourself goals, but not goals like: “I wanna lose 10 pounds in a week”. Set yourself relevant goals for your future like: “I wanna go to school, I wanna be a better person, I wanna cook today something good for me and my family, I wanna do a good graduation”. Surround yourself with positive and educated people.”

You have shot with the lovely Velvet d’Amour for Volup2 and you looked so gorgeous. Do you have any plans to shoot more?

“The shoot with Velvet d’Amour was amazing. I was very nervous. It was so early in the morning and Alina Cherciua, Janet Doman and Velvet d’Amour came in my appartment to do my makeup. But they did an amazing job! I felt totally free to be myself and this is very important to me to express myself. They are really, very good people and I can’t wait to see them again! I have a lot of inquiries from very good photographers to work with me (New York, Los Angeles and more), but at the moment I just don’t have time. As soon as I have my graduation, I really wanna make more shoots and different kind of shoots.”

 

What can we look forward to from you in the coming year?

“There is something coming but I can’t tell yet, it’s a little secret 😉
This year maybe I will work with a street photographer from Switzerland. It depends on how I feel emotionally and because of my Anxiety Disorder and if I have enough time because of graduation.But as soon as I have my graduation and time to travel, I wanna start doing more modelling jobs.”
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To find out more about Selini, make sure you are following her on IG, Twitter and Facebook!

instagram @Seliniangelini

twitter @SeliniAngelini

facebook Selini Angelini

Introducing: Plus model Nina De Martino

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I am always on the look out for new plus/curve to follow and help promote, since I feel like we need a stronger plus/curve industry to help break the “thin ideal” barriers of the fashion industry.
This week I caught up with Nina De Martino, a new model on a mission to inspire women to embrace their curves and take on the fashion industry head first. I chat to Nina about her life as a model, her opinions on the fashion industy, and her advice for aspiring models.

What made you decide to be a model?

“I decided to join an agency to pursue a second career that has been a dream since I was 18.  As a child, I always loved fashion, accessories and creating different looks with a particular piece of clothing.  I have always been “plus size” and able to dress according to my figure while staying on top of the latest trends and fashions.”

What kind of model do you describe yourself as?

“I would describe myself as a full-figured curvy model.  I am a size 16 and embrace what I have!”

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As a curve model, have you ever had any negative feedback from the fashion industry for not being the “thin ideal”? 

“This is my second year in the modelling world and I have not. I have been told “we don’t have anything to fit you” from a designer, but I have never been scrutinized for not being smaller than a size 8.”

The plus and curve fashion industry has started to really kick off in the last 2-3 years. Yet some designers are still hesitant to use curvier models. Why do you think this is? 

“I think people tend to fear to show their curves or accentuate a specific area of your body. However, I think this will all change as  we can see it is happening and growing. The average woman is a size 12-14 here in the US and I think designers need to focus on the audience and the average women of 2016.”

You have modelled everything from sports clothing to lingerie. What is your favorite type of shoot?

“I honestly do not have a favorite type. Photoshoots with props and different lighting are always a blast because they force a model to step out of their comfort zone. I have worked with many different photographers including one in Italy and every time it is a positive experience. I learn something new about myself, and modelling every time”

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How do you prepare for a shoot? Any skin care or make up tips for us?

“My agent taught us to have the “luggage”.  By prepaing the night before by packing everything you might need.  Although the make up artists are usually on site of the shoot, we were trained to apply our makeup in case of an emergency.  I also pack hair products just in case of a hair emergency.  Make up wipes are a must in case we need to re-apply or correct a specific area. As far as makeup tips, every three months I get a facial and I have yearly check ups with my dermatologists.  I have always struggled with acne, therefore I have to be pamper my face. My foundation is oil free of course and MAC  products are a must. Their highlighter is one of my favorite products that I can use all year long!”

Many young girls lack confidence because of our demanding media and thin-loving industry. How do you stay confident? 

“I am a Zumba instructor and love to dance, hence my cardio is teaching my classes.  I recently starting kick boxing to tone my body and switch up my exercise routine as I feel there is always room for improvement no matter what size or shape a woman is.  I have stopped comparing myself to others. For years I would but at this point I have realized we all have our own beauty and we need to embrace with what we have and work towards being healthy physically and  mentally to promote and produce a lifestyle of happiness.”

Do you have any tips for girls wanting to start modelling? 

“My one statement I say to future models is, believe in yourself no matter what size or shape you are. Never compare or be jealous of another model or woman’s body.  We are all different for a reason and remember there is someone out there that is looking at you with admiration!”

As a model, what are your goals for the next year?

“My goal is to continue modellling and hopefully be able to participate in a few commercials, but mostly to inspire women!”

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instagram To support Nina and her mission to empower curvy women, make sure to follow her on instagram: @La_bella_nina_demartino

The Plus Industry with Desiree Jenkins

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It seems the plus fashion industry is making big strides of progress within the last couple of years. From Denise Bidot walking 2 straight-size runways in NYFW 2014, to Ashley Graham making Sports Illustrated’s front cover, curvier models are becoming more demanded in the fashion industry. Plus model Desiree Jenkins, who has modelled for the likes of Rue107, Pose Magazine and Ashley Stewart, chats to me about how she broke into the plus modelling, the “health” stigma around plus models, and how she stays that confident.

As a plus sized model, was it hard to break into an industry that still seems obsessed with slim frames?
“As a plus sized model, it definitely was difficult starting in an in obsessed with slim frames. People are afraid of change, and people are still used to only straight sizes in this industry. So although it is difficult dealing with opinions and judgment, it only makes me work ten times harder to make it!”

You describe yourself as a “Black and Asian plus model”. Has your race ever been an issue when trying to break through the fashion industry?
“Not at all. Race has definitely never been an issue. I’ve always been asked what my ethnicity is. Most times, people are very surprised when I explain that I am Vietnamese and African American. Only because most people can’t figure out my ethnicity. I definitely think that my ethnicity is what makes me unique in this industry, because I’ve been told I have a very different look which I agree with. I’m al definitely proud of being black and asian which is why I have no problem making it know.”

Some people think the term “plus size” is misused. At what size do you think plus size starts?
“I always believed that “plus size” started at a size 12. I say that because when I was younger, I would go into plus size stores and would always see in the window ” From sizes 12-26″ and thought that where it starts. Then when I started modeling I was told plus size starts at size 8! Not only was I confused, I was super surprised. I’m my mind I always felt that we should stop focusing on the number in the industry. But to focus on the beauty of body diversity.”

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Photography: Bruna Lacerda

 

It has been stated in some recent studied that plus size models “promote obesity”. As a plus model yourself, what are your feelings on this?
“I truly believe that health is important. And to assume that plus models are unhealthy and obese and promote obesity, is unfair to say. Anyone at ANY SIZE can be unhealthy if they are not taking care of themselves. So why assume, based on opinions versus facts.”

Your personality and photos ooze confidence and self-love. Have you always been so confident with your body?
“No. I wasn’t always this confident. In fact I struggled with confidence since I was young. I always cared about what people thought of me way too much. As a human, I STILL struggle with it from time to time. But, what keeps my confidence growing is ME. what I mean by that is no matter how many shoots I do, how many followers I gain, no matter how many likes I get, I CONTROL HOW I FEEL ABOUT MYSELF and no one else. I have to always have a positive mindset in order for my confidence to grow. I know in my heart that I am beautiful inside and out and no one can make me feel differently. Keeping that mindset is what keeps this confidence going nowhere but up!”

You’ve modelled some beautiful swimwear and lingerie. Are you as confident in less clothing as you are when fully dressed?
“I actually am! It’s crazy how my attitude changes when I model less clothing such as swimwear and lingerie. It’s almost as if the DIVA came out!! Lol!! But I think I feel just as confident, because as I said before, people are afraid of change. I try to embrace it! People don’t expect plus women to look and feel sexy in swimwear and lingerie. And I say, “Why Not?” So when wearing pieces like that I want to show people that we can wear it and LOOK SICKENING IN IT!!!”

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Photography: Myah Jones

What is your favourite type of shoot?
“My favorite type of shoot is a swimwear shoot. It’s fun in the sun and wearing swimsuits that accentuate my curves is the best!”

Where do you shop for clothes that suit curves?
“I typically shop at Torrid, Ashley Stewart, and Forever 21 mostly.”

With the plus industry growing rapidly, more and more girls are wanting to become plus models. What are your tips for someone wanting to embrace their curves and start modelling?

“My tips are to be fierce and confident. Not to be afraid of what YOU want to do and accomplish. Not to give anyone the power to dictate how you feel. This industry is tough, so you must work hard! Once you’ve embraced these things about yourself and this industry, “Baby, you’re UNSTOPPABLE!” 

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Photography: Nikki Gomez

instagram @desireejenkins_

 

Full Figure talk with Christa Jenelle

 

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Photography by House of Clem

When did you start modelling, and why?
I remember when I was 15, and went into one of those “Mall Modelling” companies with a huge smile because I was “chosen” out of many different kids for my look. I also remember breaking down in tears because the lady said to me, “It’s so heart-warming to see a plus-size girl so confident in herself and ready to model at your age”. I at 15 and a size SMALL had no idea that I was plus size simply because of my body shape. I was not pencil thin, or a size 0, I was about a 6-8 at that time with a larger bust and hips for a child my age.

This was the moment I realized what I wanted to do, I wanted to be a plus-size model so that other children saw kids my size in the media. This was 7 years ago when the plus-size movement was still very small. Now, although there is more coverage back then there is still a discrepancy in the industry, “vixens” are being portrayed as “plus-size” but that is not a proper depiction of “plus-size”. The idea behind a vixen is a very small waist, no tummy, big bust, big hips/thighs, and that’s NOT what plus-size is. I have a tummy, and bigger arms to go with my bigger bust, and voluptuous thighs, not just the areas that are considered “sexy”. Body diversity is such a major necessity so that children don’t feel the same way I did, so they are proud of their body. We still have a far way to go, because a vixen body type is just as hard to obtain as a size 0, it’s just as stereotypically seen in the media and shown as the “body to have” and no, the body to have is the body YOU have and that’s what people need to begin to see more in the industry.

Being full-figured, was it a struggle to break through the thin-loving modelling world?

Yes, and it’s a never-ending struggle to be honest. No matter how far fuller-figured models get in the industry I don’t feel that we will ever be on the same page as size 0 models. I remember I used to get told if I just lost a little weight id be a “regular” model and would be able to find more work and castings. I had a lot of photographers who’d over-edit my images and make me look pencil-thin like every other model out there. Until I established myself as a happy plus-size model who specifically wanted to show girls that any shape and size can model and be successful, people continued to try and convince me that change and conformity would be the better option.

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Photography by House of Clem

Bad self-esteem and low confidence is a common thing amongst full-figured girls and women due to our media. Do you have any advice on self-love and body acceptance?

Well first I’d like to say that I don’t believe it’s just common amongst full-figured girls. I’ve witnessed bad self-esteem and low confidence from models across the board, all due to the media. Skinny, is never skinny enough you could say. But all women need to know that as long as you love yourself, and you’re healthy being full-figured, was it a struggle to break through the thin-loving modelling world?

Yes, and it’s a never-ending struggle to be honest. No matter how far fuller-figured models get in the industry I don’t feel that we will ever be on the same page as size 0 models. I remember I used to get told if I just lost a little weight id be a “regular” model and would be able to find more work and castings. I had a lot of photographers who’d over-edit my images and make me look pencil-thin like every other model out there. Until I established myself as a happy plus-size model who specifically wanted to show girls that any shape and size can model and be successful, people continued to try and convince me that change and conformity would be the better option.

I once had someone tell me I should lose 100lbs, and that I would be more marketable that way. Well I’m 175lbs. If I weighted 75lbs at 22 years old and 5ft5in, there would be something very unhealthy about me. If you’re healthy and happy, that’s all that matters and don’t have your happiness be determined by the media showing you what you should look like. Because there’s a size 0 model out there just as unhappy as you are, and she is the size you want to be. Size has nothing to do with it, or at least it shouldn’t.

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Photography by TPA-Trigger

Why do you think, on 2015, there is still a lack of fuller-figured models being published in high fashion publications?

Although Plus-Size models are trending right now, we still have a long way to go in this industry. It’s going to take a lot more time before full-figured models can be found in every magazine. But we are working toward that goal, and we are getting there, slowly but surely.

What has been your personal best achievement as a model?

This is kind of a “fan-girl” moment but Plus Model Magazine recently reposted one of my images on their Instagram. I don’t know, I felt like I finally was noticed haha. It was one of the happiest moments of my modelling career. They actually addressed me personally because people were commenting and being a bit rude, which is everything they strive to be against. They apologized directly, and it meant the world to me.

You’ve got a beautiful curvy figure. How and where do you shop for clothes that suit your body?

Thank you! I actually don’t shop anywhere special I can fit most large or extra large sizes in most stores. I shop at cheap places like Mandy, Wet Seal, and Forever 21. I like those stores most because the cheap clothing is usually too big and baggy, which I love that look. But also once you throw them in the wash they shrink almost to a perfect fit. So basically two looks in one!

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Photography by M76Photo

 

More and more curvy girls want to get into the modelling industry. What is your advice for aspiring models?

It’s going to be hard! If you have the confidence and strength to get through it you will do amazing. And confidence and strength can come from family, friends, and from within. Don’t let anyone convince you that you aren’t good enough, or to change your body.

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Photography by TPA-Trigger

instagram @Coratexplorer

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Interview with Curve Model Kimberly D

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What made you decide that you wanted to be a model?

I have always been told that I should model and never really took it seriously until about 3 yrs ago. I literally woke up one day and decided I was going to give it a shot. I spent a whole year researching other models, plus size designers and agencies. Then I reached out to a model I knew who was already in the industry for advice. The 2nd year I started taking modeling classes (runway & posing) and going to industry events, networking and building my portfolio. The rest is history 😉

Being a curvy model, did you find that there were limitations when you first started modelling?

I am on the curvier side and also on the shorter side, so I did feel a lot of pressure to slim down just so that I could appear taller in print. I feel that as a curvier model some clothing lines will only use you for runway shows or e commerce but prefer to use taller and more slender models for campaigns. It’s a shame but I’ve learned that it’s the reality of this industry. 

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The fashion industry although making huge movement with plus size, is still prominently using slim models in print. Why do you think that the industry can still be reluctant towards publishing plus sized women?

I think that the fashion industry uses mostly slim models for print and campaigns because they feel that the clothing looks better and appeals to more people. I know as a size 16/18 woman, even before modeling I would look at a site like Fashion to Figure with models who are size 10/12 with no tummy and still not be able to judge how the outfit would look on me. Seeing the thin model wearing it is one step better than seeing it on a hanger, but I want to see how it looks on real curves. I believe most plus size consumers are feeling like this and most larger clothing brands  have yet to understand this. Some of the smaller brands Monif C. have listened to public opinion and made the change to use larger size curvy models. 

A debate that has surfaced this year: Keep or drop the plus?

Keep the plus!!! All day, every day… I probably use the term “Curvy Model” more often as in my Instagram name, but plus is positive to me. Plus is equal, although the title distinguishes us from other models as having “more” or “extra” we are still models just the same. I feel like we represent the average American woman and I wear the plus title proudly. 

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You are certainly an inspiration to me, but who are your plus fashion inspirations?

I would say that one of my biggest inspirations from the very beginning of my modeling career has been Jeannie Ferguson…she basically taught me how to walk and pose and gave me the reassurance I needed that I have what it takes to make it in this industry. Another inspiration of mine has been Naimah Terry who was   the model I reached out to initially to get advice about how to get into the industry. Being signed to the same agency and having the honor of working with her on one of my first major shoots was an awesome feeling of accomplishment. She has managed to maintain a steady modeling career in both fit and print and I lucky to now call her a peer and very good friend of mine. I would say one of my other fav model inspirations is Christina Mendez, she made her own lane and continues to stay relevant and slay after years of being in this industry. She has always been encouraging, helpful and kept it real from day one and I respect that. 

Have you always been confident in the skin you’re in?

I have not always been confident in my skin. It took me many years to learn to love my body and embraced curves. Most of my life I was chubby and felt that I needed to be smaller to fit in. I was wearing a 13/14 at age 13 & 14 and through out high school and college. Post college I jumped to 14/16 and then most recently at my biggest 16/18. Would you believe I’ve felt sexier and embraced my body more at my largest size than my smallest. I also realized that when I was a 13, my perception was off…I was comparing myself to thin girls size 6-8-9 and my body has just never been built like that. What I realize now is that I was perfect at that size, and I with I would have loved and appreciated my body way more back then. Too bad I can’t go back and talk to my 15 year old self. 

Many girls these days experience feelings of low self-esteem because of the way they look and their size. As a successful model, do you have any advice for girls who lack confidence?

My advice to girls who lack body confidence and suffer from low self-esteem is that not everyone was made to look the same and you have to embrace the body you were blessed with, learn how to dress to compliment your shape and accentuate your curves and own that shit!!! There are so many more options in fashion now then there was when I was growing up. You only have one body, take care of it & love it. 
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instagram For more from Kimberly, follow her instagram: @curvymodelkimberlyd
– Photography by Rafael Clemente-