Beauty, Body Image, and Brains
Muscician, former Plus Size Model, and College Student speaks out
I was supposed to go to public school, but my grandma loves Jesus and wanted me to go try out a private Christian school for a year. I was really dreading it and had previous expectations of how a private Christian school would be, so I wasn’t planning on staying past my freshman year. But when I got there, the people were the most radiant, loving people I had ever met, and my heart started to open up to the idea of Jesus, because if these amazing people were so amazing because of Him, maybe I wanted Him too. So I started asking questions and going to church, and really came to know Him over time, even though He already knew me. :)
Wow that is so rad, can you tell us a little bit about your story as a plus size model?
I started plus modelling when I was 12/13. I was in the Maryland area so I was signed to a local DC agency who later sent me over to an agency in NYC, who sent me over to an LA agency when I moved. I never really got much work as a plus size model since the category starts at size 10 and I barely made it as that. It wasn’t until I gained weight a few years later and started getting client’s attention, but even then, I was too small for most campaigns.
What were some of the biggest things you learned about yourself, and the world around you as a model?
I really had to learn to look at myself and my body through the lens of my heavenly father. I had high school telling me to be more like the petite skinny girls who got the attention from boys, and then the plus industry telling me to gain weight to make more money, and it warped how I viewed my self image. I didn’t know which one I wanted to be, and healthy was the last option for me, it was always one or the other. I’m still to this day learning how to love myself and look at myself through God’s eyes and not the lens of anything else.
Was it hard dealing with the pressures of forcing yourself to be over what was considered healthy for you as a model? Can you tell us a little bit about that?
It was absolutely difficult. At 12 years old I was told I was plus sized. Before that, I had this love for myself and my body and to be honest I didn’t have a care in the world. After that, I would go on runs maybe 2 times a day, and count every calorie, really stressing about my weight. Though I never gave into an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia, I had my own disorder of obsessing. It controlled my mind, and it was my secret priority. Then when I moved to CA and the modelling world really stressed that the heavier you are, the more you work, I was so confused and mentally drained from trying to lose weight, I just stopped working out and hit the other extreme; binge eating. I would eat massive amounts and not care. I gained 20 pounds and still barely booked anything. Was the modelling agencies happy? Yes. Was I? Absolutely not. I had so much pressure from both sides and trying both sides that I was miserable. I wasn’t healthy or happy, and though I might have acted like it, It was just a show.
What would be your message to young girls out there who feel like they need to be thin, or even gain weight to be beautiful or accepted?
Like the name of this blog, beauty doesn’t have a size. You can be beautiful and love yourself at any size. If you are trying to be thin or gain weight for the acceptance of others, you will only be happy temporarily. If you are losing or gaining weight to be healthier, then I support you. I think with the curves movement and the skinny girls movement, we miss out on the health movement. That’s what we should be pushing, health at whatever body type you have. Forget what’s hot and trendy, is it healthy? Either way, you can love yourself and think you are beautiful no matter where you are, you are hand crafted by the creator of the universe.
Should we have to change ourself to fit in? And why?
No, I feel like fitting in is just changing your individual color to look like everyone else, and it’s a shame. Every individual is so special and thought out by God in everything we do. Our laugh, what we love, what books we like, our hands, our hair, our skin, everything that makes us, all of it is so special that to change it or alter it to fit the norm or what is socially acceptable, would be a waste of who we are and what we are made to do.
Being in high school what was it like? Did you struggle with body image? And in what way?
High school was nice. God used my High School as a vessel for me to know Him. But at the same time, like I said before, I had a lot of body issues going on underneath the surface. I never really spoke out about them, but they were there all the time, and they became their own idol in my life.
What helped you to overcome those struggles?
I’ll keep it real with you. I’m still dealing with body issues. I’m constantly asking God to change the lens of how I view myself to the way he views me, because I’m still looking at the modelling industry and college and thinking of how I can look better. It’s not an overnight thing, it might take years and years, and I’m definitely in that process now.
What would you tell other girls who are struggling with their body image who are in junior high or high school?
You are not alone. I’d say most girls struggle with body image but a lot don’t say anything. You don’t have to change yourself to fit in. You are a beautiful individual with your own features that make you special and unique. Look at yourself as a daughter of the most High King, and you will see how much it changes your life. Don’t look at what the guys like or what will pay more as a model, focus on health, no matter what size you are, because your body is counting on you to feed it the necessary things to live a longer life and fight off diseases. (I’m not saying I’m perfect at this because I’m still trying to eat healthier myself)
Even after modeling for a company like Nordstrom did that make you feel beautiful? And complete? And why not?
Of course you feel freakin’awesome going on a plane, staying in a hotel and getting paid big bucks to take photos. It sounds and is awesome at times. But it’s a tiring day. You might feel insecure about what the photographers say about you while you are in the dressing room, or you might look at the other models shooting and compare yourself. It’s a glamorous job, but you pay a price and you have to be ready to not get sucked into certain things. When I saw my pictures from Nordstroms, I was sad. I had gained so much weight and was the heaviest I had ever been. I didn’t feel healthy or comfortable in my own skin. And I didn’t want to stay in that place anymore just to make money and have the title of a model, so soon after that I left the plus industry. If one day I can work at a healthier size, one that I feel comfortable in, maybe I will come back to the industry.
A lot of girls feel the pressure of looking like a model, what would you say to them?
Models don’t even look like models. It’s a lot of lighting, stylists, and makeup and hair artists. Let’s not forget photo shop too. Being a model is something I used to cling to and put my identity in because I didn’t feel good enough with just being a normal high schooler. At one point I didn’t get much attention from guys unlike my friends, so having a title like being a model was something I would use to feel better about myself. But it’s so much more than a title and you are so much more then labels. Focus on being the best you, you can be.
Now that you are in college, what has changed from high school?
High School for me was very lukewarm until the end of my junior year. The people I hung around definitely effected the way I saw things and I didn’t want to let go of that double life. I’ve had to cut out and distance myself from a lot of old friends and things I used to enjoy, to live my life fully surrendered to Christ. I don’t regret it and though it’s harder to let go of things that you love but cause you to stumble, a full life with Jesus is more than you can ever get from anything else.
You currently are a musician and have your own you tube channel called Yumi right? Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Sure! I'd been doing youtube covers since I was a sophomore on my old channel "Liv Nootenboom Music", until recently I decided it was time for a change and a fresh start, musically. I never really took my other channel seriously, so I wanted this new channel to be more professional and a better representation of who I am and what I want to do. I’m still trying to figure out what style I want to do for music, and even my style for everything in general, and this channel has given me new opportunities and room to grow and do so.
In what way do you seek to reach young women?
God really planted it on my heart to touch on topics that the youth ministry is missing, i.e.: the more real subjects that never get touched on. Since most of my family aren’t Christians and I’ve had most of my friends in the secular world, I have a good understanding of the other side of things and how to talk to people about Jesus in a lighter way, maybe a way that people who don’t know Jesus can understand. Like you, Christina, I seek to bring realness, biblical truth and compassion to reach young women.
What is the most important thing, having a perfect body, or brains? Do you feel like a lot of girls now are more concerned with their looks then investing in who they are as person from the inside out?
I think we live in a fallen world, and a world that is obsessed with surface things that fade. It’s not our fault that we are influenced by that, we grow up in that (in a way), but we have the power to let it change us or be different. I don’t think it’s wrong to wear make up, or dress nice or want nice skin, etc, but I do think, while we do that, we should work on our soul just as much, letting God heal and mold us and learn to value ourselves as a person and not an object. It’s a balance, you don’t have to let go of one or the other. Take care of both, your body and brains are God’s gift to you, but remember that nothing will ever be perfect.
Thank you Liv, if you could say anything to the girls about beauty, body image, and brains what would you say?
I think all are important. Internal beauty is something that will last your whole lifetime, even when you get old and wrinkly. As for body image, love yourself regardless of what the scale tells you, and take care of your body because it’s counting on you. And lastly, don’t waste your brain, especially in this generation of technology and media. Read a book, go on a walk and admire God’s nature, read God’s word and make sure you feed your brain with good things for the soul as well.
Liv's Social Media
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YumiOfficial
- Instagram: http://instagram.com/yumiofficial
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/yumiofficiall
- Tumblr: https://www.yumi-yumi-yumi.tumblr.com
- Vine: (yumi) https://vine.co/u/954955718736474112
- Email: email@example.com- Music Channel: https://youtube.com/YumiMusicOfficial- Spiritual/Other Channel: https://youtube.com/YumiGirlOfficial
The value of a painting is seen through the eyes of the artist
Have you ever been in an art gallery before? When you walk into one, what do you see? We'll usually… various rooms and rows of paintings. Usually each individual room in an art gallery has paintings from a featured artist. As you move from room to room, the featured artist is different. One thing you will probably observe, is that the style of paintings from room to room changes. Which directly reflects the heart of each artist, and their paintings. In one room, it may be all landscape art, in another it may be urban art, and another it may be impressionist art.
I've often wandered into galleries like this, and there is a specific type of painting I haven't seemed to have wrapped my mind around over the past few years. They are the paintings that have one circle, square or some shape painted on it, with a few splashes of paint around it. These paintings are often valued at thousands of dollars, and yet they look like a first grader painted them.
Someone like me who doesn't know anything about the heart behind these paintings, cannot really put value on this kind of art. As an onlooker, I cannot value it the way the artist can, because I don't have the artist’s eyes for their artwork. Yet when the artist walks in, they remind me of their heart and vision behind these art pieces. When they do this, my eyes are opened, and I am able to see the painting’s value, just as the artist does.
This is what often happens in our life. As God’s painting, we often have onlookers come and don't see the value in us that God sees. They put a price tag of our worth on us, that is usually way less than what God sees our value as. Just an important side note.. our value is PRICELESS in God’s eyes. Whether it be a boy at school, our family at home, or society. Sometimes people from those areas in our life can't and shouldn't determine our value because they don't see us through the eyes of our artist. When people decide to make fun of us, call us less then what we are, or devalue us. Just remember, they are just an onlooker who knows nothing about the true beauty that lays upon the canvas in our life. So remember…the value of the painting of our life is seen through the eyes of our artist..God.
"You are more then enough...JUST as you are"
Growing up I wasn't like the other girls at school. Most young women hit
puberty in middle school, or high school and well...I hit puberty at the age of
9. Having a woman's body in the 4th grade wasn't popular, nor was it considered
beautiful. As a competitive swimmer I was working out 2 hours a day, 5 days a
week and I was still a size 12 on a 5'9" frame. I had big strong thighs, hips,
and curves. In the 4th grade was when the bullying began. The kids at school began calling me names,
which gave me a one way ticket to becoming the reject of my school. Running
home from school one day, I looked in the mirror, and saw myself through the
eyes of those who had made fun of me. Needless to say, my hatred for my body
began that day at the age of 9. I began working out at the gym at the age of
12, on top of my 2 hour swim practices to get thinner. When that didn't work, I
began dieting, and when dieting didn't work, I began to starve myself. My
hatred for my curves, thighs, butt and hips grew over the years as anorexia
developed into bulimia. All I saw when I passed by the magazines in the stores
were diet adds promoting flat stomachs, and women who were able to stand with
their feet together and still have a thigh gap.
I hated my body, and believed that no man could ever love me for my
shape. Who told me this? The media. It was plastered all over the commercials,
billboard ads, and magazines. These messages screamed out to young women all
over the world including me, telling us that we need to be thin, with the
perfect body to be accepted and loved by a man. Then one say something struck
me, if I couldn't learn how to love my body then how can I expect a man to love
my body. These negative messages destroyed the way I thought about myself and
the way I saw myself. So in order to change the way I saw myself, I needed to
change the mirror I was looking into. When I looked into the mirror of society,
all I saw were flaws. But when I looked into the mirror of Gods eyes, all saw
was the beautiful creation I was made to be. I didn’t see what I wasn’t, I saw
what I WAS.
My journey to self acceptance and self love continued even after recovering from
eating disorders at the age of 18. I have learned along the way, that comparing
myself to others will kill the way I see myself. Even now when I pass by the
magazines at the store, or see the perfect models in the windows at the mall. I
am still tempted to change my body to look like theirs, in order to be accepted,
loved and validated. When this happens, I continually go back to the canvas of
my life, and ask God to help me see myself the way He does. When I do this, I am
able to see myself through his eyes. Resulting in me being able to see myself as
beautiful, just as He sees me as beautiful and understanding in my heart that I
am more then enough…just as I am.
Remember girls, thigh gaps, hip bones sticking out, and a flat stomach
can't buy you happiness. It can't buy you popularity, acceptance, love or true
peace. I have met models in the modeling industry who have the thigh gap, hip
bones sticking out, and a flat stomach. Yet still they don't feel good enough,
beautiful enough, or happy. I have also seen girls when I was in rehab for my
eating disorder, who were starved down to the bone. Yet still even at 80 pounds,
the thigh gap, and flat stomach didn't buy them the happiness the media promised
them. You can go on all the diets and exercise plans in the world. But if you
don't make a choice to love yourself from the inside out, those things will
never make you happy. Choose today to love the person you were born to be,
choose to focus on what you love about your body instead of what you hate about
your body. Self love can't be bought in a diet pill or wardrobe...it's found by
having a loving relationship with the person you were born to be.
Christina is passionate about restoring value, purpose, identity and beauty to the young women of this generation. Follow- @beauty_hasnosize