Plus Size Model, Role Model, and Healthy Body Image advocate shares her story
I've always struggled with my weight for as long as I could remember. Constantly tried to ignore comments from people like "you know you don't need that last biscuit". I became so self conscious about myself that it eventually led to me wearing t-shirts and sweats to school because I didn't even want to try and make myself look pretty. Ever since middle school I've always had a love for acting and just being in front of the camera period. So one day I thought "I don't have to be skinny to be an actress" and decided to finally go to an agency to see what they thought . The guy took one look at me and said "come back when your gap is fixed". I got so down in myself. Growing up I always had a secondary love for sports; basketball especially . I started playing in elementary and eventually continued to play through middle and high school. By playing basketball I began to slim down and by 11th grade I started to get braces . People around me started to change . Guys actually started to seem interested in me and not just "as a friend".
After graduating highschool I moved to California in pursuit of an acting career and got discovered by a modeling agency that specialized in "plus size modeling" . I had no idea what plus size modeling even was. They explained that all models aren't skinny and being plus size by no means is considered "fat". They also explained that it's all about being healthy, and just loving yourself in general and not trying to meet ridiculous standards that other people set up. From that moment on I had a whole new outlook on my life.
I started a program called Herbal Life which was an amazing health journey for me. I ended up loosing 15 lbs in about 3 months and just overall felt healthier. One day I realized I miss modeling. That next week i went to a open call for my present agency Wilhelmina . They loved me! But now being a size 8/9 I was considered too small to do plus size modeling anymore. They gave me the option to gain weight and join the agency if I really wanted to. After weighing my pros and cons I decided to gain the weight. Gaining the weight was extremely hard for me. It's crazy because when I didn't want to get bigger it seemed like that's all I could do but when I wanted to gain a couple inches it seemed nearly impossible. After a long journey of gaining weight I went back to Wilhelmina and they told me I was still too small. I remember going home and crying because I didn't want to get any bigger, but I really wanted to be signed. I made the decision that I wasn't going to gain anymore weight because I didn't want to feel unhealthy . If they couldn't take me as I was comfortably then they weren't the agent for me. So I stuck to my guns and gave up my weight gaining goals. Amazingly, after a couple weeks go by Wilhelmina called me back in and decided to sign me at the weight I was.
Today, I realize that it doesn't matter if your short, tall , skinny , or curvy. The only thing that matters is that your confident and content with yourself. Once you make the decision that your perfectly unperfect body is just the way you are; is when true success awaits you.
Why would you want to be a duplicate of someone else, when you were created to be an original?
As I look around at society, I see a lot of people trying to be like someone else. They are trying to copy the fashions they see in the magazines, trying to wear their hair like the celebrity on the red carpet, and have the same size waist as the models on the runway. I’m not saying wanting to be in fashion is bad at all. What I am saying is that, when people try to be like everyone else, everyone ends up looking the same, acting the same and having the same interests. We end up being a product of someone else’s likes, someone else’s clothing style, someone else’s hair styles, and someone else’s interests. Without every developing our own unique clothing style, hair style, and interests.
Let’s go back to middle school for example, which for me was way back to 2003. Back when Hollister, Abercrombie and Fitch, and Tiffanies jewelry were the “in” thing. I know what your thinking “Middle schoolers with Tiffanies jewelry?” Yes I know it’s a bit out there, but that was the trend at the time. I remember getting a sterling silver charm bracelet, with a heart on it from Sears, because I saw the movie Legally Blonde and I just had to have the same jewelry as lead actress Reese Witherspoon. Going to school the next day, I had many girls come up to me and turn my bracelet around examining it. After they did this, they looked up at me and asked “Is this Tiffany’s?” Honestly in my mind, I was wondering “Who the heck is Tiffany?” “Ummm sure” I blurted out, completely clueless to who or what Tiffany’s was. That night I remember going home and googling what Tiffany’s was, what I found astonished me. The same bracelet I was wearing, that Tiffany’s also sold, went for a minimum of 350 dollars. I’m pretty sure my jaw dropped to the floor that day. Looking at my heart bracelet that was only 30 dollars, I realized that the girls at school were asking if I had got my bracelet from this expensive jewelry store. Ashamed to show up to school with it the next day because it didn’t have the little “Tiffany’s” engraving on it, I put it away in my closet. “There is no way I can’t be seen with this at school,” I told myself.
As middle school continued, I learned that I needed to get the same clothing as everyone else if I wanted to survive. Dragging my mother to the mall, I took her into Hollister, her response was “I don’t understand who would pay 45 dollars for a shirt.” What my mom didn’t know is that if she didn’t buy me that shirt, it was going to be social suicide for me. Examining through the shirts, my mom looked at the prices, looked at me, and then said “There is no way I’m spending this kind of money on clothes that are torn, we are going to Ross.” After she said this, I knew that my hopes of ever fitting in, in the 7th grade had vanished. Ross was not the place to shop, and going up and down the isles I saw nothing but bad fashion. Needless to say I never really got around to wearing a lot of Hollister or Abercrombie. And because of that, I was the social outcast. In middle school it was all about what you wore, what car your parents drove, and how skinny you were. Sounds superficial I know, but at the private school I attended, that is how it went.
This struggle for materialism, and wanting to fit in continued for me into high school. To be honest I couldn’t afford to keep up with the material trends, and because of that I wasn’t the most popular girl. Now looking back I realize how ridiculous the whole thing was. It wasn’t until I reached my junior and senior year of high school that I developed my own bohemian hippie trend that everyone loved. I realized that I didn’t need to dress like everyone else to be beautiful. I didn’t need to conform to the materialist trends of society in order to be accepted. Because being original made people notice me more then fitting in. I didn’t live to be noticed by people. I just stopped caring, and because of that, I learned that I was born to stand out, not fit in.
At the age of almost 25, there are still materialistic trends that get thrown my way, most of which I cant even fit into, which is okay with me. I have learned to see myself as different and be ok with that. I have learned to develop my own clothing style that reflects my outgoing personality. The struggle to fit in, still comes now and again. But when that happens, I just go back to the drawing board of my life, where I have a choice to either fit in, or stand out.
My encouragement to everyone out there is why fit in, why would you want to look like everyone else, when we were all created to be different and unique? I wasted so many years of my life trying to look like everyone else, and let me tell you…it was such a waist of time, and brought me so much emptiness. It’s like I settled for pastel paints, instead of vibrant ones on the canvas of my life. I dimmed my beauty because I was afraid of being different. I would encourage you to make a list this week that is not influenced by other people, of what styles you like, what are your interests, what kind of music you like, etc. This way you will get a drawing board of who you are, apart from other people and society. Dare to be original, dare to be different, dare to unique, dare to be you.
Worthless. Fat. Ugly. These are the things I thought constantly about myself as an adolescent. It all began around the age of about nine or ten years old. I have always felt different than my peers. The bullying and name calling set off a storm that would last for years to come. It wasn’t until high school that it eventually turned into an eating disorder. Nobody really knew about this horrible secret I was hiding besides my best friends and God. I felt hopeless; I honestly didn’t think I was worthy enough for anyone. It wasn’t until junior year, that God had a tremendous plan for me. At that time, I was in a very dark place, pretty much every conversation I had with my friends were “I’m fat, I’m ugly, and no guys will ever like me”. They had enough of my negativity and I knew it. I’d turn to food as a source of comfort. Only to purge it up once I felt full. The thing about an eating disorder is not everyone will look like the stereotypical bulimic or anorexic. Externally I looked fine, but internally dying inside. It wasn’t until the spring time of 2010, that my whole entire outlook on life and body image entirely changed. My parents wanted to find a new church, so one Sunday we went to the Cause Community Church in Orange County. For the junior high and high-schoolers they had an 11am service separate from the adults. That day after praise and worship the boys and girls split into what they call “D-groups” for bible study, group discussion, and prayer. I couldn’t believe the beautiful girls that I met that day. They each had such a positive and shining spirit that led me to want to be close to God again. After that week, I began to pray and ask God to help heal my body and mind. He led me to a place that was somewhat whole again. He also led me to a career that I never imagined I’d be able to pursue due to my appearance. Plus size modeling. Me, a model? Never. Well, my amazing friend Danny was an aspiring photographer at the time, and I wanted to do a photo shoot so we collaborated. Little by little each photo shoot, I saw a change in my smile, stance, and energy. I knew that this was a thing I needed to pursue. I used the photos we took, and sent them out to several agencies. A couple weeks later, I received two responses. One for a plus size clothing company, and another from an agency. Torrid was how I got my first experience as a model. A year later, I worked with Tyra Banks and Seventeen Magazine (which I still can’t believe). Months after that I signed my first contract with a professional agency. Surprisingly, modeling was a way for me to gain my confidence. I began to see that beauty wasn’t about the makeup, clothing, size, or looks. God knew that modeling would be a way for me to show the world the true definition of being, which is undefined. All of these experiences, from the age of ten till now have shaped me into the young woman that I’ve become. I wouldn’t say I’m happy that I had an eating disorder and faced depression but I’m glad that I was able to overcome it and use my platform as a way to inspire girls and guys battling similar issues. Now, I’m newly twenty-one and taking a break from the modeling world. I’m focusing on better myself and being the healthiest person I can be spiritually and physically. My goal will always be to uplift and encourage the younger generation. I’m so passionate about changing my generation and generations to come. I hope by the time I have children that body image won’t even be a topic of debate. Until then, I will strive to be a leader and positive light of God.
The Struggle To Be Good Enough
In life we all have a struggle to be good enough. Whether that be from our parents, that hot boy, other women, society, or in a sport. This struggle to be good enough often leads us to do out of the ordinary things. Whether that be studying all hours of the night to get that perfect grade, spending an extra hour on the tread mill so that we can fit into that dress to look attractive for that guy, working overtime so we can buy the latest trends so that we can fit in. Whatever it is, we all have a desire to be good enough for someone or something.
No matter how many times we have tried to be good enough, is it really ever enough? Are we ever skinny enough, pretty enough for that hot guy, athletic enough, smart enough or trendy enough? No matter how much we try, there is always a prettier girl, someone more talented athletically then us, someone who gets the better grade, or someone who is more fashionable. This constant striving to be enough in whatever capacity that is, leaves us exhausted, and depletes our self worth. When we study so hard for a test, and don’t make the grade, it leaves us feeling incapable and not smart enough. When we work out to get thin so that we can get that hot guys attention, and when he doesn’t give us that attention, it leaves us feeling unworthy. When we train so hard in athletics to make the team, and when we don’t make it, it leaves us feeling like a failure. When we go shopping to get the latest trends, and when we see another girl at school who is more fashion forward then us, it leaves us feeling defeated.
These constant scales and measuring sticks we try to measure up to, to feel good enough, valued enough, and pretty enough, leave us with nothing but emptiness at the end of the day. When will any women ever be athletic enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, or fashion forward enough? These constant standards society gives us are unreachable and unattainable, so that we can keep coming back for more. Most women feel unworthy, incapable, with low self esteem on a regular basis, because of these unrealistic standards society gives us.
So what is our solution to all of this? When we can learn how to see ourselves through God’s eyes, then we will begin to see that we are more then enough just as we are. We don’t have to win homecoming queen, be the most fashion forward, or the smartest to be valuable in His eyes. Our worth in His eyes was defined on the cross when He died for us. You can’t put a price on something that is priceless, and that is what we are in His eyes, priceless. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek to take care of ourselves, and have goals in life. What it does mean, is that we should seek to understand that by us not measuring up to society’s expectations, it doesn’t mean we don’t have value. Our value isn’t found in us being good enough or not being good enough for society. Its found in the eyes of the one who calls is perfect, beautiful, loved, treasured, and valued all the time..our creator JESUS CHRIST.
Written by Christina Boudreau founder of Beauty Has No Size
You Don't Need To Be Perfect To Be Beautiful
I have learned that I can be imperfect according to society, and still be a MASTERPIECE to the greatest artist of all time..God.
Walking through the malls as a young girl, all I saw was perfect. Perfect hair, perfect nails, perfect thigh gaps, perfect skin, and perfect bodies. I didn’t see any imperfection, because the fashion industry had airbrushed all that was imperfect into perfection. As a little girl, I didn’t understand this. I didn’t understand that the images I saw in the store windows at the mall, were imperfect images that were photo shopped to look perfect. Now as a plus size model several years later I understand.
“Your hair is too long, your breasts are not big enough, your hips are too big, I’m going have to photoshop the bags underneath your eyes”, are some of the things I have heard over the last few years as a model. Things about myself, that people see as imperfect, and things that they have sought to make perfect. I’m not going to lie, as a model I have struggled to be perfect enough to those around me. Perfect enough for my agents, perfect enough for clients, perfect enough for photographers, and other models. No matter what I do, my pictures aren’t good enough, my hair is never at the perfect length, my body is never the right size, and the bags under my eyes can never be covered up with enough makeup. This constant cycle of trying to be good enough for the fashion world, has brought me to my knees several times. “When will I be good enough for anybody?” is what I have screamed to the world around me many times.
So many times I have wanted to walk away, so many times I have wanted to rip up all my pictures, so many times I have wanted to walk away from my contracts. But when I go to the mall now at the age of 24 and see the small girls looking at the pictures on the wall and comparing themselves to what seems like a perfect image. I am reminded of why I do what I do. I am reminded of all the little girls I was in treatment with in high school for my eating disorder. I am reminded of why I live to unveil the perfect images, to reveal the imperfection that lies beneath. To show the world that perfection is not reality, it is an illusion painted by the fashion world to sell a product.
I’m not going to lie, at the age of 24 I don’t have what society says is the perfect body. I don’t have the perfect hair, flawless skin, in fact I don’t have a thigh gap at all, or the perfect nails. I am imperfect in every way according to society, yet I am beautiful in every way according to my creator Jesus Christ. I have learned that I can be imperfect according to society, and still be a masterpiece to the greatest artist of all time..God.
If I were to place myself in front of the beauty critics of the world, I would get a 1/10 on their beauty scale according to their standards. But if I were to be put in front of the one who created beauty, The Creator, then I would get a 10/10. The truth is, to society we will all fall short of their beauty standards, no one will ever get a 10/10 no matter how much they try. An even greater truth, is that from the beginning of time…we were always a 10/10 in HIS eyes. Remember everyone..Imperfection Is Beauty.
Ruby's Style Post
Hi!! I'm Ruby Addiline & I love fashion! I have had the great privilege of being raised my three generations of models; my great grandma, my grandma & my mom. My mom was a model for YSL in the 1980s & also made costumes for countless theater shows. These women in my family have been my inspiration. They've shown me how to be timeless in world that's always want change. I much rather be timeless & classic. I find my style to be late 1950s meets 1960. I love dresses & lace, but I also love to look like a total beatnik. I'm also am an aspiring stylist for young adults; I desire to see this generation actually look like they care about themselves & make a difference. It's crazy how the we dress & carry ourselves really affects so much
I love dresses that you can be comfortable in, like this one. & I love jean jackets & the color red. You'll be glad to know that I got that little purse from Goodwill. You can seriously find the best stuff at thrift stores if your willing to dig. I love it.
I love A-line dresses & the color blue. This dress I like to call my "Hazel Grace" dress (yes I am a TFIOS fan). My hair style is inspired from a picture I saw of Audrey Hepburn. She had a little beehive with a pearl headband...I obviously had to have that.
I have a thing for scarves, Jean jackets, & shoes that look like they would be pioneer boots. It's casual & can be made nice for going simply by a scarf.
Dressing up is my favorite. I feel that a person should dress up at least once a week or least when they're not feeling good. It makes me better every time. Life should be celebrated! Here I'm wearing a lovely black & white Kate Spade dress with a classic trench coat, & nude wedges. This outfit, & these colors are always going to be classic, timeless, & tres chic together.
It was my birthday. It was a beautiful sunny day in Los Angeles. I was spending the day at a multi-million dollar home wearing designer clothes and showcasing thousands of dollars’ worth of high end jewelry. The catering was delicious; California fresh salads, organic entrees and vegan treats that melted in my mouth. I ate it all. I felt a little guilt due to the morning fiasco of not fitting into two thirds of the clothing brought by the stylist, but what did I care? I was hungry and I wanted to enjoy my birthday guilt free. I was booked for two days by the New York jewelry company. Today mansion in LA, tomorrow the desert out in Joshua Tree. I never made it to the desert. On my birthday I was fired from the photo shoot because I was too fat for showcasing jewelry. I wasn't a size zero they said. The advertisement came out later and not one of the shots even showed my full body. No one could tell by the advertisement if my body was a size 2 or size 22. At the time I was a size 4. I cried all the way home that day. What was I doing here? Was all the money I spent on healthy eating and training worth it? Did guys think I was fat? Why did God ever let me be a model? Was all of the pain and suffering for nothing?
Flash back to 2010. It is a hot and sweaty day in Orange County. I was rolling down the aisle on my way to pick up marinade for my chicken when a woman who looked like Kat Von D approached me. She told me I should be a model. I thanked her politely. I had heard it all before. I was six feet tall, naturally thin, long strawberry blonde hair. While growing up I been stopped all the time in stores and church by people insisting I go try modeling. I, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with modeling because that is what stupid girls do, thank you ANTM. However the woman insisted. She was a talent scout. Out of pure curiosity I let her take a few pictures of me and she sent them off. Two months later I was signed with Elite Model Management, one of the top modeling agencies in the country. My family and I prayed heavily about it and we felt that it was what God was calling me to do. Like Esther becoming queen: “You have been brought to the kingdom for such a time as this.”
After my first big shoot which landed me on billboards and buses my dad and I spent hours virtually shaving off pounds from my photos with Photoshop so that my portfolio would make me look like a size 2. Again, I was a size 4, but my agency said that my butt needed to be smaller to get jobs. For three years I worked in an industry with the top 1% of socially deemed beautiful women. It was thrilling. I love all of the relationships I made with the makeup artists, stylists, photographers, fashion designers, and art directors. I shot everything from Bagley Mishka to Target, but the pain inside kept growing as a the pounds on the scale stayed stagnant. No matter how much I worked out, cut calories, or binged I stayed at a perfect 4. All I wanted to be was a size 2... or really a size 0. I wanted to walk into a photo shoot and not worry about the stylist’s disappointed face when I couldn't fit into the Tory Burch shorts because my thighs were too big. I hired all sorts of trainers to tell me how to fix my problem. After months of training they would shake their heads puzzled by my lack of results. My agents told me never to do drugs but they offered all sorts of short cut ways to be thinner, diets and vitamin shots. The models I did runway with would pop ecstasy while telling me that they used to do cocaine but now just drank coffee and smoke cigarettes to stay thin. While I didn't want to do anything like that I still would manipulate my food intake and work out 8 hours on nothing but tuna to get me to my goal of 120 pounds. I remember pleading with God to make me thin. He never answered my prayers. After 3 years of trying to fit into the fashion world I quit.
Sometimes I still feel like a quitter. Sometimes I look in the mirror and still think my thighs are too fat. Sometimes I feel like a failure because I couldn't succeed in something that was handed to me. I know those are all lies but I my heart is still healing. God has remained with me during the healing process. He continually reminds me that my worth and beauty rest in him because he created me. I was released from my struggle with food almost the minute I walked away from modeling. When I stopped trying to be skinny, I found a peace that was missing for those three years. I still sometimes wonder why God put me through all of the pain of being told I was fat constantly. I am slowly beginning to see that if I had not gone through this experience, I would still think models were stupid and anyone with an eating disorder was weak. Modeling ironically made me care more about people. It helped me see people as God sees them. We are all his children and we are all beautiful. Psalms 139:1, Acts 17:26-27, Eph. 3:17 - 19
Christina is passionate about restoring value, purpose, identity and beauty to the young women of this generation. Follow- @beauty_hasnosize