BBW's spokesmodel answers questions about modeling, mascara, reluctant boyfriends and vacations at the beach
By Stephanie Zehr
Q. I've always wanted to be a plus-size model. When I contacted a modeling agency in my city, they told me I'd have to pay $1500 to have my photos taken. My friends told me the agency was trying to rip me off. Should I pay the money?
Stephanie: Rip-off would be an understatement, my dear. You should never pay an agency up front for pictures and representation. You should, however, pay a great photographer for pictures. Just make sure you meet with him prior to shooting, check his work out, and get some references from other models. I never shoot with a photographer if I haven't seen his work first.
Q. My friends and I decided that we're going to rent a house at the beach for a week this summer. At the time, it seemed like a good idea, but now I'm having second thoughts. To be honest, I haven't worn a swimsuit in about five years, and I'm really self-conscious about being a plus-size woman among a beach full of hardbodies. I don't want to back out of the trip, but I also want to enjoy myself while I'm there. Do you have any advice to help me survive my vacation?
Stephanie: Honey, you are not alone, I feel your pain. We all need not to let our own insecurities get the best of us. I want you to ask yourself one question: How badly do I want to go on this trip? If the answer is "bad," get out there and get a beautiful bathing suit and a matching cover-up. There are so many suits to choose from, and you can get one with a sarong, a shirt, or even both. Remember, not everyone on that beach is perfect, and as Nike would say, JUST DO IT!
Q. My family and friends always tell me that I'm beautiful, and that I should be a model. I think I do photograph well, but I'm only 5'6" and I've been told that you need to be tall to be a plus-size model. Is there ever any work for shorter women?
Stephanie: The 5'6" thing is a disadvantage. However, depending on where you are located, there may be a lot of local work available to you. You could also try "fit" modeling. Fit models can make a lot of money, but they're more frequently used in larger cities like New York, Los Angeles and Miami.
First thing you should do is to get someone to take snapshots of you. You will need a beauty shot, which is from your neck up, and a full body shot in a classy figure-hugging outfit. Keep it simple, and don't over do it on the make-up, as the agents want to see your face. Now, make an appointment with some reputable agencies in your area. Take the snapshots with you and get their feedback. Ask them if they have clients that are in need of fit or petite plus models.
Q. I live in Canada's North Country. Now when I say north, I mean I live in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, where the winter temperature for the last two weeks has been 40 below almost every day.
What can I do about my mascara running like Tammy Faye Baker after walking to work in the morning? You see, my eyes are the only part on my body that is not covered when I walk out the door. I thought waterproof mascara would work, but I guess nothing works at 40 below.
Stephanie: You have a couple of options. First, you could take your mascara to work with you, and put it on when you get there. Second, you could be really fashionably loud and try some Jackie O. sunglasses - you know, the big round kind. That might help fend off the wind. The third and most extreme option would be...move to California, where the weather is always nice!
Q. My boyfriend and I have been going out for almost six months now. We have a lot in common, have a good time when we're together, and get along really well. I find it odd, though, that whenever there's a family gathering or a social function for his work, he doesn't invite me. I asked him if he doesn't want his family and coworkers to know he's dating a plus-size woman, but he said no. I don't want to be overly sensitive, but I also don't want to continue a relationship where I feel left out. What's your advice?
Stephanie: You are not being overly sensitive! There's something about that situation that smells "fishy" to me. If you've already asked him about the "plus-size" thing, you need to take the conversation a bit deeper. If he says it's not about your size, then ask him exactly why he doesn't want to introduce you. He may have some relationship phobia issues. You know, like the "Well, if I introduce her to my family, and then down the road we break up, I'll look like a loser" issue. The true answer may not lie in your size, but rather in his personal feelings. To keep yourself from having any resentment going forward, you need an answer to the "burning question" quickly! Just be truthful and assertive with your thoughts - he will appreciate it.
Q. I am trying to find a casual watch to wear for everyday, but I'm running into a problem. First, I'm allergic to nickel, so metal bands make me break out. Second, I have an 8" wrist. I don't think my wrist is that big, but apparently watch manufacturers do.
Stephanie: You could do one of two things. Get a necklace watch, which can be found at departments stores. I remember seeing one at Stein Mart, and I believe there are two stores in your area. Or, you could visit www.simplywhispers.com. There is one watch in particular that is nickel-free and fits up to an 8" wrist. It's called palladium watch and has a stretch band. I hope this helps!