8 Questions : with Jamie Litt
By: Jamie Litt
Born in Brooklyn and raised in New Jersey and South Florida, I currently split my time between NY, South Florida and Los Angeles. In addition to modeling, I also own my own design business. Helping to launch the award-winning marketing agency Pop2Life, I was their the Art Director & Designer for years, until I launched my own design & marketing business three years ago, called LittMedia. I also have a deep love of film, and a passion for music. I’ve performed as a singer/songwriter in various parts of the US and Europe. Being an Aunt to 4 (soon to be 5!) nieces is one of my greatest pleasures in life.
1. Tell us about yourself: Describe your working life?
I’ve modeled in print, online, fit and on the runway for brands such as Ashley Stewart, Lane Bryant, Ralph Lauren, Speedo, Hot Topic, Curvezz, Thistle & Bee Too, Igigi, Paris-based OnOz and Courbes & Co, NYC’s Full Figured Fashion Week, etc. I was recently featured on NBC’s The Today Show, and have been on shows / networks such as NBC, CBS, FOX, CNN, BET, USA, VH1, BBC, CW, the Tyra Banks Show, and was featured as an expert guest on FOX News Geraldo at Large, talking about the trend towards curvy women in the media. Most recently, I have a campaign coming out for a new upscale line called Chic At Heart and I can be seen in an upcoming documentary titled “A Perfect 14.”
The most fun I’ve had on location was shooting in Paris with the formidable Velvet D’Amour for her magazine Volup2. She’s incredibly creative, and had me climbing tall lion statues in my stilettos, and lying on the edge of a bridge along the Seine river.
2. Tell us about yourself: How did you get into modeling?
If you had told me when I was a teenager that one day I would be a plus-size model, I wouldn’t have believed you. When I was 17 years old, I was working at my parent’s muffin store, when a customer suggested that I try plus-size modeling. At that time, I had just left my dance company because I couldn’t handle the pressure of trying to keep my weight down. I was only a US size 10 at the time, but I had a very negative body image. I saw myself as larger than I was and thought that being “fat” meant being ugly and unworthy. So I turned down the woman’s offer, because I didn’t want to put myself out into the world as what I considered to be a “fat” model.
For years I struggled with my weight and self-image. Until at the very top of my weight range, I realized that being big and being beautiful were not mutually exclusive. It was as if a lightbulb had gone off. I started accepting and loving myself, and wanting to help other women with their self-image struggles. I wanted to be a role model, but at that point I was too large to be a working plus-size model.
For the first time in my life, I wanted to lose weight for a positive reason. It was not because I didn’t feel “good enough,” but instead because I loved myself enough to know that I deserved to be happy, healthy and the best version of myself. I wanted to move better in my own body and dance again without feeling like I was going to pass out. After I lost some weight, I was ready to dip my toe into the modeling world.
I had some professional photos taken, applied to some online model castings, and started working as a model. My career got its biggest boost after walking as an independent model in Full-Figured Fashion Week 2013, and connecting with brands there.
ADVICE TO POTENTIAL MODELS:
My first piece of advice for women who are thinking about modeling is to ask yourself WHY do you want to be a model? Is it because you love fashion and have a passion for telling a story in front of the camera, or is it because you are seeking approval from outside sources? One thing you should know is that becoming a model is not exactly self-esteem building. You must be able to take extreme criticism about yourself and what others see as your flaws, and still be able to look in the mirror and know that you’re beautiful. Plus-size modeling can be alot of fun, and a great way to travel, wear amazing clothes, and inspire others, but you have to go into it knowing that it’s not always easy.
You should also know that plus-size models do, in fact, workout. It’s important to maintain a proportional figure and stay within a certain size range for clients. There’s not the same pressure that straight-size models have to be unrealistically thin, so we do get to actually eat…however, it’s still important to watch your diet, take impeccable care of your skin, and be as toned as possible.
Finally, it’s important to work with a good agent, and at the same time it’s just as important to connect with brands yourself. I have gotten about half of my modeling work by connecting directly with brands at fashion shows and through reaching out to them myself. When you do look for an agent, make sure you are prepared with great photos, and make sure the agent is a good fit for you, because he/she will be representing you.
ABOUT INSPIRATION AND STRAIGHT-SIZE MODELING:
I honestly don’t think that I would want to be a straight-size model. Not only do you have eat like a bird, but I think more often than not, size 2 models make women feel negatively about themselves. One of the things I like most about being a plus-size model is that I help show women that they can be beautiful at any size. If I’m rocking a figure-hugging little red dress at a size 16, then someone who sees my ad may think “Wow, I can totally rock that dress at my size too!”
ABOUT THE WORD “FAT”:
There is absolutely nothing inherently wrong with the word “fat.” Babies have fat and it’s adorable. We need fat in our diets and on our bodies to survive. Society has given the word “fat” a negative connotation to separate people within a social hierarchy, making us feel bad about ourselves so we buy their products in hopes of achieving their unrealistic standard of beauty. “Fat” isn’t the only way society does this… our culture’s obsession with age is another major self-hatred driven revenue stream.
I think it’s important not to judge yourself by society’s beauty standards. Judging yourself by someone else’s standards will never make you happy. Not only is it unhealthy to base your self-worth on someone else’s approval, but it’s an exercise in futility because that standard constantly changes with society’s trends. Ideal body size is also something that changes within particular cultures throughout different time periods.
What is the one item of makeup you think makes the biggest difference?
Mascara. It opens up my eyes and makes me look awake even when I’m not wearing any other makeup.
3. Tell us about your education: Have you attended fashion modeling courses? What related courses or studies have you taken?
I find that the best way to learn is through experience. I learned how to pose by constantly test shooting and I received my best runway education during rehearsals for Full Figured Fashion Week, working with the incomparable Sharon Quinn.
4. What are your goals as a model?
I’d like to continue to work with innovative designers to change the world’s perception of conventional beauty. I want to inspire women to be confident about their bodies and themselves at any size, and any age. I would like to work for many years to come and break down the age prejudice that exists in the fashion and entertainment industries. I would love to host my own TV show at some point, merging style, health and inspirational living. I’d like a fashion spread in Vogue, to open a runway show at NYFW, have a starring role in a successful feature film, and after that, of course, I’d like world peace.
5. Romantic Life: Are you seeing someone?
At the moment, I am not in a serious relationship. I’m still looking for my ultimate partner-in-crime.
6. Do you see your weight as an obstacle to a relationship?
Not really. I think confidence is key in attracting a man, at ANY size. When you are confident, you take care of yourself…you dress up, you put on makeup, you smile, you strut. Men pick up on those signals, and they find confidence sexy. I don’t usually see my weight as an obstacle to a relationship, because whomever I am supposed to be with will accept everything about me, and will be attracted to me because of, as opposed to in spite of, my curvy figure.
In fact, my self-confidence led me to meeting (and dating) a handsome actor who I’d had a crush on growing up. I met him on a plane a few years ago and instantly knew as an adult he was my type. Instead of being timid and nervous to talk to him, I smiled and introduced myself. When we landed, we talked some more, and he asked for my number. Before parting, I said “By the way, you’re very handsome.” During our first date, he told me that comment was very cool because he thought it was sexy that I was confident enough to say that.
He was also very expressive about how much he loved my body. One time, he grabbed my belly and said “I love this part right here.” My former insecure teenage self would have cringed that he grabbed my fat roll… but instead, I thought it was cool and endearing that he was not only okay with my body, but really enjoyed it and expressed those feelings.
7. As a role model, what do you do to support the plus size community?
I work with teenage girls and women on their body image and self-esteem. I teach them that they shouldn’t wait until they hit some “magic number” on a scale to love their bodies and live the lives that they want. If you are insecure, you will always find something wrong with your physical self that is “not good enough.” I teach them to love and celebrate themselves just as they are, in the now. In various ways there’s always room for improvement, but it should come from a place of honoring who you are and where you want to be, instead of from a place of needing to improve to feel good enough.
I’ve also created a self-esteem program at a weightloss camp for teenage girls, where I held classes, did photoshoots to show them that they are beautiful just as they are, and created a fashion show to let them strut their stuff on the runway.
In the next couple of months, I also plan on launching FruitfulFigures.com, about style & inspirational living.
8. Top tips for living a Happy, Healthy PLUS SIZE Life!
- Be confident. The sexiest thing a person can wear is confidence. Often times, the thing you’re most insecure about is something others might not notice at all… If you own your fabulousness, that’s all they’ll see!
- Know that you CAN rock ANY style…there is no trend that is “off limits” simply because you’re a large person. You just need to find the right version of that style for your body shape.
- Treat yourself well. Eating high quality, healthy food and exercising are important at any size.
- Do not allow self-doubt to prevent you from experiencing life to it’s fullest. When I was younger, I thought I was too fat to go to the beach…fast-forward to my adult self, who recently came back from an awesome beach vacation, where sailing and jet skiing were among my favorite activities. Life is too short to waste your time putting limits on yourself and missing out because of insecurities.
- Use Spanx wisely. I love wearing body smoothers to enhance my shape and make me feel firmer in my favorite curve-hugging dress, but at the same time, I don’t wear them every day. A girl’s got to be comfortable! (When you do wear them however, I recommend Maidenform or Flexees’ BYOB body smoother.)
- You are more powerful than you know. Every thought you have gives off an energy that has a ripple effect on your life. Use them to create positive things!
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