When we think of Hawaii, we picture beautiful beaches, sunny blue skies and warm embracing people. Well out of this paradise comes yet another beauty and her name is Rasha. Most of you will recognize her from “The Biggest Loser” and remember her dramatic weight loss as she went from a size 18 to a 10/12. How has her life changed since the show and how does she feel about her weight loss?
Sharon Quinn, den mother on the reality show Mo’niques Fat Chance, interviewed Rasha to find out more about life after “The Biggest Loser”.
[Sharon] What was life like for you growing up as a plus sized child in Hawaii?
[Rasha] First of all, I already stood out, because, despite my melting pot of different nationalities in my background, I am the lightest in my family. Standing at 5 foot 8 was a giant in Hawai‘i, and then to add on the fact that I had friends who came from mostly Asian backgrounds, I looked enormous next to them.
My sister and I are as physically different as possible – and although she was always the skinny one, it was my sister who always kept my spirits up by recognizing my beauty. But I always stuck out. My boyfriends were always darker, and so much smaller than me. I know I got started with dating early, because I thought that by dating lots of guys meant that I was beautiful, and it gave me self-worth (I know now that was ridiculous!)
[Sharon] When did you originally begin your career as a plus sized model and what agency were you signed with then?
[Rasha] I started my plus size modeling career in January 2003 in Portland, Oregon, when I signed with Q6 Model & Artist Management. A few months later I signed with Seattle Models Guild. They are the two top fashion agencies in the Pacific Northwest. My sister, Yvette, a (size 2) model took me to her agent (Q6) in Portland, and they wanted to represent me within my first few weeks of moving back to Portland from L.A. and Honolulu.
I had no luck finding an agent in L.A. and Honolulu, after being told that I was too big for the Plus market in those cities. It was the exact opposite in Portland & Seattle.
[Sharon] One of the biggest misconceptions about being a plus sized model is that you have free pass to eat whatever you like. Now you and I both know that’s not true at all… Can you describe the “unhealthy lifestyle” that you mentioned living in your bio?
[Rasha] When I first became a Plus-Size Model, I did eat whatever I wanted, and Edwin did right along with me. I thought that I had free range to do so, because I was selling “big & beautiful”. We ate any and everything, and never worked out, other than my playing softball. I became so lazy playing ball that I would hit home runs so that I didn’t have to run around the bases. It was that bad. I just felt lethargic from eating too much junk, and not being active enough.
[Sharon] What was the turning point for you? Can you remember the exact moment you decided to change your unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy one?
[Rasha] I honestly remember watching the first season of “The Biggest Loser”, and identifying with every single cast member on that show. I had been hiding behind “my plus-sized-beauty” for so long. I remember breaking down into tears, and realizing that I wanted to change my life. I didn’t want to be skinny (I never have been), I wanted to be healthy. The exact moment that made me decide to send the audition tape in was when I saw Bob Harper (my soon-to-be Blue Team trainer) on the show, telling Mo that anything was possible, and Mo was well-over 400 pounds! It was the first time I had seen people like me on TV
[Sharon] In what way would you say the “media interest’ in your career has helped you? Or has it hurt you?
[Rasha] The media interest, without a doubt, has helped me. Once people found out that I was a Plus-Size Model (for whatever reasons, producers decided to not broadcast that fact when the show initially aired), the media started to love the fact that I wasn’t going after an unrealistic goal of being the next skinny girl. I just wanted to be healthy, happy, and above all else, sexy in my own skin.
I actually lost too much weight after the show for my liking, and my clients’ liking (even after gaining back a few pounds, I still have not done any Runway, only Print – I was told by Macy’s a few weeks ago that I was too small – HOW CRAZY IS THAT!!!) I feel happy in my own skin now. NBC is now very proud of the fact that I am a Plus-Size Model, and they are always looking out for media outlets for me.
[Sharon] As a reality show alumnus myself, I very am curious as to how “Overnight Celebrity” has changed your life?
[Rasha] I remember one of the creators of the show taking me aside before we started taping and said to me, “Rasha, your life will forever be ‘before The Biggest Loser, and after The Biggest Loser, it will never be the same” -and boy, was he right! People come up to me every day, and ask me, “weren’t you on ‘The Biggest Loser?”, and I love it, because, like “Fat Chance”, you and I have inspired people.
At first when I had gained back some weight, I was afraid of what the public might think, and then I realized how “real” it is. I am beautiful just the way I am, but most importantly, I am happy. The best part about the Celebrity Status is that when I go home to Hawai’i, I am embraced with open arms wherever I go. They are very proud that I am a Hawaiian girl. I am even on the list of “Famous Hawaiians”, right next to Bette Midler. 🙂
[Sharon] History has shown us that as quickly as the media can “make” your career, they can “break” it twice as fast. Since you lost a considerable amount of weight, do you find the media and/or your fans either consciously or unconsciously trying to monitor every morsel of food you put in your mouth these days?
[Rasha] Everyone always watches what I eat, and especially what I put into my shopping cart at the grocery store. If they catch me having a cheat day, I tell them that I am human, and that I am going to work it off the next day. I am not about depriving myself. One of my good friends, Devin Alexander, who co-authored “The Biggest Loser Cookbook” that came out a few weeks ago (Edwin and I have recipes in her book as well) has been helping me with making healthier versions of the “bad foods” I love – like cupcakes. 🙂
[Sharon] What’s up next for Rasha?
[Rasha] It looks like I will be traveling non-stop for the next few months. I’ve been back-and-forth to Honolulu, L.A. and San Francisco, and will be on my way to New York soon. I am in talks to sign with Wilhelmina NY (fingers crossed), and if that doesn’t happen, I will conquer the world another way. I have been approached to go to Germany to model there. My goal is to sign deals with big clients, like Lane Bryant, Just My Size, Torrid, anyone with a positive message. On the home front, I have promised my family that I will sing more, and write more (maybe a book?), and I need to sneak in a few extra kisses for my husband, since I haven’t seen him a whole bunch since my career has started to blossom. We’re newlyweds, so we have a puppy named Stitch, and maybe we’ll have a pup, or two of our own in a few years. Whatever happens, I know my life has only just begun.