PLUS Cover Model Reah Norman is breaking down barriers as a plus model thriving in her curves…
As an only child born and raised in Phoenix, AZ, she moved to Los Angeles about 4 years ago after she graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Merchandising and Photography. She actually moved to LA to attend the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and ended up continuing her education with a degree in Visual Communication. While she was in school she worked as a manager at Lane Bryant, and that is where her modeling journey began.
[Maddy] LA is known for tall, blonde, THIN bombshells – how does a curvy LA beauty maintain a positive attitude? [Reah] When I moved to LA I was concerned that being surrounded by thin LA type bombshells would have a negative impact on my attitude and my self-image, but ironically enough, my experience was the total opposite. I quickly found myself embracing my curves, feeling more comfortable in my own skin, and feeling blessed that I did not fit the mold of all the super thin, bleach blonde women that I was surrounded by.
Maintaining a positive attitude is something that I continue to work at everyday. In this superficial environment, the only way I truly stay real and grounded is having an amazing support system of loving and non-judgmental friends and family who I trust, and who remind me every day of what is truly important in life.
[Maddy] When did you first become interested in modeling? [Reah] I did not consider modeling a possibility until I moved to LA. As a teenager, I always admired models, and both my mother and uncle were straight size models in their teens and twenties. But I assumed it was out of my realm of possibility because of my large build. While I was working at Lane Bryant, I would constantly hear from my customers and co-workers that I looked like the models in the Lane Bryant advertising campaigns. One of my co-workers introduced me to Satu Vuorenmaa; who is a California based photographer who specializes in shooting plus models, and we set up a test shoot soon after.
[Maddy] Who are your favorite plus models and why? [Reah] My favorite plus model is Kate Dillon. I did not even know that plus models existed until I saw her in an editorial spread several years ago. I admire her accomplishments, and that she stayed true to herself, even though it meant walking away from a career in straight size modeling. She is a powerful and positive role model for plus models, and women in general. [Maddy] How did you feel being asked to be on the cover and editorial for PLUS after joining the PLUS directory?
[Reah] I joined the PLUS Model Directory in hopes of reaching a larger audience, so being asked to grace the cover of the magazine was completely unexpected. It is such an honor to be recognized by such a well-respected and influential magazine, and it is awesome to prove that curvier plus models CAN be cover girls. [Maddy] What would be your dream model job? [Reah] It would be amazing to work as a model for Lane Bryant, since that is were my inspiration to start modeling began. [Maddy] Who are your favorite designers? [Reah] My favorite plus designer is Anna Scholz. Her designs are sophisticated, feminine, and I always love the prints that she uses. As far as straight size designers, I have always loved Betsey Johnson, Missoni, and Marc Jacobs.
[Maddy] What was your first modeling job like? [Reah] My first modeling job was a print job for the local California based company Big on Batik. Satu Vuorenmaa was the photographer, and we shot on location at the beach in Long Beach, CA. Satu is an amazingly talented photographer and she truly understands how to accentuate a curvy body. While working with Satu, she taught me all the model secrets – posing and angles, facial expressions, and the importance of the correct undergarments! After our photo shoot I remember thinking, “Yeah, this is definitely what I want to do with my life”! [Maddy] What are the challenges you meet in the modeling industry being a curvier girl? [Reah] Being a plus model in the modeling industry is a challenge in itself, and being on the bigger side of the size spectrum creates an even bigger challenge. It is unfortunate to me that curvier plus models are not more represented in the industry.
Not only as a model, but as a consumer there is nothing more frustrating to me than going on a plus size clothing web site and seeing plus models that do not even look plus size. Personally, I can’t relate to that, and it somewhat turns me off as a consumer.
It would be great to see more representation of curvier plus models in the industry, and being asked to be in PLUS Model Magazine gives me a great sense of hope that there is movement in the right direction.
[Maddy] One big misconception is that plus size models just eat whatever they want, tell me about your diet and exercise regimen. [Reah] Diet and exercise is so important for my everyday life. I have been working periodically with a nutritionist for about 2 years now, and she has given me tools that I use in my everyday life to make good choices about what I eat.
As far as exercise, I just try to stay active and keep it interesting. I tend to get really bored with exercise, so I like to mix it up. I alternate between the elliptical machine at the gym, aerobics class, yoga, walking in my neighborhood, and riding a bike at the beach. Also, having a work out partner really helps me stay motivated.
More about Reah Norman:
If I did not live in LA, I would live in… New York City.
I would love to meet… Tim Gunn, so he can go through my closet.
I cannot leave home without… Lip-gloss and my cell phone.
My ideal Friday night is… Going out with friends for yummy food and drinks. Chocolate or vanilla… Dark Chocolate, but if I have a shake, it has to be vanilla!
My favorite movies are… Sixteen Candles and Singles.
My personal clothing style is… Trendy, casual, and comfortable. I love fashion that is functional. There is nothing worse to me than feeling uncomfortable in what I am wearing!