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Marjorie & Meara, Winners of the everyBODY Model Search!

Earlier this year, PLUS Model Magazine joined forces with designer Marla Wynne, for a very exciting model search… the #everyBODYModelSearch. The model search was open to women of all shapes and sizes within the U.S. The winners would represent  both the “missy” and “plus-size” categories on our cover and fashion feature.

After receiving submissions from thousands of women, Marjorie Burnette and Meara Oberdieck were chosen as our winners, receiving a trip to NYC, $1,000 Marla Wynne wardrobe and a photoshoot with PLUS Model Magazine.

Meet our model search winners Marjorie and Meara. 

Marjorie

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How did you hear about the #everyBODYModelSearch?

I follow PLUS Model Magazine’s website/blog and turned on their post notifications a while back. One day I got an alert for a post announcing a model search with more details to be given the day Marla aired on HSN. I watched HSN on a Saturday and I submitted the following day! The rest was up to my votes and supporters!

During our shoot, you told us about your campaign to win this model search. Can you share this story with our readers?

My campaign was simple. I want others to see themselves as beautifully as possible at any given size. I’ve been anywhere from a size 8-22. I’ve never known what it’s like to be “skinny” or “fit” so I have been forced to love my curves because that’s just who I am. Others see me as beautiful because I see me as beautiful. Who defines MY beauty? Them or me? Ask yourself that question and answer honestly. There are a lot of people who are physically beautiful to the world but to themselves they aren’t. All they see are flaws. Why? Because they haven’t accepted themselves yet.

What does body confidence mean to you?

Body confidence is loving and liking that God-given body you have. Yes, Girls, it’s THAT simple. There’s no special equation to this, either. It means wearing what you want when you want and feeling like a queen. It means feeling free to be yourself and living to your fullest potential as a woman.

Succeed in life and understand that body confidence changes your perception of life. My body journey was me getting curvier and curvier as I got older. My curves are pretty much everywhere. I grew up with slim friends but we participated in the same activities such as cheerleading, softball, matching band and high school sororities. We did everything together all the time and I’ve been blessed with great people who never saw me as “the fat friend” but saw me as I am: a goofy, loud, no filtered friend.

The truth is, not everyone is as shallow as we think. You have to be a woman with more going for you than your looks. Have something that lures people into you internally. I think that’s why “body confidence” exists in the first place. Those women we admire online have lured us in with more than just their looks. That’s an added bonus.

Trust me, I’ve met the beautiful Maddy Jones (@plusjones) in real life and she’s just as pure and beautiful inside as I first viewed her online. And let’s not get started on Marla, not only is she a powerhouse, she’s funny and spunky and such a joy to be around. And my co star, Meara, once a stranger, now friend, has so much talent and wit and that makes her that much hotter! Yes, that girl IS a babe. But that’s what I’m saying… their inner beauty is what I fell in love with. Visibly beautiful internally as well as externally.

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What does winning this model search mean to you?

Winning this model search means so much to me! I was in shock until I literally got off the plane headed BACK home. I was like, did that really just happen? I want to be a plus size model, of course… not just an aspiring one. Being published on THE Plus Model Magazine cover is huge!! I literally subscribed to their magazine about 3 years ago. It’s the plus size fashion Bible. Duh! I have worked so hard within the last year. I’ve been told “no” plenty of times. I sometimes didn’t even get a response. That’s the thing with this industry; you have to be able to get 1000 rejections before you get an acceptance. This was my acceptance and boy, oh boy, is it a big one!

We had such a great time with you and Meara at the welcome dinner with Marla Wynne and stylist, Steffany Allen as well as the next day at the photo shoot. What are the highlights of your weekend in NYC?

Are you kidding me?!? In normal girl talk, Marla Wynne stopped and asked “What’s a bae?” <laughs> That was priceless. We taught her what a “bae” was in HER home while drinking wine with our shoes off! I was in New York City for the first time and it was for a fashion magazine shoot with a fashion designer, a fashion stylist and a fashion editor! I experienced the model treatment every single day, but the friendships that I made are the most important, I can’t lie. I was a bit nervous at first but the entire weekend was amazing! I’m still talking about it and posting pictures on my social media. I was able to sit face-to-face with the industry elites and get some amazing advice that I will cherish and incorporate in my journey as a plus model. Most notably when Maddy said, “Stay humble. You’re in for some amazing opportunities, just watch! But you girls will have to stay humble.”

Follow Marjorie:

Instagram: @marj___bee
Snapchat: @marjmadness

Meara

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How did you find out about the #everyBODYModelSearch?

Recently, I offhandedly mentioned to my friends how I’d always wanted to model but never really fit into any of the categories. One of these friends saw the contest on Instagram the week after (two weeks after voting began) and remembered what I had said. Excited would be an understatement to describe how I felt. The “photoshoot” and experience went something like this:

Another friend with a nice camera, who works at a jewelry company, came to pick me up after work and we went to some acreage south of our little Iowa farming town. With the help of her friend holding some reflectors and a bottle of tequila, the photos were born! I think my facebook friends are still recovering from all my harassment. I sent every one of my 1,224 facebook friends a personalized message requesting they vote. Needless to say, I was and am thrilled to be involved!

What is your body confidence journey?

When I was growing up, I was taller and bigger than all of the girls and most of the boys in my class. Kids can be cruel, and that was certainly the case in my life. By the time I was 13, I was considered obese. The doctors told my parents I needed to lose weight and that idea was constantly reinforced through, not only everything I watched/ listened to/ read, but socially as well. Puberty is rough on most people, and it certainly was for me as the biggest kid in class who also happened to be incredibly sensitive and socially awkward.

The next few years were miserable. While some of the weight came off as I began to share more meals with smaller friends, I was fed up with my self-loathing. By the time I was 17, In my mind, I was fat, lazy, and hopeless and wouldn’t deserve the good parts of life until I became thin. So I lost 70 lbs. I lost the last 30 in a month by allowing myself one salad a day for lunch. I desperately wanted to begin my adult life at 18, thinner and loving myself more. And while I was very thin for my birthday party that month, I wasn’t as happy as I thought I would be. In fact, I was still completely depressed. And very, very hungry.

Of course I couldn’t maintain this, so for the next several years I was in a constant cycle of binge eating, starving, over exercising, and every single type of diet you can possibly imagine.

It’s not until very recently that I began to come out of this cycle. Through lots of self work, education and healing, I’ve managed to start to learn to love my body. After comparing myself to other women and trying to strive for other’s ideals, I’m finally able to focus more on myself. I invest a lot of my time and effort into taking care of my physical and mental health and for the first time in my life, I can finally say I feel beautiful.

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We had a fabulous time during the photoshoot weekend. What will you remember most from your time with Marla Wynne and team PMM?

I will remember the work ethic and big hearts of all of these phenomenal women and men.

Marla has had, not one but two, very successful careers. Hearing her story of how she was able to change course and follow her passion after dealing with serious family health struggles and career hardship was something that hits very close to home for me. To be welcomed into her home and to be dressed by her was so amazing…To go from being a Goodwill regular to getting new, elegant clothing picked exactly for me; it was living the dream.

Maddy, you are a beautiful saint who inspires so many women and takes us under your wing. To see how hard you work for so many women, for your family, and for your magazine has completely warmed my heart and inspired me. To think of all of the self love you’ve inspired in others over the years while dealing with your own struggles motivates me to want to do the same.

To the rest of the PMM crew, it was such a pleasure and an honor to work with you! Tara, the steady-handed makeup guru who put up with my eyelids twitching, Matt, the new hairstylist who sang for me and re-curled my hair about a thousand times, Tiffany, who danced with me and made me feel at home, Luke, the amazing photographer who had to keep telling me to take my thumbs out, and Steffany, who styles Body Positive fashion by day and sings at the Blue Note by night, that’s amazing! I want to do that! All of you are absolutely wonderful at what you do and so much fun to work with. It was an absolute privilege.

Follow Meara:
Instagram: @meararose

Official website: www.Meararose.com