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Filtering by Category: Modeling

A Reflection on Bikini Beach Photos with Supermodels

Danika Brysha

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I recently got back from a trip to Miami with two friends.  Did I say friends?  I meant supermodels...

I spent so many years of my life trying to lose weight.  I wanted to be a model.  I wanted to be those pictures of my friends above.  I wanted to be recognized as the beautiful one- the one that society takes and puts a big skinny stamp on saying "you're special".  I wanted to be anything but the chubby, class clown with tons of friends and no boyfriends.  And so I spent 15 years dieting, bingeing, throwing up my meals, taking appetite suppressing drugs, and starving- and then beating myself up over the fact that my willpower wasn't strong enough to get me to where I needed to be.  The place where I thought happiness lived. Somewhere in the gap between my thighs.

It took me a long time but I finally got burnt out and decided I was ok with the hand I'd been dealt.  I started focusing on my strengths rather than shortcomings.  I was tall and felt beautiful most days, and years of having to work to get people to like me landed me one kick-ass personality and some impressive bantering skills. And then one day while at Bank of America, I was scouted and signed with a modeling agency.  At a size 14.  I would be what the industry calls a "plus size" model.  I'd been called a lot of names in my life from "whale" to "fat girl" to a "liability"- but this certainly had a more positive ring to it.  I got to live my dream without trying to be someone I wasn't. And three years later I'm living in New York City as a full-time, plus-size model with my face plastered up on Wilhelmina New York's website. A dream come true- and one that came to fruition when I finally stopped trying to be somebody I wasn't.

But with finding extreme love for yourself comes a new desire to really take care of yourself.  I finally realized my value and decided I wanted to be the best possible version of me.  Through nutrition, exercise, meditation, and a lot of self-reflection- I managed to reinvent myself in the last 9 months that I've been a Manhattan resident. I've lost 30lbs and various jobs but I've chosen my health as a priority. My mind is functioning at a level I couldn't even imagine and I feel more joy, energy, and clarity than ever before.  I am beginning to live my passion and purpose and it has come along with a new found sense of confidence.

Which is important when you take a vacation to Miami with supermodels.  Because honestly, three years ago, you could have paid me $10,000 and given me a free trip to the Greek Islands and I still wouldn't have dreamed about putting on a bikini and posing for a picture in the Aegean Sea. But when my friend Holly suggested a primarily free weekend trip to Miami, the new Danika said HELL YES!

And it ended up being the perfect weekend getaway.  We relaxed on the beach, cooked healthy dinners at home, spent time meditating and journaling, and managed to soberly out-twerk everybody at club LIV.  But throughout the entire weekend, I still found myself feeling different.  Identifying myself as the "big friend". Feeling like the third wheel to two bombshells and having to make up for my shortcomings with my exuberant personality and ability to ask strangers questions for an hour straight without being bothered that they haven't even asked how to pronounce my weird Croatian hybrid of a name.  Dan-uh-kuh. Thanks for asking.

And so on the last day, when our tans were the darkest they'd be getting, Holly and Alexis suggested a group bikini photo by the ocean.  I quickly responded "I'm good, I'm just really comfortable" which really meant "I'm not good and I'm really uncomfortable posing next to you freak shows".  But because I am quite possibly the biggest pushover in all of the land, I finally obliged and struck my pose for the 75-year old Italian men that were one Instagram filter away from a heart attack- and for the one picture ever that I hoped for a finger over the lens, they managed to snap with pure precision.

We returned to our chairs and I requested full approval before posting rights.  And then it happened. I really looked at the photo.  Rather than seeing some version of negative thoughts and assumptions of my differences, I had no option but to admit that I looked GOD DAMN AMAZING! And I also looked just like my friends. Did I say friends? I meant supermodels.

The supermodels who had spent the weekend equally concerned with their own bodies. All of us too busy tearing ourselves down inside to notice that we were all in this together.  Feeling "bloated" or "saggy" or "too pale" or "not toned".  The ones who asked if they looked good in their outfits and the ones that borrowed MY makeup and wanted to know how I ate and what I was cooking and what kind of workout I did at the gym.

And something really struck me.  Even the girls that the media prints in the pages of your magazines- in store windows and taped to teenager's (and murderer's) walls have the same insecurities that we all do.  They wake up having days when they feel amazing but they also wake up feeling less than their best quite often.  They're looking for the latest beauty tips, the best workouts, and the healthiest dinners. They're feeling insecure in their skin because not even THEY feel like the photoshopped version of themselves that's glued to your fridge in an effort to empower you to stop eating.  Empowerment comes from love by the way, not hate or fear.

And so here I am, sharing my Supermodel Bikini Beach photo with the world.  Because someone out there is looking up to me and wanting what I have. And to be honest I don't blame them.  Cause I look good.

And so do the supermodels.  I mean, my friends.

Coming Back Home: Food, Fears, and Finding Yourself

Danika Brysha

I’ve found what I want to do with my life.  What I want to be when I grow up.  I’ve always had an idea and I was headed in the right direction but the last couple months have been filled with a few lifestyle changes that have put me on the yellow brick road to personal happiness and fulfillment.  What is my dream? Well since you asked… I want to inspire and motivate people to live their best lives ever- focusing first and foremost on developing a healthy relationship with food.  Food addiction, constant dieting, eating disorders, obesity, emotional eating, body image struggles… all of it. I’ve been there and while it still takes daily work to maintain, I have found the answers that I spent so many years looking for.  And I want to share them.  Through blogging, videos, books, public speaking, comedy, media, photos, the fashion industry, by interviewing others and hearing their stories, and through any other platform that helps build a connection and create positive change.

Over the last decade or so, I have suffered immensely in regards to my relationship with food. I still define the last 15 years by the different stages of food struggles I endured.  I’m working on that.  It has been my comfort, my therapist, my loving connection, and my greatest enemy.

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I grew up on McDonalds and other fast foods, ultimately feeding my young brain and body with chemicals rather than the nutrients I needed to fully thrive.  We were busy kids and my parents were doing their best to get my brothers and me all over town to our various sports and activities.  Not many people were educated on what was going into those quick “meals”.  My poor nutrition led me to gain weight which led me to feeling different and being bullied for being the “big girl”.  Which led me to seek comfort… which I found in food.  I’ll never forget the time when a car full of boys yelled out the window “Go back to the beach whale”.  I felt ugly and undesirable which created extreme body image issues.  Instead of focusing on what I could do with my innate talents like writing, performing, and inspiring people, I decided it was more important to prove people wrong. To show them I was more than a “whale”.

(My bedroom walls during high school- floor to ceiling photos of models)

My goals shifted from owning a zoo and having my own talk show, to being a model.  The skinny, emaciated kind.  After all, I had “such a pretty face”.  I learned to diet and lost 45lbs doing Atkins in high school. And low and behold- I won homecoming queen. I made varsity cheerleading.  Guys loved me.  But when the weight started coming back on, I had to find other ways of staying skinny.

When I was sad or stressed or insecure or lonely, I binge ate thousands of extra calories a day.  And then I threw them up. Seven, ten, twelve times a day. I had a special blue toothbrush hidden away for this very event. I wouldn’t weigh myself with even a bobby pin in my hair in fear that it would tip the scale unfavorably.  Four root canals later I knew I had to shift my process.  Enter drugs and alcohol.

I drove to dangerous neighborhoods to buy hard drugs that I had heard were appetite suppressants.  I was desperate to keep the weight off and spent thousands of dollars on my new “hobby”.  Something finally told me I was too valuable to go down that path and I managed to ditch the drugs.  The illegal ones at least.  I realize now that food can be more of a drug than the hard stuff.  But each time I decided I was better than some disorder or temptation, I unknowingly moved on to something else.

Alcohol gave me an escape like binge eating did.  It numbed me and for those drunken moments I didn’t have to feel so much. And when I was drunk and able to let go a little bit, I ate even more.  I spent years and all of my energy caught in the diet/binge cycle- turning to food for love, affection, comfort.  My life was defined by two things… the times I was in control, and the times I was out of it. Do you know how exhausting it is to think about food, calories, and your body image for every waking moment of your day? I have a feeling a lot of you do.  I was robbing the world and most importantly myself of all the amazing things I had to offer.

I’d finally had enough.  Enough weight watchers weigh-ins, enough writing my goal weight in my planner, enough shoveling food into my body unconsciously while no one was looking.  Enough of not feeling like enough.  That little voice in my head that told me I was better than all this popped up in the time of crisis like it had done a couple times before.  And so I made a promise to myself.

I quit dieting once and for all.  I didn’t talk about diets or negatively about my body and my friends weren’t allowed to either.  I saw THIS BOOK on Oprah and I read it.  It changed my life.  Somebody was finally speaking my language.  I wasn’t alone.  I started sharing with close friends.  Not only was I not alone, I was actually one of many. Why didn’t anybody talk about this?

Little by little I started loving myself and my body more and more.  In the mornings I’d wake up and rather than thinking about losing weight and how flat my stomach looked, I was focusing on growing as a person, finding the things that made me happy, discovering new passions that had been buried under my weight consumed brain for so long.  And when I finally found a bit of peace with my body, guess what happened? I became a model.

I was running an errand at Bank of America and was approached by an agency and asked if I had considered plus size modeling.  I did some research to make sure they weren’t murderers and eventually signed with them.  My career took off quickly and I added agencies in New York, London, and Germany to my roster.  I was living my dream in a way that didn’t require me to hurt myself.  Turns out that whole “be careful what you wish for” thing is legit.

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During the last few years while I’ve been working as a full time model, I’ve learned a lot about myself.  I’m a little ashamed that it took the industry to tell me that I was “good enough” but for me that was what I needed.  Modeling gave me the opportunity to travel, meet all sorts of interesting people, and to work on my confidence- but most importantly, it has awarded me a lifestyle that allows me the time, means, and financial freedom to chase my other passions.

And for a while I thought this was the end of my story.  Coming full circle, living my dream, finding contentment. But I was still seeking comfort in food and often alcohol.  I had come a really long way but I still felt somewhat consumed.  I wanted to feel my best- to live at my most optimal level.  And in the last few months something shifted.  My contentment turned into drive.  I stepped back and looked at my life from the outside.  I took into account the dreams that I still wanted to pursue and picked out certain things that were holding me back. I was fine with my body and was learning to love it but I knew I wasn’t living to my potential.  I wanted to feel vibrant and alive and full of energy.  I wanted to function at my highest level possible.  I wanted to be my best self ever.  And if I’ve learned anything, it is that the most significant change happens outside your comfort zone.  If I wanted different results, I’d need to take different actions.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”

As it turns out, I was most certainly insane.  I committed to making 2014 the year of being my best self ever- and to be a person that keeps my commitments.  I spoke to a health coach friend and got inspired, followed a clean eating program called the Whole30, cut out alcohol and any processed foods like dairy, grains, added sugars, legumes, and more. I educated myself.  I started from square one and lived by the Whole30’s motto that “food either makes you more healthy or less healthy… there is no in between”. I committed to being active for 45 mins every day- incorporating yoga almost daily, running, strength training, long walks with my dog, and little things like taking the stairs and carrying my groceries home. I stopped eating out almost entirely and started hosting healthy dinner parties and tea dates (it turns out that a lot of people like these sort of get-togethers even more than the drunken bar ones!). I still went out to the bars occasionally and sipped soda waters with lime and danced until 3am- I’m pretty good at faking drunk after all these years of practicing the real thing. I focused on getting 8-9 hours of sleep every night.  I took baths, wore cute lingerie to bed for myself, read TONS of books (which I’ll share in the future), took pride in the cleanliness of my apartment, burnt all the nice candles down to the glass, and cooked myself elaborate healthy dinners better than most restaurants I’d been to.  I realized that every moment of life is a special occasion and it was time I started living it that way.

To wake up every single morning and know that you are a better version of yourself than you were the day before is a feeling that is hard to put into words.  A month passed and I had no intention of going back to my old ways.  Instead, I was so impressed with my ability to change my life in a month’s time, that I created a little game for myself called ‘The 12 Months of Greatness’ in which I commit to a new challenge, outside my comfort zone, every single month, while keeping all the challenges from the prior months.  In a year's time I would have 12 new habits.  If that doesn’t scream “Best Self Ever”, I don’t know what does.

For the first time in my adult life, I can say that I am truly coming to peace with food.  I still struggle with turning to food for comfort but I feel completely in control of what I choose to put in my body, yet not obsessive or consumed by rules and strategies and guidelines.  The key to making lasting change is to be compassionately strict with yourself.  Push yourself- but when you make a mistake, which you will, rather than beat yourself up for what you did wrong, instead look at how much you did right.

I had no idea that through changing my relationship with food and what I chose to fuel my body with, I would so immensely change my entire life.  I am cleaner, more confident, more productive, more vibrant, have more energy, more optimistic, more active, more balanced, calmer, less judgmental, more centered, present, and most importantly happier.  I can’t tell you how many times I start dancing around my apartment alone for no good reason other than to express my joy.  I still have a lot to work on but that is why life is a journey.

At the forefront of it all, I’ve learned to trust and listen to my body again.  I’d been so detached from it for so many years, it is nice to be home again.  And in trusting it I’ve learned that it has had a lot to tell me.  It told me that I’ve found something that works for me.  I’ve found the answers that I’ve been looking for all along.  It told me that I get joy out of sharing with others- being able to inspire those with similar struggles, telling my story, helping people find the answers that will lead them home too.  It told me- clearer than it has every told me anything before- that this is my message.  This is what I am here on this earth to do.  And what better way to be my best self ever than to inspire you to be yours?

I challenge you to take a step back and look at where you are.  If you are not where you want to be then have the courage to change something.  Make it realistic but push outside of your comfort zone.  Recognize that your personal happiness is a direct result of only one thing- YOU.  So trust yourself- your body, your dreams, your passions.  I promise they won’t steer you wrong. Commit to waking up every day as a better version of yourself.

Because when you truly love yourself wholeheartedly, and you recognize how valuable you are- you will take the necessary steps to take care of yourself.  And when you can do this, I can promise you with every part of my being, that every other piece will fall perfectly into place.

With compassion, love, gratitude, and so much more,

Danika

Vulnerability and the ProFreshNess of being REAL

Danika Brysha

Working in the fashion and beauty industry gives me a firsthand view of just how much fake-ness goes into most of the media we are exposed to.  My Facebook status just yesterday asked where I could find a great spray tan place for an upcoming swimwear shoot.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited about my friend's comment that they threw in a few bonus airbrushed abs.  And as I pack my hair extensions, get my acrylic toenails glued on, and sit for hours being made up for camera, I am often reminded of how refreshing it is to sit around in a completely unsexy sweatsuit and take in the moments where I get to be 100% myself.  Like right now for example.

I've recently started to recognize just how important it is to find the courage to be vulnerable. It allows us to connect to others on a much deeper level, and to know that we are not alone in whatever it is that we struggle with.  So when my girl Christina recently moved to L.A. from the big apple, I knew I had to pick her brain (on video duh) and find out how she does such a great job of promoting realness, vulnerability, and overall epicness on her world famous blog proFRESHstyle.

Check out my interview with Christina above as she talks about why she feels it is important to share so much of herself, how opening up about her sexual assault brought her even closer to her readers, and how she finds balance between comedy and sensitivity.

And then check out our collaboration over on Christina's page where she teaches me how to properly use Bay Area slang.  Cashin' out all over the place...

Style: Pumpkin Prey

Danika Brysha

Halloween has long been my favorite holiday but with the devastation on the East Coast from Hurricane Sandy and my sudden onslaught of the flu that is lingering now for its third day, it looks like this year may be my most relaxed and dare I say "grown-up" one of them all.  Boo.  And not in a fun Halloween way.  Regardless of my ailing body, I'm so excited to share these photos with you that I took last week with a new friend, amazing photographer, and inspiring woman, Annie Vovan.  Annie enjoys capturing beautiful moments at weddings, and has found her true passion in portrait photography and in empowering women.  Annie and I are teaming up in an effort to give all women the opportunity to feel beautiful and confident through her Just B.E. (Be Empowered) photo sessions. More on this later but I definitely recommend checking out the amazing work she is doing!

There is the cutest little pumpkin patch located quite close to my apartment in Santa Monica.  The day Annie and I shot these photos it was one of the chillier evenings we've had this year and it felt perfect for a fall themed shoot.  The men working at the patch were so friendly and even offered their direction as to what the best backdrops and landscapes would be to shoot.

As the weather gets (slightly) cooler in Southern California, I love making the switch to wearing tights with all my dresses.  Because I'm 5'10, some of my dresses can ONLY be worn with tights (this statement was questionable during my sorority days) so it is like having an entirely new wardrobe and a plethora of options to choose from.  Because the leopard print on this sweaterdress is so busy, I paired it with a basic Levi's denim jacket to dress it down.  Plus, denim screamed Pumpkin Patch to me and reminded me so much of growing up in Long Island, NY... probably because both my mom and I work denim overalls about 85% of the time.

I'll be scanning my Facebook and Instagram news feeds looking for all of your creative Halloween costumes as I lay recovering in my bed for the third day in a row.  Sending my prayers and positivity to my East Coast friends as well and hoping everybody can still be in the Halloween spirit amongst all the chaos!

Photography by Annie Vovan

Leopard Sweater Dress- Victoria's Secret; Denim Jacket- Levi's; Black Tights- Target; Leopard Face Ring- Nasty Gal; Brown Booties- Target; Cascading Earring- Target; Red Lipstick- Makeup Forever Rogue Artist 42

Style: A Backless Bodycon Birthday

Danika Brysha

A couple weeks ago I headed down to Newport Beach to celebrate my mom's birthday.  I hung out on the patio with my mom and dad drinking wine, and then dined at The Cannery Restaurant overlooking the bay.

Now, this dress is usually one I'd save for a night out with the girls or a hot date, but I couldn't wait to wear it so consider it a birthday gift to my mother.  You're supposed to shake what your mama gave you, right?

When I saw this dress from Tart on Hautelook, I wasn't even sure my eyes were registering what I was seeing.  Backless AND Bodycon AND the perfect length AND long sleeves.  SOLD... ten times over!  I'm pretty sure this dress was made for me and though I must admit that the backless bra/lower rise Spanx combination was a bit tricky and slightly uncomfortable, it was worth ever tug and tuck.

Because this dress is so va-va-voom, I chose to keep the jewelry simple.  Even though the dinner wasn't very dressy, I threw on some cascading gold earrings from the luxury designer known as Target.  Please forgive the following deer in headlights phenomenon...

It was a wonderful night of celebration and there may have been one too many bottles of wine involved but who's counting?  It is so wonderful to have my parents living so close and I will certainly miss that when I make the big move to New York next year.  But hey, the career calls and I refuse to be left behind.  I've got myself some big dreams and by God I'm going to chase them!

Happy Birthday to my beautiful mother!

Dress- Tart; Shoes- Dolce Vita; Earrings- Target

Style: Sun Seeker

Danika Brysha

My favorite color is yellow.  Not necessarily to wear, eat, or smell, but I think the color overall has such a happy, vibrant connotation to it.  When I saw this leotard for sale on ASOS (I'm a huge fan of leotards in general), I knew I had to have it!  I wear a ton of things that sit at my waist as I think they flatter my shape better and they are generally much more comfortable.  As a result, leotards have become a staple when it comes to that pairing.

Now unlike the average real housewife, I can't just open a Vogue magazine and pick out something from an ad and well... buy it.  But when I saw this purse by Mulberry in a magazine, took a screenshot of the ad, and found myself still thinking about it on the reg months later, I made my very first high society exception.  I was in London for a bit of work and a bit more fun with friends.  Considering I'd done plenty of research on the bag, I knew there were a few Mulberry stores in the city.  I justified it by telling myself that because I wouldn't be paying tax for it, it was actually quite practical to get it during my time there.  And I mean... when in London (or New York, or Kentucky, or when the internet is available...)

Yellow Zig Zag Leotard- ASOS.com; High Waisted Denim- J Brand; Tan Platform Wedges- Dolce Vita;  Gold Square Patterned Earrings- Target;  Brown Leather Purse- Mulberry

Style: Fall Feathers

Danika Brysha

Ahh, the Fall weather is finally starting to peek on in to my life and I couldn't be happier. Of course, my biased Southern California perspective should be noted here, but nonetheless, the cool calm of the final months of the year are, in my opinion, the most beautiful.

Now I must start by saying that I've never been a huge fan of wearing the color brown.  I've always thought that it washed me out by blending in with my pale-ish skin color and neutral hair color.  But I've learned there is actually an easy way around that!  Add a pop of color to break up that "blah" territory.  I always feel like my lips blend in with my face, which blends in with my hair, so I added a bright red lip and it made all the difference.

And because I like to live on the edge... I chose to pair black and brown TOGETHER.  Think of the risk.  I'm a slave for a good waist belt and this one had a little edginess to it with the studs.  I love a fresh stud in the morning.  And these black boots were a gift from my ever so stylish father Andre.  He once told me that the most important thing in a person's wardrobe is to have great shoes.  Any man that wore platforms with real fishtanks and live fish in them during the 70's should be trusted.  That is just something I know for sure.

Brown shirtdress with feather pattern- Old Navy; Black Studded Belt- Zara; Black Leather Ankle Boots- Jessica Simpson; Cream Crochet Beanie- H&M; Gold band ring- Michael Kors;  Gold Leaf earrings- Target;  Red Lipstick- Makeup Forever "Rogue Artist Intense 42"; Hair by Lindsey Carter

L.A. Fashion's Night Out- Torrid Edition

Danika Brysha

Thursday night was Los Angeles' very own version of Fashion's Night Out so I, of course, had to be a part of it.  I skimmed the list of participating stores in my area and saw that Torrid's store at the Westfield Mall in Culver City was listed.  I had plans to meet up with some friends over on Melrose Ave and to attend a party at the Beverly Center later in the night, so I made Torrid my first stop.  I was greeted by the two most lovely ladies, Sandra and Symone, who were working the Fashion's Night Out event, and I cannot say enough wonderful things about them.  They were such great sports and even helped me pick out what would eventually be my evenings new outfit!

I lapped the store a couple times, grabbed what I liked and hit the dressing room... my own personalized dressing room!  I just love that!  AND I managed to not lock myself out which is a success in itself.

Though I was tempted to buy everything, I limited myself to three things...

1. I knew I had to have the grey Source of Wisdom skinny jeans that I found on the... get ready.. CLEARANCE rack!  I felt like they were literally constructed to fit me perfectly.  They sat above my hips and butt rather than cutting me off where I am fuller, and they were nice and long.

2. I loved the Blue Open-Knit Banded pullover when I shot it originally but trying it on in the store, on my own time, made me really realize I needed it!  I think the "off-the-shoulder" look is such a relaxed yet sexy style and the sheerness of the top gives me the option to get creative with what I choose to wear underneath.

3. And my favorite of all were these multi-colored, zig-zag leggings that I ALSO found in the clearance section! Huge score!

... In fact, I liked them so much that I decided I wanted to wear them for the rest of the night.  I had originally worn one of my favorite "go-to" lace Torrid dresses (I shot it in a style post here) and though I still love it dearly, I wanted something a little bit edgier to compete with all the fashionistas out for the night using the sidewalk as their runway.  I told Symone and Sandra I needed help deciding what to wear with them, and they suggested I pair them with a basic tank top and the new sheer Black Button-Up Chiffon Hi-Lo Top.  And they were VERY right. Did I say "3 Things"?  I meant FIVE.  Oh well.  And might I just add that I got all five things for just over $120 with the Fashion's Night Out sale, clearance items, and my newly opened and potentially very dangerous Torrid credit card! Success!I bid my farewells to the fabulous Sandra and Symone and thanked them for their help and fashion guidance, and was off to meet up with my friends for the Genlux Magazine party on the roof of the Beverly Center.I had a wonderful evening in my new Torrid outfit and of course rocked my grey jeans and Blue Knit top all day Friday.  The night was wonderful and I'm sending a big thank you to Sandra, Symone, and Torrid for helping me feel even more fashionable yet again!

Anybody else score some awesome sales for Fashion's Night Out?

 

Style: Flying High

Danika Brysha

A couple years ago, I wouldn't have dared wear this outfit in front of anyone besides my bedroom mirror.  Two huge trends in the last couple years have been lace and crop tops, and though I was fashionably prepared with this top on hand, it remained on its hanger.  I've grown a lot as a person in the last year and my confidence has exponentially taken the first place ticket in that race.  I can now genuinely say that I love my body and the curves that I have, and I am ready to share them with the world after years of being told otherwise.

I talked about crop tops before here, and there is no reason a plus size or curvier woman should miss out on the trend.  Try one with a high waisted skirt or jeans, or even layer one over a basic form-fitting dress to give it a different look.

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure where I got this top.  I'm pretty sure a friend left it at my house years ago and time passed and I forgot who it belonged to (and fine, ok... I didn't try TOO hard to return it).  Maybe they'll claim it now though after this post.  However, I'm going to need to see valid identification and proof of ownership if the emails start flooding in...

Photographer: Stefan Brysha

Location: Lido Island, Newport Beach, CA

Lace Crop Top- Vintage (no tag or anything, sorry) but here is a similar one at Torrid; Black High Waisted Skirt- Zara; Tan Lace Up Heeled Booties- Michael Kors; Brown Stone Ring- Forever 21; Coral Beaded Earrings- Target

 

And finally... Here are your PHOTOS THAT ALMOST MADE THE CUT (Because nobody is perfect)...

*Note: I will never photoshop my Style/Personal photos in order to alter the size, shape, firmness, smoothness, etc. of my body.  I think it is important that we see people as they truly are, and if I can do my little part to help promote a better body image, then I am fulfilled.

Beauty Boyfriends: Hairspray Harry

Danika Brysha

(Yes, I know this photo is somewhat inappropriate and suggestive.  No, I have no intention of altering it in any additional way.  Behave yourselves.)

If you're anything like me, you have little to no self control when it comes to applying an appropriate amount of any hair product.  Without fail I will always put too much product in, leaving my hair to look weighed down, greasy, or on special occasions... like Cameron Diaz's look in "There's Something About Mary".  I kept noticing that a large percentage of the hairstylists on my photoshoots were using this gold tube of heaven when it came to hairspray.  Me being the curious lass that I am, ordered a bottle (on Amazon Prime of course) and started trying it out on my own to see what all the hype was about.

Well it turns out that the hype was well deserved and L'Oreal can check one more loyal customer off their list.  I used to use the very liquid-y sprays that can come out very wet and give you that "set in stone" look that we all became too familiar with in middle school.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, I've included a photo of my older brother from 1997 sporting the look.

The spray is a fine mist and looks dry immediately.  It is light enough that you can spray as much as you desire and holds my thin, fine hair in place for hours.  You can buy it at most drugstores and it is relatively affordable and lasts quite long.  I vote an A+!!

Here is a little video of how I use it...

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Have a safe and fun Labor Day Weekend!

Style: Ferris Wheels and Fun Zones

Danika Brysha

The Balboa Fun Zone in Newport is such a cool little spot.  It has that old school carnival feel with the multi-colored ferris wheel and open-walled arcade.  Then you look around and realize the gorgeous setting, on the peninsula in Newport Beach, and the charming ferry that shuttles people back and forth to Balboa Island.  My parents still live in Newport Beach so it makes it easy to drive the one hour from Los Angeles on the reg.

I'm a big fan of solid-colored basics because I feel like they give you a lot of room to accessorize with shoes, bags, jewelry, scarves, sexy men, etc.  I wore these Torrid jeans while shooting product for their website one day and went home and ordered them immediately because they had fit so well.  They are the "curvy" style so they sit nicely above my hips, meaning that they not only stay up without constant pulling, but they also don't cut me off in unflattering places like many jeans can. Oh, and as I've said before, I have no intention of ever photoshopping my body smoother, thinner, or smaller... so if you can't get down with my back roll then please get down somewhere else.

When I bought this white leotard from ASOS online (one of my first purchases from them), I had no idea how much I'd wear it.  I think leotards are incredibly underrated and I find myself wearing them frequently.  Because I wear high waisted skirts and pants often, it is the perfect top as it is form-fitting and stays put.  I also love the low "V" back with the little ruching detail.  Those little details get me excited every time!  So does tequila.

Photographer: Stefan Brysha
Location: Balboa Fun Zone, Newport Beach, California

Jeans- Torrid "Curvy Skinny Jean (Tall)"; White Leotard- ASOS; Blue Platform Wedge Shoes- Betsey Johnson; Straw Hat- H&M; Yellow Crossbody Purse- Rebecca Minkoff; Gold Oversized Watch- Michael Kors; Brown and Turquoise Beaded Bracelets- St. Eve Jewelry; Leather Braided Brown Bracelet- Marc Jacobs; Silver Ring with Turquoise and Black Stone- Vintage (from my DAD's closet!)

And now for your new favorite section... Photos That Almost Made The Cut... Because Nobody is Perfect...

Style: White Trash Playground Chic

Danika Brysha

After spending the last week thinking about Flamin' Hot Cheetos more than any human being ever should, I figured, why stop channeling my white trash self now? Enter this denim vest/Rhinestone Hoop/Converse situation... And I don't hate it!

I wear a ton of heels but nothing beats a little occasional comfort... oh, and heels don't work all that well in sand.  Then again, this was shot in Orange County, CA and I'm very willing to bet that there are plenty of moms in this neighborhood that have mastered it.  I'm not one of those though.  Nor do I have any children.  That I know of.

I love to pair things that don't necessarily go together.  Like this black pleated skirt with these dirty green converse, or showering and then watching the Jersey Shore immediately after, or Jake Gyllenhall and I at the premiere of Hope Springs.  No wait, that last one actually goes together.  Tricked ya!

Gabi over at www.gabifresh.com is always rocking the "fully buttoned to the top look" with her blouses and I think it looks fabulous so I tried it with this vest.  With the exception of the vests middle button that is seconds away from champagne popping off full speed ahead, I think it gave the vest a cool shape.  It also allowed me to wear it on its own.  Imagine the thrill.

Photographer: Stefan Brysha
Location: Lido Island, Newport Beach, CA
 
Denim Vest- Levis, Black Pleated Skirt- Jason Wu for Target, Green Sneakers- Converse, Rhinestone Hoop Earrings- Target, Gold Leopard Mouth Ring- Nasty Gal,  Blonde Baby in Park- Unknown

And now I'd like to introduce to you a new addition to my style posts called...

PHOTOS THAT ALMOST MADE THE CUT (because life isn't picture perfect, and contrary to [VERY] popular belief, neither am I.  I know, I know, I just shook up your world with that one.  Let it marinate a bit.)

Style: Nothing Rhymes with Purple

Danika Brysha

(You may find it hard to believe but... I wasn't actually hailing a cab in this photo... oh?... you already assumed that?... You know what they say about people who assume right?... Ok, I'm done)

My work requires that I travel often and one of my most frequented destinations is New York.  Fortunately for me, my brother and tons of my friends live there, so there is never a lack of things to do or people to see.  I was in the city shooting for Kohl's upcoming Plus Catalogue and I will happily share some photos with you from that shoot, as soon as they're released.  I have yet to come to terms with the overall concept of heat and humidity though, so my packing always ends up a bit heavy and my armpits always end up a bit waterfallish.  Sexy, I know.    Apparently I lucked out with one of the "chillier" summer days but that remains to be confirmed.

One of the lighter tops I brought was this sheer Forever 21 blouse in this vibrant purple.  This is one of those pieces that I've had forever... and actually worn forever.  It was light enough that it didn't make me feel too sticky in the New York humidity.  The top is almost a crop length so I paired it with my new high-waisted black jeans.  I chose a neutral belt to break up the two solid colors... and I guess to keep my pants up but that's not really all that important.

I prefer higher-waisted pants as they don't cut me off on my hips (the fullest part of my body).  Rather, they hold everything in and smooth out the bumps that many bootcut jeans can create if you have hips or a fuller butt.  These jeans have definitely been a staple in my wardrobe lately... now I just need to figure out how to sit down in them...

Purple Sheer Top- Forever 21; Black High-Waisted Jean- J Brand; Black Caged Sandal- Halogen; Gold Oversized Watch- Michael Kors; Earrings- A boutique in Fresno California

Photographer: Blake Brysha

Location: Lower East Side, New York City, NY

Behind the Seams- Torrid

Danika Brysha

BEHIND THE SEAMS at  

I always have such a great time when I shoot for Torrid.  Since I started modeling full time, I'd often miss the days when I used to work with the same people all of the time, and how we all knew what was going on in each others' lives.  Whenever I shoot at Torrid I feel like I'm back with a ton of old friends and we always have the best time.  And though it's great to be working no matter where the job is, it is always nice when I get to shoot close to home.

I usually arrive around 8am and spend about an hour or so in hair and makeup.  Stephanie, the hair and makeup artist on this shoot, truly knows how to transform me, and anybody would be amazed to see how much hard work goes into being "photoready".  I bring my own extensions (fake hair) that match my color.  Stephanie clips them in and styles them to give my normally thin, fine, straight hair, a bit more volume and length.  She often applies fake lashes too.  She definitely knows how to make a girl feel fabulous!

Here's a before and after...

Though I know there are many important people behind the scenes that I don't regularly work hands on with, there are usually a few key people on set at a Torrid product photoshoot that include: a photographer, stylist, hair and makeup artist, digital tech, and a model.

We spend the day shooting product that will be available for purchase online.  The photographer, Jason, shoots the front and back of most pieces, as well as any important detail shots.  The model and stylist's (well really everybody's) job is to make sure the clothes look their best.  I always try to remember what it is that I am specifically wearing.  I like to picture where I would wear it, and pose accordingly.  It is important to give the photographer and Digital Tech a variety of poses and angles so they can choose which image flatters the clothing best.

My best piece of advice for any working or aspiring models is to research the company you are shooting with before you work for them.  Take notes on how they shoot their clothing. Do they shoot both the front and back of the garments? Do they allow hands up near the face, on the hips, or do they prefer arms down?  Where do they crop the photos for each specific garment of clothing?  Do the other models on the site look serious, flirty, smiley, or sexy?  The photographer and art director will give you direction but it is important to know what it is you're wearing and to do your best to present it in the best way.  Research, Study, and Practice your butt off!... Well, not all the way "off".  That's part of the fun of being plus size!

Eventually, a day full of this...

 

***With occasionally a little bit of this...

 

Results in a site full of this...

(With A LOT of talented people in between!)

 

 

 

Thanks for joining me "Behind the Seams" with Torrid and please check back frequently for more fashion, style, and humor.

A special thank you to Torrid, your fabulous team, and your wonderful customers for making this post possible!

Style: Party in the Back...

Danika Brysha

I was out on my yacht the other day... kidding.  I mean life has been good to me so far but not that good.  Why or how I got on this boat is not important nor legal.  As I was saying...

When it comes to plus size shopping in Los Angeles, I’ve found that the best option has always been to stay at home and shop online.  It is unfortunate but there aren’t a lot of options if you want to try on clothing before purchasing.  Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised on one of my most recent Forever 21 trips.  I went into the store with the usual intention of trying to squeeze myself into their size "Large" and was ecstatic to see that not only did they have a somewhat decent sized plus section, but it was also featured in one of the front window displays!... in Beverly Hills!  Baby steps my friends!  I tried on tons of stuff and was excited to finally leave that store with something that wouldn’t tear upon the first Dougie I tried to teach.

This coral top really stood out to me and I loved the sheer patterned design on the back.  I also liked that it was light enough for summer but still had sleeves.

I had originally planned on wearing it buttoned and loose, as it was meant to be, and pairing it over this basic short-sleeved, black dress.  But when I put it on I realized it would better flatter my hourglass figure if I could cinch it at the waist.  And though I’ve previously harped on my love affair with waist belts, I thought this tied-up-yet-relaxed style was a nice change.  Hey Boys!!!

I like to mix things that are tight and loose together.  Wearing two baggy pieces can look frumpy and unflattering, so with this flowing top I chose to wear a tighter dress underneath to show off the shape of my hips and butt while still being comfortable and not too revealing.

I threw my hair up in a messy ponytail to showcase the unique back pattern, and kept things simple by accessorizing with black shoes, a black purse, and this white plastic chain bracelet.

Photographer: Stefan Brysha

Location: Newport Beach, CA

Coral Blouse- Forever21+; Black Short Sleeve Dress- H&M; Black Caged Sandal- Halogen; White Plastic Chain Bracelet- St. Eve Jewelry, Black Studded Fur Purse- Street Level

MONDivation

Danika Brysha

My girl Eleanor R. is speaking my language. Something I am not short of in life is goals for myself.  Unfortunately it's hard to tell if I really believe I can achieve them.

I'm quickly realizing as the years pass and I watch my "Life Goals" list change and develop, that it's ok to set goals without knowing how the hell we're going to accomplish them.  Actually, come to think of it, it's even better than limiting ourselves to the realm of what seems possible.  I officially started my list on October 19th, 2009, and though it now has hundreds of future achievements, I wanted to share some (not all) of the very first things that came to my mind almost three years ago.

I want to focus on #3.  I wrote this goal in 2009 and I didn't begin modeling until early 2011.  I put this goal on my list with no idea how that was going to happen or if it was even possible.  All I knew was that it was a lifelong dream of mine and it didn't hurt to put it out into the universe.  Just two and a half years later, I now live that dream every day.  And better yet, that dream allows me the time and means to work towards many of my others.  I love how I can see the hesitation and doubtfulness as I crossed off the word "super", then achieved the goal of being a model, and then added the word "super" back again when I realized I was selling myself short.  At some point it was something I thought I couldn't do.  And if my dear friend Mrs. Roosevelt is correct... which, let's face it, she's pretty legit... then I guess it is something I must do.

As for the rest of those goals, and the hundreds more that are on my list today, I'm realizing more and more that a lot of the things I thought I couldn't do are proudly being highlighted.

I definitely have a lot to learn in life but I have never been more certain about a statement as I am with this one.  Start setting unrealistic goals for yourself.  And start achieving them!

Who's with me?

Style: Lace Face

Danika Brysha

Every so often I shoot something at work that I know I need to add to my wardrobe.  I guess that is a perk about modeling as you get to try on tons of different things, many that you may not normally try yourself, and learn what works best on your body.

I absolutely love the lace trend, especially for the summer.  I think it can be so elegant and feminine, or it can be styled in a way that almost contradicts itself with a leather jacket or biker boots.  I fell hard for this trend and though my closet is quickly becoming a lacey landmine, I knew I had to add this Torrid dress to the collection.  As you can imagine, trying on a ton of clothes all the time isn't the most helpful tool for somebody who tends to shop a little too often, so I forced myself to wait a couple weeks before purchasing.  But when the weeks passed and I found myself still thinking about this dress, I knew my desires were valid.  Having the luxury of knowing it fit, I went online and ordered it.  Contrary to popular belief, models don't often get free clothes... but Torrid, if you're reading this, I'm happy to take some off your hands.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I LOVE waist belts.  Because my waist is smaller in comparison to my hips and butt, belting something at the waist tends to give a little more shape to any dresses that I wear.  I'm usually more of a fan of thin belts but I thought this thick-to-thin wrap belt actually worked better with this particular dress.  It also happened to match my favorite worn-out wedge boots!

One of the things that really drew me to this dress was the deep "V" in the back.  I love when something appears classic and somewhat neutral but throws in little design details like this.  I am also a huge fan of this knee length lately.  I think it is a really flattering cut and that it really outlines the curves of my body in a nice way.

 

Though I live in Los Angeles, I feel very lucky to have my parents and one of my brothers just about an hour away in Newport Beach.  It's not too shabby to have as an option for a weekend getaway and it definitely provides tons of gorgeous backdrops for shooting.  I usually don't post so many photos but I couldn't narrow down any further so I hope you're enjoying the bonus shots!

Photographer: Stefan Brysha

Hair: Style inspired and taught via YouTube- "Sleek High Bun Hair Tutorial"

Location: Lido Island, Newport Beach, CA

Lace Dress- Torrid; Brown Leather Wrap Belt- H&M; Brown Wedge Boots- Steve Madden; Gold Oversized Watch- Michael Kors; Gold/Brown Stone Ring- H&M; Earrings- Nordstrom

Beauty Boyfriends: Mascara McConaughey

Danika Brysha

While I don't have a boyfriend of my own, I do have a strong support system of beauty products that I'm pretty sure get me just as... excited.  Fortunately, some of my favorite male celebrities offered to help me spread the good word as the weeks go on.  "Why am I not dating them you ask?"... "EWWW... we're BEST FRIENDS... he's like my brother"...  right.  Now on to the eyelashes...

It seems like every time that I shoot I end up on Amazon.com right after we wrap, ordering whatever new beauty product I learned about that day.  I feel lucky to be learning from the pros and it wouldn't be fair if I kept it all to myself now would it?

What I lack in hair on my head, I for some reason was rewarded with in eyelashes... And I'm not complaining.  The thing is, I am naturally a dirty blonde and therefore my eyelashes and eyebrows (and that's where we'll leave this discussion) are very light.  Mascara makes a huge difference for me and I've tried too many to count.  There are two winners but one has a clear advantage.

Runner Up goes to Yves Saint Laurent Volume Effet Faux Cils

A friend turned me on to this mascara in high school.  A very wealthy friend.  It truly makes your eyelashes look fake but the price tag is a bit higher than I prefer at $30 a pop.  I've also noticed that it tends to dry out rather quickly so I was frequently purchasing a new tube, which started to add up.  If you don't mind splurging then I highly recommend it but otherwise I'll let you in on my little "not so" secret...

 

THE WINNER: Maybelline theCOLOSSAL Volum' Express

This has been my favored mascara choice for a couple of years now and I'm often seeing it in Makeup artist's kits at work.  It is sold in almost all drugstores for about $7 and usually lasts me for a few months!  I recommend the "Glam Black" color.  I don't recommend the Waterproof one... unless you are planning on competing in a wet T-shirt contest.  The regular formula works just fine but will also come off when you want it to.  The first couple applications can be a little too heavy but after that it is the perfect little miracle!  I have a whole transition process when I'm at the end of one tube and the start of another which involves dipping the older used brush in the new tube for a few applications.  It keeps the old tube going strong for a few more uses and helps avoid the over lacquering that can happen with a new tube.  I'm thrifty... what can I say!

But wait... there's more.  The way you apply mascara is just as important as the kind you use.  I've put together a video blog of my personal mascara tips, live from my Milwaukee hotel room...

Tricks of the Trade: Glue-on Drugstore Nails

Danika Brysha

I would have to say that the one thing that is toughest for me to maintain regarding showing up to shoots "camera ready" is keeping my fingernails perfectly groomed.  Models are expected to show up to work with clean, filed, medium length nails, that are either natural or painted with a very neutral shade like beige or a very soft pink.  And though there's no guarantee Bruce Jenner isn't my father, I unfortunately do not have my own nailpolish line...

Now, I blame growing up with brothers and being a tomboy, for my complete inability to wear nail polish that is chip-free for any length of time over an hour.  When I first started modeling I would do my very best not to bite, bruise, or break my natural fingernails.  I would get a manicure and it would chip the next day, often leaving me helpless without the matching shade for touchups.  I later started painting my own nails and bringing the shades with me as I traveled.  Without failure they always exploded in my toiletry case, making everything smell strongly of chemicals, and having to throw away tons of my favorite colors along the way.  No matter how hard I tried to keep them in tact, I always found myself in hotel rooms late at night touching up chips before the next days shoot.

And then... one day, while browsing the aisles of CVS for more junk I don't need, it occurred to me that I may have just found my solution!  I picked up the pair of natural-colored, short-length, glue-on nails and figured I'd try them out.  I went home and diligently glued the appropriate sizes on.  I also managed to glue a couple of my fingers together.  I was instantly hooked and stocked up on three more boxes to have in case of emergencies.  The packs usually come with more than enough so I just bring my bag of backups and glue anytime I travel or shoot.  When one falls off, I easily glue on a new one in seconds.

And the best news of all?!  They now have fake TOENAILS!!!  So weird, so good.  I'll save that blog post for a special occasion.

And here I present to you the ONLY photo I could find that somewhat showcased my fingernail masterpiece.  Looks pretty real right?  Please forgive me as this photo was taken in an airport around 1:00AM waiting for my redeye to New York.  I guess I rest my case...

Style: In The Jungle

Danika Brysha

And when I say "In The Jungle" I actually mean "In the upscale, suburban, grassy park of Lido Island residential community"... But let's just use our imaginations for the sake of this post...

The first thing I must address is that these are my favorite jeans.  I found them at H&M over a year ago and they are called HI SQIN.  They are high waisted skinny jeans and they fit me unlike any pair of jeans I've found before.  I have a butt and hips, but my waist is relatively small in comparison, so I've found that wearing things that sit at my waist tend to be most comfortable, don't cut me off in unflattering places, and usually stay put.  Not to mention these couldn't have cost more than $30!  Unfortunately I can't seem to find the style in any store anymore so if you happen to come across this fit, PLEASE let me know. Or buy them and resell them to me at an astronomical price.  Either option is fine.

Now, I've been seeing a ton of crop tops over the last year or so and although they look really cute and summery, I found that most of them weren't particularly flattering on my body type.  I wasn't about to pass up all these cute styles though, so I found my own way to make them work.  By pairing them with higher-waisted jeans or skirts, I was able draw attention to my waist, rather than the lower, lets say "squishier" part of my stomach, that low rise jeans often highlight.

I found the leopard top on Hautelook and it is made by designer Annalee+Hope.  This is my first piece of clothing from them but it definitely won't be my last.  Leopard print can be tough as it can teeter on the "cheesy vs. chic" border very easily.  I really liked this print though and I thought the sheer black panels on the shoulder gave it a little extra flare.  Of course, because I am no professional stylist, I wore a nude bra with straps for this shoot that you can see quite clearly through the sheer.  If it means my boobs are a couple inches higher though then it's all worth it.

With neutral colors like browns and blacks I usually like to add a little touch of color.  The turquoise in these St. Eve bracelets added just the right amount when mixed with more gold and brown toned bracelets.

Photographer: Stefan Brysha

Hair: Lindsey Carter

Location: Lido Island, Newport Beach, CA

Shirt- Annalee+Hope; Black Jeans- H&M HI SQIN; Nude Pumps- Vince Camuto; Turquoise Cross Bracelet, Turquoise Skull Bracelet, and gold chain triangle necklace (worn as bracelet)- St. Eve Jewelry; Braided Brown Leather Wrap Bracelet- Marc by Marc Jacobs;  Brown Multi-Strand bracelet with Gold beads- Unknown (gift)