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Filtering by Tag: plus model

A Reflection on Bikini Beach Photos with Supermodels

Danika Brysha

7270.9481541

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.

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...

Sunday Worship: Novocaine

Danika Brysha

It's that time again.  Time to reflect on the blessings of the week.  And I thought... Why not spice things up a bit?

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you this FREESTYLE (music video if you will) on why I am most thankful for Novocaine this week.