Full Figured & Fabulous Spotlight:

Janelle Barnette - Charlotte, NC - 1st Place Winner/Division I (Sizes 14-18)

1. Why did you enter the Full Figured & Fabulous competition in Charlotte?

I entered the competition because I have told myself for some time now that I need to become more serious about modeling. I desired to meet women of all shapes and sizes within the plus size modeling industry with the same ambitions that I have. I aspire to promote positive self-image, self acceptance and overall sense of self confidence and worth within women who feel that they are too large, too this or too much of that to do anything within this industry from modeling, designing, to photography to events planning. Entering FFF would give me the opportunity to get a jump start at                                              becoming a part of a movement.

2. Had you done any plus modeling before you entered the competition?

I had no modeling experience before entering FFF because I'd never really researched or pursued opportunities locally. I had only been in the audience at fashion shows, admiring models from afar, dreaming that one day it would be me. I stepped up and entered a Lane Bryant model search 2 years ago and also submitted an entry for Fashion Fair's Ebony Fashion Show models. I did not hear back from either company and easily became discouraged.

3. Overall, what type of experience was it?

I was nervous about the open call. I knew I had to learn how to walk down a runway and so on the morning of I remember practicing turns and thinking "girl what are you doing". After attending the audition and waiting to hear back I began doing research on DSE I discovered the plus academy runway bootcamp and then immediately wanted to go learn how to really walk and work a runway. After arriving in New York, Alva Page instructed our class on model entrance and exit poses as well as a lot of other VERY informative modeling techniques. I used information gathered from several workshops held during contestant meetings as well to help with putting together the image and personality I wanted to relay on the runway. Everyone throughout the entire process was so helpful and informative. My friends and family were all excited about what I was doing. Even women that I met along the way became very supportive in assisting me with ideas for things I wanted to do. From December all the way to March I was so anxious and then mid-March it really hit me….and that anxiousness turned into nervousness! Were my shoes going to fit right, are my outfits good enough, how should I wear my hair, what make-up should I wear, what undergarments should I choose, whose helping me backstage, how many tickets did I sale, etc etc….all this was going through my mind each night when I laid down. How was I going to pull all this off? Finally I just prayed on it and asked the Lord to take all my worries away and let His will be done. The week of the event..the devil was at work…one of my outfits was not shipped to me in time and the store owner told me that they discovered that it was actually out of stock. I now had to come up with a boxing outfit 2 days before my show. All in all everything worked out because I remained calm. The day of the event now just all runs together. I didn't really comprehend everything until it was all over. The next morning I woke up and that's when it really hit me…..WOW….you are FULL FIGURED AND FABULOUS! This has most definitely been a confidence booster..I've never felt that comfortable in front of an audience. Success comes when you least expect it....when you ask the Lord to guide your footsteps….guess what….HE will!

4. Were you satisified with the prizes?

Everyday someone asks me about what my prizes were. I have to stop and concentrate to make sure I don't forget anything from my list of prizes. I am more than satisfied from all the wonderful prizes I've received. Being recognized as apart of the DSE family is well worth it's weight in gold as an "unnamed prize". The $1000 cash was put into a savings account just in case I'm called off to a model search/casting spur of the moment and need quick funds! My 1st place sash is beautiful and my Volup Woman bath robe is worn each night. I am still looking forward to my 2 paid runway appearances and photo shoots that have been planned. JNESS graphics is currently working on my caricature and I have already spent my clothing store gift certificate. I am working on planning my trip through YTB travel to where ever I would like to go and I also received a sterling silver jewelry box and bottle of perfume.

5. Would you recommend entering Full Figured & Fabulous™ to other aspiring plus models?

I'd definitely recommend competing in this competition to any plus size female if it comes anywhere near your city. Being involved with the DSE team and being apart of a fashion show that will most likely be the largest plus size fashion show in your city EVER is just 1 incentive for making sure you are apart of that movement. The experience is one that will open your mind to a lot of issues within the modeling industry. In the modeling industry people have an opinion about what models should look like, what size we should be, what defines plus...what limitations and boundaries are set within plus size modeling that we have to conform to, such as how toned we are, our height, etc. We should be motivated to represent a true body type that's more realistic of the shapes and sizes in our society. Over 60% of women are size 14+. It's time for us to step up and change society's mind about what should be represented in print and on the runway. How will you make your contribution to this revolution of size sexy acceptance?

6. What was the best part about the competition?

I'm not really sure how to sum up the best part about the competition because so so many great things have come out of this. What comes to mind first when I think of the fun I had during the competition, I would say that allowing my creative spirit to come out and play when I had to put together 4 outfits for the competition day sticks out the most. We found out about our 4 segments in December at the try out…so there was well enough time for planning. I've never thought of being a designer but I did dabble here and there in a fashion merchandising class. I've always had an eye for style and creativity while at the same time keeping in mind that my "look" is a clean and polished look. I didn't want to over-do it in the competition because I still wanted to be me. I just had to go to work trying to find the right balance between classy, chic, and stylish while making sure that I hadn't crossed the outrageous line. I had the most fun practicing on old t shirts examples of how I was going to design my Full Figured & Fabulous T-shirt given to us by DSE. That t-shirt (and jeans and jean purse) that I designed over a course of 2 weeks, will always be a special part of my wardrobe now!

7. Who is your favorite role model in the plus size industry?

Queen Latifah. She has shown her beauty, inner strength, and perseverance in many ways and most notably with her contributions to music, television, film and a new plus size line of clothing. She began as a Burger King employee and look at her now. I admire most her steadfastness, grace, and dedication to every industry she has ever been a trailblazer in. One of her motto's is: "The key to looking good is feeling good". As plus size women we've got to feel good about our bodies and in turn that will show in the way we carry ourselves. Remember, I think….therefore I am! She has recently created Curvation, a plus size line of clothing in which women can show their curves and feel sexy even if they are "curvy".

8. What piece of advice would you give to other aspiring plus models who want to enter the plus modeling industry and are considering entering Full Figured & Fabulous when it comes to their city?

Remember to relax, be confident in yourself, and enjoy the social gatherings. Meet new people!! It's only healthy for women to socialize and make new friends. Don't find yourself getting so caught up in the "competitiveness" that you miss your opportunity to meet a new friend. I found that the people I met through this competition have become some of my new closest friends. I hope that new contestants see the value in what DSE is promoting and encouraging through the competition. Listen to what the workshop presenters say in regards to foundations, critiques on runway walks, suggestions, etc because they offer advice that is very helpful. After all...they're in this business for a reason and ultimately know what the judges are looking for. Wardrobe and costuming are important because they play a role in the overall presentation of your image. Last, make sure that "YOU" show up for the competition, not your inner-DIVA representative. Don't come into this thinking that you know everything there is to know…if you did….you wouldn't be here….you'd be in Hollywood. I came to the open call as an inexperienced, no runway experience, no real direction on where I was going or what I was doing and how I was going to do it sense of self. I left with a renewed sense of what my purpose should be, a re-evaluation of where I should be heading, vision to know how I can make it happen, a new wealth of family and friends, and a 1st place sash. If I can do it… so can you.

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