Canada’s top model is living in our midst but at first, it might be difficult to point her out.
Make no mistake, Liis Windischmann turns heads wherever she goes with her stunning good looks and flawless, porcelain skin. However, she’s not your typical celery-eating stick-thin model. Windischmann has made her success by proving beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.
"There are so many more opportunities opening up to plus-size models and it’s a really exciting time to be in the industry," she said. "We (plus-size models) have all worked really hard to be seen in the public eye as equal."
Her hard work has paid off and now she’s at the top of her game.
Windischmann, who grew up with her family in the Bayview and York Mills area, has done campaigns for Laura Plus, Eddie Bauer, Talbot’s and the Bay to name a few, and she has done photo shoots in several countries, including Germany, France, and Tunisia.
Now, aside from appearing regularly on Cityline, Windischmann will be sharing her modelling tips in a seminar on May 27 with the Learning Annex. How to Become a Model will feature topics like how to break into the competitive industry, the right way to do a runway walk, and choosing the right agency.
She knows what she’s talking about after all. Windischmann has been in the modelling industry for about 13 years now, and she said she can see the importance of having plus-size models in the media as positive role models for young girls and women instead of the scrawny types usually dressing the front pages of magazines.
"I think the public still needs to see more plus-size women on the runway, and on covers of magazines like Vogue and Glamour," said Windischmann, who is a size 14. "But we are headed in the right direction."
Images featuring plus-size or curvy women are popping up more frequently than they used too. Plus-size model Crystal Renn walked the Jean Paul Gaultier runway this year, and actresses like Kate Winslet and Drew Barrymore speak openly about refusing to starve themselves to fit a certain Hollywood ideal.
It’s health and confidence, and not dress size that are important, said Windischmann.
Windischmann said she relates to the new Dove soap ads which features regular people prancing around confidently in their underwear. She said she is happy with her shapely figure and she thinks its important to be open about that.
The model, who is 5’10 and 203 pounds, is a very healthy eater and said she doesn’t obsess about calories or numbers on a scale.
"I am a strong believer in not knowing my weight. The only reason I know my exact weight right now is because I just had a physical last week," she said, laughing. "I encourage people not to weigh themselves all the time. It’s a false sense of reality"
But like any job, there are advantages and disadvantages.
While most models would be throwing in their bikinis in their mid-thirties, a plus-size model doesn’t have to worry about losing out to younger competition. This definitely works out for Windischmann, who is 34 now and doesn’t plan to stop modelling any time soon. Plus-size models often get to start later and continue longer in the industry than their skinnier counterparts do.
On the down side, although she has been modeling plus-size clothing for over a decade now, Windischmann said the style selection for plus-size women, which ranges from 14-20, is still not where it should be. A lot of regular-sized styles stop at size 12, which limits the clothing choices for plus-sized women considerably.
"I would love to wear something like a great designer dress or a funky pair of jeans, but the size market is just not there right now," she said, although she admits the selection has definitely gotten better.
"I just started really liking my wardrobe this past year."
But the most rewarding benefit is being able to see the world.
And while Windischmann still lives in Toronto on and off, she also stays in Miami, New York, and Los Angeles fairly often, though she’ll never forget her roots, said the globetrotter.
She has fond memories of her childhood in the community, looking for rabbits and birds in the backyard of her family home. She also said her family played an important part in shaping what she calls her "good Canadian value system."
I had very supportive parents growing up, and wonderful sisters," she said. "They helped me to be who I am today."
Windischmann also warmly remembers her days as a student at York Mills C.I.
"The school really fostered positivity, which is so helpful in the real world," she said. "I’ve seen a lot of talent come out of there."
Most of all, the positivity she has surrounded herself with, helped form the constructive message Windischmann tries to convey through her work.
"I’m excited to be sending a ‘love your body,’ message," she said. "I am very proud to represent that. Women are beautiful in all sizes."
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