Plus-size model Shante Gordon is one half of a weight-loss team on VH1's "Money Hungry." Each week Gordon and teammate, Jamie Litt, compete to see which team can lose the most weight and win the $100,000 prize. A native of Florida, Gordon says being on the show isn't about slimming down to a size six, but rather about learning to live a healthier lifestyle. She spoke with ESSENCE.com about "Money Hungry" and making it as a plus-size model. ESSENCE.com: What made you sign up for VH1's "Money Hungry"? SHANTE GORDON:
My teammate Jamie and I work together as plus-size models and she got word of the show. We were both happy about our curves but we wanted to get healthier and start our journey towards lowering our BMIs and getting to our ideal weight by learning about nutrition and exercise. ESSENCE.com: What's the experience been like? GORDON:
The experience helped me get to where I needed to be mentally to help myself. I pressed pause on my life and was able to take this numebr of weeks to focus on how I relate to food, nutrition and exercise. I feel like I made life changes on the show. It's VH1, its crazy and its over-the-top, but really it put me in the place to be able to really deal with issues I've been dealing with since I was a kid. ESSENCE.com: As a full-figured model, were you worried about sending a message that being bigger is a problem? GORDON:
Of course there's concern because I do plus-size modeling and I'm an advocate for full-figured acceptance that people might say that the reason for me going on the show was hypocritical. That's not the reason at all. Even if I lose weight on the show, I'm still a plus-size woman. It's not that I'm trying to be a size 6 or 8, I'm just trying to get to a healthier place in my life and understand my relationship with food. No one should condemn anyone for wanting to lose weight. If you're bigger and can move around and do the things you need to do then that's great. I could do that but for me, its to see how healthy I can make myself. ESSENCE.com: You've been a plus-size model for a number of years. How did you start? GORDON:
I've been doing it off and on for a number of years. I've done Ebony, Glamour, BET's "Rip the Runway" and Tyra. I got into it by listening to people who had always told I had a great face and a great shape to do it. I started in Chicago doing little shows and when I moved to New York I decided to give it a shot here too. I developed my look, took pictures and it kind of took off from there? ESSENCE.com: How would you advise someone trying to break-in to the biz? GORDON:
The requirements are very similar to straight size in that you need to be toned, have good skin, a good facial structure and be photogenic. Shape-wise, your bust, waist, hip ratio should be 8 to 10 inches apart because that gives a nice hourglass appearance. Unfortunately, in fashion, 'plus' starts at size 8 -- which to me isn't plus-size. Girls work up to about a size 16. Anything past that and you're getting into specialty sizes and that's very limited. The girls in the catalogues are normally from a size 8 to a size 12/14. ESSENCE.com: Are there a lot of African-American plus-size models? GORDON:
There are, because I think our communities allow it. I was talking to a friend recently and they said they felt like its easier for Black girls to get work because its more reflected in the community. ESSENCE.com: Are you allowed to say how much weight you lost on "Money Hungry." GORDON:
No, not yet, but I made a lifestyle change. Catch Shante and Jamie (Team "Roll Models") on VH1's "Money Hungry." Mondays at 9pm.