Note From Norma

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1. We met at the annual AAPD Event in Washington DC. We had the first fashion show ever for this event and you were the star of the show. As a role model for all women  and an example of empowerment, what do you feel your source of inspiration?

My main source of inspiration is LIFE. I remind myself of how lucky I am to be alive. first and foremost, and I am grateful for every single thing I have today. Being at one point completely defenseless and dependent on someone for everything, even the simplest but vital things in life such as breathing, has helped me deeply appreciate all that I have. LIFE is my inspiration and my drive comes from reminding myself of where I was alone point and where I am today.

2. You are beautiful and have such on amazing self image. You are also bold and strong and confident. A strong self image is something all women hope to have but it is often the case that they don’t have it. What do you recommend we do to shift that thought process?

We have to believe in ourselves. When we start appreciating what we have and evaluating what we’re thankful for, we’ll automatically start, slowly but surely, feeling like the luckiest person alive. We all, at one point or another, will be dissatisfied with some things about ourselves. It’s natural; we’re only human. We will be dissatisfied with either our weight changes, where we are in life, or for me, for example, my legs becoming paralyzed, my body’s shape changing with the paralysis, and my posture drastically changing, not being able to enhance parts of my body the way I used to. However,I try to highlight my attributes and work on the things I CAN accentuate. I like to work out my arms because I’m blessed to have full use of my arms, and I like showing them off I try to wear things that flatter my body shape and that highlight what I like.

photo of Tamara from the Norma Kamali shoot


If we focus on what we don’t like, we’re never going to see the good in us. You know thatI’ve said to someone, when my face has broke out badly, “well I’ll just smile a lot (because I like my smile) show confidence, and this way they’ll focus more on my smile.” Interestingly, I’ll gel compliments even when I know I don’I look at “my best” but I’m confident and that is somehow attractive to people. A woman who exudes confidence, projects more than the “mosl gorgeous looking girl”  who doesn’t believe in herself. In a nutshell, I have learned that we need to accept who we are. Love yourself because if you love yourself, it will be easier for people to come into your life and  love YOU. Be proud of who you are and what you ha’ve to offer. To men there’s nothing sexier than a confident woman, and a confident person in general will be more satisfied at the end of the day. It’s not about a pretty face but the beauty that comes from within.

3. I work in a business where the intensity of how women are judges Is 10 fold the real world. Models, for example, must look better than everyone else and are rejected many times a day. No one wants to hear what they have to say or ask their opinion or even want  them to speak. Their value is to be a blank canvas to be changed anyway the designer wants them to look. What would your advice be to models just starting out who have no voice about how they can remain strong inside and not look to anorexia or bulimia for control and power over how they look?

The modeling industry can put an intense amount of pressure on people (in this case, women) and so does the media, causing women to resort to unhealthy means in search for that perfect body. I respect everyone and their dreams and aspirations. I will never tell someone to not pursue a modeling career because of all the pressure that exists in the industry. However, this amount of pressure that exists in this world is something that we have to be aware of and, therefore, take care of ourselves first. There is a difference between watching what you eat or eating a balanced diet and starving yourself. Starving is not healthy for our bodies and should rot be considered  acceptable.

Our mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical health come FIRST before anything else because we  only ONE body – one we should cherish and lake care of. It’s vital that we realize that to many, we are one in a million models. Is it really worth it to put our only body under all of this? We might be  able to convince others; but at the end of the day, we can’t fool ourselves. If you know you are letting the pressure take you to negative ways to have “the look” to either model or keep up with society, I recommend that you PLEASE stop and reevaluate your life. Your life is the most important thing and  no one will take care of it bailer than you can. Remember that we only have ONE body and we only live ONCE.

4. I think we all have a purpose In this lifetime. I just recently clearly saw the picture of what mine is and it is about empowering women through wellness. What Is your ultimate goal In this lifetime?

My ultimate goal in life is to help others BELIEVE and MOTIVATE people to achieve success. And that “success” refers to helping a person reach their highest potential doing what they love and are passionate about, not what people in society deem as “successful” (usually measured monetarily)  It’s about what makes us a better person, pushing us to move forward aspiring for more out of life and allowing us to dream big and have passion for life!

5. I think your beauty works to your advantage. Your photos are also very female and I think  attractive to men.

I was determined to not let my disability and the wheelchair stop me from allowing me to feel the way I always wanted to feel as a woman-feminine, beautiful, and sexy. It’s certainly been challenging finding what works and what doesn’t for my  “new body” (in reference to the body I now have after being paralyzed) and also in my posture_ sitting down. The perfect combination to accomplish this has been not being so hard on myself because that’s net going to help me appreciate and love myself, but at the same time, being honest with myself and realize what doesn’t work for me. Trust me, I don’l always have it right, but I’ve had to let go of certain fashions that I probably would have worn before, but now they just don’t work. Fashion and trends are important, but sometimes it has to be more about the fit. First find something that actually fits your body type, and then look for the fashion. It’s got to be fit meets fashion. Finding out what works best will go a long way.

6. Relationships are challenging to say the least to maintain over a period of time. I noticed so many of the girls in the show had fabulous relationships. Do you have a boyfriend?  Married? What Is your secret to a good relationship?

I have a boyfriend. We have been together for over three years and it’s been a beautiful relationship. He truly loves me for who I am. I think the secret to that is that by the time I met him, I was very comfortable in my own skin, and that allowed him to come into my life. It made things easier. It was as if “if she’s happy and not ‘stuck’ or down about her life, then why should I?” Inevitable, in all relationships, conflict, misunderstandings, and miscommunication will arise; it’s all about the way  we handle those situations. I think we work well together and inspire each other to become a better person, and together we feel like we can do anything! We have, encountered difficulties, but we’ve  faced them, tackled them, and stuck by each other.

It’s important to truly accept your partner for who they are, but also be willing to do things that
are important and meaningful to them. Everyone lives busy lives and people get focused on their  careers, but it’s very important to keep the romance and beautiful moments going or things will get  dull and monotonous. Don’t forget about why you fell in lave with them in the first place. It’s good  to get out of your comfort zone occasionally and allow spontaneity to come into your lives. Most importantly love each other today because you never know what tomorrow will bring and believe in what you have together. Don’t forget to tell the love of your life how much they mean to you and  much you love them.

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