Nina has been working as a plus size photographic, catwalk and television model for around 16 years. Nina has had the most fantastically rewarding career and believes 'You dont have to be a size zero to be gorgeous!'
Nina Kindly wrote this about her experience of The Big Meet...
It started with a tweet! The gorgeous Cara from the "A Team" of Lipoedema Ladies and I connected via the World Wide Web!
I was lucky enough to be invited to speak at the 2nd Lipoedema Ladies AGM in Leeds. I took my Beautiful Mum with me as I knew the day would be of great interest to her aswell.
I had been researching Lipoedema for a while after reading an article in "Lymphline" which is a publication that my Mum subscribes to - She has Lymphodema in her left leg and has had for 15 years so I was kind of aware of MLD, compression bandages and so on! I knew that I didnt have Lymphodema however I have always known that I may have something that hadnt yet been suggested to me by my doctor.
I have always struggled with my weight and exercised religiously and not really eaten a great deal of food - however, no matter what I have done, I find it really hard to lose the stubborn fat from my bottom half. Every time I went to the Drs, he would say the same thing over and over again - "Eat less and exercise more" This is so frustrating to hear especially when you are adamant that your body isnt behaving as it should!
I started modelling when I was 19 - I was always a bigger girl but when I left School, I decided enough was enough and lost 8 stone in just over a year! Ridiculous as I did it completely the wrong way and ate an apple a day and exercised for 2 hours at a time - of course, the weight dropped off me and soon I was a size 8 and just under 8 stone at 5ft 10" - I looked like a walking skeleton! However, I always had bigger thighs and legs - even when I was exercising and under eating, my bottom half would always be a least one or sometimes two dress sizes bigger than my top half!!
It was this reason that I wasnt so successful as a "straight size" model - because my hips were always too big. Luckily enough I found the World of "Plus Size Modelling" and never looked back - I have worked more as a size 18 model than I ever did as a size 8!
The Big Meet in Leeds was like a breath of fresh air to me. It was so wonderful to be surrounded by so many beautiful ladies - all different ages and sizes who are all suffering with the same condition. It was the most amazing feeling - almost a relief to finally realise that after all these years of heartache, tears and countless hours in the gym, that maybe I had been right all along and that I do have a condition which not many people know about.
Isobel, Jo, Cara and Michelle did an amazing job. The Sunday was extremely well organised with some really interesting Speakers and everyone was just so friendly. Mum and I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Mary and Julie also - two gorgeous sisters who were there with their Oscillation machine which I was lucky enough to have a demonstration with - I cannot tell you how I felt afterwards - it was like walking on air - my legs felt so light, I wanted to go out and shout it from the rooftops! It is so wonderful to know that a machine like this is available and that relief for so many sufferers can be found in this deep massaging technique.
I had been meaning to go and get a professional diagnosis for a while now however, something had been stopping me - fear maybe I think, but after speaking to the friendly Lipo Ladies, I have finally plucked up the courage to see Professor Mortimer in London - so watch this space!!
Thank you to everyone who listened to me and thank you for all your friendship and advice on the day, Ladies, you are truly inspirational, together we can all help spread the word about Lipoedema.