a plus: Model-Turned-Activist Nikki Dubose Is Speaking Out Against Ineffective Sexual Abuse Laws In New York

Nikki Dubose says she won’t give up on her fight make kids safer.

The 31-year-old model-turned-activist has already made a name for herself by speaking up about sexual assault. Now, though, she’s taking the platform she’s built and using it to try and change laws to protect children from sexual violence.

Her first stop? New York, where she’s hoping to help push through The Omnibus Child Victims Act.

“In New York, they have the worst laws in the entire nation as far as protecting children from sexual abuse,” DuBose told A Plus. “There is only a five-year window after you’re 18 years old that someone can report what has happened to them.”

Read more on a plus.

Profit, Denial & Education: Why Clothing Retailers Are Contributing to our Youth’s Mental Health Issues and What Can Be Done to Prevent Further Damage

Denial and Profit

A part of me can’t believe that I am writing about clothing retailers and that fact that they are still selling “super skinny” and “toothpick” jeans – how long must we go around and around this issue and still see no change? Yet another part of me is not surprised at all; after all, the majority of people are not properly educated about mental health issues, especially eating disorders, and the goal of businesses, especially clothing retailers – is simply, profit.

This was a recent conversation I had with Christopher Willson, the Clinical Director from Dine Monte Nido, a unique outpatient program designed to help those suffering from anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Chris was furious one day when he went to buy jeans for his eight-year-old daughter and found that many of them read “super skinny!” Oh dear. Now, most businesses grasp that in order to keep their profits high they must act as good corporate citizens. Therefore, clothing retailers should listen to the cries of consumers, such as Chris, and incorporate changes that will in turn, make their customers happy. Let’s look at the bigger picture –  for example, all the parents who buy jeans from clothing brands that advertise them as “super skinny”- you can expect that there are going to be some downright angry moms and dads writing letters, calling and blasting their opinions all over social media. After all, these labels place unrealistic expectations on already impressionable minds. Let’s review some statistics:

“42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner.

81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat.”

 

You would think that clothing companies would do their research on mental health and listen to the consumers who are unhappy about how these labels are affecting their kids and teens.  Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychological disorder; certainly the higher ups and employees within the clothing companies must know someone who is or has been affected.

Or perhaps, they turn a blind eye, like this country has done for so long. Why? There are many reasons, but I would say that in the case of retailers a lack of education and focus on profit are the biggest culprits. To actually think about the well-being of others means to stop thinking about themselves, and to do that would (gasp!) would mean to potentially lose money, at least for the short-term.

I am relentless in advocating for change because eating disorders are an issue that affect over 30,000,000 people in America alone, and those are just the reported amounts. And, as a former fashion model who was always trying to fit into the fashion industry’s unrealistic sizes and portray an unhealthy image for impressionable minds, I am adamant about helping to restructure the business and stop the selling of products that are damaging to consumers. At the very least, we can start with mental health education – everyone needs it, especially the advertising and fashion industries.

Even if someone has not suffered from an eating disorder, almost everyone has been affected by low self-esteem and poor body image, however children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable; they don’t need added pressure from retailers telling them that they need to look a certain way in order to be accepted and valued. 

Finding the Solution

Lately I have been working with California Assemblymember Marc Levine, the National Eating Disorders Association, Sara Ziff from the Model Alliance and Dr. Bryn Austin, the director of Harvard STRIPED, on AB 2539, which will create healthier standards and promote the labor rights of models in the fashion industry. One thing that has stuck out to me in reading Dr. Austin’s research is how crucial prevention is. As she puts it, there is not a whole lot of literature and research dedicated to preventing eating disorders. Tying into Dr. Austin’s research lies my main interest: mental health education in the workplace, particularly the modeling industry. When we educate, we can help to prevent. I think that back during Karen Carpenter’s unfortunate and highly publicized case, eating disorders became known and glamorized because of the media – it’s what they do, they sensationalize – but they have yet to educate the public properly about eating disorders and mental health in general.

The National Eating Disorders Association has been introducing literature on eating disorders into various workplaces. Education is power because when we educate we have the knowledge to understand the what, why, when, how and who. If clothing retailers are uneducated when it comes to eating disorders and the impact their marketing schemes are having on young people, and if they are only thinking about profit, then they will continue to contribute to the mental decline and fatalities of our youth. Focusing on prevention and education in the workplace are crucial steps towards changing the way retailers and advertisers approach consumers – especially our youth.

 

What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them! Drop me a line – nikki@nikkidubose.com

 

 

 

 

My Survivor Story of Childhood Sexual Abuse — Peaceful Hearts Foundation

“I grew up in charming Charleston, South Carolina in the eighties and nineties. Its beautiful cobblestone streets were lined with gorgeous gardens and mansions that dated back well before the Civil War. At first glance, one would have not suspected that anything bad could have happened behind the wrought-iron gates and pastel-colored walls of the grand estates. But like all homes, each one holds a story, and ours was no different.

After the divorce, Momma and I moved into a modest, one-story home on a quiet street shaded by Spanish Moss trees. It was no mansion, but it was our dream, an escape into another world. I was only two, and Momma was nineteen, and more than she desired love, she wanted security. She soon found it in the arms of an older man who promised to love and protect us. Our home quickly expanded, and the idea of a ‘family’ was no longer a fantasy, it was real.”

Read more on Peaceful Hearts Foundation.

B.E.A.U.T.Y Project Art by Orlando

Beauty Project by OrlandoOrlando drew a peace sign, an angel heart with wings, and a happy/sad mask for the Beauty Project!

Orlando’s artwork is a fine example of the emotions in life we all go through.  Emotions should be welcomed and felt, as they help us experience life in a greater way! 🙂

Thank you, Orlando, for your positive drawing on inner beauty!

God Bless,
Nikki DuBose

B.E.A.U.T.Y Project Art by Jordan

Jordan sees beauty as being outside and playing in the fresh air, surrounded by nature and a dog, too! I think that that’s not a bad way to see life, what about you?

Beauty Project Art By Jordan
Beauty Project Art By Jordan

How about getting back to nature and reconnecting with the simplicity of what God has created?  Life is naturally beautiful; sometimes we just need to stop and pay attention.

Thank you Jordan, for your art and zest for creation!

God Bless,
Nikki DuBose

B.E.A.U.T.Y Project Art by Saunvvia

Saunvvia drew a big, happy heart surrounded by a rainbow and colorful dots!

Inside of the heart were positive words such as “love” and “harmony.” I suppose Saunvvia was trying to tell us that inner beauty is a reflection of all of the wonderful emotions we should focus on, right? 🙂 BeautyProject_Saunvvia

It’s not that we don’t experience the negative feelings, it’s just that the more we magnify the positive, the more the positive emotions will grow, and that makes us stronger!

Thank you Saunvvia for your deep insight and excellent addition to our Beauty Project!

God Bless,
Nikki DuBose

B.E.A.U.T.Y Art by Damien

Damien believes that “Beauty” is Without Words! I have to agree! What do you think? Perhaps the most meaningful things in life are only felt, and not seen?

Thank you, Damien, for your insight and creativity!

God Bless,
Nikki DuBose

B.E.A.U.T.Y Project Art by Elijah

Elijah lent his creative eye to the Beauty Project and drew Sonic the Hedgehog!BEAUTYPROJECT_ART_Elijah

Beauty can be expressed through art and however we choose to see it. Thank you Elijah for this incredible drawing of Sonic the Hedgehog, it’s fantastic!

God Bless,
Nikki DuBose

Mondays at the Mission B.E.A.U.T.Y Art

I was Blessed to be asked to speak to a very talented and special group of students at a Mondays at the Mission class which is held at Union Rescue Mission here i10557387_696745177065814_9206829365795818469_nn Los Angeles. Each and every student greeted me with open arms and warm smiles, and they taught me just as much as I had to tell them!

I opened up the class with my story about how when I was a little girl my dream was to be a supermodel because I thought that that was the greatest thing in the world! I imagined that a glamorous life filled with clothes, hair, makeup, and outer beauty would cover up all of the pain that I was experiencing in my home life.

I went on to explain to the10514750_696745340399131_4614670960225177032_nm that sometimes in life we are drawn to superficial standards of beauty and happiness because we are deeply unhappy with circumstances on the inside of us and around us. I told them that as a child I was sexually, physically, and emotionally abused by a couple of people close to me and that as a result I often felt afraid. I also isolated myse10478176_696745303732468_9223166261376901884_nlf as a child and young adult and never felt that I connected well with too many people. My mother died a couple of year’s ago from alcoholism so I felt detached from her growing up as well. On top of everything I was also hiding a big secret for more than seventeen years: I had an eating disorder that spiraled deeply out of control.

I grew away from God for many years of my life because I felt angry as a result of all of the things that were happening to me that were out of my control. I was often suicidal and I made many poor choices. I then explained to them that when I became a model, I had all of the material things that I thought that I wanted that would have made me happy, however all of the people who were around me only wanted to be with me because of my job and because of the way that I looked.

I learned throughout everything and all of my struggles that God always was there with me, even when I didn’t feel His presence, and that I could always rely on Him. 10524340_696745250399140_8240041549169040004_nI learned that true beauty came from the inside and that it was more important for me to share my hard times and be a role model for other people, than to place so much importance on my outer appearance alone. I now am determined to help others with their difficulties in life because I went through so many in mine.

The class went so well, and the students responded tremendously to the message that it is really what is inside that matters. They disc10517452_696745470399118_4765589994542415532_nussed all of the qualities that a role model should have such as believing in God, the abiltity to persevere, confidence, humility, helping others, and more! The students broke into several groups and each person drew a picture of what they thought inner beauty meant to them. I will be displaying their artwork right here on the B.E.A.U.T.Y section!

I think today we can get lost more than ever with all of the social media, television and hate in the world that we really need to just be still and…quiet. In the secret, private places of our hearts, we will find the answers to what really matters. Have we as a world complicated ourselves with too much? Does the answer to life really remain…love, inner beauty, and God, above all? I believe it does.

God Bless,
Nikki DuBose

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Fall Time Fun Back at Alstede Farms, NJ

Bunnies, cows, pigs, oh my!! I was in hog-heaven this Columbus Day weekend at Alstede Farms in Chester, NJ. Not only was the scenery surrounding the Fall-Festival breath taking, but the “scene” inside the park wasn’t half-bad either! From kiddies to pumpkin fudge (who knew?), animals galore to more Pick-Your-Own activities than you could shake a honey flavored stick at!!

I don’t know about you, but fall time is my absolute favorite time of the year. The beautiful colors on the leaves changing signal that the Holidays are a-comin’ and that the layers on my clothes will be a wrappin’!! I am so thankful for the beautiful seasons that God has created, but fall and winter have always been my favorite! You can be sure I will be blogging much more during this time as it brings back my childhood memories with my family, and I love to create that here on my website.