I am honored to share this kid’s art diorama by fellow teammate and recovery warrior, Susana Fernandez. Susana uses her artistic talents every day in her personal life and in her profession as a teacher. She inspires countless young people to hone their energy into pieces that can change the world for the better, and Susana continues to motivate me, too! I had the pleasure of meeting her and her wonderful family last year at the NEDA walk, and I was touched by their passion for recovery and helping others heal as well. Susana believes that art is an incredible tool to bring about social change, and that is what she hopes to achieve with the LA Artist Initiative Team.
*Note: B.E.A.U.T.Y is meant to serve as a tool to release feelings and to build confidence in an otherwise damaged society. Our perception of beauty today has been lost and many times we feel ugly inside, instead of the perfectly created souls we are. The content submitted is raw and unedited, as every individual has the right to express their perceptions that have led them to where they are today. The sole intended purpose of B.E.A.U.T.Y and all content therein is to bring healing and the message that full recovery from all eating disorders, mental health issues, abuse, and negative situations is possible.
When we hear the word “self-image,” what comes to mind? The mental pictures we form about our identities may be a reflection of the positive and negative experiences we have encountered over a lifetime. Sometimes the manners by which we perceive ourselves is consistent, while other times we are capable of changing our mirror formations radically in the blink of an eye. Whatever the case may be, our self-image is critical in how we interact with ourselves and the world around us. Our image is a mere representation of what we show to outsiders; are we giving a correct portrayl of who we are to those around us? Are we honest in our spirits first, and letting that flow to our physical image? So often in life we wear many masks to various associations and crowds of people; we desire our image to be one thing to one group, and another thing to another. The problem with this is that we can never be anyone but our true selves, and if we don’t know who we really are, we will never live fulfilled. We musn’t live life for others because truly no one is going to be approving of us all of the time. We must connect with a self-image that is peaceful and content at our core, and be satisfied with the image that is projected for all of the universe to see.
How and What I feel about Image
by Jacaila, age 13
Image to me is a bunch of crap society makes up to make us feel bad. I mean I didn’t receive proper care when I was five years old! Don’t get me wrong, I care about image too. Whenever I think I look good, somebody always has to tell me I look horrible. It brings my self esteem to an all time low. I’ve always tried to figure out how girls can be “ana” or “mia.” I tried to be like that once but food is just too good! When I say, “I tried,” I meant it. I purged and starved myself, tried diet pills without eating anything after words. In fifth grade things were changing for me, just because of someone’s opinion of me. The boy called my “ugly.” It took me awhile but in my mind I thought he was right. Every time I looked in the mirror, all I saw was ugliness. My whole attitude changed, grades slipped and relationships slowly disappeared. In sixth grade, self-harm played its way into my life. I couldn’t stop, therapy wasn’t helping at all and life wasn’t getting better. So I feel that self esteem, image and what we think about it is restricting us from thinking better about ourselves. In conclusion, image is just society’s way of keeping us down.
*Jacaila is now fourteen years old, and has a more positive view of herself through working recovery.
About six years ago I had the pleasure of meeting entrepreneur and author Christopher Kai, who became my friend and inspired me to continue writing and working with young people. Christopher Kai founded the wonderful program Mondays at the Mission at Union Rescue Mission, and on September 8, 2014, I had the privilege of celebrating the four year anniversary with the mentors, staff, and inspirational young people. Christopher works incredibly hard to uplift and instill worth and value in others, and that is life-changing for countless young people that go in and out of those doors at the Mission every year.
My tumultuous past gave me a sense of a connection with Christopher, the team, and the children. In June, I told my life story, and taught a B.E.A.U.T.Y. art class, where I had the students paint a picture that reflected what inner beauty meant to them. After that day, I couldn’t stop coming! I felt privileged to be able to give of myself every Monday night to young people, to help them grow and to see in themselves what was already there. I have so much respect for everyone at Mondays at the Mission and at Union Rescue Mission, and will never be the same because of their dedication and support to helping others transform their lives. I thank you all for letting me be apart of such a phenomenal program with devoted volunteers. You guys are remarkable in every sense of the word!
Thank you to Andy Bales, Matthew Bennett, Christopher Kai, Kiersten Brown, Jason Kwon, Darin Leach, Ariel Yarrish, Kelly Gluckman, Vani Murthy, Antonio Spears, Justine Sophia-Rabia, Lisa Nola, Adam Marks, Marco Curreli, Cindy Ghali, Kevin Lee, Tim Mudd, Cheri Hodge, Rozzi Crane, all of the inspirational mentors, speakers, staff, and of course, the reason why I kept coming back and will live a life of passion–the leaders of NOW–the young people at Mondays at the Mission!! You all are more talented than you will ever know.
Here are some highlights and a video from the night, made by Darin Leach, one of the Mission’s motivating mentors! Also I would like to share some memories at MATM and with my mentor friends 🙂
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? 🙂
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!
What an amazing turnout we had at this year’s Los Angeles NEDA Walk in sunny Santa Monica, California! As I take a while to pause and reflect on all of the time and energy that was put into preparing, sharing and executing this inspiring and emotional event, I am sad that it is now over, but I am also ready and preparing to have an even bigger and better time for next year’s event.
When I was approached by NEDA to captain the LA Artists Initiative Team, which first started in New York City, I felt grateful and blessed to be a part of such a momentous occasion and felt unsure if it was something that I could be responsible for. Was I meant to be a leader? I am so flawed!
I am thrilled that NEDAwareness week 2014 is upon us and kicking once again! This is a great chance for people all over the world to get involved on social media, the workplace, school, home – everywhere!
To find out how you can get involved in this year’s NEDAwareness week, please visit their site.
After taking a year and a half off work from modeling to recover, I feel so freaking happy to say that I am getting my booty back, my boobs back. I feel things jiggle when I walk. I have arm muscle now. I can eat to my hearts content and have a big, curvy body that is sexy.
Do I regret coming out about having an eating disorder? NO!
Do I regret sharing photoshoots that show myself at a low weight? NO!
Why? Because I am proud to help others who are also suffering from anorexia and bulimia and I am not afraid to show how recovery looks like, the good, the bad and the scary.
I am so happy that my body is growing to whatever size God made it to be. Let it grow baby!!
How am I preparing for NYC? Eating to my hearts content and letting go of all fears that used to consume me!
We are all already perfectly made!
Let the journey continue!
When I entered into recovery in 2010, I was in for the shock of my life. I was blindly going where I had never been before and I was accepting all of the bells and whistles that were to come.
Fast forward four years later and here we have January 2014. Where am I now in recovery? I am very grateful to say that God has seen me through some (for lack of better words) hell-hole days, weeks, and years, and He has Blessed me with pot holes of light that have kept me going. I have had months of steady recovery and then BAM!, I have fallen into relapse so fast that I thought I wouldn’t make it out alive.
*I have seen my body go up and down and up and down and I have felt myself have the emotional capacity many times of a 5 year old.
*I have had to re-learn to eat and have had to learn pretty much the library on nutrition and how to apply it to my daily eating habits.
*I have had some MAJOR physical side effects as a result of hurting my body for 20 years, and have had to accept and take care of myself in a whole new light, and not complain.
*I have had to relearn how to percieve myself and how to relate to the world and to others.
*I threw out the scale. I do not know how much I weigh, nor do I care! I am a firm believer that my worth and value are not rooted in my weight, size, or physical appearance. I believe it is the inner person that is important and this is what I have been working on.
*I have been working with the National Eating Disorders Association for the past year and I am so grateful to God that on March 8, 2014, we will be holding our Los Angeles Walk in Santa Monica, California. NEDA formed the Artist Initiative Team and they asked me to captain it for LA! The Initiative is for people working in the entertainment and artisitc industries who want to stand up for divirsity and fight against eating disorders. I am very honored and proud to be apart of this developing program with NEDA!
If I could tell my 8 year old self to never lean over the toilet again, I would scream as loud as I could, “STOP!”
Please do not ever ever hurt yourself! There is SO much more to life than ourselves, and our weight, and what we look like. We can think beyond ourselves and help other people who are hurting, for starters. Addicitons are so self-centered, and once they start, they are almost impossible to stop.
Now I just eat when I am hungry and stop when I am full. If I feel like I ate too much, oh well! It is just a feeling, and like everything with time, that feeling will go away. I don’t need to do some crazy hurtful thing to myself. It is just nuts. My body deserves so much love and delicious, healthy food is love. I work out, but I do not over exercise. I just focus on living a healthy lifestyle. I focus on health, and not on a size or a shape. I want to be happy! Don’t you?
There is one dessert (ok, about a thousand) that I just can’t resist, and that is whipped banana cream pie!! I love the simplicity of the dessert yet how daggon’ INSANE it tastes!! Am I right, or am I right? No matter where I am at, when I taste a banana cream pie, I feel like I am twelve again, sitting in mom’s kitchen, reminiscing with my family.
I made this pie for a friend’s birthday over the holidays and it was a hit (Thank God!)
Grecian Banana Cream Pie
You will need:
2 Cups Roasted Almonds
4 Tbsp Butter
9″ Pie Pan
3/4 – 1 cup Light Whipped Cream or *Soyatoo! Whipped Topping if Lactose Intolerant
1 Cup Greek Yogurt or *Goats Milk Yogurt if Lactose Intolerant
1 Mashed Banana
1/4 Tsp Vanilla
1/4 Tsp Vanilla Bourbon (optional)
2 Tsp Stevia/Splenda/Monk Fruit Sweetner
Top it off with:
Thinly Sliced Bananas
Sprinkle of Cinnamon
Sprinkle of Cacao Powder
First, let’s prepare the delightful crust! It’s as easy as one, two, three!
*Melt the butter and chop the two cups of almonds in a blender until they are finely done.
*Mix together the almonds and the butter and make sure it is thoroughly combined.
*Press the nut crust mixture into the bottom of a 9″ pie pan, and smooth it out so that everything is even and covered.
You’re done with the crust honey buns, let’s move on to the filling!
*In a large bowl with a masher, mash the banana.
*Gently combine the banana, whipped cream (or Soyatoo! Whipped Topping for lactose intolerance) and greek yogurt (or goats milk yogurt for lactose intolerance).
*Spoon the Grecian Banana Cream Pie Filling into the Almond Nut Crust and smooth it all around with a spatula. (I like to use this time to make pretty little swirly designs).
*For best results I recommend sticking this baby into the ‘fridge for an hour or so before serving, BUT you can serve it immediately. Woohoo!
*Layer it with sliced bananas right before you serve and sprinkle cinnamon and 100% Cacao powder over the top.
Don’t forget to eat and relax! You’ve worked hard for this 🙂
Recovering from anorexia and bulimia IS a long and tricky road. There are so many days when I feel on top of the world and others when I feel like I want to throw in the towel.
Feelings and emotions are normal, however, and should be welcomed openly because they are signs that we are not numbing or stuffing them down with addictive behaviors.
Physically, we see our bodies grow and change into the way that they are supposed to be as we re-feed ourselves, and this can provoke many uncomfortable thoughts and behaviors.
Its ok! If you need to cry, scream, yell, write, call someone, whatever, please do so. Any form of healthy release is great and encouraged. Don’t expect others who have not gone through an eating disorder to understand how you feel because they just cannot. Instead stick to your doctors, therapists, 12 step support group friends, etc. Anything else is really just co-dependency.
One of the things that has really helped me during re-feeding and watching my body change as I gain weight during my anorexic recovery is constantly asking God (my Higher Power) to help me to see myself the way that He sees me. To understand that I am beautiful and wonderful in His sight. I have to break away from that child-like box that anorexia put me into and accept that I am growing into the beautiful 28 year old woman that I AM! It is a renewal of mind, body and spirit into this amazing creature that God has made. How dare I destroy that? I am a warrior, a Woman of the Most High God, and He has a big future for my life.
So I just really encourage you today that wherever you are in your life and road of recovery that you are NOT alone. Your feelings, thoughts, physical body and spirit are unique yes, but they are being shared with countless others who are also recovering. Do NOT GIVE UP!! Become the beautiful masterpiece you were designed to be so that you can achieve all that you have in your heart!! YOU DESERVE IT!!
“Hello, gorgeous people, my name is Nikki. I am a model, host, commercial actress, writer, believer and dreamer. I am an advocate for NEDA, and sponsor those in eating disorder recovery because I am a survivor of a seventeen year battle with bulimia and anorexia. At the height of my modeling career, I was known for my beautiful curves; however in Europe as my battle with anorexia overcame me, I became known for my bones. Recovery for me has been filled with years of ups and downs but I decided from day one to never give up. I was fighting for my life and striving to be a role model for everyone suffering silently in the modeling industry and beyond. I am forever grateful to be free of addiction and pain, however I know that it is only because of my God, and by helping others every day with my story. Now, if I get back into the modeling business, I am calling the shots! I don’t care how much I weigh, and I refuse to surround myself with a team who would ever try to make me lose weight. I believe that our value comes from who we are on the inside and this is the message I want to leave behind for generations to come!”
Read more on NEDA.
Step Six was all about getting ready for God to remove our defects in order that He may help us to be all that He has created us to be. Step Seven now is simply and humbly coming before God in prayer and asking Him to remove every shortcoming that stands in the way between us and our God-Given Purpose.
Being a humble person is so important because without it it is pretty impossible to recognize our defects and to be people that can ask God to help us. I daily come to God in prayer in the morning and all throughout the day and ask God for His help now because I know that I know that I know that without Him I can do nothing. Within myself I am weak addicted and a total mess but In Christ I am strong confident courageous and an overcomer. I am set free from every attack that satan tries to bring against me because God is with me and for me.
Thank you to The Life Recovery Workbook by Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop for the following questions.
Clearing the Mess
1. Have I developed enough humility from my experiences in addiction to see that I need to let God work in my heart. Is there any doubt that self-reliance has kept God out.
2. Describe the difference between humiliation and humility.
Giving up Control
1. Have I ever demanded to have circumstances changed for my benefit. When.
2. Have I ever become impatient with God’s timing in the process of changing my heart and character.
3. What keeps me from letting go so that God can shape my life better than I could ever imagine or create myself.
Pride Born of Hurt
1.Is it hard for me to ask anyone even God for help. What keeps me from sharing.
2. What experiences in my family of origin have brought about this self-sufficiency.
3. Have I held back from asking God for what I need because I am projecting my disappointments onto Him. Do I trust Him.
4. Am I willing to give up self-sufficiency and pride to persistently ask for God’s help in removing my shortcomings.
A Humble Heart
1. Have I ever compared my faults/problems/sins to blatant sins of others such as robbery/murder/adultery to justify avoiding deeper work on my own character defects. What does this do for me.
2. Have I ever justified myself because I attend church/sing in the choir/do service work. Do I judge others for their lack of participation or involvement.
3. After self-examination in Steps Four through Six have I been struggling with self-hatred and shame.
4. Do I realize that the “secret sins” of pride/judgement/comparison are just as serious as the more blatant ones.
5. Have addiction and adversities humbled me enough to open the door to God’s forgiveness.
Declared Not Guilty
1. Steps Six and Seven re one path to acceptance of this verse: all of us have fallen short not only of our own ideals but also of God’s glory. Have I been trying to “measure up” and show God that I can “be good” by doing good works. How have I tried to show him that I am okay.
2. Can I now trust in faith that Jesus will not only make up for my weaknesses but will also begin to remove shortcomings as I surrender humbly to his will. If not why.
Into the Open
1. Have I disguised my addiction by covering it up with a good image. Have I hidden behind a good reputation.
2. Do I still fear that others will find out about my addiction. Will my pride be hurt if someone knows the extent of it. Am I willing to share it if it will help others.
3. Can I release to God my self-centered fears of being known and of losing my image. If so write a prayer to God expressing your desire to do so.
Eyes of Love
1 John 5:11-15
1. God already sees us as we will be when his work is done. Am I aware of any blocks that keep me from asking him into my heart to do that work. What are they.
2. Is my confidence in God’s willingness to remove my shortcomings renewed. How and why.