Podcast: Surviving My Past with Nikki DuBose

Listen to the inspiring podcast!

Trauma survivors come from all walks of life, all over the world, and while each of us are unique individuals in our own right, our survivor stories is often very similar. It’s that similarity that helps us all connect, relate, and unite in a common goal of healing and awareness.

Those similarities were evident once again, when I recently had the opportunity to speak with Abuse Survivor, Author, Advocate, and Ambassador, Nikki DuBose. It was such a privilege to spend some time talking with Nikki about not only her past; the abuse and trauma that she endured, but also about her advocacy work now and her amazing story of survival.

As a former model, Nikki has spent time in the public spotlight, living and working all over the world, but at the same time, also hiding a secret of a traumatic past that she could not escape.

More on Nikki’s story here.

 

Charlene McElhinney’s Book Review of Washed Away: From Darkness to Light by Nikki Dubose

After reading Nikki’s memoir I was lost for words. What a remarkable woman, I thought, and oh so courageous! To openly speak out about darker times in your past is draining, difficult and so daunting (I know because I’ve also opened up about my mental health issues through the form of poetry in book form). Putting it out there, for the world to see, is absolutely terrifying. And Nikki shares so much with us. You can’t fault a word in Nikki’s memoir: It is her whole life in your hands. You can feel it. You can feel her pain, her thought process, and more importantly – her desire to be loved. Nikki desperately wanted to be loved throughout her whole life and it breaks your heart reading about her life knowing that there is nothing you can do. I wanted to reach out to this young girl and tell her she is deeply loved – if only someone had.

Read the full review at Charlene McElhinney.

God’s Word Has the Power to Defeat #MentalIllness

Chiaki Evaldsson’s Review of Washed Away: From Darkness to Light

Nikki DuBose is a mental health advocate, ambassador, public speaker and writer. She is also a former model who has experienced the dark side of the fashion industry. Her harrowing journey includes childhood abuse, addiction, self harm, rape, eating disorders, psychosis and various other mental health issues. It’s undoubtable a frightening read, but an important one.
We follow Nikki from childhood, through her years as a teenager and as an adult. Divided into chapters with focus on different themes, she provides us with an honest account of what was going through her head at the time and how she experienced it. It’s refreshing to read something so raw and sincere.

Read the full review at TheTrueSea.

Nikki DuBose Challenges Whole Foods

Former model turned author and activist Nikki DuBose, was in San Francisco to challenge Whole Foods Co-CEO John Mackey to stand up for child sexual abuse survivors and speak about her role in the Omnibus Child Victims Act in the state of New York.

Pick up Nikki’s book Washed Away: From Darkness to Light on Amazon.

She’s Fit to Lead: Book Review – Washed Away by Nikki DuBose

What is the life of a high fashion model. Is it all glam and fame and perfection? Are those celebrity models we idolize like Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid really leading the amazing life that we perceive? Or is it a life of “fakes and… lies,” as top Australian Model Ajak Deng announced last year when she left the industry that she said she could no longer take? Or even one that is literally making its participants sick as writer turned model Madison Schill asserted in a Glamour Magazine article, detailing, among other things, how her agent literally asked her if she “drank butter for water.”

In her new, both disturbing and inspiring memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, former model, Nikki Dubose, who has appeared on the covers of and in editorials for all the biggies – Maxim, Glamour, Vogue, Vanity Fair and more lends her voice to this debate.

Read the full book review at She’s Fit to Lead.

Q&A with Authors and Advocates Suzy Favor Hamilton & Nikki DuBose

The Mighty sat down with NYT best-selling author Suzy Favor Hamilton (Fast Girl) and Nikki DuBose (Washed Away: From Darkness to Light) for a Q&A about sex and mental illness.

 

New York Daily News: Former model Nikki DuBose to share her sex abuse story with lawmakers as she advocates for Child Victims Act

ALBANY — Former model and sexual abuse victim Nikki DuBose is coming to the state Capitol Wednesday with a message for state lawmakers — children need to be protected.

DuBose is the featured speaker at a rally being planned by advocates for legislation that would change New York’s statute of limitations and make it easier for child sex abuse victims to obtain justice in state courts.

“We are talking about kids,” DuBose, 31, told The Daily News.

“Why is it OK for an innocent child to be sexually abused and to have his rights, his soul, his identity, his emotions his life taken away from that very moment and for him to not receive justice?” DuBose continued. “Why is that OK?”

Read more on New York Daily News.

Albany rally seeks support for Child Victims Act as legislative session kicks off

ALBANY — Advocates for legislation to make it easier for child sex abuse victims to seek legal recourse as adults will mark the Wednesday start of a new legislative session with a rally near the state Senate chambers.

Gary Greenberg, a child sex abuse victim and upstate investor who created a political action committee to fight for the issue, said the rally will feature former model and sexual abuse victim Nikki DuBose and Senate bill sponsor Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan).

Read more on New York Daily News.

Cherise Shaddix: An Interview with Nikki DuBose

Today I’m announcing my first guest blogger, Nikki DuBose! Nikki is a friend, model, and actress turned author, speaker, and mental health advocate. Nikki and I have been working together recently with the common interests such as education about eating disorders, and have been teaming up to find ways to encourage girls in their desire to find acceptance in that the answer is only in Christ. You can find out more about Nikki at her website at http://nikkidubose.com.

I interviewed Nikki and asked her questions about her eating disorder in the modeling industry, and she was refreshingly open in her responses:

Read more on CheriseShaddix.com

Feminine Collective – Victoria’s Secret Needs A Makeover: Former Models Speak Out

We are Nikki DuBose and Cherise Shaddix, two former models working to be role models for the next generation.
And if there is one thing we know all too well, it’s the pressure to be perfect and climb the ladder of success in the fashion business at any cost.

(Nikki recently spoke out about the dark things she experienced in the fashion business in her new memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light. Cherise left the industry after an agent said things like, “your pictures make me want to kill myself,” and “oh yeah…they kinda make me want to slit my wrists, too.”)

Read more on Feminine Collective.

Reflecting on my memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light to College Students

Nikki DuBose reflects on her memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, to college students from nikki dubose on Vimeo.

Sober = Fun. Really! Find Out Why…

“Recovery is not all about work, it’s also about having fun. It’s a balancing act, and that’s been one of my biggest challenges over the course of my four-and-a-half-year sobriety. And making the decision to become sober was a complete lifestyle change; besides quitting drugs and alcohol, I had to make a commitment to change who I spent my time with. Our friends and social circles have a tremendous influence on how we live our lives, especially when it comes down to our entertainment choice. Since I made the conscious choice to leave behind many people whom I felt were having a negative influence on my health (including my modeling career), it was not an easy transition, but it was a worthwhile one. For a long time I was extremely lonely; all of the people and activities I once filled my schedule with were no longer there and adjusting to the new way of life was painful. How was I going to spend my time sans drugs and alcohol?”

Read more on Clinical Addiction Recovery Institute.

Nikki DuBose speaks at Jenni Schaefer’s “Dream Big” Event

Business Insider

“Fashion models who want to work in California would need a doctor to attest that they are of healthy weight and not suffering from an eating disorder under a proposal announced by a state lawmaker on Monday.

The bill proposed by California state Assembly member Marc Levine follows efforts in several countries to fight anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders among models, who are relentlessly pressured to lose weight or lose work.”

Read more on Business Insider.

Speak2Heal Episode 6: Facts, Myths & Healing — Child Sexual Victimization

Welcome to Episode 6: Facts, Myths & Healing — Child Sexual Victimization. On this episode I talk about what child sexual abuse is and demystify “stranger danger,” a topic surrounding Matthew Sandusky’s new book, Undaunted, out now on Amazon.com. In my upcoming book, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, I share my own story with child sexual victimization and abuse and how that led to a plethora of mental health issues. I am fortunate to work with Matthew at Peaceful Hearts Foundation; Matthew, his wife Kim, and countless others are passionate about helping survivors of child sexual abuse and making sure they receive the help they need.

There’s alot of miseducation about not only child sexual victimization, but about the Sandusky story as well, and in Episode 6 I dive into both and bring to light some of the truth about topics that have been hidden for far too long.

Have a question or comment? Something you’d like me to talk about on a future show? Drop me a line nikki@nikkidubose.com

Here’s the workshop I did at UCLA recently involving art therapy, child sexual abuse and eating disorders.  

Here’s some awesome art therapy exercises in case you’re interested. You’re never too old for art. 😉

Speaking at the Dream Big Event with Jenni Schaefer 1.21.16

Come hear Nikki speak on 1.21.16 at the Montecatini Outpatient Office in Carlsbad, California alongside Jenni Schaefer, Jessica Raymond, Shannon Kopp and Jennifer Palmer. It will be an evening that will inspire you to DREAM BIG!

Montecatini-DreamBig-Flyer EVENT FINAL-121115-1_Nikki_DuBose

South Magazine

“Charleston native Nikki Dubose, 30, grew up immersed in chaos. She had an alcoholic mother with dissociative identity disorder and bipolar disorder. She was physically abused at age 4 and sexually abused at age 8, which is the same year she started binge eating. Overeating turned into purging by age 10, which eventually morphed into anorexia nervosa.”

Read more on South Magazine.

Stories of Hope: An Interview with Nikki DuBose

“This is part of a series featuring individuals who share their life experiences with mental health issues. Recently, I asked writer and mental health advocate Nikki DuBose about her history of mental health issues and her current advocacy work.”

Read Nikki’s interview on davidsusman.com

 

 

 

Speak2Heal Episode 4 College Life & Addiction with Laura Porter

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes!

On this episode I sat down with Laura Porter who is a student at George Washington University majoring in political communication with a minor in psychology. After taking three semesters off of school for her own mental health struggles, Laura became passionate about advocating for increased awareness of mental illness among college students, specifically eating disorder awareness. Laura served as president of Students Promoting Eating Disorder Awareness and Knowledge at GW (SPEAK GW) as well as a communications intern at Active Minds Inc.

You can connect with Laura on Twitter  @LCPeez and on Speak GW.

Look out for my new book, Washed Away, coming out next year! In case you missed it in the last post, I recently wrote a blog about it on the National Eating Disorders Association.

 

God Bless,
Nikki DuBose

8 Ways Your Struggle Brings Gifts

8 Ways Your Struggle Brings Gifts

  • They make us stronger. That’s right — after recovering from a lifetime of abuse, eating disorders, drug addiction and alcoholism, one thing is for certain, I am a stronger person. I don’t see my former addictions and mental health issues as a downside, rather as things that have made me more powerful, able to tackle anything life brings my way.
  • They help shape our character. Of course we are all born with character, but I believe that my struggles have sharpened mine. With every challenge we face, our character is being built, so we can choose to see troubles as a blessing.”

Read more on Recovery Warriors.

 

What I Learned About Love, I Learned From My Dad

“All right now, hold my hand real tight, don’t let go until you know when.” Dad peered down from his dusty baseball cap marked 88 and gripped my hands in his big bear palm. From my tiny viewpoint, the world was blanketed by the nighttime sky and littered in stars. Dad’s smile lit my heart, and at once, I release10422042_748861415164380_5452174188489951681_nd my faith and threw back my head, revealing a deep, belly laugh.

“Anda- one, anda-two, anda-three!” Dad swung me higher and higher, until the third count, when he released me and I soared, just for a few seconds, like a superhero amongst the crowds of blurry faces who were scattered amongst the bleachers. It was race night, and like every other Saturday, it was our time; we didn’t get to see each other often, but when we did, time stopped and life became precious.

I hit the rocky ground on both legs safely with a resounding “thud,” and, although shocked, I quickly dusted myself off and turned to face the one person who I knew would be right behind me. “That’s my girl! Didn’t think I’d let you down, did ya?” Dad swept me up in his arms and carried me back to the bleachers, as all fear of the unknown faded away.

My dad has always been my hero, whether or not he truly knows it. In my eyes, I couldn’t tell him enough. And when it comes to my relationships I’ve learned a lot through my biggest one: the one with my father. He’s taught me so much about what it means to love people for who they are on the inside, to see beyond the exterior package. The obvious is not what we see, it is what we choose to get to know about someone that makes them beautiful. Growing up in a small, country, two-bedroom home that raised over twenty children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Dad learned early the value of staying close and loving through it all. As I went through my struggles, he not only taught those to me, he showed them, too.

I’ve learned what it means to let go and allow love in. What it means to heal. For most of my life I shut myself off to love and used relationships as a way to abuse myself and others, long after my abusers left. Dad has always been there, in the background, offering advice and encouragement in his own kind way. The faith that he instilled in me as a child has slowly grown over time, and without his care, I don’t know where I’d be. At thirty and through two marriages, I can’t deny the huge role that his stability has played.

I finally know what it means to love myself. Although this one, like every relationship, is one that is a constant work in progress, the love I have for myself is mirrored by the love Dad has for himself. As we’ve grown and constructed healthier lives, our self-images have been strengthened. My dad has a much better image of himself than he used to, especially when I was living in the depths of my eating disorders. A perfectionist at my core, Dad’s voice was always in the back of my mind whispering, “You don’t have to be perfect for someone to love you.” When I was at one of the lowest points in my life at eighteen and attempted suicide, I never imagined that I could flourish and get to the place of contentment that I am in now.

Because of our relationship, I’ve learned what I want in a partner, and what I don’t want, the latter through my own trials and errors. I learned that I want someone faithful, loving, and kind. A person who looks past the obvious; someone who sees my soul. And just like Dad, someone who is always there to catch me when I fall.

God Bless,
Nikki DuBose

Finding Freedom through the Past

“I’ll never forget that fateful day when the horrible memories resurfaced. Although blurry and confusing, one thing was clear; I had been touched in places I shouldn’t have. Held down for far too long until I felt like I was going to perish from suffocation. A crimson, misshapen face, rough hands and chapped lips signaled my demise. As I sat alone in my bedroom and gazed into unwelcoming silence, one after another the past flooded my brain like a movie. A film that I, the prisoner, watched in unrelenting horror.”

Read more on Eating Disorder Hope.

 

Seven Ways to Have a Better Body Image

“Perception of the body is something everyone shares, whether positive or negative. Body image can be shaped by a variety of complex factors including genetics, environment and the media.

Negative body image is nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone, at some point in their lifetime, experiences a poor picture of themselves, whether it be mental or physical. The important thing to remember is that you are never alone and reaching out for help is a critical step in building a healthy self image.

Here are seven ways to clear away the dust and reconstruct a better body image.” 

Read more on Recovery Warriors.

 

Body Image from the Inside Out

“Every day I am faced with a challenge. I can either accept and embrace myself, or I can choose to listen to the negative voices that threaten to tear down the walls of my self-worth. Building my body image is a job that begins on the inside, and it’s one that I must form with blocks of love and patience.

In order to construct a solid foundation, I must clear away the rotted materials and replace them with long-lasting ones. As I take inventory of my life, what do I see that needs to be swept away? What does not serve me anymore? What are healthy changes that I can make that will ensure a positive environment for my mind, soul and body?”

 

Read more on Eating Disorder Hope.

 

Join me and Eating Disorder Hope for a Google + Hangout!

Join me and Eating Disorder Hope for a Google + Hangout at 12 pm PST today as we talk about Body Image!

Missed it? No worries! Watch the entire hangout below!

Peanut Butter Power Bars

You will need:

1.5 cups rolled oats, blended into a fine flour
1/2 cup rice crisp cereal
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons dark chocolate chips
1/2 tablespoon coconut oil

 

To make:

Line an 8″ square pan with parchment paper. Blend together the oat flour, rice crisp, and salt in a large bowl.

Add the peanut butter, maple syrup and vanilla. Stir well. Press into pan and roll until smooth. Place into the freezer.

Melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a pot over low heat, stirring until smooth.

After freezing the mixture for about ten minutes, remove from the freezer and slice into bars. Drizzle with the melted chocolate and refreeze. These can be stored in the freezer up to a week or longer in a container.

Remember to eat mindfully 🙂

God Bless,

Nikki DuBose

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Eating Disorder Hope — “Regaining My Mind and My Hair”

“As I peer into the mirror on this wintry Saturday morning I come face to face with one of my oldest demons. My enemy lies dead, void of life, yet I am aware that it has a way of reentering in the darkest corridors of my mind. We meet again, I hesitate as I reach behind the middle of my head and snap, snap, snap! Section after section I unfasten my extensions to reveal what used to be a sight of horror; my thin, natural hair. I am determined to confront the sight with a bold spirit, for I believe that this cannot melt me into a neurotic puddle any longer. Shaggy, light brown tresses barely caress my shoulders, and I exhale a sigh of nostalgic relief. Peace begins to fill my heart for the first time since childhood. My hair.”

Read more on Eating Disorder Hope.

 

Paint Me A Soul Part Five

Over the next week for NEDAwareness I will detail raw, personal accounts of my time in the modeling and entertainment industries. These stories serve to inform and educate the masses about eating disorders, mental health issues, drug and alcohol addictions, and what really lies behind the doors of the fashion world.

March 2009.

My twenty-fourth birthday had come and gone, and I could hardly recall any of it…at least anything honorable.  Although I had set out to enjoy the evening sober and in an elegant fashion, by the time I saw myself dressed and sporting new gold stilettos from Bloomingdales, I couldn’t let the night unravel without the heavens spinning.

I wanted to get drunk, fast and hard. As usual my innocent plans ended in raging fights, binges on birthday food, party goodies and alcohol, multiple episodes in the bathroom for purging sessions and, ultimately, a blackout.

I had managed to hide my binging over the course of the night, and purging, I thought that to be a cinch. Because I was partying in the Miami scene, the bathrooms were continuously filled with people who were hurling the hard liquor they had churning in their bodies…at least I thought. I used that as my excuse every time I made the trip into one of the disgusting stalls. As the evening drew on, I looked and behaved like something out of a deranged circus show. I needed a team of people to help put my life together, however I continued to look for fixes in all the wrong places.

 

***

Spring had finally arrived. Outside the world overflowed with cotton candy skies, lush Hibiscus flowers swirled kisses to ethereal butterflies and rows of Royal Palm Trees bended and swayed to the rhythms of the sweet, salty air, that tangoed with the sunshine.

But inside, oh but inside, my reality was muted and bare. Moment by moment I was being strangled by the pasty walls inside Dr. Melbourne’s office. The thick smell of sterilization and cleaning fluids filled my lungs and brought me to a nauseating reality. Blood red. It was, in fact, the only color apart from the chalky white that was in this hell hole. Gallons of blood trickled from the bodies of hundreds of victims, just like myself, down through plastic tubes and into clear containers. With every drip into the container, another soul was exposed and washed away.

The only noise I could detect besides the frail beating of my heart was the maniacal tickings of the stale clock that hung directly above the wooden entrance. I was trapped, and if I wanted to escape, which I did, I would have to dash down the long hallway of slippery shame and face one beautifully altered nurse after another, explaining why I didn’t want to get my breasts enhanced.

Enhanced sounded so…so innocent, as if putting on a padded bra would have sealed the deal. But no, I was fully aware that soon I would be under the knife…again…and Dr. Melbourne…Miami’s finest, would cut and stuff large balloons of potentially harmful substances into my chest. All for the sake of…what?

I wanted to please. I wanted to feel better about my body. I had always wanted a larger chest. Now that not just one, but several of my agents had agreed and brought it to my attention that implants would make my career more successful, I was convinced I was making the right decision. I believed that after the surgery, I would finally be…good enough. I couldn’t tell what was more superficially inflated…my ego, or the sample implants enclosed in the glass case across from me.

Only a few months ago, I had walked through these same doors for rhinoplasty. Any fear that I had was replaced once Dr. Melbourne reassured me with a marker outline on my face of what my new and improved self would look like. As he held up the mirror, I was pleasantly shocked.

That’s…that’s my new nose?”

He remained neutral and said nothing. Suddenly I dwindled into an eight year old, afraid and timid. I was an annoyance with my mouth.

Yup! As I told you before, it’s not a big deal. Rhinoplasty is a common procedure. Especially with girls in your line of work.”

I felt…insulted on some levels, but I also couldn’t help noticing how seeing myself in a potentially new way soothed my emotions. As I turned my head from side to side, I believed that this surgery would fix all of my problems. No one could ever make fun of me anymore. I would book more jobs, and become a supermodel. Everyone at the agency would be astounded by my success. I could never be looked at as ugly again, and coming from a woman who as a child had been made fun of for her big nose, chunky cheeks and glasses, I felt that reducing my nose was a slap in the face to everyone…at work, and at home.

I’ll show them.

I can’t wait to do it, Dr. Melbourne.”

A few months later, after weeks and weeks of lying in bed with bandages on my face like a mummy, I uncovered my new self. A reinvented me. Dr. Melbourne removed the layers to reveal a nose that was more petite, and in my mind, a me that was finally worthy and desirable. However, I was severely swollen and numb to the touch. Numb like my life. The surgery didn’t stop my binging, or purging. Although I saw myself with a new face, I was ridden with issues. I spent hours in the bathroom, obsessing over every little detail. The sadness and anger ate away at my skin, and I wanted to die. I contemplated suicide during my rehabilitation.

Pig. Now you look even more like a pig! Your nose is tilted!

I seriously considered a second nose procedure to correct the first one, but those sane around me talked me out of it.

Now, a hard raspy knock on the door brought back me to these chalky walls, and a life-sized doll stepped inside.

Hello, I’m Theresa. Ms. Du-Boise? Du-DuBose?”

DuBose.”

Ok. Ms. DuBose, please come with me, we need to take your vitals, check your weight, etc.”

God, my weight.

As she turned out the door, I put my feet together and checked to see if my thighs were touching. I hadn’t eaten anything that day, in preparation for this very moment. My jeans were looser. I was down to wearing between a size two to four.

Just don’t look at the number.

We walked over to an area where a shaky scale sat. Fleshy eyes knocked and rolled all over my back as I took off my shoes and stepped onto the platform. Clenching my eyeballs shut, I squeezed my hands until I was sure I would burst into flames.

Please God, please don’t let her tell me the number. Please God, please don’t let her –

God wasn’t listening.

123.” She scribbled some notes on her pad.

123, that’s actually not that bad!

Not my goal, but, not enough to send me into a tailspin at the moment, either. I lifted my flat chest a little higher, and, walked out of the torture chamber straight into the room of doom. I gloated in my number.

123, 123, 123, 123…

My glory, my shining moment was shredded to pieces, the moment she closed the door. Unbeknownst to me, she mentally whipped out her blood-spattered butcher knife and sliced me in half.

123…that’s a lot for models, isn’t it?”

 

Paint Me A Soul — Part Four

Over the next week for NEDAwareness I will detail raw, personal accounts of my time in the modeling and entertainment industries. These stories serve to inform and educate the masses about eating disorders, mental health issues, drug and alcohol addictions, and what really lies behind the doors of the fashion world.

Only a couple weeks had passed since I had first walked into the doors of the agency, but it felt as though I had journeyed through an entire lifetime. My universe consisted of photo shoots, blind contracts, and meeting person after person in castings all over town, although hardly ever eye-to-eye. Most just wanted to evaluate my face and body, not look into my eyes…that required a sincere connection and I was quickly learning that I was in the wrong place for that.

 There was a sort of bitter flow that just…worked. It only took a couple of days before I understood certain protocols and ideals. Show up, on time. Do as you’re asked. Dress to show off your body, and, work hard to maintain certain measurements. The thinner, the better. Always, always appear immaculate. Practice, practice, practice your walk. Be the best. Once you complete a job, don’t ask questions as to when you will get paid. If I had a question about something, I asked, but many times I was shot down and ignored. The tactics seemed…familiar. It was a reflection of my childhood, and one that I was willing to give up everything for. It was a family that I wanted desperately to call my own.

November 2008

Pinching the skin between my forehead repeatedly, I fell off into space. Darkness ran in all directions as the world ceased to exist. My body tingled and my brain throbbed. Suddenly I was sorry for the massive purging session that had just taken place in the bathroom of the downstairs cafe. I couldn’t really think, I was numb. Numb to it all.

Get it together. You have to take new polaroids!

I forced my eyes open to splotches and grey floaters. Sitting on the toilet, clothed, in the agency bathroom I gathered the strength to stand. Dizzy, my stomach churned with anticipation. I walked over to the sink and brushed my teeth. As I spit and raised my head, I came face-to-face with a reflection that was not my own. The glazed eyes, puffy cheeks and red lips didn’t belong to me. Who was I?

I didn’t have much time to contemplate because the door swung open and a fellow model rushed in. She glanced at me and my swollen face, suspiciously.

My gaze went from her, to myself, and back to her again. I watched her walk into a stall and shut the door.

I bet she doesn’t throw up. Why can’t you get yourself together stupid? Why can’t you just be…normal?

I packed my items away in my bag and scrutinized my body in the mirror. I just had to observe it from all angles. The fear of being rejected and criticized by my agents loomed largely. I smoothed my stomach over and over, as I moved from side to side. I checked my back, legs, everywhere. Then I fixed my hair and re-fixed it. I wanted to smash my face into the glass as I morphed into a giant swine.

God Nikki you look like a fat pig. Ugly!

After the polaroids were updated, I was asked to stay longer. Besides the negative comments that were made about my thighs, I was unsure as to why I was asked to stay behind. I wanted to leave, but I patiently agreed and sat down in an empty chair that was normally occupied by the men’s agent. I sat for an eternal time, hot and anxious.

I bet they’re going to tell you about your weight! That’s what happens when you eat right before! You better starve!

I drifted off to the wall of cards that showed off all of the women the agency kept on roster. There I was, on the bottom right. All around me were the most beautiful of the beautiful. I was still on a paper card and didn’t even have my permanent card yet.

You’ll never be like them. Never. Look at their beautiful faces.

I sunk into a bottomless pit of depression, and I couldn’t see the light. Pile after pile of dirt was thrown on top of me. I was suffocating.

Nikki?”

I snapped to my senses, but only for show.

Yes, I-I’m ready. What is it you wanted to see me for?”

My agent came over to me and firmly placed her hand on my shoulder.

Helena wants to see you in her office.” With that she motioned for me to go upstairs.

Upstairs. It was a place that few ever ventured. The owner of the agency practically lived there. Many days as I passed through the main entrance, she was always aware, yet somehow engrossed in her affairs. She intimidated the hell out of me, and she knew it too. A well-known figure, she had guided the careers of some of the world’s most recognizable faces. For a brief second, I wondered if she wanted to help me, too. Adrenaline exploded throughout my body.

As I crept up to the door I adjusted my clothes for a solid five minutes. I closed my eyes and exhaled heavily.

Finally I rapped lightly on the door. I was afraid to disturb her.

Come in and sit down please.”

Pushing the door slightly, I quietly walked in and sat in the chair across from her. The office was even more elaborate than what little bits I had noticed from downstairs. Fur rugs were strewn across a dark hardwood floor. Animal prints and jewel tones were highlighted by fancy candles and framed pictures of articles that boasted of her years of accomplishments. Her massive desk was coated with photographs of famous faces. I felt as big and important as a discarded peanut shell.

She took in a long, heavy breathe and searched me up and down with a neutral expression. Her eyes, however, were piercing. Then she unfolded.

It has come to my attention that, that there is a – a problem darling with some things. Some things that need – attention.” As she spoke she twitched her hand in the air and rolled her eyes to either side.

Attention? Oh my God. What is wrong with me?

I was transported back to my childhood. All at once I was nine years old again, waiting to show my mom my report card. Perspiration trickled between my legs and behind my neck.

It’s, it’s your nose, darling. It’s the shape. And the width. It’s too big. One of the agents brought it to my attention in the polaroids that you took. At first I didn’t notice and I thought that you could cover it up with makeup, but really, it is going to be a problem for clients.”

It took me a while to recover from the massive punch in the face I had just received.

What had she said? It took all my strength not to melt into a puddle of tears.

O-OK,” I stammered. “I understand. You are just looking out for my best.”

I have a wonderful plastic surgeon that I have sent other girls to, he’s the best in Miami, you’ll really love him. Think of it as an investment in your career, and in your life.”

Yes ma’m, thank you for telling me.”

Ok, that’s really about all I needed to tell you.” She stared blankly out her window and motioned me out the door with her crimson fingernails.

I turned, dejected and hopeless. My dreams were shattered. Change my face? Change my life. As I shuffled out of the room I felt the heat from the blistering flames, threatening to singe me.

Paint Me A Soul — Part Two

Over the next week for NEDAwareness I will detail raw, personal accounts of my time in the modeling and entertainment industries. These stories serve to inform and educate the masses about eating disorders, mental health issues, drug and alcohol addictions, and what really lies behind the doors of the fashion world.

My remaining weeks in Los Angeles had been spent in sheer agony. In order to conform myself to the size that the esteemed modeling agency had asked, I had dropped to even more desperate measures than normal. Day after grueling day, I lived in hell. A blistering inferno that I couldn’t get out of.

Inside my mental blazes, I ran around in circles, unable to escape my insanities.

Every day I exercised for hours, binged, purged and locked myself in the bathroom to scrutinize my face and body. The only times I left my house were to get more supplies to fuel my obsessions. I took photograph after photograph of myself to see how much weight I had lost. In my mind, the more weight I lost, the more I achieved, and the more I achieved, the more valuable I was, to myself and to the modeling agency. My self worth was determined by people who only cared about my appearance and how much money I could rake in, but I didn’t care, I had no real love for myself.

October, 2008.

Christmas was only a couple of months away but the Miami weather raged on as if the summer had no end. As soon as I stepped off the plane in the sweltering Florida sun I sensed adventure, mixed with a feeling I couldn’t quite place. This undertaking would turn out to be one that I wouldn’t necessarily want to take.

I was instructed by the agents to come in the following day and sign my paperwork. I was overwhelmed by the move, the excitement of being in a new city and the fact that I was going to be a bona fide model! No longer would I just fantasize about being a model, I was actually going to be one. Pride washed over me and all at once I wanted to soar through the clouds and gaze at all the commoners in Florida. They would soon be seeing me on the billboards…I was a star!

The scenery the next afternoon on the way to the agency was quite a change from my safe house in Los Angeles. Girls and guys buzzed about on the white sanded beaches in barely-there bathing suits, rollerblading and confidently participating in a variety of sports. It was not going to be so easy to hide here. I pulled down my form-fitting skirt and withdrew my face as I passed through a dozen restaurants. The agents had informed me that I should wear something body-hugging, but now I was regretting it. I could feel a thousand unwanted eyes ripping off my clothes. I walked faster. As I entered into the sleek, two-story agency that faced the crystal ocean, I quietly took a seat and soaked in the moment.

I was the only person in the waiting area. All around me were large framed photographs of supermodels I recognized from the eighties and nineties. I was in awe. Did that mean I would be a supermodel, too? In my heart, I hoped so. I held my portfolio tightly and noticed a tall wall of composite cards. Rows of models that belonged to the agency were on display. I observed each and every one.

Wow, I thought. I wish I could look like her. I wonder what it’s like to be her, to be like that.

I became lost in the sea of faces and felt myself drowning.

Had I lost enough weight? Would they accept me?

I nervously tapped my foot but tried to appear calm and collected. My jittery eyes led to a second level that wrapped around to a glass enclosure. Inside a few agents stayed glued to their computers and telephones. They didn’t acknowledge my presence. I checked my phone; 2:49. The appointment was at 2:30. I bit my breath and quietly sat. In my stillness I was sorely reminded of one thing: how much I missed mom. In that moment I contemplated about what it would be like for her to be there with me, sitting beside me and cheering me on. I wanted her to be proud of me. I couldn’t wait to tell her about this opportunity, but most of all, I was tired of being…alone.

 

Paint Me A Soul-Part One

In honor of NEDAwareness 2015, I will be writing about some of my experiences in the modeling business. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, we are fooled into believing the mirages created by the media I cannot even begin to tell you how many times my images were manipulated to make me look thinner to the point that it was destructive for my mental health and the health of so many others.

Over the next week I will detail raw, personal accounts of my time in the modeling and entertainment industries. These stories serve to inform and educate the masses about eating disorders, mental health issues, drug and alcohol addictions, and what really lies behind the doors of the fashion world. 

     It was the beginning of the fall of 2008. The changing air in Los Angeles signaled a shift in the direction of my life yet again. I was tired of running, tired of moving but deep within I felt that something better was on the horizon. I could have dreamed at least. After a couple of weeks of waiting to hear whether or not I would be accepted into modeling agencies in South Florida, I received emails from a few. Some of the most prestigious ones had responded. Nearly besides myself, I spotted their names in my inbox.

This is it! I’ve made it now! I’m going to be somebody, I thought.

Dizzying scenes of parading down glamorous runways filled my mind. I was overwhelmed with the prospect of my new life. My new life that was at the tip of my fingertips.

My sweaty fingers slipped on the keyboard as I clicked on the first message. However, my eyes melted with the lines as I recognized the all-to familiar response. Rejection.

Dear Ms. DuBose,

Thank you for contacting us. After reviewing your images we are sorry to say that we do not think that you would be a good fit for us at this time.

Damnit.” After reading a few more of those I shut off my computer and rolled over onto my messy bed. Crumbs from weeks worth of binges stuck to my clothes and skin and the disgusting feeling brought me back to my harsh reality.

What is wrong with me?

I pondered that question over and over again, so much, that it kept me in the pits of my destructive behaviors. I was trapped in bulimia, without a way out. Rejections from agencies fed my insecurities and mental instabilities. In turn, I cycled through binge eating and bulimia multiple times a day.

About a week later, I heard from an agency and management in South Florida. The feedback was different…sort of.

Dear Ms. DuBose

We would like to meet you. When are you coming?

Also, there are some areas that need attention on your body. The thighs and hips in particular need to be reduced. Competition here is intense!

My mind raced. Ok! I was accepted. But…I needed to change. Again. Change my body, but how much? I could handle it. I was determined to be who they wanted me to be. God knows I didn’t like who I saw when I looked in the mirror constantly throughout the day.

You stupid idiot. Look at yourself. Fat thighs. Big nose! No chest. Ugly, ugly, ugly! Worthless. Of course they won’t accept you. You’ll never be like them. Never. Get to work!

The voices I heard in my head dictated my life. Demeaning, yes, but familiar. The voices were what soothed me just as much as they belittled and controlled every single area. I was captive to them.

I succumbed to the voices that told me to starve myself in preparation for my new life as a model in South Florida that fall of 2008. I also prepared myself to listen to the voices of the people in the fashion industry. I never once thought about listening to my own voice, my heart, or my soul. I had no idea who that voice belonged to.

To be continued…

 

Podcast — “From Fashion Model to Role Model” with Recovery Warriors

My podcast with Recovery Warriors is now LIVE!

Hear me speak on overcoming a more than seventeen year battle with binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, drug and alcohol addictions, and mental health issues. Also I talk about my experiences in the modeling and entertainment industries and how walking away from them led to my recovery.

God Bless,
Nikki DuBose

The Golden Letter

The Golden Letter to My Mind_Nikki_DuBose_Poetry_2015

Late one winter’s eve

as the wind mocked and moaned

I uncovered a golden letter

and here is what it read:

‘O, Frankly my mind

I am no respecter of your thoughts

No longer your slave

A prisoner of your delusions

I am not.

You wail in the night

singing for my soul,

and whisper quietly in the stills of the day

concealing your intentions

But I,

I am free

Frankly my mind

I am me.’

©2015 Nikki DuBose

Eating Disorder Hope — “Eating Disorders and Holidays: Giving Back”

“I cherish the array of feelings I receive when I send family and loved ones cards or presents in the mail. Just imagining their bright, beaming faces puts warmth in my heart.

Nothing sets my soul afire and brings me peace quite like knowing that the holiday season has arrived. As a little girl this magical time brought my family together and allowed me to feel safe and secure.”

Read more on Eating Disorder Hope.

NEDAwareness Week is February 22 – 28, 2015!

2015 NEDAwareness February 22-28, 2015
2015 NEDAwareness February 22-28, 2015

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) awareness week is Feb 22-28th! Please visit NEDA’s Awareness site to learn more and to find how how you can get involved. ♡

The seemingly “perfect” images we see in magazines, billboards, on television, movies, and on social media, are an illusion, meant to make us feel bad for the sake of making advertisers and powerhouses wealthy. Please do not believe what you are seeing. The models behind the images have to resort to unhealthy measures to maintain their appearances and adhere to strict rules in order to keep their jobs. The environment that the modeling industry imposes at large is a breeding ground for eating disorders, and while they have made an effort to diversify and celebrate all body types and sizes, there is still much work to be done.

God Bless,
Nikki DuBose

“When Walking Away…Leads to Recovery”

“Somewhere in our online travels, we met Nikki Dubose, who is currently writing, volunteering and advocating for this world to be a better place by promoting a healthy relationship with food and our bodies. We read her story, of once being a thriving actress and international model who walked away from her career so she could recover from an eating disorder. It got us thinking of just how many of you have already made this kind of choice, or are on the cusp of needing to do so.”

Read more on The Be Program.

 

 

High Above This Tree

From high above this tree mom
I can do anything
I can soar with the birds
Sing their melodies
I am one with nature.
From high above this tree mom
I am able to conquer
my deepest fears.
From high above this tree mom
I am exactly where
I want to be
In your arms
protected.

©2014 Nikki DuBose

We love and miss you mom.

Love,
Nikki and Anthony.

Pineapple Pancakes

These are the ultimate treat for me!  Pancakes are something that terrified me for years because of my struggles.  I am grateful for eating pancakes as it is a marker of overcoming and letting go.

This recipe uses two kinds of flour: almond and organic whole wheat.  I like to combine the two because it gives the pancakes a more consistent feeling rather than a cakey turnout.

I hope you enjoy my pineapple pancakes!

God Bless,

Nikki DuBose

You will need: 

1 cup of almond meal/flour

1 cup of organic whole wheat flour

2 TBS stevia/monk fruit/agave/organic raw cane sugar

1 TBS baking powder

1/4 TSP baking soda

2 eggs, beaten

1 can of freshly crushed pineapple (I bought a package of fresh pineapple and crushed them myself)

3/4 cup of coconut almond milk

1/4 cup of canola oil

Light whip cream and sugar-free caramel syrup to top (or top with apple butter)

To make: 

In a large mixing bowl combine the almond and whole wheat flour together. Next, add the stevia, baking powder, and baking soda. In a separate medium bowl mix well the eggs, freshly crushed pineapple, almond milk, and canola oil.  Now pour the pineapple mixture in with the flour, and stir until everything is slightly lumpy, but smooth.

Place a pancake skillet or pan on the stove and raise the heat to about medium.  Cook about 1/4 of a cup of batter at a time, and let it sit for about three minutes on each side, turning when the bubbles form and the edges start to dry. The pancake should be golden and crispy on each side…but if you “mess up”…don’t worry, it’s all about progress, not perfection right?

Serve immediately and place a dollop of light whip cream on top. Pour  caramel syrup over the top (I got mine from Starbucks!), or get more creative and make your own delicious sauce 🙂