I never “Chose” my Choices

I have been receiving so many comments from people in Europe (as well as the United States) regarding why I chose to sleep with the director of my modeling agency.
It is so clear to me why I put that part of my life in my memoirs: because I was sexually abused as a little girl by my mother and a male family member, which I also describe in my book.
I felt it was very important for people to understand why we make certain choices. For me, I felt pressured to follow a career where my face would be in the public because I had such low self esteem due to the remnants of sexual abuse in my childhood.

Sexual abuse is so damaging, that it can lead you to make terrible decisions as an adult and affect you in every single area of your life. So for everyone who says, “It was your choice to be a model and to go through the things you went through,” I say to you: it was never my choice to be abused. To be prostituted by my mom as a kid. To be exposed to the things I was in my childhood and I know that in my modeling career the mental health issues I had greatly affected my choices – we always have to look at why people are the way they are.

I hope my memoir will shed a greater light on sexual abuse, mental illness and of course yes, what can happen in the modeling industry but the book is about so much more than that.

 


J’ai reçu tellement de commentaires de personnes en Europe (ainsi qu’aux États-Unis) concernant les raisons pour lesquelles j’ai choisi de dormir avec le directeur de mon agence de mannequinat.
Il est si clair pour moi pourquoi j’ai mis cette partie de ma vie dans mes mémoires: parce que j’ai été abusée sexuellement comme une petite fille par ma mère et un membre de la famille masculine, que je décris également dans mon livre.
J’ai senti qu’il était très important que les gens comprennent pourquoi nous faisons certains choix. Pour moi, je me suis senti obligé de suivre une carrière où mon visage serait dans le public parce que j’avais une si faible estime de soi en raison des restes d’abus sexuels dans mon enfance.

La violence sexuelle est si préjudiciable qu’elle peut vous mener à des décisions terribles en tant qu’adulte et vous affecter dans tous les domaines de votre vie. Donc, pour tous ceux qui disent: «C’était votre choix d’être un modèle et de passer à travers les choses que vous avez traversées», je vous dis: ce n’était jamais mon choix d’être abusé. Être prostituée par ma mère enfant. Pour être exposé aux choses que j’étais dans mon enfance et je sais que dans ma carrière de mannequinat les problèmes de santé mentale que j’avais ont grandement affecté mes choix – nous devons toujours regarder pourquoi les gens sont comme ils sont.

J’espère que mon mémoire éclaircira davantage les abus sexuels, la maladie mentale et, bien sûr, oui, ce qui peut arriver dans l’industrie du mannequinat, mais le livre parle de beaucoup plus que cela.

BFM TV (France) Troubles alimentaires et psychiques: un ex-mannequin témoigne dans un livre

Watch the video here

Regardez la vidéo ici

Aufeminin – Dans L’enfer Du Mannequinat

Watch the video here 

Regardez la vidéo ici

Abus sexuels, boulimie, anorexie, tentatives de suicide… Nikki DuBose a tout affronté. Aujourd’hui, elle se raconte dans un livre “Dans l’enfer du mannequinat, une industrie qui détruit”, poignant.

LCI TV (France)VIDÉO – “Plus je perdais de poids, plus on me disait que j’étais belle” : une ex-mannequin raconte l’enfer de l’anorexie

Watch the video here

Regardez la vidéo ici


 

La Fashion Week vient de s’ouvrir à Paris. Mais ne lui en parlez pas. “Quand j’étais mannequin ici, c’était horrible. J’ai des amies qui y participent mais pour moi, ce n’est rien. Je préfère aller manger un burger, je m’en moque”, lâche-t-elle dans un éclat de rire. Nikki DuBose a pris ses distances avec un univers dans lequel elle s’est totalement perdue. L’ancienne mannequin était de passage dans la capitale française cette semaine pour promouvoir ses mémoires, L’Enfer du mannequinat (Editions du Rocher)…

(continued)

Self-love during the Holidays

Do you love your feet? Do something for me, please. I want you to remove your shoes, your socks, and wiggle your toes. Now really feel your feet. Feel the magic of your toes. Feel how amazing it is to have ten toes, ten toenails. Now I want

you to look at your feet and study your toenails. Do you like your toenails? Do you think that they are beautiful? Maybe, maybe not.

When I was a kid, I hated my feet. I hated my big, country feet. I wanted to have any other size feet but mine. All of the girls in my class seemed to have tiny, petite feet that made them gracious and therefore, more worthy of love. To me, having big feet meant that I wasn’t pretty, and it was one more thing on my ever-growing list that made me determined to change myself.

I started despising myself at a very young age, around the age of eight. And a lot of that had to do with trauma in my own family. There was a lot of turmoil, abuse, and things that were not my fault, things that were out of my control. And so to regain some sort of sense of control, I developed what we know as binge eating disorder at eight years old, then bulimia nervosa at ten. The bulimia nervosa took hold of my life and took away every chance that I had to function at school, to make friends, to finish college, and to have a truly successful modeling career.

And although I was a “top model” for about ten years, my career was a lie. I was engaging in my behaviors multiple times a day because I didn’t know any other way to live. I didn’t know how to eat without my eating disorder, I didn’t know what it meant to live without depression, without PTSD, without suicidal thoughts, and so on. So I had the career that I had always wanted, but the price that I paid was very high. I couldn’t separate the fame, the money, the job from living in a mental health nightmare. And that’s not really living.

I was in all of the magazines that you see today – Glamour, Vogue, Maxim – my agency was priming me for the top of the top. I travelled all over the world and lived in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Germany, Italy, Paris, Israel; I mean you name it, and I probably experienced it. And although I had all of these industry professionals telling me that I was beautiful, I couldn’t see any beauty in myself. My eating disorder and other mental health issues clouded my ability to see my real beauty, which is my heart, my soul, my talents, not my face, not my body, not a number on a scale, not the image that was being sold for a profit for other people’s happiness which changed on any particular day.

One day people in the modeling business loved me and they thought that I was the perfect model, and the next day they hated me and told me that I needed to drastically alter my appearance. So eventually what I realized which coincided with my mother’s addictions and mental health issues was that I was never going to make other people happy, which made me extremely unhappy, and it was making extremely sick, to the point of nearly dying. Towards the end of my modeling career in 2012, I had developed anorexia nervosa. And as we know, anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. So I had to get to the point where I had to make a very important decision and that was to love myself for the first time ever. Because as a child who had parents who were addicts, who were abusive, who were emotionally unavailable, I was always looking out for them, and never myself. I was always trying to control, and never letting go, and unable to let a Higher Power come into my life and take over. The idea of “letting go and letting God” was terrifying; I had no idea what boundaries were and what self-love meant.

My mother passed in 2012 from her addictions and when that happened I believed that that was the sign from God (that I resisted at first) that I had to take that step and love myself. And I did. I left my career, I put myself in home care, I got a mentor, a therapist, my husband at the time and his family were wonderful and did whatever it took to help me get better. But, I did the leg work. It’s very easy to say we are going to get recovered. I did that dance for many years. But let me tell you that when I was going through home care it was about two to three years that I didn’t have anyone around me from the modeling business to tell me, “You’re going to be ok.” 

I didn’t have hardly anyone from my family around to care for me, my mother had just died, and I was taking a completely new path. So my recovery was pretty much a blind one. I had to to trust a power Greater than myself and that required being humble, it required letting go of my ego, it required having faith, and that was a day by day process. My mentor worked through the twelve steps with me and out of the Life Recovery Bible and Workbook. But in those moments when my husband was at work and I was alone, it was me and God. It was me being tempted to go back to the behaviors, and me literally crying out to Jesus and saying, “God please help me. I cannot do this without you. I need you!” And you know what? God met me every single time. In my lowest, nastiest states.

I would put on worship music, things to uplift my spirit, put on positive sticky notes on the mirror, little love notes that stated, “My worth and value is not determined by my weight.” “I am a child of God.” “I am beautiful.” “I am worthy.” “I am blessed.” And I would force myself to stare at my face and repeat those words, because I was so used to avoiding my face and engaging in the destructive behaviors. I had to retrain my brain. I would get up in the morning and the first thing I would do was listen to positive teaching tapes from people like: Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, and TD Jakes, people who really poured into my spirit, which had been seriously damaged from not just my eating disorder, but all of the depression, the trauma, and other mental health issues.

So my testimony is that I am sober from drugs and alcohol for six years, and free from my eating disorder for five years. I know exactly where you may be at. Yes, our stories are all different, and it feels very, very hard. It feels like there’s no hope. But I believe that when we don’t have hope in our own strength, we have hope in our Higher Power, and for me, that is Jesus Christ. When we are weak, He is strong.

So I do love my big feet. I wrote a blurb on Facebook yesterday, expressing how much I love self-care and getting pedicures, manicures, all that good stuff. Whenever I give talks, I like to do something nice for myself beforehand. It’s kind of like a self-care ritual. And the reason why that’s such a big deal for me is because when I was modeling and I would have a photo shoot, stylists would do my hair and makeup, and the process would take a few hours. But my eating disorder would always get in the way somehow of my being able to appreciate what was being done to my hair, or my nails, or my makeup. So for example, I would be in hair and makeup, then sneak off to the bathroom and purge. Now I am very thankful for the little things, which are really big things. Our bodies are temples that should be nourished and treated with love. When I got my pedicure earlier yesterday, I was reflecting on how much I appreciated my feet (which I used to hate), their size, the color of my skin, and how much I’ve progressed in loving my body and taking care of myself; of how thankful I am to simply be alive.

Now, I want you to think about ways that you can show yourself self-love during this time period. The holidays can sometimes be emotional, but it doesn’t have to be because we always have the choice to replace potentially negative situations with positive ones. I want you to think about yourself as a temple, and how you can nourish your temple. So I’ll give you SIX examples to start off, and these are some of my favorites.

  1. I’m a writer, so I love to write love letters to myself and name all of the things about not only my body that I appreciate, but also my soul and my heart that make me special. The holidays is a perfect time to do that because I have time off from work.
  2. I like to take myself out on a date. What better gift can you give yourself than dating YOU? And here at Rebecca’s House, you can set aside time to “date” yourself and find out more about who you really are. When we have eating disorders and mental health issues, we completely lose ourselves and our identities.
  3. I like to unplug from social media and television, so that I can spend time with me and have little pep talks with myself. I think that in our society, we are way too connected with technology, and not connected enough with ourselves and healthy people.
  4. Express myself, whether that’s through art, writing, singing, composing a song, keeping a gratitude journal, and getting my feelings out about my body, what’s bugging me, but not letting it sit inside. When we hold things in, they have a tendency to control us.
  5. The most important thing for me is spiritual time. In the morning as I mentioned, I need to spend time with my Higher Power, and meditate on what God says about my appearance, that I’m beautiful, that I’m worthy, that I’m perfectly made.
  6. I continue to spend time with my therapist, my dietician, my mentor, and people who have a positive influence on my life. During stressful times like the holidays, if I need to spend more time than usual with these people, then I do so. I am not afraid to say “no” to people who may be unhealthy for my ongoing recovery, and I continue to allow healthy people into my life. And remember, the eating disorder can also be seen as an unhealthy person and I have to continuously say “NO” to that person.

 

Now I’d love to hear ways that you plan to give yourself some self-love during the holidays and as we go into the New Year. If you’d like to read about how I overcame 17 years of mental health issues, please pick up a copy of my memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, out now on Amazon.com, and you can now pre-order it in the French language when it is released in France, February 2018 with Editions du Rocher (Title: Dans l’enfer du mannequinat: Une industrie qui détruit).

God Bless,

Nikki DuBose

Encouragement from Louisiana

I often receive emails from people I have never met, but who have stumbled upon my articles or news about my books or work. It is very encouraging to my heart and mission when I open my inbox and read words of kindness. In today’s world, kindness is needed more than ever. Take the following email I recently received, for example. It comes from Mr. Roderick Nu Darby, the owner of Soulful Eats in Abbeville, Louisiana.

 

 

 

I just wanted to email you and encourage you to keep doing what GOD puts on your heart. So many people are living in this world without the direction and leadership of GOD. I’m offshore in the gulf of mexico on a oil rig, and I was doing some research on the illuminati and modeling industry was linked. I also have a family member in the modeling industry so I wanted to research more and I seen your videos. I have friends all over the world, and I encourage them daily with scripture. I have people I minister to with similar childhood stories as yours that made me very emotional. I tell people all the time the devil wants to destroy our kids at early ages, if we don’t put them in position to understand and feel the power of GOD they will yeild to the temptations the devil brings into their lives. I recall one lady I met with a similar childhood story. She said, “I forgave all the men that raped me, abused me in marriages, but the hardest thing to do was to forgive my mom who physically abused me as a baby and young child.” She also said, “I forgave my mom on her dying bed and felt a peace after doing it.”

 

 

The more positive people we have in our lives,the better we become at defeating the devil daily. If you respond or not to this email it doesn’t matter, I just had to encourage you by saying GOD is well pleased. Some of your days may be rough, but keep praying and trusting GOD to lead and order your footsteps daily. My name is Roderick from Louisiana. Have a Blessed Day my sister and Keep fighting for the truth. GOD word must prevail in this last hour.

Much Love and Peace

NEDA: From Suffering to Triumph: How I Overcame PTSD

It is a widely-known, yet little-talked-about fact that trauma in childhood can lead to the development of unhealthy and potentially-fatal coping behaviors such as eating disorders. Until a few years ago, I never spoke a word about the abuse that I had endured in my household, as well as the disordered behaviors I lived with for most of my life as a result.

That all changed when I left my high-profile modeling career, got a mentor, went through recovery, and began writing. Once I started writing, it was as if I had blown the cap off a lid of a tightly-sealed bottle of explosives; all of my memories shattered onto the keyboard, and I couldn’t stop writing about them.

Read the full post at National Eating Disorders Association.

Proud to sign this open letter to NYFW concerning the health and diversity of models on the runway

I am one of the 35 signers in an open letter to NYFW concerning the health and diversity of models. A new study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders shows that maladaptive weight control behaviors are a serious issue in the fashion industry. More than not, models are putting their health and safety at risk to ensure that they are hired for jobs.

Now more than ever, it is imperative that fashion designers, photographers, agents and professionals in the business come together to create a healthy and diverse working
environment to support all models. I understand the dire necessity of this because I suffered during my modeling career as a direct result of a lack of education, support, and resources while I was mentally ill.

Not every model has mental illness, but the strict and competitive environment, combined with a lack of care and resources can create a place for disordered behavior to manifest. 

Since I left the business in 2012 to recover, I’ve become an advocate for marginalized issues. Last year I worked with Assemblymember Marc Levine in California to push forth AB 2539, which addressed the need for workplace protections and health standards in the fashion industry, and this year I am working with Gov. Cuomo and Senator Brad Hoylman to help eliminate the statue of limitations for child sexual abuse in the state of New York.

Models deserve a healthy place to work and thrive in. We want to work together, as a team, with all professionals and ensure that everyone is happy. It’s really that simple. And with the recent out cry for human rights, I think that models deserve to be included in that.

Thank you,

EDHope: Why the Modeling Industry Needs Mental Health Education

Many years ago I opened up to one of my modeling agents in Miami about my chronic struggle with bulimia. At that point, I had been battling the illness for over fourteen years and I was terrified to lose another contract because of it.

After an unsuccessful stint at rehab, my former agent in New York realized that I just couldn’t make the cut with castings and jobs due to my eating disorder and other mental health issues, and sent me back to South Florida without a ticket back. Ultimately, my disorders prevented me from being able to focus at work, maintain a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Read more on Eating Disorder Hope.

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.

The Mighty – What It’s Like Being a Model With an Eating Disorder

“Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder or have experienced binging, the following post could potentially be triggering. Please don’t hesitate to call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

Darkness descends upon the room, signaling my arrival. Behind the curtain, I can feel my breath, waiting for permission to exhale. My knees quiver with apprehension as whispers drone from the crowd outside. From my spot behind the platform, I notice the flares from cameras and spotlights, like shooting stars in a strange, forsaken sky. I can already feel the eyes of the people as they stare at the empty runway, waiting for their goddesses to strut. My throat clenches and my mind empties — anxiety has taken control. What will they think of me?”

Read more on The Mighty.

Nikki DuBose Exclusive Interview on The Doctors Tv Show

“Nikki DuBose’s rise to fame in the modeling world came at a high price. She endured drug and alcohol addiction, severe eating disorders and even an alleged rape. She joins The Doctors to share her story of survival.

Nikki tells The Doctors she grew up in a household filled turmoil and abuse, something she feels shaped her for the worse. In her teens, she was offered a modeling contract, and she went to extremes in order to lose weight and make her mark in the image-based industry. She used diet pills, starved herself, binged, purged and at one point she only weighed 90 pounds.”

Read more and watch the full interview on The Doctors TV. 

Sharing My Message of Recovery and God’s Love at Multnomah University

God’s Love is so awesome. It has the power to heal and restore even the most damaged, bitter heart. His Love can literally resurrect someone on the brink of dying. I know because it happened to me. I was a broken, washed up person who had given most of my life to addiction, sex, abuse, and the quest for fame in the modeling and entertainment industries, and God still picked me up and loved me back to wholeness even when I wanted nothing to do with Him.

After all, He had let my mother die from her addiction. He had watched, as my mother was beaten over and over again, listened to her cries for years, and did nothing to heal her pain. He certainly had did nothing to heal mine. Why did he make my mother with mental illnesses? Why did he create me the way He did? Why was I born into a family, raised by male figures who abused me repeatedly, and removed by the police in my teenage years? Did I ever ask for any of that? No, I didn’t.

I definitely don’t have the answers for that, but I do know that He was with me the whole time. He gave me the strength to go through it all, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without those experiences. There is light in the darkness, goodness in the sadness, strength in the pain. We don’t grow by living in comfort, and that is not to excuse the people from my past or what happened to me, but what I’m saying is that I choose to focus on the good, and to use my experiences to help others. There are so many hurting people in this world, and we can all use our pain to help them.

Nikki DuBose

On November 3rd, I participated in an informal Skype talk with the inspiring graduate counseling students at Multnomah University. (This was the first time I’ve done a speaking event via Skype, and it was really cool!) I shared about my debut memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, and told my story of recovery from mental health issues as well as what I’m doing to ensure that there is some sort of mental health education system in place for models and professionals in the fashion industry. It was an incredible talk and the students were highly responsive; to me, it was a testament of the power of God’s love and recovery. A few years ago even, if you would have told me that I would be an author and speaker, sharing my story with people, especially treatment professionals and students, I would have said you are crazy! I used to be terrified of counselors and anyone in the medical field because I didn’t want to release my secrets. But as they say, “We are as sick as our deepest secrets,” and I was dying because of them.

 

I still have secrets, and I am only human. And that’s why I need my relationship with God, treatment professionals, mentors and trusted friends because I am fully capable of failure every singleNikki DuBose Multnomah University Speaker modeling industry washed away book  moment of every single day. But I’m gonna tell you what. Writing, speaking, and doing advocacy to help others is what really lets my soul on fire, it gives me that purpose and that passion to keep on keeping on! And I know that God has a purpose for my life, and that is to help people, and I know He’s got a wonderful plan for you.

See Jeremiah 29:11.

God Bless,

Nikki

Recovery.org Interview – Meet Nikki DuBose: Model of Recovery

“Nikki DuBose’s eating disorder that began in childhood was exacerbated by her high-profile modeling career, but the tragic death of her mother sparked a life transformation. She quit the modeling industry and has since served as a driving force behind proposed legislation to ban underweight models and regulate the industry in California. DuBose is telling this powerful story in her new memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, which was released on Aug. 25.”

Read the full interview on Recovery.org.

Feminine Collective – Sex, BDD & Self-Destruction

‘”The director of my agency…was in his…mid-fifties, and I was in my early twenties. It was very clear that if I slept with him…I would book more jobs, and if I didn’t, I wouldn’t work. I felt like, I felt like a whore.’ – Nikki DuBose
Former model turned author and activist, Nikki DuBose describes how she felt pressured to sleep with the director of her high profile agency to book prominent campaigns and magazines in the book trailer for her newly released, raw and inspiring memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light.”

Read more on Feminine Collective.

Huffington Post – Models, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and OWN

“In the mornings before work, I stood in the bathroom mirror and dealt with the rituals and hallucinations for hours. The exhausting act began with my bones; running my hands over them one by one gave me a temporary sense of security. I wish I could have stopped there, but that was just the beginning. My flat ass and pencil thighs brought pleasure; however, there was always more to lose. I despised my cheeks, my fatty facial cheeks. The same fantasy always replayed: a butcher knife glistened as I sliced them into a thousand, unrecognizable pieces. Bloody chunks covered the floor, and I stared at them and smiled. Then, and only then, was I suitable.”

Washed Away: From Darkness to Light

Read more on The Huffington Post.

Huffington Post – My Psychosis Doesn’t Define Me

“I prance down the runway like a queen, my body dripping with jewels. Like a lioness, I sway from side to side, moving to entice all who look my way; I am the beast who no one can touch, and no one can tame. As I glance at the rows of curious faces, however, the darkness begins to take over. Before I know it, my worst nightmare has returned: the demons have revealed themselves, with their black eyes and mouths full of jagged teeth. I cannot escape them; they are my masters, and I am their slave.

Voices command me to keep moving. Look forward bitch and keep walking. Don’t screw it up! They’re all going to laugh at you. I force my head higher and put my shoulders back as I push through the noise and approach the end of the runway. As my feet carry me to the edge, I hear no sound, experience no sensation. Despite the music and commotion, I am lost in a dreamland.”

Read more on the Huffington Post.

 

Honored to be an Expert Reviewer with Harvard STRIPED!

striped-high-res-logo-NEW

 

Recently, I was asked to be an expert reviewer for Harvard’s STRIPED’s new teaching case entitled, “Patina of Glamour: Forging Alliances to Investigate the Underside of the Fashion Industry.”
I am grateful to be a part of this, especially because the case deals with fashion models and eating disorders, two subjects often glamorized and mocked in our society. I believe that with this lesson plan for students and teaching note, we will forge ahead in our educational efforts and break down existing walls of shame and stigma.

Check out the synopsis here: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/striped/2016/08/25/patina-of-glamour-forging-alliances-to-investigate-the-underside-of-the-fashion-industry/

I helped to review the Narrative Document Students  (listed pg. 2)

and the Lesson Plan for Teachers  (listed pg. 7)

I want to thank Dr. Bryn Austin, director of Harvard STRIPED for this wonderful opportunity, as well as all of the people who came together and made this possible.

Huffington Post – Bill to Protect the Rights and Health of Models Dead for the Year: Education and Support Necessary to Move Forward

“On Friday, May 27th, 2016, California Assembly Bill 2539 was held in the suspense file and killed for the rest of the year. The bill would have awarded models workplace protections and health standards, granting them employee status, similar to actors who are employees of the brands they represent. As well, California modeling agencies would have been licensed as talent agencies. Although we fought hard to see this bill through, the Association of Talent Agents (ATA) and specific modeling agencies lobbied violently against it, which ultimately led to the bill’s death. As an executive board member of Peaceful Hearts Foundation and Project HEAL SoCal Chapter, two organizations dedicated to preventing child sexual abuse and eating disorders, I am passionate about pushing forth legislation which will protect vulnerable workers from being exploited in the fashion industry. Furthermore, as a survivor of a more than seventeen-year battle with eating disorders, trauma, other mental health issues, and as someone who experienced the darker side of the modeling industry, I want to clarify the arguments that have continuously come up over the past few months concerning the legislation.”

Read more on The Huffington Post.

Update on AB 2539

To the people,

I regret to inform that California Assembly Bill 2539 was held in suspense on Friday, May 27th, and was killed for the rest of the year. I want to personally thank everyone for their hard work and attention to these critical issues, as the workplace protections and health standards outlined in the bill do not just affect models, but society as well. As an executive board member of both Project Heal SoCal Chapter and Peaceful Hearts Foundation, two organizations dedicated to raising awareness on eating disorders and child sexual abuse, I am passionate about preventing these issues, especially in the fashion industry where they are rampant among minors.

We worked tirelessly to see AB 2539 come to pass, however the Association of Talent Agents (ATA) and specific modeling agencies fought hard against it, which ultimately led to the bill’s death on Friday. Nevertheless, we will not give up! Although California lawmakers have denied models their right to health and safety standards this year, we will forge ahead until we win.

Sincerely,
Nikki DuBose Bio Signatures

 

 

Nikki DuBose

Author, Speaker, Mental Health Advocate

Executive Board Member
Project HEAL SoCal Chapter
Peaceful Hearts Foundation

VLOG Episode 6: Models, Financial Exploitation & Eating Disorders

NAASCA Podcast – Stop Child Abuse Now with Bill Murray

I was a guest on Bill Murray’s podcast, talking about my recovery from child sexual abuse, and how that led to a plethora of mental health issues for most of my life. Listen here.

“Tonight’s special guest is Nikki DuBose from Los Angeles, a child abuse survivor who was later abused as a young professional model. Among other things, Nikki advocates on her web site for better regulation of the modeling industry (she tells me about 40% of models have an eating disorder and that there’s a lot of sexual abuse/harassment). Nikki also works closely with Matt Sandusky at the “Peaceful Hearts Foundation,” where she serves on the Executive Board and is their Volunteer Director. Nikki says, “I wholeheartedly believe that full recovery is possible, but it starts with speaking out and reducing the shame and stigma that is so often attached to mental health issues.” In her upcoming memoir, “Washed Away: From Darkness to Light,” due out later this year, Nikki details how being sexually abused as a child led to a seventeen-year battle with serious mental health issues such as eating disorders, depression, self-harm, body dysmorphic disorder, substance abuse and sexual addictions. During her career as a professional model, she encountered a great deal of success, yet that prosperity came with a high price – one that often mirrored the sexual abuse from her childhood. Coming to a place of full healing has not been easy for Nikki, but she says, “Being an advocate is what allows me to wake up every day and feel truly alive. All of that pain that I lived with for so many years is now channeled into making a difference in society. Whatever issues you’re passionate about, use your voice and the resources you have; love yourself first and from there you can help to change the world.”

 

VLOG Episode 5: Male Models and Body Image Issues

VLOG Episode 4: Eating Disorders & Sexual Abuse in the Modeling Industry

Huffington Post – Stop the Abuse of Models: Support AB 2539

“How would you feel if you came to to work today and were subjected to sexual harassment, rape, financial exploitation, and pressures to lose weight?”

This is the question I asked Mr. Chair Assemblymember Roger Hernandez and Members of the Labor Committee on April 6, 2016, at the Sacramento Capitol Office for the initial hearing of Assembly Bill 2539, before it was passed the same day. AB 2539, authored by Assemblymember Marc Levine, addresses the need for workplace protections and health standards in the modeling industry, which is notoriously unregulated.

Because of the lack of laws and protections, models have long been subjected to sexual and financial abuse, bullying from agents, and have been pressured to lose so much weight that many have developed devastating, even fatal eating disorders.”

Read more on The Huffington Post.

Model Alliance: What is AB 2539 and How Will It Help Me?

“On April 6, 2016, I met with Assemblymember Marc Levine at the California Capitol Office in Sacramento with a group of powerful, passionate women who aim to establish workplace protections and health standards for models. Sara Ziff, Executive Director of the Model Alliance, Madeline Hill, a former model and Model Alliance member, Dr. Bryn Austin, Director of the Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders at Harvard University, attorney Cassandra Soltis and I all came together to voice our support for Assembly Bill 2539, which addresses the critical need for workplace protections and health standards within California’s modeling industry. The bill also received a great deal of support from other individuals and organizations who submitted letters explaining why they also felt the bill was needed.”

Read more on The Model Alliance.

VLOG Episode 2: How to Get Involved with AB 2539

People Magazine – Why Former Model Nikki DuBose is Backing a Bill to Fight Eating Disorders and Sexism in the Industry

“Nikki DuBose’s time in the modeling industry was anything but positive.

‘I experienced everything negative that you could imagine in the modeling industry,’ the former model, 31, tells PEOPLE. ‘I was raped in the modeling industry. I was sexually harassed. I had eating disorders which were exacerbated by the modeling industry, and I was pressured by the director of my agency about sleeping with him, and all of these things really triggered my mental health condition.'”

Read more on People.

Assembly Access: Workplace Protections and Health Standards for Models

 

Changing the Modeling Industry: Have You Heard About AB 2539?

“What: AB 2539 requires that all models in the state of California must get ‘periodic health checkups, nutrition counseling, and appropriate health testing as needed.’* Also, models will become employees of their agencies. Currently, they are independent contractors which allows the agents to get away will all sorts of underhanded and downright dangerous things (e.g., sexual harassment, withholding money, escorting out the models, pressuring them to lose weight which creates an environment for eating disorders and other destructive, fatal behaviors to manifest, and so on). Furthermore, the bill stipulates that The Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board and the State Department of Public Heath have to adopt the laid out health standards for the models, the agencies have to be licensed by the California Labor Commissioner, the models themselves must obtain a doctor’s certificate stating that they meet the noted health standards, and the agencies are required to store records; if they hire models who do not have an up-to-date doctor’s certificate, they can be fined.”

Read more on Recovery Warriors.

How You Can Get Involved with AB 2539

UPDATE! On April 6th, 2016, Assembly Bill 2539 passed the Labor Committee!! We are so excited and are looking for more Letters of Support. Please see below for instructions on how to submit yours.

*************************************************************************************************

I am honored to be working as an advocate on AB 2539. Harvard STRIPED, the National Eating Disorders Association, the Model Alliance and Assemblymember Marc Levine have been working hard to  introduce the Bill, which may be the first in the United States to see that the health standards in the modeling industry are changed and that the labor rights of models are finally exercised. From my own experiences as a former model, I can attest to the poor regulations in the modeling industry, and therefore this Bill is something that is greatly needed. Below is my official Letter of Support addressed to Assemblymember Marc Levine.

Nikki DuBose Letter of Support Bill AB 2539 Mar 10 2016

Here are more resources for AB 2539: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/striped/policy-translation/california-ab-2539/

Tips for writing letters of support for AB 2539: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/striped/how-to-write-a-letter-of-support-for-ca-ab-2539/

Resources for Advocates AB 2539: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/striped/resources-for-advocates-california-ab-2539/

 

 

Huffington Post – I was Raped by a Photographer. Here’s Why You Should Care.

Trigger warning.

Models. Rape. Eating disorders. Sexual abuse. Mental health.

While all of the above are quick to grab attention, they are also quick to receive criticism because most people do not understand them. In my episode of Real Women Real Stories, and my upcoming memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, I talk about all of the above, because I was a successful model who experienced all of the dark issues you can imagine.

Read more on The Huffington Post.

On the NEDA Blog: The Modeling Industry is Changing. It’s About Time.

“As a former model, commercial actress and host, I enjoyed my share of success within the fashion and entertainment industries. I also suffered from binge eating disorder, bulimia and anorexia nervosa for the length of my career—although the behaviors didn’t begin in the industry, they were exacerbated by things I heard, saw and experienced: things like sexual harassment, trauma, bullying, exposure to wild parties, drinking, drugs and the daily pressure to lose weight. At the beginning of my career I was curvy and healthy—but by the time I left the business, I was unrecognizable even to my agents. Eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorder had ravaged my mind, body and spirit, and thus, in 2012 I decided to leave; it was the greatest decision of my life. I’ve been sober for over four years, free from my eating disorders for almost three, written a book about my recovery and the modeling business,* currently speak about mental health and am a supporter of Assemblymember Marc Levine’s AB 2539.** Here’s why I’m so passionate about the bill.”

Read more on The National Eating Disorders Association.

India Times

“The world of showbiz attracts almost everyone. Come to think of it, what’s not to like? It has glamour, luxury and the best of all money! But do you ever wonder what lies behind this stunning scenario? Don’t we read a lot of cases of models, actors and fashion designers not being able to cope with failures and committing suicide or declaring bankruptcy? Many resort to dependency on drugs and alcohol to cope with the pressure. The picture doesn’t seem as rosy now, does it?
I became acquainted with one such case when I read about Nikki DuBose. A former model-turned-mental-health-activist, DuBose reached out to India times with her life story – one that can make even the toughest person shudder.”

Read more on India Times.

Fashioning Change: An Interview with Model-Turned-Activist Nikki DuBose

“Escaping and conquering adversity is hard enough, but working towards eliminating the same adversity for others seems to be the work of heroes.

Somehow, superhero Nikki DuBose found a way to do both. After an early start as a model at the tender age of 15, DuBose faced body shaming, an eating disorder and drug and alcohol abuse, all propagated by the hands of the fashion industry.”

Read more on Proud2bme.

 

LA Weekly Interview – Lawmakers’ Bill Wants to Stop Anorexia In Fashion Models

“Nikki DuBose started modeling, on and off, when she was 15. Before she left the industry in 2012, she achieved a fair amount of success, appearing in Maxim, Elle and Vanity Fair. She also developed a serious eating disorder.

‘It’s a very psychologically damaging industry,’ she says. ‘It’s like the ballet or the military. Agents and clients have this way of being nice to you one minute and putting you down the next. It’s very blunt. They don’t care. All they care about is making money. And there’s another guy or girl walking in the door any second.’

Read more on LA Weekly.

Nikki’s Exclusive Interview with CBS LA about the importance of AB 2539

Nikki DuBose CBS Los Angeles

“’I did become very successful but I paid a very high price,’ said Nikki DuBose, who has graced the covers of magazines. ‘I didn’t want to be involved in an industry that was making me sick.’

Sick from eating disorders, her mental and physical health suffering, DuBose left the business four years ago.

She’s now a Los Angeles-based author, advocate, and a support of AB2539, a bill proposed by a Northern California assemblyman.”

Read more and watch Nikki’s exclusive interview on CBS LA.

Vogue Spain – AB 2539

“Nikki Dubose, una ex modelo que ha manifestado su apoyo a este proyecto de ley, ha comentado en un comunicado oficial lo siguiente: ‘como ex modelo y superviviente de un grave desorden alimenticio, sé que este tipo de legislación se necesita de forma crítica.'”

Read more on Vogue Spain.

Vogue UK – Will California Follow French Model Health Law?

“The evidence of eating disorders in the modelling industry is alarming,” Levine said, while former model-turned-advocate Nikki DuBose supported the legislation with a statement, asserting: ‘As a former fashion model and an eating-disorder survivor, I know that this legislation is critically needed.'”

Read more on Vogue UK.

Bay Area Lawmaker Says Models Can Be Too Skinny For The Runway

The Duchess of Windsor once said, ‘you can never be too rich or too thin.’ But a Bay Area lawmaker believes she is wrong–at least on one account–and has proposed a ban on models who look ‘too thin’ on the runway.

In fact, San Rafael Assemblyman Marc Levine wants to ban anorexic models on the catwalk altogether. He has introduced AB2539, which takes its cue from a similar laws already on the books in France, Italy and Spain. The hope is that models will stop starving themselves to get work, and women and girls will stop starving themselves to look like models.

 

Read more on CBS San Fransisco.

The Fashion Law – Proposed California Law Aims to Reduce Eating Disorders Among Models

“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. Legislation proposed by California state Assembly member, Marc Levine, follows efforts in several countries to fight anorexia and other eating disorders among models, who are relentlessly pressured to lose weight or lose work. ‘The evidence of eating disorders in the modeling industry is alarming,’ Levine, a Democrat, who represents the Marin County suburbs of San Francisco, said in a statement on Monday.”

Read more on The Fashion Law.

Inquisitr – Creating Change In the Modeling Industry

“If former fashion model Nikki DuBose gets her wish, models in California would be legally prohibited from being too skinny.

A new bill, AB2539, introduced Monday by Assemblyman Marc Levine, would require any model working in California to be approved by a doctor certifying they don’t suffer from an eating disorder.”

Read more on Inquisitr.

 

News Release: Honored to Announce AB 2539 with California Assemblyman Marc Levine!

Read the press release here.

I am thrilled to announce my involvement alongside Assemblymember Marc Levine, his Chief of Staff Michael Miiller, Legislative Assistant Naomi Padron, CEO of NEDA Claire Mysko, NEDA STAR Program Manager Kerry Dolan, Founder of the Model Alliance Sara Ziff and Harvard STRIPED director Dr. Bryn Austin, in this new legislation that will create healthy standards for California models and in return, set a healthier example for the nation. I am fully confident that this is just the beginning and from here we will create change for the industry in ways we can’t even imagine.

God Bless,

Nikki DuBose

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.

Making changes in the modeling industry

What makes a model healthy? What changes need to take place in the modeling industry?

Thank you Sara Ziff for bringing attention to this important topic on MSNBC.

While appearance alone cannot necessarily mark health, there are standards that the fashion industry has set that have made it almost impossible for girls and boys to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

When you have strict measurements and conformity in any job, there is always going to be a sense of “I failed” in individuals, thus opening the door for destructive mindsets and behaviors.

Model Agents, and the whole of the fashion industry need to be EDucated on the signs of eating disorders and how to create a healthier environment in their workspace.

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.