Paint Me A Soul — Part Three

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.

Yes, how can I help you?”

A tall shapely woman with silky raven hair stuck her head out of the glass door and curiously met my eyes.

Turn back now before it’s too late dummy. You don’t belong here.

H-hi, my name is Nikki and I have an appointment already with – with Charles.” I looked down at my phone to double check the appointment details. My delicate voice struggled to find its confidence.

By her somewhat perplexed expression, I assumed that she did not know about my meeting. I began to sweat.

Um, I was picked, a-actually. I flew here, from Los Angeles. Charles told me to come and sign the paperwork. He said I was already accepted.”

She briskly walked over, plopped down and crossed her high heeled boots in the creamy plush chair.

I didn’t know anything about you coming. Do you have pictures already?”

I nervously handed over my book of photos, which were a collection of shoots photographer friends had taken of me. As she rapidly flipped through them, I felt myself wanting to be anywhere, anywhere but in that chair. What was she thinking of me?

She smacked her gum and breathed a heavy sigh.

Ok. Fill out some paperwork for me and then we will need to take measurements and polaroids.” She walked away, sat down in her chair and began clicking away on the computer.

Measurements and polaroids. The room shifted to a swirling crawl and I felt faint. Clutching my oversized purse, I rummaged through piles of candy wrappers, a crumpled bag of chips and sticky garbage bits until I discovered my beloved enemy. I pulled my mirror close to my face and stared at my nose and eyebrows.

I was numb, disgusted at myself. My eyes rolled over to the giant window and from somewhere within I wanted to jump out and drown myself in the briny deep. I felt incredibly worthless. What in the hell was I doing here?

I managed to focus on the papers, and as I began to enter in all the information, I negotiated the value of truthfulness.

Age:

Height:

Weight:

Oh my God.

A colossal blast went off in my head and the raging thoughts sprinted around and around my mental track, with no end in sight.

If I just bend the truth about each one, I will look better and they will accept me.

Age: 20

Height: 5’9.5

Weight: 115

I fibbed, badly. I lied about my age by three years, fearing that if they knew I was twenty three, I would be turned away. I did not want to be viewed as too old, too short, and I definitely did not want to be thought of as too…fat. I remembered reading off the internet about famous models’ heights and weights. I was so ashamed of my real weight…I couldn’t dare tell them. That’s when the voices hit me again like a thousand cinder blocks scraping my brain.

You idiot! Fatty. Look at you! You don’t even come close to 115! Just wait until they get you in there and measure you. Suck it in! Don’t you dare eat anything tonight.

Once I completed the documents I walked up to the door and rapped on it. The lady darted her eyes and sat up, motioning for me to come inside. The door must of weighed a million pounds; its massive strength beat down on my body as I attempted to pull it. Finally, after a few attempts, I was was freed from the heaviness but little did I know that I had entered into a world that would soon claim every part of my soul.

 

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…

 

NEDA: “I Am an Overcomer”

“There is so much hope in life. I am an overcomer, and if you don’t think that you have anything to hope or live for, please understand that the complete opposite is true. You are a miracle, and you are someone else’s miracle, if you choose to believe it.

‘Oh, a model with an eating disorder,’ the annoyed lady blurted out at the recovery center last year where my mother was in treatment for a long battle with alcoholism. I quickly assured her that although I had been modeling for the past few years; my eating disorder had nothing to do with my career. My mom went on to explain to her that I been battling the disease since childhood, and shot me a sympathetic look. ‘Oh,’ I’m so sorry, Nikki, I didn’t know, I just assumed…you know…model…eating disorder…’ the woman replied empathetically. ‘Don’t worry about it,’ I said, ‘I understand.'”

Read more on The National Eating Disorders Association. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/node/2952.

Hey Girls and Boys!! Wanna Be a True *SuperModel*? Here’s the Real Deal Inside!!

Beauty Blogging and Photo Booth Funning…

thenikkidubose.com Nikki DuBose Beauty Blog Fun July 2012 4

Little Girls and Boys Everywhere Rejoice!! We are all Model Citizens of the World!! You don’ t have to be a “supermodel” of the fashion industry’s standards to be a star in your own right! You have to first realize that within YOU lies the secret to being the wonderful and amazing humble Diva that you already are! God made you already a true beauty unlike any other so when you wake up every day you can say, “I am a SUPERMODEL!”

What are the characteristics of a true SuperModel meaning YOU, an everyday SuperModel? Well first things first, a true model is a role model which means you set a good example for others around you from the inside out. After all, when you are acting beautifully you are inspiring others and lifting them up instead of acting proud and snobby. So, let’s look at a few of the key ingredients to shake up the mixing pot of your inner SuperModel, shall we? OK!!

*The number one most important ingredient you need every day is God. Without God, you have nothing, and everything you do, is for Him! After all, He made you truly beautiful, inside and out, and He wants nothing more than for you to spread your kindness, talents and gifts to the world for all to see. It is extremely important in your life to remember to always give God the honor, glory and praise for all that you do!! Think about this, how are you even breathing this very moment…it is all God! So the first sign of a true “SuperModel You” is giving God back all of the credit He deserves. He loves you! He has an amazing and hopeful plan for your life!! I know that I personally would not be anywhere at all in any area of my life without God, and I owe everything for the rest of my life to Him. I love you Jesus!! Thank you God, for saving me!

*The second key factor in determining a SuperModel is humility. My oh my, how long I have gone around the humility train and failed, and will always have to take a ride again and again. We are all human and fail! What matters is that we have a heart that desires to reach up higher and become better because God sees the hearts of people. No judgements on this panel folks!! We will never be perfect in this lifetime and that is what is so wonderful about living in the presence of God. What is humility to you? The Bible describes humility in Philippians 2:3-11, saying:

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”

Come on now, if Jesus can be humble and be a servant, then surely we all can be humble and put others before ourselves, even and especially when we don’t feel like it. That’s the toughie!! When we don’t feel like it! Yet, this is what will make you a Super Duper Role Model so beautiful, everyone will want to be shiny like you, and won’t the world be a much better place to live??

*Third, I am just gonna be so bold as to say that your persistence in life is extremely important as to determining your level of SuperModel. Unfortunately too many people give up on things way too early and this is not how we are bred to live. We are made as Conquerors in the eyes of God!! Victors! Romans 8:37-39 says:

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Every time you go through rough and tough trials in life, see it not as something to stop you, but as things to prepare you for the greater victories down the road. All it takes is a slight refocusing of your mentality. Think of your favorite Disney hero. Did they quit when the going got tough? NO!! Why in the world would you, thank you? Alright now, let’s proceed, my little warriors and warriorettes.

*The fourth determining role in a SuperModel is someone who truly Loves themselves. You have got to learn to deeply love yourself!! Man, I spent the majority of my life trying to please everybody in the world, to the point that I never gave myself first priority behind God. I mean, A LA DUH! What the heck? No wonder I had so many screwed up problems that later in life I realized I kept bringing them on myself! I did not love myself!! I was so overworked and trying to people please everyone on the face of the planet and way out in Mars, Venus and Pluto too, that I had realized that when I sat down one night to watch a movie by myself at home, I did not even know what that felt like. HOW SAD! Love yourself! Take time to get to know yourself and when you really and honestly can say that you are whole within yourself and are well balanced, then you are able to go out into the world and help others. Until then, you can help all you want but will only be hurting yourself because you will be taking away precious time and energy from depleting life source. In 1 Peter 5:8, The Bible says:

“Be sober, (be well balanced) be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion (in fierce hunger), walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”

Whoa!! No thanks, buddy. You gotta keep your SuperModel Strength!! Be balanced, love yourself first after God, then you will have more time for other people.

*Finally, but not indefinitely, Confidence is so important for a “SuperModel You.” And you are listening to someone who, as I wrote one-time in one of my other articles, was one of the shyest and most un-confident teens you could EVER imagine. In fact, in my sophomore year of high school because I was SO quiet all of the time, my economics teacher announced in front of the entire class, “I don’t know what I would do if I had a room full of Nikkis.” Well now. Lord help me. Confidence is something that comes with time and patience. It is not something that you can buy on a shelf, but you CAN know where your confidence comes from, and you CAN “fake it until you can make it” kind of thing. First, your confidence, comes from God. In the Psalms, David knew where his confidence came from, as we see in Psalm 71:5:

“For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth.”

Wow! Thank you God, for your never ending confidence!! You see, With Him, your confidence jar will NEVER EVER run out! Second, even when you do not feel confident, you can FAKE being confident, and eventually your inner confidence will shine through. I am the queen of this, let me tell you honey! Especially being in the modeling and entertainment industry, it is all about “faking it ‘till you can make it! If I went every day by the way I felt I might NEVER get out of bed and into that gym, writing chair, endless casting room, runway stage, etc., And that’s just the business world I am speaking of. The real times I have needed confidence that only comes from God is in my every day trials and tribulations. And my goodness, seems like since the day I came out of my momma I have been sliding down the one way track of trials. But you know what? I know who I am and where I come from, because I have had to learn to equip myself with this deep unshakable confidence that only comes from God. Thank you Jesus!

Well my beautiful SuperModels of the World, God Bless you and see you soon!!

God Bless,
Nikki DuBose

Catwalk Queen

Man, I remember blasting Rupaul’s “You Better Work” in my room as a little girl, hiking up my already high-waisted jeans, and using my hallway as a star-studded runway to practice my struts into superstardom.

Little did I know then the not-so-glamorous life attached to that runway.  I walked in shows when I was so skinny I was sick and when I was told I was the “biggest girl” in the show’s lineup. And yet somehow,
I always felt like I should have been doing bigger and better things for society.

Sometimes we attach a lot of importance to
things which in the end, are harmful or are just not that special. I have realized one of the biggest joys comes in enjoying every step on the runway of life. Remember to appreciate YOU, and everything that happens to you in the process,even if you fall off that runway in front of millions of people. Dust yourself off, LAUGH and put your fierce face right back on. It doesn’t matter if you ever even make it to a runway because you are, in fact, the star. Life is waiting for you to strut proudly with your shoulders back and your head held high. The world is yours, darling!

You are a king, a queen! Know it, Live it, Love it. Be a leader in this world. You do not need to be a runway model to prove how special you are.

God Bless,
Nikki DuBose

 

 

The Airbrushed Society

I wake up some days and look like crap.
I get pimples, eye infections, the flu, burb, snort and make other humanly sounds like everyone else on the planet. I have fat rolls like everyone else. I have to work out and diet to the extreme just to maintain a “healthy” image in my modeling career.
I am a model by profession, but a flawed human being by nature. It takes tons of makeup, two hours in the hair stylist’s chair, perfectly placed lighting, fans blowing in my hair and a whole team of people to make me look the way I do in a photograph… That even gets sent to a retoucher for airbrushing.

The final product is plastered in a magazine, calendar, billboard or poster and this is what YOU see. You probably judge your own beauty and sometimes self-worth based on these false photographs. Guess what? I do too.

Every person on the face of the planet shares the common thread of physical imperfection…so why do we live so superficially and hold the people on covers of magazines as the unattainable standard for society??

Let’s get real people!! You know what? After a shoot I am dying to run out and have a plate of French Fries and chocolate!! I LOVE  curvy, healthy bodies of all shapes and sizes, and even better yet, I LOVE celebrating what’s on the inside!! I LOVE the growing trend of placing “real” women and body types in advertising.

Advertising has such a profound effect on our society, that integrating a diverse range of bodies will do our mentality a whole lotta good. It will help us to stop manipulating and hurting our bodies, and start loving and accepting ourselves because simply the societal standard WILL be normal and very attainable.

Thats all I wanna say on this for now.
I came across this popular article yesterday and want to share with you all. We are ALL equally beautiful in the eyes of God!!

God Bless,
Nikki DuBose

THE ARTICLE CAUSING A MUCH NEEDED STIR BACK IN 2009: Let’s bring it to the present shall we?? 😀 HMMMMMMM…
“‘It’s a photo that measures all of three by three inches,” gushes Cindi Leive, editor of U.S. Glamour in a post on the magazine’s blog, “but the letters about it started to flood my inbox literally the day Glamour hit newsstands.” The picture in question, illustrating a story about body miller2confidence, has generated more than 700 comments on the site, and featured on the US Today morning TV programme. What does it show? A beautiful, creamy-skinned naked model . . . with a small roll of stomach fat.

Lizzie Miller, the 20-year-old model in question, agrees that it’s astonishing that, at 5ft 11in and 12.5 stone she’s considered a “plus size” model. “It’s sad,” she says. “In the industry anything over size six is considered a plus-size.” Miller, who is around a US size 12-14 (that is, either average or slightly below average) lost about 60lb when she was 13 but today she is considered too large to model for plus-size lines Marina Rinaldi (she says, “they like girls who are an 8-10”) or Elena Miro. She says that the overwhelming reaction to the tiny photograph, buried on page 194 of Glamour magazine “shows that the world is hungry to see pictures of normal women.”

One wouldn’t have thought this would be news. As Miller says, “pretty much every picture in a magazine or ad is airbrushed . . . I don’t think the public understands how much smoke and mirrors are involved in making women look like that.”

So does the reaction to this picture mean that the tide is turning? Hardly. Even after the deluge of emails, Leive hasn’t made a commitment to using average-sized women in fashion shoots, saying only that the magazine wants to celebrate “all kinds of beauty”. The outcome for Miller, though, has been more positive. She has received more offers of work since the picture was published. And her model agency, Wilhelmina, has told her that she mustn’t lose any weight.”

*Thank you to U.S. Glamour Magazine.