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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
You know when you read a book, and once you’ve put it down, you’re still thinking about it, yeah? Well, that was with me with this book. Washed Away: From Darkness to Light is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. A heartwarming but equally heartbreaking tale of one girl’s struggle through child abuse, addiction, a chaotic family life, rape, grief and complex mental health problems.
A good book has to trigger emotions, whether that be happiness, sadness, anger or something else. I cried while reading this book, so I think it’s safe to say what emotion it provoked. I was deeply touched by Nikki’s struggles. I couldn’t fathom how someone could go through so much yet still be fighting on. And for that, I only have admiration for Nikki. The courage it must have taken to keep going is unthinkable.
Read the full review on A Beautiful Chaos.
A childhood poisoned by abuse led her into the dystopian world of high-fashion. Imagine a woman in the grips of anorexia, being rewarded with fame and riches for her failing, frail body and even more fragile mind. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around, but Nikki’s words gave me a glimpse of that world.
Nikki has since recovered from her seventeen year battle with bulimia and anorexia. She’s written a captivating memoir.
The real beauty in this book is the ability to relate. Self-help books are brilliant, don’t get me wrong, but there’s only so many you can read before you start thinking you’re reading ‘an idiot’s guide to…’ by someone who read a textbook 15 years ago. (Although there are some brilliant ones out there, Chloe Brotheridge I’m looking at you!) Sometimes it’s great to be able to hear someone’s story, and to know that you are not alone.
“Whenever I look at my reflection today, I just see me. Sure it changes, but that’s because I’m changing and I’m okay with that. There’s no monster, and if one does appear, I fight back with positive, loving thoughts and words. Monsters don’t like it when you fight back because then they don’t have the power anymore” – DuBose
This book left a dull ache in my heart and strong respect for DuBose, both in battling these unbearable hardships and for having the courage to share them with the world. I know that this book will strike chords with many and offer hope that you can come out stronger, wiser and more beautiful.
Read the full review at Gemma Callaway.
#Repost @cosmiccolette (@get_repost)
WHAT YOU COULDN’T TELL 😔💔 One of the major misconceptions about mental illnesses is that you have to LOOK sad/sick to have one. Even after having a mental illness for 5 years I still believed this myself and it prevented me from seeking help. Instead of getting the treatment I deserved, I tried to numb the pain myself. At my worst, I would go on multiple nights out a week and get as drunk as possible and get with as many guys as I could too! 😣 On the outside it looked like I was a normal teenager just having fun partying (see left photo). What you couldn’t see was that my life was falling apart. Before every party I would starve all day and at the end of every night I would lock myself in my room and binge until I made myself sick. I would end every night in floods of tears and even scream into my pillow and self harm because I was so hysterical. I tried to get with as many guys as I could because it boosted my self esteem for that short moment. I placed all of my self worth on what other people thought of me. On my outer appearance. I was lost and couldn’t see anything good about myself, and was battling with suicidal thoughts every day. Of course on the outside you couldn’t tell this, and I even stopped visiting my family so they wouldn’t question my behaviours. I became friends with people who were also mentally ill so I could hide and stay sick. Nothing got better until I accepted that I couldn’t survive like this anymore. I was leading a double life and I was at rock bottom. I did so many things to turn my life around. I cut out toxic friendships, I went to the doctor and got professional help, I did CBT, I finally opened up to my family, I stopped using sex/dating as a coping mechanism… and more!! Now I am finally free of mental illness and all I want is to help others. This is why I wrote a book all about the 23 stages I took to get myself back. 70+ pages of my story with advice for you included. Details about my disorder, my friendships, my past relationships and how I came through the other side. If you want to get your copy the link is in my Instagram bio 💖😊 Their is little difference between the two photos..
“Nikki DuBose, author, speaker and mental health advocate was a former model for Maxim, Glamour, Vogue, FHM, and Vanity Fair. Listen to Nikki open up about trying to fit in at a young age, being sexually assaulted, dealing with anxiety, suicidal ideation, sex, drug, and alcohol addiction, learning to cope with trauma, and now living happily in recovery today.”
Listen here on Rise Together.
“I am not much of a book reader. I can never seem to get into them because I am forever distracted, forever busy. However when I got offered to read ‘Washed Away’ I could not say no.
Nikki Dubose is no doubt a very brave and inspiring woman who has been through more than most but I love how she has used her negative past to inspire others. It was a book that made me a feel a mix of emotions. Surprised, shocked and sad but also inspired by her bravery.”
Read the full review at United As One Voice.
Continuing from the last post about my mother’s Bipolar diagnosis and artistic abilities, I thought I’d also touch on how painting can help those who suffer from depression. My mother had serious bouts of depression, where she would sleep for days, sometimes weeks on end. In 2015 I was also diagnosed with clinical depression. In honor of my mother and to help with my depression, I began teaching art therapy techniques to help other…
Read the full post on PsychCentral.
Earlier this year, I was very kindly gifted a copy of ‘Washed Away: From Darkness To Light’, a memoir written by former model and turned author and advocate, Nikki DuBose. Within the book, Nikki documents some of her most personal life events, from childhood sexual abuse to revealing how the model industry fuelled her all-encompassing battle with various eating disorders.
I’ll admit, I was a little hesitant to read and review it at first as I didn’t think it would be my cup of tea. I don’t have much interest in fashion or modelling and so was quick to dismiss the book in it’s entirety. The second I heard the words ‘mental health’ and ‘modelling’ in the same sentence, I couldn’t help but fear that this book might glamorise mental illness and in particular, eating disorders.
However, you know what they say: ‘never judge a book by it’s cover’ and in this circumstance, that saying proved truer than ever.
Read the full review at Above Anxiety.
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.
“. . . Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me . . .”
I let the words sink in, and then I looked out my bedroom window that overlooked the water; for once, I took in the scenery not in fear, but in admiration of the sun as it descended below the horizon. The setting of the sun was a reminder of the magnificence of creation.
“If God made the sun, surely he made me. He must love me, too. I’m going to believe that no matter what, God is with me. When I’m afraid, God is right by my side. I might not see Him physically, but I can see him with my soul; simply because I believe that God is with me, He is,” I thought.
Today as I hiked with my blind and deaf Australian Shepherd and friends up and down rocky trails and around the azure waves of the Pacific, I was amazed at the beauty of God’s creation and the magnitude of his power.
Read the full article at Eating Disorder Hope.
I had no idea what to expect going into this book. I never thought I’d finish the thing in just a few days and feel so utterly connected to someone I’d never met. Knowing Nikki’s story has reminded me why I started to write about mental illness online, even though it often leaves me feeling vulnerable to expose myself to the world.
Read the full review at Fiona Likes to Blog.
If you are looking for a story about a remarkable human being, with perseverance and resilience, who describes her horrifying and haunting life story with candor and courage, than I highly recommend Washed Away: From Darkness To Light, a memoir by Nikki DuBose with James Johanson. It is definitely not a light read – so be forewarned now. Washed Away is emotionally wrenching, compelling and brutally honest, truly providing insight into the mind of someone with mental illness and allowing the reader to understand her deepest and darkest thoughts.
Read the full review at Slay Girl Society.
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.
Nikki DuBose is a former model turned author, speaker, and mental health advocate. She recently released her memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light. In Washed Away, Nikki recounts her experiences navigating the dark side of the modeling industry, while battling abuse, addiction, and various mental health issues. She recently appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Network on the TD Jakes Show to speak about her recovery from Body Dysmorphic Disorder and eating disorders, and how the pressure to “fit into” the modeling industry nearly killed her.
Keep reading to learn more about this incredibly strong and inspiring woman, Nikki!
Read the full interview on Miss Millennia Mag.
Kimberley Quinlan, LMFT interviews Nikki DuBose on her recovery from Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Binge-Eating Disorder and Bulimia Nervosa. Nikki DuBose is a former model turned author, speaker, and mental health advocate. Her debut memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, speaks about her experience with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Binge-Eating Disorder, Bulimia Nervosa, Schizophrenia and child abuse.
I could feel the sadness creeping up again, like an unwelcome relative looking over my shoulder and breathing down my neck. I didn’t want it to come, but it did, and I knew that I was helpless to stop it. And then it washed over me; it poured down like a river of madness, and bathed me in uncertainty. As the tears poured down my face and I crawled into bed, I wanted nothing other than to end my own life. Again. But I couldn’t move. I was drowning and stuck staring into nothingness, and the nothingness was ripping my heart apart. As much as I wanted to end my life, I had no energy to get up and do it.
Some time went by, and the energy slowly came back into my body. I muddled around and managed to answer work emails, walk my dog, feed myself and finish some schoolwork. As I drifted around the house and tried to connect with life again, my phone rang. It was a friend, calling to check up on me. My brain told me not to answer it, and I listened. Tomorrow, or maybe the next day, I told myself. Right now, right now I need rest.
Read more on Psych Central.
Glamorously Dying: Ex-Model Nikki DuBose
The 31 year-old ex-model (Vogue, Vanity Fair) discusses surviving incest by her mother (who was also an alcoholic with BiPolar and DID aka Multiple Personality Disorder) and a lifetime of battling eating disorders (binging, bulimia, anorexia), depression, anxiety, psychosis, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, alcoholism and drug and sex addiction. She reflects on the physical and emotional bottom that finally made her walk away from modeling and seek help, ironically as her emaciated body was more desirable than ever in the industry.
Listen to the podcast here.
There’s still time to get your autographed copy of Washed Away for your loved one this holiday season! Just click the Buy Now button below and your copy will be on the way.
Hi everyone! Starting next week, I’ll pick a mental health topic that you decide on – anything from psychosis to dissociative identity disorder to addictions to what it was like to have mental illness in the modeling industry – things that I cover in my memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, and I’ll discuss them with you. These videos are meant to be both educational and from the perspective of my own experiences. I’ll be answering any questions you may have, so please leave them in the comments on YouTube and be kind.
“I’ve been reading the recently released memoir of Nikki Dubose called Washed Away: From Darkness to Light.
I sense so much hope from this woman and her life’s message. To read about what she’s been through and how she is starting to rebuild a happy life for herself is inspiring.
Nikki was a fashion model who landed the cover of coveted magazines such as Maxim and Vogue in the peak of her career. While from the outside her photos portray a woman living the life many people dream of, beneath the surface she was dealing with severe depression, sexual abuse, anorexia, alcohol and drug abuse and much more.”
Read more and listen to the podcast on Getbusythriving.com.
Coming soon everywhere!
Washed Away: From Darkness to Light is a memoir that recounts the experiences of model Nikki DuBose as she overcomes a more than seventeen-year battle with abuse, child sexual victimization, eating disorders, psychosis, alcoholism, drugs, depression, suicide attempts, body dysmorphic disorder, and various other mental health issues, all while trying to navigate through the dark side of the fashion industry.
Find out more about Washed Away: From Darkness to Light on Book Publicity Services.
This year NEDA’s theme is 3 Minutes Can Save a Life. Get Screened. Get Helped. Get Healthy.
For over seventeen years I battled with not only an eating disorder, but a plethora of mental health conditions that held me prisoner in my own mind and body. If only I would have trusted someone outside of myself I would have experienced the help much sooner. It really only takes three minutes to get access to critical, life-saving information. Isn’t it the most amazing feeling to know that there are people out there who understand you, who are just waiting to love you?
Visit NEDA’s Awareness site to get screened and find out more information.
In regards to my own recovery, it was thanks to a combination of spirituality, mentorship, the twelve-step program, therapy, medication, family and friends, great organizations like NEDA and leaving my modeling career behind. After falling many times and never giving up I was able to regain my mental, physical and spiritual health, and have been going strong for the past three years. Writing and speaking have been incredible tools of healing for me because they have helped me to find my voice during times when I thought that I had none. But we all have voices and often they can be heard the loudest when our lives feel the darkest.
Don’t give up, ever. You, more than anyone else in the world, are worthy of self-love, care and recovery.
Here’s my schedule for #NEDAwareness 2016:
Feb. 23 10am PST: Twitter Chat – “Getting Healthy: The Many Faces of Eating Disorders Recovery” with @NEDAstaff @EDHope @GenderSpectrum @MentalHealthAm @EricC_Official @TheNikkiDuBose
Feb. 23 7pm PST/ CSU San Marcos: Screening of The Illusionists and Panel Discussion. I will be speaking on a panel at CSU San Marcos, discussing the documentary The Illusionists and talking about the globalization of beauty. All are welcome to attend.
Feb. 25 7pm PST/ CSU San Marcos: Keynote Speaker. I will be telling my personal story of recovery and then holding a Q & A session afterwards.
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.