REPOSTED: THIS VICTORIA’S SECRET MODEL IS DOING A 180 FROM HER DAYS AS AN ANGEL

by: ALISON FELLER via http://www.wellandgood.com

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As a Victoria’s Secret model, Erin Heatherton was one of the wing-adorned “angels” stalking runways in lingerie and flashing her pearly whites on billboards, buses, and beyond in the name of the brand. But now she admits life with Victoria’s Secret wasn’t always as chill and Swarovski-studded as it may have seemed—she faced serious body image struggles during her time with the bra-and-panty brand, Time reports.

“My last two Victoria’s Secret shows, I was told I had to lose weight,” she tells Time. “I look back like, ‘Really?’” Heatherton, who walked in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show from 2008 to 2013, left the brand three years ago when, in spite of working hard, eating healthy, and exercising twice a day, she says her body “just wouldn’t do it.”

I was really depressed because I was working so hard and I felt like my body was resisting me,” she says. “And I got to a point where one night I got home from a workout and I remember staring at my food and thinking maybe I should just not eat.” After walking away from the runway, Heatherton came to a startling realization: “I realized I couldn’t go out into the world—parading my body and myself in front of all these women who look up to me—and tell them that this is easy and simple and everyone can do this,” she says.

Via Heather’s Instagram:

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The breakdown to breakthrough moment in my life has allowed me to become the truest version of myself. In my moment of “failure,” I stood in the face of adversity. I was struggling with my body image and the pressures to fulfill the demands of perfectionism upon me. I am not perfect. Through this struggle, however, I found the strength to love myself. I stood in my power. I thought of one of my favorite quotes, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a men’s character, give him power” – Abraham Lincoln. I look back on that moment now, and I embrace it. This feeling I once perceived as “failure” was, in truth, a powerful awakening for me to stand behind my purpose in life. I stepped away from hiding behind a fabricated version of myself. I no longer put actions behind my fears and insecurities. I made a choice to redirect my energy to be a catalyst for change. To create a channel for women to become the truest versions of themselves, along with me. (Stay tuned for more…) In the end, if you aren’t being true to yourself, then what the fuck is the point. #rebelwacause #empowerment #womensempowerment#empoweredbyyou

Now, the always-athletic supermodel (she played on her high school’s varsity basketball team, according to the Sun Times), is using her platform to spread awareness in hopes of helping other women. “I’m willing to sacrifice my pride, in a sense, and my privacy because I know that if I don’t speak about it, I could be withholding information that would really help women,” she says. “It hurts too much to keep it in, and that’s why I’m not keeping it in now.”

A Year Without Robin Williams

By: Alicia M. Blanco

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On August 11th, 2014 I was flying home from a weekend in Arizona. When I landed and connected back to social media, the first thing I saw was “RIP Robin Williams”.. “actor commits suicide” all over my Facebook and Instagram feed. My body went numb. I was in total shock and disbelief.

Like many of you, I felt like I lost a close friend. I grew up watching and loving him and all the beloved characters he brought to life. It was devastating news to come home to, to say the least. Equally devastating is how mental health and suicide is treated and talked about in society. It isn’t until a celebrity commits suicide that society gives this topic any real attention. This needs to change.

It was on that day last year as I was driving home from the airport that I knew I wanted (and needed) to start my blog and dedicate it entirely to mental health, research, awareness and advocacy. I wanted all of the Robin Williamses of the world to know that they were not alone. It was my hope that by reading stories and articles from other people who have similar FEELINGS and experiences with depression (either personally or within their families) that people could begin to feel a sense of community and belonging. I want them to feel acknowledged, seen and heard. I desired my blog to be a place of hope where people could relate, with no filters, no stories of perfection – just pure and raw honesty.

I could sit here and list off all of the numerical statistics that show you how much suicide has increased over the years. But let me just cut to the chase. IT’S BAD. And every year it’s getting worse. Suicide has no specific victim- no group is “safe” from the impulse.  What’s worse, is that although many people give subtle “signs” that they are contemplating suicide, many people leave no sign at all.

The death of Robin Williams greatly impacted us because on the outside it would seem like he was a relatively happy person. (With a sense of humor like his, it seemed impossible not to be happy.) He also had a dream career, lots of money, fame and the respect and admiration of his fans around the world. This is the part that scares me the most – the amount of people living today who seem like happy people on the outside, but who are really deeply in serious trouble. Earlier in the year I reposted the story about Madison Holleran, a girl who appeared to have it all, (based on her social media, that is.) She ended up committing suicide, despite the utterly happily filtered Instagram life she portrayed to the world.

Depression is a silent killer. Unlike other illnesses that are physically visible, depression is something that builds up on the inside of a person’s mind and body and takes over control. It’s manipulative and even has the power to give off the illusion that everything is fine on the outside. It can also trick its victim into being insecure about sharing how they are feeling with someone.

It’s so heartbreaking, even one year later on the anniversary of his death, to accept that he was suffering so deeply, and quietly…And that’s what breaks my heart: Suicide is preventable – and the responsibility is entirely ours. Together we can each participate in changing these statistics. Enough is enough. Suicidal thoughts and attempts wreck the lives of millions every single day, and over 40,000 die from suicide every single year! Robin Williams’ death was just one of the hundreds who took their own lives on that day. What have we done since then?

We need to take a good hard look at the way we treat people. Our actions and our words matter. When we ask someone “how are you doing?” how many of us are genuinely interested in the response? Do we really care how someone is really, truly doing? Do we really believe someone is as happy as their Facebook or Instagram feed suggests? Are we participating in random acts of kindness for our family, friends and even strangers? Are we ourselves slipping into episodes of depression because of how much we compare ourselves to the “picture perfect” lives of others?

We are so “plugged-in” to our phones and computers these days that we have completely disconnected from community and heartfelt communication.

The way we talk about depression and mental health research & advocacy can re-shape the future. It can be as simple as changing the way we use our words; The words we use to talk about suicide; The words used in media to broadcast it; The words used to build someone up, or tear them down; The amount of time we spend using words of affirmation and encouragement. Bullying. Cyber bullying. Racism. Hate. Addressing depression. Make no mistake about it – the words we use matter.

“Our words are the ground note. Words are the least expensive, most valuable tool we have to educate, to turn the tides of public opinion, to affect real change. Let’s stop conversations that destroy lives, start conversations that save lives, and redirect conversations that distract us from what really matters.” – Dese’Rae Stage

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If you or anyone you know is suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts, please call 1-800-784-2433 or visit save.org

ESPY’s Highlight – Caitlyn Jenner

by: Alicia M. Blanco

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I wrote an article a while ago about Bruce Jenner- and I got a wave of responses to it. Everything from people who absolutely support and respect the transition, and others who are completely bothered and disgusted by it.

Whether or not you agree with what’s happening here, I think its important to acknowledge that the world we live in today is so much more diverse than its ever been before. I’m actually pretty excited to be living during such a unique time period as this.

Last night at the ESPYs, Caitlyn Jenner was presented with the Arthur Ashe award for COURAGE. Her acceptance speech obviously made me super emotional and I wanted to defend her today as I’m seeing a lot of people posting about how undeserving she is of such a prestigious award.

To me, courage comes in all different forms. From our military and armed forces who bravely defend our country day in and day out, to the kid at school who bravely defends his classmate being bullied – courage can be seen in many different ways.

Personally, I find Caitlyn’s story to be incredibly courageous and her award, completely deserved.

Imagine living your life with a miserable state of mind, just like Bruce was doing. Bruce hid behind a façade of masculinity and athleticism in order to distract him from his inner most thoughts – that he was actually a she. Imagine spending over six decades with a secret such as this and then, under a magnifying glass, making the very brave decision to open up to the entire WORLD about it.

Taking on an entirely new identity while the world watches, criticizes, ridicules, judges, and follows your every step has to be traumatic. And it takes major courage to do it anyway. My friend Terri said it perfectly today. She told me:

“every advance we ever make in this country starts with one person standing up and willing to take a beating from the public to shine a light on their cause—racism, women’s rights, gay rights and now transgenderism…”

Spot on, Terri.

It starts with one.

One person to stand up for what they believe in; Or one person to open up about their stories. Being relatable, approachable and vulnerable is courageous – Its being human in the most authentic form and not pretending everything is so damn perfect all of the time.

Caitlyn is doing it for the benefit of her own inner happiness and also for the countless others living today who struggle with gender identity.

Don’t tell me that’s not courageous.

(And I can’t even hate on her look last night either. Versace! HELLO! WERK, honey.)

My wish is that we can all live in a more accepting world. Why is it that when something good happens, (someone winning an award, for example) there has to be soooooo many people to instantly criticize it and find the problems with it instead? It’s almost depressing to open up my social media and see all the hate. It hasn’t even been 24 hours, people! I just want this to be a world where everyone can just be themselves and not feel sorry about it.

With that being said, I also want this to be a world where we can all respect each others varying opinions. What a boring world this would be if we all were on the same exact page about everything. So I’m not over here suggesting we all suppress our opinions on what’s going on in society, but rather, I am encouraging more love and kindness. That’s it. The old rule is “if you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” But I would like to change that because I realize we shouldn’t subscribe to saying nothing at all. It’s just HOW YOU SAY IT that can make an impact…

I think we are here in this world to help each other out. And if you can’t help someone, just please, don’t hurt them.

My OPINIONS on DONALD TRUMP & MISS USA

by: Alicia M. Blanco

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I waited to write this post until after the preliminary competition of the Miss USA pageant last night, because I wanted to gage the energy of the ladies after all that has transpired since Donald Trump shared his opinions on Mexicans and illegal immigration.

In case you didn’t know, allow me to update you

In what I believe to be an aptly timed and choreographed publicity stunt, Donald Trump made his remarks on illegal immigration and Mexicans very clear when he said, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” 

Like a ripple effect, these comments resulted in a massive wave of sponsors ending their business relationship with Trump, and therefore dramatically impacting the Miss USA pageant as we know and love it. Univision, NBC, and Macy’s are just a few of the very first who cut ties. Since then, the pageant lost both of its hosts, correspondents, entertainers, networks, along with several judges and pageant sponsors as well. (Mind you, this is all happening as the girls are arriving in Baton Rouge for registration where they’ve been for the last two weeks leading up to the pageant.)

Meanwhile, Trump is boldly standing by his radical opinions of Mexicans in his attempt to take a seat in the Oval Office. Just a few days ago he even called his reigning Miss Universe (who happens to be Latina) a “hypocrite” for being offended by what he said but yet still wanting to keep her crown anyway.

LET ME BE CLEAR WITH YOU ON MY STANCE ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION: of course there is a problem in the system. Anything illegal is a problem that I do not condone! This BEAUTIFUL country I am proud to live in is made up of immigrants who came here legally. That’s what makes it beautiful – it’s a melting pot of diversity. Its just the ILLEGAL immigration that I am fully aware is problematic to the well-being of this great country. Further, it is also my opinion that it’s the perception of illegal immigration that truly is the problem here – because often times (not ALL the time) the majority of immigrants do not just “hop” a border and start making a mess of things, but instead have overextended their VISA’s. But those stories don’t make the headlines, do they? It’s the bad guys who do, not the ones contributing to the growth or prosperity to our beloved country. Not the hardworking mom working minimal wage or the kid trying to get a descent education here, or the hardworking dad laboring over jobs no one else wants just so that he can send money back home to his wife and children, but it’s the guy committing crimes that we will see on the nightly news. BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT THE NEWS IS FOR.

But equally, if not more-so problematic (in my opinion) is racism, racial profiling, stereotyping and hate.

To GENERALIZE that all Mexicans (specifically) who are coming into this country are rapists and drug dealers, is just wrong- And it’s going to piss a lot of people off too.

What if I said all men who styled their hair like Donald Trump were racists? That would be such a terrible generalization. Besides, ain’t NOBODY trying to style their hair like that on purpose besides Trump. But that’s neither here nor there.

All this to say:

To the girls competing this weekend: I want you to know that at first I felt REALLY bad for you all. I will never forget how amazing I felt back when I competed in 2009.  We were treated like celebrities from the moment we arrived to Vegas, in every way.  I was honored to have my family and friends there watching it all happen. And for my family and friends who couldn’t be there, I loved knowing they could be at home watching the telecast nationally, live on NBC. So when NBC pulled the plug and announced they wouldn’t be affiliated with Trump anymore (as well as several other sponsors you sadly won’t get to experience as the rest of us in the Miss USA formers club have) I was devastated for you girls. But now, I realize you all are actually so completely blessed with this opportunity to be in the class of 2015!

WHY?

Here’s one reason why: because it will be the most memorable year since 2009 when Carrie and I had terrible answers when we were in the top 5 together!! (I still owe Carrie dinner for her answer on gay marriage…otherwise I would’ve been the most talked about ‘beauty pageant fail’ that year for not answering my question about universal healthcare AND throwing words around like ‘integrity’ and ‘conviction’ like fricken glitter in an attempt to save my ass.) So yeah, as I was saying, this simply is the most memorable year since then! So, OWN IT. Own it with integrity and conviction ladies!! (see… I knew I would get to use those two together again! Drops the mic…)

Another reason why you’re blessed to be in the class of 2015?

Your UNIQUE year at Miss USA gave the world an opportunity to rally together and start the #SaveTheSash campaign demanding a network to pick up the telecast and air it anyway. We are witnesses to how the world can seriously accomplish some pretty amazing things if we can just come together in unity, love and with purpose. In record time, pageant fans around the world came together and illustrated the power of social media – and the power of pageants altogether. All it took was one person’s brilliant idea to start this project and it grew and grew!! Shout out to Travis Stanton and Jason Smith…and really everyone else who helped save the sash by calling, tweeting, writing, signing and throwing a tantrum like Toddlers and Tiaras.  IT TOTALLY WORKED. Thank you Reelz for picking it up and airing the telecast, for reals. (See what I did there?) 

I am mainly impressed by the resilience and fortitude I’ve seen since the first bomb dropped. If last night at prelims was any indication of how you’re all handling everything, then I am incredibly inspired. Standing on that stage is an honor to be able to showcase your confident beauty, hard work ethic, perseverance, and most of all DIVERSITY. 

No two women are exactly alike up there (which is AWESOME, and sort of the point isn’t it…?) Every girl is different and beautiful in her own unique way. For 6 of the contestants who are Latina this year, they have such a unique opportunity to negate and shut down Trumps hurtful comments and prove just how powerful and accomplished the Latino community is. So, thanks Mr. Trump for giving us an even BIGGER stage this year. Click here to read about how this years LATINA contestants are handling everything and why they aren’t backing out of the competition.

People ask me if I would back out if I was competing this year and my answer is HAAYYYYLLLL to the NO! I would absolutely still move forward with even MORE pride.

To the ladies competing, keep it up! I am proud of each and every single one of you for remaining so beautiful on the inside out amidst so much madness surrounding you. You have the unique opportunity to prove that your INNER beauty needs to be on POINT during all of this too… because you really can’t fake resilience and happiness under so much pressure. If you can, you should get into politics.

And to Donald, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from you it’s that everyone is entitled to their own opinions in this life. For that, I encourage you to respect the opinions others have that you’ve gone completely mad, especially some of your ex-business partners who stand by their opinions that ending their business relationships with you is the best thing to do, you know, for business. You’re a business man after all, so you of all people should understand. No one likes being fired, but you’ve made a career out of firing people on national TV.  Now, the shoe is on the other foot… so go ahead and take a walk in it.

God bless America.  Bendiciones a Mexico. God bless anyone who has ever been a victim to racism or hate.  And, seriously, God bless your silly hair stylist.

Click here to watch my interview from channel 12.

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I just can’t help but wonder if the Trumpster thought I was plotting to rape him right there in his office or start up a drug war amongst all the girls while I was at Miss USA. Or, at the very least, if he pondered who it was in my family tree who must’ve come here illegally.

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ALS Bucket Challenge

by: Alicia M. Blanco

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I have a confession to make. Up until two days ago I had NO idea what the now famous “ALS Ice bucket challenge” was…. and I didnt even know what ALS stood for! All I knew was, based on social media, it was suddenly the “it” thing to do… and yet I had no idea why.. I just kept seeing videos popping up of people pouring water on their heads and then challending three or more additional people to follow their lead and do the same… And because I’m not one to jump on bandwagons very easily (like those dumb email chains that tell you that you’ll have bad luck for seven years if you don’t forward it to ten peope).. I sort of filed the ALS challenge into the same category.

I will say that I was totally impressed that it became such a huge wave on social media though!! J-Lo, George W. Bush, Lebron James, Taylor Swift are just a FEW of the celebrities who also participated. Like I always say, it just takes one person and an idea to start something BIG. Millions of dollars and TONS of awareness big.

So then I got challenged. And that’s honestly when I began my “research” to see what exactly I was being challenged into doing. Here is what I read.

I learned it was to raise money for Lou Gehrig’s disease which is also known as ‘amyotrophic lateral sclerosis’…(aha…. so THAT’S what ALS stands for)…and why didnt they just call it the “LGD ice bucket challenge”? – because I’m pre-tty sure more people are familiar with the words ‘Lou Gehrigs disease’ anways but that’s none of my business…

anyways!!

I think it’s great that we’re all coming together for a good cause. All It took was one person and then BAM, more and more people started to ride the wave too.. AND LOOK HOW HUGE OF A WAVE ITS BECOME!!!

If I was going to do it, I would totally do it Charlie Sheen style. Homeboy straight up dumped a bucket of CASH over his head instead of water. Brilliant. He even said “let’s face it, ice will melt… but this money is going to actually help people.” HOLLER!! Such a good idea. If you havent seen it, check it out HERE.

Obviously it was only a matter of time until all the memes and GIFs starting popping up making fun of our country for wasting so much water while other countries are in dire need for it. #merica #charity So, good job Mr. Sheen. In this case you are in indeed #winning

So those are my thoughts! People are so funny on social media these days. Things are so trendy and hot topic-ishy until something more trendy comes along. And in the case of charities, i’m allllll for trending the pooh out of charity! I just hope theres a genuine heart in all the ice bucket participants. I worry that many partake in the challenge just so they will have content to post on their instagrams and facebooks. I hope I’m wrong!

Do your research. Read about the causes that you want to serve, promote and advocate!

Here’s just a few of the charities I love, support and have worked (or still work) for in LA and AZ:

Chances for Children
Go Red for Women
Susan G. Komen
Miss Inner Beauty
Andre House
Adopt-a-Family program

And honestly there’s like a zillion more. I’m a bit of a charity-addict. That’s why I support The Unite4Good Foundation which supports and celebrates ALL of these and more as a collective team and effort.

Waving Goodbye to Robin Williams

by: Alicia M. Blanco

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I just love this picture of him. It’s crazy that behind his one of kind smile and his contagious laughter was so much pain. It still doesn’t seem real to me. Its taken me several days to even accept it and gather up the composure to write this blog. How could one of the funniest comedians in the whole wide world who made me laugh my entire childhood, commit suicide? It’s just not fair. He’s gone. Just like that. No warnings. No signs. No goodbyes. I mean sure he’d had issues with drug abuse in his past, but he was over and done with all of that now, wasn’t he?? He had the ability to make all of us laugh so hard our stomaches hurt. He was the man.

That’s why this sucks SO bad— the fact that while he spent his whole life making everyone else laugh and feel alive, inside he was broken, depressed…and ultimately dying. He ended his life in such a tragic way and it broke hearts around the world. I know my heart is truly broken…

This is exactly WHY I want to see a huge wave of random acts of kindness. YOU have the potential to save someone’s life just by being kind to them, asking them how they are doing, (like REALLY doing), complimenting their smiles, encouraging them, spending actual time with them, writing them a handwritten note, ANYTHING. I can’t help but to wonder when was the last time someone had genuinely asked Mr. Williams how he was REALLY doing. Ugh.

It’s wild to me that someone can give off the impression that everything’s okay, just like Robin Williams did, when really they’re screaming on the inside.

WE NEED TO STOP ASSUMING!! Just because someone seems okay, maybe they’re really NOT.

I personally know a lot of men and women who appear to be happy, but yet have candidly opened up to me and let me know that they’re not as happy as they portray to the rest of the world. And I think that’s really brave of them to be so honest with me. With the world of social media we live in, it can be really hard to admit that there’s an inner battle going on. Maybe Robin Williams didn’t want to admit how depressed he was. No one likes to be judged… especially when they feel pressure to uphold a certain upbeat image. We live in a world of filters. We gatta look and appear to be at our best, right?

In reality, life is a journey of ups and downs though… and sometimes the journey includes a lot of heartache, rejection, unsuccessful attempts, shut doors, “no’s”… all of which can feed depression, mental illness, and even trigger suicide. It’s just a downward spiral and if we don’t start doing something about it, small as it may seem, we’ll continue watching people lose their battle to the disease. Because that’s what it is you know… a disease.

I’ve always just been told that no one wants to talk about it and that instead, we should read some self-help books, take your meds, “get over it”, “look on the bright side” and “count your blessings.” …… and while that all sounds like positive steps moving foward, it’s also just not the easiest thing to do when you’re suffering in the dark. As someone who has had to be in extensive conversation with mental hospitals, doctors, social workers, insurance companies and beyond, I can tell you right now, there is MAJOR work to be done.

I’ve been wanting to start this movement in the way we think and talk about (and conquer!!) depression for years but I always felt like there was so much shame on the subject. Even personally: I have a very close relative of mine who has suffered with manic depression bipolar disorder (just like Robin Williams) since he was 16yrs old. At this point in time I don’t have his permission to disclose his name or share his full story, but I’m hoping that I will in the very near future.

I can’t sit back and see another secretly unhappy person end his or her life when it could’ve been prevented by love.

So let’s keep going with this HUGE wave of random acts of kindness everywhere! I know the wave may start off small, but as more and more people catch on and begin to pay it forward, I honestly believe with all my heart that we can truly change lives and even SAVE LIVES by helping the silent sufferers of the world feel better, feel loved, feel seen, and to cope with their darkness.

Afterall, we are called to be a light in a dark place.

Thank you Robin Williams for being such a light in mine.

xo,
Alicia