What is a Role Model? Not too long ago, we decided that it wasn't enough to cast fashion models based on comp cards and height. We wanted to showcase the stories of real people, who are brave enough to wear their label. Diem is one of those Role Models. Here's her story.
WYL: Tell us a bit about yourself
D: My name is Diem, and I am a 22 year old student at the University of California, Davis. I am an Environmental Toxicology major and Psychology minor. Beyond my love for all things science, I am passionate about art, writing, and fashion, and thus, I am also an aspiring fashion and beauty blogger. It is a bit ironic for me to pursue such a label because I never felt beautiful growing up. However, with the development of my blog as a platform for self-expression, I have grown a sense of self-love over the past three years, and I have been feeling beautiful ever since.
WYL: What's your connection to mental illness? Why is it important for you to share your story?
D: Like many, growing up, I was bullied simply for the way I looked. From my birth mark in the form of a mole on my left cheek to my adolescent acne that still lingers today, I was told that I looked ugly. In response, I routinely went home from school to vigorously wash my face in hopes of getting rid of any prominent spots. When that didn't work, I tried to pick and peel certain layers of skin off of me. I was left with nasty scabs, and the prominent spots were still there to mock me when my skin healed. Since it felt as if my appearance was out of my control, I started to believe that I was ugly, and thus, I became my own bully as I subconsciously put myself down. The social construct of beauty not only hurt me physically, but it also hurt me mentally. As both the victim and persecutor of bullying, I grew depressed and later developed anxiety when I was put into the few occasions where I was expected to interact with strangers. I feared that they, too, will bully me.
At the time, I thought bullying was normal as though it was part of growing up. It wasn't until I became transparent on my blog and shared my struggles when I realized that bullying is not normal and it is not okay.
WYL: How have you overcome your struggles?
D: As one of the few places where I feel like my absolute self, my blog has helped me overcome my struggles. I once thought sharing was a sign of weakness, but over the span of three years, I learned that it actually takes a lot of strength and courage to share. This is because sharing made me feel vulnerable. When I broke down my facade of a beautiful fashion and beauty blogger who appeared to be happy and in love with life, I felt naked. However, I also felt free. It felt liberating to admit that I am not okay, both physically and mentally, and understand that it is okay. It was then when I started to make realistic goals to overcome my struggles of depression and anxiety- from giving myself little pep-talks to taking the initiative to greet strangers. In doing so, I mustered the courage to embrace the way I look and celebrate the unique features that I call mine.
WYL: How do you help others overcome a mental health challenge they might be facing?
D: I like to lend an ear and/or a shoulder because I empathize with the weight that they may be carrying. In analogous, I am their blog. They share as much or as little as they like, and I listen without judgment. I absolutely believe in the power of listening, and it can be beneficial for both parties.
I absolutely believe in the power of listening, and it can be beneficial for both parties.
WYL: What would you tell someone who might be going through something similar?
D: First of all, I would tell that person that he/she is absolutely beautiful because there has never been and there will never be another person like him/her. This is something worth celebrating! With that being said, I would like to share a challenge. I challenged myself to do this everyday, and it does wonders for my ongoing practice of self-love. Every single day, when you look in the mirror in the morning, find an "imperfection" and compliment it. I know it sounds so odd, but trust me, your self-esteem will thank you. Tell your "imperfection" why it is unique and different. Again, there has never been and there will never be another person with that exact same "imperfection" as you. You are a unique individual, and nobody can take that away from you. You may not like your "imperfection," but I am sure that it is darling on you. Let it be "flabby arms" or a "big nose." I bet your arms give the best hugs in the world and your nose is probably as cute as a button.
Every single day, when you look in the mirror in the morning, find an "imperfection" and compliment it. I know it sounds so odd, but trust me, your self-esteem will thank you.
Check out Diem's Blog