AWE Founder & Creative Director Jill Johnson is a
3-time cancer survivor, who taught us that
part of being
empowered is empowering others. We put together a list
of awe-inspiring individuals
who defied expectations
while helping others along the way.
Read their stories. Get inspired.
When we first connected with Nalie, she was about to launch her (AMAZING) YouTube series “The Nalie Show”, but shortly after she was diagnosed with a cancer recurrence, this time in her lungs. Nalie has documented both of her fights with cancer for her 20k+ followers: real tears, real pre-chemo dance parties, real heartfelt advice for other cancer fighters. We are in AWE of her courage in the face of adversity and her dedication to her #NaliesArmy of supporters. She’s a Warrior with a Warrior Medallion!
"Incurable is not a declaration… it’s a DARE."
"When you feel good. FEEL GREAT. Don’t waste a second worrying about tomorrow."
"Never hide who you are because there is no one in the world like you and someone out there needs you."
Host of THE NALIE SHOW! || New episodes on my YouTube Channel every Monday || The Diary of a Metastatic Breast Cancer Thriver || Crushed a TED Talk 3 Days After Reconstructive Surgery || “Chemo Secrets” E-Guide
I’ve been battling breast cancer since I was 24 years old. I know right? So young! I didn’t even think it was possible. Unlike my brothers, I don’t have a single allergy and I never broke a bone. My parents always joked, “3rd time’s a charm! The last one came out perfect!”
Perfect. All except for… cancer.
On July 2013, I was diagnosed with Stage 2B Breast Cancer. I had 2 tumors in my left breast and 1 in my lymph node. I underwent 16 rounds of chemotherapy. Then a total mastectomy and 29 rounds of radiation.
One year later, I was able to scream at the top of my lungs that I was CANCER FREE.
I was ecstatic. Once I got cleared, I traveled to the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand, wrote the “Chemo Secrets” and did a TED talk. I got a job at the Association for Children with Cancer and launched The Nalie Show. I was living my dreams!
3 years later… my biggest nightmare came true. The cancer came back. I, Nalie Agustin, now had Stage 4 Metastatic Breast cancer in the lungs.
Chemo was to start immediately—AGAIN. But if you’ve gotten to know me by now, incurable is not a declaration. It’s a DARE!
I share my journey for 3 reasons. 1) Inspiration: I want to inspire you to NEVER GIVE UP! 2) Aspiration: I have big dreams and I refuse to let cancer stop me from achieving them. And 3) Awareness: It is my duty to prove that breast cancer doesn’t just happen to elder women. Generation X-Y-Z: Check your boobs!
Someone recently asked me how I stay strong? Well... this man next to me is a big reason! Thursday night I watched the premiere of Beauty & the Beast and was reminded of how strong the father-daughter bond is. How fathers & daughters travel to the most dangerous & darkest places in the woods to protect each other. Then... my big brother sends me videos of him & my 4 month old niece and I'm instantly reminded of how that's how my Daddy used to carry me and make me giggle when I was a baby.
I stay strong because I know how hard it must be to see your baby girl suffer... If I stay strong my family stays strong too. It's the least I can do for everything he's done for me.
So proudly together, we hold up Round 4 with smiles on our faces versus tears in our eyes, because we know, no matter what, we have each other!
I have GOOD NEWS and BAD NEWS. Which one do you wanna hear first? ... Don't we always start with the bad? Ok here it goes... BAD NEWS: The "Red Devil" didn't let me off easy. I've been suffering from severe abdominal pain and hadn't eaten in 4 days. I was therefore hospitalized yesterday to get hydrated and did a couple of tests to see what's going on with my stomach. I could have caught a bug or it may simply be bad chemo side effects. GOOD NEWS: I'm now out of the hospital. I did a chest & abdomen CT scan. Possibilities that cancer spread to my abdomen or any other abdominal problems which could have caused the pain are ALL RULED OUT. (Alleluia) And the BEST NEWS EVER: The scan already shows that my lung nodules have DECREASED! Meaning... Treatments and visualizations are working! That... makes ALL the pain worth it!
The Fast Girl
"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." - Ralph Waldo Emerson"Stigma is a polite way of saying shame and discrimination.""I am more than a diagnosis."#breakthestigma
Olympic finals. 50 meters left. And I fell. On purpose.Growing up I lived with an eating disorder, attempted suicide, and had severe anxiety when I raced. The only way to keep up my facade as a perfect Midwestern girl was to win.
And for a while, I won a lot. I won more NCAA championships than anyone ever had. I won seven US Championships, set American Records, and made three Olympic teams.But the facade shattered in Sydney, when I fell in a race I was favored to win because I realized I wouldn’t medal. It was a race I wanted to honor my brother’s suicide from the previous year.What I didn’t yet know was that my anxiety and suicidal thoughts were all linked to my undiagnosed bipolar disorder. Running was a drug that kept that illness at bay. When I retired, my doctors prescribed me a new drug: Zoloft.On anti-depressants, I wanted to LIVE. 20th Anniversary dinner date? No thank you. I flew to Vegas and became one of the top ten escorts in the world. I was no longer depressed, I was manic.My story leaked and my husband found out. But he didn’t leave. He found the best doctors to treat my bipolar disorder. I now share my story to shed the stigma on mental illness. It’s easy to measure success in medals. But my little family, we made it through hell and back. There’s no way to measure that.
I love motivational quotes as much as anybody, but here's the thing. When you are in the middle of suicidal depression, they have the potential of being totally unrelatable and out of touch. In fact, they can be irritating as hell. Messages of "just try harder" or "we are in control of our own happiness" don't exactly ring true when you are in the darkness, your brain is not cooperating & hope is next to impossible to find. So for those of you not living with mental illness, kick ass like there is no tomorrow. For those of you who are managing, keep moving forward in your recovery the best you can at this moment. But for those in the throes of mental illness, just simply know that it can get better, no matter how hopeless things are at the time. There is always a reason to keep going, no matter how impossible that might sound right now. You are not alone and your ability to take what the unwell mind can throw at you makes you one serious badass in my eyes, as it should in the eyes of everyone. #mentalhealth
The Lyme Warrior
"With challenge comes opportunity for growth and transformation. Embrace the struggle beauties."
"I live to inspire others through my story, and my burning desire to leave the world a more beautiful place."
"Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway."
"There’s nothing to me more beautiful than seeing a woman expressing herself authentically, bringing attitude and confidence to the equation."
My daughter made me beautiful mantra cards of inspiring phrases and affirmations. “What would you do,” she asked me, “if you were well?” It was 2015 and I was bedridden with daily seizures. My daughter’s question was a turning point in my recovery. Try as it may, Lyme disease would not take my life.
I created a bucket list. This quickly morphed into a blog where I could share my love of fashion. I began living in that space, dreaming, scheming and visualizing myself as healthy, happy, traveling and wearing beautiful clothes. More importantly, I began healing rapidly.
My love of fashion was literally the key to saving my life. For me, fashion is about connecting to who we are at our deepest levels and learning how to express that in a way that is unique to every one of us.
Since starting CatherineGraceO, I have collaborated with Maka Designs, Trisha Dunn, Paul Andrew, Ditto Eyewear, Vellabox Candles, and AWE Jewelry. I have been featured by Banana Republic and Anthropologie.
But to me, fashion is more than just brand names. It’s about people who are deeply soul searching. It is my medium of creative self expression. It is my way of inspiring others and leaving the world a better place.
"You are truly beautiful and wonderfully made, not to be perfect but to be courageous. Stay brave, fearless, bold, and strong! That’s your #Power."
"Being different is one of the most beautiful things in the world. Free the scars, the curls, the imperfections, the most beautiful and untouched you."
"I am a woman. What is your superpower?"
Model. Activist. Ambassador. & Bionic Woman. || Osteosarcoma Bone Cancer Survivor || Child of God & SLP in the making || LA | NY
I had one question: Will I be able to walk the runway again? I was 12 years old and I had just been diagnosed with Osteosarcoma.
When I was still in a wheelchair, I brought my mom’s red stilettos to the hospital and showed them to my physical therapist. These were our challenge. The runway was our goal.
I exceeded everyone’s expectations. It took three leg reconstructions, a titanium prosthesis, and twenty cycles of aggressive chemotherapy. But three months after my last surgery, I walked for the designer of Michael Costello, Stephanie Costello and Walter Mendez in New York's Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. My next runway? Los Angeles Fashion Week for Candice Cuoco and Vanessa Simmons.
I love fashion and modeling, but my goal is crystal clear: I hope to inspire young women and little girls to embrace life’s perfections and imperfections. I want them to see the world the way my battle taught me to. To breathe a little deeper, to love stronger, to look at challenges and fast forward to seeing the victory. To know you’ve faced the worst and can handle anything that comes your way.
If you didn't know me, now you will.....
1. I am Natalia Harris, a NY native, LA based model of Barbadian and Dominican descent. Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) survivor, positive body image activist, college student (speech therapist in the making) and a believer.
2. Alter Ego: "Bionic Woman" - I'm known for having a centipede looking-15' in. beautiful scar that runs down half of my leg and holds my internal titanium prosthetic limb. After undergoing a couple of leg reconstruction surgeries, surviving aggressive chemotherapy and rigorous physical therapy, my scar is a symbol of strength of when cancer tried to kill me but failed.
3. I'm a former basketball player like my dad, lover of Bikram yoga, and eat like a boy (I eat pretty healthy most of the time though lol)
4. Funny Fact: I sound off alarms and metal detectors at airports and some department stores with my bionic leg.
5. I share my journey with others to remind young women, cancer patients, survivors, students, to embrace life with its perfections and imperfections, to embrace body positivity and inclusivity in fashion, and to never give up on their dreams.
Do not let circumstances define you. Embrace your uniqueness because no one in this world has been crafted to be just like you!
I'm still processing what it means to be a childhood cancer survivor. Overcoming this huge obstacle in my life is a reminder of what it means to go through many storms and still have the strength, hope and faith to shine. Thank you @AWEInspired_ for reminding me of my courage and honoring me with this beautiful necklace. This represents the beauty and resilience in survivorship of all circumstances. I'm delighted to be part of your community.
The Self-Love Champion
"Befriend your body and you will find so much more peace in your day today"
"Be open to learning from your self. and I promise you're brave enough to teach yourself new things."
"We deserve to celebrate our strides, our survival, and the beautiful bodies we stand in."
All I ever wanted was to shine, but forcing myself to shrink robbed me of my light and my life. I want to empower myself and this body every day, and I really want to remember that it's okay to feel like it's such an effort sometimes. It's been life saving to understand that I deserve empowerment, not punishment. My whole life I felt like I was different and that I looked 'wrong' simply because I never saw someone who looked like me embracing their body, and no one taught me how. I never knew other people struggled with their relationship with food either. So, every single day, I pushed myself so hard to change and be 'better,' shaming myself every step of the way.
Two years ago, I had just started pursuing self-love and recovery, but it wasn’t easy to let go of a lifetime of body & food struggles. Through therapy, I started to realize: the most important thing is simply the way I treat myself. And that will never again depend on the way I look.
When you're kinder to yourself, you begin to celebrate the things you used to hide away and hide from yourself. And that's the one thing I always wanted. I want to see, embrace and empower myself.
And we can, one moment at a time.
Today, I will show up for this girl. I'll show her that she is capable of loving herself, her feels and her beautiful body. Every holiday, I always tried so hard to escape from my own self. Even before eating, I pressured myself to not ‘mess up.’ But there is no such thing.
This time, I vow to be loving and supportive. I will encourage myself through every bite and I will listen to my feelings. I won’t judge moments of worry or anxiety, and I will not act on the harsh thoughts about eating and my body that may inevitably cross my mind.
Be with yourself in your rough moments today, because that will truly save you from the same cycles of the past. It won’t be easy and it isn’t supposed to be. But it’s worth trying. You have the power to be different this year. And you deserve to finally enjoy yourself in a mindful, self-aware and self-loving way.
You need YOU today.
Please don’t leave your wonderful self behind.
I used to dream of the day I could sit with myself and genuinely feel happiness. Kindness and love for all that I am. Each day, I want to try feeling the wholeness of my body and really embrace everything about it.
But believe me, I know that every day is a process. So, what do I say to myself on the days I just can’t seem to be kind to myself?
Look - this is you. This is your body.
You don't have to be afraid of what you have or what you are. There is where you are supposed to be and how you wonderfully appear right now.
My body needs acceptance in every setting.
And me? I deserve love from myself in every moment. So do you.
The AWEsome Activist
"You can accomplish your goals while living with a mental illness"
"A major step to coping with mental illness is igniting the conversation."
Do you want to help a friend who's going through IT? Here are some ways you can help. We can encourage you ladies to make friends and follow each other. Having a friend to help you through your depression can be a great way to cope!
- Help him or her get an appropriate depression diagnosis and treatment.
- Encourage the person to stay with treatment or to seek different treatment if no improvement occurs.
- Use understanding, patience, affection, and encouragement to offer emotional support. - Encourage participation in some activities that once gave pleasure, but do not push the depressed person to undertake too much too soon.
- Encourage the person to join a depression support group where they can share in a non-judgemental environment.
- Remember that depression is not something a person can 'snap out of' nor can he or she 'choose to be happy instead.'
Tash took her experience with domestic abuse and sexual assault and turned it into an incredible organization that empowers women through similar trauma. Her writings on personal strength are prophetic and bring comfort to so many. We are in AWE of her wisdom and dedication to healing those in need.
"You are also a survivor. No matter what story you have lived and no matter what trials and heartaches you have gone through."
"Flawed & (still) worthy"
"I am golden / A goddess / beautifully made of / atomic energy + stardust."
Broken Heals Founder + Author || Certified Coach Helping Women Transform Pain into Power || Write to Heal Email Coaching || Random Notes from a Broken Girl
When I was 23, I dated a boy who had been my best friend. As we approached our 2nd year, infidelity hit. I needed answers to my questions. Then one day my questions came to a halt. He lost it.
And over again.
His sneakers felt like a hammer being hit into my back. Every month that passed the attacks got worse.
I share my story because I know it is one that many women have experienced. I share my story because I find strength reading these words and embracing where I’ve come from. It’s our duty to ourselves to feed ourselves positive words, to show major, undying love to ourselves. I come first. I set the standard. I am not undesirable. I am growing. I am beautiful. I am resilient.
1. Take way more risks. I promised myself I was going to do one thing outside my box each month in 2016. And I did! I've had so much fun this year, made a lot of new friends, conquered some big fears and gained new confidence just by saying Yes to things I would have normally run from.
2. Negativity + People can totally block your success. I've let go of people who were simply taking up too much of my headspace. Major blessings have just continuously poured in the minute I released myself from negative energy and worry. It was like God wanted to make a point to show me "Hey I told you so!"
3. Set those goals. Pray. Work on it. And Trust it'll happen. If I showed you my goal list for 2016 about 60-70% was achieved without me realizing it. That's huge for me since I'm a major over thinker and worrier. As long as you believe in it and it's what you really want - it'll happen.
The TRUE Titan
Dale is a momtrepreneur-model-cancer-surviving-phoenix. She fought cancer while pregnant, survived and founded a top NYC modeling agency that signs models who are both kind and healthy. We are in AWE of her dedication to redefining beauty standards and her ability to juggle it all!
"Here's to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.""Every single event in life is an opportunity to choose love over fear.""Look in the mirror, that’s your competition!"
It was a matter of seconds. My doctor told me I had a tumor on my tongue. My life flashed before my eyes. I pictured my family at my funeral. Then, instantly, I stopped myself from thinking this way. I looked at my doctor and said, “This isn’t great news. But it’s good news that you found the tumor. What do we have to right now to get rid of it?”
I was a 4 months pregnant when I was diagnosed with oral cancer. After several head and neck surgeries, I’m cancer free and my baby’s growing up fast.
Before my pregnancy, I was one of fashion’s most sought after fitting models. Now I’m the Founder and CEO of TRUE Model Management. I’m looking past the bottom line to hire models who are beautiful inside and out.
At TRUE we have traditional models, but we also have plus-size talent and women over 30 working with us. We’re inclusive, and we’ve found a lot of success because of it.
TRUE has close ties with Calvin Klein, DKNY, Gap, Ralph Lauren and Victoria’s Secret. But there has to be a purpose beyond the work. Even when we connect with big companies, we try to find causes they’re passionate about and help them think about something bigger than themselves. It’s not just about a picture on Instagram that earns you a few bucks. We need more than pictures on a page. We need voices for good.
1. 10 x 3 Stretching
There are three times a day that I feel stretching or practicing 10-minutes of yoga really help me to feel more energized or relaxed – and it is exactly that dual nature of stretching and yoga that I love! I like to do slow, controlled, and strengthening yoga and relaxing stretches that help me to loosen my muscles and unwind.
2. Staying Fueled
It may sound cliché, but what you eat really can make a difference in how you feel! I find that a hearty, healthy breakfast and several nutritious snacks throughout the day help to keep me going!
3. A Change-Up
Sometimes, I find that I need a good change-up in my schedule to get me motivated and energized! Routines are great and really do help to keep me focused and motivated, but sometimes a little change can do wonders for giving new motivation and life to your day-to-day schedule.
4. Cut Down Caffeine
I know this advice seems counter-intuitive and don’t get me wrong - I love a strong, bold cup of joe! But, overdoing it with the caffeine can actually make you feel even more tired and run down! It is for this reason that you should try to limit yourself to just 1 coffee or latte in the morning.
5. Mind Over Matter
Anyone who knows me knows that I genuinely believe in the power of positive thinking! Sometimes we are our own biggest obstacle! So, the next time you feel rundown and unmotivated try repeating a positive mantra to yourself for 2 minutes each day.
The Be You Be True Supermodel
Elliott Sailors has a simple yet imperative slogan: #BeYouBeTrue. Elliott encourages her thousands of followers to embrace their true identity and demands that the brands and media that shape our perception of the world promote diversity and inclusion. An outspoken LGBTQ+ rights activist, Elliott is taking conversations surrounding gender politics to the highest echelons of the fashion industry. We are proud to support her #BeYouBeTrue movement and honored to have her wearing our Unity Band as she takes on the world.
"For me, change is comfort and stagnation is misery. Perhaps the change I have to look forward to is consistency."
"I love to see the way natural beauty evolves over time, without unnatural intervention. The beauty I value most, of course, lies within the soul."
The Self-Love Guru
Sarah is on a mission to inspire other to life their happiest, healthiest, and most badass lives from the inside out. Her belief is crystal clear -- at any age,size, or weight - and no matter how you feel you "messed up" in the past -- each day is a chance to create a life that fuels you and brings joy. And she has a few rules:
1. If you want to make a change in your life, do it from a place of massive self-love.
2. Show up for your own life and show up for others; this is how we create the good stuff.
3. "Health" does not determine self-worth.
This judgment-free, radically honest and compassionate approach to blogging has amassed Sarah a massive following of individuals eager to learn what self-love looks like to them. She runs size-inclusive events for women, and is wickedly dedicated to bringing body diversity to the wellness industry.
"I stand, you stand... and together, we rise the f*ck up."
"Life is meant to be lived. It is beautiful, messy, and colorful. It is our job to show up, live authentically, and spread the Love in whatever way we can."
"I don't care what you ate, what you weigh, or what you did last night -- every morning you wake up is an opportunity for you to grow closer to being the person you know you truly are inside; life is growth and growth is life."
In June of 2015, I sat across from my mom in the hospital while I was holding my cell phone in my hand; my father was in a different hospital a few states away at the exact same time. At nearly 360 lbs, I was unable to walk the single city block from the garage to her bedside without stopping in pain. That was the moment I knew I was going to die... but even more than that? I realized I was in the passenger seat of my own life, watching it go by. Feeling unfulfilled and unhappy. I wondered "wtf am I doing with myself?" I was a total workaholic, anxiety was my best friend, and I was strangling my personal relationships before they even began.
There was a lot I didn't know; I was so scared at the idea of doing something different with my life, almost paralyzed by the mountain of change I knew I was standing next to. So I decided I didn't have to be perfect, I didn't have to doit all. I just had to find small acts of self-love that would honor me. I had to find a way to #BeGreater every day.
Driven by nothing but blind faith and the unfaltering belief that I was worthy of feeling happier in my own life, I knew one thing -- if I was feeling this scared and crappy, that other women were as well. So I decided to talk about what it really looks like to stare fear in the eye and take control of your own life.
No glossy "before and after" pictures. No judgments. Authentic conversation. Compassion. Humor. I would settle for nothing less! And slowly but surely, I started to get really comfortable being uncomfortable. Because that's how we grow -- by sitting in our own stuff and being willing to look at it with brutal and beautiful honesty.
By sharing my journey, it was clear that other women were feeling the same and looking for something to connect to. Not a fast diet, not a slick sales pitch.Just the hope that we can love our life more if we do the hard work and show up, every day, in hundreds of unglamorous ways.
These days, my biggest passion is creating a safe space for women to look at THEIR life. If I can show one woman that she is not alone in her pain, if I can show her that she can ditch her coping mechanisms and stop using food or sex or shopping to ease the anxiety and fear --- if I can show her she isn't broken and that she is enough just as she is, then I have done my job.
I create community on and offline, through social media and conversation, and now with size-inclusive events for women focusing on self-love and, in the future, fitness and wellness for all.
My motto "I stand, you stand... and together we rise the f*ck up" is about bringing women together. Ditch the body judgment. Ditch the fear. Be willing to see what we have in common. Give love often and vulnerably. Be real. Bring people along in the journey with you. Rise the f*ck up for your own life!
Reminder. Change is change. Regardless if you are moving, going through a breakup, starting a new job, experiencing a struggle that is causing you to feel caught up in CHANGE... this is my reminder to you.
1. Eat food and drink water. Yeah, this sounds like a silly reminder, but I'm saying it just the same. Don't obsess about it, but remember that your body is deserving of fuel, and that you need fuel to function.
2. Breathe. If you are an anxious person (*cough like me*) then change can physically affect your body. You get tense and feel like you are grasping for things. Chances are, your breath is shallow and fast. Slow it down... breathing can change the entire energy of your body.
3. Ask for help. You deserve it. Never be ashamed to let others know their help is needed. Order takeout and get company while you clean your closet put... budget a tiny bit more and get some movers to help you pack for you... send out a group text and say "peeps, I love you all and I need help!" Give people a chance. They want to love you. You are not an island...
4. Adjust your expectations. Know that stuff is going to happen. Know that everything won't be perfect. Know there will be bumps. None of this is a reflection of you. None of this makes you any less worthy, or means you have failed. It is logistics and circumstance.
Here's the thing. We all go through hard stuff. These aren’t earth shattering self-care truth bombs but I am sharing them with you to remind you that we are ALL HUMAN AND WE ALL FEEL HARD STUFF. If you are going through a challenge or change right now... you aren't alone. I see you. Hang in there.
The Mental Health Makeup Maven
“You are not only starting an important dialogue about mental health, but you are also telling your friends and family that they are not alone in their struggles, and most importantly you are proving to yourself that you are one incredibly brave person.”
"Just a reminder that 'to be beautiful' means to be yourself. You don't need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself".
"Be kind to yourself & remember that you are beautiful & this extends far beyond physical appearance."
The Bionic Yogi
Sofia is a shining light: her energy radiates positivity, happiness, and serenity (plus, she looks fantastic in our Serenity Choker). Osteosarcoma forced her to replace the majority of her left leg with titanium, but that only pushed her harder to start her “Bionic Yogi” movement. We are in AWE of her inspirational lifestyle blog dedicated to getting fellow cancer survivors back to health.
"Embrace Our New Normal"
"We can do SO MUCH MORE than we give ourselves credit for. Get at it! But give yourself alllll sorts of love in the process."
"Our bodies have amazing abilities to figure out how to function even in the absence of what seems essential. Hamstrings, boobs, knees, kidneys...who needs em right?"
Can we talk about hair for a second? All I wanted for so many years was to have my long hair back and while I'm so grateful to have hair again sometimes I miss showering my bald head (when I actually made it to the shower...ha) and then throwing on the wig of my choice for the day. Am I the only one?
The Health Over Hollywood Heroine
"We will not be ashamed. We will not be made small. We will not be judged. We will not be stigmatized. We will continue showing up. And. We. Will. Recover."
"Honor the survivors in your life who may not have a typical indication of their struggle, who may not realize they’re survivors at all, or worse, may feel they’re unworthy of survival."
In an interview, i was asked where I saw myself in 5 years. I remember making up some acceptable answer but going home that night with the realization that if I got honest with myself, I knew I would have been dead in 5 years had I stayed on the path I was on. I was spiraling in depression, anxiety and eating disorders trying to become who I was told I needed to be if I wanted to work.
My entire career in Hollywood, I was sent out for roles like “hooker” or “stripper” or “hot brunette.” I felt cheap and unfulfilled. If I wasn’t comfortable, I was reminded by my agents there were hundreds of girls ready to take my place and take their clothes off if I didn’t want to work. All my value was in being thin with a stereotypically pretty face. The more weight I lost, the more bookings I gained.” Like clockwork. So I restricted calories. I took diet and caffeine pills. I lied in bed surrounded by the fast food I had just eaten, crying, then throwing it up because I couldn’t afford to gain weight from the binge.
When Robin Williams took his life in 2014, it hit me. He had what everyone in LA wants. But he still couldn’t shake his inner demons. I packed my bags, went home to Nevada, and began to focus on my health. I have taken critical steps in my recovery. And I’ve started Health Over Hollywood to help other women on a similar path.
I encourage women to choose health over damaging body standards. Over toxicity and media manipulation. Over societal pressures that sell an idea no matter how many broken bodies it leaves in its wake.
"I want girls who are angry instead of sick."-Glennon Doyle Melton
I've turned my sick into anger. I've turned my pain into truth. I've had a glimpse of a life where I MATTER and my dress size DOES NOT. And now we embark on the road forward; armed to go to battle and ready to rest when needed because this will be a long & difficult fight. Also because self care is important.
There is no backing down. There is no giving up. There is no surrendering to a society & an industry that spends billions each year to ensure we women are kept SMALL, insecure, vulnerable, in fear, and broken. Put on your gloves & lace those bitches up tight. It’s time to recover. It’s time to live on our own terms. It’s time to fight back.
I'm sorry, with all the sorry I can muster, because you deserve all the sorrys and more.
I came across some old photos this week and found myself longing for the thin, sick, bulimic version of you. For the way clothes used to fit. For the way skinny used to feel. I betrayed you, glorifying an old version of you… that externally gave agents, managers, casting directors & cameras exactly what they wanted, but inside, left you sick, broken and fighting to live.The forgiveness you've shown me by allowing me recovery is so valued; I promise I have your best interest in mind, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.I will to continue caring for you to the best of my ability and continue doing better as I learn how.
I'll never view our past with rose colored glasses again; eyes blind to the sickness you were so tirelessly fighting yet focused on the size of your waist.The problem is not you, the problem has never been you, last year, last night, or tomorrow. You are beautiful and capable and strong and worthy, just as you are, at this moment. You allow me to walk and run and snowshoe and dance, to meditate and breathe and seek spirituality.
You let me weep, hurt, heal, stand back up, and rest at the end of the cycle. I see and smell and hear and taste and touch - all thanks to you.You are everything you are supposed to be.
Thank you for your patience while I learn to truly see you.I love you.
The East Bay Dreamers
"It's crazy to watch dreams become reality. You've gotta keep pushing and never stop doing anything that you love."
"We aim to kill anything that gets put in front of us !!! We are never gonna stop pursuing our dreams!!! #hustle #hungry #motivation #success."
"So proud of everything that I came from. I was raised well but I am thankful for every opportunity that has come my way."
Victoria walked up to me in a bar and told me I was perfect for a TV show she was on. No way this was real. Next thing I knew, my twin brother and I were shooting a pilot.
Growing up was great, even if we were less than lucky. Our mother, Yvonne, is number one in our lives and we were always “three the hard way.”
When we were five, our mom woke us up crying. She said our dad was just murdered. Our only memories of him are shoulder rides and wrestling.
Another person named Bill became the man in our lives for six years and taught us manners and football. He slipped carrying a water jug and spent his days on an air mattress because of his back. Our mom found him dead next to that mattress one day. We were so devastated we missed two weeks of school. It was hard to pick up the pieces.
At 24, we were struggling. My mom quit her job and we were unemployed. We received a month notice because we couldn’t pay our rent. We decided to move to NYC to make it as actors and models.
We signed to an agency but it wasn’t easy finding work. We stood in our Calvins in Time Square trying to make money. The first place we could afford in the Bronx had bullet holes in the front door.
But the risk paid off. The pilot turned into a show on WE tv called “Hustle & Soul.” We both have commercials and print work everywhere. We have been through it all and we are getting through it each and every day.
We take nothing for granted.
Dom to Stef: I love my brother more than anything!! We are best friends forever no matter what!! No one will ever change that. Love you SD.***Stef to Dom: My bro really killed it the end of this year has huge work coming to a screen near you!***Dom to Stef: I love my bro to the moon and back!!!!!! We know why we came to #nyc LET'S FINISH WHAT WE CAME HERE FOR!***Stef to Dom: Just wanna say congrats to my #bigtwinbro have a safe flight and kill it on the set???????? British ???? territory be safe love you I'll hold it down in #nyc***Dom to Stef: Feels great to be reunited w/ my bro!!! @sddaboss it's been like 2 weeks since I've seen you!!! Can't be doing that shit!! We are out here together!!!! Love you??***Stef to Dom: I just wanna say #congrats to my big bro @dominic_d5 for booking a bundle of jobs these past couple of months seriously it's all about patience keep it up you are about to have a blast out of the country for a bit. I'm gonna try and visit haha but let's get this on Friday boiiiiii love you!!!
"If you have a dream... make it a reality! Don't ever let anyone tell you different. All we can say is we're thankful for everything that is happening!"
The Ehlers Danlos Thriver
"I aim to break society’s transparent barriers of perfection. Barriers that subliminally tell us all to be perfect in all aspects of life, work, social and personal interactions,"
"It is the imperfection that makes us perfect and is where true beauty lies. A reminder we all need: love your body, love yourself, be gentle with your body, be gentle with yourself."
"Each imperfection you have is individual to you, and it tells a story about you and who you are, and the struggle and the journey that you have been on."
On March 15th, The Ehlers Danlos 2017 International Classification Convention took place, where many advocates and individuals who suffer with EDS, were able to connect on the criteria for diagnosing multiple EDS types. This was the first convention that was held since 1997! This fact, among many others, opened my eyes to the lack of information, and resources, that are available to me and my fellow warriors.
With my picture you can clearly see the discrepancies EDS has caused within my skin, & why I choose to model with my specific type, as a way to raise awareness for all forms of Ehlers Danlos. "Ehlers-Danlos syndromes are a group of connective tissue disorders that can be inherited and are varied both in how affect the body and in their genetic causes. They are generally characterized by joint hypermobility (joints that stretch further than normal), skin hyperextensibility (skin that can be stretched further than normal), and tissue fragility. The Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS) are currently classified into thirteen sub-types. Each EDS sub-type has a set of clinical criteria that help guide diagnosis; a patient’s physical signs and symptoms will be matched up to the major and minor criteria to identify the subtype that is the most complete fit."
Id like to thank you all for your love and support, my determination and strength would not be what it is if it wasn't for all of you. "Dazzle Together. We are stronger when we combine our stripes to dazzle." Dazzle : The collective noun for Zebras or a group or herd.
These past 6 months have been eye opening, blessings on blessings, lots of tears and struggle, but most of all its been one amazing journey. I am beyond blessed for the REAL friends I have within my life and am blessed to be on a such a journey with such never ending amazingg support. My vision is more clear than ever, & if I catch one bad vibe I'm out - applicable to atmosphere and individulas. I now know the difference between friends and acquaintances, & moving forward will be sure to not confuse the two. For those who have stood by me I know who the real are & I lovee you all, & this wouldn't have been possible with out all of you. For those that don't, I wish you nothing but the best in this life.
P.S. God created all things to grow.
The Amplified Soul
"Don’t wait for your dream to be a regret. Make it your reality."
"Your soul knows what it needs and wants. Give it that, and stop settling for anything else."
“Why me?” I found myself singing this same familiar song as I sank into the deepest rock-bottom moment of my life in 2012. Nothing felt right. In fact, everything felt miserable. A cheating partner, crippling anxiety, destructive depression, and a deep addiction to drugs and alcohol… an addiction I failed to recognize.
As I lay there on the floor... sobbing, heaving… the truth finally dawned on me. I created this life. Every single choice that lead me to this rock-bottom moment, was a choice that I made. I chose the abusive relationships, the drugs, the alcohol, and the misery. I chose it all. It was through this realization that I discovered a major epiphany… If I had the power to create these misery-inducing choices, I also had the power to create different choices. And I was ready to experience something different.
I began my journey right there and then by making a commitment to myself. … and it all began with self-love.
The journey wasn’t a straight-shot. I made a lot of mistakes and experienced a ton of set-backs due to my habit of poor decision making. I realized that my actions were based on my sense of self-worth, and I was determined more than ever to boost my worth. But that didn’t happen until I experienced a major step backwards… I was high at an after-hours club and fainted. I ended up with a concussion, followed by post-concussion syndrome. I slipped into a manic-depressive state and was diagnosed with nerve damage in my brain. That was my wake-up call. I knew I couldn’t hide from myself or my pain anymore. I made the decision to go all in.
No more excuses. No more bullshit. No more half-assed attempts at changing my life. I committed to doing whatever the f*ck it took to design a life I truly loved.
I dropped the drugs. I let go of my toxic habits and friendships. I began to prioritize myself, my needs, and my health. And I soon found myself falling in love with an incredible, miracle of a man.
My entire life has changed. And I created this by tapping into my own power, realizing my worth, and radically boosting self-love.
Today, I dedicate my life to igniting others to tap into their true power; their limitless power. I’m a straight-up, bold and fearless coach with a dynamic no-bullshit approach that helps people create massive change. I get it now… I understand that every single experience in my life serves a higher purpose, and that purpose is to do the work that I do now.
I have zero regrets… only gratitude for the lessons that I’ve learned.
This is a message for those of you who are determined to rise up and experience your true potential...
You're tired of playing small.
You're tired of shoving your dreams aside due to fear.
You're tired of giving into your limits.
And you're ready for something different...
You're seeking change, and I can help.
I want to help you jump out of your comfort zone and into your dreams.
I want to help you conquer your fears and show up bigger and bolder in your life, relationships, and career.
I want to help you push through your limits and go after the big things you've been afraid to go after.
Since #AmplifiedSoulLive ended, I've been told by many people that I changed the lives of everyone in that room. I've been contemplating all day, and here's what's come up for me...
THEY did the work.
Every single person in that room did the fucking work, made shit happen, and created massive changes in their lives. I cannot take credit for that.
I am an igniter of inner power and a catalyst for change... but I do not create change in others... they create change in their own lives.
The souls in that room blew my fucking mind. It was so divinely planned. Every single person who was there, was meant to be there.
I witnessed souls conquering their bullshit.
I witnessed souls getting clear on their visions.
I witnessed souls playing BIG AF.
I witnessed souls creating massive breakthroughs.
I witnessed souls rising into their true power.
And I witnessed souls saying FUCK YES to their lives!
This is what life is about...
Growth. Change. Transformation. And purpose.
I am so grateful to have crossed paths with my beautiful #AmplifiedTribe! Thank you Universe for blessing me with this very important purpose.
The Relentless Warrior
Tamara is a miracle: she’s survived 2 near-fatal car accidents and is more empowered than ever. She’s building a movement to empower other “women on wheels” by reporting on their stories through her project “See Beyond”. We are in AWE of her optimistic worldview, her fierce style, and the strength she radiates to her community of supporters.
"Don't ever acquire the victim role because WE are NOT VICTIMS. WE ARE FIGHTERS and WE FIGHT FOR WHAT WE WANT and for what we want to see in our life!""ONE SIMPLE THING: If you see us as "disabled" and unable, please look into all of our profiles and find out everything we all do! *We are ABLE of so much! We just do things differently ;)."
God 1st || G20 Summit Speaker || Host || Model--NYFW || Speaker || Influencer || Bilingual || B.A. in Communications || Host&Producer @seebeyondtv || Fashion/Beauty || Youtuber || Cosmo Fun and Fearless Latina
I had the perfect story to victimize myself. It’s how they talked about me on TV: “19 years old, freaky taxi-horse collision, spinal-cord injury, paralyzed from chest down, dead boyfriend.” It was the perfect story, but it was not how I chose to tell it. I was not a victim. I was a miracle.I was a miracle because I survived not one but two car accidents that should have killed me. So I chose to live my life as a survivor, achieve my dreams, and empower others to do the same.Since my accident, I graduated from college, a goal I had as a little girl. I received highest honors and gave CSUS’s commencement speech in front of 10,000 people. And I’ve learned to accept my new body and image, a process that was not easy. But that process led me to the runway at NY’s Mercedes Benz Fashion week and to the stage of Nuestra Belleza Latina as the pageant’s first and only contestant in a wheelchair.My next dream is to become a host and interviewer. I recently produced seven videos for “See Beyond,” a project I started to make that dream a reality. Some things will never make sense. But life’s not about things making sense. It’s about the meaning you create, what YOU decide to make of it.
I don't know how all of you moms out there do it, but especially those mommies on wheels! It made me wonder, what are cool little tricks out there for moms who happen to be on wheels to help them be as independent as possible with their babies? Sure a lot of things will be difficult but a lot of those can probably be adapted! I don't know what God has in store for me in the future, but it made me wonder what you ladies have learned, being in a wheelchair?To all mommies out there, keep being awesome and don't take things you can do with your child for granted! After becoming injured, I remember no longer feeling like I would become the independent mom I had imagined myself being – the super active, always on the go mom. It took some time to see myself in a different light and to see me being valuable to a child, as a mom in a wheelchair. I had to in a way to let go of the old me, the image I had of myself as a fully abled mom & accept the new me and accept that I might need help with certain things but that shouldn't make me less of a mom or a person. Just a different type of mom. Plus kids are so smart and they just know, adapt and understand more than we think sometimes!
Little did I know what I was about to face the night I got injured…the night that changed my life forever, but also the night that granted me the OPPORTUNITY and BLESSING to be a SURVIVOR in life!! The night I will always thank God for saving me. And the night I will also thank Patrick, for loving and protecting me unconditionally, for saving my life with his arms. He was my angel and I will always remember him! My lifelong goal was graduating from college! But it was never easy to accomplish... I had a LOT of bumps on the road. Even when I had a tragic car accident at the age of 19, I didn't give up and moved forward with those goals, now on two wheels :). I graduated with the highest honors in communication, Summa Cum Laude, awarded as the first commencement speaker in a wheelchair,at CSU Stanislaus, and also received the most prestigious award, selected out of all the graduates! It's just honestly one of the greatest days of my life ever! All my work paid off with all the awards I received! I felt like I was dreaming! It wasn't easy going back to school after I was injured, for sooo many reasons. During my undergrad I was hospitalized several times in ICU and I still graduated with the highest honors! But whatever you set your mind to, you can accomplish it with determination, faith and hard work! It was so amazing delivering a speech in front of 10,0000 people and to receive a huge standing ovation! Never give up on your dreams, whatever those might be, keep pushing always!! You can do anything! And always be proud of who YOU are, your roots and your journey!
The Scarred Survivor
"Every morning you have two choices: continue to sleep with your dreams, or wake up and chase them."
"Dream big and start NOW; Keep positive and keep pushing; No shortcuts, just hard work and fighting; Never give up no matter what."
Cancer Survivor || Cancer-free for 13 years! || Actor/Producer || Innovative Artists/The Katz Company
I was diagnosed with cancer when I was only 16. I was finally declared cancer free after years of chemotherapy and extensive surgeries. I used my newfound survivor tenacity to achieve a successful acting and modeling career. I have worked with the likes of Ashton Kutcher Productions, Amazon Studios, Netflix and Starz and can be seen as a guest star on NBC’s “The Blacklist.” I am signed to Wilhelmina Models and am represented by The Katz Company and Innovative Artists. I hope to inspire other survivors to use their drive to survive to empower their careers, their fitness goals, and improve the world.
The Fearless Fashionista
"You can wear all the greatest clothes and shoes but you need a good spirit inside. Then you’ll rock the world."
"Just a reminder that mammogramming your boobs is more important than instagramming them."
"Even when you’re going through a medical crisis, you can still be you."
My faith was strong, but that doesn’t mean the journey was easy. I needed a double mastectomy, 4 chemo sessions and 26 rounds of radiation.
And my hair! It sounds superficial, but I have to say it. I loved my hair. It was my signature. When I lost it, it was like I’d lost all my femininity.
But after all of it, I’m cancer free. I’m healthy! And my hair has grown back fuller and better. I run The Middle Page, a fashion blog I started two months before my diagnosis that’s still going strong. I make sure my readers know I’m a breast cancer survivor. It’s a privilege to help other women going through the same battle. I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone else’s, and I want other women to feel the same way.
"While those wrinkles and lines are hard to acknowledge sometimes, they are reminders to me about how wonderful life is. They have come from giving birth, raising children, battling breast cancer, and loving little grand children. I am definitely more comfortable in my skin and am not afraid of taking chances with life or lipstick!"
The Mighty Mini Yogini
"I am not my body, I am not my thoughts, I am not my emotions… I’m still learning who I really am."
"Babe you have breast cancer" were my husband’s words. I was numb. I had suffered so much already. I couldn't wrap my mind around the simple fact that I was about to be tested in such an insidious way. It all seemed surreal. I closed my eyes and opened them again. It wasn't a dream. That was my lowest moment. The putrid fear was overwhelming. It scarred me to my soul.
But the turning point came quickly. I decided within the first week to document my journey and share it with the world. The idea of using my cancer to help others gave me more strength than words can describe. From that day forward cancer was in for a fight!
The day I finished my treatment and was cleared by my doctors was one of the greatest days of my life. I wasn't going to die. I was going to live to raise my children. I was going to live and love my husband. It was like bathing in sunlight. It was glorious!
Fast forward to today. I am blessed to be a wellness guide on www.oneOeight.com and share my yoga teachings with people all over the world. I am a mother and wife, and that is reward enough. Cancer taught me to stop and be kind. It showed me I was powerful. I learned serving others was the only life that could possibly satisfy me now. Selfish thoughts fell away. They were replaced with serenity and peace.
"You have breast cancer."I will never forget the day those words came out of Gerald’s mouth. I think about them often, not in a sad way, but in an empowering way. When I look in the mirror and I see my scars from all 26 surgeries it reminds me that I am a badass woman. Cancer was a gift that allowed me to meet amazing people. As blessed as I feel to have survived I know how much I needed the support of my friends and family. Thank you to my social media fam for empowering me and making me stronger. You all have played a huge role in my recovery physically and mentally. We hear very often how social media is negative so it's nice to share with the world that sometimes it helps some people. Today my ex-sister-in-law and dear friend Dawn is starting chemo to begin her battle with cancer. I want to ask you to please send a prayer and good vibes her way.
The Girl With the World Painted On Her Body
Ash's body is a work of art. She grew to see her vitiligo patches not as imperfections to cover up, but as beauty marks to celebrate and embellish with paint. As a result, she has become an icon for the vitiligo and body-positive community; photos of her artwork on Instagram gain thousands of likes and empower others to feel beautiful in their skin. We are in AWE of her artistry and bravery as she shows the world the beauty in letting our differences shine.
"In the beginning, I used makeup to cover up my vitiligo. It was another way to hide my differences. When I accepted my condition, however, my makeup took on a whole new meaning. It was a way to express myself through a form of art."
"Don't let your vitiligo stop you from ANYTHING. Achieve your dreams and reach for the stars. Never stop fighting for the "self love" you deserve."
"That beautiful person in the mirror is so strong, maybe their fire is slowly diminishing but it's not out yet. Don't give up. Ignite that fire within you."
Latina || Self love and mental health enthusiast || Body artist || Social media influencer|| Empowerment to ALL ||Your body is a canvas, and it's okay to be painted differently
I was diagnosed with vitiligo at the age of 12 and it was one of the hardest things I ever had to face in my life. Being so young it was hard for me to understand as to why this was happening to me? I couldn't comprehend it. It was a dark time for me from that outgoing and funny girl who loved the outdoors and just living life to a shell of a person. My condition caused me to hide and to feel the worst of the worst self hatred for myself. Being afraid to go outside and have people judge me for something I couldn't control made me so unhappy and miserable. I didn't realize that my condition would control me the way it did. Being made fun of daily at school and crying in room most of the time was something I didn't want to do anymore.I knew that I didn't want to let my skin control or define how I was going to live my life so I switched it around doing little challenges like going outside with a tank top or just reminding myself that I am enough and being kind to my mind. Not letting those negative thoughts control me. My perspective has changed so much since I started doing art. I embrace my skin to the fullest and I'm so happy that I went through the obstacles that I went through because I wouldn't be the strong woman I am today.
My skin is a representation of the struggles I've gone through and tells my story. The art I do is a way to show you that we are art in every way. I promise there is always a positive way at looking at life, it's so easy to let things that we truly have no control over define us. This project to me shows others that what we may perceive as imperfect or ugly is actually what sets you apart and makes you unique,beautiful, and exquisite. I want you to know that if I can do it, you can do it also. I'm now a happy confident girl who tries to live my life to the fullest everyday and no I am in no way perfect and I have my bad days too but I'm working on myself and still learning. It's important to keep yourself empowered. Be kind to your mind. If you would have told me years ago if I would be doing what I'm doing? I'd probably think you're insane but look at me now.Helping you is the most exhilarating feeling and making in impact in your life is what I strive for by promoting others to love themselves exactly the way they were designed through body art.
"Believe in yourself and never back down because your body is yours.""Food is Love. Love your food people.""Live courageously, eat real foods, keep exercising, love your bodies, keep dreaming, believe in yourself, inspire & help others."
The Marked Beauty
Elly is one to watch. She was already a successful model when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She documented her journey online, gained an inspired following, and continues to celebrate her survivorship by proudly baring her scars beauty marks on camera. We are in AWE of her optimism and love of life, and are humbled to have her wearing our Inspiration Choker.
"The way you are describing your life is the way it is manifesting."
"One thing I ask is for you to not feel sorry for me. I don't feel sorry for myself. I have lived a life I love and will continue to do so for however long I walk this earth. I am aware of my eventual demise, but are you?"
"Are you living the life you want?"
"Do you see any scars? Neither do I.. I see a beauty mark, given to me when I was reborn."
"Things tend to work themselves out.. unless your headphones are tangled."
"Find your fuel"
"I am choosing happiness over suffering. I suggest you try and do the same."
The tagline read: “Whether you are training for a marathon or killing cancer’s butt, you need great support.” The model was in a sports bra. A scar ran down her torso and she had no hair. It was me, and I was beautiful.
When I took that picture, I didn’t know whether I’d survive to see the end of the month. At 25, after landing my dream job as a flight attendant, I was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer. The prognosis wasn’t good. It would’ve been easy to curl up and retreat from public life. But I refused to give in.
I forged ahead and posed in more shoots, bald and scarred and fabulous. I made it through my first difficult year and ended up with over 500k supporters on social media. Raised in a tiny Canadian town of 50 people, I’ve now traveled to Australia, Montreal, San Francisco and New York and just signed with Dorothy Combs Models.
I didn’t know if I would make it through my first year or not. But I knew my images would last forever. That they would inspire other cancer fighters to keep their heads up high. You can be beautiful, even when you are going through hell.
When people see my figure they some times say "I wish I had your body" this sentence makes me cringe. I completely understand it is meant only as a compliment, and for the other 99% of population, it would be taken exactly as that. To me, it is a reminder that sometimes illnesses are invisible. It makes me want to tell them my story, all the things this body has made me go through, the needles, the pain and the frustration I've felt because of this body... would they still want it? Would they take it back upon seeing my scars? Or knowing I can't give birth? Maybe they would.Be kind to everyone you meet. Although some problems are more important than others, Everyone has something that isn't "perfect."
The Gold-Medal Gazelle
Hunter isn’t satisfied with being the best amputee runner. He is determined to be the best runner, period. He’s a hugely decorated athlete, with World and Paralympic titles, and he’s only about to graduate high school. We are in AWE of his dedication and inspiring achievements.
"They told me I could never walk, so I learned to run instead!"
"Life is short... Running makes it feel longer."
God First || Track and Field Athlete || Motivational Speaker || They told me I would never walk, so I learned to run instead.
"Never satisfied, always thankful!"
"Stay composed, stay focused, stay winning."
Gabrielle survived leukemia, founded a hugely successful all-natural beauty company, and blogs for the Huffington Post all before she turned 18. She’s truly unstoppable: we are so excited to see how she continues to build a career on inspiring others and are thrilled to have her wearing our Transformation Necklace.
"It's important to remember that people are people and no one is perfect! We are messy, broken and sometimes we fail! God understands we are not perfect so he has given us the gift of grace!"
"If you get the chance I hope your dance and always feel small when you stand beside the ocean."
"Simple things like being able to speak, walk, breath and wake up each day are huge gifts to be appreciated."
We were supposed to go on a trip to Hawaii. The doctor sat by my bed, though, and told me I couldn’t go because I was very sick. At age 10, I had just been diagnosed with leukemia that had spread to my liver. I was so angry I couldn’t go to Hawaii, but I had no idea what kind of journey lay ahead of me.I spent two and a half years battling cancer. I never thought of the alternative to not surviving. I remember countless nights in the hospital dreaming about the day I could go back to school, play sports and be “normal” again.During my chemotherapy, I made close friends. Some of my closest friends I lost. But the impact they left on the world and me is great. So I chose to turn my experience into a positive story I could share.I have been cancer-free now for 6 years. I’m a blogger for the Huffington Post. I founded the Frosting Company, a natural bath and beauty line selling online and in select Whole Foods locations. My sister Brittney and I bring celebrities to visit hospitals. I’m currently in the process of writing a book about my story. And I’m still a teenager!Being a survivor has taught me to live life to the fullest. I live a clean, healthy lifestyle. I appreciate the little things. I smile about everything and know how blessed I really am. And I always want to help others to live the same way.
"Life is not about what happens to you it is about what you make out of every situation!"
The Atomic Activist
"Dear Higher Power, Grant me the serenity of kicking some butt today and karate chop anyone slowing down my train of awesome! Amen" #mondaymotivation
"If you're not inspiring, you're doing it wrong." #thenextgen
HIV Activist & LGBT Advocate || Storyteller & Gummy Bear Aficionado || Chicago Top 30 Under 30 LGBT Leader || Honor41 LGBT Latinx Leader Award
After watching my partner be diagnosed with HIV, I noticed an unsettling absence of HIV negative young people advocating for HIV/AIDS awareness. So I dedicated my life to HIV education, PrEP, and transgender health equality.
For the past six years I’ve worked alongside people ready to end the AIDS epidemic for good. I also work to reduce the stigma around HIV, especially among young men who have sex with me. I’ve been featured on the CDC’s latest #DoingIt campaign, Ambiente Magazine, South Florida Gay News and Anderson Cooper LIVE!
I have recently funded #TheNextGen scholarship, designed to bring exposure to groundbreaking young voices to a domestic conference of their choice. The scholarship recipients will not only be provided with financial support, I’ve pledge to give them hands on mentorship on how to prepare for and network at their conference.
Self Care Shouldn’t Be A Reward…. But Should Be Routine…I am an exhausted advocate and social worker. Have a seat next to the hundreds of thousands of people like us who are burned out.Chances are you’re overwhelmed at life work. You have a ton of projects piling up at home, and your calendar is packed with overdue tasks. To make room for all of this stuff, you skip lunch, stop going to the gym, and forget about your social life entirely. When we’re stressed, self care is usually the first thing to go. And that only makes things worse.Take the ongoing battle for human rights, for instance, since we may have a long one ahead of us. In the months and years ahead, we will need to protest unjust policies, defend the vulnerable, donate time and money to Black Lives Matter and Planned Parenthood, and support politicians and legislation and organizations that promote the common good. But if we neglect ourselves, how will we do any of that? How will we possibly help?Self-care is not as easy as it sounds. It’s not just painting your toenails when you’re having a rough day. In her book From Coping to Thriving: How to Turn Self-Care Into A Way of Life, author Hannah Braime defines self-care as “behaviors that serve our emotional and physical health over the short-term and the long-term.” I would add that it also means reckoning honestly with yourself.Self-care is an essential social work survival skill. Self-care refers to activities and practices that we can engage in on a regular basis to reduce stress and maintain and enhance our short- and longer-term health and well-being. Self-care is necessary for your effectiveness and success in honoring your professional and personal commitments.Taking care of yourself is not actually a new thing, nor is the idea that you may sometimes need to be reminded to do so. Just think of all the people on makeover-shows past who were told, “You spend so much time taking care of other people, it’s time to do something *for yourself.”Remember, by being your best self you’re able to share those beautiful feelings with those around you. Search for the good, share your peace, and watch the positivity grow.
"There is nothing more dangerous than a man with a vision and an insatiable drive to succeed."
"I think of myself as a conduit for creative disruption."
"To pursue what’s never been achieved takes courage to persevere through a sea of “no’s” and “can’t be done’s.” The key: recognizing the only “yes” you need comes from within."
They sent an e-mail to the little kids I coached that I would kill their parents with an automatic rifle. They shot a metal ball bearing through my living room window that nearly killed me. They spray painted my car and trashed my home with eggs, toilet paper, bleach, you name it. They tried to crush me. But they made me invincible instead.
I think of my high school bullies the way I think of flu shots. They were a small dose of concentrated suffering that made me immune to any challenge I might face in the future. Without their actions, I don’t know that I would be the man I am today.
I’m the founder and CEO of my own menswear company, Rob McAllan, and a Class of 2016 GQ Insider. As a side-effect of handling hostility, I’ve learned to see past the surface and dig into the innermost layers that companies I’m consulting for rarely notice.
I also have an incredible family I call every night on my way home to my beautiful girlfriend and our little 7-month-old pup, Murphy. I have joy and balance every day in NYC. And I keep a coffee meeting slot open every morning to mentor students.
When I think back on my bullies, I feel sorry for what they must have been going through. And I thank them for making me the invulnerable man I am today.
A C T I O N is the key differentiator between wanting greatness and achieving it. Tell me your dreams and I'll ask "what's stopping you from doing something about it right now, right this very second?" Tomorrow is intangible, we can't change what's to come without focusing on what's right within our grasp today. Will you sit back and wait for that perfect opportunity that may never come, or say yes to that voice inside that's yelling out "GO!" The choice is up to you.
The Bionic Actress
Angel is about to become a household name, we know it!! Hollywood is finally starting to embrace our beloved Bionic Actress, who has become an icon and inspiration for the amputee community (hence why her Inspiration Choker is so fitting!). We are in AWE of her infectious smile, her pure kindness, and her trailblazer attitude.
"I survive everyday in a world that wasn’t designed for me.""Live your life the way you want to live it #bodyhacker #cyborg.""Ten fingers are overrated! You are capable & all you need is to put in the time & work to 'figure it out.'"
Louisiana Actress || Congenital Amputee || Youngest Bionic Arm User || Public Speaker || Psychology Grad Student || 13th Gate Scare Actor || White Rabbit Project || The Hunger Games || Rep'd by KMRtalent
I was born without a left arm below my elbow (technically, I’m a Congenital Amputee). I am a pioneer in the bionic prosthetics community, often demoing new robotic arms in early trials. I am also an actress with a quickly rising star, a philanthropist, and an icon in the amputee community. For years, I have fought against Hollywood stereotypes while searching for on-screen roles. But in the past year alone, I have filmed 2 national commercials (one of which aired at the Super Bowl), the Netflix Show “The White Rabbit Project,” and I’ll be seen in the upcoming major motion picture Speech & Debate in theaters this April.
I’m an advocate for the Amputee Coalition and a representative of the Lucky Fin Project, two organizations that empower young amputees to live dynamic lives. I try to live my life showing people that differences are important and what make the world great! Every day we survive in this world making choices—whether in our behavior or attitude—and it’s important to work to make brave choices. The ones that seem scary are probably the right ones that let us go on making the most of our lives.
Yesterday was a first for me. It was the first time I went to an audition not wearing my prosthesis - without the role calling for me to be an #amputee. I read the sides/script for the audition and I realized my #bionic arm wouldn't fit into the film. I started thinking about how hiding my cosmetic arm/lack of an arm would be difficult with the plot of the film. I thought maybe I don't need to go to this audition.But then it occurred to me, why couldn't this character have one arm? I've been saying this in interviews for months now but I hadn't gone for it. I keep saying I want to eventually be able to walk into a casting for a 20 something female and not have a prosthesis on (or have on my bionic arm) and have it be okay with the director/casting director - because we exist. The character having one arm wasn't going to change who she was or her goals in the film so I thought, I'm going to do this. I'm going to admit, I was a little nervous. On top of having to remember my dialogue and concentrate on the character - I was thinking about how they were going to acknowledge, or in this case ignore, my arm. Everything went like a normal audition. No one even glanced at my little arm. I guess that could be a good thing but honestly I felt like it was okay to be acknowledged. I'm not embarrassed or ashamed and I'll explain my reasoning to anyone who is interested. I'm glad I did this and even if I don't get the part in the end - I'll definitely be auditioning armless again if I feel it works with the role :)
Just to clarify, I'm missing my LEFT hand and front-facing cameras reverse images. The "her missing hand keeps changing" comments are cracking me up. ALSO follow up answer to the popular inevitable 360° wrist rotation question. Yes, I can screw in lightbulbs and screws with it!
Fatima is surviving an invisible illness every single day. That doesn’t stop her from building a personal training business, chasing her modeling dreams, and making documentary films. We are in AWE of her daily resilience: she’s a fighter you don’t want to mess with!
"I don’t worry about what fulfills another person. The smallest thing could fulfill me for one day."
"My surface is vague. My mind and spirit are full of so much more."
"I use every bit of strength I have within my body and fight against this syndrome."
You see it all the time. A woman on TV goes into a panic, faints, then poof! Friends are fanning her face until she gets back up. Like its nothing.
For me, it was far from nothing. On August 12, 2012, when I suffered a head injury after fainting, my life changed forever. I was left with post-concussion syndrome. Four years later, I still have throbbing headaches and I’m sensitive to noise and light. Not to mention the mental battles.
For the first two and a half years I let my life dwindle away. Now I use every bit of strength I have in my body to fight this syndrome.
I’ve decided to pay attention everyday to my mind, spirit, and body. And I empower others to do the same as a certified professional trainer. I’m still freelancing as a model and I can’t wait to get signed to an agency again. Plus I’m working on a documentary to shed light on invisible illnesses.
It’s a lot to take on with PCS. My faith has been tested. My friendships, purpose in life and patience have been tested. But they’ve all been strengthened too. I might be living with PCS, but I’m also living strong.
My intentions are pure & my character shows that to be true. If you choose to only focus on the layer of the skin; whether it be the color of it or the look of it, you have a very narrow mind because there is much depth to the soul beyond the flesh. So I'm not scared to post this photo anymore. #indiginous #indigenouswomenrise #primal #bodyscapes #physique #female #anatomy
The Purple Winged Phoenix
"Take charge of your life, and demand joy. It is your right to have joy and peace."
"When you use your voice, you give others permission to use theirs."
"Respect the fact that you’re still standing. There is peace in that."
I walked in a woman with a newfound sense of hope. I walked out a broken soul. A sex slave.
My father, a Vietnam veteran, took his PTSD symptoms out on my mother. Still caught up in the cycle of domestic abuse, I dated and married men who beat and raped me. Sexual violence was not new to me. As a single mother, I worked as an exotic dancer and escort.
When I moved to Memphis, I decided to start over. Then I met two men outside of a club and followed them to a breakfast diner. There, one of them pressed his cold gun into my thigh. That night, I began my brief stint in hell.
As a sex slave I was stalked, threatened and raped daily by my guerilla pimp. I begged for death. I thought God hated me, but God had another plan.
I stood up to my pimp. I told him he could kill me but I would never sell myself again. Surprisingly, he let me go.
I promised if I was saved I would help save others. So I shared my story in a TEDx talk. I recently published The Green Light of Forgiveness, a meditation on how to forgive others to take full control of your own life. And I founded the Purple W.I.N.G.S. Organization which mentors women and girls who have been sexually assaulted, abused, trafficked or stalked.
I have torn off my mask of shame and guilt. I am survivor. And I am finally living.
People look at me, and immediately feel calm and become soothed by my aura. I am thankful for this. However, they don't know the work that it takes to achieve this peace. They are only aware of the outcome. Silence and alone time is my companion. It is when I am open to receive my missions, creativity, and direct connection with the divine.
So when you are in awe of someone’s ability to be calm in this storm we call life; think about the work it took for them to build their raft of survival.
Loving a wild woman is difficult because she can't be tamed. She is confident in who and what she is and doesn't need you to tell her. She is fiercely independent as the leader of her pack but desires to be led by a strong King.
What worked with other Lionesses won't work with her because after all she taught them.
You mustn't be timid, or beat around the bush. She needs it direct, and honest. At any time if she smells fear, apprehension, or the playing of games, you've lost her.
Be prepared to love this free spirit unconditionally, and you'll receive so much love and respect in return.
The Vogue Icon
"Built to inspire; work in silence, let success be your noise."
"If you don’t tell your story right, someone else will tell it wrong"
Born and raised in Harlem, I’ve dedicated my life to dance. At a young age I ran away from an abusive home where I was deprived of food and education and beaten regularly. I found solace in the Village where members of the thriving LGBT community took me and my brother in. I learned the art of Vogueing, a form of dance that displays the contours of the body through enhanced flexibility and finesse. I was deemed a legendary ICON in the underground “Ballroom” community and founded the first ever Vogue Dance company “Vogue Evolution,” whose mission is to spread messages of social justice and HIV prevention through Vogueing.Throughout my career, I have choreographed for music industry icons including Ashanti, Shaggy, Remy Martin, Fergie and Mariah Carey. I travel internationally teaching Master Classes and advocating for HIV education and prevention. My goal is to inspire others to relentlessly embrace any obstacle that comes their way.
I may cry because I have smiled. I can run because I have walked. I will give because there was a time that I had stolen. I will learn because I am willing to teach. I will heal someone because I have hurt someone. I will share for those that has taken from me. I will give because there maybe a time that I cannot. I will guide because I will follow. I am standing because I have fought. I know forgiveness because I have lied. I will receive because I am worth it.I will live because I have survived. I will die one day because I HAVE LIVED.In order to know who I am, I must experience what I am not. In order to be the light, one must know the dark.
People always ask me if I am in a relationship or am I not. A very general question expecting a personal answer. All there is outside of me are relationships. I tell you this... When my mind desires relationship, I call that companionship. When my body desires relationship. That's called sexuality. When my emotion desires relationship, I call that Love. When my energy desires relationship. I call that Unity or yoga. When I experience all four. I am deep in it.Now the accurate question wouldn't be question of relationship but in whom do I place my desires and are they fulfilled?
The Unreckonable Force
An ACE score of 10, an abusive childhood, and a disease that could have ended her life. Instead, Victoria has transformed into a mentor, therapist, and leader for others battling PTSD and mental illness, giving back however she can. We are in AWE of her ability to heal herself and others, and thank her for wearing our Transformation Necklace, which commemorates the events that have shaped her into the thriver she is today.
"My body is a space where wars have occurred, ones I've both lost and won. My body is not here to be sexualized; it's here to be honored for putting up one hell of a fight."
"I heard something today that made a lot of sense about the human condition and simultaneously made me chuckle: the truth always liberates us, but first it usually pisses us off."
"A year from now, you will have wished you already started. So start now."
STL || Healing Arts Director at TINSTL || Self-Care Coach || Integrative Therapist || Writer || Survivor || Stories in Healing, Transparency, & When Life Hits the Fan || Stay Weird
The battle wasn’t easy. I’m a survivor of Addison’s disease, domestic violence, childhood neglect and sexual assault. My ACE score is 10. I learned to sleep on top of my mom when I was 3 to protect her. I shared a lot of time with strangers who babysat me. Some were very abusive.
My hard working immigrant parents tried to create a life for us, but their marriage imploded. My father was thrown into prison despite his deteriorating mental health. My resilient mother was left to pick up the pieces. In my early twenties, my health greatly declined and I contemplated ending my life until I was diagnosed with addison's disease and complex PTSD.
I posted a vulnerable picture on Instagram and that was a turning point. True healing started when I realized I wasn’t alone. I have picked up the pieces, built a spectacular mosaic and healed.
Today, I’m a licensed holistic therapist, self-care coach, writer, and Healing Arts Director of the Trauma Informed Network in St. Louis. And I achieved one of my biggest goals: to run my own wellness and yoga studio.
My life post-survival is filled with gratitude. I know that by being vulnerable about my own healing process, I could give a voice to others who feel isolated in their struggle.
I was convinced so many times that you had abandoned me, left me to the demise of my own self-sabotage, kept me hungry for a sense of worth i could never feel. I was convinced you wanted to keep me sick. I told myself over and over that we were broken. I romanticized my struggle, each mile of pain that ate me whole.
I couldn't see past what I had learned. I couldn't see past what this world had taught me and what trauma had etched into my sight; I was hollow and starving to survive. One day I began to resist the conditioning that burned wounds into my belly, every sting sharper than the last, until I could feel that you were always with me: you, my beautiful body, my gentle flesh, fought endlessly to keep me alive. It was I that had abandoned you. It was me who had shut the door and still you loved me. You loved me through each reckless attempt of saving myself. You patiently waited until I learned that we were friends, that we could work together, and heal.
I began to trust you; to practice the radical act of being embodied, having a body, a body that was mine. I rejected the fear of you being taken away from me. I began to love you, respect you, nurture you, and you became my home; a space of safety that was taken away from me so long ago. I accept that the tender weight of being human deserves to make a mess. My body is no longer a place of dissonance; powerful and wild, my stardust is your soul food. I show up despite the resistance, and my sweet sting inflames the heart of those who have burned me. My body and I, we are a lighthouse in my own storm, and to love myself is a revolution.
I often get asked, so I've decided to tell the chronology of my tattoos. First one is a lotus flower, it's my favorite because it grows in muddy waters. I got it when I weighed just under 100 pounds, bone thin, sickly and struggling to figure out what was happening to my body. Below is my inner child and I doing my favorite yoga pose, Viparita Karani, or legs up the wall (great for when you're stressed). She and I have grown to be very close.Many of us know, especially with trauma, that re-parenting ourselves is inevitable. Below that is Twin Sisters Peak, one of my favorite mountain hikes in Colorado, with the phrase "be vulnerable," which is a motto I deeply live by. Below that is a portrait of myself I drew when I was 7, along with the phrase "I'm here, we're safe" because letting the wounded child inside me know she is safe and I won't ever let anything bad happen to her again is why I've been able to heal.
The Lupus Warrior
"Life does not wait for anybody; you have to take control of your happiness and love yourself first. You cannot give up on yourself and you have to keep faith that your diagnosis will not control who you are."
"Self beauty is not just determined by image, but it's also determined by who you define for yourself to be. Whether you are battling with self love, your personality and emotions can determine your pathway."
What motivated me is the fact that I know I had a possibility to pull through. My nurses always told me ,"For a girl who’s admitted almost every week, you are sure always happy." But they didn’t know that this was not my end but only my beginning. See I had to push that void aside if I wanted to feel whole. I wanted to feel alive again. I feel that what ever you go through only applies and make you stronger. Even though you lose the world, money, materialistic things, I never lost my sanity, love, humbleness, and potential. Now I dedicate myself to helping others overcome these same problems and insecurities and it makes me feel loved and accepted rather than rejected. I have been rejected by society with my lupus millions of time and each time it hurt but it only shaped me. I am now and devoted woman to making sure no one ever feels less love than they should.