The dark side of  beauty. | Jennifer Gimenez | TEDxNaperville
The dark side of beauty. | Jennifer Gimenez | TEDxNaperville

Translator: Zeddi Lee
Reviewer: Peter van de Ven Is beauty in the eye of the beholder, or is it an illusion
we’re all trying to create in this filtered world
we’re all trying to live in? What’s your perception of beauty? How do you perceive beauty? What’s beautiful to you? Is it something that you saw in a magazine or on social media
or on the internet? Who taught you beauty? They taught me beauty. This photo changed the course of my life. I’m 13 years old in this photo –
so young and so innocent. I’m at the Santa Monica Pier
with my mom and my little brother on a Sunday afternoon. We’re playing. This photographer comes up to my mom and then insists
that I have the right look, and he’d love to shoot me,
and it’s for this famous designer. That photographer happens to be
one of the biggest photographers till this day in the world. My mom was a little complacent, and of course, I convinced her
to let me show up the next day. And my life literally went from growing up
in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where there was dirt roads
and donkeys running around all over, to becoming a supermodel overnight, (Fingers snap) just like that. I’m 14 years old in this photo. They taught me that if I got a worldwide campaign, I’d have reached elite status
as a supermodel. I’m literally selling sex
when I didn’t even know what that was. They say sex sells –
it always has, it always will. I’ll tell you a little secret. I’m actually not wearing
the designer’s clothes in that photo. Hell, I’m barely wearing any clothes. I’m wearing underwear and gloves. Happy sweet 16. They told me if I was
an international model, that I’ve reached superstar status, and if I made them a lot of money, I was good. So, I get a contract
to go to Tokyo for a month, and I was making what would be
equivalent to a million dollars today, then. It’s my sweet 16th birthday, and they decide
to throw me a birthday party. I had happened to have worked
that day 16 hours; I normally worked every day
when I was in Tokyo 16 to 18 hours. I had to fulfill that contract. They decided to throw me
this birthday party, and when I showed up,
I show up to this man’s house, who’s a businessman-playboy
billionaire’s house, and there’s all these
middle-aged men there, and there’s all these models, and they start giving us drinks and drugs, and all these models
say they’re my best friends. I can’t remember any of their names. These agents tell me they love me
and I’m their favorite. They didn’t love me;
they loved the money I made them. All I wanted to do
is celebrate my sweet 16 with my family and my friends in West Covina, California,
where I grew up, but I was in Tokyo – happy fucking sweet 16. I love the angle that
this photographer took my photo in. I love the lighting. My father had died two days prior. They told me I needed to show up because I made a commitment
and I had to fulfill it, and if not, they would drop me. I just wanted to grieve my dad;
he had died unexpectedly at 47. If you look at that photo, the little girl in me was more alive
than the woman in me. They said I couldn’t keep it. I had had an abortion five days prior. I wanted to carry the baby, but they told me
that it would ruin my career. See, I wanted to be a mother. I’ve always wanted to be a mother, I wanted to bear my own children, but they said that I couldn’t. If you look at the photo,
I’m happy, I’m smiling, but my eyes are closed because I can’t look in the lens, and I’m covering my womb. I hadn’t eaten in five days. I got this huge job
I had known about for a month, and they wanted me to lose weight. They told me I needed
to get skinny – super skinny – so they told me I needed
to go to this special doctors of theirs, so I did. And he said I needed energy, so he was giving me
B12 shots and B12 pills. I later found out he was giving me
speed and Adderall. When I was in New York
a week before that photo shoot and I was in the fitting and I was looking in the mirror
with the lingerie on, I literally looked in the mirror, and I saw an elephant man
looking back at me – my body dysmorphia. Three days before the shoot, I had gotten to a point where I got
a marker and I wrote “I hate you” all over my arms
and on my chest and stomach, and I grabbed a razor blade
because I wanted to carve it out because I wanted you to see
what I felt like my whole life. Thankfully, I had passed out. They told me that they would
make me feel safe and comfortable. I had gotten this photograph
to do this nude with this very renowned photographer, and back then it was
a really big deal to do that. I was so nervous that they told me, “Don’t worry. You’ll be safe.
Just show up,” so I did. And when I got to the photo studio, it was all men. And I’m there and I’m really nervous,
so they start giving me drinks and drugs, and one of those people that night decided to make me feel
reassured and safe. He ended up abusing my body
and sexually assaulting me. I wanted to end modeling
before it ended me, but I knew that I loved
being in front of the camera, I loved it so much. But as a model, my voice never mattered. I was just a hanger. I was replaceable. That’s what they always told me. But as an actress, my voice mattered. So I started studying, and I got my first movie role
in a movie called “Blow” with Johnny Depp. And then I did another movie
with Tom Cruise, “Vanilla Sky”; then I did another movie,
“Charlie’s Angels,” with Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz; and then I did another movie
with Christina Applegate, Jason Bateman; and the list goes on and on and on. And all of a sudden,
I become the “it” girl in Hollywood: I’m on every red carpet,
I’m doing every award season, I’m back in all these magazines,
and I couldn’t stay sober to save my life. In fact, in one of these photos –
actually, the one in the middle – I was on a five-day run. For those of you who don’t know
what a five-day run is, it’s when you do drugs
and you don’t sleep for five days. See, but I made everything
shiny and pretty on the outside, but I was dying on the inside. That hole, that void
just got bigger and bigger and bigger. I finally decided it was time
for me to save my life – actually, my mom and my best friend
decided to do that for me – and I went into treatment. And I got to tell you,
recovery has not been always easy, but it’s been worth it. I had to do a lot of things that weren’t necessarily
in the 12-step program, as well as doing the 12-step program. One of the things I had to do
was I couldn’t look in the mirror but only for five minutes in the morning; I could brush my teeth
and comb my hair, and that was it. I couldn’t wear any makeup,
I had to feel demasked, I had to wiggle my toes to feel grounded, I couldn’t look at tabloid magazines or any of my other “isms”
that were going on, and I had to deal with my traumas, and I had to deal with my issues and overcome my obstacles
and adversities – and we all got those. And I started saving my life. I started following
what they were telling me to do, “Let’s work inside
instead of outside this time”; instead of how I used to always do it –
I would work outside inwardly – and it never worked. And I was fighting for my life. I felt discrimination
as being a Latin woman, but I’ve never felt it worse
than when I was heavy, and by women of all people. I finally decided I wanted
everything to connect – mind, body, and spirit. I started doing shows. One of the doctors
who had helped save my life is a doctor by the name of Dr. Drew, and he had done a show
called “Celebrity Rehab.” His spin-off show on VH1
was “Sober House,” and he asked me to run the house, and I did three seasons of that,
three seasons of “Celebrity Rehab,” and I became an advocate. I started doing CNN and all these shows
and “Housewives of Beverly Hills.” I did four seasons of that show –
not a wife, just a friend on that show. And you know, I was back on TV,
and I wanted it all to connect, so I started dieting
and I started working out – morning, noon, tonight –
three times a day. I was weighing everything I was eating, and – (Sighs) I just wanted to connect. I wanted to connect for me, and I did it organically,
and it took some years, but I did it. And finally, I call this, for me,
my comeback moment. I call it my rebirth. I call it my “flight of the Phoenix –
I had risen from the ashes” moment. I did not diet any differently,
I did not work out any differently than I normally did; I just showed up. I showed up as a middle-aged woman
with my power and my strength, comfortable in my skin. I showed up wearing the scars, that I now call, on my sleeves,
a badge of honor. I know that some of you
may be looking at me and going like, “Who is she to be talking about all this?” I’ll tell you who I am. I’m someone who survived this. I’m someone who’s bringing
a voice to these stories. I am someone who’s bringing
a face to these stories. I am standing here for all those that haven’t yet
found their voices. I am standing here representing
all those beautiful people that we know that have died because they tried
to live in this filtered fake world. I am a voice for the voiceless. Has anything changed since 30 years ago? No, it hasn’t. It’s actually gotten worse
because now we’re all the targets. And our children, our youth,
they are the most targeted. Do you know what app of the hour
your kids are on? Do you know who they’re socializing with on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat? Do you know how many kids
are getting bullied because they’re trying to fit in? And they can’t be themselves. Do you know that today, there’s more children in the United States committing more suicides
than ever before? My whole life, I was chasing perfection, and what I’ve realized
is I’m perfectly imperfect. You know, back in the day, I used to have fake friends
and “yes, and …” people. Today, there’s fake friends
on social media. There’s those “Like” buttons
that we’re all dying to have, right? We’re all looking to see
which how many we got. You know, back in the day, there were people that would
write about people and stories; now there’s internet trolls
that sit there behind their computers, just bashing people
because they have nothing better to do. We don’t communicate.
We’re not communicative today. You know, my whole life,
I felt I was unlovable. Today, I have a core group of people
that are my friends and my family, and they love me and I love them. I realized I’m lovable,
I am loved, and I’m in love. In fact, today, I’m engaged, (Applause) to the love of my life. I thank you to Ryan
for existing and coming into my life. That’s a real photo. This photo haunts me. Her mother captured her doing that
and shot that photo. We are teaching her that. I have been that girl
my whole entire life. And I know you have, and you, and you. I think it’s time
we redefined what beauty is. I have suffered in silence for so long, and I really do believe people
don’t need to suffer in silence anymore, to try to fit this mold. If I could go back to my 13-year-old self
and tell her anything, I would tell her
you’re beautiful just as you are. I really want to thank you for allowing me to be vulnerable
and transparent with you, and have this beautiful
moment at this time. My name is Jennifer Gimenez. Thank you. (Applause)

22 thoughts on “The dark side of beauty. | Jennifer Gimenez | TEDxNaperville”

  1. FLyR9ツ says:

    Beauty is just an argument to make more money

  2. dev0n james says:

    some women only have one attribute.

  3. Cathy Thompson says:

    Thank you for this!! Beauty can be soul murder so happy they didn’t murder yours. Shine on Jen, you’re a powerful voice 💕

  4. Saralee1989 says:

    Happiness comes from within. I've worked in a smelter and mines for 37 years and was surrounded by people just as bitter as you but with far less than you. You would have had more impact if you looked like you had given up the glamor before you took to the stage. Sorry for the honesty and good luck with being happy.

  5. Carrie Nowlin says:

    YOU ARE A LIGHT IN THIS SOMETIMES VERY DARK WORLD! Thank you for being you! This was excellent!!!!!

  6. Court L says:

    Jennifer, this brought tears to my eyes. You are such an inspiration. You asked important question "what is beauty" beauty is within. We may not all be super models but I know that I can relate to do much you said. While it's easier to stuff away our emotions but they do surface. Well feel pain, we handle it differently because of the stigma that surrounds it as well as so many other things we all face or know someone who has. Thank you for sharing your raw truth. Kind, caring and genuine. Keep up the wonderful work its much needed awareness for so many that need to hear that it's alright to speak your truth.. I'm so grateful to have met you, as you are as real as you are in this video.

  7. Carolyn says:

    I appreciate the message you were trying to convey.

  8. Jasper Cole says:

    what a powerful heartfelt beautiful message you shared. Your story will help so many people and keep being the LIGHT that you are and thank you for helping others to live their authentic life XOXOXO

  9. wantsomecoffee says:

    The applause comes when she says she’s engaged. Nothing about society has changed.

  10. Eric Adams says:

    You did such an INCREDIBLE job my love! I am so proud of you and all that you do!!! You are beautiful Jennifer and more lovable than you could possible imagine! I love you!

  11. Denicia Echiribel says:

    Powerful and so real! What an amazing person you are! Love you.

  12. Lisa Paterson says:

    What are you trying to convey? Your thoughts are all over the place. Me Me Me. Is this a weight watchers commercial?

  13. Lisa Paterson says:

    Her friend Brandi Glanville took pills,drank heavily and slept with everyone (for fame) willingly.

  14. Katrina King says:

    Great job, Jennifer. Xoxo

  15. in2food says:

    So, you made lots of bad choices. Got it….

  16. Shadoe Stevens says:

    JENNIFER!! Wonderful, insightful, engaging, and touching. Well done my friend. Thanks for carrying a powerful message. I salute you.

  17. Colleen Posadas says:

    Heartfelt presentation. Thank you .

  18. Aung Munster says:

    So proud of you! This took GUTS. Such powerful messages. xoxo

  19. Alex Green says:

    Exceptionally user pleasant video content. Huge details available on couple of clicks on.

  20. Morley Sullivan says:

    Love ya Jenn! Beautiful message!

  21. Steve Foltz says:

    I met her a couple of months ago. Such a gracious intelligent person.

  22. Cari Schofield says:


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