We noticed that you are an advocate against bullying and for mental health. Is this something you have struggled with in the past?
Yes, I had my share of bullying in middle school as a kid (turns out being goth doesn’t resonate well with the popular kids), and I am really outspoken about my struggles with mental health. I think it’s more common than we realize, and it should be normal to speak freely about how we are feeling mentally.
In your opinion, what are the best tools to help fight depression?
There is no-one-size-fits-all remedy for everyone. Depression is a powerful disease. What works for one person may not work with another. I think the best tool and the first step is being honest about how you feel. Often times, there is a lot of shame, fear or embarrassment carried with depression. That is a very painful way to live and limits us from getting the help we need. There should be no shame in explaining to your family, friends or doctor about what you’re going through. That’s the only way to really start the right treatment plan for you! Whether that means psychotherapy, medication, or a combination. It’s all about treating it the best we can and making things more manageable for you.
Why do you think that people who tell the truth are often not believed?
I think that the judgement of society can be brutal. There are a lot of preconceived notions out there. Sometimes when speaking the truth, that very truth may shatter someone’s false idea or perception of whatever you’re speaking about. And that’s hard to accept sometimes. Sometimes the truth can be painful or disappointing. So, it’s easier for some to deny or refuse to believe.
We used to live in a society where sex sells. After the “Me Too” movement, things have changed in many ways regarding the way women are perceived. Do you feel that sex still sells? And, if so, how do you feel it is different now?
I do think sex still sells. But I think now the conversation is very conscious and more careful. Especially with the powers of social media. I think the topic has changed a bit now from “sex sells” to “sex sells but I am also more than a body or object for sex, I am a woman. A soul. A being and a force to be reckoned with!”
Your Instagram profile states that you are breaking industry beauty standards. Can you tell us what you mean by that?
The fashion industry has told us what is beautiful for many years. I am not 5’10’’, and I am not a size 00. Because of that, many would ask why I would set out to model in the first place. Yet I refuse to conform to the belief that you can only be successful or “beautiful” in this industry if you attain those cookie cutter attributes.
Do you feel more Sicilian, Puerto Rican, or American at heart?
Honestly, I’ve never really felt like I belonged to one region at heart. Although my bloodline is Puerto Rican as well as Sicilian, I was born in and live in America… I have kind of always felt like a black sheep that didn’t really belong to one culture or place because of that.
Becoming a young mother is challenging enough already. How is it for you as a model? Is it more difficult with your schedule changes and the standards the industry puts on you?
It definitely is challenging! Motherhood is a full-time job on its own. Yet I know myself and I am the best version of me when I am also working outside of motherhood. I can give the most of myself to my family when I am working, as well. It was very difficult at first because it was a huge adjustment to my schedule. Especially when I used to breastfeed in the very early days! But I have learned it’s just about adapting. I have found ways to work around these things.