UNDER THE COVER
Being a teenager today is one of the hardest jobs in the world. You have grades to maintain, obligations to extra-curricular activities, and soul-crushing pressure to excel at everything so colleges take notice. On top of it all, you’re forced to act as your own public relations manager because, thanks to social media, every bit of your life is on display. No one knows that better than teen model, actress, and author Makaila Nichols.
Nichols’ book, Blatantly Honest: Normal Teen, Abnormal Life (Brown Books Publishing Group), is filled with peer-to- peer advice on navigating life as a teen in a world that begs young people to grow up before they are really ready. Unlike books for teens written from an adult perspective, Blatantly Honest offers real, relatable advice based on lessons learned in today’s world. After all, adults today have no experience being a teen in a social climate where peers have immediate, constant access to one another. Despite her rising fame, Nichols has struggled through body image issues, dating disasters, friendship failures and bullying. In this refreshing, open, and honest book, Nichols offers hard-earned advice on these tough topics and more.
EXCERPTED FROM CH. 1
ON BULLYING: What makes one person superior to another? Nothing. We’re all equal, yet we choose to tear each other apart. I’ve been bullied. I’m not asking for your sympathy, I’m just letting those of you who’ve also been picked on know that I understand. I know how it feels.
“I am glad Makaila doesn’t come to school anymore. Life is better with her gone.”
“Makaila Nichols is the biggest slut. I bet anyone could get it from her.”
“I hope you die alone.” “Who do you think you are?”
These are some of the insults I’ve recorded from social media. Some of them
were said by close friends, and others by people I’ve never spoken to. Yet, all of these words formed a false projection of who I am as a person.
Sometimes, the words will get to you. There was a point in time when I thought to do the worst. I thought that maybe the world would be better with me out of the way. Yet the more I thought about it, the more strength it gave me to push on. Cowards quit. Real courage is gained through withstanding difficulties. We all have families who love us whether we realize it or not. After all the abuse and cowardly attacks, I found myself becoming a more forgiving person because people deserve second chances. We’re all human and make mistakes.
EXCERPTED FROM CH. 2
ON FRIENDSHIPS: Maybe we don’t have enough people in our lives that can be considered “true friends.” Why do I say “true friends” instead of “best friends?” I don’t believe in the idea of a best friend anymore. The word “best” implies superiority to all others, and in friendships, one should never be above someone else. Thus, this is where the “true friend” can be defined. Location, time, distance, or any other variable you want to throw at a friendship is weak if there is a real bond between two people. When people say life gets in the way, sometimes it’s just because they’re not willing to make an effort. You can’t leave friendships up to fate. If people want to be in your life—or vice versa—then they’ll make the effort, and if they don’t, then they’re not worth having anyway.
A true friend can be hard to find, especially as a teenager when everyone is trying to figure out who they are. And even though you’re surrounded by peers all day, you don’t have much control over who you come into contact with. You could be friends with Suzi Q that lives down the road or maybe the kid who smiled at you in class when everyone else looked down at their phones. Even though your options are limited, creating and investing in a true friend shouldn’t be a random choice, and certainly not someone you’d deem to be your last option.
EXCERPTED FROM CH. 3
ON EATING DISORDERS: She pointed to a scale and asked me to step on it. I didn’t mind. I considered myself skinny. After all, I was an athlete who played volleyball and did track and field. She told me I weighed 137 pounds, which I already knew . . .
The director of the agency told me I needed to weigh in at no more than 125 pounds (regardless of my height or muscle mass). Because I was a fourteen-year-old with a dream, I told her I could lose the weight, no problem.
I thought it would be easy to lose twelve pounds. Man was I wrong. After a month of doing two brutal workouts a day, wearing sweat suits, drinking distilled water, and spitting into buckets to lose every ounce of water-weight possible, I was 126 pounds . . . My skin had also turned a yellowish color, signifying my body was facing malnutrition. My parents seemed disgusted, but I thought I looked like a million bucks.
After I lost the weight, the agency requested I come back to Miami for my first photoshoot . . . When we wrapped the shoot, the photographer waltzed over and rewarded me with Krispy Cream doughnuts, a whole box of them. Doughnuts? It seemed like a contradiction. So, I had two. Immediately, I regretted it and excused myself to the bathroom. I plunged my fingers down my throat. Tears welled in my eyes, and I felt the mascara trickle down my powder-stained cheeks. I found myself no other food.
I can honestly say I was so hungry for a shot at fame that I allowed one employer to get the best of me. Unfortunately, this goes on every single day. It may not be me that is bent over a toilet seat today, but someone else is. It does not matter what your job is, no one should make you feel like you need to change yourself so dramatically that you’ll actually inflict bodily harm.