Entertainment

Camila Mendes Shared That She Was Sexually Assaulted And Spoke About The Tattoo That Has Helped Her Heal

Camila Mendes recently revealed she is a sexual assault survivor. The 25-year-old “Riverdale” star opened up about her assault while attending college in the October issue of Women’s Health. Mendes, who covers the issue, has been an outspoken advocate of women’s issues. The Latin American actress has previously talked about her experience with disordered eating and body image issues. 

Unfortunately, Mendes isn’t the only “Riverdale” cast member who has dealt with abusive behavior. In 2017, Mendes’ co-star Lili Reinhart revealed that when she was a teenager when a man in a position of power attempted to force himself on her. At the time, Reinhart chose to remain silent in fear of retribution, losing her livelihood and ruining her reputation in Hollywood. 

While the #MeToo movement has unearthed dozens of accusations of abuses of power in Hollywood, for most women these abuses of power are commonplace at work, home, and school. 

According to RAINN, in the United States, about 23.1% of undergraduate females experience rape or sexual assault, while 5.4% of undergraduate males experience rape or sexual assault. Moreover, 11.2% of all college students experience rape or sexual assault. Consider that in 2017, there were roughly 19 million people enrolled in colleges in the United States— these numbers are alarming and illuminate the prevalence of sexual assault on campus. 

Camila Mendes covers Women’s Health

“This cover means so much to me. it took me a while to view self-confidence as a product of physical & mental health, instead of appearance and thinness. I’m grateful for the opportunity to spread that message; I could have used it way earlier in my life,” Mendes wrote on Instagram.  

Camila Mendes tells her story. 

While attending New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Mendes was slipped the common date rape drug colloquially known as a “roofie.” 

“I got the tattoo after my freshman year,” she says, of a tattoo above her rib that reads: to build a home. “I had a very, very bad experience; I was roofied by someone who sexually assaulted me.”

Mendes vowed from then on to only allow things that made her feel safe and comfortable into her life. She didn’t reveal much more about the experience, but she doesn’t have to. That’s the entire principle behind the #MeToo movement founded by Tarana Burke. All you have to do is say “me too” to a survivor, and it is the revelation, not the personal details, that provides comfort. 

“On one side, it’s a bold, declarative statement that, ‘I’m not ashamed,’ and ‘I’m not alone,'” Burke said. “On the other side, it’s a statement from survivor to survivor that says, ‘I see you, I hear you, I understand you and I’m here for you or I get it.'”

Sexual assault can be isolating and lonely, yet we are surrounded by survivors every day. 

On body positivity:

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link in bio ♥️

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In 2018, the Brazilian American actress opened up about her struggles with disordered eating and bulimia. 

“They feel like watching somebody else who has gone through it gives them hope that they can recover on their own and come to terms with their own problems,” Mendes said of the warm reception she received in sharing her struggles. 

“It’s something that’s still a curse to me. It’s not like that ever goes away. Whenever I do feel insecure, I go back to health. What can I do that’s healthy? Health is what’s important, not appearance. That mentality is what takes me out of the insecure, anxious thoughts.”

Latinxs and sexual assault:

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women supporting women

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According to the 2004 National Crime Victimization Survey, 1 in 6 Latinx females ages 13 and older are victims of sexual assault. 

The Office For Victims of Crime revealed that Latinx girls are more likely to stop attending school activities to avoid sexual harassment than other girls, that Latinx married women were less likely to identify forced sexual acts by their spouses as assault, and that 77 percent of Latinx women, surveyed by a 2009 Southern Poverty Law Center study, claimed sexual harassment was an issue at their workplace. 

And finally that, “For the increasing numbers of women who make the journey across the Mexico-U.S. border, rape has become so prevalent that many women take birth control pills or get shots before setting out to ensure that they won’t get pregnant.” 

When sexual assault survivors become more visible, no one can deny the collective trauma. Sexual violence affects men and women all over their world, it is only when survivors speak their truth that actionable change can happen. Yet, survivors are so often revictimized when they share their stories. Kudos to Mendes for sharing hers. 

A Look Back At The Legacy Of Pedro Zamora, 25 Years After His Death

Culture

A Look Back At The Legacy Of Pedro Zamora, 25 Years After His Death

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Back in 1992, MTV first aired “The Real World,” which went on to define reality TV forever. The shows premise and tagline — “This is the true story…of seven strangers…picked to live in a house… and have their lives taped…to find out what happens…when people stop being polite…and start getting real… ” — seemed like a fresh concept. At the time, viewers were simply taking in how people from different backgrounds got along. A lot of the time, they didn’t. In the middle of all that TV drama, something unusual was taking place: viewers were meeting individuals that presented extraordinary stories. In the show’s 27-year span, only one person stood out among them all and is remembered for literally changing the world. 

In 1994, MTV’s “Real World” San Francisco featured a 22-year-old Cuban named Pedro Zamora. 

Credit: @dc408dxtr / Twitter

For those not familiar with Zamora, his life story is a remarkable one of survival. He was just 8-years-old when he and some of his family members left Cuba on the Mariel Boatlift and settled in Miami. Sadly, his mother died of cancer a couple of years later when he was 13. Zamora still excelled in school. It was around this time that he realized he was gay. While he did come out to his family, they mostly feared that Zamora would get discriminated against because of his sexuality. 

At 17, Zamora found out he contracted HIV and decided to bring awareness to his disease. 

Credit: @theadvocatemag / Twitter

While attending Miami Dade College, Zamora became a fierce AIDS educator. One of the most impressive traits that he possessed was that he could engage with people of different ages and backgrounds. He was a great speaker. It was his charming characteristics and profound knowledge that made him perfect for TV. He ventured into several famous talk shows of that time to speak about what it was like to be a young gay man living with AIDS. 

With the encouragement of friends, Zamora felt he could reach more people with his message of empathy and education about HIV and AIDS by auditioning to be on MTV’s “Real World.” Naturally, he was one of nine to be cast on the show. 

As a cast member on the show, Zamora helped to educate his housemates about living with AIDS. Those moments on MTV also informed millions of viewers. Zamora loved for people to learn about his Cuban culture. 

Credit: @simplymiatx23 / Twitter

Today with the lack of Latino representation in the arts and entertainment industry, we now see how rare it was to have two Cuban Americans on MTV talking about their culture and family. Another castmember that has continued to be in the limelight was Zamora’s housemate Rachel Campos Duffy. She was a young conservative back then, and she still is today as the wife of former GOP representative Sean Duffy (he too was a former cast member of the “Real World” Seattle). While Rachel and Zamora clashed on various topics, including his homosexuality, their bond broke through her closemindedness. 

While Zamora died shortly after the last episode of the “Real World” aired, his legacy continues to be inspiring 25 years later.

Zamora’s housemate and one of his loudest advocates today, Judd Winick, who wrote the 2000 book “Pedro and Me” said this on social media: 

“I’d ask that on this incredible milestone that we try to remember how he lived, and how he literally changed the world, rather than focusing on our loss of him. By appearing on The Real World in ‘94, he showed everyone what it was really like to be living with AIDS, to be living out, to love, to be loved by friends, supported by family—to have a full life. And it seems crazy that this was a lesson that needed to be taught. But it did.” 

Rachel echoed that sentiment on the 25th anniversary of his death on Twitter: “@RealWorldMTV changed many lives -including mine. #PedroZamora died 25 yrs ago today, but his impact lives on. I miss Pedro & the days when MTV respected young people enough to make shows like the Real World, San Francisco.”

For those of us who watched Zamora on the “Real World,” we learned about showing empathy and compassion for those that suffered AIDS and HIV and continue to live with it today. Zamora also taught viewers to always show kindness, respect, and love for one another.

Credit: nycaidsmemorial / Instagram

Click here for more information on the Pedro Zamora Young Leaders Scholarship and The Pedro Zamora Public Policy Fellowship

READ: A Single Mom On DACA Is One Of The Newest Cast Members On MTV’s New Season Of ‘The Real World

Selena Gomez Says Fans Bullied Her For Her Weight

Entertainment

Selena Gomez Says Fans Bullied Her For Her Weight

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Two years ago, actress and singer Selena Gomez opened up to fans about her experience with lupus and undergoing a kidney transplant. The summer before she took a public break from her music career. The singer had been traveling her for Revival world tour when she announced her decision to take a break to focus on her health. She cited anxiety, panic attacks and depression as side effects to her lupus diagnosis and expressed her need to take care of her health. Now, Gomez has revealed why she spent so much time out of the spotlight. She was undergoing a kidney transplant.

Since her surgery, Gomez has been open about her experience and its impact on her physical and mental health.

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Loving my new Dreamer @Coach bag. #CoachNY

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The singer opened up even more about the process of recovery during a recent podcast, in which she revealed that she’d experienced body shaming her health led to weight gain. During an appearance on a recent episode of “Giving Back Generation,” a video podcast by Raquelle Stevens, Gomez said criticism impacted her “big time.”

During the interview, Gomez said that after being attacked by body shamers online she decided that she needed some time away from social media. This was primarily because they were having so much of an impact on her mental health.

“I experienced [body-shaming] with my weight fluctuation for the first time,” Selena told Stevens during the podcast. “I have lupus and deal with kidney issues and high blood pressure, so I deal with a lot of health issues, and for me that’s when I really started noticing more of the body-image stuff.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, Lupus is an autoimmune disorder that, occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs. Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems — including your joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs. Lupus can be difficult to diagnose because its signs and symptoms often mimic those of other ailments. The most distinctive sign of lupus — a facial rash that resembles the wings of a butterfly unfolding across both cheeks — occurs in many but not all cases of lupus. Some people are born with a tendency toward developing lupus, which may be triggered by infections, certain drugs or even sunlight. While there’s no cure for lupus, treatments can help control symptoms.” 

Speaking about how the autoimmune disease has affected her weight, Gomez said that it’s normal for her to fluctuate.

“It’s the medication I have to take for the rest of my life — it depends on even the month, to be honest. So for me, I really noticed when people started attacking me for that,” she explained. “In reality, that’s just my truth. I fluctuate. It depends what’s happening in my life.”

Gomez went onto further explain how the body shaming affected how she has chosen to interact with her fans moving forward.

“I’m very happy with living my life and being present. Because that’s it. Similar to me posting a photo and walking away. For me that’s it. I will do a red carpet, I will do whatever. I don’t need to see it. I participated. I felt wonderful and that’s where the extent of it is,” she said. “I don’t care to expose myself to everyone and hear what they have to say about it… I don’t care about that stuff but I did start gaining weight and I didn’t mind it. And that hurt…I’ve experienced people who try to control that kind of stuff before. This is my time and I want to do it the way I want to do it.”

It’s not the first time Gomez has opened up how criticism about her appearance has affected her mental health and how she chooses to include social media in her life. 

In 2018, Gomez explained that she was taking a step back from social media because she was being affected by disparaging and negative comments online.

“Update: taking a social media break,” she wrote to fans in a post on Instagram at the time. “Again. As much as I am grateful for the voice that social media gives each of us, I am equally grateful to be able to step back and live my life present to the moment I have been given. Kindness and encouragement only for a bit! Just remember— negative comments can hurt anybody’s feelings. Obvi.”

“Update: taking a social media break,” she wrote to fans in a post on Instagram at the time. “Again. As much as I am grateful for the voice that social media gives each of us, I am equally grateful to be able to step back and live my life present to the moment I have been given. Kindness and encouragement only for a bit! Just remember— negative comments can hurt anybody’s feelings. Obvi.”