By this point, we all know that what people publish on social media is often just their highlight reel. We know that life can be messy and complicated, but we see those parts of other people's lives less often. So, sometimes it can still be tempting to look at the life of a model or influencers and think it's perfect. But behind the scenes, things aren't always as glamorous, and many people struggle with mental health. SI Swimsuit rookie Cindy Kimberly has been working to be transparent and vulnerable with her community about some such struggles.
The 23-year-old says that she has dealt with depression for the past four years and wants to be open about it so others who are struggling feel less alone.
“Mental health problems can feel very isolating,” says Kimberly. “I know for a fact that when I am having an episode, it really feels like it’s just me that's feeling that way—like I’m either broken or unlike the people around me. So I try to be open about it because I hope someone out there might identify with it and realize they’re not alone.”
With an Instagram following of nearly seven million people, there’s no doubt Kimberly’s candor is reaching and helping many people. But it’s also that notoriety (which happened instantly when Justin Bieber posted a photo of her in 2015) that caused the model to have some mental health problems.
More from SwimLife
“It feels like a lot of pressure to behave however you think you are expected to,” she says. “I like being open about the fact that I don’t know what I’m doing most of the time, how I’m figuring it out as I go, how I doubt myself and my place in the world or the world itself. Because I think everyone is and if we were just honest about it, the pressure of having to behave like a 'functioning human in society' wouldn’t feel as terrifying.”
Although her struggle with depression has been challenging, it's also been a source of fulfillment for Kimberly. “I feel very proud that I’ve gotten this far in my mental health and life in general,” she says. “I’m proud of myself every day. I’m proud of every single job I’ve ever had—small or big.”
And while fame has brought with it additional pressure, for Kimberly, it's what she can provide for her mom that helps her get through it and feel noble.
“My mom struggled a lot to raise [me] being a single mother," she explains. "Being able to work and take care of her is my biggest reward and it’s the thing that makes me the happiest, so I'm proud and thankful for anything that has gotten me [to where I am].”