As part of its 2022 issue launch, the SI Swimsuit team headed to south Florida for a weekend of events and activities at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. In a discussion devoted to the topic of mental health, SI Swimsuit models Camille Kostek, Marquita Pring, Kate Bock and Tanaye White opened up about their experiences in front of a live audience as part of a panel sponsored by Maybelline Brave Together. Moderator Joy Taylor opened the session by saying, “SI Swimsuit Pay With Change and Maybelline Brave Together have joined forces to drive awareness for mental health issues that affect women everywhere and break the stigma around therapy and amplifying key voices decreasing stigma and opening the conversation, which is what we are going to do today.”
Pring discussed the importance therapy has had in her life. “Therapy has been a huge help for me. It’s become a part of my life, it just sort of helps me in every aspect to just be able to speak to somebody that you’ve gotten to know and trust, a professional who can help you deal with any issue you might have because at the end of the day, you know, we are all humans and we are all so similar,” Pring said.
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The revelation that we aren’t as separate or different as we often feel was illuminated even further when Taylor conducted her own social experiment with the audience. “Everyone close their eyes,” Taylor said. “Everybody raise your hands if you yourself have felt completely alone, like you have no help in the world, like there’s no one there reaching out for you. Like what you’re dealing with is impossible and you’re never going to get over it. It’s the end of the world. Now open your eyes. Everyone’s hand is raised. That’s the purpose of this today. We all deal with this. It’s nothing that should be stigmatized. It’s nothing that we should hide or feel afraid of.”
Bock reinforced these findings, saying, “When you actually put it out there, you realize everyone is dealing with something – I think there’s just a good balance in having a solid support system.” Building community through programs like Pay With Change and Brave Together offer people a safe space to connect and heal. “For real, this really is therapeutic for me,” said Kostek. “And I don’t even know if a lot of you realize how much it does for me to have the one-on-ones with you and hug and dance and talk. We love when you’re honest with us because little do you know, there are so many moments that I remember that get me up a lot of times. So thank you.”
White opened up about her own challenges and found a life mantra that works for her. “Anxiety is what gets me, especially as a model,” she said. “You’re on the go, nothing is planned. I’m a Type-A person; I need everything set in stone. So it’s very much out of my character to be in this industry. I’ve sort of culminated everything into a simple phrase—If it doesn’t bring you joy, it’s bringing you pain—and apply that to anywhere in life.”