Washed Away: From Darkness to Light is a memoir that recounts the experiences of model Nikki DuBose as she overcomes a more than seventeen-year battle with abuse, child sexual victimization, eating disorders, psychosis, alcoholism, drugs, depression, suicide attempts, body dysmorphic disorder, and various other mental health issues, all while trying to navigate through the dark side of the fashion industry.
I was very kindly gifted this book and have been very excited to get my teeth into it - so thank you Nikki!
One of the very first pages of this book quotes; "If you or someone you know is a victim of child abuse, domestic violence, or rape, please dial 911 immediately - don't wait a single second." Those last words hit me hard and that was all I'd read so far. I knew I was in for some eye opening truths of this world.
DuBose takes you on a journey from darkness to light, narrating her story with elegance and acceptance. I must admit the word I'd use for reading this book was not enjoyment. I did not 'enjoy' reading this memoir but I felt compelled to read on with the desire to know that Nikki would be okay, growing to be her friend throughout each chapter.
You meet Nikki as a young girl and relate to the sabotaging thoughts of a girl desperate to be beautiful. But as you turn each page the struggles become darker; family struggles, eating disorders, drugs, sexual abuse, suicide attempts... and you start to open your mind to a whole world of mental health problems you'd never dreamt of understanding. Delving into her illnesses as they complimented and clashed with each other, you really grasp the pain and despair that DuBose has been through. You hear whispers of the hardship of the fashion industry but this is a real insider's guide to how toxic it can be and I'm sure is for many today.
The real beauty in this book is the ability to relate. Self-help books are brilliant, don't get me wrong, but there's only so many you can read before you start thinking you're reading 'an idiot's guide to...' by someone who read a textbook 15 years ago. (Although there are some brilliant ones out there, Chloe Brotheridge I'm looking at you!) Sometimes it's great to be able to hear someone's story, and to know that you are not alone.
"Whenever I look at my reflection today, I just see me. Sure it changes, but that's because I'm changing and I'm okay with that. There's no monster, and if one does appear, I fight back with positive, loving thoughts and words. Monsters don't like it when you fight back because then they don't have the power anymore" - DuBose
This book left a dull ache in my heart and strong respect for DuBose, both in battling these unbearable hardships and for having the courage to share them with the world. I know that this book will strike chords with many and offer hope that you can come out stronger, wiser and more beautiful.
I would recommend reading this book as an eye opener with the knowledge that the light exists. However, I would exercise caution if you relate strongly to the quoted illnesses/struggles as it could be triggering.