#SayTheirNames

The recent events of senseless police brutality and inexcusable institutionalized racism has left me deeply saddened and disgusted. A "routine" traffic stop should NEVER result in murder or violence, ESPECIALLY at the hands of law enforcement. NO American, regardless of color, ethnicity or background should live in fear for themselves or their loved ones because of the prejudice within our police force and society.

My heart goes out these souls and everyone who loved them. A hashtag simply does not do them justice. This violence needs to stop. America, wake up. We are killing our own.

To all of the innocent, beautiful people who lost their lives this year to acts of police brutality, I'm sorry this country failed to protect you and your rights, your freedom.

It's our responsibility as Americans, as PEOPLE to protect each other. These deaths must not be in vain. They must carry magnitude and meaning, they must be a signal to facilitate change and reform. America MUST stop devaluing, disrespecting and destroying black lives. Black lives MATTER. 

To put this in perspective for you:

Courtesy of: MappingPoliceViolence.Org

I hope for a future where my children never see a headline like the ones I have seen this year.

 Rest in peace to the innocent who lost their lives. #SayTheirNames

Not included in this list: Alton Sterling, Philando Castile

Stand Up To The Stigma: Mental Health

In today's world, mental illness represents the largest economic burden of any other health issue, costing roughly $2.5 trillion in the past couple years alone, a number projected to triple by 2030. Shockingly, 60 percent of people suffering from mental health issues do not receive any care, primarily because of lack of resources and health care. But there is another silent enemy of the mental health industry, the social stigma that seems to accompany these conditions. Research continually suggests that the public holds a generally negative perception of mental illness, which has led to hurtful and false stereotypes.

Because of this public perception, it seems a mental health "stigma" has run rampant amidst our society. People suffering from common mental health illnesses such as depression, anxiety, OCD, and bipolar disorder are put in a position of shame because of their supposed mental "shortcomings." Those who seek treatment and medication often keep their condition a well-guarded secret, while the remaining number of afflicted people will never seek help because of embarrassment and fear of judgement.

I'm here to tell you we need to make a change.

One in five Americans will suffer from a mental health related illness at some point in their life. Look around you. Your classmates, your coworkers, your friends, even your family. Do they "fit" the common stigma of what mental health sufferers should be like?

When I tell people that I have suffered from major depressive disorder for the majority of my life, they're shocked. The truth is, depression has no profile. It has no specific target. It can happen to absolutely anyone. At the beginning of my mental health treatment, I was slightly ashamed of myself. Most days getting out of bed was nearly impossible, and going outside and joining society was out of the question. I was inexplicably sad, all of the time, and covered in a shroud of self-pity and internalized hatred. Why was I unable to be like "normal" people? I quickly discovered I was not alone, and through the help of close friends and family, I found my footing and regained the confidence and tools to start living my life.

The thought of people, just like me, suffering in silence for fear of criticism is heartbreaking. Not only is it saddening, it's destructive. Each year, thousands of Americans die from untreated mental illnesses, the majority of these deaths being suicides. It is our jobs as humans, to support those who suffer from mental afflictions. There should be no shame associated with suffering from anxiety or depression, as it is quite simply out of our control.

Let's change the dialogue. Let's uplift others instead of casting them into the dark. If you suffer from a mental health related issue -- you are not alone. You are not less beautiful, less intelligent, or less of a person. You are strong, capable and worthy of love.

So how we do fix this issue? It all starts with spreading awareness and changing the way we talk about this topic. Sign the National Alliance on Mental Illness "Stigma Free" pledgeto join the movement.

"All it takes is a beautiful fake smile to hide an injured soul." -- Robin Williams

Why You Need To Stop Making New Year's Resolutions

Let's face it, the majority of our New Year's Resolutions never happen. They just don't. We get super motivated to become better, and then about two weeks into the New Year, our shiny new gym membership becomes a dreaded afterthought. So why do we keep promising ourselves -- year after year -- that we are going to accomplish something that will probably never come to full fruition?

After a bit of research, I discovered that 92 percent of New Year's resolutions fail, and the most commonly broken were as follows:

1. Lose Weight

2. Get Fit/Workout More

3. Quit Smoking

4. Eat Healthier

5. Get Out of Debt

Call me a cynic, but none of these goals are easily attainable. All five of these resolutions require constant work, dedication and support. So why are we beating ourselves up every year when we don't reach these objectives?

In my opinion, a new year should not constitute a new you. Our struggles, mistakes and failed efforts are all important lessons that ultimately help shape our character. I'm not saying you shouldn't pledge to lose weight or quit smoking; I'm saying we need to start setting realistic and attainable goals, one at a time, to become the person we want to be. We are far too quick to point out our flaws rather than celebrate our progress. Yeah, maybe you didn't lose 20 pounds in 2015, but what about everything else you did? I promise you accomplished something to be proud of in the past year despite not going to the gym every day like you originally said you would.

The goal of this new year, of this new chapter, should be to grow and learn. You really want to lose weight this year? Don't make a resolution. Make an effort. Start small. Accomplish little things that will make you look back in 2017 and be grateful. Read a book. Volunteer. Practice random small acts of kindness. Meditate. At the end of the day, we may not always reach our goals. But it's important to try, not just around the New Year, but every day.

Stop making resolutions, and start making goals. Your future self will thank you.

These 7 Celebs Don't Have Time For Body Shamers

Ah, 2015. This year can easily be dubbed as one of the most explosive years on social media thus far. Between Kylie Jenner's Snapchat and Instagram takeover, the ever controversial striped dress, (Guys I swear it's honestly white and gold) #LoveWins and endless iconic pop culture Twitter memes, there has been no shortage of Internet entertainment.

I'll be the first to say social media can be a wonderful thing. It gives everyone a voice and platform to project their thoughts, feelings, and opinions out into the world. Unfortunately, not everyone has nice things to say. If 2015 has been the year of dynamic social media occurrences, it has also been the year of the Internet trolls. Basic translation: Haters. The majority of hateful comments and remarks are posted on celebrities social media pages, and almost always pertain to their weight, physical appearance, and what they consume their time with. It's inevitable to escape the judgement, even for top celebrities. Don't people have better things to do? Below is a roundup of all the badass celebrities in 2015 who didn't let the haters get them down, while spreading awareness.

1. Gigi Hadid

I know what you're thinking, but even supermodels aren't immune to haters. Despite this 20-year-old's massive success this year (she just walked in the Victoria's Secret Fashion) body shamers claimed Gigi's figure was just not "right" for the runway. *rolls eyes* To combat this influx of hate, Gigi took to her Instagram to share a personal note, essentially informing everyone she loves her body and isn't going anywhere.

2. Zendaya

All hail the queen of calling out BS. After covering Modeliste Magazine, the young starlet noticed the mag had excessively photoshopped and retouched a few of her photos. Zendaya quickly penned an honest and eloquent post shared to her Instagram complete with the unretouched photo compared to the doctored one. "These are the things that make women self-conscious, that create the unrealistic ideals of beauty that we have."

3. Selena Gomez

2015 has arguably been one of Selena's biggest years. Between her brilliant relaunch into the music industry with her album Revival and swoon-worthy red carpet looks, I can say with total honesty she is absolutely one of my biggest girl crushes. So you can imagine my shock when shamers and tabloids ripped her to shreds after a few "unflattering" photos of her beach bod. To combat this onslaught of negativity, Selena informed everyone that their opinions were basically irrelevant with an adorable Instagram post, complete with a short and sweet caption.

 

4. Serena Williams

It's truly sad that we live in a world where top athletes like Serena have to defend their athletic frames. The tennis superstar made an appearance on Good Morning America to share an important message. "I love that I am a full woman, and I'm strong and I'm powerful and I'm beautiful at the same time. And there's nothing wrong with that."

 

5. Jennifer Lawrence

It's hard to imagine anyone insulting J-Law but alas, we live in a cruel world. During a Yahoo Q&A, everyone's favorite actress and all around fabulous human being stated she had had enough of critics discussing her weight. "Screw those people…You look like you look, and be comfortable. What are you going to be hungry every single day to make other people happy? That's just dumb…I love to eat." Can I get this quote embroidered on a pillow?!

 

6. Kelly Clarkson

Kelly isn't worried about her weight gain after giving birth to her daughter, so neither should anybody else! Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. A snarky British Television host called the songstress out on Twitter for not losing the weight she had gained during pregnancy. In response to this unsolicited comment on her appearance, Kel responded in one of the best ways possible, "Oh she tweeted something nasty about me? That's because she doesn't know me. I'm awesome! It doesn't bother me." *drops mic*

7) Amy Schumer

Amy Schumer killed it this year. Between successfully solidifying her position as one of the top female comics in the industry and the release of her hilarious rom-com Trainwreck,Amy is just getting started. But haters gonna hate. After the release of the movie, film critic Jeffrey Wells wrote, "Director Judd Apatow is introducing a chubby, whipsmart, not conventionally attractive, neurotically bothered female comic to a mass audience." In response, Schumer shut him down with an honest and well deserved sassy tweet.