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Have you ever wondered what happens to stories when they're no longer on the news? Join Erica Vella on her unique history podcast. Whatever happened to as she revisits stories like The Pulse nightclub shooting, the Alesi Ice Bucket and more? You can listen for free now on Apple podcast Spotify or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.


Hey, listeners, it's me, Diane Guerrero. We have another episode to share with you with more intimate conversations about mental health. Stay tuned to listen and support the show and the stories we tell. Head over to the. No, I'm not OK to subscribe and leave us a review, just a heads up that we are not clinical experts. And if you need professional support, there will be some links and resources listed in the podcast description.


I can't remember a time when I wasn't deconstructing my own body and having opinions about other people's bodies too. And it always felt normal. I didn't. My mom did it. My friends did it. It was on TV and movies. It was everywhere. Body image is something so many of us struggle with. How do we break that cycle? How do we find peace and liberation in our bodies instead of pursuing some bullshit ideal? I'm dying Guerrero and yeah, no, I'm still not OK.


This week, my sister, Dasha Polanco, shares with us how she's learned to love and accept every part of herself. Hey, it's OK to talk about our mental health and happiness, humans aren't meant to keep everything inside. It makes us sick and therapy helps. There's no one right way to do therapy. It's whatever you want it to be. Maybe you're not feeling motivated right now and need some tools to help.


Or maybe you're feeling insecure in relationships or at work or not dealing well with stress. Whatever you need. It's time to stop being ashamed of normal human struggles because you deserve to be happy. And now you don't even have to worry about finding an in-person therapist near you.


Better help is customize online therapy that offers video phone and even live chat sessions with your therapist so you don't have to see anyone on camera if you don't want to.


It's much more affordable than in-person therapy and you can start communicating with your therapist in under 48 hours. Join the millions of people who are seeing what therapy is really about. It may or may not be for you, but it's worth looking into because you need to take care of yourself. This podcast is sponsored by Better Help and yeah, no, I'm not OK. Listeners get 10 percent off their first month at better health outcomes. Not OK. That's better.


H e l.p dotcom not OK, yeah, no, I'm not OK is supported by the L.A. County Department of Mental Health, acknowledging that in stressful times it's OK to feel anxious, sad or overwhelmed about things like covid-19, racial injustices, uncertain jobs and fluctuating school and child care needs. You are not alone. The L.A. County Department of Mental Health is here to help for support. You can call their helpline 24/7 at 800 eight five four seven seven seven one or visit DLH that L.A. County dot gov resources.


I met Dasha on the set of Orange is the New Black, she was playing Dayanara, I was playing Merita and we were part of the Latino gang, gang, gang, gang, gang.


You were just chillin there, just sitting down. And it was right by hair and makeup. I think my room at that time was by the staircase. And so I looked over and I was like, Hey, are you good?


And there was a lot going on on set that day and the intensity was really high. So I remember that I approached you and after that we just had a really intimate conversation about what was going on and so forth. And I'm like, you don't remember that your. I remember feeling really lonely and unsure of myself, I wanted to be anybody but myself because I felt like I was all wrong. I was small. I didn't feel like I had a lot of power.


I felt Shrimpy, you know, back in middle school, people used to call me shrimp.


So anyway, I was feeling like a shrimp that day.


This was my first show. I was nervous and instead of thinking of the work.


I started thinking about how small I felt and was. I didn't know how to be in a room full of women that looked and felt so confident, but then again, you don't know how people are feeling.


Anyway, Dasha approached me. And I remember this amazing glow that Dasha gave off from the moment I met her, she radiates confidence and positivity. She's fun and caring and she knows how to have a good fucking time. I call our adventures together unicorn moments.


Do you remember when we went to see Nick and was trying on the Fardella glasses, which remember the St. Nick on the Seine in Washington Heights?


You don't remember? Oh yeah, I remember that. Yeah, I remember we were trying on the glasses on the street and people would stop us and like they were like, oh my God, you guys are from Orange is the New Black. And we were just like, look at each other and we're like, holy shit. Like we were like recognizing us while we had a beautiful thing that you glassworks that we have unicorn moments, we have sunglasses on staircases.


I mean, it's always like that our friendship begun as My Little Pony.


Yeah, exactly. Like, I don't know, it was magical looking at value.


And as her career has taken off, Dasha started speaking about a part of her life that's taught her a lot over the years. Her body image.


I had a very young age, had, you know, I was more of a thick girl. Everybody around me was slim. So it was like, well, I am the big girl, you know? And it was like it was more of a fat thing and a skinny thing. And so you go forget about the the the having lighter hair and having lighter eyes. But as far as body, the fat thing in the skinny thing, girl, you're fat.


I remember I had a best friend in third grade and I use the bathroom in front of her because, you know, that's what girls do. Right? And I'm like using the bathroom.


She came over my house and as I'm sitting, she's like, you have a big, like stomach.


You're fat. And she was in Bali. She was really, really skinny, and I think that that was the time. That was one of the times that were moments that I remember as me taking that extra look in the mirror and actually paying attention to something that I never paid attention to, let alone I'm sitting on the toilet.


And when we set our stomachs, always, you know, but we're not we don't have the capacity to understand. Right. The the logistics of body movement and how that affects posture, how that affects how your body looks. Right. Right.


Like we're not looking at ourselves like that unless someone is counting it or pointing it out at you. Yeah.


You know, you pay attention to what's highlighted and then, you know, in your family also, like, don't eat a lot because you're going to get big, you know, don't don't do this judge. Have to commit mucho or things like that. And and I always felt like. Wow, I have to really pay attention, like the only way I'm going to get to where I have to get is because if I look a certain way. Mm hmm.


You know, and then you start going into different stages in your life. You know, you go from your childhood and then you go into the when you become a teen and then you become an adult, and then you start getting all these these opinions and these standards from who you have around you, whether it is your friends, whether it's who you're dating. And I think it comes down to how much, how much or how important for you is to love yourself first.


And how can we start there? At what point do we really start having the conversation about. Loving yourself and making yourself first is not selfish or conceited. Growing up, I didn't know the difference between loving yourself and being conceited, like for me, it always felt like you were supposed to hate on your own body, so other people wouldn't think that you were like were too into yourself, because then you'd be subject to people pointing out your flaws and then comparing you to a model or a video or you don't got this.


You got that like saying, I love myself, I love the way I look. That was not a thing. And if you did, you'd probably get so many thrown at you. But I think even more damaging was that I never heard my mom say that she loved herself.


How how did the women in your life talk about their bodies when my mother when I was growing up with her.


I had a really intimate conversation and it was a lot of like an open book, but also like I was her journal. So she did a lot of in confidence and confessing a lot of things that she might necessarily didn't have with anyone else. Mm hmm. So that creates a lot of anxiety and a lot of like, well, what am I supposed to do? You know, because she she didn't like her draw and she was slim. She had a beautiful body.


She was like really slim with the body, very shapely. But she was a petite woman. So on the contrary to me, I was, you know, a larger frame. Mm hmm.


So as I got older and the conversation got more intense as far as like body wise and like she wasn't more so focused on the physical, she always took care of herself. She was more sort of putting up her shield. And like she would like to look cute. You know, she would do her hair. She would do her make. No, no, no, no, no. I'm not going to us. Yes. And I think that that was a lot of practice of protection versus like.


I really love myself. Mm hmm. Because you put up with a lot of other behavior that necessarily didn't represent loving yourself. Mm hmm. Mm hmm. You know, a lot of, like, just abusive behavior.


So for me. Body positivity has a lot to do with mental health and how much are you willing to really discover the layers and take care of what the source is? And then everything that superficial, whether it's like you're not happy with with how you look the size of your lives, whether you're not happy with, like, the fact that you gained weight, that, you know, you gained 20 pounds or whether you just can gain weight, you know what I mean?


Or you don't feel comfortable like you have a smaller ass. You know, you want to grow bigger, but, you know, whatever that is, we're living in a society now where.


When you look at the source and you and you do that, you take that moment to really go back and really evaluate your childhood or where is coming from, it's very important for you to be able to embrace and move forward. What's now body positivity? What what is body positivity?


Well, for me, body positivity. It's acceptance. It's inclusion, it's celebration. It's uplifting regardless of gender, regardless of cultural differences. I don't believe in beauty standards. I don't believe in having to belong to a certain nuckolls. But group of people that that look a certain way.


Yeah, like I think for me, the definition of body positive is the freedom of having a personal preference. Hmm.


As long as you're not hurting yourself and as long as you're doing it from a place where it's what you desire for the purpose of your confidence and for the purpose of your growth. Hmm. I'm all that now when you're doing things to change your body physically. And you're hurting your body then it's not something that I think is. I think is something that we should speak about and I think is something that you should seek help for, right. Right.


Because it goes hand in hand, because whatever you're fixing, like you said, when you don't get to the source of what's really, really bothering you, why are you not feeling enough or why you feeling like whatever you have isn't.


Enough and that's the thing when you say that this is I hear that so much like when you're not enough, but enough for what? Right. And like enough room because there's so much pressure. On body and what you're supposed to look, but for whom and for what purpose, right?


And that's something that you have to ask yourself because it goes down a rabbit hole. We start here. That said, we get our R we get our tests done. We're going to press on we large and we get breast reconstruction and then something happens.


We're not happy there. So we have to adjust there. You know, now, if you don't have a big ass, you don't have big cities and you know, then is not you not the thing.


And we're in denial about how these beauty standards affect us.


But also this. Look, this is something that I always say, right?


I'm all for it also. Mm hmm. I always try to check myself up.


I find that I'm judging someone and I'm not as open as I would like to be and I continue to be. And I think that for the most part, I'm I'm freespace. I'm all about free range. And this is you. This is your life. Do what you want, makes you happy. And that's what makes you happy. I'm all for it because if I want to do something and that's what makes me happy and tomorrow Dosher wants to like, you know what, I want to get my boobs done, then I'm going to go get my boobs because I want to do it.


The problem where I wear body positivity comes in is what is the reason you're doing it for? Why are you doing it? And if then you use that as a way of feeling as if you are the righteous or you are superior to those that don't. Right. Because there's like these little cliques that I've noticed in my personal life and I'm not I'm just speaking in general. We come across when you see cliques of women that prefer plastic surgery, cliques of women that are bigger in size plus size, women, you know, and so on.


And the labels continue and it becomes a thing of like the competition. But also, oh, you need to go tying that up. You need to pull this or you need to. Girl that said you like girl now you know, and it becomes a thing of that instead of a thing of like yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. OK, we have that, we have variety. Right.


You want to trail mix. You don't want a honey nut roasted cashew. You want trail mix. You know what I mean.




We should fucking celebrate all of our bodies. And you know what? I'm going to take a stand right now and celebrate my small but formerly nicknamed NOBUT and tragic, asinine comments from everybody.


I now dub myself Sweet Baby Muffin, but we'll be right. Baby's got back with Dasha after break.


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Well, I had my kid as a teen, my daughter, the CENI, and that was. You know, I didn't get enough time, 17, I didn't get enough time to. Allow my body. Or to get used to my body or to for it to do its thing and when I say thing, I mean for me to, like, embrace it. Mm hmm. It's like, you know, I was in high school one minute and I was playing sports and I was already feeling like I'm fat because I'm fat, I'm fat, I'm fat.


And that pressure of, like, even taking like supplements to, like, get skinny. Right. Taking, you know, all these programs we have all these programs that, you know, especially in our communities, they're like, oh, my God, if you take this girl to do this and you're hungry, you know what I mean? You're taking a pill that's making you, like, sweating under your arms. You're like, wow, I really just want to have school lunch.


I really want to drink. And I'm like, doing it.


And you don't realize that. You don't really understand your body and what's it going through, you're going through so many hormonal changes, hormonal changes are so important for us to understand at different stages of our lives so that we can understand the choices that we make and why things are happening. So enjoying sex? We're having this issue with my body a kind of made choices that were contradictive to what I was doing right. Because I didn't have a problem dating honey.


I didn't have a problem getting a little boyfriend. Right. But I had a problem. Like I remember like when I first my first couple, you know, when you start dating and you have your first relationship, turn off the light because you don't want them to see you. You give an explanation as to why your body is like that. Isn't that crazy? Yeah. Yeah, I remember now that you're thinking about this. Oh, my God.


I remember like with my first it was about that I want to keep the lights off because, you know, I have I have a little stomachache and but I really like when I look back, I'm like, girl, you have nothing here.


Like, you were perfectly fine.


Yeah. And then it gets to a point where I go from there to not really embracing my body and having all these restrictions, whether it's like at the moment of like having sex to then becoming pregnant and then your body changes, right? Mm hmm. Your boobs are growing. You know, you start noticing things, whether it's the change of pregnancy stretchmarks and the gaining of the weight. And then as soon as you give birth, you got to lose that weight.


You can't don't let that pregnancy get through, girl, because once you're pregnant, I say, right, these boys get to meet the two part. They were old, equitable. Oh, my God.


The whole idea of, like, you ruined you ruined your body. When you have children, it's like, well, then you want us to have children, but then it ruins our bodies.


So then we need to we have we're under so much pressure. And then on top of that, we don't talk about how these distorted views of our own bodies will affect us that are affecting us now and will affect us down the line.


So we should be doing that work, that mental health work that that spiritual and social work that we need to do in order to, like, live happy lives. Otherwise, we're just going to be like chasing this idea that we had when we were like kids of how we're we're supposed to look.


Absolutely. I mean, I don't know what how was it for you in school, but for me, it was like all the girls I have that had the big tits. Those were the fly girls. You know, during school I was made fun of because I had a big ass. So one of my closest friends in the choir they used to call her ass is Apple. And that is this is a watermelon and oh my gosh, just like that.


Fox, would you have to watch your lips like, oh, lizard lips, bubble lips and you know, and then you start looking at the girls that, you know, they develop quicker than you do and they are shaped differently. And then health class is about just like anatomy. We not really it's not really health education. Right. Right, right.


Because there's no focus on mental health.


How are we going to talk about health education if we're not talking about mental health as well, especially at a time where we're really going through hormonal changes again and we're having so many hormonal imbalances. And then we're we have so many questions and some of us can have those conversations at home. Some of us don't have the access to have these conversations and some of us don't know how to put this into words.


We don't know how to express that. We need language. Exactly.


So those are all things that took roles in my life as to affecting how I felt and how I would go home and like want to take a scissor and like, say, oh, I just hate being so fat and I will do all these things to myself.


Then now I'm like, wow, if I would have just spoken to somebody that would have told me this is normal, it's OK, Mom would have saved me so much time and the decisions and I would have enjoyed things differently.


Also like allowing myself to understand that when I put myself first and I come across a relationship that I have a right or a choice to say, no, you're going to turn on the light and this is who I am and.


You know, it is what it is, right? Mm hmm. Yeah, and not necessarily that also, but it takes time, I feel like. Everything takes time and everything to find true harmony and to be balanced, you have to really break things apart, prioritize single out face you have to face, you have to take off the armor. You have to be vulnerable. All these things are good. All these things have to happen. We need to shed, we need to fall, we need that.


I love what you said about understanding your body that's so important. I know in the beginning of your career you said that you didn't feel seen or fully accepted in Hollywood. And I wonder how much mental space does that sense of belonging take up for you?


I've always had this sense of understanding why I haven't belong. Right. So you are an immigrant. You come to this country and you don't belong, right? You just continue to not belong. And so. Deciding to do. Something you love or something that is not actually foreseen in our communities as abundantly as it should, the images that were fed into my subconscious were of those of like that, then they were Novellus, you know, and the Sabado Gigante in the models in this stuff.


And so being able to be part of the industry now, I'm still. I still am learning how to take it all in, because I definitely think they are moving into a more positive direction and we're moving into a more inclusive direction. And yes, we are. But I definitely think that is very it's. It's very small and there's a lot more work to be done, and I always say it keeps on moving forward. We're going to come across people that will shift it and move it even further than we think.


And I think Orange did his job at the time that he had to do his job. And it transcended down to the individual contribution that we all took part in and doing what we can and again, having the ability to. Express these things in a safe place, I think is important. So, like. Now in our industry. When we look at. I just want to be included as to. I am essential. I am one of a kind.


There's only one me. And it's worth having me. You look at things differently. Mm hmm. You're like, there's not another me, right? This. Yeah. We can fit a similar group or whatever, you know, wherever you want to group me in. But there's only one me. Mm hmm. So it goes to show that body positivity starts with the inner self.


You can have somebody like me that looks exactly like me, but that doesn't speak or doesn't carry themselves or has just totally different energy. Right, and will that be as accepting as somebody that brings forth a different light or a different sense of. So in the industry now, I'm seeing them more often and I'm seeing that. Look, we have to be honest. Time passes, you have one moment, you're not the other. That's true, you can be popping right now, right, and tomorrow you, not me, and you're in the hands of a lot of people.


And so you have to make sure that for yourself and for your sanity that you understand that. Was for you, use for you. How you look is of importance. It's valuable. Mm hmm. And your differences should not be discarded. And I've had to learn that I didn't realize that my relationship with my body image had become unhealthy.


It was like taking over my thoughts. And fearing, right, I think is fearing, right? We fear certain things and we don't want to say that we fear it. Mhm. Right. Like oh I fear aging, right. Aging like a motherfucker, you know what I mean. Like honestly like because my mom look young and is I love, I love youth when I, I enjoy taking care of myself, you know, like I don't want to take care of those.


Good. Like that's you. But I enjoy taking care of myself. I like taking the time that I wasn't able to because I dedicated myself so much for other things in my life and put myself behind and behind and behind that I didn't pursue even a cause, a hindrance and even be pursuing this at a at an earlier stage in my life. And I know we hear it all, but the timing is now. No, no, no, no, no, no.


I get it. That's not what I'm talking about.


What I'm talking about is that I didn't see myself.


I didn't believe in what I felt and the love for artistry to be an artist, to to sing, to dance, to like I didn't see myself because I thought that I was ugly. I thought that I was fat. I thought that was, oh, I don't look like everybody out there. And that's a problem because you don't want to be like everybody else, you know. Do you really know like do you really like. No, there's certain things that we say all I want.


Well, she got like that Chanel bag, but but I'll get there.


So always that. And like, I was always taught to, like, don't let nobody put you down. Right. But it's OK for you to put yourself down. It doesn't make sense. That doesn't make sense.


So some people are like, oh, I wouldn't think that you have that issue because, you know, when you go to these events and when you go to this carpet and all this stuff, and I'm like, because I'm not going to look crazy, you know, when I walk into a place, I'm like, you cut the shit and you go out there and you do what you have to do, your shining baby, you know?


And then when you go home, you're like, oh, my God, look at this picture.


How would that help? Whatever, whatever. And then you get the you know, you get criticized so much. And and I think that I spoke to my friend yesterday, Simba, and he was like, yo, the moment that you start making hard decisions, your life becomes easier. It's those easy decisions that make you hard, make your life harder.


And I was like, oh, my God, I love when people just drop a gem, right. That I need to hear and be reminded. You need to be reminded how beautiful you are and that you're beautiful because of who you are, because you're just my Polly Pocket. And it's not because you're small. It's just that you're you open that little case and it's like so much fun with this little she has so much going on.


So tell me, like, now that we're on this, you know, creative tip, because I see you fucking Blumen and I love I love to see it.


Yeah. So I have been to more songwriting and creating music and finding other ways to express my fears. And songwriting is a beautiful thing, poetry is a beautiful thing, and I started journaling more and eventually my one of my goals is to open up about. Body image and write a book about that. Mm hmm. And so I've been writing more about my experience, but actually writing about the experience of. What am I doing to change emotionally, mentally and physically, to find the true moment of where I am free of this weight that I'm in the present moment and I'm like, you know, because right now I'm transitioning from I you know, I love to work out.


I'm a workout girl and I'm transitioning from that point of working out to lose weight and just working out every day, but also. Accepting that all this is my size now, because mentally I see myself still fat, but physically I'm not, I'm healthy, I, I look good, my clothes for good. What am I worried about? So you have to break from that. You have to like say, oh, this is OK today. I could I could be a medium tomorrow could be a large and it's OK.


It's fine. Mm hmm. I love them to something that I really I enjoy being sexy. I enjoy the feeling of being sexy. Yeah. And there's certain things that make me feel that whether it's like me right out of the shower, no makeup on and smelling fantastic or whether it's me like working out, sweating, and I see myself in the mirror and I'm like, well, why? Because I'm doing things that are for me. Mm hmm.


Mm hmm. When I'm going to the spa and I'm like, oh, I want to get this.


I want to try it. Yes, I want to try next my next time I come, I want to get a micro dermabrasion.


I want to get some radiofrequency and like do anything because I want my skin. Yeah. So look, this because for me, it's for you, for women out there that don't understand at the moment that you start like, oh, no, no, no, no, I'm doing this for me, who I know is Wincer, but I'm still going to get a pedicure. Yeah. Because I like seeing my toes on. Thank you. And you start doing that.


There's something about that. You're like, wow, I'm actually enjoying the time that I spent in the skin that I have been blessed with. Mm hmm.


Mm hmm. Like what what are some of, like the the practices that that you engage in to connect and to honor your body. Well, I'm all about I'm all about if you have the means to. Go get a facial if you have the means to go get a massage.


You know, if not, you know, there's practices you could do at home, coconut oil, like Hatake oils. And I massage them into my scalp if I can't do that sometimes. Is not doing nothing, is not doing nothing. Eating a bag of chips and ice cream. Yes. Together like this. And you're like on your couch doing what you want to do.


What are like for me, my freedom and doing what I want to do is most sacred.


And what better than you to be able to like when you have your period, let's say, and.


You just don't feel like doing nothing, but just like having warm compresses and and being cozy in your bed and just whether you want to scroll on your phone or you want to watch an old movie, Legally Blond, I don't know, coming from Rocky, whatever it is, I want to watch Casablanca, whatever it is that right.


There is such a privilege. I'm into all that. I'm into like, oh my God, this oil is good for this. I do it. Oh my God.


A a let's go to this retreat like a spiritual retreat to that we call Begorra spiritual, which we were going to do is going to be all. What happened is I love it having an experience for myself, trying the more and more I have these experiences and the more and more I am I have the access to it and I'm blessed enough to do what I love first and foremost and to connect with people, but to experience life in different ways. You know, that allows me to walk out of wherever I'm at work on set.


Be a parent, be a girlfriend. This one, it's just a stand in my power.


I love that. I love to see that. I love seeing you stand in your power because it helps me stand in my. And we could stand in the same power and not take from each other's power. I love you, love you, you support your support, your support dealer's duties. Thank you, Mama. That was great. Oh, my God. Yes, it was. Yeah, no, I'm not OK is a production of L.A. studios, remember to rate and review our show.


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Recommendations from our listeners and our team and listeners stories sign up at L.A. Dotcom Slash Newsletter's Jessica Pilot is our talent manager and producer. Our executive producers are loggi and me, Diane Guerreiro Webdesign by Andy Cheatwood at the Digital and marketing teams at Southern California Public Radio. Thanks to the team at L.A. studios including Taylor Kaufman, Kristen Hayford, Kristen Muller, Michael Constantino, Robert Joe, Mildred Langford and Lurgy, and a special thanks to Brian Crawford. This program is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.


Additional support comes from the Angel Foundation, supporting transformational leaders and by the California Health Care Foundation, dedicated to improving the mental health care system for all Californians. Have you ever wondered what happens to stories when they're no longer on the news? Join host Erica Vella on her unique history podcast. Whatever happened to as she talks with people at the center of stories that gripped the world's attention to find out not just what happened, but what's happened since, like the Pulse nightclub shooting, the ALS ice bucket and more?


Listen to whatever happened to for free on Apple podcast Spotify or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.