Saturday, March 20, 2010

Pro Ana Sites

Recently, I was asked about my stance on Pro Ana (for Anorexia or Pro Mia for Bulimia) websites.

First I must say that yes, it has been through a unique vehicle that I’ve been able to contribute to a world greater than myself. And that is pageantry and my foundation, No Body’s Perfect. The biggest criticism I have received during my reign is that the media and arenas such as pageantry, or modeling are the things that are fueling the very thing I am trying to defeat.
And those are all very valid concerns, but in fact, for me the title of Miss Maryland has served as a giant microphone for increasing awareness of the severity and the prevalence of eating disorders in the United States, particularly within the state.

Over 10 million women in this country are struggling from anorexia and or bulimia. 90% of those women are between the age of 12 and 25. And 15% of all women in the United Sates who are NOT diagnosed with an eating disorder display substantially disordered eating attitudes and behaviors.

Now, back to the websites. For those of you that are not familiar, pro ana sites provide visitors to the page tips and tricks to being thin-- links to miracle diets or body cleansing products, "inspiration" photos or videos of themselves or supermodels with unattainable figures for most teens or young adults, purging secrets, and on and on. Over 6.5 M of these websites exist worldwide.

I find it extremely sad that these "communities" exist. As you can imagine, they build a FALSE sense of support. Instead of being a haven to discuss the illness, they are rooted in the promotion of unhealthy behaviors and are a marketplace for swapping destructive attitudes. Contradictory to what these websites advertise, eating disorders are NOT a lifestyle choice.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Loyola University Maryland Women Emerging Leaders Conference

I couldn't have been happier to have ended my reign with a keynote address at the Loyola University Maryland Women Emerging Leaders Conference (say that five times fast!). Thank you to Sara Scalzo and the planning committee at Loyola for the kind invitation and all attendees who braved the rain storms!

Rarely this year did I get nervous speaking in front of an audience -- but there was something about this event that was different. Because it wouldn't be about nutrition necessarily, or even being Miss Maryland... it was just about me, and how my personal struggle had in fact become my biggest success.

What I offered was my story, in the hopes that it would serve as a precursor to discovering their best selves-- I brought excerpts from old journals (the exercising diaries, calorie counting, etc), and described the day I knew everything had changed and I entered an eating disorder treatment facility. 4 years later I found myself in a position to make a difference.

These speaking engagements have been extremely therapeutic for my own life and my ability to sustain a healthy weight and more importantly, a positive mind. It is often believed that eating disorders are not something you are magically cured of, no matter how much counseling you have endured, no matter how much weight you have gained. It’s almost disheartening to think that I may never been fully cured. It has and will always be a part of me. And so looking beyond my term as Miss Maryland it has become clear to me that volunteerint and public speaking have become essential parts of my brand. In their reflection, the women were urged to think of their own brand-- who they are and what they believe and value.

Thank you for your candid questions and feedback-- it was my pleasure!

At the end of it all, "keep striving. Keep learning. Don't ever be done climbing. "

~Nicole Ortiz, MBA '09

Saturday, March 6, 2010

MHS Charm City Gala

From a performance of Good Morning Baltimore to Hons and a city scape that spanned the entire school, it was as if I had stepped onto the set of Hairspray-- my first Charm City Magic Gala was so much fun I can't believe I hadn't been in the six years it's been held at Mercy High School. I even won a silent auction item for a spa treatment at the Federal Hill Massage and Wellness Center and a gift certificate to M Salon, also in Federal Hill.

An additional live auction and various raffles and donations alone, by my count should have raised over $30,000 toward the school and tuition assistance for families who have been challenged by the recession.

Thank you to all attendees, student volunteers, bidders, sponsors, Board of Trustees and the Alumni board for your support and dedication to MHS. What a great night to celebrate the successes of alumni and the anticipation of what the future holds for graduates-to be. I am already marking my calendar for next year's Gala and Mercy's 50th Anniversary!
Xoxo, Nicole c/o 2001

Photos below are of mercy girls, the high anticipated puppy, fave faculty and SMAS: