Addiction and Compassion: How America*s Next Top Model Taught Me That Being Cool Sucks


A couple of days ago I came across this image on facebook of former America’s Next Top Model contestant Jael Strauss:

I was so shocked by the image and her drug induced transformation that I had to search the internet to see if the image was real.  Sadly, it is.  Jael is in the midst of a fierce meth addiction.  It’s tragic.

It’s not tragic because she has destroyed her beauty.  It’s tragic because she is destroying and wasting her life.  And what makes this all the more heartbreaking are the comments that people are leaving about her condition.

These are direct quotes from images that were posted on facebook :

“Don’t Do Drugs: You will no longer be able to afford the make-up you once hid behind so well!!”

“I saw the season she was on, there was a lot of makeup involved. She kinda looked like a crackhead then too.”


“But what’s awesome is that she’s turned into Daniel Craig in drag…”

I ordinarily bite my tongue on social networks because it’s typically a waste of time and energy, but this time I weighed in:

“Yeah. It’s awesome to make fun of someone, anyone, whose life is being destroyed by their poor decisions…cause, you know, we’re all perfect and have never made a bad decision in our lives. Nope. Never.”

To which I received this response:

“Actually, having dealt with my family (Mother, an Alcoholic), friends (two of which died of Heroin overdoses), girlfriends (Coke addicts, Alcoholics, you name it), Band Members ( Name your poison) my entire life, you’re absolutely right – I have 0%-tolerance or compassion for addicts or junkies or any of them. If you had, you’d know how they are sucking sinkholes of destruction – not just to themselves, but to everyone around them. Their selfish, childish decisions to simply hide behind drugs and booze to mask the pain that the rest of us mature adults face head-on and feel every bit of, is like a tornado, wiping out everything in its path. So, to answer your question, no, I feel nothing for addicts & drunks. Sorry. I tried, in vain, for years, to be the good son, the good friend, the good boyfriend or band-mate – you know what I got? Zero. F*cking nothing but feeling like a fool and years of wasted time, tears, blood (sometimes), lost money, lost possessions, heartache, pain – and they either died or never really got better. So, Nope. F*ck them. Sorry. I’m done being a sucker for f*ck-ups.”

My final response to the above author sums up my thoughts on the subject:

“I have dealt with [addicts] and I will always have compassion for people who are suffering. Healthy people don’t make these kinds of decisions. Would you mock someone who is schizophrenic? Something bad happens in these people’s lives that leads them to make these poor decisions. Compassion doesn’t mean being an enabler. It doesn’t mean continuing to support or even tolerate their behavior. It means having compassion and not mocking someone else’s pain and problems. I have cut people out of my life due to their issues and addictions and that is the very reason I would never mock someone who is struggling with addiction. We are all someone’s friend, someone’s child, someone’s something. Every single person on this planet is loved by someone and that includes addicts. I’m not making excuses for their behavior but I personally find it in poor taste to make fun of anyone’s struggles…unless the struggles are my own.”


My point in all of this is not about addiction (we all know that it’s tragic) but about society’s general lack of compassion.


At some point this callous and sarcastic attitude has permeated our culture and you find it almost everywhere.  Just look at what blogger Rich Juzwiak wrote in his post on

“…it does seem pretty insane. Insane enough to tune in to an episode of Dr. Phil, which is pretty insane, indeed.  I’ll let you know if anything else good happens after it airs.”

People seem to associate this horrible and holier-than-thou attitude with being “cool.”  What is cool about cruelty, anger and ignorance?

I don’t know about you but I’ll take nice over cool any day.  Who’s with me?  Let’s become less of a critical and cruel society and embrace kindness and compassion instead.  Those of you who read me regularly know that it’s all about the love.  So let’s spread a little shall we?  For the rest of the day, or the rest of the week if you think you can manage it (it’s harder than you think) let’s not be critical of anyone…not ourselves or others.  If you start to say or think something judgmental just stop.  Don’t finish the thought.  Let it go and remember that none of us are perfect and that we all deserve love.

Will you join me?

Let’s start a revolution.  Today. 

All in favor say “Aye.”


Compassionate Kisses &  Chaos,

Alli Woods Frederick


image credits:  via UMI  |  via CBS  |  via Jael  |  Kindness ©2012 Alli Woods Frederick. all rights reserved
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