Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Alexis Neiers: From Bling Ring to Teething Ring

Alexis Neiers is probably best known for her arrest in the "Bling Ring" thefts and E! reality show "Pretty Wild." Now fast forward five-years and she is a wife, a mother, and dedicates any spare time she has to helping those batting drug addiction.

Five years ago at the tender age of 18 years-old Alexis grabbed fame and brought glamor to what the media labeled a string of celebrity home robberies as the "Bling Ring." Even Sofia Coppola jumped on board to make the 2013 movie of the same name "Bling Ring." Unlike many, Alexis did have access to the glam life of Hollywood. She had the designer clothes, money, and went to the best parties. Her mother is a former model and her father is a Hollywood producer. All this access also brought the best drugs, the wrong crowds and a fast life. She isn't passing the blame. She has owned up to her mistakes and putting that behind her. She has also been healing from the trauma of being sexually abused for several years as by a family friend. Now at the age of 23 she is a wife, a mother and is looking at her future in a new light. 

When I met Alexis it wasn't at a club or a bar. It was at a mother's blogger event and at Kids Ahoy indoor play area. She spoke of her adorable daughter, Harper, how she wants to help and support young people who are battling drug addiction, and her new found purpose of becoming a Doula. Sober for over three years, I didn't see a party girl. I saw a mother who is looking for a mother's village and trying to lead a healthy life for her child. Being a new mom she is learning to balance all the responsibilities of motherhood. In addition, she is trying to make a difference in the life of young people battling drug addiction by helping them into treatment. What a difference 5 years make. 

What is life like now. Well, here is a little glimpse into Alexis world:

Q&A with Alexis:
It was just four years ago since "Pretty Wild" and your arrest for the "Bling Ring" thefts. How did that change your life? 
That time period in my life was intense. It feels like a lifetime ago. I was addicted to opiates and in a huge amount of pain from a childhood filled with trauma and abuse. Looking back on it now I can see how these things that were perceived as so negative lead me to a place today where I have achieved real happiness and peace.

What are some misconceptions the public may have of you? 
There are so many. I used to care so much about what other people think and what the gossip sites had to say. Sometimes they were right but sometimes they weren’t and at times it is very painful. Eventually you learn to stop reading and listening. After I achieved long term sobriety and was able to work through my past abuse and trauma I began letting go of the fear that I had about what other people think about me. Sometimes there are times when I second guess myself or am not taking care of myself as much as I need to. And in those times I can get sucked into feelings of self-doubt or really its ego.

You said that the media was real cruel to you after you had Harper last year. What were the most hurtful things they said? 
When I got sober my life really quieted down a lot, which I really liked. There had been some news of my long-term sobriety and that I got married. When my daughter was four weeks old the movie that Sofia Coppola made about the "Bling Ring" came out in theaters. When Harper was just four weeks old I had paparazzi outside of my apartment in Calabasas. The comments that followed were horrible. Some people stated that I was fat, looked 9 month pregnant (which is normal for four weeks post partum especially after a c-section.) Others commented that I was a junkie whose child would be ruined because I was a terrible mother. I had to realize that this is what miserable people do with their lives. The anger eventually turned into sadness because I realized that there is an overall sickness in the world.

Did Sofia Coppola ever reach out to you when making the movie the "Bling Ring"?
She did. We had lunch and chatted but at that point she already had a clear picture of how she was going to make that movie, little that my family had to say mattered.  

Many new moms in Hollywood work out really hard to get their pre-baby bodies back. Was it a conscious decision to stay away from personal trainers and diets? 
AHH! I am so passionate about this topic. First of all it is healthy, normal and recommended by medical professionals to gain between 40-45 pounds if you are a healthy weight pre-baby. I was stick thin when I got pregnant with my daughter and gained a lot of weight. So I know first hand how difficult it can be to accept your new body as a pregnant woman. Especially when you see stars that only gain 25-30 pounds on the covers of magazines. And then sometimes you don’t and you have women like Kim Kardashian, who was called a whale by tabloids when she was pregnant with her baby. Then once we have our babies instead of putting our baby's needs first we feel pressure to loose the weight fast. Kim Kardashianis (is) a prefect example of this. She chose not to breastfeed, to go on the Atkins diet and to do personal training etc.. Now that is her choice and it doesn’t bother me but, it is a perfect example of how much pressure women feels to loose the weight fast.

You chose to stay at home with out the help such as a nanny or house keeper, why?
When I chose to become a mother I decided to put my daughters needs first. For me that meant breastfeeding for at least a year, baby wearing and co-sleeping. It wasn’t easy but I was willing to put a large portion of my immediate desires on the back burner for my daughter.  I did eventually loose all of the weight and it was in a healthy way. I breastfed so I needed to eat at least 2500 calories a day with a balanced diet of protein, carbs, and healthy fats. I didn’t go to a gym until she was 6 months old. Part of that was because of my c-section and part of that was because I didn’t have much help.

I didn’t hire a nanny because I chose to be a stay at home mom. I work from home, cook, clean and raise my baby all on my own. Why? Well for many reasons. I don’t want nor do I need anyone else raising my baby. I am a strong believer in attachment parenting so that was out of the question. I enjoy being a mother and raising my baby. I enjoy the appreciation and love that my hard work provides my family with. I love that my husband acknowledges and appreciates all of the things that I do for my family. I didn’t get married and have a child because I thought that it would be easy or because I thought that I could still party, vacation, hang out with my girlfriends every day and go shopping. I did it because I wanted a healthy family, which is something that I didn’t have growing up. And now we vacation as a family, and my lunches with my girlfriends include my daughter and Im loving every minute of it.

As a new mom, what surprised you the most about yourself? 
Becoming a mother helped me realize how strong I am. That may be shocking to many of you because if you have heard my life story then you know that I was sexually abused as a young child for many years, that I have been raped, a heroin addict and have been to jail and that I overcame all of that and got sober and now help other women achieve sobriety. Even though people tell me on a pretty regular basis how strong I am I didn’t really realize it until the birth of my daughter. My birth experience was really difficult but I walked out of it a changed woman. I was having a home birth and after 12 hours of drug free labor and pushing I was transferred to the hospital for an emergency c-section.

You have spoken openly about being  sexually assaulted when you were a child, do you feel that makes you more protective about your daughter? Will you tell her about the demons you faced in your childhood?
I will tell her about my past abuse when she is at the proper ageI don’t know when that will be yet but probably when she is a teenager. My mom told me about some abuse that happened to her when I was maybe 8. I believe that it backfired and triggered a lot of fear and I would even say paranoia in me. My mom put me in rape self defense classes when I was 9 or10. I know that her only intention was to protect us but by doing so I lives in a world that I had believed was scary and she just re affirmed to me that it was. I’m looking into different ways to educate Harper on safety in a way that aren’t going to scare her. 

Looking back on your childhood, what things that you said you would never do as a parent you are now thinking are not such bad ideas?
I love my mom so much but I don’t know if there is anything that I would re consider now as a parent. I would say that one thing that I think is really important that I took away from my mom is to be informed and research the things that we are feeding our children, using on our children as far as skincare and what we are putting on our children like diapers that have harmful chemicals in them etc. 

What is you and your husband's parenting style? Are they the same? 
As parents we work really well together. I think because we work together at communicating in an effective way about our feelings and needs as a couple and as parents. 

What was the last thing your husband did that really made your day? 
My husband is an amazing man. He works 5-6 days a week 10+ hours a day for our family and still manages to be an incredible husband and father. Just last night as I crawled onto the couch next to him I thanked him and let him know how loved I felt for all of the support that he had given me this week. I last minute decided to go to a Doula training all weekend that meant that I would be gone for 30 hours. He got on board right away and watched Harper all day Saturday and Sunday. He bought me a beautiful necklace with Harpers name engraved on it and then last night he fed her and put her to bed so I could go to yoga. We both work really hard and it is so important to go to that extra mile for each other and we do.

Are you closer now with your mom, since you had Harper?
When I got pregnant it brought up a lot from my childhood. And as a mother I now know that a lot of what was going on was unhealthy. The journey of motherhood has really allowed for us to heal and grow. It hasn’t always been pretty but it resulted in growth which has been a positive experience for both of us. 

You have a blog called Harper&Me. How did that come about?
I started writing for Vice magazine shortly after Harper was born and I really fell in love with writing. Then, with all of the heat that I got about my new body the activist in me was born. I wanted to do a mommy blog that was about my journey into motherhood. A lot of that included learning how to dress this new body of mine, how to cope with post partum depression, how to heal and really how to love and accept yourself. 

Harper is wearing Matilda Jane Clothing
How do you think you can help mom's most? 
I think by growing as a mother and as a woman. And being willing to share my experience is really important. I’m not here to teach people anything I am here to share my experience and maybe to inspire growth or a possibility of positive change in others. 

You give back and help young people who have gone through what you have been through. How are you doing this?
I help people not only through my presence online with Vice , twitter, my blog, etc. but I also work with addicts in a twelve step program. Service work is the way that I stay sober. I do this in multiple ways but one really cool one was the short documentary that I just did with Vice about heroin addiction. You can check it out on their website

You mentioned being a Doula. Tell me more about that. How did that come about?
It is really interesting how life works sometimes. About a year and a half ago a girl reached out to me and asked for help with some drug issues that she was dealing with. I am never one to force someone into getting sober and she wasn't quite ready yet. We continued to speak on and off for a few months and then one day she called me and told me that she was pregnant. She went to detox and went on to carry her baby full term. We continued to talk but never met in person. She would call and ask for advice and sometimes we would just chat. One day she told me that she literally had no one that knew much of anything about labor or birth to accompany her at her birth. The babies father was not in the picture during her pregnancy, her mom had passed and her sister didn't have children. She also mentioned that she was delivering in the hospital but wanted a drug free birth. So of course, me being the mothering woman that I am I offered to attend her birth and to assist her in natural labor. The only experience that I had was the many various birth classes that I took, from hypno-birthing, to natural birth etc. and of course my own experience with my delivery. So the first time I met this girl she was in false labor and I went to the hospital anyways just to make sure she and baby were okay. The second time was the real deal. She made it through ten hours of natural labor, with back labor and 30 minutes of pushing and she delivered her healthily, beautiful little girl. Somehow I  instinctively knew how to help her. The techniques that I was using worked too. The experience was like a high for me. Here I was watching this in complete awe. It was almost like everyone in the room just fell in love with each other the second she pushed that baby out. I thought I was going crazy that something could effect me like this. I now know about all of the hormones and the chemical reaction that actually does take place after a woman delivers her baby and that this is totally normal. I was sold. I called my midwife the next day and told her what had happened. She told me about a DONA training that was taking place the next weekend and I signed right up. 

Are there plans for more kids? 
 Yes, we are talking.

Any thoughts of a new reality show that shows how the "Pretty Wild" girl has become a full time mom? 
 At this point in time no. I really like my quiet, somewhat peaceful life right now.

To follow Alexis you can go to:
Harper & Me

Special Thank You to:
Photographer, Denise Butler
Matilda Jane Clothing stylist Lisa Rapo 
Kids Ahoy Indoor Playground