Podcast Transcription: Relatable Feminism, Anti-Bullying and Loving Yourself No Matter What with Violet Benson in Podcast

Episode 35 – Relatable Feminism, Anti-Bullying and Loving Yourself No Matter What with Violet Benson

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In this episode Rachel is joined by comedian and social media superstar Violet Benson, also known as Daddy Issues! Violet rose to stardom through her wildly popular meme account @daddyissues_ on Instagram where she highlights relatable and controversial topics through the eyes of the millennial woman. They talk about how Violet’s struggles with being bullied and having low self-esteem led her to create the social media alter ego that completely changed her life and Rachel shares her own experiences with not fitting in as a young teen. They dive into the topic of feminism, gender inequality in the comedy world, using online influence to make people smile and how in the end, we should all just be a little bit kinder to each other (especially on the internet!).

[001:25] Rachel: Hi, and welcome to another episode of From The Heart: Conversations with Yoga Girl. Today I have such a fun guest on the show, an absolute breath of fresh air, Violet Benson. She’s a social media superstar and feminist comedian otherwise known as Daddy Issues, and I’m so excited to have her on the show. Welcome to From The Heart, Violet!

Violet: Hi! Thank you so much. It’s so nice to be here. I was really excited when you reached out, I’m really excited to be on this podcast.

Rachel: I’m so excited to have you, because you’re not our usual norm for this show.

Violet: (laugh) Mmhm.

Rachel: We get a lot of, like, you know, yogis and wellness people. You’re one of my favorite people on the internet, and I’m so excited to have some contrasting personality on the show. It’s super needed.

Violet: Thank you. And if it’s any consolation, I’ve done yoga, like, a few times before, so…

Rachel: Oh, and how was that?

Violet: Um … You know, actually, one time I got really into hot yoga, during my breakup with my second boyfriend, I got into hot yoga, and it was, because I always say when you breakup with someone, you have to become obsessed with something. I remember after my second breakup I got obsessed with hot yoga. And that’s what helped me get over my second boyfriend. And I swear, like, I remember every time, in the end, when the teacher, you know, she like gives you some advice or she says something inspiring, I would tear up or cry every time at the end because, you know, it was helping me get through my breakup. But, I think when I got older, I just got more stressed and and I’d always think in yoga, I’d be like, “Oh my god, how much longer?!” You know?

Rachel: (laugh) But wait, is this like a rule of thumb? This is a rule of thumb that works, so after a breakup you have to become obsessed with something? How does that go?

Violet: Yes. So, oh yeah. I mean, I’m about to say some show that I’m on. I don’t mean to promote it, but like I have a show on Facebook called “Top Five with Violet Benson” and I just posted an episode about five ways to get over someone, and I believe that one of the ways to get over someone is to become obsessed with something. Because after a breakup you’re so upset with that person, because you’re thinking, like, “Why did they dump me?” If you’re going through a breakup, even if you dump them, you’re still thinking about them, you’re missing the good stuff, and it’s constantly in your head. So you have to get busy with something else. I think it’s a good thing for anyone trying to get over any bad habit. Because when you breakup with someone, I look at it as, like, you’re going through rehab for yourself. So, in order to go through rehab from the person you’re obsessed with, like, you have to start obsessing over something else. So, after my second breakup, there was yoga.

[004:00] Rachel: Oh my god, as you say this I’m realizing, like, I got super into yoga, like really really into yoga for the first time right after a breakup, actually.

Violet: You see! So you need to thank your ex-boyfriend for your success!

Rachel: Oh my god, that’s just so funny. It never even occurred to me until you just said it.

Violet: You’re welcome.

Rachel: I just have to share, you are just my total, my guilty pleasure. I have so many girlfriends, because I live in Aruba and most of my best friends, some are in the States, some are in Sweden, they’re all over the place. I have friends that I only communicate with these days by tagging, like, we tag each other in your social media posts. We don’t even talk anymore.

Violet: And that’s how you know the friendship is real. The friendship is real when you don’t really talk often, but you tag each other in memes.

Rachel: I know. Constantly, every day. I mean, it’s just … You’re my favorite favorite funny account of all.

Violet: Aw, thank you.

Rachel: And for anyone who is listening, because I know this is not, maybe, your usual demographic, I would kind of like to, you know, start at the beginning a little bit. Because you have this hugely popular social media presence, and it’s just growing and growing. At least from my point of view you’re becoming a really big voice when it comes to feminism. Maybe in a really, you know, like slightly controversial way, which I love. It just seems like you’re so yourself and that you’re so comfortable in your skin, and you’re just able to raise women’s voice, especially on such a … what has been, I think, like a very manly type platform. Like, you know, memes and comedy and stuff, I feel like you’re the only … one of very few female voices. But, for someone who doesn’t know you, you know, Violet Benson, you’re Daddy Issues, how did you get started? Like, pre-yoga, pre-breakup, pre- all of that.

[006:00] Violet: So basically I am … I was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. I’m an immigrant in the U.S. When we were 14 we won the Green Card lottery. It’s a thing, I don’t know if some people are familiar with it, but Green Card lotteries are real, for now.

Rachel: Yeah. It’s been in the news a lot lately.

Violet: (laugh) Right.

Rachel: Yeah! But it’s real and it’s legitimate. And it’s not like… you know, do you know more about that? Because it’s been so, at least all over my news channels lately.

Violet: Yeah, right, and I try my best to stay away from politics. I know, I mean … To me it was such a blessing. So as to what’s happening in the new about how maybe that’d be a blessing for everyone soon, which would be terrible, because for me, like, I think it changed my life, winning the Green Card lottery. I also, even though I was born in Russia, I lived in Israel with my family when we won the Green Card lottery, so I lived in the Middle East when we won the green card lottery, so we were still thankful enough to win it.

So yeah, when I was 14 we won it, we moved to the U.S. I had to start re-learning English because English is my third language. Growing up with my father, who is a Russian immigrant man, he’s very strict. So my whole life I grew up believing in having to work really hard, work comes first, having a 9 to 5, and all I wanted was to make my father happy. So, my sister became an attorney and I became an accountant. I have two degrees in accounting and business law, and that was my life. My goal was to become a partner, but for some reason in my team, I was the youngest in my team, because I was a special type of taxes that I was doing, it was … What was I doing? It was … city and state law or something like that, but it had to do with taxes.

[008:00] The women in my team were just becoming so terrible to me. They were constantly focused on my look because I don’t know if people are aware of what I look like, but whatever. I’m a 5’8” Russian blonde with double D’s. It’s not my fault (laugh) like, it’s just, you know, it’s who I am. And I never focus on my looks. For me I was a really hard worker. I graduated college at 20, I was just doing what I can to make my dad happy. And the women on my team were just starting to make my life miserable. They were not including me in things, they were making sure I don’t get bonuses or making sure I don’t get bonuses, or making sure I don’t get a raise, making sure I don’t get promoted. It was miserable, because they just always thought, like, everything had to do with my looks, when it didn’t

It got to the point where I would just cry in my car every day before walking into work. But I kept telling myself, like, you know, “This is what an adult is like. Adult life is being miserable in a 9 to 5. This is normal,” you know?

Rachel: Adults cry in the car before they go to work, it’s totally normal. (laugh) This is what it has to be.

Violet: Yeah! Like, that’s what my dad told me. My dad told me, like, “Adult life is miserable,” but like, you know, I’ve got to grow up. So I was trying to, and I was struggling. All my life I was so into making people like me and love me, hence “Daddy Issues.” Like, in every high school I was focused on becoming popular so people would like me, so it was very hard for me to understand accounting, why no matter what I did these women didn’t like me and I couldn’t fit in. It was hard for me to understand.

So then I had no social media platforms, and just for the hell of it one day I opened a meme account and called it “Daddy Issues” because I have it, I assumed other people had it, and if not, that type of dad issues, I assume like most people maybe, especially in L.A. have, like, Daddies. So maybe they can relate to it somehow?

Rachel: (laugh)

Violet: I was like, you know, it’s a relatable name.

Rachel: Have you ever regretted this name? Like, now, have you ever regretted it? Have you ever had moments of, like, oh my god, this name.

[010:00] Violet: Yes! I have moments I regret the name because I never … I started it for myself, so I never imagined it could be big, and I never imagined that that could be, like, your job. So, it was weird for me, I think, when I started to grow, and suddenly people started to recognize me, they’re like, “Yoga, Daddy Issues!” Like, in the street. And I’m like, “Oh my god.”

Rachel: (laugh)

Violet: Like I should have put more thought into this.

Rachel: (laugh) You’re like, “Yep, that’s me.”

Violet: Yeah! So, it’s kind of weird. But I think I’m trying to help change the stigma of what daddy issues really is. I don’t think it has to be … One thing I tell everyone is to be themselves. I don’t think it has to be if a woman has daddy issues, that means she’s sleeping with everyone, taking off her clothes. Like, my type of daddy issues, it just means, like, I want to be loved, and I can get attached to people faster, and I’m scared that they’re going to leave me. And there’s also men with daddy issues. Like, everyone has some type of issues with their parents, but I think my point is that you don’t depend on your flaws and say like, “Well I’m this way because my dad didn’t love me or my mom didn’t love me.” I’m telling you, like, just accept yourself and be happy with your life. Like, don’t look at something that happened in the past and assume that this is the way you are and you can never change.

Rachel: Right, right. So, you started that account, and it was just as a, you know … was it like an escape just to get away from the really hard time you had with those women at work?

Violet: Yeah. This account that I started, it was anonymous because I was, you know, I didn’t know who I was. I was very lost. Plus, I didn’t want to focus on my looks anymore. I wanted to focus on making people happy or making myself happy without anyone looking at me, and that’s kind of where I went with this. I was posting, and I was posting things that I thought were weird about me. And then suddenly I would see people tagging their friends and being like, “Oh my god, that’s so me.” And I was just like, “What? Other people can relate to this? It’s not just me? What the hell? I thought I was just being weird.” And it become my obsession.

[012:00] So, instead of focusing on how much my co-workers didn’t like me, I became focused, obsessed with this account. I was like, “How can I grow it? How can I get celebrities to notice me?” And I think I was lucky enough back three years ago when I started because I started, like, a new trend which was very female based. And it was all for women, mostly. And gay guys. And I think that’s why my account managed to grow so rapidly and to get noticed. I think, like, right now, if I start a meme account, no one would care because there’s so many out there. But I think I started, like, something new three years ago, and that’s why I managed to kind of get big.

Rachel: I mean it was really new. I mean, I started following it I think really, really early on, so before you were private with it, when it was just a really anonymous account because one of my best friends tagged me in something. And it was so, at the time, it was really controversial because it was about sex, it was about alcohol, it was about sleeping with a guy and then what happens. You know, no one was sharing that type of stuff. There’s so many male accounts in that way, where it’s all about, I don’t know, getting drunk or getting laid or just stupid stuff. But there was none that was just skewed from this female point of view where it was okay to kind of speak up about the fact that, okay, I have sex, it does not mean I’m a slut.

Violet: Exactly, yeah.

Rachel: I can talk about this and just be super open and honest. And it was such a breath of fresh air because, yeah, no one else was doing that. But that was a really, yeah, I mean, it was a long time ago now. So I think, you’re right, now, you really did start that trend, because there’s more of it out there, but, I mean, your presence is the biggest by far.

Violet: Thank you. And it helped me, when I was growing the account and people made me feel like they’re accepting me because they’re like, “Oh my god, that’s so me too.” It made me feel like, I think, I was slowly finding myself, because I think all these years I didn’t really know who I was or what to be okay with. And this Daddy Issues was like my altar ego. It was this cool girl that I wish I could be that was okay if she wanted to sleep with someone and not call him the next day even though I’m more of the attached one.

[014:00] So, I almost felt like I had a split personality, but it was still really cool, and I think I was slowly finding myself and gaining back my confidence with people making me feel like I’m not weird, or like, accepting my weirdness. Then the more that I learned to accept myself and I finally became who I am I noticed, “Oh my god, I’m actually helping other people too.” Like, I never thought … It was crazy to me when I started to get different emails from people like, “I’m the black sheep, I live in Louisiana and I’m the black sheep in my family, I’m 29 years old and I … my whole family doesn’t know that I’m gay, and seeing how you’re so open about being the black sheep in your family, even though we have different issues, I’m finally ready to come out.” And to read something like that I’m like, “What?! Like, a meme of mine, or just my captions inspired you to want to finally come out to your family at 29 years old?” And it’s so, so heartbreaking as well to think, like, ‘til 29 years old you were hiding who you really were. So, of course I’m like constantly emailing all of these people back, and it was just amazing to know, like, I wasn’t only helping myself, I was helping other people with my humor.

Rachel: I mean, what a rewarding thing! So, was it really quick that you … did you give up accounting altogether, just like that? Or was it a long …

Violet: Um, no. I think it took me like six months while I was doing it, I was growing, and some celebrities started to follow me, I think. My first celebrity, though, was Joe Jonas.

Rachel: (laugh)

Violet: So that was really cool. I was like, “What?! Joe just followed me?!”

Rachel: Maybe Joe Jonas has daddy issues too, yeah.

Violet: (laugh) No, I mean, he loved that account. All his friends thought he was Daddy Issues. Like, him and his friends had this game between them, trying to pretend that each one was Daddy Issues. Like, and that’s what I liked about being anonymous, because people would be, like, pretend to their friends that they are me.

Rachel: So, how long did that last? The anonymity of it.

[016:00] Violet: So, I was anonymous and then for six months I was still working, but it was making me feel better. Then right after, because I started it on July, and then right after New Year’s, the day or a few days after New Year’s, I was just really depressed and I was like, “Yeah, this account is fun, but I’m still miserable at work.” And then MTV wrote an article about me, about being, like, the most relatable female account worldwide. I remember I cried and I was like, “Oh my god, this could be a business!” A few days later I incorporated myself, hence I’m an accountant. So I turned myself into a business, and then two or three months later I quit my job. So I would say I was at work for around nine months before fully quitting and supporting myself financially fully via Instagram.

Rachel: That’s incredible. And the fact that, yeah, that this is a big brand now. I mean, it’s grown a lot just in this really short time. What I find is the most, I guess, I think the most interesting part of all of this is the feminist aspect of what you do. And I don’t know if a lot of people look at it that way, but at least from my point of view, I feel really empowered when I read your stuff, even if it is, you know, some days about, you know … yeah, whatever. Like, feeling lazy, not wanting to get up in the morning. You know, you talk about some, maybe, issues that can seem really trivial, but there’s this underlying big theme of raising the voice of the woman. So, how big of a part does that play in what you share?

Violet: Well, I think it’s … I mean, a big part, because it’s mainly for women, but I mean, I try to be open and make sure it’s for men too. I mean, it’s constantly, I think, trying to have a voice for women and trying to help women not be embarrassed and everything. Because, you know, one thing I hate, I hate … I like to just take things that we were embarrassed about and make women feel okay. Like, for example, when you’re in a relationship and you’re constantly being called crazy. Like, then let’s make a joke about crazy because, like, screw you, I’m not crazy, you’re just an asshole. Which is an article I wrote.

[018:00] Rachel: What? You’re not crazy-

Violet: “I’m Not Crazy, You’re Just an Asshole.”

Rachel: (laugh)

Violet: (laugh) I wrote that. But, and like, that’s kind of what I want to make girls feel okay, or I want to help them through their breakups, and I want to remind them to love themselves so then they’re not constantly going back to some asshole. And I want to make women feel okay about if they feel like sleeping around, because it’s their choice, and it’s not fair when they have to feel ashamed, versus a man can go around, sleep around. Like, I know with my first or second relationship, I had a middle eastern boyfriend, I mean, three of my exes are middle eastern, and from his culture, the way he was raised was that, you know, the woman had to be very conservative. And it was kind of like he was always cheating on me, but he made me feel bad if I even thought about, you know, looking at another guy. So, I’m like sitting at home being like a good girl, and he’s having sex with everyone else, including, like, everyone. You know? And that’s not fair! Why should I feel embarrassed about wanting to sleep with someone when he’s doing it all around? Or, I mean, why should I stay with someone that’s cheating on me, that’s another story.

Rachel: Yeah, that’s another story. But no, I feel like a lot of people can really relate with this. And I hope that this, specifically through social media, that it’s changing now. I don’t know, I have five younger sisters, and four of them are in their teens. They’re literally from 15 to 20 years old, all of them. And I kind of see how they’re growing up and how they’re dealing with their first relationships, and getting attention from boys, and it seems to me that there’s a different looking at least from their eyes than I had when I was 15, 16.

Violet: Totally.

Rachel: You know, I had my sister the other day and we were talking about some boy that she liked, and I said, you know, “Remember that you’re always in charge. You always decide where you want things to go. If you don’t want to see him anymore, that’s totally okay.” And she answered, like, “Well, duh! Why would you tell me that?” And I was like, “Well, when I was 15 I needed to hear that. No one told me that, I didn’t know. I had a lot of really shitty relationships because of that, and felt taken advantage of.” And she was like, “What? Duh, why are you telling me this! You’re stupid!”

[020:00] Violet: Well, I also feel like with social media it’s … I think we’re becoming hard on ourselves, so that’s why I think my account … I feel so happy that it’s out there, because you go on social media now and like even 12 year olds have kiks and like they’re posting, like, half nudes on Instagram. You’re like, wow, this girl is so beautiful, not in a sexual way, because, you know, she’s 12. But it’s kind of like even the 12 year olds are become so beautiful and like there’s so many options on Instagram now. And it makes you feel bad about yourself if you feel like, “How come I don’t look like that?” And I think that’s where my Instagram can come into play, again, by like making fun of us pretending like our life is so perfect on Instagram, or like being honest that we all don’t have it figured out. Because then you see even the beautiful model that you were envious of is tagging her bff on a meme that says, like, “You don’t have your shit together.” Then you’re like, “Oh my gosh, she can relate too? Okay, thank god.” You know?

Rachel: Everyone has the same insecurities. I mean, yeah, even that super picture perfect Instagram model, everybody feels the same. But that’s the challenge of all of this. I don’t know if the really young people, if they’re getting that, or what kind of generation that’s coming out of this social media world, because it’s soooo different.

Violet: Yeah. Well, the social media world is also all about bullying, and I think one thing I’ve made sure on my Instagram is to never make fun of anyone else. My jokes are always about myself. Sometimes I make some jokes about men, in general, just because I want to give women some power, which I know isn’t fully right, you know? If I made a joke about a man’s height or a man’s penis to give women feel empowered, which I know wasn’t great on my end. But I do my best not to make fun of other people, and that’s the whole point. Because my whole thing is women should be friends with one another and not put each other down. So when you see a beautiful woman, like, you should be able to appreciate her beauty without wanting to put her down for it. You know? Or like, if you, when you’re in … Yeah?

[022:00] Rachel: What has your own … No, and I mean, you’ve had some experience with that yourself, personally, or no, growing up.

Violet: With women not liking me?

Rachel: Yeah, or bullying, per say. Because I know you’re big anti-bully, like, you speak about that a lot publicly, and I find-

Violet: Oh, so you’re asking me to talk about that one thing? (laugh)

Rachel: (laugh) Do you want to talk about that one thing? We don’t have to, but I find that there is a lot of people out there that do. Also, in the yoga world, there is a lot of young women, young teens that find their way to yoga and meditation from coming out of really, really shitty place in school, or feeling like they don’t fit in, or being actually bullied. So I think it’s … Yeah, I love how you raise the issue and actually speak about it because there are so many young people, most people that are on social media now, that are really, really active, that live this lifestyle, they are young, and they do need more guidance. Maybe they haven’t found their way, they don’t, you know, they aren’t confident enough to speak up and say, “This is who I am, deal with it,” you know? “I don’t have to change who I am to fit in.”

Violet: Okay. I’ll talk about … sorry, I was giving … I know you thought I was drinking wine, enjoying this conversation, but instead I was just giving my cat some cat food. She was hungry and she gets meowing at me while I was on the phone, and I was like, “Mommy is busy.” But she wouldn’t stop, so, alright.

Rachel: (laugh)

Violet: Which, by the way, I found out I’m like highly, highly, highly allergic to my cat yesterday, which was really sad. So I’m kind of keeping some distance from her.

Rachel: How is that possible? Isn’t this cat your … your number one most important thing? (laugh)

Violet: What?

Rachel: How are you allergic to her? How is that possible?

Violet: Because I’ve only had her for two years, and I’ve never had pets before. I just didn’t know. And then I just started to get sick all the time and getting really serious allergy reactions. So I finally did my test and they were like, “You’re allergic to trees, you’re allergic to bushes, you’re really allergic to cats. And then least allergic, you’re also a little allergic to dogs, to chocolate, to wine, to cheese.” And I was like, “So I’m basically just allergic to happiness.” (laugh)

[024:00] Rachel: (laugh) That’s the saddest thing ever. Oh my god, I hope you figure that out.

Violet: I know!

Rachel: I hope you do figure that out.

Violet: Yeah, I just have to … take more allergy medicine.

[Commercial Break]

[025:49] Violet: Anyway, so back to the bullying thing. I am a big advocate for depression and anti-bullying. I definitely have battled depression before, and I have anxiety, and I try to talk about it. I haven’t talked about it as much because I’m waiting to get behind some organizations before I fully talk about these things. But one thing that I think a lot of people don’t know about me is that I, not only was I bullied in accounting, I was also bullied growing up, in high school and middle school and all of that. And I know a lot of people have too, but it’s because I was born with enamel deficiency on my teeth. What it means is, not having any enamel, that means your teeth can’t protect you from anything. So you constantly have cavities and you need root canals and things like that, since you’re young. But it also means that your teeth are very yellow. Like, it’s just yellow stains, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

I was born like that, and I remember when I was five I was walking, and the school I was in, I think it was from first grade ‘til eighth grade. So, I was in first grade. Going up the stairs, I was always a very smiley kid, and I remember I was going up the stairs, smiling, and these eighth graders saw me and they were like, “What the hell? What’s wrong with you?” And they pushed me to the corner of the stairs, they put me in the corner and they were like all laughing at me, and they were like, “Dude, do you smoke? Like, why are your teeth so yellow? Oh my god, dude, check this girl out! She smokes! That’s insane. How do you smoke when you’re five?” And they just kept laughing and pointing. And I was obviously crying.

And I was so confused, I asked my mom to come pick me up. Then my mom picked me up, I was like, “Mom, why were they making fun of my teeth?” Like, I never even realized my teeth were different than yours, like, how come you guys don’t have this? Like, “Mom, why am I different?” And she just, like, you know, mom trying to protect her child, she was like, “Okay, well, you see Violet, when God made you, you were so perfect, and it wasn’t going to be fair to everyone else, so he had to just give you one little flaw, so then it would be okay.” And I was like, “Oh, okay.”

[028:00] And then at five years old is when we started getting the veneers and lumineers and bondings, like, everything technology could get you at the time in Israel for my teeth. So, I grew up, basically, with constantly changing my veneers and everything. Constantly feeling different. Sometimes I would get bullied for it. Not to mention when I was young I also had, like, acne on my face, on my chest, on my back. I had an overbite. So, it just wasn’t even enough that I had yellow teeth. And no matter how many times you put lumineers or veneers or bondings on my type of teeth, it doesn’t last for that long, because my teeth are so yellow behind it that I constantly need to keep changing them. So, it’s kind of different than other people who get veneers and lumineers and bondings. I mean, it’s hard to explain because I think most people don’t understand what I’m talking about, but I was always very insecure about my smile.

Rachel: No, no, I know what you’re talking about. What was it like going back to school, though? Did your mom’s words help then? Did you feel like you had some support?

Violet: I think it did. I mean, it was in first grade, and looking back now, I don’t remember anything really from first grade. That’s, I think, my only memory is that. And I think I have memories where I felt different, because I know after that I stopped smiling, and I … I didn’t even talk to boys until I was 17 or 18, when I finally got my first boyfriend, and I was very shy with guys because in my head I always thought, like, why would any boy ever want to kiss me? And then what if he kissed me and then I have to explain to him what’s wrong with my teeth? And he would be so grossed out by me because I didn’t give him a heads up before, and then he wouldn’t talk to me.

Rachel: Oh my god.

Violet: And that was in my thoughts. Because when … it doesn’t even matter what you really look like. When someone constantly tells you that you’re ugly, or there’s something wrong with you, eventually when you’re going to look at yourself in the mirror, you’re going to believe them, and you’re going to see it too. So, for me, when I, growing up and here and there if girls didn’t like, they were bullying me about my teeth, like, I believed them. And that’s why I was so scared to talk to boys.

[030:00] I remember when I moved to the U.S. and I was walking home with these two guys and a girl, and this guy that was walking next to me, he was like, “Oh, you have such a cute smile when you smile.” Because I have dimples. And I was in tears and I was just like, “Why would you make fun of me? (laugh) Because-

Rachel: No!

Violet: I just assumed he was making fun of me.

Rachel: You didn’t believe him.

Violet: Yes. And I remember I just didn’t like to smile, I was so envious of other people that had perfect teeth. No matter how many times I changed them, I was so insecure about it. And I remember before I came out, quote-unquote, because I was anonymous, and I was going to do a whole reveal thing, I was still very scared about my teeth, and then I was scared that … I was like, “Okay, I love myself now, and I’ll be fine with people making … I know that me coming out quote-unquote revealing myself is going to cause some people to be mean to me. This is normal on the internet. But I don’t know if I can handle anyone making fun of my teeth, because that’s such a painful memory for me for not loving myself for so many years because of it that I felt the need to completely cosmetically redo my whole teeth before revealing myself, because it was such a big insecurity for me.

Rachel: So you really did that.

Violet: Yeah. And they cost $1800 a tooth. So you can calculate, if I have my whole mouth done, redoing my veneers, it’s $1800 a tooth. You can count how much that cost me. But that’s how necessary it was for me to do that little part, because I was like, I can handle people making fun of me with anything, but I can’t handle teeth again. That’s the one thing … that was my one insecurity. I don’t think I talk about even to my friends that often, about how painful it has been for me, especially not to my parents, because I always felt if I ever … I always felt too bad to complain to my parents if I was bullied about it, because there’s nothing they could do about it, and I don’t want them to feel bad, so I just kept it to myself.

[032:00] Rachel: Oh my god. I know, I have an eight month old, and just the thought of her coming home from school one day and anyone being mean, I don’t know how I would deal. I have that with my sisters and with my brother. If anyone is ever pissy with them, I fully lose my ability to stay cool about it. But that’s the thing. And also kids, like, everyone has that thing that they’re insanely insecure about. Everyone has it. Whether it’s our teeth … I was always super insecure about my height when I was little. I had no boobs and I was really tall since really young, so the boys-

Violet: How tall are you?

Rachel: I’m 5’8” now, so I’m not like freakishly tall, but I grew really fast, so I was always taller than all of the boys in school when I was, like, 11, 12, 13, there. And they would always make fun of me that I was like, um, god, I have to translate this in English. Like a washboard, I guess? Like, I was tall and flat-chested for a long time. And I had a lot of friends, like, I was popular in school. I wasn’t bullied, per say. But that was the thing that the boys would always say. So, I remember going home and for the first time realizing, “Wow, I really have no boobs. No one is ever going to like me. I’m never going to get a boyfriend, everyone around me is, you know, they have boobs and they’re buying bras,” and I didn’t have anything. I remember going home and then putting, like, toilet paper and stuffing like a sock and stuff in a bra that I’d bought. And then one day I came to school and I was like, “Oh, I have boobs now!” And I remember my friend was like, “What’s in your bra?” And I was like, “What do you mean?”

Violet: That’s so funny!

Rachel: “I have breasts now! They grew overnight.”

Violet: I was always freakishly tall too. I was 5’8” at 12, and I hated being tall. And then my boobs started to develop, and I was so insecure because the people in my grade did not have boobs. So, I was so insecure about having boobs that I taped my whole chest with duct tape to make it stop from growing, because I didn’t like having boobs at 12.

Rachel: Oh my god!

[034:00] Violet: So one day my mom tried to wake me up and she touched me, like, on my back or something, and she felt the duct tape. And she’s like, [Russian], “What is that?” And I’m like, “Uh … Mom, it’s, um … It’s for my back. I, uh, it’s, uh … I’m having, like, I’m not standing straight,” or something like that. Then she bought me a back brace, and I was forced to wear it.

Rachel: No!! (laugh)

Violet: Because I was too embarrassed to admit that I had put duct tape around my whole chest to make my boobs stop from growing. (laugh)

Rachel: (laugh) Oh my god! This is the saddest and funniest thing I have ever heard.

Violet: I know.

Rachel: How long did you wear that back brace before … (laugh)

Violet: I think maybe just for a few weeks before I was like, “Mom, I think I’m fine now. Thank you.”

Rachel: (laugh) Oh god! You see? It’s like it doesn’t matter which way we go, like, we have no boobs-

Violet: It’s funny, you always want what you don’t have.

Rachel: Yes! You have no boobs you feel insecure, you have big boobs you feel insecure … I don’t know. And it is harder to be a girl, like, that’s the thing. I don’t, at least, okay, I don’t know what it’s like to be on the other side, but I remember that, like, boys talking about girls, I remember the one girl we had in class who did have really big boobs and everyone was super jealous of her because the guys were always talking about how big her boobs were and how attractive she was, and X, Y, Z, and now I think about it, it must have been horrible for her to be the one girl in school that all the guys are pointing at and, you know, kind of talking about the whole time.

Violet: Yeah!

Rachel: Like, either way, you know, it’s never going to be perfect. The grass is always greener, it’s always kind of shitty to be a teenager no matter how we go.

Violet: Exactly.

Rachel: But that’s the thing, I don’t think kids realize how it can effect someone else. Whether it’s something, you know, probably those kids talking about your teeth, like, they probably don’t remember that today, you know?

Violet: No.

Rachel: And with the internet, everything is worse. Everything is … because it’s instant, and you can pick on anybody from any place. And I mean, how do you deal with that when you get really… because you must get, I mean, too. I get it, and I’m in the yoga world, and in the yoga world love each other.

Violet: Yeah, I mean, if someone tells me to kill myself… per day. (laugh)

Rachel: How many per day?

[036:00] Violet: I think, I get like a lot of messages. I definitely have mean people. I mean, it’s so normal now. It annoys me when people say, “Well, you should be used to it. Why are you offended? Just close your phone or close your computer. It comes with the job.” Like, I’m sorry, first of all I didn’t realize my job was a real job. But like, okay, now that you’re admitting that being a social media influencer or whatever is a job, like, it doesn’t come with the job. My job is to make people happy, my job is not to take pain from other people by having them bully me. Like, it doesn’t come with the job.

Rachel: Hell yeah!

Violet: And it really pisses me off when people are like, “You should be used to it.” Like, no I shouldn’t! You should be used to being a better human being.

Rachel: I love that! You should get used to being a better human being!

[Commercial Break]

[038:08] Rachel: Well how do you address it then? Do you block people or do you delete stuff? Or do you get into drama in the comments section? Because I try to stay away from that. It’s so hard.

Violet: I never, like … I think in the past, when I would respond to something very mean, I would respond politely, like, “Oh my god, I’m so sorry, you must be going through something to be projecting it onto me.” And I think whenever I would respond, people would be like, “Oh my god, like, I’m so sorry, I was having a terrible day and I must have taken it out on you. I love you so much, I didn’t mean it.” And of course from the inside I wanted to be like, “FUCK YOU!” But on the outside I’d be like, “Yeah, no worries!” (laugh) You know?

Rachel: No worries, it’s all good, yeah.

Violet: You just told me to kill myself and called me a whore, but yeah, don’t worry about it, it’s fine.

Rachel: (laugh) It’s fine, we’re friends, yeah.

Violet: But yeah, that’s usually what I try to do. I try to respond in a very asshole-y sarcastic way where I’m polite back, and they feel bad. But sometimes, I don’t know, I’m not going to lie, sometimes I had moments that I was having a bad day. To see someone else be mean to me, I’m just like, “Oh my god, can’t I catch a break?” And I think I would sometimes respond like a regular human being. I would be like, “Why do you have to be so mean? Why are you being so mean to me?” Something like that. And then they feel even more awful. But it’s the truth, like why? Why really you doing this to me?

Rachel: But I, do you ever have people apologize to you? Because I get really weird, I don’t know, I sometimes get really weird messages from people where they write, like, beautiful things and, you know, they’re talking about my baby or whatever thing that I’ve shared, and then all of the sudden there’s like a huge, hateful message, like something really really horrible.

[040:00] Like, I had someone the other day, I shared a little snippet of me with my breast pump, like not my boobs, but I was using a breast pump, and my husband was at home with his friends, and then this woman wrote, like, all caps, like, “YOU ARE SUCH A WHORE! I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU’RE SLUTTING OUT LIKE THIS, SHOWING YOUR BREASTS TO YOUR HUSBAND’S FRIENDS. PUT YOUR BREASTS AWAY!” And it was just this horrible message.

Violet: Well she’s right! I’m kidding.

Rachel: (laugh) And then I scrolled up and the message before that was like, “Oh my god, I love you so much, you’re such an inspiration.” And I’m just like who is this person? How can you say that you love someone and then in the next breath call them a whore? This does not compute in my mind.

Violet: That’s just like, I feel like sometimes to get attention. They’re just dying to get a response and they’re … Because that happened to me. I made a comment about some show and I was just like … because some shows that I watch, and I try not to get involved, again, in politics, or really anything that shows an opinion, because I do want to support people of both opinions even if I agree with them or not agree. I know people don’t follow me for my views. They follow me to make them happy, and I try to focus on that. But sometimes I can’t help myself. There was a show that I was watching, in the episode they were making jokes about teachers masturbating to their students, and I thought that was so absurd because … Just, I don’t find child molestation ever funny, to me.

And I didn’t understand why no one said anything, and I kind of made a comment about it, and some girl DM’d me and attacked me and was like, “You act like this fat whore that’s constantly sucking dick, and you act like fat on the weekdays, but then on the weekends you’re back to normal,” I don’t know, whatever she said literally made no sense. And I was just like, I respond, I’m like, “Wait, what? When do I act like a fat whore?” I’m like, first of all, not that there’s anything wrong with being heavy, I was like, “You can see my pictures, what does that have to do with my eating habits?” And I was like, “Secondly? When do I talk about ever being a whore? I think I encourage people to have sex, but I always talk about how I don’t have sex often, if ever at all.” I’m like, “Sorry I got upset over child molestation because maybe some things that happened to me as a child, or to my friends happened as a child, like, I’m so confused.”

[042:00] Rachel: Isn’t it, like, universally okay to not laugh about child molestation? I’m very confused.

Violet: Yes! Me too! But, anyway, after that she was like, “Oh my god, I’m so sorry, I was having the worst day.” And again, like, those are the people that weird me out because I remember this girl, she’ll comment on my pictures saying like, “I love you so much.” So then when she was like, “You’re a fat whore who sucks dick and blah blah blah,” and I was like, “What?” (laugh) I’ve had those before, those people that are like, “You’re so amazing,” and now they’re comments suddenly like, “You’re disgusting. Ew. What the hell. You’re a slut.” Stuff like, that I’m like … I just think they’re weird.

Rachel: But I think the scary thing is how attached people get to this online world.

Violet: Yeah.

Rachel: I try to just … I live on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere, I have an eight month old baby and a husband and teach yoga for a living. For me it’s at least very to stay, like, “Okay, this is my life, and then here is the internet where I’m blessed with this community that supports me, and I can travel and create things and really focus on what I want to do with my life. But people that live their entire lives, and they’re so obsessed with other people that they actually get that involved, you know, with someone … Because these people, they’ve never met you, and most of the people that write me horrible thing, they’ve never met me either. But they’re so insanely involved, and I’m wondering just what kind of … Like, I never know how to respond to that. I don’t want to be the person that, you know … I don’t want anyone obsessing over what I do. I like to be an inspiration, or share things that make people happy, yes, but it kind of weirds me out.

Violet: Yeah. It’s hard sometimes not to become human and want to respond. I think a while back on Facebook somebody wrote a comment to me, and I responded being sarcastic back, saying like, “Oh, I bet you’re one of those people at Target that asks to speak to the manager.” Or like, “Don’t you have better things to do like go to Target and ask to speak to the manager?” Something like that, as a joke. And then I was attacked. They were like, “Violet, you should no better than to be putting someone else down,” something like that, when this girl was so mean to me. But me responding back, like, I’m a public figure and I should know better. Like, I’m not allowed to be offended. But, even though she just completely put me down, called me an idiot, a whore, whatever. Like, I can’t defend myself because I should no better. And stuff like that really sucks, so I think it’s …

[044:00] Rachel: Yeah.

Violet: Yeah, because imagine if you actually responded to one of these people, people would come against you for attacking them.

Rachel: Yeah, and I mean, that’s the … Yeah, I don’t know, whenever I ever respond to anything like that, I always get 10 people that write, “Why do you always focus on the negative?” And I’m like, “I never focus on the negative!” First of all, I get very little of this, I focus only on the positive. But then that one time someone is horrible to me, can I not just respond and kind of set them straight? And then all of these people are like, “All you do is highlight all of the negative stuff. And then I’m like, I can’t win, I just can’t win. I just have to not.

Violet: (laugh) Yeah, it’s like you only respond to negative comments? Is that the only way you’re going to notice me, if I write something mean? And you’re like, no! No, exactly. But I also do appreciate when people are invested in my life. Like, I think there’s positives and negatives to it, because they know if I’m having a bad day. Although it’s fake love, and you have to remember that. But, if I’m having a bad day or if I cry about something and I kind of share it, right away I get so much love, and they’re like, “Violet, I don’t really know you, but I feel like you, and you’ve been through so much, especially last week remember this happened to you? And this and that. I’m just here for you, blah blah.” And just like, that’s so sweet that you’re like, “Okay, I’m going to keep going then. Thank you!”

[Commercial Break]

[046:53] Rachel: But, I mean, the whole reason that this works, and I think that’s what you and I, we have that in common, but in two different sides of the spectrum, is vulnerability, right? So, daring to be real, even if it’s not perfect, even if it’s sometimes ugly or embarrassing or whatever. If we’re sad or whatever is going on. Having the ability to share that and be raw, there’s nothing more … Like, that’s way more inspiring than that picture perfect Instagram model going on her private jet, or whatever people follow. I don’t know.

Violet: I think so too, yeah.

Rachel: But is it hard for you to show that side?

Violet: Of being vulnerable? I think sometimes, because I’m a very secretive person, which people would never imagine, would never guess, because I share so much. But I’m naturally a secretive person. Like, I keep everything about my family to myself. Whenever I’m upset, like, no one knows. So it was kind of a struggle for me to sometimes share vulnerability, and again, I feel embarrassed before I do it. But I always tell myself, like, “Violet, who cares about you being embarrassed or uncomfortable if this is going to make … even if it makes one person feel better about themselves, this is what you’re doing this for.” So then that’s why I constantly-

[048:00] Rachel: But then don’t you feel better too? Like, after having shared something or gotten something off of your chest? Because I find that, at least, like in the beginning I would do it thinking, “Okay, if I share this, I’m going through this struggle, it’s going to help people that feel the same.” But now it’s become this practice of mine where it’s just, if I immediately get things off of my chest, it makes me lighter. Like, I don’t have to carry that around so much.

Violet: Yeah, I guess that is a good way of like therapy stuff, if you actually talk about it, it does get better. But I mean, I’m still going through it. I’m a very secretive person, so it is something that’s hard for me because the way I was raised to be perfect, sometimes I have to remind myself, “Okay, Violet, it’s fine if you’re sharing something. This is going to make you feel better.” But some things I really am doing it because I’m scared to do it, to share something personal, but I’m only doing it with the hopes that it can help someone else and looking past my embarrassment. Although, there’s nothing I should be embarrassed of, but it’s just, I mean, I don’t know … I mean, it’s a scary thing to constantly put yourself everyday out there in the world. Like, I don’t think people understand how much courage it has to be. I mean, even when I revealed myself, I had to be okay with the fact that, oh my god, I just talked about sex, and not everyone is going to know me. I’m a little fearful now when I’m walking down the street or like I’m out at a club at night, if there is men who follow me and know that it’s me. Because what if they think this is really who I am, with this alter ego, making all of these sex jokes, and they’re going to think that, like, I’m going to want something without saying it. It can be scary for me! So-

Rachel: Have you had experiences like that? I mean, now, speaking of the #MeToo movement and all of this. Have you had anything personal horrible go down in terms of men and harassment?

[050:00] Violet: Um, yeah, I’ve definitely had sexual harassment I think my whole life because, I mean, I was a very developed girl at the age of 12. Don’t want to get into that, probably not as much. But I think I’m more vocal about being irritated now. But, yeah, when I revealed myself, I think I was very cautious when it comes to men, because I don’t want them to think that I’m asking for anything, when I’m not. And I think constantly I get … it can be frustrating if people don’t understand that Daddy Issues is my alter ego. And it’s not who … I mean, it is who I am in real life, but it’s not who I am every day, every morning of the day in real life. Like, I’m not waking up and taking shots of tequila. Like, I would be in rehab right now if that was the case, you know?

Rachel: No, of course, but isn’t that so frustrating though? Like a guy can talk about sex and then he’s just being a dude, but if a woman does it, then you’re asking for it? Or, you know …

Violet: Yeah, it’s so frustrating. It’s like, I talk about sex, I’m a sex comedian. A man talks about sex and he’s, like, charming. (laugh)

Rachel: (laugh)

Violet: You’re like, “Oh, okay.” Like, there is definitely labels. Like, I am labeled as a sex comedian just because I talk about normal things everyone thinks about. It is frustrating, but like, I try to roll with it. Does it annoy me on the inside sometimes? Definitely. Especially if I’m being categorized like that. So then when I want to be like a host on E!, I’m getting gigs for like a host for like a sex show. And I’m like, “Uh, what?”

Rachel: And that would never be the case for a guy. Yeah, no, no.

Violet: Yeah.

Rachel: I like to think that you’re playing a really big part in changing that, like really, the more courage we have as women just to speak up about this and speak about the same things that any man would speak about and not have this be an issue or be set aside as different just because of our gender, I think it’s …

Violet: Well I think I encourage girls to be independent. You know, I have daddy issues, but I’ve never depended on other men for anything for me. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, you know? I wish I could, you know … am I allowed to say dirty words on this podcast?

Rachel: (laugh) Wait, we’ve already said a lot of dirty words.

[052:00] Violet: Okay, cool. I mean, I wish I could like, you know, suck dick and then get like a purse for it. Not that I wish, but I wish like, you know, instead of just doing it for free sometimes and then the guy doesn’t call you, like, that’s … I wish, at least, if you’re not going to call me, like, give me a purse.

Rachel: (laugh)

Violet: You know, I’m so jealous of these other girls. So I would never be here putting down girls who do do that. Like, you know, that’s on you. You gotta do what yoga you can to survive. But I was never like that because I just always focused on working hard, and I think that’s where I’m helping girls with that stigma. I have daddy issues, but I never found a man to help me with anything. I’ve worked really hard for everything I have.

Rachel: How does your dad like this career? Does he have issues with you now? Does he have daughter issues now that you’re publicly Daddy Issues?

Violet: Luckily we have a better relationship now than I did growing up. So I think because we’re working on our relationship, before I started this Instagram, it was easier for me to eventually tell him, because I think, because we were working on trying to become closer, he was kind of having to accept my Instagram and to be okay with it and all of that. And he tried to be supportive now, and I ask my parents not to go on my Instagram. I tell them what they can look and what they can’t. Because they come from a conservative family. I think it’s funny, it’s always the conservative people who are more, like, dying to talk about sex and stuff like that.

Rachel: Of course! Of course, yeah. Need to let it out. That’s good. But what’s the … I know you’ve had a really crazy day, just specifically today. What are you working on now? What’s in the future for you?

Violet: So, today I’m re-launching the Daddy Issues shop. I’m really excited about it. There’s new merchandise I first launched in February of this year, for Valentine’s Day, and it was these dirty greeting cards where I wrote funny, dirty poems. And people loved them, they did so well, and there was some apparel.

[054:00] But then I decided to switch all my vendors and to redo the website, to redo my brand. So that took me a few months to build. And today is supposed to be the relaunch with my new slogan, my new website, and new merchandise. So, I’m really excited for that.

Rachel: Ah, that’s so exciting! I mean, where do you think … where do you see the future of Violet Benson and the future of Daddy Issues? What’s your big dream? Like, five years from now, where do you want to be?

Violet: Um, well … One of my biggest dreams would be … Because I know when I started my Instagram and it was getting big, I told myself, like, “Oh my god, Violet, you are one of the luckiest people who gets to have a voice, and you need to make that voice matter.” So, my goal, from when I started until now, and I constantly remind myself this goal, is to help people when it comes to being an advocate for anti-bullying and depression. And I’m going to continue to be an advocate for it even stronger in the years to come. So, I think my biggest goal would be that I have a charity or an organization that helps people with depression and dealing with bullying and stuff like that. That’s my number one.

And then the rest of it is I would love for my shop to be cool and hip and to be, like, the next Nasty Gal. If anyone knows what that is. It’s not a porn site, it’s a clothing company. It’s like, Daddy Issues, Nasty Gal.

Rachel: Daddy Issues and Nasty Gal! That’s a good fit.

Violet: And I would love to also give my hosting skills a try. I would love to be on TV doing hosting stuff. That would be the goal. Right now I have a hosting show on Facebook, it’s called “Top Five with Violet Benson.” But, I’m in the works right now for shows that I wrote, and unscripted stuff. So, hopefully in the next few years, all of that would be more out. Yeah.

[056:00] Rachel: That’s so exciting. I think there’s no doubt, wherever you go, you have the world supporting you, for sure. I feel … I’m really grateful just to have you in my feed, bringing a smile to my face every day.

Violet: Aw. No, it was a surprise, when you DM’d me, I was like, “Well, cool!”

Rachel: Yeah? (laugh) But I think, honestly, every woman out there can relate to what you share, that’s just what it is.

Violet: Thank you.

Rachel: No matter where we come from.

Violet: Uh, are you guys going to edit this? Because I know I talked a lot, I’m sorry!

Rachel: No! We don’t edit anything! This podcast is all about raw, real shit. So … (laugh)

Violet: Oh, okay, awesome.

Rachel: All is out there. Thank you so much for coming on the show, and thanks for being such an inspiration, and for just being yourself, all the way through. So awesome.

Violet: Of course! Thank you so much for having me, and thank you so much for being awesome. I mean, you have a really cool story behind you as well, so, I mean, you’re definitely an inspiration to a lot of people too.

Rachel: Thank you! And hey, good luck with your cat! (laugh)

Violet: Oh! I know, thank you. Oh, and my shop is ShopDaddyIssues.com. I think I didn’t say that.

Rachel: ShopDaddyIssues.com. Okay, I’m going to log on right now.

[End of episode]


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