Laura Delarato, Creative, Writer/producer, Body image activist + Sex educator
I met Laura…2 years(?!) ago at the Sexual Health Expo in NYC. TBH, this was a rare occasion where I found someone SO ALLURING + COMPELLING that I literally accosted them despite the logical part of my brain that was like “Gab, she just did a big presentation and has 0 desire to speak with you.” Laura is one of the most warm, engaging and inspiring people I have EVER met. If you’ve met her, you totally know what I’m talking about. She has a way of making you feel incredibly special while simultaneously KILLING it at life. Not only does she work at R29 (a “cool” place) but she has this insane social media presence that raises awareness for everything from body positive activist concepts to really progressive and inclusive sex education. She also has more apparent confidence than I’ve ever had in my whole life about anything ever. So.. naturally, I had to ask her about her insecurities.
1. First of all, why are you "cool"?
Hmmmm….I would like to think people think I’m cool because I can apply lipstick without looking into a mirror. But I would say people probably think I’m cool because I’m pretty nude on the internet and I have a lot to say about it!
2. Can you talk a little bit about how you got to where you are today?
Basically — and this is going to sound very simple — I just cared a lot about the things I love and put all my energy into them. I worked at a sex toy shop in my early 20s, I went through eating disorder recovery, I spoke out on social media about the negative representations of women, and I made art dedicated to it all. I shared and wrote and kept up the passion for it all. And it was exhausting and stressful, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything because I loved what I was doing.
3. Can you talk about 1-800-Hey Laura and what prompted you to launch it? (and did you have any doubts while you were announcing it?)
1-800-HEYLAURA is a newsletter I put out two times a month that is dedicated to sex, body image, confidence, and loving yourself (NOTE FROM GABBY - SUBSCRIBE HERE). I actually thought about it one month before it launched, and the whole time I kept thinking, “Oh gosh, am I an authority in this space to do this? Will anyone read it? What if I mess up on something?” But I loved it so much and cared about the topics in such a way that I couldn’t go one full day without thinking about it. I was super scared of the idea at first, because it was so big and so much to keep up every month — and I didn’t want to half-ass something that I could barely keep out of my brain. BUT, I did it! I just did it and let it go into the universe — and it was amazing.
4. What is the #1 thing you wish the people who only know you from your social media persona knew about you as a person?
I wish more people realized how introverted I really am! I get super emotionally exhausted in larger groups and can get overwhelmed really quickly. I think people assume I’m always up for a party or to be ready to speak eloquently on my desired topics ASAP. But I need prep and time and all the chill in the world!
5. You're very open on social media - about your life, your struggles, even your family. Is there anything that you're still not comfortable speaking about to a social audience?
Mental health has been a thing I’ve slowly eased into my content — but I’m not 100% comfortable with it yet. I do currently take anti-depressants and go to therapy, and I’m still trying to understand my depression before I speak out about it so publicly. But I’m getting there!
6. You have an *incredibly* contagious personality. You make people feel very special and important when you speak with them. Does that ever become difficult? Giving so much of your energy to others? Or is that easy for you?
It’s definitely both amazing and difficult at the same time. I’m in a privileged position where people come to me with their sex/body questions and trust me enough to want to hear what I have to say — that’s incredible, and I feel very lucky to be that person for so many others! Because of it, I do take a lot of alone time for myself and manage how I spend my time. I often take my time getting back to people, because I want to be thorough and respectful to their question but also need to be in the right headspace for it.
“I literally have notes on my phone dedicated to pep talking myself when I get nervous.”
7. This is a hard question to ask - because Im not quite sure how to phrase it. But ... I know that when I want to be open about something I'm insecure about to make others feel less alone, I always have to use a lot of self talk. Is there any self talk that you use to help you work up the courage to talk about things that might be difficult to share openly?
Oh . . . I am my biggest cheerleader. I literally have notes on my phone dedicated to pep talking myself when I get nervous. It’s a list that has some of my accomplishments paired with quotes/phrases that I love. But mainly, I tell myself: I am Laura Anne Delarato, I have my experiences, I had made my life through those experiences, and I have value here. And I repeat it over and over and over until I believe in that moment!
8. What do you most want to happen with your career in the next 5 years?
I really want to write a book that’s a mix of personal essays, self-help, body positivity, and sex education. Everything in my life and what I have overcome has influenced the other things I have overcome, and they all tie back to each other in some way or another. I really want to take it all and construct it in a way that is serviceable to people who don’t know where to start on their self-love journey.
9. What are the 2 challenges you’re most proud of overcoming in the past 5 years?
Bulimia is the one that will always stand out in my mind. It’s probably not something I would say I’ve overcome — maybe in recovery from? — because it will always be part of my history. The other one would be my need to be liked by other people. I used to have this overwhelming anxiety about whether or not people liked me, and as I got older I had to let that go. I was putting way too much pressure on myself to adjust my personality to match all people.
10. If you could tell someone who wanted your life but thought they weren't "cool enough" just ONE THING, what would you tell them?
Most nights I’m in bed by 10pm watching Netflix shows and deciphering if I can make it one more episode before I reallllllyyyy have to pee. Believe me, you’re probably way cooler!