Kirsten Vangsness

Delving into our favorite celebrities’ lives via social media is a guilty pleasure many of us share. A glimpe into the private lives of idols through platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat is what many of us crave. And celebrities know this – there is no greater marketing method than the scandals and drama cultivated and selectively released via the worldwide web. When looking at the social media of Kirsten Vangsness, the story is slightly different. Best known for her role as computer-genius Penelope Garcia on CBS’s Criminal Minds, amidst the shout outs promoting her long running TV show, Vangsness promotes a much different narrative.

Kirsten actively embraces the platform her status as everyone’s favorite ‘baby-girl’ has gifted her. She actively engages in using her stardom to spread awareness about current events – for example, the importance of registering to vote amidst this upcoming midterm election frenzy. While slightly hidden in the noise of this busy political season, her advocacy for self-care and mental health awareness and equity is pronounced. She promotes the efforts of fellow philanthropic celebrities as well, advocating for the fundraising efforts that Ellen DeGeneres, the feature of a recent Speak Out Sunday, promotes. Vangsness also adds her own thoughts on various topics regarding mental health that others have shared.

More recently, Vangsness added her own comments after reading the essay "Cropped Out Of My Own Fantasy." (Sage Cruser). She shares her own difficulties of setting realistic expectations for her life in the world of social media where fantasy worlds are so easily created, and comparisons of faults made. This contrasts with what she presents online, through profiles that are so authentically herself.

While not suffering from a specific diagnosis of mental illness, Vangsness has described herself as being “as queer as a purple unicorn singing Madonna" in an edition of The Advocate (an American LGBT+ Magazine). She continues to be brutally honest about her life and promote her brutally honest outspokenness about her identities and beliefs. Contextualized, Vangsness serves as a gentle reminder that mental health awareness and care is not limited to those who are ‘diagnosed’ and the importance of intersectional alliance.