Moving on to Gurls Talk – which is so incredible. You obviously have this amazing direct pipeline into so many young women around the world through Gurls Talk. What at the moment, do you think is the biggest issue that's impacting young girls and young women?
The fact of the matter is they're all the same issues that we both probably had. It's very interesting, and I see this a lot because we have this ambassador programme, every month we meet, and we talk over a different subject and it's really interesting, as someone who's a lot older than them, that we are still speaking about the same things. Sex, love, boys, family, body, mental health – it's all the same things that we were probably dealing with as well. They just have an amazing ability to articulate it far, far better than I was able to, their emotional intelligence and their ability to verbalise it in the most amazing way. They're leaps and bounds ahead of the way that I used to speak about it. I didn't even have the language at that time.
We concentrate on mental health first and foremost. So that is the backbone to everything that we do at Gurls Talk, whether in the podcast or – well, we haven't been able to do the workshops or the events but that is something that we talk about a lot.
I think, especially with everything that's happened over the past two years with the pandemic, I don't think we've even seen how detrimental these past few years have been on girls and women's well being and mental health.
How is Gurls Talk evolving, what are your ambitions for it?
It's evolving so much. It started as an Instagram account and it's now a fully fledged nonprofit. So that is insane. I love that it has beautifully evolved into a community-led organisation. We did our events and we realised that our outspoken and wonderful community were really leading the conversations in regards to what we were going to talk about as an organisation. So we really just moved with that. And we saw that our events in Ghana and Poland on abortion rights and, and sexual abuse in schools and universities, they were the ones that were like ‘this is what we want to talk about’, and we just facilitated that.
So that's something that will always be the backbone to Gurls Talk and the kind of setup and structure of our events and workshops. In regards to where I want to be? I want to be in school, that's all I want. To be in schools and in the classrooms or after school, in the classrooms. I want to be there for those important years of a girl's life where they need that extra cushion and that extra safety blanket and that safe space. I would love for Gurls Talk to be a part of the academic fold.
I wanted to ask you about self-esteem. How did being in the fashion industry impact your self-esteem? And what tools and do you have to boost your self-esteem when you're feeling low?
It didn't play a very good role in my self-esteem. I had this rose-tinted idea of what modelling was going to be. I thought it was going to make me feel better about myself. If I look back at it, and it's been a long time now, but I'm sure there was a part of me that thought if I get this recognition obviously I’ll just feel better about myself, obviously, I’ll just like myself, because everyone else will think I'm this amazing, stunning human, you know, but it didn't work like that.
And the industry was so different then, it wasn't intersectional like it is today. So I couldn't understand why I didn't feel there was a space for me in the industry at that time. So that was quite hard. There was a lot of rejection. The rejection was obviously not getting the job but there was also a rejection that you couldn’t even speak of. I couldn't even decipher, or deconstruct it, because it was obviously a racial rejection that I didn't even understand myself.
I didn't understand why all my contemporaries, who had started off with at the same time, were doing so incredibly well and being supported. I internalised that. And actually, now being older, I understand it a lot better. It had nothing to do with me as a person but I obviously thought at that time that it did. Yeah, so it didn't have an amazing effect on my confidence. And it did make me insecure, not insecure in the ways that you might think it wasn't necessarily like, I need to be really thin, it was just like, I don't belong. What am I doing here?
How do you build up that self-esteem? How did you get out of that?
I did a lot of work on myself and realised that the validation had to come internally. I had to rep myself, and like myself, and do the work.
I want to be the face for someone like myself. I want to be the face that someone might find in a magazine that I was always looking for. I want to show someone the possibilities and that they are there. But the insecurities are always still there, they're not the same ones, but we're in an industry where we're continuously comparing ourselves to each other, you know, and then also we've got Instagram to add into that whole mess as well.
I think you also have to just be realistic about it. I also was very honest with myself about the fact that it did play a detrimental role on my confidence, and then I learned to deal with that.
Now when it does affect me, when my ego gets bruised, I just check myself and I sit with it and then I move on.
I'm honest with myself, about when I'm feeling insecure about something I verbalise a lot more. But I like myself, and I didn't like myself then, so it's a bit different now. I think back then I was really trying to be what I thought everyone thought was attractive, you know? I was trying to evolve in the wrong way, in a way that was not even possible at all. So now I don't do that. I evolved into the person that I am. So that rejection, whatever those insecurities are they just hit differently, they don't hurt like they did when I was trying to be someone else.