Christel Commey, She/Her
Model and body & diversity visibility activist
What empowers me the most to be myself, is being what/who I wish I saw represented when I was younger. As a model I have felt and seen the importance of having people who look like me represented - people who are even the same body type as well as the same skin colour as me. Working towards being the representation I didn’t see in the media growing up is definitely what empowers me to the fullest. It is hard at times, but then I think back to my younger self and remember the lack of role models I had and that is what keeps me going.
A lesson I wished I had learned earlier in life is that being different and not looking like the norm or fitting into the box of stereotypes of society’s made up rules, is okay! In fact it’s beautiful to be and look different. Other people's opinion of you is their personal problem, and that is not something you should put on yourself. You are not responsible for people's perception of you! Their problem is not yours. It is okay and actually good boundaries of the norms in society. I wish I knew earlier that I am a total badass!
I grew up, honestly my whole life making other people happy and pleasing people. Doing as I was told and adjusting myself to make other people comfortable, and it just came to a point where I was realising that I wasn’t really living my life for me but for others. I had started neglecting myself on a whole because I didn’t want to disappoint or upset other people by being who I truly am and I guess I just kept on restraining myself, to conform into boxes to make people comfortable. I think especially post coming out as Queer, it just clicked one day and I was just like wow I actually have no power over what people think of me. I could literally be living as they would want me to, and they would still find something that they would want to change about me, so I was like if that's the case why don’t I just make myself happy. It definitely wasn’t an overnight thing, and it’s still something I’m learning every day, especially tuning out the voices of other people. I try to just follow my own intuition and do things that make me happy.
When do I feel most confident? I know it sounds strange maybe, but I think since I have learned to be in and love my body - loving every single inch of myself. I mean obviously not every day is peachy, but I do truly feel the most confident when I’m naked. When I have less clothes on, am in a bikini or wearing a crop top. I think I feel the most confident in the clothes that I used to wish I “could” wear earlier in life, but didn’t. I grew up in a very, not so sex positive or body accepting environment so the fact that I have now come to a place where I can express myself freely, with no boundaries is truly what makes me feel the most confident. I think the shift happened in my confidence when I stopped seeking validation in other people and only seeking it from myself.
Doing things scares you and going out of your comfort zone, doing what is not always cute, flowers and sunshine is what going against the grain means to me. By doing that you might feel people are misunderstanding you, not understanding you. People thinking you are too much or not enough or too little. Going against the grain comes with sacrifices. But going against the grain means boldness! And bravery and it’s doing you for you and not for anyone else. Choosing you and kind of just like not really caring what other people think. Like I could be the most “perfect” person in the world and people would still find something negative to say, so why not just close your ears to it. I think getting the strength to be able to genuinely do this was probably when I stopped giving other people the power or to have a say about who I am. It’s not an easy journey at all, but the more you practice each day to take those steps towards choosing yourself, you will slowly get there. You know that you are the shit!
CHRISTEL COMMEY / @christelcommey