To mark International Women’s Day this year, we asked women who are part of our community, how the official IWD 2020 theme #ChooseToChallenge speaks to them.
Meet Phoebe Ghorayeb, a mum, a wife, a model, a presenter and a blogger at [MODEL] Appetite.
So Phoebe, what does this years theme, #ChooseToChallenge mean to you?
This year I choose to challenge my perception. My perception of perfection and the warped standards social media places on us. Sadly, we live in a day and age where real life is witnessed more through screens than through our eyes and has been the reason for so much self-hatred and doubt. I have fallen prey to the pressures myself but in order for our future generations to grow up in a world where they realise that there is no such thing as normal and perfection doesn’t exist, we need to be the example. So whether that’s accepting the way our bodies look, the way we choose to parent, the choices we make at work, the clothes we want to wear, the opinions we have, the religions we honour and the people we love, understanding that it is not perfection we should be striving for but an understanding of the beauty of our imperfections.
How do you challenge the limits and labels others put on you?
As a model I’ve witnessed and been affected by the many limits, labels and stereotypes that go with it. Being a certain size, dressing a certain way, eating certain foods, thinking certain things, dating a certain type, living a certain life. For a long time I focused on living up to the
expectations that the industry and society had placed on my job as a model. It was a hard and impossible act to keep up and eventually I crumbled. I now do my best to live my life as honestly as I can and make decisions because they make me and my family happy. One of those decisions being, however small it seems, to eat whatever I want and to not feel guilty in doing so. Which is where my blog Model Appetite comes in. It’s a platform to showcase my love and passion for both food and fashion and to demonstrate that they are not mutually exclusive. Having a successful career as a model is not determined by the food I put in my mouth.
Do you have any advice on ways someone can challenge effectively?
A challenge doesn’t always have to be vocal or physical or tangible. Challenging someone or stereotypes can sometimes be achieved simply by living an authentic and unapologetic life. You don’t need to necessarily shout it from the rooftops or wear a banner around your neck, by living your life the way you choose and being true to who you are can sometimes speak more than actually speaking.
IWD also focuses on the importance of celebrating women’s achievements. Who are some of the women, past and present that you admire and are inspired by?
It goes without saying that my mum inspires me. She is incredibly loyal to her family and friends, her work ethic is second to none, even with her only daughter and two granddaughters living on the other side of the world she shows such strength and commitment to our relationship and she is kind to everyone she meets. My two amazing daughters. They drive me every day to be a better person, encourage me to step outside my comfort zone, to rethink my priorities, to align and surround myself with good, kind, thoughtful people and have taught me the meaning of unconditional love. Not many people have this kind of impact on someone so for them I will always be so incredibly grateful.
Finally, I want to celebrate my husband. I believe that to be a powerful woman we must support the powerful men in our lives too. I would not be where I am today without the love, support and guidance of my husband Georges.
How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?
Women really are our own worst enemy. I see it all the time. To each other but also to ourselves. The pressures that are placed on us are, for the most part, an impossibility. If it wasn’t hard enough the doubt, shame and guilt we project on our own lives, having our fellow women do the same to us is a real flaw in our society.
I’m an only child, I didn’t have the blood related BFF growing up so instead the female friends I made became the sisters I never had. My girlfriends mean so much to me and played such an integral part of my childhood and now adulthood. They’ve been there through some pretty tough times, shared some of my deepest secrets and have been by my side during my life’s biggest achievements. They help to make up the many pillars of my life, so if I were to bring them down, I would go down with them.
What is the most important message you want to send today and everyday?
To my girls, Valentina and Siddy. You are strong, you are brave, you are smart, you are kind you are everything but perfect. However, it is from within those cracks, those imperfections, that your light shines brightest. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being perfectly, honestly, authentically you.