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Expedition Subsahara

A few months ago, I was invited to be a part of Lark Skin Co.’s Campaign for Confidence. It was a really cool experience that allowed me to connect with women from all walks of life and hear their stories. During the photo session, I was asked what made me feel the most confident. For me, the question seemed easy — my laugh and powerlifting. I’m comfortable with my laugh. It’s almost an equalizer, a tool in my tool belt to get me through almost any type of situation. It’s infectious and I love how when I laugh, people laugh with me. And then powerlifting, because it requires not only a great deal of physical strength, but training, a focused mind and even confidence. There’s something about being strong that inspires confidence. 

Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about the other women and their stories. It got me  wondering, could confidence be cultural? I am brought back to my childhood in Senegal, where  I never thought about the shape of my lips, which was something women in the states think about. As children and in our early teens, my friends and I didn’t worry about the shape of our bodies, whether they were big or small, or what that means. 

Senegal was colonized by France, and there is still this neo-colonialism there. Women tend to think more about their hair and skin tone more so than body type or shape. Imagine my surprise when I came to the United States as as skinny teenager and, within a few years, I gained weight and was made fun of for that weight gain. It was so strange. Back in Senegal, weight is not seen as a negative or positive thing. 

Confidence, with respect to body image and the way women are seen and perceived every day here is very much cultural. Maybe I give too much credit to my laugh and to the fact that I'm physically strong, and not enough praise to a culture that doesn't credit or discredit women based on the shape of their body. I think a lot of my confidence is because I didn’t grow up thinking about my body in a positive or a negative way. It was just my body shape, nothing more. 

I think it would be a gift to girls to be allowed to grow up without thinking about the shape and type of their body, whether they’ll have curves or not. It is a privilege I didn’t even realize I had. I believe that creating strong, beautiful, confident women starts in the womb and I praise Lark Skin Co, for BEING the change they want to see in the world. Check out their campaign here. 

All photos courtesy of: Lindsey Hinderer Portraits

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