IWD Special Instagram Stars: Spotlight On Model Activist Adwoa Aboah

If you do one thing today, watch this video from top model Adwoa Aboah. I can’t think of anyone more worthy of the Instagram Stars Spotlight on International Women’s Day than this impressive woman. She is a cover girl, survivor, an advocate and she inspired the hell out of me – here’s why:

“Gurl Power stands for us all coming together to challenge the norms and talk about our shared problems. Gurls Talk is for every girl who is growing up who needs someone to talk to, a space where they can share their worries and use female creativity as a tool for change. I’m positive together we can make that difference!”        –  Adwoa Aboah

wmagazine, olivia malone, adwoa aboah,
Source: Olivia Malone for W Magazine

Since the inception of International Woman’s Day, we have honoured the sacrifice of those individuals whom have paved the way for female existence to be more than a second class citizen. The best way to do that, is by looking at the modern woman – Adwoa Aboah is evidence that the spirit of those early trailblazers still exists by using her own voice and experiences to shine light on women’s issues.

25-year old Aboah has lived through experiences well beyond her years. On the surface, she is a successful top model. The first bi-racial English-Ghanian cover girl to appear on Vogue magazine working with the industries finest from DKNY, Fendi, Marc Jacobs to campaigns with Calvin Klein. She travelled the world,  was financially independent and also an addict. In 2014, Aboah checked into rehab to confront addictions to drugs and alcohol alongside the model’s depression. Thankfully, she came through the other side and was fuelled to help others find their way.

[“Being in and out of hospitals, it was kind of this realization that I had quite a lot of responsibility to give back because I had been helped by all sorts of women throughout my journey. And there were very clear tools I had been given along the way, about opening up, sharing stories, giving back, and being honest. There was this newfound realization that I’d never been taught any of these things at school”.] [“When I went back on Instagram [after being off the Internet while in rehab] I started putting out, in my opinion, good content. I started thinking carefully about what I was going to put out there. And taking into consideration that I might have girls of 13 and up following me, and maybe looking up to me and looking to me maybe as a role model”.]

– Aboah speaking to Wmagazine

Gurls Talk is the Instagram handle the young model created to provide these tools to women and a space in which they could safely share their concerns. Along with the website, the platforms offer original content from woman of all backgrounds sharing their experiences, advice, art and ideas as a means of connecting woman. Through education, awareness and real stories there is an opportunity for people to relate, to feel they are not alone and to find the strength of their own voice. Gurls Talk regularly pulls together festivals that allow young women a tangible community beyond social media.

The day when I felt most empowered was one of the lowest days of my life. If I’m honest, I don’t know the exact date or month of my empowerment – it’s become a bit of a blur. I do know, however, exactly how I felt.         

– Connie Ross for Gurls Talk

Source: Gurls Talk; Koeksuster

The perception of models is steered by advertising and editorial, they appear to us glamourous, confident and beautiful – basically inaccessible and yet we aspire to be like them. What’s great about Aboah is her relatability and you don’t have to have gone through a serious addiction to relate to insecurity, failure and weakness. By sharing her story she has merged the interior and exterior worlds of her personal journey giving us access to her full story and making us a little braver in the process. As a woman who has grown up in the beauty industry in particular, facing body issues, rejection and temptations it is a particularly powerful story to share, for we are now faced with conflicting imagery and self-advertising 24-7 through our smart phones and social media.

March 8th, is International Woman’s Day. It is a celebration of female empowerment, a conversation about how far we have come and how far we must go. In the days preceding, there has been a lot of positive media around female agendas, individuals making waves and the issues we must surmount. In all of this there has also been some backlash, that a symbolic day undermines the commitment of a life long struggle. We live in a fast-paced world with little time for reflection, this is not just a day of remembrances. Conversely, it is also that, but foremost it is a very public global union to educate, honour and give voice to woman around the world. By aligning focus annually, we can speak to new audiences and new issues arising from modern culture with the full attention of the world. With the aid of platforms like Gurls Talk we can keep the conversation going all year round.

Usually, at the end of these segments I request from you an Instagram Star you think worthy of the spotlight – but today I’d like to put all woman under the spotlight and request you do as well!