Throughout our lives we are inspired by so many different people without even realising from a very early age. Our parents and close family inspire us to be better no matter the circumstances as we learn from their unconditional love, care and even invaluable life-changing mistakes. Our unforgettable teachers play a big part in our lives as we accept the learning challenges and develop new interests because of the things they taught us. And then we become a part of the “big bad world” as many call it, where we meet or look for new inspirational people, who somehow help us with their strength, determination and passion with our career choices and personal goals, as we then too, unintentionally become an inspiration to others. We inspire our siblings, definitely children, work colleagues, neighbours or in some cases even parents – because age does not really determine wisdom, does it?
So then what determines wisdom of those inspirational qualities we ought to look for in our journeys? As a woman, I’ve obviously looked up to other successful or empowering women with a similar to mine background throughout my adult years, my own mum being of them, naturally… But I’ve always had an interest or a connection with women who give back to the world either with their success and money or that “learnt the hard way” wisdom. Those who travelled the “rags to riches” road in particular – I think that it tells a lot about their background, gratitude for the current lifestyle and the sincerity for the charity work they actually carry out.
She is a Russian model, philanthropist and occasional film actress. I’m Russian too in case you didn’t know and wondered about my choice, although she’s known globally. Natalia was the face of Calvin Klein for the entire 8 seasons – wow! She worked with Guerlain, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci, Nina Ricci, Versace, Yves Saint Laurent, L’Oréal, David Yurman, Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney, Diane Von Fürstenberg, Hugo Boss, Stuart Weitzman, Etam and so many others… She even came third in Forbes top-earning model list, but that’s not why she inspires me…
She’s only 32 and has FOUR children, first of which she had at almost the same age I had my little girl 9 years ago. Natalia is absolutely stunning of course, so it’s very clear why she is as successful as she is in her modelling career. However, she also sends a great message to young mums and those who are scared to have children (either because of their career or worries about their body image). Children don’t stop you from doing amazing things with your career as most people annoyingly think or say those days – it’s the very opposite, they inspire us! I identify with Natalia on this one so much and aiming to send a similar message to women and girls with my blog. Society still wants mums to stay at home, cook and clean all day (we do all that too), so when they see a mum (especially young) achieving significant things for herself and her career, she is in a lot of cases labelled as selfish. Natalia herself, has received a lot of negative comments from the public about leaving her kids at home whilst shooting with Gucci or Chanel in New York. But she’s not alone – a lot of models and actresses with children are negatively and unfairly portrayed in the media because of their regular travels.
But there’s something else about Natalia….
Vodianova is the founder of Naked Heart Foundation – a charity that aims to ensure that every child in Russia has a loving family and a safe and stimulating place to play. The charity creates and builds safe play facilities in impoverished areas in Russia and Eastern Europe, as well as supports foster families and children with disabilities. Natalia had decided to form the charity after she witnessed the trauma of Beslan School Siege in 2004, but the beautiful philosophy behind Naked Heart is that play for children should be viewed as a necessity, not a luxury. She has now helped to build play facilities in world’s major countries, which is quite something. See the love on the map below.
The “Supernova” grew up in a poor district of Gorky city with her mother and two sisters, one of whom had a disability. Natalia assumed responsibility for a lot of house duties and even used to sell flowers on the street to help her mum a little financially. So these are some of the things that I find inspiring in my #ARWOMAN: a big good heart and compassion for other people, especially kids, a successful career at a young age, great mother and role model to thousands of kids and mums across the globe and someone who’s giving children what they really want – play!
“A child’s greatest achievements are possible in play, achievements that will tomorrow become his/hers basic level of real action and morality. It is the essence of play that a new relation is created… between situations in thought and real situations.”
Dr. Lev Vygotski.