Stop holding back. Be “Free To Be”! Zalando’s bold campaign slogan for Autumn/Winter 2019 sounds like the perfect call to action to completely let go and express ourselves freely. The global online shopping platform shows us how it’s done by putting together a unique team of fantastic 5, whose boldness to be who they are unapologetically will inspire millions to do just that: be themselves, through fashion.

Adwoa Aboah shooting for Zalando in Lisbon

Courageous and unique are two characteristics that beautifully suit activist and model Adwoa Aboah, one of the aforementioned fantastic personalities. Her honesty and strength through her battle over depression and addiction nourished her self-healing project Gurls Talk, an online platform catering to other young girls in need of a safe space to share experiences and thoughts. We had the pleasure of meeting the soft-spoken Adwoa in Lisbon and chatted quite candidly about her journey, the incredible bond she shares with her sister and how she manages to somehow fell “free to be” as often as possible. 

What does “Free To Be” mean to you?

(After a few seconds of thoughtful silence) First of all, I don’t think it should come from any external perception. I think “Free To Be” means that anyone has the power to be himself or herself, and should do it freely without any judgment from anyone else. However, even if that does come, even if you do feel some judgment, you want to feel strong enough in yourself to ignore it, go for it anyways, and be yourself. Realistically, I don’t think you’ll ever get away from how others view certain things and view yourself. But, the more comfortable with yourself you get, the less the outside noise matters. 

Was there a specific moment in your life that made you become more self-confident and own who you are? 

There have been many moments that have shaped me. It is very much a work in progress though. And I have to work on my confidence all the time. I think it’s really important for people to realize that inner-confidence does not just come over night. You have to work on it all the time because, like I said, there is energy that surrounds you. This energy won’t always be in your best interest. Personally, I’ve realized that the more I surround myself with positive energy, the more I have respect for what I want to do. To go back to your question, I would say that the time when I have really challenged myself, like moving away from home, or being single, you know all the different things that have made me really look at myself and made me do some character building, those have made me self-confident.

Adwoa Aboah at her shoot for Zalando in Lisbon

When or where do you feel the most “Free To Be”?

Um, maybe with particular friends. Actually my sister. I feel really myself around my sister. I don’t really have to speak; it’s like telepathic between us. Otherwise, dancing at home with my family to disco music. Also, sports. I feel free when I’m playing sports. 

What are you the most proud of since you’ve created “Gurls Talk”?

A the moment, I’m most proud of the fact that as Gurls Talk has grown, we’ve also brought up girls with us, girls who’ve grown through their teen years with us. We’ve started in 2015, you know, and I meet girls now who’ve started their teen years at the same time as we’ve started. So we’ve been able to grow as they grow, which I’m really proud of. I’m beyond proud when people come up to me and tell me not what I’ve done for them but what Gurls Talk has done for them in terms of the comfort it has brought to them in difficult times in their lives. And project-wise, I’m proud of a project that I did on female footballers. 

Adwoa Aboah at her shoot for Zalando In Lisbon

What advice would you give to young girls struggling with inner-confidence and with fully being themselves everyday? 

You have to be kind to yourself, first and foremost. And that’s a really difficult thing to do. Only you can make those changes. So, you have to be as kind to yourself as possible and give yourself the time to learn everything you need to learn and to find who you really want to be. Kindness is key in doing so because sometimes you’re going to find not so great things about yourself, sometimes you’re going to find out amazing things about yourself. I think your surroundings are also key. Make sure you surround yourself with people who want you to grow. You need to cut anyone who is not willing to let you grow and do what you have to do. I know life is a funny journey. But it’s a really exciting one although it might not seem like it all the time. I think everything that happens is part of an end result. As I said, inner-confidence is process. I’m not there yet either, but I’m excited for the journey, and so should you. 

Thank you Adwoa!

By PK Douglas

Adwoa Aboah campaign shoot for Zalando in Lisbon
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