Abigail Klopper is a woman on a mission. The Cape Town specialist women’s portrait photographer wants to inspire confidence in the female of the species by embarking on a confidence campaign.
Taking her cue from 2014’s The Confidence Code, that chronicled the journey of two women - Katty Kay, an anchor at BBC World News America, and Claire Shipman, a correspondent for ABC News - Klopper uses her photography as a means of helping women see themselves in a new light.
During their research, Kay and Shipman unearthed a number of interesting facts. While many women rely on competence to get them ahead in the workplace, confidence, it seems, counts for a lot more. They also discovered that while genes play a role, positive affirmations alone will not improve your confidence.
Their research is supported by other studies, such as the 2016 Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report, which surveyed 10500 women in 13 countries.
It found that 85% of women and 79% of girls have opted out of important life activities when they did not feel good about the way they look.
And this is why Klopper’s confidence project is so important to South African women. Confidence and the lack thereof is global.
She also recently developed a Conscious Confidence course which draws on all the self-development learning she has done through reading and studying the work of a range of leading authors on personal development, as well as course creators she met along the way.
Marchelle Abrahams caught up with Klopper recently for a Q&A session on her latest online course and what she thinks inspires confidence in women.
It can be quite daunting to get in front of the camera for the first time. How do make your clients feel comfortable and shed their inhibitions?
Nine times out of 10 they are already apologising, because they don’t feel comfortable in front of the camera.
My whole approach to portrait photography is to put them at ease. I’m always looking for that thing that makes them unique. Afterwards they don’t know how I did it, that I make them feel “seen”.
Why do you think women are so self-critical?
When we are young, the messages we receive in comparison to boys are completely the opposite. People tend to say “you’re such a clever boy!” With the girls, it’s always “you’re so pretty”.
Because of the media and popular culture, it’s the sexy women that get all the attention.
As a real woman, we know we don’t look like that, and somehow we associate that desirability with what the perfect shape is. In comparison, we don’t measure up.
Thankfully, things are starting to shift with plus-size models coming on to the scene.
But every woman in her unique shape should know that she is the definition of beauty.
What brings out your confidence?
Confidence is not a finish line - it’s a daily practice. For me personally, that is what this journey has helped me realise.
I have to consciously and intentionally work on my confidence. We have to work on all aspects to be a complete woman: body, mind and soul.
Can you go more into detail about your Conscious Confidence online course?
You can register on my website and start any time you want. Most of the content is video based, along with worksheets and downloadable resources. I constantly add to it.
Why should I take it?
I believe that there’s no ultimate level of confidence - it all starts with awareness. So many of us live on autopilot. When you become self aware, then you can choose to start working on that. There’s always room for improvement.
Describe yourself in no more than 10 words?
Positive go-getter who is experimenting with this journey called life.
* Visit: http://conscious-confidence.com/ for the online course.
Abigail's super-quick confidence boosters:
1. Look at yourself in the mirror and repeat an affirming, positive mantra until you feel your confidence shift.
2.Write a list of 10 things you’re grateful for. If nothing else, it will take your focus off everything that you think is wrong in your life.
3.Move your body for 15 minutes, whether it’s going for a walk, doing some yoga stretches or going for a run. It’s a great way to awaken your senses and make you feel more alive.
4. Turn on your favourite music and dance like no one’s watching!
5.Do some introspection by writing about the source of your current low confidence. Just writing out your doubts and concerns can sometimes reveal something about ourselves that we were not initially aware of. And all positive change starts with awareness.