SOUL&STORY ft. Sofia
est. 2011 Soul&Story is grounded in the belief that natural beauty is worth a photoshoot. But even though a picture is worth a thousand words, a thousand words wouldnâ€™t do these kind of stories justice. Soul&Story serves as a platform for women to share their story with the world and to boldly prove that their natural beauty is worth sharing. contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org instagram @soulandstory
Tell us a little about yourself !
am a Korean- American, born in Maryland. When I was 9 years old, my family moved to the Philippines because my parents were called to become missionaries and I lived overseas until I graduated from high school. I loved growing up as TCK (third-culture kid), there definitely has been some difficult moments. But overall, I love the experience that I had living overseas, all the traveling I had done at a young age, and having my perspective being widened by living somewhere other than my passport country.
hat experience has definitely shaped me into the person I am today, and I cannot imagine not being a TCK. More about myself I am an extroverted introvert, and I have been learning to balance these traits about myself. I enjoy diving deep into what makes people who they are, and learning about personalities and all the different characteristics that make people who they are. I love intimate, deep conversations with few close friends. Throw in being an actual Disney princess, cooking, and watching football and thatâ€™s a little bit of who I am.
What’s been your journey to understanding beauty & self-worth?
y journey with beauty and self worth starts off I think as most young ladies, somewhere during puberty you are suddenly aware of your physical appearance and how it compares to the rest of the world. For me that journey started when I was a pre-teen living in Philippines, talk about a confusing time. At that time I was already being shaped by the Western idea of beauty, which was being “skinny or slim.” Imagine the confusion I had to face when I came to the Philippines and culturally it was polite for them to tell you that you were “chubby” and that was considered beautiful.
rowing up with these two polar opposites of cultural beauty traits was difficult, and I believe in a way affected the way I looked in a negative matter. There are always ups and down, especially as a young woman; as you navigate what beauty and self worth is to you. One thing that always stuck with me and I am so appreciate of is there were always voices of truth that spoke over my life, even during times of insecurity. One of those voices that rang, loud and clear was the voice of my dad. He was always encouraging me, telling me that I was beautiful, and spoke the self worth that I deserved over
my life. That is something that is so important for fathers of daughters to do, he was the first man so far the only man who has told me that I am beautiful. Growing up I didnâ€™t think it was that big of a deal and that it was normal for a father to dote on their daughters like that. Now that I am older I appreciate those simple acts of love. And I now realize that those words spoken to me by my father was shaping my self worth.
ust as my earthly father spoke words of my self worth and beauty over my life, the older I become I began to understand and hear the words of my Heavenly Father being spoken over me. Definitely as I become older and my relationship with God became deeper and more of a reality; this in turn also shaped my identity. As women we place or are told to place our identity on the world standards on beauty. But when my identity in Christ became concrete and secure, this in turn helped me to see the beauty that God has placed in me. Identity and self worth go hand in hand.
think that my journey to understanding beauty is something of a process. I donâ€™t think that process will ever end, when I become 40, 50, 60 or even to 100 there is always a process of understanding of what beauty is as you get older and live from one stage of life to the next. That probably flows into also the day when I become a wife, mother, you have different versions of what beauty as you walk into different stages of your life. Right now, I recently just turned 30 and right now
I am really discovering the journey of being comfortable in my own skin. I didnâ€™t realize that it would take me this long to feel comfortable in who I am and how I am created. But I definitely feel that comfort level flows into my confidence level and that in turns flows into how I view myself.
hen it comes to make up, I remember my biggest influence was my mother. I loved watching her put on her make up as a little girl.
What is your ethnicity and what is considered beautiful in your culture?
am Korean- American. I guess in our culture, its considered beautiful to be petite, slim, clear skin. It can be difficult because there are some things that are definitely Korean influenced such as double lid eyelids and some things that are definitely more American such as being curvy. And then there are things that go with both cultures such as being a certain weight, clear skin, etc.
How did it feel to not wear makeup during the shoot?
t did feel a bit unusual. I never really felt super confident about being in pictures, let alone being make up free. But I was having so much fun during the photoshoot, and Megan was being so encouraging that I forgot all about it by the time we ended the photo shoot.
What makes you feel beautiful?
onestly, walking in a slight wind while wearing a really flowy skirt or dress. I love way the wind plays with the dress and I feel really pretty and feminine. I also feel beautiful when I feel comfortable in the outfit that I am wearing, and I donâ€™t have to worry about tightness, or length, or wondering how something looks on me. When I know that one outfit does look good on me and I feel comfortable wearing, I definitely feel beautiful. But walking in a slight breeze is definitely my favorite beauty moment.
What makes you feel self-conscious?
have always been bigger, curvier, hippier than my other Asian counterparts. So that’s hard, when the majority of your people or your ethnicity looks a certain way and you don’t. So growing up I was always aware that I was bigger boned, that I did not have delicate wrists or wear a size 2 and it used to really bother me. As I became older, I have started to slowly, very slowing embrace those aspects about me that make me. It’s definitely a process and I am not totally there where I am celebrating my body everyday; but I am taking baby steps. It’s also hard to turn of those voices of comparing off in your head, and that is something that I have been working on as well, to quiet those voices and focus on the voice of truth.
What was the last meaningful compliment you received?
omeone told me that I march to the beat of my own drum, and that when I decide on something I just go for it and that was something they admired about me. I was really encouraged to hear that because sometimes you wonder if the decisions or actions you make is really making a difference or doing anything or even if people will notice. But they do and I loved hearing that I am my own person and that I am a go getter!
What is your favorite part of your body? I love my dimple!
How do you build your own self-confidence?
y being surrounded by people who can speak life into me and encourage me. I also enjoy making people laugh, and when people laugh at me being quirky or telling jokes, that definitely builds up my self confidence. Also I think it is important for us to tell ourselves at how good we are and what kind of things you are good at. Its one thing to have other people tell you these things, but there is power in you yourself speaking confidence over yourself. Some people might think itâ€™s really arrogant or cocky, but hey its only you hearing what you have to say. And I believe that there is power in speaking life and confidence over you personally as well. So yeah I guess I also just speak good words, and life over myself so that I can also believe in myself.
Sofia’s Last Comments
celebrated my 30th birthday this month, and I definitely have never felt better! I think as woman the older we get, we are somehow told to dread the aging process. The negative voices around us will tell us that our better days are behind us, and that it can only get worse from here. But I would have to disagree with that! I find that the older I have become, the more confident and wiser I have become, and then you begin to truly understand the important things in life
his is the best stage I have ever been in my life where I am truly comfortable in my own skin. I don’t envy another person’s “skin” or wish God had given me another “skin”; but I am comfortable right now, right here in this moment. It’s a good place to be, to know who you really are and realizing that it is a constant journey to discovering more of who you are as a God created creation.
o my younger sisters don’t fret or dread about the future, but cheer yourself on as you continue to walk the journey of what self worth, identity, and beauty is as you become older; treasure the moments that you have now; but look forward to the future with excitement. To my present peers, embrace the present moment; and don’t worry too much
about the future but enjoy every sweet fruit that the present moment has to offer. Finally to my sisters who are running graciously ahead of me on the journey, keep on keeping you. As you continue to move forward, I can only hope to live as graciously as some of you and know that wherever you are in life there is beauty to be found in you whatever stage of life that you are in. Thank you Megan for letting me be a part of this amazing project!
’ve known Sofia since I was a baby but I didn’t really get to become friends with her until I moved back to D.C. in July 2016. We both grew up as missionary kids and when we met up, it was refreshing to dive into our different experiences and share how we thought it still impacts us today. When she agreed to be the next feature on Soul&Story, I was thrilled because I knew she would bring such an unique perspective. Where else are you going to hear the perspective of a Korean-American woman who grew up in the Philipines and is fluent in their language? Sofia is off to L.A. now and I wish her the best! She’s the kind of woman who takes on that “older sister” role and gives without thinking about what’s in it for her. I’m so thankful to get to share her story in this issue and I hope you enjoyed reading it!
Photography by Megan Won
A photoshoot to celebrate natural beauty in Washington D.C.