Claire Vögeli is a professional photographer, coach, content creator and an advocate for intuitively living life to the maximum. She has spent much of her time not only appreciating and capturing beauty, but also teaching Women around the world how to create their own too.We’ve been following Claire on Instagram and her content - authentic, real, raw and inspiring - has always resonated with us. She advocates for Women empowerment and challenging societal misconceptions about women. This makes her a vital voice that needs to be heard through the noise us Women are often exposed to regarding our careers, bodies and self-empowerment journeys. Claire was born in South Africa and now lives in London, also home to our newly launched @dearraeworld.
Hi Claire - welcome to our Dear Rae Community. Please share with our readers more about what you do, including when and why you decided to start this incredible adventure.
Hello to all my fellow Dear Rae groupies! I am Claire Vögeli, and I am a confidence and identity coach, educator and photographer. Basically, I help women cultivate self-awareness and single handedly sandblast years and years of self-doubt sediments, caked-on body shame, and the toxic need to be small.
What would you say are the most difficult challenges Women are facing in 2021?
To say this time in history is probably the most pivotal would be an understatement! There is so much happening - the world is literally shifting in discomfort and things are going to change drastically for so many people. I think the biggest challenge for us as Women will be to show up. We are starting to take up our seats in the front row, on the boards and in the firing line, and it’s so important now more than ever that we use our voices and our feminine attributes without losing our innate gifts. It’s time to be brave enough to speak up, say yes, take the job, lean in and charge your worth.
As a Woman, when do you feel most comfortable in your own skin?
It’s all very cyclical for me. I tend to find that my connection to my body is strongest in “spring” just after I have finished my cycle and I am more switched on and productive. I enjoy and respect every aspect of the creative cycle I go through, but I am definitely my most at peace in spring! Learning about my menstrual flow was incredibly empowering for me.
We recently read in one of your Instagram captions: “to be confident is to be brave enough to come undone.” When have you felt most brave in your life and when have you come most undone?
I think the bravest thing I have done lately was moving to the UK with my husband and our two fur babies last year. We didn’t have anything lined up and we just jumped. The pandemic struck two weeks after we arrived and the last year has been the most challenging of my life, but I have seen the most growth. I have come completely undone during this process. I learnt to graciously welcome failure, drop all my preconceived ideas of what success means or looks like, and instead of turning my nose up at mediocracy, I have welcomed it with arms wide open - because I believe you cannot climb without being here first. I can honestly say I’m so excited for normalcy again!
Has using social media, for personal use or as a platform, affected your views on your own body in any way? Good and/or bad.
Social media is just a tool and how you use it will determine what role it plays in your life. The more people I follow on these platforms that are in line with my beliefs and outlook, the more I grow. I used to follow people who made me revert to comparative thoughts. I realised the way I was using social media was not working for me or adding anything to my life. The only “detox” I would ever recommend to anyone is a social media detox. Unfollow anything that doesn’t light you up. Spend less time on the platform consuming and more time living and creating!
As women, what do you think are the best ways to fight unsustainable beauty ideals?
I think what we have to remember is that true beauty and true happiness would never be outside of ourselves and that anything that promises to “make” you better is unsustainable. There is nothing wrong with decorating or adorning ourselves in celebration, in fact it’s such an important part of our expression, but we must not rely on these acts to make us who we are at our core.
Hearing things like ‘just love yourself’ or ‘just be confident’ when you don’t or aren’t can be exhausting. Do you have any advice on nurturing a sense of self-confidence? Is self-love cultivated through self-awareness?
Yes, self-awareness is the key! Getting to a point where your self-love and self-confidence is not conditional or affected by the external is the goal. It’s very similar to a relationship with another person that you love. You wouldn’t only love that person on the condition that they do this or do that. Self-confidence is like icing on the cake of self-awareness or self-love - it’s great to have but if you have a crappy carrot cake, no amount of buttercream will save it! The hard work happens on the inside.
If you think of the term ‘self-love,’ is it all spa days and champagne, or does it also include hard work, ugly cries, and working through uncomfortable truths about yourself?
The act of self-love has essentially been hijacked to sell an idea of escape to Women and unfortunately the essence of it has been cheaply gilded, somewhat. The truth is acts of self-love, at times, can be unattractive and painful. No one likes to say no and disappoint the people they love; no one likes to stand their ground and push others back in order to grow authentically, but these are some essential acts of self-love. There was a quote on my English class wall in grade 8 which said “What is right is not always easy, and what is easy is not always right!” It made so much sense to me.
Tell us about your self-love rituals and how they help you celebrate your experience as a Woman.
My sacred time is in the morning. I try to get to bed early and then wake up with the sun, and spend some time journaling before starting my day. I make sure I feed my body foods that sometimes make me feel alive and energetic, and sometimes make my toes curl with sheer delight - more and more I’m finding these are the same since I removed the “good” and “bad” labels! I have also learnt how to engage my boundaries which was a hard lesson for me. Every time I say no to one thing, I say yes to another and that is beautiful!
Could you please shed some light on body positivity vs body neutrality? And how can we, as Women, better support each other in body neutrality?
Body positivity was started first and foremost by black women to raise awareness around the Fat Rights Movement in the 60’s and has since spun out into many different factions which have become whitewashed and glamourised. The focus has shifted from challenging fatphobic, racist, ableist and restrictive government policies and beauty ideals to just another form of body obsession dressed in a different outfit. While body positivity’s roots are extremely powerful, the utilisation of its mechanisms, to once again, sell products to women and keep us preoccupied with the way we look, is counterproductive in my opinion. I feel that body neutrality resonates with me more because it allows us as Women to say, “Yeah, I have a body and it’s not the MOST important thing about me.” While comfortability in our skin and feeling beautiful is extremely important, over-amplifying the priority of this is a waste of our precious time which we could be using to change the world.
Potentially tough question: If you had to pick one Woman who inspires you, who would you choose and why?
This is like asking me to pick my favourite song. Torture! I would have to say that the latest Goddess to rock my socks off has to be Sonya Renee Taylor. She’s a world-renowned activist, author, artist, spiritual and transformational leader and the founder of The Body Is Not An Apology. TBINAA is a movement and education company focusing on the intersections of identity, healing and social justice using the framework of radical self-love.
Three things you cannot live without?
My family, my camera and a notebook with a black gel pen.
What sets your soul on fire?
Seeing Women find their unique power, getting a fright at how powerful they actually are, and then witnessing them test it, grasp it and then letting it flow out into the world and impact the people they love. It’s like watching one of those multi-coloured storm maps. Gorgeous!
Favourite Dear Rae piece?
It’s the gold Signet Ring for me! Anything that can live on me permanently and add character.
Parting words for our readers...
There is no magical formula to self-love. There is no wonder diet, there is no miracle product or holiday that you can take that will give you the rest and the peace that you need. The only way you will come home to you is to give up the fight against yourself, put in the effort to form your loving relationship with your body and stop putting other people first all the time. Pure joy is your birthright, babe!