Sonya Danita Charles
Q1) Tell us a little about yourself!
Hey there! I'm Sonya, 27 years old, and I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I moved to Los Angeles, California when I was 18 years old to pursue my education in business and fashion marketing, and that has been the best decision of my life! I am outgoing, quirky, loud and always keen on learning something new. I enjoy meeting new people and learning about them and the stories they carry within. I am also someone who invests a lot of energy, emotion, care and compassion into the people around me, which is why I choose to always help as many people as I can and to spread positivity, kindness and love. Now, as strong and confident I may seem, I also have my moments of vulnerability, which is something that I battle with on a daily basis. However, being this way also allows me to feel deeply, and to always try to practice positivity, kindness and mindfulness in everything that I do. I strive to always work towards what I believe in, to become a better person and to never go astray from who I truly am as an individual.
Q2) Tell us about what you do, and why you do it
I am currently a freelance model, marketer and body positive advocate. The reason I ventured into modelling is because it was always something that I wanted to do but never really had the confidence to pursue. I remember what it felt like when I was in my teens- admiring all the beautiful women around me, while also feeling extremely insecure as I knew that I looked very different in comparison. It didn't help that I was constantly picked on and judged for the way I looked as well. Plus, back then, there wasn't any representation of people who looked like me, which made it a lot more difficult for me to process.
There were many life events that inspired me to challenge the status quo and pursue modelling, but the one and most prominent motivating factor is definitely when I was going through a very tough phase in my life. There was a point in time when I was very down, defeated and discouraged, and I felt like my whole world was crumbling on me. During that journey, I spent a lot of time with myself and learnt to truly understand myself better. I realised that for so long, I had been doing so much to make other people happy, but never enough to make myself happy. I had put so many dreams of mine on pause due to fear and judgement. However, eventually I decided that I had enough. I realised that I needed to take control of my life, not only for me, but for all the people who were different like me. There wasn’t any representation of people like me, and I knew that this was something I needed to change. Plus, I told myself “if not now, then when?”. Basically I decided to dive straight in without any inkling of what may come out of it, and since then, it has been such a whirlwind and amazing journey. I have continuously reminded myself to always be raw and vulnerable and share my story with people, with hopes that someday it will help make this world a better and more kinder place. Throughout this journey, I’ve also learnt so much about myself and it continues to force me to grow as an individual, and to always step outside of my comfort zone- especially if it means doing something that brings me happiness.
Q3) What makes you feel courageous?
I guess simply put- it is the people around me who constantly push me and support me, and the little girl inside of me whom I neglected for so long. With everything that I do, I am doing it with hopes that it will help change the world we live in and make it a better place for future generations to come. I want to create a space and environment that is safe for all, including my future kids. I want my kids to be able to live a full and wholesome life without the fear of judgement, hate, or anything that forces them to neglect their true calling in life. My vulnerability is my strength because it continues to show me that no matter what I am faced with in life, I refuse to give up and I will continue to strive, move forward and grow as an individual. I am motivated by my passion to help people see that beauty truly surpasses color, shape, size, etc. and to allow equal opportunities and love for people from all walks of life.
Q4) What is one thing you wish you could tell your 16-year-old self?
I wish I could tell her that life will continue to surprise her in the most unexpected ways, and it is just the beginning. I would tell her that she is more than her skin condition or the way she looks. She is more than the nasty words that people throw at her. She is more soul than skin, and she will come out of it stronger each time.
Q5) What is one piece of advice you can give a fellow lady who might be lacking courage?
My advice would be to slowly learn to love yourself better, and with time, you will see that truly all that matters is love and kindness (both internally and externally). More often than not, we are caged by the opinions of others, which limits us and also contributes to our lack of self esteem. This is because we allow others to dictate the kind of life we should live, how we should look, what we should do, etc. However, when you learn to truly reach deep into your core to understand yourself and your purpose better, you will also see that everything else is just noise and a distraction. There is no right or wrong with this. Everyone processes information differently. Use this to your advantage to improve yourself and grow as an individual. You only get one shot at this life you're given- so try your best to do everything you can to live a happy and purposeful life- not because someone else told you to, but because you want to! At the end of the day, the only person who has full control over your mind and feelings is yourself. You can either let others define you, or you can take control and define yourself. Continue to do good, and life will fall into place in its own time. It all starts and ends with you!