The Art of Her Project | Sofia Silva
At 21, Sofia is speaking out about self-confidence, self-image and the search for validation that many of us experienced at both younger and more seasoned ages. She talks about the need for validation from others led to poor situations and the struggle to overcome low self esteem. And the powerful feeling that comes from breaking free of it.
Like Sofia, many of us have experienced something similar, and many of us also-- like Sofia-- have felt the fear of talking about it for how we may be seen.
She is not alone, and if you experience this, neither are you. The idea that we are worried to share our story for what people may think of us (me-- also raising my hand here) is exactly why I started this project. We deserve a safe place to share our stories, and the relief to know that not only are we not alone, but that those fears are lies.
So many women have told me about the outpouring of love from sharing their stories, and how incredible if feels to feel even a little like others were impacted by the sharing of it. Its incredibly empowering and I know Sofia will experience this as well.
You are loved.
Your story is valuable.
and you are not alone.
This is the Art of Sophia.
This is the Art of Her.
Jessica: Tell us about you, The woman.
Sofia: My name is Sofia. I am myself and am so thrilled about it. Many things make me who I am, though I would say my joie de vivre, my enthusiasm to discover, my energy, and my endless love for people are some of my favorite traits. Although I love all things high energy, bold, colorful, glittery, and sparkly, I would consider my emotional expression as grounded, refined, and patient. A few more words to describe me would be playful, expressive, curious, unique, friendly, adventurous, creative, and independent. I am a Sagittarius, an ISFP, an enneagram type 7, love adventures, Japanese food, skateboarding, punk rock music, and parties. I'm an architect in progress, with a burning desire to have an eco-friendly impact on this earth through my work and creativity. I am also an avid musician and enjoy playing trumpet, piano, and French horn. I also love dancing, arts and crafts, baking, and going out with I speak 3 languages (Spanish, English, and French), and have the grandest desire to travel the world and meet new people. I was born and raised in Tucson, but ultimately want to call Paris my home. Apart from being a college student, I am a business owner. I am a branding and business gift specialist, and love helping give local businesses an "edge" to their brand, helping them be "a cut above the rest". I love what I do because there is never a "dull" moment. Seriously. I live for public speaking, and I love the interactions I get to have with other humans almost daily!
Jessica: Tells us about Your Story.
Sofia: Although I'm only 21, I feel as though I've come a long way. The self-love and confidence I have now was not something I had for the majority of my life growing up. Despite having two very loving and supportive parents, I struggled with the social aspect of school. From a young age, I felt as though I didn't fit in. I spent most of my childhood and adolescence feeling displeased with my image, constantly feeling crushed by the weight of feeling like I wasn't good or pretty enough. Between the judgment, dirty looks, rejection, and ridicule I endured throughout most of my earlier life, I felt completely lost and unsure of who I was supposed to be in this world.
Then, I started high school. It was my first time in a public school, so I hardly knew anyone there. It was both exciting and nerve-wracking. My self-esteem and confidence were still low, so making new friends was something that made me very anxious. I did alright, and things were getting better, however, I was still in a place where I so craved that feeling of validation.
So, when I met these boys and men who made me feel like I was this phenomenal person, I thought this was it. I felt like I was on top of the world with all of this validation. Unfortunately, this led to me tolerating and enduring some pretty terrible things, such as emotional manipulation and even different forms of abuse. I was only 16, so it was hard for me to see the very subtle warning signs. It started with the love bombing and endless praising, which got me hooked. From there, the rest was the rest. It went on for about a year and a half until I reached my breaking point. It was a moment of self-discovery for me. He was trying to turn me into something I'm not and trying to get me to compromise my morals. At that moment, I was sure of who I was. Although the circumstances weren't pleasant, this realization made me feel powerful.
It's been hard to talk about, and I've hardly talked about it out of fear of how I may be perceived. However, getting past it and acquiring all of the lessons and knowledge from these experiences helped shape me into someone stronger, more confident, and most importantly, more loving toward myself.
Jessica: Tell me about a specific experience as it surrounds your story.
Sofia: Overall, what I had to endure and work through was my lack of self-love and confidence. There are many experiences in different shapes and forms that surround my story of overcoming this. However, the most significant experience was breaking free from the abuse cycle. After a year and a half of enduring it all, I was finally strong enough to stand up for myself. Standing up for myself had always been something difficult for me to do. However, this was the first time I'd felt this powerful and confident in myself.
Jessica: What has surprised you about yourself.
Sofia: What surprised me was my strength and courage to confront this person and set myself free. Afterward, what surprised me was how much was available to me with my newfound confidence. My sense of self-worth was totally different after having gone through this abuse and in the best of ways. This surprised me. Living it, I saw and felt that I deserved so much better.
Jessica: What would you say you learned about yourself or others during or since this event?
Sofia: The most important thing I learned about myself was how strong, worthy, and powerful I am. I still stumble, fall, and make mistakes, but I love who I am. I have to, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Learning self-love has made me unstoppable and powerful. Learning confidence has made me blossom into the person I love. I've learned how to protect my energy, how to set my boundaries, and treat them as sacred.
Jessica: How did this change you?
Sofia: Before the event, I was someone who very much struggled with self-love and confidence. Growing up and going out into the world scared me, as I feared that the world wouldn't accept me. Being liked was so important to me, and I was so afraid that who I was would never be enough. After the event, I felt free. Not only free from the abuse but free from the insecurity I had suffered most of my life. In the event, I discovered different things about myself and learned what was important to me and my being. Becoming clear on what my morals and values were, I became stronger and more secure in who I am. After trying to be changed, molded, and shaped into someone else that I wasn't, I became very sure of who I was. Not only that but what others thought of me or told me suddenly became unimportant.
Jessica: How have your values changed?
Sofia: Before the event, I don't think I knew what my values were. Since the event, however, I've discovered them. Now, more than anything, I value independence. I value the freedom to be. The freedom to be is everything, and I would never compromise it in a million years. To me, the freedom to be is the freedom to love, thrive, and create the most damn magical and amazing experience for oneself in this journey of life.
Jessica: What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?
Sofia: It would be easy and tempting for me to say, "love yourself... don't listen to what others say about you... stand up for yourself...", however, I honestly don't think I would've been very receptive. I truly believe that going through what I went through was critical for becoming the person I am now. So instead, I would say, "Keep doing your thing, girlie pop. Surround yourself with the most amazing people. That's all you need to do".
Jessica: What would you say has helped you along your healing journey?
Sofia: Surrounding myself with the most amazing family and friends, and just the most loving people all around has helped me! It's been a process, although having people who care about me that I can confide in has made a world of difference. Since the event, I've stumbled and fallen and have made my mistakes. However, learning from these mistakes and gaining more experience each time has helped me in becoming a stronger and more confident person.
Jessica: What is your story of now?
Sofia: Oh my gosh, I love my story of now! I am still a work in progress and probably will be for the rest of my life. For now, though, I am fearless, enthusiastic, and confident. This is what I celebrate. I am excited about sharing myself and my energy with the world. This includes sharing my story, and inspiring hope in other young women. I hope that just being myself every day, and being fearless about it, inspires others. One of my favorite things to do is encourage others, hype people up, and compliment strangers out on the streets. If I can make one person smile or feel better about themselves each day, then that's a mission accomplished for me. Hopefully, this inspires others to do the same. Not to sound like a hippy, but we could all use some more of that in this world. :)
Jessica: When in your life, so far, have you felt most confident and why?
Sofia: Right now. Being able to share my story has never felt as right as it does now. And right now, I have the most experience, wisdom, and self-love than I've ever had at any other point in my life. This will be true for every day that passes, and to me, that's the beautiful part of it all.
Jessica: Have your perceptions of what being ‘attractive’ means changed over time?
Sofia: Yes, my perceptions have changed. When I was 12, I always thought "attractive" was a pretty face and a perfect body. Now, I believe "attractive" is entirely somebody's level of confidence and self-love, and the way that they treat themselves and others.
Jessica: What is the ongoing challenge you face?
Sofia: To this day, protecting my energy is a challenge. Remembering at any given moment that I don't owe anyone anything, and that I owe myself everything. I spent most of my life trying to be liked by everyone and searching for that validation from others, so it can be challenging to remember that staying true to myself doesn't make me a villain. Guarding my boundaries doesn't make me a bad person. I don't need everyone to like me. The most important thing is loving and taking care of myself. This way, I can freely share everything I am with others.
... always much easier said than done. However, I am excited about the progress I'm making every day!
Jessica: It would be really interesting to hear about any ambitions you have for the future?
Sofia: To me, having a positive impact on this world is at the core of everything I do and everything I aspire to do. For example, I developed a keen interest in the social aspect of architecture. I became particularly drawn to concepts such as green planning, sustainability, and affordable housing—areas that addressed some of the pressing issues our world faces today. Looking ahead, my aspirations in architecture extend far beyond personal success. I envision a future where I can establish my own architectural firm—a creative sanctuary where I can merge my passion for design with a profound commitment to making a difference. While I haven't yet determined the exact location I want to settle in, I do know that wherever I reside, I want to contribute to the creation of greener, safer, and more inclusive communities.
Environmental stewardship is at the core of my vision. I am determined to incorporate eco-friendly and sustainable practices into every building I design. By implementing green technologies, utilizing renewable resources, and promoting energy efficiency, I aim to leave a positive mark on the environment and inspire others to follow suit.
Equally important to me is the aspect of inclusivity. I firmly believe that architecture should transcend boundaries and provide spaces that foster a sense of belonging for all. I am committed to championing the needs of marginalized populations and ensuring that their voices are heard. By creating accessible and welcoming communities, I aspire to contribute to a world where everyone feels valued and embraced..
Jessica: If you could talk to advertisers right now about advertising to women, what advice would you give them?
Sofia: I would tell them to focus more on beauty being self-love and confidence as opposed to physical appearance. As simple as that!
Jessica: What do you wish other women or young girls knew about themselves?
Sofia: You're not alone! The older I've gotten and the more I've grown up, the more I've realized that so many women had/have the same struggles as me. It was easy for me to feel like I was the only one going through what I was battling, and that all the other girls and women had it figured out. What I've come to learn, is that almost everyone is struggling and that we as women have to support each other. It's okay to be emotional, it's okay to be vulnerable, it's okay to be authentic. Wherever you are is perfect.
Photography by Jessica Korff Studios
Makeup by: Renee Lanz | Radiate with ReneeJ
Dress Draping: Dresses draped and created by: Jessica Korff