Women have been taking initiative lately to focus on the important practice of self-care. Whether entrepreneurs, artists, writers, filmmakers, students, or businesswomen– we understand the pressure of feeling as though we must be constantly moving, but sometimes, it’s necessary to take time for ourselves to reflect, and give ourselves the spa day or night of sleep we need– or maybe just a conversation with our girlfriends to remind us we’re seen. That’s why model, spokesmodel, and author, Keeke Kawaii, has written her book, Think Highly of Yourself, to give us that much-needed reminder. We’re delighted to share our interview with Keeke this Feminist Wednesday:
Introduce yourself! Tell us who you are and what you do.
My name is Keeke Kawaii and I’m a small person with a big heart. I’ve always been told growing up, ‘little girl, your mouth is going to get you in trouble.’ But instead, my mouth has gotten me out of trouble, and has been the piece that has helped people in a lot of ways that I didn’t notice at the time. A lot of people come to me and say, ‘I changed this or that about my life because of what you said to me!”
I’m a model and spokesmodel. I’ve done gigs from Nike to Microsoft to being the first and only human being inside a Macy’s window to hosting NBA events. But I realized that although I was using my voice to promote these brands, there was something deep inside that wasn’t fulfilled. It was a fun ride, but there was something inside that wasn’t satisfied.
And so I stopped working. I took an entire month off. I was like, I have to connect with myself and I’m going to write a book. I want to help people. I want to become a motivational speaker and I’m done with this being paid to be pretty thing. So I wrote a book called Think Highly of Yourself. It takes instances of my life – things that I went through that taught me very beautiful lessons, encouragement and words I needed to hear – I took that and put it in this book for people who are going through the same situations who need to hear those words. This book is a conversation. From abandonment from my mother as a child to abuse in a relationship to me as a woman understanding who I am, loving myself, and having the strength to overcome all of that and still be this happy, shining light. I’ve connected with God in such a way that I believe he moves in me, so I’m using that to help people.
How do you define feminism and how does that play a part in what you do?
Feminism to me is not all about just women. It’s the environment of women. It starts with a community, in the home, and most importantly, with you as a woman. Being a feminist is not just for yourself – it’s for other women. I’m always complimenting women, and sometimes they’re so surprised. Women hate on each other so much, and I don’t understand it. We have to respect each other and encourage each other on a whole before we can be like, hey world, love us, respect us.
If they see all these women empowering each other, they’ll have no choice but to empower us, too.
Even in Jamaica, my country, if a woman is physically abused, women don’t talk about being battered. Often times, we have a lot of women walking around as victims, but we’re so used to covering up the hurt and the pain that’s inside of us. It brings a heavy sense of insecurity in ourselves which makes us hate other women. We’ve got to stop. The moment we start loving other women, that’s what makes us feminists. The unselfish, genuine care of other women as a community – that’s what makes you a feminist.
What’s your best advice for other women working in creative industries?
First and foremost, know the business, and know how to protect yourself. Read contracts, know what you’re signing. Human nature, sadly, is to take advantage of ignorance. When you’re armed with knowledge, it puts a lot of fear into people with bad intentions.
I write about this in my book – there’s one chapter which is called Your Industry Vs. You. I talk about the talent industry, but as a whole, it’s important to know your self-worth. A lot of people are fearful of opening their mouth and asking for what they’re worth.
I’m very grateful to have been raised in a Jamaican household that taught me to have respect for everyone – from my aunt to President Obama. Respect goes a long way, and the moment you’re able to respect yourself along with others, that’s when you really think highly of yourself.
How can our readers support and follow your work going forward?
You can purchase my book and really read it! I’m still doing my spokesmodel stuff here and there, but my main client right now is my book. You can also follow me on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram.