Written By: Delaney Rodriguez

A coffee date with Claire Thomson looks something like this: Claire orders her favorite drink, a dirty chai, and then you talk about all your hopes and dreams. She listens intently to every detail of your life story and genuinely enjoys it. There isn’t one word of judgment because Claire appreciates people for who they are.

“I love being around people who do not apologize for being human” Claire said. “No apologies for not being perfect, not being skinny, not being organized, not being on-the-ball 24/7. There is nothing more beautiful than your own unique, quirky mess!”

She did not come to this realization easily, however. Claire grew up “in the beautiful bushes of South Africa” but she had to deal with her parents’ divorce at the young age of nine.

“It was an incredibly tumultuous time in my little life but I felt like my family needed me so I decided to be strong and take control. This led to me becoming a young control freak and a bit tender and irrational because I was also hurting. Having two extreme sides to one’s personality can be difficult because you constantly berate yourself for not being good enough but also act out because you crave acceptance and love. This led to years of attention-seeking, obsessive eating plans, constantly weighing myself, and self-hate. Because of this journey I am who I am today and I have compassion for what girls go through on a daily basis and how it feels to not feel good enough.”

Nowadays, to keep herself on track, Claire surrounds herself with a group of people always encouraging her to be her best and to continue moving forward.

“I am a professional photographer specializing in weddings (telling love stories) but also do portraiture, food, and fashion. The wedding industry is filled with innovative women trying to get back to what matters most about a beautiful union as opposed to trying to fit the idea of a perfect wedding. Like me, these girls have started out on their own and never stood back or apologized for being who they are and I draw such inspiration from them on a daily basis.”

She also credits this growth to her “rock of a boyfriend. It’s hard to admit weakness when you are a positive example to so many women but he is always there to hold me up when I am just too tired to do it on my own.”

If there’s one thing in Claire’s life that she would change, it is that she could see her mom more often. Claire still lives in South Africa, but her mom moved to the U.S. a year and a half ago.

“We could have coffee and talk all day. Analyzing life, dreaming and laughing at everything that makes us human. I owe a great deal of my inner light to my mother and I am so proud to have her sparkle.”

Through her struggles, Claire has learned some lessons that could help anyone on their journey to self-acceptance: “You have every right to do what makes you happy. If you feel that something resonates with you then you should do it. Stop waiting for permission to live an extraordinary life because nobody is ever going to give you the go-ahead, you have to do that for yourself. This is your life, and it runs by your rules. Life is too short to wait for the day you're tall enough, thin enough, smart enough, prepared enough. If not now, then when?!”

To see more of Claire, check out her Instagram @Ilovemylyfie