Written By: Leta Stevens
Photography By: @KarloGomez
When you think of a beautiful model sipping on an espresso single shot in between casting calls in London, who’s excitedly planning a move to Australia, the last thing that comes to mind is, “Wow, rough life!”
For model Shareefa, life wasn’t easy at all. She grew up in Norfolk, England, a small town that was anything but metropolitan. Shareefa was the only mixed race child in school. She felt like an outsider. Not only was she black, she was also chubby, and sporting an afro, with a lesbian mother to boot. This made her a target for the bullies. Her schoolmates were cruel, from milkshakes being poured on her afro to cigarettes being put out on her neck. Once, her hair was lit on fire with a Bunsen burner. The target of extreme bullying, the already chubby Shareefa found comfort in food.
How do you recover from such torment? For Shareefa, her passion fueled her resiliency. She attended drama school on vocal scholarship and channelled her emotions into singing and acting. Passion, she says, and staying true to yourself is the key to grounding and healing. Outside of performing, Shareefa took to her yoga mat to heal from the inside out. Daily yoga, meditation, and positive affirmations help her reassess her daily activities to make sure that she’s doing the things that make her happy.
If you ask Shareefa, the most beautiful thing about a person is the ability to be real, raw, honest, and true to themselves. By doing the same, Shareefa is able to use her past to fuel her fire today.
But… even when you have a handle on life, it can throw you a curveball. After years of feeling scatterbrained, getting in trouble at work for a lack of focus, and an innate ability to forget things, Shareefa was diagnosed with ADHD. Despite feeling defeated by her diagnosis, she was resilient. She credits her vinyasa flow, a strong work-life balance, and daily “I am worthy of…” affirmations for her strength + positivity.
Now, a model with a love of singing, acting, and comedy, Shareefa glows. She glows as only those who truly love themselves do.
She uses her growing status and influence to help others. Shareefa is taking social media by storm to show the people of the world that you do not have to conform to society’s standards of beauty and there need not be a stigma attached to ADHD. You can, in fact, have a big, beautiful, natural afro and curves and be a model. You can have ADHD and use the diagnosis to promote goodness and nonjudgment.
In the future, she hopes to make an impact on a larger scale, something bigger than a natural hair movement or breaking down the stigma of ADHD, she hopes to continue her volunteer work and activism internationally. Shareefa knows that true happiness and greatness comes from empowering those around you. “The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.” - Bob Marley
To see more of Shareefa and her journey please follow her @Shareefa_j