Stay Wild Women - NATALIE-AMBER FREEGARD
As a brand we are constantly inspired by and in awe of the wonderful women in our community, the women who support us, the women who model for us, the women who wear our swimwear. So we decided to capture these wonderful women on film camera and share some of their stories with you. We hope you fall in love with them all as much as we did 🌊
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a 27 year old professional model from Swindon who is currently the face of the National Lottery ‘Set for Life’ campaign. For many years I was back and forth to the doctors and A & E with constant stomach pains, not just an ache but a severe pain where I couldn’t eat much or get out of bed. I was mis-diagnosed for seven years and told I was ‘anorexic’ or had IBS or likely to have food intolerances, all pretty dismissive. I firmly believe it was because I was a dance student / model and it was easier for the doctors to think I liked the low body weight!
I collapsed in December 2017, went blind, contracted sepsis and kidney failure and had 35cm of my small intestine cut out. I was in intensive care and had a stoma bag for a year. I was lucky to have it reversed in December 2018.
You can read more about my story here: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-6906517/Model-left-BLIND-battle-Crohns-disease.html
Your have documented your battle with Crohns Disease so openly and in such a raw honest way so thank you. How have you found opening up and talking about everything you went through online?
At first I was scared, scared of what people would say and think. I wasn’t ready for a very long time myself to accept anything. I have had comments from people about stoma bags and scars that were not very nice, but I also have such amazing support from other Crohn’s and Colitis warriors - we all stick together on tough times like this. I wanted to break the stigma and make a change for women out there who are too scared to show their scars or stomas and to make everyone see we are all beautiful. I have helped so many people in such a small space of time and was lucky enough to have won a national award for my raising awareness from Crohn’s and Colitis. My most engaged posts on social media are when I show my scar and the side effects from the steroids such as a bloated tummy and face. People have even told me that because of me, they now show their scars on the beach or post a photo or they go back to the doctor and tell them they want a Crohn’s test as they recognise similar symptoms. I am proud of that.
Can you talk us through Self Love by Natalie Amber and the amazing message you are putting out to the world?
I started up #selflovebynatalieamber because it is about body acceptance. Today’s society are all based on looks and materialistic things (Instagram perfect!) I have informed my model agent and casting directors not to photoshop out my scar - because it makes me who I am. I wouldn’t be here today with that scar.
I want everybody to be able to feel comfortable within themselves without feeling the need to compare themselves to ‘Instagram models’ or people they see on TV. You have to love yourself and be comfortable with yourself before you love anybody else. I want everybody to post photos of their true selves with my # - this means you are proud of your real body, your scars, your stretch marks, your soft tummy - it don’t matter, it’s real. You never know, your post make a difference to someone.
Why do you think community and supporting each other is so important?
I feel we need to be supportive of one another because too many people these days feel the need to cyber bully. There are too many people who gang up on people and it can lead to some taking their own lives or self-harming. Girls can be some of the worst. We all have a past and it’s how we grow and learn from it that matters the most. Those people who still feel the need in this day and age to pick on others or not let go of the past have a lot of growing and self love to do, and sometimes you have to remember it’s not you who is the problem but them. Bullying It is NOT acceptable, but the more we stick together and shout about it, the more change we will see. People need to know it’s okay not to be okay, and that they are NEVER alone.
We loved shooting with you - why did you want to be part of our shoot and community?
I loved shooting with you also! I wanted to shoot with you guys because I am obsessed with everything you stand for, with the world and us as human beings. I love that you are not afraid to break the expected standards and want to use real people for your pieces. After all it is real people who will buy and wear them. This makes us ‘normal’ people feel good about themselves and not ‘ I can’t wear that because the model looks like this’. I am all girl power and you are EXACTLY that.
At Stay Wild we are passionate about the planet and creating a more sustainable way of doing things. Can you describe what the planet and sustainability means to you?
It means taking action NOW to help protect the world in the future. If we all just made small changes it all adds up. For example, I now only use metal re-usable straws. I like to shop in charity shops so that the clothes are recycled rather than buying new all the time.
I prefer to buy fruit and veg naked and not covered in plastic. I have followed a lot of Greta Thunburg and I do agree with what she is saying, and she is a very strong young woman.
I also love the song ‘Earth’ by little Dicky which Leonardo Di Caprio, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and lots of other Celebs star in warning us about the fate of our planet if we carry on.
What was your favourite Stay Wild piece and why?
I loved the Sierra bikini set, because I like how versatile it was, I loved the vibrant colour and it was made from ocean plastic too!
What’s next for Natalie-Amber?
I have lots coming up in the pipeline which I am very excited about. I have more Body Confidence shoot planned, this time I am taking it on a tour around the U.K in 2020. I am running my 2nd fashion show ‘Phoenix Part 2’ in which I would love to invite Stay Wild to be on the runway. I have been invited to give some public talks across the U.K for Crohn’s and Colitis next year in addition to my monthly blogs for Pelican Healthcare (ostomy healthcare products). I will continue to appear on my local radio station twice a month and I am also carrying on with my modelling and seeing how far I can go with breaking the stigma out there. I shall not give up.
Follow Natalie-Amber on Instagram: @natalie_amber1