Greek Goddess promises to change the world with her beauty
Interview with super beauty Amanda de Waal
Her career spans a period of nearly 18 years. Discovered as a model in a shopping mall in South Africa at a time when models were all supermodels, Amanda de Waal won the "Model of the Year" competition and went on to work in all the major fashion capitals of the world, including Paris, Italy, London, and New York, where she shared runways with the likes of Linda Evangelista, Cristy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, and Claudia Schiffer. In 1994 she returned to South Africa to launch the international agency, Select Models, as well as to start her TV career starring in "Glass Castles". During this period Amanda presented her own travel show for television, did countless talk shows, and began working for various worthwhile charities. In 1999 she left South Africa for Athens, where she is now permanently based and works as a model and photographer, gives wild dinner parties for her friends, quotes Emerson when needed, and works to make the world a better place with her Greek goddess type beauty.
SuperBeauty.Org: Amanda, you are one of the most awesomely beautiful women we have ever seen, and you've been modeling, acting, and sharing your beauty with the world for decades. You have achieved a hell of a lot in that time, yet why are we discovering you only now? Where have you been all these years? What have you been doing to keep such beauty from becoming world famous?
Amanda: Thank you for the great compliment! To answer your question, I am a great believer in destiny. The very fact that I am doing this interview with SuperBeauty.Org right now, is an incredible achievement, and great honour to me. But, truth be told, I made decisions in my life that altered a lot of chances I had, sometimes for better or worse, I was often at the right place at the wrong time, and I can honestly say I have enjoyed a whole lot of good, and bad luck. "World famous" is a very broad term as far as I'm concerned. I am - in my eyes, world famous. I have hundreds of people from countries I never knew existed looking at my website everyday, reading my biography, and taking an interest in my life.
SBO: Modeling - and your beauty - has played a big role in getting you where you are today. You've been modeling since high school in one form or another. Did you always want to be a model? Were you always so damn beautiful?
"Enthusiasm is the all-essential human jet-propeller."
Amanda: I can honestly tell you I was not always "sooo" beautiful. I was a plumpish child but I was born into a GREAT looking family. So since I was very young, my mother, my sisters and I where always doing the local shows in Pretoria-North [South Africa], where I grew up. It was great fun always. Naturally as I got older, my dreams changed and I wanted to be everything from the Most Famous Punk in the World, to The Greatest Lawyer, to follow in the footsteps of Mother Teresa, to becoming President. I always had big dreams and a lot of enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is the all-essential human jet-propeller. It begets boldness, kindles confidence and overcomes doubts, and so, at the age of 18, when I was discovered by a modeling scout in a shopping mall in Pretoria, I didn't think about anything twice. I took a train to Johannesburg, saw what a big city looked like, loved it, moved the following day, and 3 months later I did my first modeling job in Europe.
SBO: Was it exciting, or scary?
Amanda: Both! First it was a feeling of total disbelief. I thought the scout was pulling a prank because why should anyone think I could be a model? Then that night I had a good look in the mirror and I thought, "well, just maybe..." so I became totally excited. But on the train the next day, going to Johannesburg for my interview with the agency, I nearly got off long before the main station. I was petrified! I had a million negative thoughts racing through my brain. My mother always used to give us little poems and verses to stick in our cupboards to read while getting dressed etc. And one of those, was a verse by Ralph Waldo Emerson. It says: Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you, you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men to win them. With this in mind I went to the agency, got accepted, took the train home, packed my bags and moved the very next day!
"I went to the [modeling] agency, got accepted, took the train home, packed my bags and moved the very next day!"
SBO: Did your upbringing shape who you are today? Tell us a little about your childhood.
Amanda: I had the most wonderful childhood. My playground was the mountain behind our house, the river a couple of blocks away, and of course my parents' fantastic garden. It was a time when we drank water from a hosepipe - cause it just tasted so sweet - where your idea of good food included, Burgers, Twinkies, Smarties and Coca-Cola. Rap music was cool and songs like " Pump up the Jam" were sung freely. We drove our bikes everywhere, wore legwarmers (ouch) and luminous plastic bangles with cut-off sweatshirts (still do). Your father could give you a hiding for being really naughty (which happened quite frequently), without you being able to sue your father for teaching you a well-deserved lesson. We learned the value of prayer, how to respect others, have morals and enjoy life.
SBO: What views of nudity did you grow up with?
Amanda: Firstly I grew up in a country where there was absolutely no nude magazines or any nudity on TV until the late 80's. It was a total taboo. And sex and nudity were topics that were absolutely never discussed anywhere. It was frowned upon by my church and frowned upon by society in general. Imagine, the best present I could bring one of my male friends when I started working abroad was a Playboy magazine! Not to mention what would happen if they caught you with such a magazine at the airport. It was confiscated and you were treated like a terrorist for hours! So I don't think you could put female beauty and nudity in the same sentence where my family is concerned. My mother and sisters are cool with it, and respect the choices I make. On the other hand I think my father would have half a heart failure if he had to see my website. He knows I have worked for Playboy and have done a ton of glamour work. I just don't think he wants to see it in his face. I have to respect that. I suppose it is a bit of the "old habits die hard" syndrome.
SBO: Quoting Emerson is not something most people can do. To what do you owe your intellectual side?
Amanda: I grew up in the time where Apartheid was a natural way of life. I never paid it much attention or gave it much thought when I was young, because I didn't know anything else. But because I was raised to be a free-thinking individual, I got to a stage where I had to start questioning "the system". I had to question everything from the government to the church, and what they teach. I had to disagree with my family, and friends about some issues, but more than anything, I had to look for the right answers.
"...the most powerful thing you can do to change the world is to change your own beliefs about the nature of life, people, and reality to something more positive."
As a person, this has taught me that the most powerful thing you can do to change the world is to change your own beliefs about the nature of life, people, and reality to something more positive. And to begin to act accordingly. With this attitude I have been able to live in different countries, make friends with people from different races, religions and backgrounds. And maybe along the way, I have been able, with my attitude, to make even a small but positive change in how people view others.
SBO: Lots of scientific studies have proven that beautiful women get treated differently than people with average appearance. Do you think this is true?
Amanda: Absolutely! I think that an average looking girl gets a change to make a first impression and is judged, not by her looks, but what she has too say, how she laughs, how she carries herself. Whereas a beautiful girl has already been judged before saying a word. A beautiful woman gets categorized immediately. People assume, just by looking at you in the street or in a restaurant that you must be a bitch, a snob, an easy lay, a slut, a complete dumb bimbo and the list goes on. I have learned that the world simply does not care for the complicated girls, the ones who seem too dark, too deep, too vibrant, too opinionated. The ones that are so intriguing that new men fall in love with them every day. The truth be told, in the end most people don't have the stomach for that much of a person.
SBO: Has your beauty perhaps gotten you things you wouldn't have achieved otherwise?
Amanda: It would be unnatural not to use my beauty to get things and/or to get things done. I have never felt a responsibility to be politically correct. My face and my body are two of my greatest assets as a person and model. This, combined with a clear thinking brain, could be more lethal than a "Molotov cocktail". I have never felt the need to abuse this power though.
"It would be unnatural not to use my beauty to get things and/or to get things done."
SBO: Never been tempted to use your beauty for evil, instead of for good? Even a little bit?
Amanda: Oh yes, especially where ex-boyfriends and broken hearts are involved. After a break-up, I think all girls dream about the same scenario. It involves seducing the ex-bastard that broke your heart, and then when he is just crazy for you again, and he wants you so bad, well, you get up and walk out with extra stride in your step, more shake in your booty, more flutter in your lashes, head up high. Does that count as evil? [smiling]
SBO: No. [laughing] Has your beauty ever been the source of any problems most people don't face? For example, how did/do you survive anorexia? What would you tell women who are currently fighting that deadly disease?
Amanda: You've touched on a subject very close to my heart. I have done a lot of talks at schools and colleges because I believe it is a vicious killer that the world still knows too little about and is too frequently ignored. It is a disease that doesn't care about race, doesn't ask your age, it doesn't even care if you are a woman. 10% of cases are men. A fact that is often overlooked! Today self-starvation is viewed as a representation of struggle for autonomy, competence, control and self-respect. I, myself, was just like any other difficult teenager. I had hang-ups, I wanted to be shorter one day, thinner the next, green hair, blond hair. I wanted to grow up faster, have other parents some days, hated my sisters on others. As no one paid my whimps very much attention - and here is the scary part - never having heard of anorexia, I started going on crazy diets that would shed pounds very quickly. I started fainting at school, then landed the first time in hospital on a drip. I became the centre of attention and had found my weapon of self-destruction! This carried on for about a year. I lost my hair during this time, my jeans size faded to a mere size 26 [waist], which was ridiculous for my height! I covered my bony body in oversized clothing during the day, and would quietly admire it in the bathroom mirror at night. I thought I looked fabulous, everyone else whimpered when they saw me. I became a liar and a cheat. I would lie about how I was feeling, what I was eating. When I was forced to eat at the table with my family, I would take laxatives or vomit right after. I broke my parents heart in this process and caused so much unhappiness all round, but anorexia was my mistress and wouldn't allow me to understand a thing about the terrible pain I was causing everyone who loved me. When I got really ill and landed once again in hospital a mere 39kg (85 lbs) the doctor advised my parents that I would die, probably from heart failure if I was not hospitalized immediately. I was admitted to a clinic that specializes in mental disorders. Overcoming the psychological dread of fatness, and healing my body with food and nutrition was pure hell, but the healing of my mind took much longer. It is a battle that I still fight, an inviting idea that still crosses my mind whenever I pick up a few unwanted kilos.
"For women and men who are suffering from anorexia, my advice is this..."
For women and men who are suffering from anorexia, my advice is this. I know how lonely you are, how disgusted you feel with yourself, how you want it to stop and you just can't. No light at the end of a very long tunnel. Today, anorexia is commonplace, and there are many websites that can give you advice. Put a synonym or keyword like "binge eating or anorexia" on your computer and help and information is everywhere. Talk to someone you trust. Admitting you have a problem is the first step towards recovery. Seek help! There is nothing to be ashamed of. Know that you must beat this evil, before it beats you!
SBO: Thanks. Too often eating disorders are blamed on female beauty which is untrue, and which has two terrible results: it gives beauty haters more ammunition to use against female beauty, and it also prevents people from looking at the true cause of anorexia. It seems the theory that anorexia is simply caused by the desire to be beautiful is inspired more by hatred of female beauty than by the truth.
Have you any first-hand experience with any other kinds of hatred of female beauty?
Amanda: Oh yes, I have been in a very abusive relationship, where the very things that this person was so attracted to when he first met me - my beauty and my often too loud personality - became a total threat to him. He figured, if he fell in love with that, then so must ever other man who sees me. He first mentally started abusing me and then the physical abuse started. Because I was mentally broken down, I didn't have the courage to leave for 4 years. My ribs and my nose got broken more than once during this time, and this at the height of my career. After I did leave it took me a good two years to recover from this relationship and to find my own self again. It is one of the reasons I feel so fierce about women and the wide spread abuse that is going on all over the world!
SBO: Odd isn't it that something as nice as female beauty should be hated so much.
Amanda: Yes. When I was living in South Africa I did whatever I could as far as working with different charities was concerned. I would attend anything, did TV interviews, I even did mud wrestling once at a black tie dinner, as part of the fundraising!
"...interestingly enough, charities of this nature don't really approve of girls like me that "go bare" to raise money for their causes. "
But interestingly enough, charities of this nature don't really approve of girls like me that "go bare" to raise money for their causes. Let's say, we don't portray "the right image". Some even see us as part of the problem.
But right now here in Athens, I have found a youth centre in a run-down inner-city neighbourhood that offers a safe and secure home away from home for more than 300 children, age 4 to 18. They are mainly Greek, migrants and refugees of broken or impoverished families. The children are fed twice a day, for most of them the only meals they get, and offered a break from daily troubles through creative play and sports. I do what I can at the centre and I try and raise money, collect toys, clothes, food whenever possible. These children, with their quick smiles and loving hugs, have touched my heart in a million ways and made me appreciate my own life a million folds over.
SBO: That's great. And we've had the same problem. Many women we've tried to help refuse because they see us as part of the cause of their problems. People have a long way to go to realize that the power and confidence in a nude woman is a good thing.
Amanda: Yes, people often get upset by my sexiness and confidence. My own sense of sexy and beautiful is made up of individuality, an uncompromising sense of self, ruthless honesty, and a healthy dose of stupidity sometimes. For a lot of people, that is just too much to handle.
SBO: How does that affect your romantic life? You could have just about any man you want, yes?
Amanda: Oh no, definitely not. Men in general are petrified of girls like me, but I've never really actually put the "I can have any man I want" theory to the test [smiling]. My biggest problem in my life is that I prefer quality over quantity. But I believe I try to give quality in return. So finding the perfect partner has always been difficult, just because I expect so much from the other person. I think it's a case of I look beautiful, when I feel beautiful. It's a bonus when there's someone in my life who finds me beautiful.
"Men in general are petrified of girls like me..."
SBO: Just for fun, if you could have the pick of men in the world, whom would you choose and why?
Amanda: Is that for one night (because that list would be quite long), or a more permanent thing?
SBO: Both. Why are they different?
Amanda: Well very honestly, the long list will be totally based on curiosity and of course plain lust! To choose just one man forever, well that is much more complicated. I have met and loved so many remarkable and very individual men in my life who have impressed me for so many different reasons. But if I am really forced to choose just one man, right now, I think I'll have to go with whoever is on the FORBES Magazines 100 most Wealthiest list because I am no one to argue with the fact that Cash is King!
SBO: There, now you did it. Thousands of guys just re-dedicated themselves to getting rich. But now since you're being so honest, we're curious, have you had offers from anyone famous?
Amanda: I've had a whole lot of different offers, from a whole lot of different men - and a few women actually. One was an A- list actor who was shooting a movie in South Africa when I met him, but he is married so I can't tell. Sorry!
SBO: Okay, then tell us, why do so many models choose famous men as partners?
Amanda: It's a bit like mathematics. Fame = money + power + private planes + houses in all the major capitals of the world. With all that to offer, I can promise you, that such a man can pretty much pick and choose from any models that are not already with someone famous. He's got all the right "assets". All women dream about having all that, but the odds are much better of actually finding a man like that when you are drop dead gorgeous, flying all over the world to work, attending the "hot parties", have a famous friend or two etc.
"...such a man can pretty much pick and choose from any models that are not already with someone famous."
SBO: Do you admire beautiful women yourself? Who do you think is beautiful?
Amanda: I love beautiful women! Beauty comes in many forms. There are a ton of superficially beautiful and talented women that I adore. Sophia Loren, the late Princess Dianna, Pamela Anderson, my very own country's superstar Charlize Theron, to name but a few. Then there are the beauties that change the world not through physical beauty but with other attributes. There is the poet, Maia Angelou, who has changed my way of thinking with incredible poems like "Phenomenal Woman", and "Still I Rise". Talk show host, Oprah Winfrey. The list goes on and on.
SBO: What is female beauty anyway? What do you think?
Amanda: In my eyes, female beauty is the power in a woman when she can stand up for herself and her beliefs. When she's not afraid to speak her mind, think her own thoughts or do things her own way. It's a woman who won't compromise. She refuses to tolerate injustice and speaks out against it. It means you have the courage and strength to allow yourself to be who you truly are and won't become anyone else's idea of what they think you should be.
SBO: How high in your virtues do you place using one's beauty? Most people would say it's an inconsequential superficiality. What would you say to them?
Amanda: I would say take a good look at a super beauty like Angelina Jolie. With her fame and beauty, a heart of gold, and a whole lot of guts, she has single-handedly managed to force people to change the way they look at beautiful women. People thought she would fail by tackling a world totally foreign to her background and status. Nobody believed that she could go the extra mile. She was just too beautiful, too spoilt, too incapable. But with her beauty, both inner and outer, she has managed to defeat all odds. She is making history at the moment. Everyone from politicians to the man on the street takes notice when you see that beautiful face, and see her perfect mouth say, "Listen up world..." Could she have done all that if she was just an average looking nobody? I don't think so.
"Everyone from politicians to the man on the street takes notice when you see that beautiful face, and see her perfect mouth say, "Listen up world..."
SBO: Is there any personal virtue more important than beauty, and if so, what?
Amanda: There is a whole list of virtues more important than just beauty. This includes integrity, knowledge, faith, pride and confidence.
SBO: What about brains?
Amanda: Personally I find that brains are far sexier than beauty. That's why often an ugly person with brains can seem beautiful. A beautiful but stupid person on the other hand - someone who has to rely totally on their looks - that is just plain awful. So to me it is very important that people, after meeting me, will say, "Well, she is not just a pretty face". As I am extremely impulsive, I have made many mistakes in my life that seemed really stupid when I thought about things afterwards, so now that I am older I try to use my brain more to make decisions, and I rely less on impulse.
SBO: What is your highest virtue?
Amanda: I can laugh at myself.
SBO: What is your worst vice?
Amanda: My impatience and the fact that I always feel the need to be in control. It's the nature of my life.
SBO: How important is sex to you?
Amanda: Sex is a lot like oxygen. It's not very important unless you're not getting any!
SBO: You've been a model, actress, presenter, cover girl, nude model, world traveler, humanitarian, and now a photographer. What is your absolute dream job?
Amanda: There are tons of things I want, that I haven't already had or done. I am never totally satisfied. I have the natural ability to make people laugh, so my dream job would be working on a show or sitcom where I can be the funny, crazy, dizzy me, and actually get paid for doing it!
"My dream job would be working on a show or sitcom where I can be the funny, crazy, dizzy me, and actually get paid for doing it!"
SBO: Who inspires you in your life?
Amanda: I ask God everyday to make me willing to see clearly my everyday experiences, to sharpen my perception of how much there is to enjoy, even in ordinary things and happenings. This way I don't only find inspiration in my life, but also inspiration in my work.
SBO: Who are some of the famous people or companies you've worked with that stand out in your mind?
Amanda: I have worked for a lot of the top designers like Versace, Bill Blass, Vivienne Westwood, Dior, Gottex... But my favourite job, without any doubt was doing the music video "Steamy Windows" at Pinewood Studios in London, with singing legend Tina Turner. Not only did I get to fool around with male supermodel Marcus Schenkenberg in the video, but Tina Turner became without a doubt my very first role model. She has an incredible inner strength and energy, born from a very tough personal history, she is smart and shamelessly sexy. Watching her work, talking with her, was like looking into direct sunlight. Totally Blinding! She is by far one of the most impressive people I have ever met, and I feel very lucky to have had the chance to have met and worked with her.
SBO: What other qualities do you admire in people?
Amanda: People that can give without conditions, expectations or boundaries. And more importantly, when a person's word is his honour. In today's world these are two very rare human traits.
SBO: What do you admire about yourself?
Amanda: I am totally dedicated to what I believe in. I won't take "no" for an answer when I believe there is a better solution. I love unconditionally. I fight for what I believe in. I will carry hardships and carry burdens but still hold happiness, love and joy no matter what. I cry with joy when people I love excel and cheer when my friends or family get awards. I have a lot to say and a lot to give. I believe that the heart of a woman is what makes the world spin! In the end this makes me compassionate and gives me my ideals to believe in.
"I believe that the heart of a woman is what makes the world spin!"
SBO: You are dedicating the proceeds from the auction of the original photos used in your SuperBeauty.Org feature and 2007 calendar to Superbeauty.Org and its fight for women's rights to their own beauty. For this we are immensely moved and very grateful. Can you tell people why you are doing this? What does the cause of Superbeauty.Org mean to you?
Amanda: Before I came across SuperBeauty.Org and the wonderful cause it works towards, I would have taken off my clothes to raise money for any worthy cause, from saving the rainforest, to helping needy children, or saving the whales for that matter. But SuperBeauty.Org is the first charity that is saving WOMEN from a world filled with other humans that believe beauty is dangerous, evil, shallow and destructive. Women are still being stoned, butchered and shot in many countries of the world for the most bizarre reasons. One of the most perfect examples are the 17-year-old Iranian girl [Nazanin Mahabad Fatehi], SuperBeauty.Org is fighting for now. She is on death row in Iran for stabbing and killing a man who was raping her! So through your site, you offer the public a way to fight for beauty and women's rights politically. SuperBeauty.Org also gives women like myself a way to be seen and heard. The world knows our rainforests are being destroyed, they fight hard for animal rights, but until SuperBeauty.Org, no one paid any attention to women and their rights in such a very public way. SuperBeauty.Org does, and that's why I'm going to take off my clothes, and show the world, I am beautiful, I am intelligent and I don't have a problem dealing with any of it!
SBO: Are there any unique challenges you face trying to convince people that female beauty and beautiful women are serious things and so should be taken seriously?
Amanda: It is amazing! I never thought people were so incredibly ignorant and narrow-minded. 99% of people that I have spoken to about SuperBeauty.Org and its cause can't grasp the concept of "Fighting for Beauty" at all! I explain the activism side of it, I explain the philosophy behind it, and most of them stare at me like I've just hit them in the face with a wet fish. It is an idea that very few people have ever entertained. But I strongly believe that we must have courage to bet on our ideas, make an obstacle an opportunity. We - female beauty and beautiful women - are a serious subject and we here to stay!
"I explain the philosophy behind [SuperBeauty.Org] and most of them stare at me like I've just hit them in the face with a wet fish."
SBO: Thanks to women like you we are. You are beautiful and you have the passion and courage to live a full - and fulfilling life. What do you love most about life or your life in particular?
Amanda: I look at my life as one big adventure. When I die, I want no regrets. I want to skid into heaven with a screeching halt, saying "Damn, that was fun!" It's a bit like ice cream: you better enjoy it before it melts.
SBO: What would you like to be your legacy in life? The thing you're admired and remembered for?
Amanda: My unbelievable Bloody Mary Cocktails.
SBO: You're someone who takes life seriously but you also like to have fun. What do you do for fun?
Amanda: Besides doing fantastic interviews like this, well, I box and kick box for exercise as often as possible. I have huge, loud dinner parties in my house with my adorable friends. I try to go dancing as much as possible. I read authors John Grisham and Wilbur Smith's books, and I dream about all the things I still want to do in my life.
SBO: Do you have any upcoming projects or announcements you'd like to tell everyone about?
Amanda: My main project is the SuperBeauty.Org exhibition that will consist of some limited edition photographs and my 2007 calendar. I am using this as a window of opportunity to present SuperBeauty.Org to Greece, where I now live, a country where the whole cause and action is totally unknown. It's a lot of hard work trying to plant the seeds of new ideas. But I'm pushing and I'm talking and I will succeed! Watch my website around November. The news will be on there, and I hope it's a great story of success!
"It's a lot of hard work trying to plant the seeds of new ideas. But I'm pushing and I'm talking and I will succeed!"
SBO: We'll keep people posted too. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us. We can't begin to thank you properly for your unparalleled support. The images you created are incredible. In these photos and out, you areAmanda: Yes, I want to thank SuperBeauty.Org for giving me this fantastic opportunity, and for everyone who took the time to read my interview. And a special thanks to the people who made the incredible shoot for SuperBeauty.Org possible by giving their time and expertise without asking anything in return. My favourite photographer George Mestousis, like always, the very, very, very best. Misha and Louis from "THE BOYS". You dressed me, did make-up and hair, carried lights up and down mountains and as always gave me inspiration to shine like gold. Thank you all!
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