It seems like Ashley Callingbull was made for success. The Canadian model won the Mrs. Universe title in 2015, has launched a jewelry line, taken on hosting gigs, starred in a reality show, and became the first Indigenous First Nations woman to be featured in a SI Swimsuit Issue last month. But the Enoch Cree Nation member didn’t always feel like she would have a booming career or make a difference in other people’s lives.
"As a little girl, I wouldn’t even have ever thought to be doing things like this or be in positions or spaces like this," she says. "I grew up living through poverty and felt like there was no escape."
Not surprisingly, the tough upbringing ate away at Callingbull’s confidence. Plus, she faced criticism for being an Indigenous First Nations woman and her appearance was judged. Thankfully, she was able to overcome the hardship and is setting a shining example of how to follow one’s dreams.
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Now that she’s on the other side, the model reflects back to earlier days and thinks about the advice she would give her younger self. She often shares this wisdom with other women who are going through difficult times.
“I would tell her not to care what other people thought and not to listen to other people’s opinions because the only opinion that really matters is how I feel about myself,” she says. “I would tell her to just love herself for the way she was created because she was made that way for a reason. And to not let fear stop her from chasing her wildest dreams because anything is possible.”
Callingbull adds, “Those are the most important things. Have that love for yourself, value your self-worth, and do not let fear keep you from what you’re meant to be.”