#LLA Interview – “Be who are you, and be proud of the person you are. If you are different to everyone else, that’s totally okay.” Megan Richards

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Megan has a strong message for every woman who is having a tough time embracing her own personality. In this interview, she discusses self-love, success and the beauty of being a woman. Enjoy the conversation.

Who is Megan Richards, and how did her interest in blogging start?

I am an empowered woman, creative muse and lifestyle blogger from Cape Town. My interest in blogging started a few years back, but I never had the courage to start. Late in 2014, I decided to stop second guessing myself, and started a lifestyle blog. My blog has always been a space to express myself creatively.

Your blog name is quite compelling. Who, in your own words, is an ideal ‘authentic girl’?

I believe the ideal authentic girl/woman is someone who not only speaks her truth, but who lives her truth. We live in a world that encourages girls/women to be someone they are not. My message is ‘be who are you, and be proud of the person you are’. An authentic girl/woman embraces the good and bad parts of her personality. If you are different to everyone else, that’s totally okay!   I also chose the name “The Authentic Girl” as an extension of myself and a reminder never to be influenced by the industry – stay real, honest and genuine.

The idea of Blogging sounds very random for quite a number of people, particularly in a continent like Africa. Do you think it is as much a career as is banking?

Definitely! I don’t think people realise the hard work it takes maintaining your blog and social media channels. There are many skills a blogger possesses – from curating content, managing your social media channels, researching, networking, marketing, photography, being creative, designing, to name a few. When brands start working with you, you have to adjust to a business mindset and handle business enquiries, proposals, finances, human resources and admin. Unfortunately the blogging industry in Africa is still nearly new. Having said that, we are making waves in the industry and soon, more African bloggers will pursue it on a full-time basis.

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Your blog celebrates curvy women. What experiences of yours inspired that?

As a teenager and younger adult, I struggled with my body weight and having a curvier shaped body type. That all changed after I started belly dancing, I saw my body in a new light and started embracing it. Most importantly, I started loving my curvy body shape. Now my mission is to be healthy and have a positive relationship with my body.

The authentic girl started from being a regular blog to being widely known. How has that experience been for you?

I’ve had good experiences and some bad ones too. I channel the good experiences into my daily mantras and use it to attract the same genre of clients, work etc. Unfortunately I’ve had many bad experiences too. However, those bad experiences have been vital in shaping the person I’ve become. They’ve taught me valuable lessons that I try not to repeat again. It still feels surreal, like I started yesterday, as I am always learning and growing. Most importantly, this is my passion project and creative outlet. Every day I thank God for the opportunity to do what I love. I hope the feeling never fades.

What new and inspiring thing have you discovered about yourself in the course of being a blogger?

Blogging pushes you out of your comfort zone. As an introvert, I really struggled with networking my blog and face-to-face marketing of my brand. These days, I’ve learnt how to network as an introvert and how to market my brand. One of my biggest challenges was working on WordPress as it is a technical website. I’ve had no prior experience with WordPress but I am constantly reading books or watching YouTube clips if I need assistance or guidance. My technical skills have improved tremendously ever since I started blogging. One of the most important things I’ve learnt about myself is the tenacity to continue blogging in spite of the challenges I face. And have I faced challenges? There will always be challenges but I keep moving forward and learning as I move along.

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How do you measure the impact of what you do, and what spurs you on?

I measure the impact of what I do by the feedback and engagement I receive from my readers and clients. The only thing that keeps me going is the passion I have for blogging, and the feeling of accomplishment I get once I’ve completed a project. I am constantly pushing myself to achieve more.

Has getting a psychology degree put you in a much better position of being able to connect with your readers?

Having a psychology degree gives me a better understanding of humans and the different life stages we are constantly going through. Although, I try not to analyze anyone outside my professional capacity, it has equipped me with a great understanding of human behaviour. Therefore I am less likely to judge others and have a good connection with my readers. (Unless you’re drinking bad coffee, ha ha ha)

Outside blogging and psychology, what other things interest you?

I enjoy reading and absolutely love music festivals! It’s the one place where I let my hair down and let loose.

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Your blog highlights fashion, beauty and food. Which of all three is your favourite personal activity?

Do I really have to choose? Gosh, this is a hard decision. If I have to choose my favourite personal activity, it would be food and wine (eating out and cooking is a firm favourite). I love the food and wine industry and anything that revolves around it.

What is your favourite fashion item?

Currently my favourite fashion items are my sneakers.

What do you consider the best gift of being a woman?

Women are born with a sixth sense or intuition. It guides us when we are lost; it helps us when we are uncertain about something and warns us when we are in negative situations. I am eternally grateful for my intuition.

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You were involved in HIV/AIDS facilitation back in the University of Western Cape. Are there plans on your part for such future projects?

Yes! This year I want to get back into working with at least one HIV/AIDS community project. It is extremely important that we give back to our communities. It doesn’t have to be in monetary terms but it can be through volunteering and offering your time.

Which 3 women do you most admire?

In no particular order, the 3 women I most admire are Cynthia Richards (my mom), Celeste Stewart (eldest sister) and Kim Loubser (second eldest sister). I am surrounded by strong women and my mom is our anchor. There are so many reasons I admire my mom and I could write a book about her strong qualities. I think the most important gift my mom has given us is her undivided love and attention. She is least concerned about modern technology, the TV or any distractions. When my mom engages with us, she gives us her undivided attention and is fully present. Cynthia is fearless and a little dramatic at times (ha ha ha).

My eldest sister Celeste, she is constantly challenging the status quo and making waves in the graduate industry through her business – Bold Curiosity. The term book worm automatically comes to mind, but apart from making sure she is on top of her game, she is constantly challenging the patriarchal stereotype and gender roles. Total boss-babe! Another woman I admire is my second eldest sister, Kim, who has a strong work ethic. I’ve never met anyone who works as hard as she does. She is passionate and dedicated to her line of work – not to mention fierce! Kim works in a male-dominated industry, as the shortest woman, she is respected for her work ethic and bakes really well too.

If you could, what would you tell your younger self?

I would tell my younger self to go for it! Everything will work out fine.

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