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Tia Kofi From RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Self Love Interview

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Tia Kofi From RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Self Love Interview

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*** FREE FOR EDITORIAL USE ***Image Source: The Body Shop

Self-love is something that is incredibly difficult for many of us to find at the best of times, but for the LGBTQ+ community, it can be so much harder. According to data from Global Self-Love Index, four in ten LGBTQ+ people are twice as likely to have low self-love than their cisgender and heterosexual peers. So why is that? We caught up with RuPaul’s Drag Race UK alumni Tia Kofi to discuss the reasons behind this troubling statistic, what self-love means to her, and working with The Body Shop on its new campaign aimed at promoting self-love, which Kofi stars in alongside fellow Drag Race UK alum, Lawrence Chaney.

“It’s very difficult growing up as an LGBTQ person,” Kofi told POPSUGAR. “Things are obviously changing, but we have a lot of struggles in terms of the process of coming out and adjusting because society is still focused on heteronormativity and that lifestyle. It’s difficult to come to terms with yourself in that process and really have other people accept you. I think that once you’ve lived that kind of experience, it can be really difficult to embrace that element of self-love and really love yourself, which is what this campaign [with The Body Shop] is all about in trying to create an uprising of people being like, ‘Yes, I’M valid just for being me.'”

Despite her tremendous success on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, and the music career that followed, Kofi is no stranger to the feelings of self-doubt that eventually creep back in. “It’s something that I struggle with basically every day. It’s a constant process of reminding yourself to love yourself and embrace yourself for your skills, your talents, your appearance, your personality, what you do, what you’re putting out into the universe,” she explained. Kofi said that “I think we’ve all had times where that struggle has been really, really tough. Especially at the moment, since we’ve all lived through this very weird time in the world where we’ve had to isolate and be by ourselves and not have that contact with other people who might be there to lift us up and support us.

*** FREE FOR EDITORIAL USE ***Image Source: The Body Shop

In terms of what constitutes as self-love for Kofi, there are a number of things. “It can be really simple things like preparing a meal that you really love, or just reminding yourself about the things that make you, you, and that make you different, that make you a joy to be around.” As well as looking inward though, it helps to take stock of the people that you have around you and remind yourself of your support system. “There are elements of reminding yourself about the things and the people around you that support you. Lawrence [Chaney] is a great example to me as someone that I maybe clashed with at the start of Drag Race. But now, we are such good friends, so close and really support each other, and that to me is a really important form of self-love, surrounding yourself with people who really, really bring joy.”

Aside from looking inward, Kofi cites drag as something that’s helped her to overcome self-doubt and make the transition into self-love. She explained that “drag is so empowering. It’s like being a superhero version of yourself, which is great, and the love that you get from audiences at shows is super, super empowering and really helps you be able to embrace yourself. Even just the process of drag is totally a form of self-love. It’s almost like a ritual, the way you sit down with the beauty products and the makeup and get ready.” Prior to doing drag, Kofi felt that taking time to care for your appearance was almost narcissistic in a way, which many other people feel is also a bit of a luxury. “Now I’m like, ‘I’m going to dress up today just to go out of the house, so that I feel really empowered because I want to look nice for me’, and that’s such an important thing, looking the way you want to for you and not for anyone else.”

“We put the pressure of failure on ourselves, and we put so much pressure on ourselves to achieve things, but there are so many lessons to learn from making mistakes.”

On working with The Body Shop on its latest self-love campaign — which sees Kofi and Lawrence learning how to compliment themselves and each other — Kofi said that it’s been “the most wonderful experience because people have responded really, really well to this campaign and really, really embraced it.” She added that “the one thing that I wanted to do is just put that kind of joy and positivity out into the world, and that’s exactly what this campaign does by encouraging people to do that for themselves. There’s a really interesting part of [the video] where Lawrence talks about the idea that when you remind others to love themselves, that reminds them to do it every day. When you give the gift of giving someone a compliment just to brighten up that day, that continues for them for the rest of the day.”

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 05/01/2021 - Programme Name: RuPaul's Drag Race UK series 2 - TX: n/a - Episode: RuPaul's Drag Race UK series 2 episode 1 (No. 1) - Picture Shows:  Tia Kofi - (C) World of Wonder - Photographer: Guy LevyImage Source: ITV

Kofi went on to detail an experience that she had recently where a random act of kindness stayed with her for the rest of her day. “A taxi had dropped me off really far away from a venue, and I was walking to a show, and obviously, it’s football season. So I was so uncomfortable because I was in full drag, a pair of heels, dragging my suitcase, trying to find this other venue. I was really nervous because there were all these football fans walking around with their football shirts and all of that. Two people walked past me, and one of them just turned to me out of nowhere and just went, ‘I really love your makeup’, and that was such a lovely moment for me because I was feeling so uncomfortable, really, really nervous and that one person just making that passing comment, empowered me to hold myself up and be like, ‘I’m actually just walking over there. If anyone’s got a problem with it, that’s on them.'”

Speaking of being empowered, Kofi explained that leaving Drag Race actually taught her an important lesson about the pressure of failure and the importance of blocking out negativity. “I didn’t want to get sent home, but the moment that it happened. I was like, ‘Wow, this is amazing. I’m still absolutely fine. There’s nothing wrong.’ We put the pressure of failure on ourselves, and we put so much pressure on ourselves to achieve things, but there are so many lessons to learn from making mistakes. I really didn’t feel like I failed in the end. I felt more empowered from it,” she explained. Watching the show back, Kofi realised that “I had so much pressure from other contestants, but that wasn’t coming from the judges. The strange luxury of being able to watch that show back was me realising that I think RuPaul loves me and wanted me to do really well. I blocked that out in my own way because I felt negativity from other people, whereas what I should’ve done was block out the negativity and look at the praise and the joy that was being given to me, because if I had listened to that, I would have been able to remind myself to lift myself up.”

“The one thing that I wanted to do is just put that kind of joy and positivity out into the world, and that’s exactly what this campaign does by encouraging people to do that for themselves.”

In terms of what Kofi would say to herself on episode one of Drag Race series 2, she admitted that she genuinely wouldn’t change a thing. “The road that we’ve all been down in life is what’s brought us to this point today and made us who we are. Everyone’s had really difficult times and struggles, but those scars and difficulties that we face can become empowering. It was really hard on the show with some of the things that people said to me, some of them aired, some of them didn’t. But the difficult things that were said to me, I had to just brush it off and just smile through it and focus on the positives, how amazing and supportive Veronica was, or being able to come back from that break and become really close with Lawrence and Joe and all these incredible supportive people that I got to meet during this process. I wouldn’t change anything.”

When it comes to her future plans, Kofi will continue to “shoot her shot” and do what she loves, especially because that’s exactly the energy that got her a reply from singer Ariana Grande on Instagram. “I had had a few gin and tonics and felt empowered and I said something like, ‘oh, I just wanted to say, you’re absolutely incredible, and it’s amazing that you follow me.’ She only follows [me and Bimini], and she told me that she absolutely loved me on the show. I also verified if I was allowed to call her Ari and she said yes,” Kofi told us. “The future for me will be continuing to do what I love, which is making music and performing. Hopefully, I’ll be continuing to put as much joy and positivity out into the universe and encouraging people to embrace themselves and take the time for self-care and self-love.”


Image Source: The Body Shop



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