This Thursday Thunder is extra extra special! My model friend Janneke van Opstal isn’t just sharing her take on body positivity but also a beautiful editorial shot in her own home. Time to get familiar with Janneke’s thunder!
Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
“I am Janneke van Opstal, 29, I own a lovely old house in the centre of Tilburg. I’ve been working as a curvy model for almost five years now. And I’m currently learning how to DJ. I’ve had a few gigs already and will be playing at some festivals this summer!”
What inspires you in life?
“My parents, they seem very satisfied with life, always busy helping people and they seem never bored. My friends, they’re all so different, the things they do, thoughts they share. Also, random elderly people who manage to stay forever young by trying new things and doing whatever makes them happy are a major inspiration for everyday life in general.”
‘I’ve realized that when you wear a smile and a good outfit, no one will notice wobbly knees or any other flaw you may think you have’ – Janneke van Opstal
Can you share some insights about the relationship you have with your body?
“When people say; ‘Your body is a temple’, I say; ‘My body is a party tent!’. Alcohol and lack of sleep may not be healthy but dancing and laughing is. I try to stay away from the one thing I believe is the unhealthiest of all; stress! I’m quite satisfied with who I’ve become, mind and body. The compliments I receive on my looks and lifestyle are overwhelming and I’m thankful every time. I’ve realized that when you wear a smile and a good outfit, no one will notice wobbly knees or any other flaw you may think you have. And wearing sexy lingerie, just for myself, can brighten up any mood.”
Have you always been body positive?
“Like every girl I’ve been way too aggressive towards my reflection in the mirror at times, and I still sometimes get mad at a pimple or a dimple or the amount of body fat in a place where it wasn’t before. But then I stop and think, I’m not shallow nor judgemental towards others, why would I treat myself any different? And also, why would I care what shallow people think of my appearance? When I look at my mom, my grandmother or my girlfriends for example, they’re all so beautiful to me! I don’t notice their skin, their bad hair days, their belly fat or any other ‘imperfections’ they are insecure about. They probably look at me the same way. And when I like a guy, I’m not fussed about his body either, as long as he’s confident about it, I’m into him anyway. But if my body is not good enough for him, he can find himself another woman.”
‘Confidence has nothing to do with perfect tits, flawless skin and certainly not the size of your clothes’ – Janneke van Opstal
Do you have a secret to (body) confidence? And what is true confidence to you?
“Confidence is all in your head. When I wear nice lingerie even though I know no one is going to see it, it makes me feel sexy so I walk with confidence. It has nothing to do with perfect tits, flawless skin and certainly not the size of your clothes. Yes, you can feel proud of certain parts of your body, flaunt it and therefore feel confident. That’s great. But really feeling confident is about being proud of who you are and knowing what you’re worth. And about not giving a shit what random people may think. If you don’t wear that short short you love because some dimples may show or you don’t go to that pool party that sounds like fun because you’re body isn’t ‘summer ready’ or you spend all your money on magic creams, make up and diet pills and you have no money left to do things you really like, that is your loss. Get over it and start having fun! A girl who’s carefree and enjoying herself is a thousand times more attractive than a girl who is insecure and angry at herself.”
What makes you happy in life? And what do you do on the days you feel a bit down or less happy?
“I have a lot of used wood lying around and I come up with new ideas every now and then and I just start building things. This is when I completely forget about anything that might have been bothering me, I focus on what I’m trying to create and it gives me mounts of joy and satisfaction. The same goes for my fresh new hobby, DJ-ing. I’ve always been and probably always will be a party girl, I love going out with my friends till the sun comes up. I take very good care of my social life, meeting with friends, visiting my grandparents. My parents make me happy, they’re always there to help me out, even when I come up with impossible ideas. Sure, I feel down sometimes but I have so many people in my life who can pick me up in seconds so that blue feeling never lasts very long.”
‘If I never let my guard down, I won’t fall flat on my face but I won’t fall in love either’ – Janneke van Opstal
How do you make sure you stay in a good place with yourself?
“I don’t think you can always be happy. Life sometimes knocks you down, people will be assholes, things don’t work out the way you’d hoped they would. C’est la vie, you get up and try again. Boys have gotten me down in the past and even recently I’ve let a guy get the better of me. But I try not to beat myself up over it because if I’d never let my guard down, I won’t fall flat on my face but I won’t fall in love either. I stay in a good place by knowing my life is at this moment at it’s best. If I let myself cry over unimportant things or people, how am I going to survive a serious knock down? I am healthy, my loved ones are healthy and happy, I have an amazing job, I spend my time well, I love my house, I’ve traveled the world. So many people live in fear and sadness. How can I let myself dwell on how my body looks or weather a guy likes me or not, when I know how thankful I should be for the life I live?”‘
‘I have learned that giving my body the right attention, makes it stronger’ – Janneke van Opstal
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned body wise?
“Everything you nourish with love and positivity, grows. Relationships, plants, kids, your mind. I’ve learned that giving my body the right attention, makes it stronger. I’ve grown and I don’t just mean my jeans size. I have control over my body and it’s just the way I want it to be. I need it to protect what’s on the inside, that is what’s most important.”
As a model you get a lot of feedback on your body. How do you deal with the positive and negative comments?
“Weirdly enough the only negative feedback I ever get, is that I’m too slim for certain brands. Oh, and that my hair is thin and has no volume, that’s why I always bring fake hair extensions to work. I wear a European size 44 and whenever I say this, people tend to echo me with amazement; “size 44?!” I may not look like a size 44 but try fitting me into a 42. And then I usually hear; “Well, you have the right proportions.” I used to get weird and awkward trying to accept a compliment but working as a model has given me so much more confidence that I’m now able to respond with a sweet ‘well, thank you’ and a smile. It’s still amazing to get positive feedback, on my looks as well as my work ethic. Like I said, everything you nourish with positivity, grows.”
‘Never let unrealistic thoughts about how ugly or fat you may or may not look, get in the way of having fun’ – Janneke van Opstal
What do you hope to teach girls/women who look up to you?
“I don’t know if there are girls who look up to me but if there are, I need them to realize that I am just like them. I’m just a girl, I have girl issues, I just don’t worry too much about it. I hope young girls are kind to themselves and don’t compare themselves to others. I hope that some day they will manage to shift some of the sadness and anger they feel towards their bodies and start seeing that negativity will get you nowhere and there is no point in whining about it, it’s annoying and unimportant. Stop it. You’re perfect.”
What advice would you give to your younger self?
“I remember looking at pictures of myself when I was a teenager and thinking, I wish I still had that body. And then realizing I hated my body at the time that picture was taken. This happened not only once but again and again. I remember thinking; ‘Is there going to be a day that I will wish I still had the body I have now?’. If only I had known at that time that my own body image was distorted and I actually looked really damn good, I could have enjoyed life just a little more. Never let unrealistic thoughts about how ugly or fat you may or may not look, get in the way of having fun. And also, learn about boys.”
Best advice someone ever gave you when it comes to feeling good about yourself/feeling good about your body?
“I guess it was something you once said, Mayra. “What do people mean when they say ‘Bikini body’? I have a body. When I put on a bikini, I have a bikini body!” After you said that, I laugh about phrases like; “Summer bodies are made in winter!”, “Get summer ready now!” Shut up, I’m ready any day of the year. Bring on that sunshine!”
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