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Camille Kostek and the Power of Vulnerability on Instagram

Camille Kostek took to Instagram Wednesday night to share the criticism she received on just one photo -- and her powerful perspective and brave authenticity has inspired all of us.

Photo credit: Camille Kostek @camillekostek
Photo credit: Camille Kostek @camillekostek

Camille Kostek is a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model known for her “Never Not Dancing” motto – breaking out those moves everytime “Middle” by Maren Morris comes on, and inspiring strangers to do the same.

She’s grown her Instagram following substantially this year, sharing peeks into her life as a model at New York Fashion Week, her tropical vacations, her rookie season as a Sports Illustrated model in Australia, and her cheering on boyfriend Rob Gronkowski, the tight end for the Patriots, throughout his season and ultimately at his big SuperBowl win.

To the typical follower, Camille’s life looks shiny, enviable – and, no doubt, it is. But on Wednesday night, she shared an inside look at some of the more challenging parts of being a highly visible swimsuit model. It’s these rare glimpses of vulnerability in an otherwise perfectly crafted Instagram world that show someone’s true character.

“We do not need to value the opinions of others, at all… especially from people
we don’t even know, or that we don’t care about.”

-CAMILLE KOSTEK

Camille shared a series of videos on her Instagram story, reflecting on the below picture she had shared during her recent vacation to Cabo. Surprisingly, she was flooded with critical messages regarding her body – particularly, her hips – in response to the photo. She shared a view of the comments – “Largest hip bones I’ve ever seen,”… “She should cover up.” She even shared a short clip of her in the moment she read those messages, wiping away tears. As someone who doesn’t know Camille personally, I felt in that moment that I did. The power of vulnerability is just that: it can turn a stranger into a sister. Sharing pain openly and authentically triggers true empathy in those we share with.

PHOTO CREDIT: Camille Kostek @camillekostek

“I usually don’t read into any of this, but it’s time I did. And I’m happy I did… because it allowed me to grow,” she shared. Her perspective on the situation and how it hurt her is already astute. She recognized that she was momentarily rattled by people she calls “small-minded.”  Assuredly, it is only small-minded people that would take the time and effort to berate someone publicly. As the world increasingly pressures us to feel we need to be highly visible, ‘celebrity’ or not, many women face the same criticism, but seldom talk about it publicly.

Perhaps it’s the power in numbers. It’s far easier to leave a nasty comment when you’re one comment in a sea of 30,000 than a handful. Or, perhaps its the seeming anonymity. Those who commented certainly don’t know Camille personally, so it’s easier to assert cruelty. The truth of the matter is: whatever the reasons that people do critique and undermine others, whether it be for the size of their hips, their beliefs, what they share, or how they share, they will continue to do so until they themselves find some sort of self-love. It’s not our jobs to provide that for them, or to experience their pain because they hope to inflict that in which they feel.


“If we can find the courage to post in a real way and find some type of neutrality to those who criticize, we’ll be free to truly be ourselves in the world.”

HALEY HOFFMAN SMITH

I talk to far too many women who share their fears of posting publicly. The fear of what other people could think or could say are deterrents from sharing our lives, beliefs, accomplishments, and struggles. But, these components comprise our personal brands, so the fear of sharing inevitably holds us back from putting ourselves out there in any real way. And, the benefits of sharing far outweigh the risks. Camille has many more doting followers than she’ll ever have ‘haters,’ and the same is true for all of us. It’s in our true nature to support. If we can find the courage to post in a real way and find some type of neutrality to those who criticize, we’ll be free to truly be ourselves in the world.

It was brave of Camille to share her experience vulnerably, and while we hope that her moment of authenticity can prompt some self-reflection for those who follow her and choose to post critical comments, the real power is in what her vulnerability does for others who follow her and needed, on some level, to hear that message for themselves.

Camille went on….“We are our own biggest critics. We wake up and go to sleep with ourselves every day. We see ourselves in the mirror at every angle… we know what we look like. We do not need to value the opinions of others, at all… especially from people we don’t even know, or that we don’t care about.”

All of this is easier said than done, but the conversation is a good place to start. Using our platforms to share our struggles and our perspectives on them can help more people than we know.

Here’s to the power of vulnerability, and to the beautiful Camille Kostek – whose beauty and authenticity inspired me and many other women. Let’s be kind to each other. Let’s uplift one another. We’re all on this ride together, so let’s honor the bravery in each other to share our lives and our perspectives.

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Follow me on Instagram here, and book a 30 minute personal branding coaching call in my bio.

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