Amanda Betts


‘You either walk inside your story and own it. Or stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.’ – Brene Brown

Fashion always has so many stories being told in incredibly diverse and creative ways to deliver a message.

Take these pics & stories from CHANEL PFW (MODEL SPEAK: Paris Fashion Week) featuring hot people holding signs with messages like ‘HISTORY IS HER STORY’ emblazoned across them.

Karl (Lagerfeld) created a (faux) street as his catwalk and used models and his collection to tell a story of feminism. So clever Karl’s using fashion to deliver messages relating to real life, his voice being heard loud and clear without parting his lips. He's a legend ensuring the CHANEL name continues to march through the history books. 

My history is one heck of a story with nothing faux about it. It started years before I took to the streets on my own as a 15year old (That's not even the legal age to model on catwalks). Of course there’s a story, though. Because you don't walk away from home and school aged 15 because all was as sweet as CHANEL's FLORAL ESPIDRILLESBy all accounts, surviving my childhood, esepcially my teens, was one of the longest, darkest challenges of my life.

The real challenge, though, my personal revolution, was 'How do I turn surviving into thriving'Then fashion walked into my life. I know right? Fashion saved my…life?!

Thriving has been a tough path to walk, though, I won’t deny. It was easier back in ‘87 to spin out a one-and-a-half turn without allowing my gold-tipped stiletto heels to leave the catwalk, not a head spin in sight. I was good. If only I recognised it. And I picked up some great jobs. But thriving isn’t just about do$h. Sure it helps and buys things, like therapy, it’s not all about money. The real value lies in finding purpose for what you went through, whether it be ‘a purpose’ or ‘your purpose’.

I continued to pretty much hide the extent of my story behind my best ‘Pretend you’re gently blowing bubbles’ model-pout (Try it. It's a good trick). In 2005, I became the co-founder/owner and fashion head of Red11 Modelsthe face behind some of New Zealand’s prettiest faces.  

Then REBECCA BARRY HILL invited me to share some of my story in NZ HERALD CANVAS MAGAZINE: FROM PAIN COMES TRIUMPH: ‘Rebecca Barry Hill meets three women whose suffering taught them survival — and led them to success’ (see my PRESS for more). Sharing my story, altered the course of my (fashion and life) path.

I’ve taken Brene’s advice and I’ve chosen to' walk inside my story' using my story for purpose. And I now proudly own it.


1. YOUR PAST DOES NOT DEFINE YOU. Learn to understand and accept that while your past definitely shapes you like Spanx under CHANEL, it DOES NOT DEFINE YOU (just because you're wearing CHANEL, doesn't mean you are CHANEL).

2. LOOK FOR THE JEWEL OF BENEFIT IN EVERY EXPERIENCE. Yes, in life we've all endured some nasty experiences, darkness and people. It's not easy, but if we deliberately look for the jewels of benefit in the depths of the blackest cave, there ARE gems.  

3. LEARN HOW TO FORGIVE. ‘What do you mean I have to forgive before I move on?! But they did that TO ME!’ It really does suck when you’re right up against it and all you can see is pain and dark emotions. But forgiveness releases you from your own pain and suffering. The book, The Naked Buddha, was life-changing for me in learning to understand & embrace forgiveness. 

4.   Therapy. Yes. I spent six years in pretty much weekly sessions shelling out  to clean up messes just so I could get to point zero. It was torture, I won’t lie. But it ended up being the best investment I ever made. They say, "Pain is one of the best motivators." Therapy fast tracks you out of pain and suffering and into understanding and peace. And when you have understanding and peace, THAT’S where you find happiness. It’s amazing how much effort we put in to losing weight, doing everything to fast-track shedding excess kilos. Yet when it comes to emotional pain, we seem to dilly-dally around unable to see the ‘value’ in it, too caught up in the ‘cost’. It’s like trying to lose weight walking slowly compared to hill sprints. Yes, hill-sprint work is hard, especially when you haven’t done it before. But man, you quickly drop the excess. And if you can't afford therapy, make sure you pull on the myriad of resources available. There are generous, kind and understanding people & organisations everywhere willing to help if they only know you need help. 

5. Help others out, especially if they're stuck on the hideous treadmill of survival mode. Even if ONE LIFE IS ALTERED or someone sees a line of hope in the darkest of oceans because of something small or big you did, it IS worth it. Support others, give happily, perform random acts of kindness. As Mother Teresa says: ‘We ourselves feel what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.’ 

Thanks for joining me! If you find stuff that could be useful to someone else, share it. 

Until next time,