Wonder Women, being genuine is what makes a Wonder Woman

By |Published On: June 27th, 2017|

Photography Andaleeb Lilley
Styling Farah Al Hoyidy

This is a story about ordinary women who want to do extraordinary things. I call them wonder women, because I admire their authenticity and integrity and despite the mistakes they’ve made, despite the broken hearts, the tears and the new beginnings, they’ve managed to keep their sense of own identity, by learning to forgive themselves.

When I met with these women, I could feel they’ve gone through every color of the human experience and yet have a center that grounds them, a personal source that keeps them composed in the face of uncertainty. I wanted to capture exactly that spirit in our photoshoot…

And because each one of them is complex and thoughtful, I decided to focus only on a few questions about the things that interest and touch the hearts of most of us today: success, feminism, motherhood and fashion… And perhaps how they found their destiny.

I called this photoshoot Wonder Women because I see in these women lots of strength and determination to show up every day, and be so many things at the same time. Yet their biggest fulfillment comes from being able to do what they love and feel they are cut for.

I also recently read an interview with Reese Witherspoon where she says that she is tired of seeing women as the wives and mothers and girlfriends. Women are not good or bad, there’s a deep need to see women in a more complex way. And I completely agree.

Roshanak Khalilian is an abstract painter, born in Iran. She is a mother of two, married, currently lives and works in Switzerland.

Maria Samara is a Music Therapist/ GIM-Psychotherapist, born is Greece, a mother of two girls, currently lives and works in Switzerland.

Irini Mavrou is a CND master painter, who owns a nails studio in Lucerne. Born in Greece Irini move to Switzerland 3 years ago. She is a mother of two kids, married.

Gisela Rocha is the founder of Movement for Life. Gisela is a choreographer,  director and artist, born in Brazil, currently lives and works in Switzerland.

Tsitaliya: What success means for you?

Gisela: Success is doing what you love whilst having an energizing work-life-balance. Being successful means what you’re doing is in alignment with your soul purpose.

 Irini: Success,hmm… I guess someone succeeds when achieves goals and gets some sort of recognition. Well, I will not deny that the same stands for me too! I think it’s fundamental for a healthy self esteem and self respect.

Roshi: When looking back in time, all one has done would bring a smile on face and being able to embrace the experiences along the journey.

Maria: Success is the token for the commitment, for the passion, for the love, for the interest, for the effort, for the trust and creativity we put in all aspects of our life.   Our work, our family, our friendships, ourselves. And please do never forget to OURSELVES. Only if you love, commit, trust, challenge, be passionate, and creative with yourself, and with everything that is vital to you, only then you can only you be and feel successful. Successful in LIFE. But again, that is how I feel.

 Tsitaliya: Share with us what are you done with in your life?

Gisela: I am done with “pushing too hard”. I love to work with focus and flow.

Irini: I don’t know if I’m done with, but certainly I’m trying to keep “vampire” people away from me. You know, this sort of people that drain positive energy and emotions out of you, leaving you with the same miserable feelings as them. I also avoid any kind of oppression and negativity, so therefore no 20:00 News for me, I’m done with them

Roshi: I dreamed and then started pursuing my dreams, now looking back I have fulfilled most of my dreams. That means to me I have lived my life and I am happy and proud.

Maria: I am done with fake. Fake people, fake life, fake happiness, fake interest, fake love. I know that there come times in life that we have all compromised or must compromise with “fake” in life. What I have realized through the years though, is that getting rid of everything fake in my life, although challenging – as you need to make choices that can be painful sometimes- was one of the most rewarding, revitalizing and liberating experiences in my life! I feel free. I feel “Fake Free”

 Tsitaliya: Share with us an Aha moment in your life?A moment when your life changed, your perspective and this had an influence over you!

Gisela: There was a time in my life I felt like a fragmented person, like an undone jigsaw puzzle. My head, my heart and my body were not synchronized. After a lot of digging and soul-searching  I was capable to become aware of the discrepancy of my actions that were a result of my being unwholesome, which was the                           moment it all made sense. Since then I recognize myself in all of my actions for they are made in accordance with my whole self. The puzzle was assembled.

Irini: Well, I’m a mum and the birth of my 2 children definitely changed my life! How can it be otherwise? The moment you get pregnant you stop being alone, you stop being JUST for you. And that’s a huge shock! And it’s this love that you feel immediately, endless, unconditional and pure! The responsibility you have towards them! The heritage you leave them, and I don’t mean money! Heritage is to grow you children with morals, with respect, with love, with affection, with grace, with embrace and with acceptance! And that is done by you living with morals, by you loving you, by you respecting you, by you being affectionate to you, by you having grace, by you embracing you and your mistakes and by you accepting you for who you are and what you do or done! We are the standards are children follow and I want to be the best of me for them!

Roshi: Meeting friends who are strongly linked to spiritual lily and when I allow myself to see through and understand the pleasure of detachment to materialistic life and all comes with it. I am not there yet but at least can say started it and understand it. Absolute joy to be able to cherish what one already has rather than constantly fighting for future achievement and etc.

Maria: I consider growing up with a handicapped sister at home, as a life changing experience on its own. I was only 3 years old, when my sister was born and from that day on, our lives changed. For all of us. You know, situations like this can be tricky. They can bring the worst or the best to people. I will always feel grateful for my family. For their support, their love, their care. For the way, they turned this situation into a life-growing and life-enhancing experience. They taught me how to value, to appreciate, and to acknowledge life at a different level. How to be thankful for everything it brings along for me, small or big, good or bad. How to honour and respect human beings no matter what. They taught me how to value what is important in life. They helped me build my own set of values and my code of ethics.

Through this journey, I was blessed to have music with me. It became much more than notes and sound for me. It was there to accompany me, to challenge me, to nurture me, to hold me, to save me. Becoming a Music Psychotherapist 19 years ago, providing support and therapeutic help to people in need, I see it as one of the most amazing and rewarding tasks that I have taken on in life, and I totally connect it to this major life changing experience and of course my life through it. Feeling grateful.

Tsitaliya: What is the hardest part about motherhood?

Gisela: Really, it is feeling what your children feel and having to give them space. Knowing that, even though, with all your heart, you want to put them onto the right tracks – depending on the situation of course — they should figure it out by themselves.

Irini: For me the hardest part is that time is not enough to do everything I want. So much to do and so little time!

Roshi: I don’t see anything except the worrying part in your daily life about your children.

Maria: For me, being a mother is the most challenging and the same time the most rewarding “job”. It’s a constant struggle to provide for your kids, to support and hold, to teach and guide. From day one, till the day we dye, we grow together, we learn together, we fail and win together, we cry and lough together. We follow their steps, we support their dreams, we encourage them to fight their battles. We want them to be happy, we encourage them to make their own choices and to be content. But, most of all, we want them to be healthy. No matter how much I grow or how much I learn, I will always pray for that, and that will be my first and most important wish for my kinds and the kids all around the world.   As a therapist, I have worked and still work with children suffering chronic or life-threatening illnesses. I have seen them in physical and/or emotional pain, and I have seen the pain and the frustration in their parent’s eyes. I really don’t know if there is something more painful and harder than that. It can only be life consuming. I wish that no mother will ever suffer something like that again, and that this pray could possibly come true.

Tsitaliya: What part fashion plays in your life?

Gisela: As a performer I perceive fashion as an extension of your skin, your bodily movements. Fashion is a playground, that you can explore according to mood or whatever side of you, you feel like sharing with the world.

Irini: Fashion is important to me! For my appearance and work! I want to look good and feminine! And as a nail technician, I am also part of fashion. Being dressed fashionably makes me feel confident and good about myself. By giving attention to my looks people know that I will give attention to them, that I will give them high end services! They know that I will help them feel also fashionable and confident!

Roshi: Love them all if I can get my hands on them. :).

Maria: I never considered my self being in fashion or even following the fashion. Although I grew up with a mother being a seamstress and a very good and well known one, with famous clients and important way up to the fashion market, I always loved creating my own style instead of coping one. A style I could support and it could mirror me and what I had to say to the world. Truth is that due to my occupation, I must cope with certain dress codes and that is understandable. After all, it is even more challenging trying to still feel and be yourself in a classic costume, and I always loved challenges. And as Yves Saint Laurent once said, “over the years I have learned that what is important in a dress is the woman who is wearing it”.


Irini is wearing a robe by Essentiel Antwerp available at Modissa

Roshi is wearing a black dress by Claudia Bertini

Gisela is wearing a dress by Essentiel Antwerp, av