Khrystyana • Playboy • Article
November 9, 2020 • • Khrystyana Kazakova
My superpower is seeing the beauty in everyone. I was born in rural Siberia and grew up in Ukraine, where very specific standards of beauty prevail. But to me everyone is unbelievably beautiful in their own way. That concept has always fascinated me. When I was younger, I liked to take my camera on adventures, photographing people and capturing the beauty I saw in them.
Although I had no trouble seeing beauty in others, I couldn’t see it in myself. I idolized my mom—a confident and polished entrepreneur who as a single mother raised me—but felt I didn’t measure up to her good looks. In Ukraine, where anything above a size four is considered overweight, I was seen as fat. People made comments, so I tried to lose weight and fit in as much as I could. My self-image wasn’t good.
Speech problems also plagued me as a child, so I was pretty shy. I spent most of my time after school working at my mom’s AV store. That’s where I fell in love with technology. I would escape online in chat rooms. On the internet I met people from all over the world, learned English and found my voice. In person, I was still insecure and reserved, but online I was outgoing and badass.
When I was 16, my mom was admitted to the hospital in critical condition due to her extreme dieting. I remember being devastated but also angry; she was my closest family member, and I was mad at her for almost sacrificing her life just to be thin to meet the beauty standards in our country. My mom recovered, but my perspective on beauty completely changed.