Skall Letter No. 43

Christine Sofie Johansen - Time for family life

Danish model Christine Sofie lived and worked in New York for a great many years, where she was the face of brands such as Calvin Klein and L’Oreal. During the pandemic, she decided to return home for a while to be closer to her family, but the weeks soon turned to months and now she and her husband have created a safe and solid base for their little family which also counts their kids Bobbie and Paloma.

Stepping into Christine Sofie’s holiday home in Vejby by the Danish coast, you are immediately struck with the impression of a warm and loving home. The wood-burning stove is crackling, there is a large sofa with room for all the family and a dining table that you can immediately picture the whole family gathered around, crafting, chatting and drinking coffee over the morning paper. Christine Sofie loves the quite life in Vejby – close to the water’s edge and just an hour away from Copenhagen by car. It is a life that stands in sharp contrast with her life in New York.

“I love being able to sleep in at the weekends, having a coffee before the kids wake up and making pancakes for Bobbie. Then we read the paper and enjoy our breakfast together. Afterwards, we often go to the beach.”

When you have sat for a while around the table in Christine Sofie’s living room, you will inevitably feel like lingering a while. What kind of an environment has she tried to create for her children by choosing to settle here?

“Our idea was to create a sanctuary. Not just for us but also for our friends who live in the city. They come and hang out, swim in the sea and help with the kids. Originally the idea was that we would return to New York once we were out on the other side of the pandemic, but then I got pregnant, and it felt right to stay and have the baby at home. Around the same time, I got a contract with an agency in Denmark. Now Denmark has become my base and my portal to the world.”

Christine Sofie was only 14 when she was first discovered as a model. For many years, her career was turbulent and defined by the pressure to lose weight. It was almost as if every time she felt happy, this seemed to mean something was wrong:

“When I was unhappy and losing weight, my agent was jumping with joy because this meant my priorities were in order. My self-esteem was in the doldrums, and I remember that I never liked having to wear tights for a job because they were always given to me in size 34. They were so tight and hard to get into and the whole thing just felt wrong to me.”

It was when Christine Sofie started dating Rasmus, who is today her husband, that her life began to turn a corner. Enjoying life together soon became the centre point for their relationship. And it was also Rasmus who encouraged her to approach her modelling agency and tell them that she would much rather represent her figure in its natural form:

“When I first met Rasmus, I had been struggling for many years with my weight. He could see how insecure the industry was making me through its constant pressure and unhealthy focus on body image. He gave me the courage to speak up and he supported me in my dream of traveling to New York and working there. It was late summer 2014, and I had just been sent home from Paris to lose some weight. Back then I weighed 25 kg less than what I do now.”

She digs up some old Polaroid photos from when she was very thin.

Fortunately, her agency was receptive to what she had to say – not least because more diversity was beginning to creep its way into the fashion industry at that time. Shortly after that, she signed a contract with Calvin Klein and it was around then that her career really began to take off.

Her time as a very skinny model and the huge pressure that Christine Sofie had to contend with for many years has given her a very clear approach to how she wants to raise her own children when it comes to food and their bodies:

“I don’t believe that we should interfere all that much with what is on our children’s plates. Insofar as possible, they need to be free to make choices for themselves. I think it’s best that we don’t serve her food for her, but instead let Bobbie scoop up what she wants. Generally, as parents I think we are very inclined to comment on what and how much our children eat. But kids are good at regulating themselves.”

“Some days they eat lots, other days not so much. I wouldn’t deny her an ice cream if she wanted one, either. This whole zero-sugar approach which is flourishing in certain corners strikes me as a tad over the top. Natural balance is what matters. The less I get involved in her plate, the more she feels like scooping things up herself and trying different foods. That’s also why I often ask her to join me in the kitchen and help with the cooking, despite the chaos she leaves behind. I try as much as I can to get her to taste the food we serve, but we don’t make her finish anything that she doesn’t want to eat. It always helps when she gets to play chef herself. There’s something very enticing about that. Food is a gift to be enjoyed together.”

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