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Achieng Agutu on Maintaining Confidence As a Public Figure in the Age of Social Media

Achieng Agutu.<p>Vivien Killilea/Getty Images</p>
Achieng Agutu.

Vivien Killilea/Getty Images

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2024 SI Swimsuit rookie Achieng Agutu calls herself the “tantalizing confidence queen” for a reason. She’s proud of who she is, but more importantly, no one can dim her light. The 27-year-old is always spreading love and positive vibes wherever she goes and across all her platforms. She regularly encourages fans to step into their power and navigate the world with “that girl” energy.

We chatted with the model, who was born in Kenya and now lives in New York City, about all things dealing with internet haters, maintaining confidence and navigating a career in social media.

Self-love starts with her morning routine

The 2023 Swim Search co-winner says that this year, she has a goal to get more sleep. That involves leaving her phone in the bathroom at night, so she can’t wake up with technology—more specifically social media—in her vicinity. So far, the tactic has been super helpful in allowing Agutu to wake up slowly and calmly instead of immediately scrolling.

“Sometimes I’m too tired to get up to go to the bathroom to get my phone. So I just chill there and think for a bit and then get up,” the content creator shares. “I think starting my morning kind of easy and chill has been the best thing ever because I don’t wake up with any anxiety like, ‘Oh my God who texted me, who called me, etc.’”

Dealing with haters

As a public figure, Agutu has had her fair share of haters. The Clarins ambassador developed a “block and prosper” mentality for dealing with rude people, but is candid about the fact that once in a while, someone’s words will get to her.

She mentions a Fox News article that was published after she walked in SI Swimsuit’s Runway Show during Miami Swim Week that discussed her method of dealing with online trolls, and highlighted her experience as a Swim Search finalist.

Critics of the article claimed it was “normalizing obesity,” with one outlet even writing a piece aggressively titled “Morbidly obese Kenyan woman selected as finalist in Sports Illustrated Swim Search.” While Agutu takes most messages with a grain of salt, this one got to her.

“I went through this rabbit hole of reading about myself and that was really hard for me because it only takes one comment or one person say something to [make you] crumble,” she shares. “That was a really hard time for me to be posting positive things and trying to hype up and motivate my audience while I’m feeling like really awful.”

Agutu notes that going to therapy around that time was super helpful, and she still keeps up with her therapist today.

“Something that has really helped me is taking a step back and being like, ‘These people barely know me.’ Their opinions of me and who I am, what I look like and what I’m doing has everything to do with them and whatever is going on in their lives—and nothing to do with me,” she explains. “I love a good block button, obsessed with it, highly recommend. I also love a good moment of education to a hater, calling them out on their BS and being like, ‘Does that make you feel good that you wrote that and had a temper tantrum on a random person’s comment section?’”

Unplugging from social media

Agutu is proud of the way she is able to unplug from social media at the end of the day. While for most people social media is an escape, it’s Agutu‘s job and her source of income.

“My social media, I love it so much. I love what I do for work, but that’s my work, you know. St the end of the day, I’m off socials and doing other things. Even on the weekends, I’m deleting my Instagram, my TikTok, unless I have to be on it for work. It’s a lot of boundary setting,” she shares. “Sometimes it’s hard because I’m communicating with all these people and still [want to] post. I feel like I owe it to myself to [unplug], step away, [and say] ‘The world isn’t over. Social media is not going anywhere.’”

Unplugging for her looks like putting her phone on do not disturb, taking a hot shower, lathering herself in skincare and hopping in her satin pajamas.

Advice for people who struggle with comparison on social media

Agutu understands it’s easy to fall into the comparison trap on social media, but also has some sage wisdom to avoid it.

“Follow people who look like you. Especially when it comes to bodies, like, I can’t be following Kendall Jenner. Girl, love what you’re doing, do your thing on that side, but that’s someone who looks nothing like me, right?” she says. “Finding platforms or other peers or influencers who look like you and kind of have the same life experiences, that’s when you start to [connect and relate]. It’s like finding friends and finding community online—you can’t find people who don’t vibe with you or channels that don’t align with who you are. You really have to be intentional with your social media.”

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