Nicole’s image was shot with a very specific goal in mind: to clearly demonstrate vulnerability, pain, femininity, yet strength. The creative rationale was born from her realisation that as humans, we are our strongest when we are our most vulnerable and Nicole wanted this sentiment to come through in her image. Nicole wears an artistic gold sprayed headdress – a crown which has a warrior feel to it; like a queen from a different world and in so many ways is symbolic of her journey. Through all her loses she has remained brave and the image reflects this for she is a woman of substance. A striking and incredibly powerful visual – Nicole is elegant, regal and has real presence in her portrait. The tilt of her head is strong despite the humiliation and pain she has endured and the gold jacket shines – much like her warm and spirited personality. This image is a real reflection of how Nicole has been transformed through hardship and instead of hiding herself because of her fears and insecurities – she owns her space and exudes strength yet beauty.
“Life is beautiful.”
“May you learn to embrace the freedom that has long been calling your name, so you can liberate
courage in others so they can do the same.” – Morgan Harper Nichols
Nicole Capper, Mrs South Africa 2018, is no stranger to overcoming challenge and pain and has been through several life experiences that have severely tested her resolve and strength. Ultimately though each experience fortified and built an unmovable courage within her - strength that only comes from pain.
When Nicole recalls that moment she first saw her son, nothing else existed and her life was changed forever. She says when you have a child - it’s consuming in an overwhelmingly beautiful and terrifying way and it changed her whole perspective on life.
Nicole describes her son Josh as her best friend; a beautiful, happy, expressive soul. But at three years old, he was diagnosed as completely deaf in his right ear. After a shock school test result and a traumatic barrage of tests that followed, it was confirmed that Josh had a permanent disability – and that that nothing could be done about it.
Nicole believes that Josh will just have to work harder in life and she will be by his side setting an example of this every day. Adding to this she says that when she looks at her boy she doesn’t see a“disability”. Instead she chooses to see his courage and strength which are already so evident in thislittle boy who “just rolls with it”.
When Nicole’s daughter was born four years later, she thought she had it all; life was perfect and pure bliss. And then came the second life changing moment. A defining moment Nicole was not prepared for.
Nicole’s daughter Tatum was diagnosed with a severe life-limiting incurable rare disease, Cystic Fibrosis, at six weeks old.
I close my eyes and I am immediately back in that hospital room. I remember the temperature; I can tell you the colour of the floor and I feel physically ill when I recall the look in the specialist’s eyes when he delivered the diagnosis. My world stopped. In fact it shattered. How could this little miracle of life have a life-limiting rare disease? I was broken to my core knowing I could not fix her.
At first Nicole wanted to hide away from the world but, she realised there are health challenges that are far worse and in recognizing this - it created an attitude of acceptance and gratitude within Nicole. She vowed to do everything she could to help her thrive and in a moment she became her greatest advocate. Her warrior. Her fierce lioness.
More than this she believed she had a choice. She could allow the disease to steal her family’s purpose,and use it as an excuse for complacency; or to consciously go after her dreams despite it. And so it was that during this process Nicole found her WHY. The thing that would make her get up in the morning. The fire that filled her lungs, and perhaps the fire that was always inside of her but had never been stoked. She decided it was time to shine and to passionately and fervently pursue all of her dreams and goals, with an insane work ethic and a brave authenticity, so that she could show her children that they can do the same. That nothing can hold them back from achieving their goals.
Nicole adds that Tatum’s diagnosis gave her a sense of purpose and led her to enter the Mrs South Africa pageant and the drive to win.
The thing about defining moments is that they happen more than once. So despite the glitter the fortune and sparkle of the title, life was not miraculously going to become an easy journey for Capper – for no sooner had she been crowned, than her 11 year marriage to her high-school sweetheart fell apart.
Commenting on this painful experience, Nicole says that with three people in her marriage things were a bit crowded.
Pragmatic in her approach, she adds that life isn’t a Disney movie and you have to decide how you respond. There’s no point in denying our stories because when you do they define you. It’s better to ownthem and in so doing, take your power back. The truth changes everything.
I used to live in a grey world of perceived perfection. Now I know the best bits of life are those that grow and change you. Hardship is an opportunity to grow. I aspire to live each day in full colour; knowing that imperfection and authenticity is real beauty.
My journey has made me choose being present over perfection because life is about so much more than notching up Instagram likes. Rather than hide her pain – Nicole believes in honesty and integrity and has chosen to share her story so that she might help others cope with their struggles.
As if Nicole had not been through enough – there was more to follow and yet another life altering experience – this time when she came close to death and was airlifted off the mountain during her Everest Base Camp climb. This experience profoundly changed her world view and further shaped her into who she is today. She was also able to experience firsthand how it felt to have limited lung function and that reinforced her purpose even more. The trip was already one of Advocacy and fund raising - every breath for those who cannot breathe for themselves, and she returned having lived that reality.
Being the type of person she is – Nicole decided not to allow circumstances to dictate her happiness and put her pain aside so she could focus on creating something bigger than her - a platform that would insome way help change people’s lives.
And so her legacy project #RareHeights was born. A movement that aims to push people to do more –take on more – be more and to live big! She aspires to inspire people from all walks of life to reach their full potential. Nicole has demonstrated what is possible by using her mobility and fitness to raise awareness for those without full health, by participating in sporting events and outdoor adventures all over the world. In 2018 alone she has tackled both Everest Base Camp and Kilimanjaro, summited local and international peaks and is planning many more adventures where she can take others along with her to rare heights. Uprising is the first project to launch under the #RareHeights banner.
Emboldened by her new found strength and determination – Nicole says that in the past she hid her voice to make other people feel more comfortable adding, I tried to please everybody, never rocking the boat. Not anymore – that’s history and I will do whatever it takes to make sure people - my children and especially woman and young girls - believe that no matter what life throws at them, they already have all the strength they need deep within themselves. They are enough.