It must be clear to you, by now: we love Muriel, and that’s a fact. Not only because she’s extremely sweet, strong, and determined in her everyday life, but also because Muriel is the spokesperson and symbol of a message that is not at all false or come out of nowhere, she’s the symbol of a message that’s inclusive, right, modern, unique, all hers, a source of inspiration. A powerful echo, exactly what we need on social media and not only, to make everyone understand that weaknesses are qualities, and they must be nursed and loved. And to make our society and all of us remember that, before being what we display on a screen, we are human beings.
June is an important month for Muriel, it’s Pride Month, a month full of appointments and, maybe never like this year, of projects both of her own and carried out as an activist for the LGBT+ community: she’s just published her book “Abbraccia i tuoi colori“, where she collects everything that adults and kids might need to open up a dialogue leading to awareness, towards important topics. Furthermore, she’s designed a jewelry line with LaVue Milano, and her share of the proceeds will be donated to Casa Arcobaleno.
And, thinking back to the fact that, first and foremost, we are human beings, this time we’ve decided to “read” Muriel through her colors, her strengths, loss, and the importance to be true to herself: divesting herself of all prejudices and showing for what she is.
If you think back to your childhood and adolescence, does any happy memory come to your mind?
There have been highs and lows, like for everyone I guess, it’s been a mix: I’ve always been surrounded by wonderful people but, at the same time, some things happened which didn’t make it particularly easy, such as the fibroid in my leg, and the surgery, my father’s death when I was a child, and the bullying at school. I’ve often felt lonely, misunderstood, sort of out of place. However, every time I look back and think about my childhood, all those positive things that characterized it come to my mind, like the study trips abroad, the concerts, YouTube.
When you wake up in the morning or go to bed at night, are there any rituals you follow, anything in particular you do? For example, there are people who, in the evening, make a list of things they’re grateful for… Do you have any rituals, anything yours?
I’m not a morning person, when I wake up, I don’t follow a real routine: I make some coffee, get ready, and try to brainstorm the things I have to do on that day. In the evening, instead, I always try and take some time for myself, which is vital. I recharge when I’m on my own. During the day, I interact with lots of people, and that’s why it’s really helpful for me to take some time to spend with myself.
What pisses you off the most?
Generally speaking, the disrespect for other people. It irritates me when someone builds up a wall regardless, without even trying to have a dialogue because it’s not productive for either side. It also irritates me when someone tries to affect someone else’s individual freedoms on the basis of what they are.
“IT IRRITATES ME WHEN SOMEONE BUILDS UP A WALL REGARDLESS, WITHOUT EVEN TRYING TO HAVE A DIALOGUE BECAUSE IT’S NOT PRODUCTIVE FOR EITHER SIDE.”
You’re an activist within the LGBT+ community and take part in many projects like the jewelry one with LaVue Milano, or the book “Abbraccia i tuoi colori” (“embrace your colors”) with Mondadori. How important is it, to you, to spread awareness through your projects?
The values and themes I emphasize on social media are very important to me. From the tiniest to the biggest thing, I want anything I do to respect these values, and I think it showed from these two projects: with Pride Club, we aimed at creating something that, on one side, could clearly convey the idea that Pride is for everyone, on the other side, we wanted to concretely help a reality that shares our same values and actively offers its service all year long for the community, that is Casa Arcobaleno.
“Abbraccia i tuoi colori” is, instead, a book that young Muriel would have needed and, just like her, many other kids or adults. I want to use all the means I have, all the projects I do (from collabs with brands to my own projects like these ones) to spread awareness of the topics I deal with and their importance.
Since you’ve just had a book published, I’m curious, is there any book on your nightstand right now? Or, is there a book in general that you’ve loved more than any other, over the years?
The book on my nightstand right now is by Juno Dawson and it’s called “What’s the T?”. I’m still reading it, but it’s a super useful and informative book that explains in a very simple way everything concerning transgender people. A book I’ve loved more than any other over the years is “The Little Prince:” when I was younger, I used to go to Rome to my grandma’s and we would read it together, one chapter each. Reading it again and again as I grew up, I was impressed by the fact that, every time, I could explore the same story from a new perspective and see things I’d never noticed because it’s a book on multiple levels, and “Abbraccia i tuoi colori” is very similar, under this aspect. I wanted to write a book that could be read on multiple levels and be a new discovery even re-reading it, exactly like “The Little Prince” for me. I wanted it to be a book of fairytales, but at the same time I wanted it to be a book that could be of interest to anyone, regardless of age; I wanted it to be inclusive even in this sense.
“I wanted it to be a book of fairytales, but at the same time I wanted it to be a book that could be of interest to anyone, regardless of age; I wanted it to be inclusive even in this sense.”
Is violence, physical or mental, something you’ve had to struggle with over the years? And what kind of journey did you have in your life to become who you are now, to be able to speak the way you do?
I’ve never been a victim of physical violence, but I’ve experienced psychological violence, especially during middle and high school. I’ve always felt out of place, the black sheep of the group. The person you can see now is a girl who, at some point, has started to do what she wanted to do, not caring about what other people thought or could have said. I’m an introvert, it took me some time to learn to communicate in this way and obtain this self-confidence, but today I can say I’m happy with who I am.
You’re doing an amazing job not only for your LGBT+ Community because, thanks to you, we’ve been talking about body positivity, normal body, feeling good with what we are. As of today, what does it mean, to you, to feel good with yourself? Does it ever happen to you, sometimes, even today, to “fight” against yourself or this society that presents to us, such unrealistic models?
The Muriel you can see now is the result of a journey that started when I began to put my own happiness and peace of mind first and focus on myself. Looking back, I don’t want to regret what I could have done but didn’t do because I was afraid of not feeling accepted, or because of someone else’s opinion. I don’t want to give up anything, I want to fully live my life. Obviously, it still happens to me to fight against myself or society: against myself because it’s human, and against society, because there’s still a lot of work to be done, but I’m pumped and convinced that even this one is a journey, and things will get better with time.
You know, I always say this to you, I have a lot of admiration for you. Not only because it takes courage to do what you do, but also because you 100% believe in it, you never give up. Do you ever have difficult moments?
Yes, I have difficult moments like everyone else does. Everyone has some down moments, and that’s fine, I always try and bring out the contents I deal with because I love what I do, but over time I’ve learned, and I’m always learning, to try and find a balance and understand when it’s time to stop and take some time for myself.
I believe in what I do and I love my job, but there have been several difficult moments, above all because, when I first started to tackle these topics, there were just a few of us talking about such things, and being it my job anyways, I took a big risk, I knew I could have lost some jobs because I was too exposed; things have obviously changed now, but when I started talking about it, I was jumping in the deep end. Another thing that’s not very easy to handle is media pressure: it’s often happened that people expected me to be always available for everyone, always happy, cute, lighthearted.
“It still happens to me to fight against myself or society: against myself because it’s human, and against society, because there’s still a lot of work to be done, but I’m pumped and convinced that even this one is a journey, and things will get better with time.”
Have you ever felt, or do you ever feel lonely? How did you live and how do you live loneliness?
Yes, I’ve often felt lonely, especially in middle school and high school. I was different, and I had different interests compared to the other girls, and I felt like the black sheep of the group. Now, I am lonely sometimes, but that’s because my life is really focused on my job, and many friends of mine work with me. But it’s not a problem, I like loneliness, in general.
What makes you feel safe, instead?
People closest to me, like Ethan, those who believe in me and support me. Obviously, one of them is Bimbo, who loves me no matter what.
What’s something people often say to you that you’re tired of hearing?
I’d say “Promote obesity.” I’ve never particularly cared about people insulting me directly. I’m well aware that the values of body positivity are not immediately understandable, however, sometimes I wish people stopped and thought a little more. It’s a movement that has nothing to do with health, and this kind of comments do nothing but fuel disinformation, putting in my mouth words and sentences I’ve never spoken.
“I’m well aware that the values of body positivity are not immediately understandable, however, sometimes I wish people stopped and thought a little more…”
“…It’s a movement that has nothing to do with health, and this kind of comments do nothing but fuel disinformation, putting in my mouth words and sentences I’ve never spoken.
Loss can concern a job, a person, an animal. How have you dealt with loss, in your life, and how much has it really given to you and taken from you?
I don’t necessarily see loss as something negative. To me, for example, it has given a lot because it inevitably leads to change. It has made me stronger, on one side, and on the other side, it has allowed me to downsize the seriousness of the things that happen to me every day, and appreciate the small things, instead.
On your journey so far, have you ever used somebody’s help, or felt the need to ask for help? This new interview format, all focused on mental health, also aims at breaking down with certain taboos, letting people know that there’s nothing wrong with taking care of your mind and doing it professionally.
A year ago, I started going to therapy and it’s become a very important weekly appointment. It’s something I would really recommend to anyone. For me, personally, it’s a moment in which I can stop, breathe, and think about a series of things that I’m not even able to realize, sometimes. It’s like my safe bubble.
Your job is frenetic, busy, and you always need to be “present,” somehow. Have you ever suffered from anxiety? If so, how have you dealt with it?
I started suffering from panic attacks when I was in high school and I still do. When I realize I’m feeling anxious, I try to stop as soon as I can and practice a series of actions that I find helpful. I also find it helpful to see my therapist and take some time for myself every day.
Are you afraid of failure?
Yes, like everyone is, I think. I’m a perfectionist and I’d always want the things I do to go well because I put a lot of effort and I believe in them.
“Fall in love with yourself, with life, and then with whoever you want.” What does it mean to you to be in love with yourself?
To me, it means to give myself the right amount of value, time, and put myself first, with the right balance.
What was the best “fuck you” of your life?
I guess when I got away from a reality and some people that brought me down, investing more in myself and surrounding myself with people who believe in me and support me.
How important is it, to you, to be true to yourself or, on the contrary, not to be consistent at all?
To me, to be true to myself is essential, otherwise, I would feel bad. I want even the tiniest of things to respect my values and be guided by them, both in my work life and in my relationships and personal life. If I do something that’s not consistent with what I believe in, I can’t sleep at night!
What’s the meaning of self-respect to you?
It means to appreciate myself, give the right importance to my own time and spaces, to the things I do and the people I have around.
What’s the latest thing you’ve found out about yourself?
Over the last period, I’ve realized I’m good at my job. I don’t want to be pretentious, I’d never want to, but it’s something that makes me very happy and satisfied and that I’m happy to have realized. It helps me feel more self-confident and sure about the ideas I have, and it helps me actualize them faster and with more determination.
“To appreciate myself, give the right importance to my own time and spaces, to the things I do and the people I have around.”
What was your biggest act of rebellion?
When I walked the catwalk at the Body Positive Catwalk in 2019. It was an act of rebellion both against myself because I’ve always had a conflictual relationship with my body, and against society, of course! I was proudly taking a body that is not considered conventional in the middle of Piazza Duomo. It was an indescribable feeling, and that moment represented a turning point in my relationship with myself.
What is “sensuality” to you?
It’s something very subjective. It’s not necessarily linked to people, in my opinion; you could find it everywhere. It’s what arouses both physical and emotional pleasure.
What would you consider “essential”?
This is very subjective, as well. To feel fulfilled from a professional point of view and, generally speaking, to never lose the curiosity to know. This is really essential to me because I have a feeling that if I had to lose this, my life would feel kind of empty.
Photos & Video by Johnny Carrano.
Follow Muriel here.
Makeup & Hair by Claudia Raia.
Thanks to Sparkle Agency.