Don’t forget the Christmas tree decorations! I go a little overboard at Christmas time because it’s my favourite holiday. Every year we decorate the tree a little earlier to make Christmas last longer. When I was younger and still modelling internationally, I flew home from wherever I was in the world to spend Christmas with my family. I brought my mom special decorations from every country I visited. Let’s just say she has a very colourful and interesting Christmas tree! But for me, it’s really the most important time for us to be together as a family.’ So what are Lee-Ann’s favourite traditions? A glorious Christmas braai! I’m definitely a coastal Christmas person – we usually spend our festive holidays in Cape Town. We celebrate Christmas eve at my in-laws, then we have a Christmas Day braai with my parents, in-laws and our friends at our place. I love being surrounded by all the people I love and care about. The idea of a big family has always resonated with me because I want a house filled with people and noise – good noise! Apart from looking forward to the sun, sea and sand, I cannot wait to spend time with my parents.
They work very hard during the year and it’s always so nice to see them feeling relaxed and carefree.’ Though she’s travelled the world, Lee-Ann’s heart is here. We live in the most beautiful country. I fall more deeply in love with Cape Town every time I visit. After my husband, daughters and I were victims of a very scary armed robbery on Gabriella’s first birthday in April this year, I felt sad that our country is being damaged by a few bad apples. But the kindness and care that strangers showed me afterwards restored my faith in my fellow South Africans; we’re a very special breed indeed. I love how passionate we are. Also, I love biltong! I craved it when I was pregnant and think it’s a great protein snack if you’re watching your weight. I do hope for better leadership in South Africa, though.’ Now in her 30s, Lee-Ann has a new-found inner calm. I do wish I had travelled more in my early 20s, but I was too scared to take major risks.
I wasted a lot of time when I was younger not believing in myself. If I could go back to my 16-year-old self, I’d tell myself this: if someone believes in you, believe them. They see something in you that you are not yet aware of, and potential that you do not even know you possess. At 33, I find I am way more relaxed about other people’s opinions of (and misconceptions about) me. I must be honest: being criticised hurts. I’m only human. It has taken me years to not allow the negativity to affect me. But it usually comes from people who don’t know me. Lee-Ann Liebenberg is not who I am. I am really quite the opposite at home and around my friends, and it is easy for me to separate the two. Being Lee-Ann Liebenberg is my job; I leave that persona in the studio. You’d probably walk right past me in the mall. I don’t like the attention when I’m with my family, and I get very shy when someone recognises me. I now know who the real me is, and after many years I have confidence in my worth. I also feel a lot more in control of the direction of my life.’ Having to prove herself anew every day and maintain her confidence under huge public scrutiny has been her biggest challenge. Confidence is so important – without it we come across as bland,’ says Lee-Ann.
For me, beauty stems from personality.’ Lee-Ann has carefully shaped her family and home life to be authentic and loving. You could say she’s settling down’, but she’s still totally on top of her game: 2015 saw her named SA’s Sexiest Woman for the sixth time at the YOU Spectacular awards. It was definitely a surprise highlight for me this year – especially at my age and after two children! Who’d have thought? Also, ending 2015 on the FAIRLADY cover and with the prospect of teaming up with one of my role models on a reality TV show is more than I could ever have dreamt of. – Enjoy Responsibly. Not for Sale to Persons Under the Age of 18. It’s a strange thing, ritual. Some of us it mightily to avoid monotony; of us cling to it to bring sanity to our days. Most of us have rituals even realising they’re there. there’s one type of ritual we’re all
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