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Helena Christensen: 'My clothing style was awesomely awful when I was growing up'

  • @adamjacques88

Anything that feels or looks forced on a woman doesn't make her look beautiful I would never buy something thinking who it might please around me. I wear things for my own pleasure and for feeling comfortable; inner beauty is usually nothing to do with trying to make an effort.

Photos I have of me during my teens make me cringe with pride When I was growing up in the 1980s I had that strange perm people wore, I put on horrible frosty lipstick and blue mascara and my clothing style was awesomely awful; I took it all the way, but I'm happy about that, as I was an exciting teenager to look at.

Kids are now more confident expressing how they feel It shows in the way they will no longer be dictated to by magazines on what they're meant to wear and how they're meant to behave. They've become more empowered.

Beautiful clothing brings back beautiful memories I've a vintage bathing suit which goes down really low, almost as if it has a skirt part, and when I look at it now, I think of summers in Denmark, lying on the beach all day.

You won't find anything in my house that's less than 25 years old I've been collecting things my whole life, though I only buy vintage pieces, and it's all neatly arranged. Some are just rocks, branches or seashells I've found – I don't spend huge amounts of money on them. Collectively they form a history of my life in objects.

Feeling uncomfortable in your heart and stomach is a good indication of whether you're about to do something wrong Nothing I ever did that made me feel uncomfortable has had a positive impact on me, so I follow my gut in small ways every day of my life.

My trip to Kenya last year changed the way I viewed fashion Meeting women there struggling to survive [Christensen visited those affected by the current drought in the Horn of Africa as an Oxfam ambassador] was an eye-opening experience. They needed so little – and really, so do we, yet we live in a world of over-manufacturing and over-using. If I didn't buy any more clothes for the rest of my life I would still have way more than enough for what I need; it's my family that's important.

I have many pet hates Though I feel ridiculous talking about them when you consider what big issues are going on out there. I do get annoyed by a lot of things when I'm flying, though, such as when your seat is down by just an inch and the [air steward] asks you to put it back to its upright position. What difference could one inch possibly make? Or when they tell you to switch off everything, I want to get up and say: "New studies have found they won't affect anything up here!"

Helena Christensen, 43, is a Danish model and global ambassador for Oxfam; she is currently working on Grow, a new scheme to help tackle worldwide drought (oxfam.org.uk/get_involved/system)