What’s your favorite cosmetic’s brand that I should try out next?
What’s your favorite cosmetic’s brand that I should try out next?
My Confusion In New York: Week One
This marks week one down as a New Yorker.
I am clearly not one. Yet. Or maybe ever. I’m still on the fence about this whole big move thing. I mean, you never really know if you are actually going to like something until you dive in and then figure out that you absolutely hate it or love that shit. Or eh about it.
Although I don’t necessarily miss Detroit, I don’t want to actually be here as of now. New York is an unfamiliar place. It’s busy and loud and busy and lots of funny smells. By funny smells, I mean shit. It sometimes smells like shit.
When I used to day dream about the big city, I always used to think of it like in the movies. It was very fancy and very Caucasian. Love stories and opportunities and things just seemed quite easy.
That it not the case. It is not as easy as the movies would make it seem. Everything is close but so spaced apart. Most of my friends live in other boroughs that are about 45-minute subway rides away. Although me and my weak knees are semi-capable of trudging down hundreds of cement steps to push through crowds of bodies on the platform, it seems like so much to do just for an hour and a half of social interaction.
I am used to the ease of hopping in my car and driving 15 minutes to unexpectedly drop into my friends’ house and have snacks and talk shit about people we don’t like.
Here is not the same. They have no idea of the people that I don’t like. They don’t know shit about me at all.
Which is a bit isolating. I just want to put my old friends in my fuckin pocket and bring them here. But, they have lives and kids, I guess. And, there’s not much room in my pocket to thrive.
Another thing is that everyone is busy all the time here. That’s what I came for though, so why hadn’t I expected everyone to carry that same dose of grind? Detroit has a very laid-back type atmosphere that I have grown used to. New York does not. It’s a city on steroids. Everyone is on go-go-go mode.
People keep saying that I will get used to it, but will I?
On top of that, I am being semi-kicked out of my new-ish apartment after only being moved in for three whole ass days. I know that one day I will look back on this major inconvenience and laugh about it. As of now, this is no laughing matter. I am pissed. The time that I could be spending looking for jobs to pay rent, I know have to find another place plus find gigs to pay rent.
I am already tired of thinking about it.
And!!! I don’t have the credit score or income to qualify for most rooms. So, there’s that. Welcome to NEW YORK! The land of shady landlords that kick folks out after only a few days of residence.
The last thing that I will complain about and update you on would be that I do not belong. And not in that sense, I do belong in some way or another, but I don’t have a core group of folks that got my back or can shoot my photos or help me do random shit late at night.
I am starting from scratch. Just that sentence made me doze off. I have to start over again building my core people. It took me damn near years to do that in Detroit and now at 31 years old, I gotta do it again. Clearly, I like abuse because NYC is gnawing at my leg right now.
Baby steps, girl, is what I keep telling myself. Because if I don’t, then I will pack a truck with all my shit and dart right back to Detroit. Where it is bland but at least I know people!
Last month, I decided to buy a ticket to New York. To live for 30 whole days. To feel what it feels to be a New Yorker. To see if I can “make it” here.
Why? Well, several reasons. Detroit is a dead-end for me. I keep trying to figure out why I’m still there, actually. Also, people never believe that I am from Detroit. It’s like I’m so freakin unicorn. They always guess New York or LA. Anywhere but Detroit. Every time I come to New York on business and see all of my friends, they always end the conversation with “Bitch, would you move here already!” I usually chuckle and say, “It’s not the right time.”
When is the time ever right, though? With the whole “time” thing, I also just don’t have the income. But, when do I ever have the income? LOL.
I am also slightly fibbing. Not like a whole ass lie, but a fib.
Although, I really don’t have the income to support myself in the Big Apple, I am scared as fuck mostly. Moving to NYC is a whole ass change from Detroit. All of my friends are in Detroit. Like my real-ass-down-for-whatever-type sister friends are there. I also hate the subway system. People just not washing their hands and touching on everything. Ugh! They also put their garbage on the sidewalk! Double ugh.
I might’ve also been in some mental distress during that time of said purchase of the ticket. But before I bought it, I asked myself. Are you really happy here? I also added: Are you truly thriving in Michigan?
My finger hoovered over that final submit button as I made sure to pick that date of February 12th (cuz I wasn’t trying to be in Detroit surrounded by all the lovey-dovey couples on V-Day). I’d rather be alone in New York than in the seemingly relationship capital of the world, Michigan.
Which brings to me why I dropped in (y’all know my blogging is sporadic af). Well, there’s several reasons. All which lead to fear. I’ll explain because I’ve been talking a lot about that lately.
Because in my 31-year-old mind, I feel like I’m anxious about everything. I’m constantly jumping up at the most minor surprises. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve literally screamed when my roommate appears out of nowhere.
For the last month, I’ve been preparing for New York. With each passing day, more anxiety surfaces. There’s not enough time to get it all done. I’m under deadlines galore. People are texting and emailing and asking for shit, that I may or may not have. On the flipside, bills are like everywhere. On top of my hijab, whispering in my ear, and putting me in headlocks.
What if you fail? I asked myself the night before my flight. I had been packing for two days straight and in a slump because New York is so expensive and for me to be here for a month will cost me too much and I still have to pay for rent and car note back at home. Double the bills!
The morning came and I felt like shit. Like complete and utter shit.
“I’m not going,” I said to myself. “Nope. Imma stay right here. Cuz it’s easier.”
I text my friend. She was like nope. I burst out crying. It was too much to uproot my entire life. What the fuck was I thinking? I can’t compete with the New York crowd. They are the top of the litter. Who was I? Just a Midwest gal trying to level up.
What had I expected to get done in 30 days? I knew I wanted to meet folks and try to get a few gigs, but other than that I hadn’t had a plan.
No plan at the age of 31 sounds messed up. By this age, I’d thought that I’d have the answers. Or at least most of them. Right now, my gut is telling me to be in New York. That there is something here that I need to discover, uncover. Yet, I have no idea what that is.
I sound crazy. Maybe I am crazy.
I’ve always wanted to be in New York, but I always wanted the glamourized version. The Caucasian movie version. With the income I have I gotta take the thug version, leap, and see what happens.
My insecurities have been heightened. Am I unique enough to break through that ceiling? Is my story worthy of being told here? Will I have the stamina, the perseverance to continue to pitch myself even when I’m told to fuck off?
Right now, I am second guessing my strength because I am in a foreign place. Right now, I am struggling to find—remember my whys. The why now? The who cares?
I don’t give myself enough credit either. I have forgotten how much shit I’ve done, accomplished from little ole Detroit, the almost middle of nowhere. How many people in New York hadn’t even gotten the same opportunities as I had, and I don’t even live here? That says something. That means that I’m valuable enough that folks have sought me out and would spend a budget to have me flown in. I still can’t believe people fly me out to give talks and model. That’s nuts!
I don’t give myself enough credit for continuing to tell my truths, my story even after the way I’ve grown up, how my marriage went, how I fucked myself over by caring what others thought of me. Even after all the shit that has been said and done to me, I am still here. I remain. Just as hardheaded as ever. Although, I have my afraid moments, I do it anyway. Although, I have no idea where I am going, I go anyway. And, that is admirable in my eyes. It means something.
I guess what I am telling you is that at some point you will be scared to do things, you will absolutely not want to do it, but if you want to metaphorically fly at some point, you’ll have to step out of your comfort zone and take the leap. No one is going to make you do it. No one is going to show you the way. You have to pave your own way. You have to be uncomfortable in order to grow. And, I don’t know about you but growth ain’t an option. It’s a necessity. I’m trying to grow beyond my wildest imagination.
So, here’s to Day 1 in New York.
Because I’ll be traveling all week, I just wanted to drop in and show you my latest work from the summer. I was flown to the UK, not once but twice, to shoot commercials for Simply Be UK.
Ya’ll know that I started my blog back in 2013 because I wanted to fill a gap. I wanted to show the world that beauty didn’t have a standard. It had no age, color, or religion.
I’ve always expressed my identity through fashion.
I was the Muslim girl who would wear black nail polish and black lipstick to prayer on Fridays and get shocked and disapproving looks from other Muslims. I was the girl who would cover her eye lids with glitter and stick flowers in her hijab while friends either made fun of me or told me that “big girls were always looking for attention”. I was the girl who always wore what she wanted on her face and body despite what people said.
I look back at all the people that talked shit about my makeup and clothing. Called me a clown and other discouraging names. They are either in my inbox asking for styling advice or now watching from the sidelines as I rise *sips tea*
Had I listened to their ridicule, had I wavered and changed who I truly was to please them, I surely wouldn’t be standing here shooting whole ass commercials 😂. I want to let you know that you don’t have to be an Instagram model to feel confident with your body. You don’t need a small waist, long weave with baby hairs laid, pale skin, clear skin, narrow nose, big booty, or long legs to feel beautiful.
You can start right now.
What makes your feel beautiful?
Heeeeeeeey! I definitely feel like one of those fuck bois who texts you regularly then all of a sudden stops then resumes texting you out of the blue. I haven't shared anything on my blog for a whole entire month. *Gasps* That's when you unequivocally know that I've been super de duper busy.
A few days ago, I landed back in the states, Detroit to be exact, after two hard weeks in Europe. On top of that, I have been readjusting to normal everyday life. When I tell you sis has been grinding hard for the last month or so, I have not been playing.
I've been making connections, meeting influencers, landing huge campaigns *flips hijab* as well as gaining another year. Hey, I'm 31 now. On the flip side, I haven't been able to truly take in some of my recent accomplishments and being overwhelmed by the recent influx of my so-called popularity.
It's a lot to handle folks, but I am so grateful to get the chance to make a change, make a difference, and do the damn thang!
I have so much more to share about life moments that unfolded during my month long absence. But, I'll leave that for a future blog post.
For now, I'd like to show you this video I worked on while in the UK.
I reached out to @lovedrobe @topsycurvyand asked if they would have my fat, Black, and very Muslim self as a model for their brand. After months of deliberation and to my surprise, they said yes. On a few hours of sleep and a full three hours of travel, I became their first Black Hijabi model. *Tongue pop*
This video was the last to be shot. I'm really proud of this and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
What's your favorite part of this video? Let's chat.
Creative Director: @kokocurve
Honey Bunches of Oats,
The long awaited episode three is here, and we have my Leo twin, queer Filipino pop star by night and software programmer by day and of course, Emotional Intelligence Diva, RV Mendoza! I usually don't like other Leos because they are extra af. But, the first day I met RV, it was love at first sight. He's such a sweetheart, a bad ass performer, and amazing songwriter.
In this episode, we talk about learning from personal failures and how they can lead to success, imposter syndrome, and deflecting negative voices.
Listen to the gems being dropped in this episode, and don't forget to give RV some love by following him on Instagram: RVXMENDOZA and listen to some of his jams on his SoundCloud and twerk to his music. HA. And, if you wnat to support him, head over to his Patreon.
After you've listened, join in on the conversation: what failures have you been through and what have you learned from it?
Know what it feels like to be silenced for your entire life? Feel as if you’re trapped inside of your own body? Never being able to live up to any of the standards that are set forth from society, religion, a parent, social media?
That was me.
It seemed as though because of my vast intersectionalities (being Black and female), right from the womb I was told to keep my mouth shut and that my feelings were invalid. I was told that I’d have to always play by the rules, come in second, sometimes third, and be content with that shit. Always smile although pain is right beneath the surface. No one wanted to hear one complain about how hard life was. No one wanted to hear about anxiety or depression or body dysmporphia. If you prayed harder, was a better person and Muslim, then you surely wouldn’t have those sorts of issues.
Seems like a lot of us are living in denial. And, that we have a ton of projection going on of insecurities. Seems like a lot of us play it too safe and become resentful when others break out of their shells.
Well, I’m here to tell you that no one gives a fuck about your feelings.
After decades of seeing thin white girls on movies stick their fingers down their throats after purging and so wanting to be that thin and that beautiful and acceptable and that white with a skinny tush, I ate and ate and ate then scrambled to the toilet to regurgitate all the ‘bad’ foods and to my dismay, my gag reflex was too strong, so I was forced to be more fat and absorb all the empty calories.
I was dressed like a boy growing up because a Muslim girl is supposed to be modest, chaste, virgin, and unscathed by the harsh, harsh world. Men wouldn’t want to look at me sexually because I had on a huge tee that covered me like a fuckin bed sheet. Always had to worry about where a man’s eyes were. That’s the main concern. Are you too sexy? Are you asking for it? Did she deserve it?
Fat folks don’t deserve to slay. Fat folks need to cut their stomach in half, so they can be thinner with body issues and not fat with body issues. Because fat is bad. And thin is good. Fat is bad. Thin is good. Fat is bad. And, thin is…
Ya know there is one day when a person is fed up, and everything just stops.
And, you come to the realization that nothing is real. Nothing is set in stone. That the sun could just come a centimeter closer to earth and we’d all be fried to extinction. So, if that’s the case, then why are you living to make other people comfortable with you? Why are you ‘waiting’ to start your life?
Discomfort is temporary.
Discomfort is growth.
Growth is necessary.
I make people uncomfortable with my mere presence. That fact tickles me. That my presence, my essence is that powerful.
I won’t be apologizing for my mere being. For being fat. For being Black af. For being Muslim. I’ve said sorry enough by assimilating. By keeping quiet. By accepting abuse and ridiculous requests. By wasting time thinking about how dumb I sound or if I’m dimming someone’s flame because mine blazes so fierce or if this is all an illusion and I fall flat on my face instead of soaring. Maybe I’ll soar.
Actually, I’m not sorry at all for being myself, I’m unapologetic, and it’s only gonna get better.
All day, I’ve been blocking Muslims on Instagram. Men, women, and children. Most of them from the Middle-East.
Why? Because a modest instablog, Modestroute, that showcases Muslim women around the world decided to repost one of my photos.
In the photo, I am fully clothed. I have on all black. A faux leather jacket because I’m poor. A shirt and a pair of jeans. I also have on hijab and black lipstick. My fist is balled and in the air and my eyes are closed. I originally posted the photo back in the summer to bring awareness to racial and social injustice. It’s a dope photo. I got like fifteen mosquito bites from standing in the tall grass that day during the shoot.
Instead of people liking the photo or just scrolling past my Black face and my fat body, they went into attack mode. Swarming not only the photo on Modestroute’s page but on my personal page. “This is haram,” a Muslim man posted.
“Sorry, but how is this modest?” another user asked.
“She’s gorgeous, but she can cover up more,” said a Muslim girl who hadn’t worn hijab in her profile photo.
“Muslim??? Feminist??? Make up??? Wallahi end of times is NEAR!!!” one person exclaimed.
One user argued, “Her clothes are more modest than many other Muslim girls out there. Trust me.”
“She doesn’t represent Muslims,” a girl said. If I hadn’t represented a real Muslim woman then who was I at all?
On my personal page, the jabs were worse. Users sought out photos and trolled in the comment sections. They said: I should cover my body for the sake of Allah (swt), what I wore wasn’t proper hijab, I was even called a whore and shaitan (devil), and that I couldn’t possibly be Muslim. The last comment hurt most of all. That my Islam was so deeply rooted by what I chose to wear…or not wear.
I blocked so many folks that I lost count.
I’ve written about this before, but I am so very tired of having to validate my Islam. I’m tired of the ‘are you Muslim’ question when clearly ‘Muslim Feminist’ is stated in my bio. I’m tired of Arab-speaking Muslims treating me as if I don’t know the rules of Islam because I’m Black, asking me if I celebrate Ramadan or if I know the Al-Fatiha by heart. Clapping like I’m some kind of circus monkey when I reply yes. Why isn’t just me saying that I’m Muslim enough? When did we move into an era where we have to prove our closeness with Allah (swt) or spirituality? And, why do some Muslims feel the need to be super-Muslim and correct every wrong and cross every T? I feel like we are in a time where everyone is an internet mufti accredited by Sheik Google.
Guess what? I know the rules of proper hijab as stated in the holy book, but I choose not to do it. I choose to wear tight jeans and leggings and turbans and lipstick and nail polish. That’s what I choose to do. And that is my ultimate choice how outwardly Muslim I’d like to look. That choice doesn’t make me any less of a Muslim. I’m sorry to burst your Islamic bubble. I don’t go around harassing Muslims who choose to wear abayas or niqab just because I don’t wear it. Nor do I judge them solely based on what they wear or how they wear it. Newsflash: there are bad Muslims who wear modest clothing. There are bad Muslims who have full beards. There are bad Muslims all around the world. Just like there are bad people all around the world.
When we get down to the root of Islam, there is a way to guide a Muslim to the straight path or correct a wrong. Bashing someone on the internet is far, far away from it. You are not helping me dress more modestly. You are not helping me strengthen my spirituality or faith. You are harming yourself, because who knows, you may end up dealing with a similar situation.
We are so worried about appearances of Muslim women and girls that we forget what Islam is all about. The outer appearance is only a small portion of our belief system. Islam encompasses all levels of spirituality from low to high, and we all struggle with different trials. I may struggle with dress and another may struggle with speech and another with greed.
Should we all just start calling each other haram? Should we all begin trolling one another? Maybe we should check our intentions and understand that there is much more to a Muslim than his/her way of dress.
My birthday is in t-minus 2 days. 48 hours. Leo season. I’m freaking out. I have no plans. I’m more tired than ever before. I think I may have witnessed a bag forming under my eye. Not sure.
I’m eating healthier than ever before. I go to the gym. I even have one of those old lady pill separators for the hundreds of vitamins and doctor prescribed supplements that I take daily. The one that says Sunday. Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday…
The big 3-0.
I never thought about 30 before. 30 years on earth. I’m surprised I made it this far, though. I even had the pleasure of witnessing the invention of fidget spinners and an orange Cheshire cat become number 45.
Ahh, what a time to be alive.
So, I posted a photo on Instagram (per usual) and someone hashtagged ‘body goals’. I repeat. #BodyGoals under my picture. I chuckled internally. My little shoulders bobbing up and down as I sat in front of an old ASUS laptop (I hate it, but it’s easier to type on than the MAC).
My body was a goal? Interesting, I pondered.
The next day, I posted another pic. A different person (totes unrelated to the first person) also used #BodyGoals. I must’ve been wrapped up in some CIA conspiracy because as I drank my tea and ate a bowl of oatmeal, my boobs literally rested on my knees. Who’d want a body like that? Like mine? Preposterous. From the positive comments, I found myself going down the list of why, how my body wasn’t goals.
My teeth had irregular spaces as to where I could fit the tip of my tongue through. I had a huge forehead. I mean, huge. The hairline was as far back as Lebron’s. I never liked the shape of my face. My little brother used to tell me that my profile resembled the shape of a fat moon crescent and that I had a pug nose. Barely had a neck. I wanted one of those statuesque ballerina necks. The ones that just went on for days and they still had more neck to spare even after that. My waistline was okay, but it was riddled with brownish stretch marks that meandered to the top of my butt. Let’s not forget the two fat donut rolls on each side. My thighs. Lordt. They constantly got stuck in chairs with arms. I could never just safely ‘squeeze past’ anyone, either. There’s not a smooth surface on my thigh. Both are like large columns filled with cottage cheese. My toes, Monkey Toes, they used to call em. They are very long and spread far apart, but I can pick up a penny from a wood floor like nobody’s business…
How was any of that #BodyGoals? Especially in today’s time. Our beauty standards consist of high cheekbones lined with fancy highlighter, remove-my-ribs-to-get-the-perfect waist, and pump my lips with asphalt and concrete so that I can resemble Daffy Duck and become a high-ranking Instagram makeup artist.
I thought those were goals.
Who’d in their right mind would want to look like me?
Yes. I wear the makeup. The pretty clothes. And, I know my angles, for the most part. I work with amazing photographers who know how to use lighting and create moods. But, I’m still fat. I’m a fat model. A fat person.
I scrolled through my Instagram and was like, oh, okay I can see why they placed my body on a pedestal. I was tricking them! If only they saw me naked, then they wouldn’t ever, ever say that.
Why had I been so bent on discrediting myself? My body? Was I doing it to be more ‘real’ to my followers or was I partaking in momentary self-hatred of my own body?
I express myself through photos. And words, of course. I wanted to do a shoot where it was less about angles to make myself appear one way, but to let the parts that I’m sometimes self-conscious about peek through. Like my under-belly flap (Iegit not wearing a Spanx) and my back (which didn’t look as bad as I imagined) and my funny toes (not gonna lie, I cringed). Because when I face something that I’m afraid to show or share or makes me self-conscious, it’s best to dive in completely and show the insecurity to the world. Then go from there.
“I don’t take photos sitting down,” I said to my thinner friend. “I literally turn into a bowling ball. I have about 3 inches of torso and hundreds of pounds that surround it. It’s not flattering.”
She looked at me like I was crazy.
We are our own worst enemy. I am my own worst critic. I am the downfall of myself. On the flipside, I can also be my own best ally. I made a conscious decision to focus on the negatives when clearly that’s not how other people viewed me.
The question I asked myself: As a fat girl, why can’t I be #BodyGoals?
I can be #BodyGoals.
As a matter of fact, I am #BodyGoals just like those whole two people said.
Leah V is #BodyGoals in all her saggy boob and cellulite glory.
This is the most scared I've ever been releasing a project. Ahhh! Like, seriously, y'all. This is the teaser/trailer to a new series of visual art pieces called #BodyProject brought to you by myself and the brilliant team of Reel Clever Films
I used to hide behind ill-fitting clothes. Makeup. A man. My thin girlfriends. I wanted to hide because I was told that a fat girl's only place was behind-the-scenes. A Muslim girl's only role was to be a wife, a mother. A Black girl's only role was to conform. Straighten her hair. Talk proper. To never offend.
I'm here to smash all of the one-dimensional, stereotypes of what a fat, Black, and very Muslim girl should be with one question: Do I make you uncomfortable? GOOD.
Full Video Drops 7/8/17!!!
MUA: Madinah Muhammad
MUSIC: Comer Dorris
LIKE. SHARE. COMMENT. AND SHOW SOME LOVE.
***Use the hashtag #BodyProject
It’s cold in Michigan. Dreary. Things are dying. Morale is at an all-time low for a lot of individuals during the fall/winter months. Lack of sunlight. Holiday woes. It’s super brisk and your usual cuddle buddy is being a fuckboy and not answering your texts. Yeah, I get it. It’s not the most wonderful time of the year so says the holiday songs on the radio.
I’ve been in my ‘mood’ lately. When, I say ‘mood’ it’s code for mental lapses, anxiety, depression, or all three. Depends on the day or days. And I really hate when I get into these ‘moods’ because I know that I’m feeling these emotions or I’m being a certain way and for the most part, I have no idea why. It can strike at any moment. Even when life seems to be ok or running smoothly. Then I begin to feel ‘ungrateful’ because I’m feeling like shit when life dictates that it could be a lot worse.
Oh, isn’t life full of contradictions.
I understand that these ‘moods’ are either triggered by some kind of hormonal imbalance, or a word, a face, or even a song which jolts you back into some repressed traumatic moment which leads to these negative emotions.
But meanwhile, while people are telling you how ‘crazy’ you are for even showing any signs of distress in life, you are feeling like a trapped bat ramming its little bat face into a glass window.
If you were a better Muslim, you wouldn’t have those sorts of problems. Take it to the rug. Oh, you’ll be ok, just remind yourself of the people who have it way worse than you. Yes, when someone reaches out to you about not being right in the head or not feeling well mentally, please continue to pour icing over shit and not deal with the issues head on.
Do you know how many times I’ve reached out just to be called crazy or told to suck it up? Do you know how many times I’ve been made out to be a jerk because of misplaced emotions? Do you know how it feels to have the outside not match the inside, how confusing that is?
I’ve always had ‘issues’ growing up but was too afraid to tell anyone. When I got to college, the emotions started bubbling over. I was aggressive, sporadic, and in denial. I’d have these breakdowns, privately, and withdrew from other humans. I didn’t have drugs or alcohol to soothe my problems so my outlet became fighting.
I graduated college at twenty years old with a business degree. I got married two weeks after that. More mental issues came to play. Aggression on top of aggression. The police were even called on me a few times. I didn’t go to jail. Not yet anyway. I hit rock bottom. I had no one. No family support. My ex had left. And my friends wanted nothing to do with me or didn’t know how to assist. I was alone.
I remember lying on the beach, tears streaming down my face on the phone with my mother. “I’m going to admit myself to the hospital,” I said. “I can’t live like this anymore.”
She tried to console me. Tell me what I should do. She apologized for not catching my issues earlier. But it was a little too late. I was floating beneath the clouds. Watching my life unfold in a painful, slow motion.
I decided that before I admitted myself, that I deserved at least one more chance. I was going to seek out a therapist. I found one at this little Muslim family services place in Detroit. The female counselor was a hijabi. She was Somali. She was the hand that pulled me out of the darkness. That’s all I needed at the time. I went in twice a week. I cried. We talked. I wasn’t eating. She told me to eat colorful fruits and vegetables. She told me to make small goals for myself. She even gave me her personal number when I felt down. To this day, I see her around the mosque sometimes. I don’t think she understands how much I needed her. How much she helped me.
To talk about mental illness in Islam or to even admit it, I think are very hush-hush. Like a lot of issues in our communities. I see some strides being made to make it more accessible, less judgy, but we have some ways to go.
After five years of extensive therapy, and after hiding it for so long, I am very much so open about it. Why should I keep it quiet? Because I’m Muslim? Because I’m a black superhero? Because I’m a blogger that posts cute pics on Instagram and my life is so fuckin perfect?
When, I go through my ‘moods’, I sometimes share it on Facebook. Not to get pity or to get likes. I share it because of the Muslim girls and women who inbox me, secretly, telling me that they too have the same issues and can’t admit it in fear that their community ‘wouldn’t understand’ or they’d experience ‘backlash or jeers’. But even though they are not at the point where they can openly seek help or be honest about it, they have me. Someone they know who has and is going through the same outbursts. The same feeling of worthlessness. The same anxiety attacks.
Just like the Somali counselor reached her hand out and pulled me back into some light, by sharing my life, my triumphs, and downfalls, I want to do the same for others. I want to be that hand that reaches out. And I want others to do the same. If you see it, you have a duty to help. Listen. Provide a safe space for them to breathe. A hug. Giving non-judgmental advice. It’s the little things that count. Those little acts of kindness that could make someone’s day and be the difference between them stepping into the light or withdrawing into the darkness.
It’s embarrassing to admit that I wanted to be a white girl for a large part of my life. I wanted the two-parent household, the bed with the canopy in the suburb, the size medium North Face jacket, the long, bone straight hair that always got in my way, and all the privilege and fun that came with it.
I was in my teens when I drowned myself in white culture. I knew their white movies, their white songs from the 80’s and 90’s, and I just knew that if I lost weight and became ‘flat bodied’ I could pull a white male to marry and have mixed children with, just hoping that they’d have a much better grade of hair that I had.
I had my Caucasian future planned out.
Pasted on my wall and doors were pages torn out of magazines of attractive white women. I studied them every time I woke up and every time I went to sleep. I cried softly in my pillow wondering why God put me in a black body. A fat body. An unattractive body.
Magazines were important. They held weight. They notified me of the trends—what’s in and what’s out. Black faces were out. Black bodies were out. White faces, no curves, and long legs were in. Straight teeth, full lips, and light hair was in. Smooth skin, cinched waist, and narrow noses were in. I had none of those attributes. And would never attain any without the help of cosmetic procedures.
I hated myself and no one even knew. I hid my identity issues behind aggression and haughtiness. I was that bitch. That no one could mess with, penetrate, or compete with. But in that mindset, I was stagnant and didn’t even know it. I was closed and warped. I was a white woman trapped in a fat body. I was confused and misunderstood. I was a ball of contradictions. Dying inside, nowhere to turn, no one to talk to about it, no role model to seek out.
Just thinking about it now, makes me sad. Makes me angry. It also makes me ponder, how many other girls out there are going through this silent identity crisis? Competing against magazine reality? Wanting to be something that they could never be?
The magazines I trusted and idolized, the magazine that utilized only one model of color in the entire spread who was usually on the lighter side or mixed had betrayed me. The media only highlighting rail-thin models who were as tall as giraffes betrayed me. Those very white movies that I studied weren’t real at all because white-based happy endings didn’t happen in my black, Muslim world. All of it was a sham. Created solely to boost the agenda of what the standard of beauty was and to degrade another. Photoshopped covers of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears was all I could think of. How smooth their skin was, no stretch marks, both breasts the same size, not one hair out of place. I believed that they had attained perfection. That God had given them complete bodily perfection.
Until I figured out that the media wasn’t for me. For us. For the underrepresented. The disabled. The dark. The short. The so-called unattractive. The Muslim.
I had to hit rock bottom before I realized who I was. Who I really was as a person from the inside out. And on the inside, I was not a white woman. I no longer wanted to be a white woman. God didn’t make me a white woman for a reason. And I had become content with that fact. I dived in my blackness wholeheartedly like a mermaid. I created my own beauty standards. Producing my own body positive and beauty campaigns with my own funds. My blood. My mental illnesses.
I stopped believing in those magazines. That reality TV show. Those airbrushed and photoshopped photos that I silently died to attain and started believing in my own abilities. My skills. And I emerged as a stronger black woman. A proud black woman. A crazy Muslim girl in her voluptuous hips and thoughtful mind.
I used to be the kind of style blogger who didn’t speak on issues out of fear of the repercussions of what ‘others’ might say. I was a ‘style’ blogger; no one wanted to hear what I had to say when it came to politics or religion. I should’ve been talking about the newest matte lippie or what I was wearing that weekend.
With age and wisdom, and basically not giving a fuck, I came to the conclusion that I had become like all the other bloggers. I was a fashionable shell. I had thoughts and worries about the world we lived in, but I never spoke on it. I kept quiet even though the issues myself and my people faced were reality.
In January, I took my social media and blog up a few notches. I rebranded myself as an anything-goes-blogger. Whatever came to my mind about feminism or self-image or blatant racism, I was going to speak about it while adding bomb ass photos to the mix.
In Detroit, there’s this amazing Black Lives Matter wall near Midtown that popped up last year after the string of police killings of unarmed Black males. Black Lives Matter is written hundreds of times in white letters and in different sizes.
While standing in front of this powerful wall of words, I found it to be the perfect moment to throw my fist in the air in support of #BlackLivesMatter. It was the fist that many of us stick up when we are trying to make a statement.
When we are trying to push for equality. When we are telling the world that Black Lives Do In Fact Matter!
I went home and looked over the pictures that Danni took and the one with my fist planted in the air was the perfect photo to post on Instagram and Facebook. I added a caption as well about us as a whole making so many strides towards equality but taking so many steps back simultaneously with the whole racial divide happening all over the world.
I posted it and for the most part a lot of different races were feeling the picture and throwing their fist emojis up. I had a few haters that I had to delete the comments of and block since they wanted to troll my page.
The next day, a popular body positive page reposted the picture with the original caption. It got a lot of hits. Lots of supportive people said that we needed to do better as a country and they were in full support of the message. Then one troll replied: “Blue Lives Matter…”
After that all the internet trolls flooded in with comments like what about Black on Black crime? And someone even said, “White Lives Matter!”
Then people started arguing under the photo. How does one photo of an African-American Muslim blogger standing behind a Black Lives Matter wall start all this ruckus?
Why are people so turned off my support of #BlackLivesMatter? How many times do people have to say that this movement has nothing to do with Black supremacy?
Listen…in case you didn’t get the memo, it has nothing to do with us being better than anyone or being wronged more than another race. We are dealing with the issues at hand. Period. And if someone standing up for themselves or for humanity bothers you, then you need to check yourself, and not some hashtag or movement!
EVERYONE deserves freedom of speech. Freedom to walk the streets without being harassed by a cop. EVERYONE deserves to live life that isn’t in constant danger. EVERYONE deserves to be free.
I am Black. I am a woman. I am a Muslim. I am a triple minority. So I get it. Trust me. I have been picked over and belittled and mistreated because one or all three of the above. A lot of us have.
What I want for you, the reader, to get from this piece is that every movement isn’t a personal attack on your culture or religion. It isn’t an attack on cops or White people. It is a movement like all others to boost awareness, to help make a change in an unequal system, and to hopefully one day live in harmony amongst one another.
*Originally posted on Muslimgirl.com*
I have a vision board that I created with my friend a few years ago...three to be exact. It sits on my black dresser right behind my mirror. It's a staple, just sitting there reminding me of what I should be dreaming of every single day. It's a reminder that I CAN be whatever it is that I want to be. It's a reminder that I should strive for those goals every day. A few times, I fell away from life and I went back to the board and just read the quotes and glared at the pictures of plus models that I'd pasted on it.
When I was making the board, I thought it was only fun to cut out the pictures from the magazines and play in glitter. Three years later (and a whole lotta' shit), the things on the board has come into fruition. Whoa!
One of them was to model for a company out of state.
We all know Jessica Kane. If you don't know, get to know her. She's a model, body pos advocate, businesslady, and mommy! She's also a great friend and a visionary...I'll tell you why shortly.
I know, your probably like, ALL bloggers do this. They work with a company and make us care but they only want sales! Let me tell you this, I'm not a TYPICAL blogger. I'm an artist first and foremost. I like quality just as much as you guys do and I've turned down countless projects because it didn't align with my brand or my community.
As you all know, I'm Muslim and I'm black. I come from the ghetto's of Detroit. Right? Cool. A lot of companies don't want to bother with me because I can't show my body. Yada yada yada. And me being Muslim is an issue for some. I'm waaaay too 'Out of the Box' for some so they'd rather work with other bloggers. I get it. It's safe not utilize me. You either get me or you don't.
Jess took a chance on me. She allowed me to be myself. Encouraged me to be different. And for that, she's got a fan for life.
So Society+ got in touch with me. I'm like waaaaaaaa! Someone gets me. Someone likes me and trusts me with their clothes. Man, I felt super accomplished. They sent me a few pieces and I'm like yaaaaas. This shit is on point. The clothes are great quality, true to size, and not too expensive. And the tutus... They are thick and full.
I did an entire shoot Downtown Detroit with Reel Clever Films and my little crew as we changed right in the middle of the street into four other outfits. It was fast-paced, fun, and tiring, and lovely. Lol. We got these great shots of the caged top (also from Society+) and the olive tutu.
Rock the TUTU! Why? Cuz it's super cute and feminine.
In Michigan, it can be spring one day and winter the next...But I think it's safe to say that SPRING is finally here. So, since I've endured like 20 months of winter (haha!), I figured that I'd pull out all of my yellow. And do a happy spring post, in hopes that the cold doesn't come back for at least four months.
So since, I'm traveling, editing my novel, and working on a few creative projects, I just thought I'd pop in with an OOTD post letting yall know that I'm still alive!
Hijab (Scarf): Caniff Gift and Variety in Hamtramck, MI
Shirt + Shades + Necklace: Forever 21
Blazer + Flats: Torrid
Purse: TJ Maxx
Lippie: Colourpop Cosmetics (Online)
Last month, I was contacted by Amanda Bankston who works with several organizations, including Detroit Passport to the Arts. I was referred to her by a friend, Ramona, who owns this fab vintage resale shop in Highland Park. She said that I'd be a great addition to co-hosting their "Hollywood in Detroit" event at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Any reason I have to dress up and get my face beat, you know I'm there!
A few other local bloggers and fashion enthusiasts joined me on stage to talk about their businesses and their fashion inspirations.
As you can see, I played the fashion curator here, which I was very nervous about. I didn't know there was going to be an actual stage and a real microphone. Haha. I was also given notes with key points to remember, and I have a really bad memory which added to the nervousness. All in all, I didn't eat much before the show, so I was good and most importantly, I didn't vomit!
As you all know, I'm in the D (what us natives call Detroit). And there's not a lot of opportunity here for creatives like LA or New York. So it's a definite hustle. Also, finding a genuine support group is also one in a million. Did my ladies come and support? They sure did. I was happy to see my friends and blogger buddies weather the snow storm to come support me at the event. I love yall!
Plus my friend/MUA came to take my pictures. Hehe. She's the only one who can get my good angles.
Rocking the Sephora Matte lippie in red. It's a really great product that doesn't leave your lips too dry like a lot of matte creams do.
Feelin' myself. Ladies (and gents) I suggest you try it out sometime. lol.
Ain't nothing wrong with a little belly jiggle. Yall feel me?
Turban: Joanne's Fabric Store (Yup, I'm crafty.)
Dress, Accessories, and Stole: Forever 21
Long Sheer Outer Dress: Torrid
Flats: Christian Sirano for Payless
It's cold in the D! Well, it was chilly in Traverse City, Michigan. My friends and I piled up in a small, white rental car and drove four hours to a rented lake house for a much needed girl's escape.
I feel bad for saying this, but I was looking for some black slacks and somehow, stumbled into Kmart. And as yall know, I have short, wide legs, and no one had anything that fit right. So, I'm in my local Kmart and stumble upon some gems. We've all heard about the Nicki Minaj Collection at Kmart. We might have had some preconceived notions about how her line would be, but I found this sweater in the clearance section that I was delighted to buy.
When I tell you this sweater is everything. It Is EVERYTHANG! Here's why I love it: a nice silhouette, doesn't ride up the back, long sleeves, and the zipper detailing on the sides. It went from the basic sweater look to that Va Va Voom ensemble.
I'm not sure what the Nicki Minaj collection for Kmart will bring for the Spring/Summer 16' but I'll definitely be looking out for any new pieces that I can add to my wardrobe.
Love the zipper detailing. You can actually zip and unzip them.
So now let's go to the second part of my outfit. The jeans! I only own one pair of jeans and they stretch and fit good. Nice length, too. I got those from Burlington. I wanted a darker pair, so I visited my local Torrid. I am obsessed with Torrid. A little pricey, but just hit them with those coupons and you should be good to go.
I bought a skinny jean in regular and it's a size 4. The stretch is nice and I like the length. I've only worn them once, so I'm still trying to 'break them in'. But so far so good. Hooray for Torrid. Hooking up the big booty gals :)
Shades and Hat: Forever 21
I've known about The Curvy Fashionista's events for the last few years that I've been blogging. But I never got a chance to attend one. I mustered up enough guts to email Marie and ask about a press pass. She sent me one right away :)
The Curvy Fashionista created by style blogger Marie Denee has several events throughout the year and this style brunch located in Atlanta focused on "owning your beauty" with guests @PHAT_Girl_Fresh @JibriOnline @mimijonline and @PatrickTCooper
The style influencers were hilarious, candid, and inspirational. I learned a lot about 'owning' ones self and accepting your flaws and all. The crowd was energetic and confident and fierce. The food was poppin', too. LOL. I enjoyed myself despite having only a few hours of sleep. And for those who know me, I need my beauty rest. Haha.
My Outfit Deets:
Turban: Caniff Gift and Variety
Dress: Avi & Viv (Target)
Jacket: JC Penney's
Headpiece and earrings: Payless
For those of you who don't know, my refurbished camera from Amazon that I used for blogging and events broke near the end of last year. Samsung wouldn't honor the warranty and the Amazon seller went ghost. For most of us, money is always tight. As I sulked about not having a camera to continue my blog and vlogs, this organization I was working with told me that I should put my creative community to the test: start a GoFundMe page.
Like many others, it is hard to ask for something--anything. You feel weird involving someone in your own problems and issues. Siena (The Void Academy) told me that I had to get used to it. I was an artist and as an artist you create art and people WANT to help you succeed. They do? I pondered. Did the people around me really want to see me have a nice camera to continue creating?
In fact, they did.
These pictures are the first photo I took with my Sony camera that my community allowed me to purchase. We raised $850 in 30 days. People shared, donated, prayed, and sent good vibes and we made our goal. I was like a kid in a candy store when I went to Best Buy to purchase it. I couldn't have been more happier.
So this post is for every single one of you who put in the work for little ole' me.
Big thanks to:
Mary Carter, Dana Chase, Susan Cartsonis, Bonnie Culver, Taylor Polites, Siena Oristaglio, Kaylie Jones, Barb Taylor, Samia Bowe, Scott Mitchel, Lauren Stahl, Cynthia Ramsey, Linda Hunt, Zarinah El-Amin, Gregory Fletcher, Suzzane Ohlman, Stephen Gliatto, Shawna Farmer, Camilla Vernon, Nicole April Carter, Nisha Sharma, Jasmine Nicholson, Aleka Thrash, Victorious ME, and all the other countless supporters!