Muslims in Fashion

Inclusion: The Perception of Perfection in Islam

Photos Courtesy of  Eric Puschak

Photos Courtesy of Eric Puschak

Recently, I’ve been politely shunned because of the kinds of videos I make and the kinds of things I say aren’t ‘halal’ enough for Islamic audiences. I’ve also been outright told by another Islamic organization that I “don’t meet the needs for their current student body” and was denied a speaking engagement. Times like these I want to move further away from so-called Islamic organizations and communities.

Because I talk about bikini waxing, I’m not Muslim enough.

Because I talk about dating, I’m not Muslim enough.

Because I wear tight jeans and turbans, I’m not Muslim enough.

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Ever since I was a young, Black Muslimah, I’ve always felt displaced. No matter how hard I tried to outwardly appear Muslim and fit in, it was never enough to just believe. To the Arab-speaking Muslims, I wasn’t Arab so I was immediately dismissed. They wouldn’t give me salaams even though I’d offer it first or embrace me like they would other Arabs. I was ignored, pushed to the side. When I was in the Black Muslim communities, I hadn’t covered my face with niqab or wore black all the time, so to them I wasn’t Muslim enough because I was chasing the Dunya.

I’d go to the mosque seeking spiritual cleansing just to be stared down for wearing pants or bright colors or nail polish. I’d been told that my prayers weren’t going to be accepted. Basically, why are you even praying was what I heard. I always thought that in Islam, you come as you are.        

When I think of Islam, I imagine acceptance and openness and beauty and a sense of calming. Instead, I am met with opposition, fakeness, sexism, and criticism.   

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I’ve been invited to speak at the University of Ottawa next month about Islam and feminism. I was so shocked that Muslims at the collegiate level wanted me to speak about such a taboo topic. I thought that I’d reach out to other Islamic organizations as well and propose to lecture on topics like prejudice, sexism, and feminism within the communities.  

It’s 2017 and with all the community based campaigns that have been going on about tolerance and acceptance, I thought that perhaps some change had occurred.

I’ve emailed about 60 organizations. Not one has accepted my invitation to speak. Will my Black face tarnish the other male speakers or the perfect Middle-eastern or Indian hijabi speakers? Will my turban, red lipstick, and nail polish create a frenzy at your panel discussion?

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It’s funny how I’m too risqué for certain Muslims. What uproar do you see when DJ Khaled partners with Ciroc or when French Montana was dating a Kardashian but was openly fasting during the month of Ramadan or how Nouman Ali Khan was playing the field but still keeping it halal? How interesting that communities want perfect, virgin Muslim women to speak, be in the forefront, but men are judged on an entire different level.

The truth is, I don’t belong. And, I’m not sure if I should be sad about it or liberated. I’m too out there. Too opinionated. Too real for the organizations who like keep up appearances. How sad that we can’t include all Muslims in discussions. Include all Muslims in community campaigns and events. As a Muslim woman, why do other organizations welcome me with open arms? The LGBTQ community, the body positive community, random artists, and loners and the small amount of Muslim sisters who rock with me. With no judgment. They care about my character more than my appearance as a human being.

As for me, I’m going to reach out to other organizations that can handle and will celebrate a fierce, Black Muslim girl.

 

xoxo,

 

Leah V

The Broke Artist

Clothing Courtesy of  Simply Be

Clothing Courtesy of Simply Be

Too many bloggers, writers, models like to pump fake. They don’t want to tell the truth about the ‘process’ in fear of looking bad or not fitting in with the elites of social media.

Lookie, I’ve been flown out to this fancy place.

I have a fancy ass doughnut in front of a colored wall.

I’m really skinny, but I’m enjoying two scoops of fancy ice cream with my very skinny and photogenic friend.

My life is soooooo fancy and amazing.

No mental illness. No cellulite. No acne.  

Do not be fooled by pretty Instagram photos with blurred backgrounds, magical lighting effects, and poetic captions. The majority of us are struggling. Just keepin it real. *Shrugs*

I’ve never been inspired by individuals who don’t tell the truth. Who paint pictures of themselves in a certain light that just ain’t reality. Individuals who showcase the success of their careers and not the actual climb, the grueling process of making it to the top. That’s what inspires me. Your failures. The path you took and how you overcame them.

The paths we all take, artist or non, has failures riddled along them. Catastrophic ones and teeny ones. They are inevitable. Too many artists with large platforms aren’t showcasing that fact. So, their devout followers believe that the way to the top is as simple as copying a feed of someone who is successful.  

Anyone you know who has ever became an icon, most likely hadn’t done this by cutting and pasting someone else’s shit. They were innovative. Ridiculed by others. Outcasts. Weirdos growing up. They never followed trends and did their own thing no matter what others had to say about it.

They paved their own path. Created a niche.  

Obsessed with this  little pink purse

Obsessed with this little pink purse

A lot of us don’t even know where that path leads. We just take that leap and hope we don’t end up smashing into the ground and dying…

I started blogging in 2013. Y’all know the story. Several failed blogs and YouTube channels and years later this one caught on. During all that mess, I worked odd jobs. All of which I hated. None of them were creative or cared a fuck about me. I was just there for the paycheck. I worked on my art on and off. Mostly off. These jobs were sucking my creative juices. I’d found myself at home after work, stuck in a rut. Unable to write.

That rut lasted for five years. The worst years of my entire existence.

Somehow, by divine intervention, I was placed back on the path of art. I used my own money to buy books on editing and literature of the great storytellers of our time. I used my own money to take creative writing classes at the local community college. I joined discussion boards and wrote and read and wrote and read some more.

I worked just to invest money back into my art (and, of course, pay the dreaded adult bills). Money that could’ve went into paying off my student loans or purchasing a house or maybe traveling…

I had read all the books and took all the classes, but I still wasn’t getting anywhere. So, I decided to get my masters in creative writing. I went back and forth about it. I already had about 20,000 worth of debt left from my bachelor’s. More debt! I literally fought myself. I was really gonna spend that much money on another degree. But, my art was on the line. I had to at least see where it could take me. I prayed then took a gamble.

No one will ever invest in you like YOU will.

No one will ever be as invested in your art, your passion like YOU will.

And, with that mentality and stubbornness, I added on another 50,000 worth of debt.

This isn’t a woe-is-me post. I’m just telling you like it is.

But, with the debt I incurred (and still deep in), I gained a wealth of knowledge, two masters, and connections that I would’ve never made otherwise. That large investment opened many doors. One day, I do hope to pay that off.

As a broke artist, I stress out a lot about money on the regular. This entire year (prior to the divorce), I’ve been hanging on by a thread. Paying my major bills like my car and insurance and rent. Sometimes food. But I live a life that most of you don’t care to ask or just don’t know about.

I don’t get paid for 90% of my work.

The photos you see are products of bartering or friends just loaning me their time.

The clothes I wear are sent by companies who don’t even pay for blog posts half the time.

I blog for free.

My social media is free.

I have an agent, but I’m still on government assistance.

Bill collectors call my phone daily.

I’m just getting by and actually had to ask for charity a few times. (And no, I don’t have mommy and daddy or grandparents to back me up).

I’m not the only one. There are many of us out there who are just trying to make it. Trying to stay afloat. Putting $20 here and there on a $1000 medical bill.

But, I’m so close to the finish line that I couldn’t possibly quit now. No matter how many companies ask for their money back, I have this unwavering hope that one day I’ll get paid for my shoots and paid for my work. That one day all the struggles and failures and energy will just work in my favor.

Photos by  Madinah

Photos by Madinah

 

xoxo,

 

Leah V

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Said Fat Girls Can’t Slay? Top 7 Outfits of 2016

OMG! We’ve made it into the new year. Bless up *DJ Khaled voice*. Ready for new beginnings? I know I am. We’ve shed some negative people: ex’s, frenemies, and maybe an annoying co-worker or two. Get your bucket list ready because I’ve asked my fashionable followers to vote for their top seven outfits of 2016. This list isn’t about my own self-gratification, or maybe it is… It’s about self-love. Confidence. And acceptance.

Anyone can put on makeup and slap on a bomb ensemble. But how many of us are sitting at home with stretch marks on their boobs, cellulite on them thighs, and a belly pooch that hangs over their pants? *Raises hands* I am as I’m compiling this list. Real life, bro!

So, for 2017, I want you to harness your inner Leah V. divaliciousness and as I always say, fuck it up! And by “it” I mean the world. Wear a color you’ve never thought to wear. Red lipstick? Smear that shit on. Dance when everyone is watching. Travel the world. Alone! Don’t let society’s standards stop you from living. FUCK IT UP! And when they ask why, tell em cuz Leah V. said so…

Check out these amazing ensembles from the last year of my blog, and see which styles made the list: 

 

#7 That pop of color though!

Photo: Adele Lane Photography

Photo: Adele Lane Photography

#6 So Parisian. Oui?   

Photo: Richelle Marie Photography

Photo: Richelle Marie Photography

#5 Turbanista in red.

Photo: Danni Little

Photo: Danni Little

#4 Couldn’t nobody tell me nothin that day.  

Photo: Madinah Muhammad

Photo: Madinah Muhammad

#3 *Finger snaps in Z formation.

Photo: Brooklyn Cashmere

Photo: Brooklyn Cashmere

#2 I’ve always wanted to be a fairy.

Photo: Reel Clever Films

Photo: Reel Clever Films

#1 On my Riri shit!

Photo: C. Los Productions

Photo: C. Los Productions

Wildcard! Gold Dress. Birthday extravaganza. This dress was designed by me! But I aint sew it though.  

Which one is your favorite? 

Leah V.