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Plus Size Hijabi Blogger
What’s your favorite cosmetic’s brand that I should try out next?
A woman put pig emojis under my exercise video last week. Another person commented: “I didn’t know land whales exercised.”
I find these two comments ironic. Don’t most people who care about how heavy fat people are encourage them to go to the gym? Don’t they encourage them to get active? And, then—and only then—can they live a fit and free and thin life. I was exercising for health, and still I was body shamed. Guess large people can’t do anything right. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
So, if this is the case, then why do we try so hard to fit that mold of the “good fatty”? The “agreeable fatty”. The fatty who is always trying to show others that they are indeed trying their hardest to be smaller. Shrink themselves into an oblivion. Accept Susan’s excruciating diet plan once and for all.
Seems like people who are deemed the outliers—body wise, ability wise, color wise—are always being made to feel like they could always do more to “fit in”. And, if they aren’t striving to fit the status quo then they should be made to feel shamed at every waking moment.
A revolution has begun. Where the shame has been shed like the emergence of a fat ass, bomb ass butterfly. I made a decision to stop carrying other people’s shame on my back, on my chest. I stopped cradling it like it was my newborn baby who needed to be nurtured. I plucked that shame bare, chopped it up, seasoned it, dropped that bitch in some batter and fried it.
I’m not carrying the shame others feel about my body being big and not having a thigh gap or not being able to squeeze my fat into designer fits.
This is me. Like it or not. But shame is something I will no longer carry.
With that said, I’ve found power in eating publicly. And, not just eating healthy in public, diet coke and a nice cut of salmon with greens but eating anything in public: pizza, cake, ice cream, a bucket of chicken. Whatever.
I hadn’t always been able to do that. I remember going out to eat with my thinner friends and sitting as tall as I could and making it a habit to suck my stomach in. As they ordered burgers and fries, I’d sit there starving, slowly and deliberately sipping on a diet coke with light ice. Proclaiming to the foodie universe that I was not hungry. I was not hungry. Not hungry. At all. Hunger is a mindset. A mindset that you could rewire.
I’ll never forget this thin white woman giving me unsolicited diet advice on Facebook: “The longer you just sit with your hunger, the faster it’ll just go away. Like you won’t even be hungry anymore if you just let those hunger pangs past.”
Sounds like an eating disorder to me. But, what do I know? *Hunches shoulders*
And, she’s passing it on down, spreading it just like other nasty habits that are unhealthy and degrading and problematic.
I’ve been told to eat salads instead. To not go back for seconds. To cut out sugar and cut out dairy and cut out air. LOL. I’ve been told that fat people eating makes them want to vomit. That it’s unattractive. Unappealing. Been called pigs and cows and pig-cows and fat bitches.
So, what do I do? I create a high-fashion spread…including food. McDonalds to be exact. Even though McDonald’s is eh. Fat people have been associated with this particular fast food restaurant for decades. I dive head first into any and all stigmas in order to challenge the way our minds are set up.
Some big people eat unhealthily. While others eat healthy. Some of us are in-betweenies and eat very balanced. Some thin people eat unhealthily and remain thin. Some eat healthy. Some are in-betweenies. Gasps. Just like big people! Everyone deserves to be able to nourish their bodies how they see fit. Without the shame of other’s gazes. Without having to become closet eaters. Without having to starve and wait till they get home. Without developing eating disorders.
If you feel disgusted by someone eating, then turn your face in the opposite direction. If you feel the need to degrade someone who is eating, then pinch your lips together and mind your own business. If you feel the need to spew unsolicited diet advice, then don’t.
Worry about your health and your lifestyle and your 9-5. Okurrrrrr. *Tongue pop*
That is all.
It’s been a while since we’ve got deep. I mean real deep. I’ve been in this reflective phase for the last few weeks because several important days have passed. And, it got to me to thinking about how everything that has happened which has led me to be right here, right now. I think we all have those questions floating around our heads. Especially as we age. Why am I here? What the fuck am I doing? Is this the right path to take?!?
I remember constantly asking people: can you tell me what I need to do? The good ones, the best ones, and most knowledgeable ones would tell me that they indeed cannot tell me to go right or left. That I’d have to use my skills and talents to figure that shit out. I’d sulk in my own misery. Wondering if they were indeed so great and knowledgeable, if so, then why couldn’t they just give me a straight answer and tell me WHAT I NEEDED TO DO TO GET MY LIFE TOGETHER!
Now, now, I know the answer to the question I so desperately was seeking from others. I had those answers all along. And, so do you. You just haven’t discovered it yet.
The two days in question that have me thinking so deeply was my 31st birthday and the 2nd year divorce anniversary. Which are only two weeks apart.
Because, I didn’t have any money left over and still waiting for checks to clear from my awesome yet tiring European travels, I rented a cheap hot tub and pondered what life was as a newly 31-year-old fat, Black, and Muslim woman living in the states.
It was deep. Because last year, only twelve months prior to that day, I was very down. My face in an overly spicy bowl of chili. I was more broke than I am now but also with no prospects. Everything I did seemed to fail. I threatened to quit modeling. Quit blogging. Quit it all. Just like my marriage went down. That’s how the rest of my life would follow.
The ‘You’ll never be anything without me” was finally coming into fruition.
I was afraid. But, I accepted my faith. I was going to be another soul-less professor locked in, teaching eight courses, and making student’s lives a living hell because I was unhappy. I was prepared to live life as an overly educated person working a dead-end job that hadn’t offered benefits. I mean, I still don’t have benefits but that’s another story.
What I noticed that in my own ignorance I was living comfortably in my misery and self-doubt. The world had pumped so much negativity into me that I couldn’t even see beyond it, see what others had seen in me. I was stuck in between a rock and another rock. It’s hard to be uncomfortable. Experience rejection. It’s hard to be vulnerable and to put yourself out there for everyone to dissect and gawk at.
Whoever said success, personal or financial or spiritually was easy? This shit is hard. It’s hard to look at yourself and be like: yeah, the world is fucked up, but you are your own worst critic. You are the one that’s stopping yourself from progress and greatness.
A lot of us are. And, so was I. That hurts. I know it hurt me.
Because doesn’t society already do that? Why would we want to dim our own light?
September 1, 2018. The 2nd year anniversary of our 10-year relationship. On that day, I had a podcast interview.
The interviewer asked me when was the moment that I just didn’t give a fuck anymore about people’s opinions where I’ve truly been able to become my best and true unapologetic self.
Honestly, I had many moments throughout my life where I was just like nope. I’m tired of being stereotyped and placed into these boxes. But, I thought about the end of my marriage. That was the epiphany, that ‘light bulb over the head’ moment.
“I’m afraid to leave you because you might be somebody one day,” he said. The ex. I will never, ever forget that. Ever.
That is something that I hold onto and use to push when I can’t push anymore. When I get too comfortable when in my head I know I can be greater. To prove to myself that on the other side of fear is greatness and that there is nothing behind that wall, that door, that barrier that I can’t take on.
By looking at me, you’d never know my story. You’d never imagine the things I’ve seen or the abuse I went through that still stick with me today. How much of the abuse was from myself at times.
Just in this year alone, I’ve made leaps. I’ve jumped across mountains, mentally and metaphorically. I’ve done the impossible. Without the people that I thought would, should’ve been there. I’ve broke down several times because of Imposter Syndrome and recovered. I’ve allowed myself to sit in those feelings of lowness but understand that it’s temporary.
I always get asked, “Leah V, how are so comfortable with being transparent with your life?”
Growing up, I went from being very outspoken to quiet and withdrawn to being kinda sorta outspoken to shutting up and only saying the ‘right’ things to where I am now. And, even then, I still don’t say everything that’s on my mind. I’m getting more and more comfortable with each passing day.
The reason that I’ve been through these waves of shutting up vs. not shutting up was because people always told me to be quiet.
My father, ahem, my sperm donor, because real fathers raise their children, used to always call me a ‘broken record”. Yes, he was an adult and I was a kid, but he was a liar and I knew that early on. So, in order to keep him in check, make him have accountabilty, I’d remind him of the things he promised to do. I’d give him follow up calls like a damn office assistant at the age of 8.
“You ain’t nothin but a broken record,” he said to me over the phone one day. “You always repeatin yoself.”
I was young. I didn’t have a response. But, my feelings had been hurt.
So, I stopped talking.
I noticed that when I expressed my feelings or dislike of something, people would get angry, offended, and say, “You talk too much.”
So, I stopped expressing myself and kept it all inside.
No one wanted to hear what I had to say. Nothing I had to say was of importance. And, honestly, no one cared.
I ran away to books. That way I could communicate more effectively. I could live vicariously. No, they weren’t real people, but real people sucked.
Men hated me the most. Especially Muslim men. They still do actually. HA! Before I knew what feminism was and the women’s rights movements, I was an advocate and hadn’t even known. When, I’d see something foul or oppressive towards girls or women, I’d speak out. I’d be called names like “hoe” or would hear phrases like “She doing too much” and the best, “she needs to shut up because she don’t know what she’s talking about”. And, because I was married and didn’t want to rock the boat or embarrass him, I pick and chose my battles.
Again, I was quiet.
If you think about it, for hundreds of years, people have always wanted women to shut their mouths. To be quiet. To stop complaining. To disregard their truths and traumas. To get over it. The truth is a hard pill to swallow. And, it’s easier to control someone who is willing to bury the truth. Lock it in a nice fancy box.
Other than women, do you know who the world usually loves to have shut up? Women of color. It is ingrained in us to not speak up. Out of fear that we won’t be believed anyway, because we are less than. Out of fear that there will be retaliation if we dare to open our mouths. We are called liars. We are dismissed. Even by our own.
When other people’s truths are celebrated, called brave, our voices and stories go unheard. Our truths remain silenced and bottled.
There comes a certain point where a person gets fed up. Fed up of being called a ‘broken record”. Fed up of being told that you don’t know what you are talking about. Fed up of not being believed and afraid of repercussion.
After twenty-nine years of being silenced, something marvelous happened. I got divorced and the hypothetical tape was ripped from my mouth. It hurt like hell, don’t get me wrong, but the sting was only temporary. On the other side of fear is greatness. And, my fear was being told to shut up.
I made a decision: not anymore. Not one more day will pass that I fear to speak my mind. I might not have all the answers, none of us do, but I know what I am talking about. I am not crazy, like some of them like to call women who speak their minds. We are not crazy. We’ve just transcended the oppressive societal norms that seek to silence girls.
Let’s keep the conversation going: has someone ever tried to silence you? How’d you get over your fear and start living in your truths?
The first time I went to NYC was in 2013. I had just started blogging and planned to crash New York Fashion Week. My ex, at the time, worked for an airline. So the flight was free. I packed peanut butter crackers and waters on my carry-on bag. I had about 10$ to spend on food. The crackers and water was my breakfast.
I slept in a hostel, on the top bunk, in a room filled with drifters. Each night stay was 19$. I clutched my belongings to my chest as I slept.
But, I was in New York though, and I was humbly building my brand.
The next time I visited. I was still broke. But, this time, I had met someone who offered me lodging. After the fashion show, I went to her place only to find out that her home was infested with roaches. With no money, I found a clean spot on the couch upstairs and hoped for the best.
Five years later, I was flown to New York. I had shoots set up. Meetings with brands. And video collaborations. I was being paid. No uncomfortable bunk beds or roaches or water and crackers.
For some reason social media has made life look easy. They’ve caused people to see the accomplishments without the struggle. You can question where I’ve come from or how I’ve gotten to where I am, but you cannot deny that I’ve put the work in.
At the end of the day, like my friend, Madinah says: You will NOT outwork me!
Here’s a video, proof of a fat, Black, and very Muslim Girl from Detroit against all odds in New York making a fashion video on her terms. Just as unapologetic and carefree🤸🏾♀️
Share your struggle and tell me where you are now? Let’s chat.
Location: New York
Last week, I made up my mind to stop reaching out to companies and universities. The rejection was just too much and clearly, I’m not cut out to be an entrepreneur. I planned on redoing my resume and looking for a ‘real’ job. Which is hard in itself. People aren’t hiring like that here in Detroit. I’m overqualified and they would surely underpay a creative Black girl with two masters degrees.
My heart sank as I lost a little of myself.
Last night, my sisters told me that the knowledge I have is valuable. And that I’ve worked my ass off to build a platform. She said that I give myself for free and ask for nothing in return.
Last month, I asked God, the universe to tell me what to do with tears strolling down my face. My question wasn’t answered. I contemplated doing many things that had no good in it. Things that I’d probably regret later on...
Sometimes, the answers are within us, in front of us. But, we don’t stay quiet long enough to listen.
I’ve never thought of myself as an entrepreneur. Although, I’ve always wanted to be one. So, I’m trying one more time...I won’t be working on my resume to make a random company rich. Instead, I’m launching my own. I’m launching a Blogger 101: Building an Online Presence Webinar and compiled information from how to find your niche, building an online community, social media algorithms to get your work seen, as well as reaching out to companies for collaborations.
All night, I’ve been pouring years of mistakes and lessons I wish I was told and had to learn about building an online community and social media into a legit blogging webinar. I couldn’t even fit all the knowledge into one session! I want to make this a thing y’all! I’m scared. But, I’m hopeful that you trust me to guide you in your journey of getting your business or your craft or message out there.
So, I’m gonna start with 20 spots. And, I’m gonna push until those 20 are filled this week. I’m 30 and I’m tired of struggling, negative in my bank account, and bill collectors.
Support small Black, Muslim, and female owned businesses. That’s so important right now.
So, Blogging 101: Finding Your Niche, Building Valuable Content, and Tackling Instagram is NOW available.
-One Hour Live Session (Skype/Google Hangouts)
-Topics: Utilizing social media to build your brand, what you need to start, finding your market, and unlocking Instagram’s algorithm to get your work viewed by thousands, and more...
Price: 99$ to the first 10 folks to sign-up and after that, 149$
This is not just for bloggers! It's for anyone who has a service, product, brand, and/or non-profit that they want to get out into the open. If you want to grow your business, online presence, and get your work/services seen or heard, then this webinar is for you.
*Webinar open to all countries*
Thank you in advance for supporting a fat, Black, and very Muslim entrepreneur from Detroit.
Purchase Webinar Here: https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/BeautyandtheMuse/100
I wasn’t always so transparent. Growing up I was very quiet. Always in deep thought or some imaginary land. I never said what I was thinking. When I had, my peers thought I was weird.
Then I went through a phase where I spoke a lot more. I was told that I ‘talked too much’ and that I ‘sounded like a broken recorder’. From an early age, I found out that adults needed to be reminded and that most of them lacked accountability. And, if I wanted to get things done, I had to be assertive and vocal about my needs.
In my teen years, the person I was inside hadn’t matched the outside. So, I hid within myself. I dove into writing fictional stories, that way I could live vicariously through characters, leaving the real world behind.
Years passed, and I still clung to fictional stories even as an adult. No one would accept me—the real me—if I ever spoke my truths. I’d get eaten alive by the Islamic communities and the online ones, too. For sure, I thought that no one wanted to hear anything other than what famous blogger I met in New York or what I wore that day or what lipstick I was wearing. They couldn’t possibly want to hear the ugly truths about my life. Why would they want my stories to taint the beautiful aesthetics of social media?
For years, I posted what I thought people wanted to see. They liked my fashion. Not me as a real-life person. A human being who struggled with her husband or mental illness or eating disorders. A person who struggled with a Muslim identity, a Black identity in a Eurocentric-crazed society.
One time, I posted something about body insecurities. I didn’t go into full detail or anything. I just gave Instagram a snippet into an ongoing problem in my life. Women began commenting about their own body issues, just openly sharing their stories and praising me for being honest. My inbox was flooded with more stories about the hardships of being a fat woman and how my photos gave them hope.
Even then, that wasn’t enough to get me to completely come out of my shell. I was still very much so a ‘style blogger’ who kinda-sorta talked about body stuff.
I get asked a lot how am I so comfortably transparent about my life, on the internet and in person. Especially with the rise of hardcore trolling and judgmental-ness of peers. And the fact that I am in a fat, Black Muslim body that is constantly policed more so than my counterparts. I can’t tell you how I started to become more transparent on the ‘Gram’, but I know for a fact it was in small doses at first. I didn’t just jump out there like HEY! THIS IS ME!
No. No. No. Rome wasn’t built in a day, y’all. Nor is self-discovery and acceptance.
But, on some real shit, the tipping point for me was the divorce. I most definitely 100% used the marriage as an excuse to ‘not say certain things’ that could embarrass him or the façade of perfection that he tried so hard to attain.
I felt like half a person when I wrote or shared things. Always keeping him in the back of my head. Is this appropriate? Would he be mad? Is this Islamically pleasing for me to say or post?
Transparency was a no-no. And it hurt me greatly. To be an artist is to be comfortable and transparent with your work. I was too busy trying to please others and forgot about pleasing myself. I played it safe and suffered for it.
To be transparent about my life, raw with you, the reader, the watcher is therapeutic for me as a writer. To be able to openly live in my truth is so much more rewarding than hiding my oddness. To be able to connect with a person half way across the world from a story, a photo is amazing.
Of course, I got a lot of backlash from my decision to go word-rogue and I have trolls on the daily who harass me. But, the people who I’ve touched and who have touched me through my journey is far greater than any negative thing someone says about me or my spirituality or my body.
I challenge you to live in your truth and be a little more transparent each day. You never know who will be touched by your truths.