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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
In the spring, I had this wild idea to make a solo dance video, including the elements of spoken word, model walking, and a bit of voguing. As usual, the creative budget was zero dollars. LOL. But, I believed that a fat girl dancing. A Muslim girl dancing in the streets of Detroit would make for a powerful statement, a conversation on what an American Muslim looks like? What a modern-day fat girl looks like? An overly educated black girl? I knew that if I decided to do it, that I might get backlash from the opposing side, too.
"Why is that Muslim girl dancing?!? She shouldn't be doing that. It's not Islamic!"
"She's so fat, why is she embarrassing herself?"
I put all that aside (cuz I'm grown) and danced my heart out, on and off, for about an hour in almost 90 degree weather to get these shots with my awesome and supportive team.
For me, dancing is about expression. It's about self-awareness. It's about letting go.
This video is an unveiling. Shedding the old skins of my past and just living in my truths. Living in the NOW.
It's scary. Raw. Cinematic. Bad-ass. Feminist af.
Yeah, I'm fat, Black, and very Muslim.
Do I make you uncomfortable?
10 Questions with Leah V and RV is a good time. We whipped up ten questions at the kitchen table and dumped them in a bowl. It gets real shady. You don't want to miss it.
Watch RV's version on his channel: https://youtu.be/uemgCgI9koA
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Leah V. pulled four of her random friends to have a seat on the orange couch for part one of the "How Well Do You Know Your Muslim friend?" segment..
Prior to the recording, none of them were told what they were being filmed for.
Don't forget to follow me @ LVernon2000
“The reason why your aunt can’t get a job is because she’s fat,” Mom said matter-of-factly to my younger sister and I.
In my own fat thirteen-year old body I thought, that’s not the reason why. It’s just a bad economy.
Although Mom wasn’t as big as my aunt, her weight was up and down. Mostly up. She had suffered from eating disorders for most of her life including mild anorexia. To be honest, I never really recalled Mom eating ‘real food’ like the stuff she fed us. She was a closet eater who binged on cakes and doughnuts in the privacy of her bedroom. The sheets would be riddled with crumbs and the aroma of sugary frosting lingered.
Mom showed us old photos of her younger, thinner self in the 70’s with her short shorts on, a crop top, and rocking a thick, black afro. She said proudly while pointing, “See. My thighs didn’t touch back then. When they touched, I knew that I was eating too much.” Thin was good in our house. Great even. Fat was unacceptable.
And I was fat.
My thighs touched. My belly hung over my panties. My boobs jumped when I jumped. My double chin greeted you before I was able to. My arms squeezed into jackets that didn’t stretch.
One day, I decided to turn on my own fat body. To mistreat it like it was my worst enemy. To destroy it until there was nothing left. I was tired of boys only flirting with my thin friends, I was tired of stuffing myself into jeans that only made it partially up my thick thighs, and I was sick and tired of obsessing over how other people perceived my fat ass! Am I eating too fast? Should I get the salad instead? Should I just shut up? Who wants to hear what a fattie has to say?
Scouring the latest teen fashion magazines, I ripped out dozens of pages of unrealistic supermodels, thin white actresses, and statuesque bombshells with straight teeth. I went on a rampage and started pasting them on my bedroom wall, the closet door, and around my dresser’s mirror. I wanted to see what I wasn’t, but what I could possibly be. Skinny and beautiful. Wanted and validated. Mom would be proud of me. But only if my thighs didn’t touch.
I went out and bought a pair of stylish jeans that were three sizes too small. When I got home, I placed them on a hanger and hung them on the window over my bed. Motivation. The person who could fit inside those jeans was better in some way. Outgoing. A fuckin’ boss.
I envisioned myself in those jeans every morning when I woke up before school, when I ate a handful of pretzels and drank a low-calorie drink for lunch, when I thought about having a slice of pizza, and right before I went to bed. My inability to focus and the migraines due to malnutrition didn’t matter. Nor had the churning and grinding of my empty stomach. Not even the silent late night cry sessions due to gaining a half a pound the day prior meant anything.
After five months, I had lost seventy pounds. And how things changed. Everyone was sooooo happy. It was as if I had won some sick lottery. My teachers asked me how I did it. “It’s easy,” I lied. Guys started to notice me. Girls were jealous of me. I was living the life.
At home, when the cheers died and I was all alone, I was still fat. Inside. The scale said one thing, but my mind told me another.
Losing the weight was brutal. Maintaining it was different. My antics got wilder as I scrambled to stay thin. In the morning, I’d clear my bowels and bladder, strip, and hop on the scale butt naked. If the scale was even a pound heavier, my entire day would be ruined. If the scale was in the negative, the day would be amazing because I was closer to being more skinny. I was on the no-carb diet, so I peed on a stick twice a day (sometimes three if I got crazy) to see if I was in optimal ketosis, fat burning mode. I’d chew on no-sugar sticks of gum all day to curb my appetite. I’d go through packs and packs of gum. Mom bought them in bulk from Costco. She was trying to lose weight, too. I’d strip again, in the evening, and hop on the scale. Then I’d turn on the Style Network and watch models strutting down the runway in expensive clothes and cry.
Nothing ever lasts.
For spring break, I purchased a cheap flight to my grandma’s house in the south. I finally arrived and plopped down in a chair at the kitchen table.
“What’s wrong?” she placed her palm on the small of my back.
I held back tears. I hadn’t eaten that day. “I’m just—I’m so hungry.”
She fried shrimp and baked biscuits. I ate it all. Every morsel. Felt sicker. I wasn’t used to the heaviness of food.
After that, I never stopped eating and gained the seventy pounds I’d lost, plus some.
Over the last ten years, I’d lost some and gained more. On this body awareness roller-coaster, I’ve hated my body, I’ve mistreated it, and allowed others to dictate how I felt about it. But I’ve also loved it, caressed it, celebrated it, and adorned it.
I’m at a point where I’m in complete awe of it. The way it breathes for me. Blinks for me. Allows me to type this very essay about it. I’m in love with myself and how it rolls and sways when I move. How it affects others so delightfully.
I’m happier in this fat body than I ever was trying to fit into those jeans that were three sizes too small.
My thighs touch. My belly hangs over my panties. My boobs jump when I jump. My double chin greets you before I am able to. My arms squeeze into jackets that don’t stretch.
And that is very much so acceptable.
Although, I’m not political, recent events have had some of my close friends and I in a tiff. Before the whole Trump fiasco, women’s rights have always been under attack and governed by individuals who have never been cat-called to the point of annoyance, followed around in a club because they wouldn’t provide them digits, never had cramps that twisted their insides so badly that they basically died, or had a full-on human being claw its way out of their va jay jay.
Men making certain decisions for women is like my black, Muslim ass applying for the pope’s position in the Vatican.
It ain’t gonna work.
Now, if I were a rich and powerful douchebag with no decency, I could apply, get the job, and slowly but surely begin to fuck stuff up. But then as a human being, why would I want to create life issues for another sect of people?
It’s a man’s world. *Ahem* Sorry. It’s a white man’s world. Nope. A rich white man who probably is straight and Christian’s world. I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t want someone like that making decisions about my reproductive health.
We are in dire need of a more diverse panel. Sorry not sorry.
And this isn’t a bash white people post. This is a bash-all-men-and-women-who-support-unequal-systems-put-in-place-by-the-powers-that-be post.
Feminism. The word most men cringe when they hear. I’ve gotten soooo much bullshit for saying I’m a feminist, especially because I’m Muslim. That makes it three times worst.
I was on a date with this African guy. Topic: dynamics between men and women. I like a good debate once in a while.
“You sound like a feminist,” he said.
“I am a feminist,” I replied.
His brows raised. But he hadn’t said anything else.
After a few seconds of silence. I countered, “I’m a humanist.”
He offered a sigh of relief. “That’s a better answer.”
WTF. Needless to say, he got dumped.
I was chatting with this white non-Muslim guy. “That’s great that you’re Muslim and a feminist. It’s just so sad how they oppress their women.”
After I schooled him about how ‘men’ in general oppress women, he got dropped like a hot sack of shit.
The last straw was another guy who said, “I mean, I get feminism, but they just hate men and they take stuff too far, ya know?”
No, I don’t know. BYEEEEEE!
Not only do non-Muslims have stigmas attached to feminism but Muslims do as well. Bad. I’ve heard Muslim men and women say that feminism isn’t Islamic. Pump the breaks. Equality isn’t Islam? Oppression isn’t spoken about as something that is wrong in Islam?
Feminism doesn’t mean hatred of men. Feminism isn’t just for lesbians. Feminism doesn’t only equate to showing your tits, growing your underarm hair, or being white. Of course, there are extreme feminists out there who may or may not fit those above stereotypes, but to each its own. You can be Muslim and feminist. I am. And I know others who are, too. And it doesn’t compromise my Islam, it actually makes it stronger.
Being a feminist means that you want the right to be who you want to be, whether that’s Muslim or atheist or Jew. It means the right to make equal pay as a man or a white woman, to have a say-so over what happens to your body, whether that’s abortion or having multiple children. It’s not about being right or wrong. Or good or evil. We have a God given right to make decisions for ourselves. That’s not too much to ask.
It's been a hot minute since, I've done a video. But, I'm kinda, sorta back. We'll see how it goes! Haha. But today, I'll be talking about Brazilian waxing. And my oh-so-crazy experience. Enjoy and let me know what your thoughts are on the video!