MARRIAGE: On Instagram, Comparisons, and #RelationshipGoals

These past few months have been pretty sad and surprising for celebrity marriages: from talks of marriage trouble to official statements of divorce from widely admired couples like Ben Affleck & Jennifer Garner, and Blake Shelton & Miranda Lambert. There has been a collective gasp at the realization that these marriages have come to an end.

On various social media sharing sites & apps, particularly on Instagram, I have noticed an interesting hashtag consistently gaining ground: “#RelationshipGoals”. Social media users post pictures of couples they admire (overwhelmingly celebrity couples), and use the hashtag. It’s supposed to mean that those relationships are aspirational, that they are the blueprint, that they are darn near perfect.

What makes this hashtag so sad, for me, is that we never know what goes on behind the closed doors of others – particularly of celebrities. We see two well-dressed and often attractive people with a (usually) great deal of wealth and/or fame, and assume that their relationship is so great!

What’s worse is that, by our desire, we are demonstrating that we choose looks, wealth, and fame over the things that should be our real #RelationshipGoals: a love that has anchors & roots; perseverance & commitment to one another; a love/friendship that transforms and challenges us to be better; love that is kind, patient, and true.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all saying that these couples don’t have that. Not at all! They just might! What I am saying is that the reason we put these couples on a pedestal is likely not because of these qualities: it’s often because of something very superficial.
So, next time you admire a couple and make them your #RelationshipGoal, ask yourself why!
Better yet, make your own marriage your own #RelationshipGoal by planting the right seeds in your own backyard, watering them, and watching them grow. Let the grass be greener on your own side of the fence, and let others worry about theirs.

The Journey to Beautiful Series: Eniola Tamara Sokoya

The Journey to Beautiful Interview Series is a celebration of influential and inspiring African women across the globe. Its aim is to teach every woman to define beauty on her own terms, to live purposefully & powerfully, to accept what makes her truly unique, and to fall in love with all of who she is.

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NAME: Eniola Tamara Sokoya
AGE: 25
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN/HERITAGE: Nigeria
LOCATION: London, UK
WHY YOU HAVE TO KNOW HER: “Spunk” is the first word that comes to mind, when I think about Eniola Sokoya. You know that young woman who inspires you simply by being confident in who she is and making her dreams real? Eniola is just that girl! With a quickly rising accessories online boutique, Accessories Room, Eniola is sharing her fearless determination and confidence with the world. Encouraging all women to be “bold & brazen” and to “express their individuality”, Accessories Room sells carefully curated and hand-picked accessories for the discerning shopper. With their new SOLO bracelet collection, Eniola & Accessories Room are taking things one step further: not just selling great products, but creating them – and, oh so amazingly!
From Eniola, I learn that self-confidence and hard work can take me everywhere.
 

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WHO DO YOU SAY YOU ARE? 
I am simply a girl, maybe I should say young woman now that I’m 25, who refuses to take, “No!” for an answer. I believe that’s how I was able to start Accessories Room. I’m a dreamer at heart, who is really focused on making my dreams an actuality. I would definitely say I am headstrong and sure of my capabilities. Spirited and confident in myself, I am definitely a lover of life. I can smile for England: it’s just a way of life for me and has opened more doors than I probably know. I’m fiercely loyal to family, and can count my true friends on one hand. I’m a deep lover of fashion – the business side of it but also the fantasy. I would love to call myself a fashionista; but, these days. I just want to be a purveyor of a ‘very carefully edited wardrobe’. 
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PHYSICAL FEATURES?
This question is so awkward to answer without sounding conceited!  I have a really small waist, so it cuts a great silhouette in a dress, if I say so myself. On a less shallow note, I love my eyes; they are slightly almond shaped and is probably half the reason why people say I am so expressive.
WHAT NON-PHYSICAL TRAITS DO YOU MOST LOVE ABOUT YOURSELF?
I would have to say my perseverance, which encompasses everything. Perseverance with my hustle, with my career, with people I love. I think this would explain how I naturally have quite high drive and lots of patience.  I just have the self-belief that I can do anything I set my mind to, with God’s help. With that said, it’s all about timing.
What I love about perseverance is that it’s so infectious; without knowing it, you are spreading it, wanting others around you to reach their potential. There is no greater feeling than to know that you have done your best and helped others to do the same.  

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WHAT PHYSICAL AND NON-PHYSICAL TRAITS HAVE YOU MOST STRUGGLED TO ACCEPT? HAVE YOU OVERCOME THAT STRUGGLE?   HOW?
In terms of physical traits that I am not happy with, I do have one or two, but I try as much as possible not to dwell on them and give them room in my mind to grow. I am just learning to accept that my external self is just that: external! It has no reflection on who I am as a person. We, as women, should be less judgmental with ourselves. God made us all perfect in our own ways. I learn to love myself always, flaws included. That being said and without oversharing, I pretty much live at my waxer’s beauty studio. I have an unhealthy obsession with being smooth… is that normal? Haha!
In terms of non-physical terms, I have struggled to learn to speak up for myself. Basically, I have always been too nice. In recent years, I have definitely learnt that saying ‘No’ is OK and also confrontation is not always a bad thing. Overcoming this problem came when, one day, my mum sat me down and told me that not saying anything can, sometimes, be a disservice to myself. After that day, everything changed.
HOW HAS YOUR FATHER INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU SEE YOURSELF?
My Dad, in my childhood, instilled the value of always doing my best. I think it was from him that I learnt that you can always be proud of your effort when you apply yourself. I saw myself as bright and able because that’s what he saw in me. It was in his absence, however, that I was taught me another skill: to be independent. to be confident , to be sharp.
I never thought I wasn’t good enough, because I always had positive affirmations in the home, from both my parents. I always thought of myself as an achiever. I thank them for that.
WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST FEARS?
My greatest fear is being truly alone. There is something so unsettling about that thought. Having no one to share life experiences with is something I would rather not imagine.
Not achieving my ordained potential is another thing that also scares me. But in all these fears, I do believe in a God that only wants the best concerning me. I am at ease.    
WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST JOYS?
Watching my younger sister blossom is one of my greatest joys. She is my best friend so being there to see her grow into the wise and intelligent person I knew she always was she makes me happy. She is so unlike me in her zest for life and her fearlessness. She teaches me the importance of living every day to its fullest … I think she calls it #NoBadDays.
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WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS?
Taking that brave step and venturing out into the unknown with Accessories Room. Lots of people said it couldn’t be done. As soon as the website went live, it was one of my proudest moments. All the stress and wondering whether it would work slowly became secondary, because, in that moment, I had fulfilled a dream. It’s such a great feeling. Since then, Accessories Room has designed its own jewelry in-house. We launched our own line of bracelets called the  ‘SOLO’ that I am really excited about. Watching my small boutique grow in baby steps daily makes me very happy and thankful.
WHEN DO YOU FEEL MOST BEAUTIFUL?
There is a lyric by Drake that came to mind when I read this question. On his song ‘Best I Ever Had’, he says, “Sweatpants, hair-tied, chilling with no make up on, That’s when your prettiest, I hope that you don’t take it wrong”. Yes, I agree I feel beautiful in scenarios like this, but it can be so much more complex than that. The honest truth is that I feel beautiful in MORE ways than that. I feel beautiful when I overcome my struggles, I feel beautiful when I’m slaying it in my favourite dress and I feel beautiful when I mature as a woman. I guess I treat beautiful as an emotion; to me, it comes in waves.  
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR OWN VERSION OF “BEAUTIFUL”?
Beautiful to me is that ‘sparkle’ or ‘glitter’ inside every person that colours their personality. 
WHAT DO YOU DO TO STAY BEAUTIFUL, AS YOU’VE DEFINED IT?
I try to work on being the best possible ‘me’, starting from the inside. I also embrace the power of femininity as I feel that, in itself, is very beautiful. 
WHICH “BEAUTIFUL” WOMEN INSPIRE YOU MOST?
My mum, for being the shining example in all ways. She is the most beautiful woman I know. Her strength in character is what I try to emulate daily. She is one of the only women I know who can balance a home and a business in 5-inch heels; that is how flawless she is! I look to her as an example of grace and decorum. I mirror her in everything; she teaches me about life, love and business. She is the perfect example of beauty! I am honoured that I can call her my mother.  

eni black drress

 


 

Stay updated with everything Eniola & Accessories Room. Follow her here:
Facebook: Accessories Room
Instagram: AccessoriesRm
Twitter: @AccessoriesRm
Website: www.accessoriesroom.co.uk

 

Read more “Journey to Beautiful Features” here: The Journey to Beautiful Series

Are you an inspiring & influential African woman interested in a “Journey to Beautiful” Feature? E-mail me for consideration: chioma dot onyewuchi at hotmail dot com with subject “Journey to Beautiful”.

The Journey to Beautiful Series: Kaliné Akinkugbe

The Journey to Beautiful Interview Series is a celebration of influential and inspiring African women across the globe. Its aim is to teach every woman to define beauty on her own terms, to live purposefully, to accept what makes her truly unique, and to fall in love with all of who she is.

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NAME:  Kaliné Akinkugbe
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN/HERITAGE: Nigeria
LOCATION: New York, USA  
WHY YOU HAVE TO KNOW HER: Real music is NOT dead!! I’ve heard so many people complain that the music industry is full of recycled sounds, meaningless words, dangerous messages, disgustingly vulgar men, and depressing women obsessed with baring their bodies like it’s the only thing they have to offer the world. But no, real music is NOT dead!!! You know why? It’s because people like Kaliné exist.
With a voice as smooth as butter, her music gets under your skin and into your heart – and lingers and lingers, until you fall in love with music again. It’s amazing!!
Instantly recognizable with hair that swells with as much beauty as her talent does, you can often find her lugging her giant piano in style. With an amazingly chic, yet vintage-eclectic style, Kaliné is a sight to behold.
Most importantly, though, it’s the heart and intense purpose she puts into her music that make her truly unforgettable. Determined to stay exactly who she is, and make meaningful music, Kaliné has cut through the noise of those who would try to put her into a box, by releasing her own music independently. Created as a visual and music series with a story, she has created The Fires of Red. The series tells the stories of 5 young people in the modern world, navigating life and love, with each chapter being the inspiration for a new, amazing song. You HAVE to check it out! (Plus, aren’t her illustrations pretty great? This girl has talent oozing out of every pore!)
Your heart will break as you listen to her lend her voice to the #BringBackOurGirls campaign through music, asking that the 234 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram be brought home immediately. (Find the video at the end of the interview below.)
Beauty and purpose, heart and talent, with single-minded conviction, Kaliné is someone I’d love to sit and have lunch with.
 

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WHO DO YOU SAY YOU ARE? 
In ‘bigger picture’ terms, I am a sonic messenger with the intention to promote and embody authenticity by telling thoughtful stories (through music) that connect people, and especially empowers them to embrace their truest self.  
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PHYSICAL FEATURES?
I didn’t always like my legs, as they are disproportionate to the rest of my body; but, over the years, I have learned to embrace them and they have now become a feature I love to show off tastefully. I also love my natural hair.  
WHAT NON-PHYSICAL TRAITS DO YOU MOST LOVE ABOUT YOURSELF?
I’ve been told I’m a very good listener a number of times. I really value that, because I know how important it is to have friends you can confide in – knowing that they are really listening attentively and holding on to every word, and are eager to give advice or share their opinion. I’ve been in situations where I’ve met people on a long train journey and they end up telling me their life story. Haha! I believe that finding someone that you can share stories with, bounce ideas off, get advice from, or even vent to, is very important and I’m so glad that I can be that person to a healthy number of my friends and family.  

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WHAT PHYSICAL AND NON-PHYSICAL TRAITS HAVE YOU MOST STRUGGLED TO ACCEPT? HAVE YOU OVERCOME THAT STRUGGLE?   HOW?
On both sides of my family, we have large noses. I won’t say I’ve necessarily struggled to accept mine but I’m very quick to slim it down with makeup tricks for photoshoots and stage performances. I wouldn’t change it though. It works with my face. In terms of nonphysical traits, I’d definitely say I get quite anxious about my career, my goals, expectations for my life and I’ve really had to learn to trust in God when I feel things aren’t going the way I’ve planned. Realizing that timing is everything and that patience is important helps me to calm down a little.
HOW HAS YOUR FATHER INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU SEE YOURSELF?
My father rarely calls me by my name. It’s always “Princess this, Princess that!”. What better way to see yourself through your fathers’ eyes than as royalty?  
WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST FEARS?
Just one. My greatest fear is not fulfilling what I am created to do. A close friend once told me that our dreams and our aspirations are not just for us to live and enjoy… they are tied to other people. I know it sounds like a lot of pressure but I think it’s a great way to see our lives. If we live knowing that what we do and the choices we make will affect the people around  us (and even people we may never meet), I think that’s a good way to measure purpose and success.     
WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST JOYS?
I take pride in the fact that I have a good idea of how I want to live my life and what I want to stand for many years after I’m gone. A lot of people spend a huge portion of their life trying to discover their true calling and I’m just blessed to be pretty clear so early on. It is wonderful to have God as an anchor who constantly guides my thoughts and decisions.
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WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS?
There are several that I would love to mention but I think my most recent accomplishment was deciding to release a collection of songs that I produced and recorded myself. I got so tired of waiting for the right producers to take an interest in my work/my sound and figuring out the best way to get the funding I needed to make a ‘perfect’ album. So between February 1st and the 14th this year, I digitally released 14 songs as part of an art and music project called ‘The Fires Of Red: Season One’. The Episodic structure of the album revolves around a modern drama told through dialogue and artwork by me.
WHEN DO YOU FEEL MOST BEAUTIFUL?
I feel most beautiful when I am among people I love and who love me right back.  
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR OWN VERSION OF “BEAUTIFUL”?
In my opinion, beauty comes down to self-love and love for others. If these things are being worked at, beauty just glows from within. I say it’s more about how a person makes you feel as opposed to how they look – it has to do with a lasting impression after they have left your immediate vicinity. In the deeper sense, Beauty shouldn’t ever have to be explained with physical attributes: it should be more about a feeling. It should be something particularly the inner/sacred self should aspire to.   
WHAT DO YOU DO TO STAY BEAUTIFUL, AS YOU’VE DEFINED IT?
By reading the Word of God daily and trying very hard to walk in his ways in everything I do. By being more compassionate towards others and understanding that we all have our own paths, that a lot of our struggles and challenges are similar and that we all need each other.  

 

WHICH “BEAUTIFUL” WOMEN INSPIRE YOU MOST?
My grandmothers, My mother, Oprah Winfrey, Benazir Bhutto, to name a few.   

 

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Stay updated with everything Kaliné. Follow her here:
Facebook: Kaline Official
Instagram: KalineOfficial
Twitter: @KalineA
Website: www.kalineofficial.com
YouTube: youtube.com/kalineofficial 
SoundCloud: www.soundcloud.com/kalineofficial
Current Music Project: www.TheFiresofRed.com

 

 

 


 Are you an inspiring & influential African woman interested in a “Journey to Beautiful” Feature? E-mail me for consideration: chioma dot onyewuchi at hotmail dot com with subject “Journey to Beautiful”.

Self-care Ritual: (B)reathe!

If there’s one thing so many of us take for granted, it’s our breaths. For me, I can’t think about breathing in the same way anymore: taking deep breaths during pregnancy-induced contractions has gotten me through 2 drug-free labors and the delivery of my babies.
For most of us, breathing is something we just do, without thought. We breathe without the realization that there is far more power and intention behind that simple action than we think. It’s amazing how God uses the seemingly simple things to achieve wonderful feats.

divalocity: Beautifully Captured by Jean Baptiste Soulliat: Model Grace BolPhoto Credit: Jean Baptiste Soulliat

When we take slow, deep breaths deliberately – instead of the shallow, quick breaths we usually take in this fast-paced world – especially during moments of tension, stress, or anxiety, it’s remarkable how different we feel. We instantly feel much better.
Taking deep breaths can lower blood pressure and make us feel less anxious. Ultimately, it relieves stress.
So, when you’re going through a moment of stress or anxiety, take a few minutes and just breathe – slowly and deliberately. Better yet, make it a practice to breathe slowly during non-stressful situations; that way, when you face stressful situations, you know exactly how to handle them.

{Image Credit: La Muse Noire}

Why Singer/Actress Brandy INSPIRES Me More Than Any Other Celebrity This Year

I have been a fan of Brandy for a very long time. As a singer-songwriter & vocalist, Brandy has been called the “Vocal Bible” by many (both fans and peers alike), because her vocal prowess is pure excellence. In addition to being one of the most powerful singers of her generation, she has broken through glass ceilings for brown-skinned young women and women of color in several ways.
Starring as the first ever black Cinderella, alongside the irreplaceable Whitney Houston, made many young brown-skinned girls feel seen and deserving of their own Prince Charming. Her amazing performance is still so incredibly fresh in my memory, from my years as a young girl, that I can still sing several songs from that production. In addition to her turn as Cinderella, she was the darling of so many families as Moesha in the sitcom, Moesha.

Brandy’s influence was so great that the toy giant, Mattel, was motivated to memorialize her through a Brandy doll in 1999. Astounded by the success of the dolls, Mattel created a staggering 4 more Brandy doll editions. They became some of the highest-selling toys for the company.
Life, however, is often a roller coaster ride – full of the highest highs and the lowest lows. After lower-than-anticipated album sales in 2004, tragedy really struck in 2006, when Brandy was involved in a vehicular line-up on a highway that claimed the life of a woman. Though investigations cleared Brandy of wrongdoing, the reality of the woman’s death and the surrounding circumstances plunged Brandy into a deep depression.

Fully recovered since, and back to creating music, and acting on the big & small screen (most notably playing Chardonnay Pitts on the Mara Akil-created The Game on BET), Brandy is now breaking new ground on Broadway as the iconic character “Roxie Hart” in Chicago. She recently sat down with the magazine, Uptown, for an incredibly inspiring interview.

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For me, the mark of a great interview is that it feels intimate, inspires, and challenges me. This interview did all that – so much that ever since I read this interview a few days ago, it has stayed with me and challenged me to live my life in a similar way. Here are some excerpts:

 

“Brandy, 36, relishes the current movement in her life because earlier this year she felt stagnant. The actress had wrapped filming in Atlanta for the ninth and final season of the popular BET series, The Game, where she was a fan favorite as the lovable, hood bartender turned football wife Chardonnay Pitts (for which she won a 2014 NAACP Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy). But once back in Los Angeles, Brandy began feeling anxious and unsure. She found herself questioning her future. Unfortunately, this feeling of insecurity was not new to her. After a parade of hit songs, multi-platinum albums, hit movies, a lucrative Covergirl contract and even a Mattel Brandy doll in the 90s, her career took an unfortunate turn in 2004. Her third album, Afrodisiac, a creative collaboration between her and super-producer Timbaland failed to catch fire. Then her life completely spiraled: while driving home on the evening of Dec. 30, 2006. Brandy’s Range Rover struck a car on L.A.’s 405 Freeway resulting in the death of the woman driving it. She was not charged for the crash, but she did reportedly pay settlements to the family of the deceased woman and other drivers. Because of the incident and the uncertainty of the situation, she was replaced by Sharon Osbourne for the second season of America’s Got Talent. After the accident, Brandy fell into a deep depression. “I was asking what have I done wrong and what am I not doing?” Brandy remembers. “When you are at that type of low, your whys come in a lot of different ways. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to do anything. I really stopped dreaming.” When she began to experience similar feelings of doubt and symptoms of depression earlier this year, she knew something had to change. And those who know her well knew it too.

 

“I told her, ‘Bran, you just have to do the work,’” says Keisha Epps, wife of actor Omar Epps and a former member of 90s Bad Boy Records R&B group Total. She has known Brandy for nearly a decade and is one of her closest friends. “There is nothing to analyze. Just do the work.” Talking over the phone, Epps says Brandy repeated her advice out loud, and told her, “I am going to do the work,” and then hung up. The work included daily spiritual, mental and physical practices. “I made up my mind to be the best version of myself and I kept affirming every day that I’m getting ready for something,” Brandy recalls. “I did not know what it was, but I knew God had something for me that I’m getting ready for.” A few months after Brandy’s decision to move forward and focus, her agents called asking if she was interested in starring in Chicago.”

………..

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“The actress Tasha Smith is one of Brandy’s best friends and also her acting coach and she says that Brandy is more than a talented and successful entertainer. “I have seen Brandy on the verge of giving up because of her fears, insecurities and rejection,” says Smith, who was the one who convinced Brandy to take the role on The Game. “Sometimes we get in our own heads and make ourselves draw back and not move forward. She went through what every young woman goes through. How am I going to reinvent myself? How do I get to the point where people accept me where I am now? Brandy’s story is universal and it’s about overcoming, and about not giving up. If Brandy had given up, she would not be starring on Broadway right now. and she will not have a new television series on BET (in September she begins filming the sitcom Zoe Ever After starring as a newly-divorced single mom and cosmetics mogul looking for love).

“And I have seen her fight for her life,” continues Smith. “She is a warrior and she won’t quit. I feel her overall story is showing every woman that if you press pass the obstacle, you will see the miracle.””

 


Even though the philosophies shared by Brandy in this interview tie in with what I have always believed, there is something in it that just makes me believe even more implicitly. Reading this couldn’t have come at a more perfect time, because I have been meditating on what it would be like to approach life and the things we want to achieve as a daily journey.
If I woke up each day, and focused only on who I needed to be and what I need to do on that day, the journey would definitely be far simpler and much more purposeful. What would it look like for me to wake up and decide that today, I want to be the best woman, wife, mother, entrepreneur, editor, sibling, daughter, etc.? What would it look like for me to let go of every other day in the future and focus on being the best, most godly version of who I should be just for today?
I am really challenged by the idea of doing the work daily in all aspects of our lives. Brandy shared that she does the work daily in the (1) physical (2) mental & (3) spiritual aspects of her life. She exercises daily & eats clean, healthy meals (physical); affirms herself daily & reportedly doesn’t watch much television, because she knows that “her mind is a garden” and is vigilant about what she allows in (mental/spiritual); and takes time to pray and meditate daily (spiritual).
I absolutely want to be committed to doing the work in every aspect of my life everyday.
(Make sure to read the full article at Uptown!)

Self-care Ritual: (A)ffirm Yourself

Let’s talk about the A to Zs of how we can really take care of ourselves – body, mind, and spirit, because we so often forget how to.

 

One of the most important ways we can care for ourselves is by being self-affirming.
Affirming ourselves means that we point out the positive and beautiful things in ourselves – even saying them out loud.
Before we start each day, let’s take some time to declare positive things about ourselves, even when they might be the opposite of how we truly feel.

ELLE

Start the day by looking in the mirror, and declaring,
“I love you!
You are beautiful.
You are confident.
You are purposeful.
You are joyful.
You are God’s masterpiece.
When God made you, He declared you perfect.
You can do all things through Christ, who gives you strength.
You will accomplish amazing things today.
You were made for miracles.”
Don’t forget to affirm yourself. You are so worth it! Your words create your universe in more ways than you know.

{Image via KellyRowland.com}

SPIRIT: What Have You Outgrown?

A few days ago, as I came into the living room, I heard some familiar voices. I looked up at the TV, and realized that my mom was watching a show I hadn’t watched in years and years, America’s Next Top Model. Now one of the most successfully exported shows on television, the show has been replicated in over 30 countries!!! Clearly, Tyra Banks put together a truly “bankable” production.
Television success aside, while watching the show, I quickly came to the realization that I have completely outgrown America’s Next Top Model, and shows of that kind. As I watched girls prance around in their best model poses and walks, I realized that that was not my definition of glamorous anymore – and it hasn’t been in a long time. As I heard girls being “critiqued” by Tyra, her fellow judges, and fashion designers, I realized that I have no stomach for that kind of talk anymore. As I listened to them tell one girl that she “should be taller”; tell another that she “doesn’t have the right body for their swimsuit campaign”; and tell yet another that her “look is boring”, I realized that I had outgrown it all.

I don’t operate in that kind of space anymore, and even watching things like that for fun just isn’t fun anymore. As a 28 year old woman, wife, mother, and purposeful world-changer, I’ve noticed that the journey God is taking me on has led me to shed a number of things I might have enjoyed in the past. Plus, as a genuine believer in the fact that God made every woman beautiful in her own uniqueness and purpose, I am now truly uncomfortable when I witness things that stand contrary to that belief – even if they are make-believe.
Watching that show yesterday reminded me of how much I am truly growing, and makes me excited about the tremendous growth that awaits in the future. Please understand that if you truly enjoy ANTM, that is perfectly fine. ;) God is taking you on your own journey, as He is taking me on mine, and that may mean that you and I have different priorities.
So, taking stock of where you are now, and what your thoughts are, my question is, What have you outgrown?  Are you thinking in the same way you’ve always thought, or are you truly moving forward in a healthy and transformational way?

SPIRIT: When You’re Certain Your Big Break SHOULD Have Happened By Now

If there’s one trait that connects us as human beings, it’s definitely impatience! We’ve always wanted to get our prize and treasure right! now!! And it’s only getting much much worse. We are truly the “microwave generation” – expecting to throw our meals into the machine, and receive a hot and ready meal in less than 10 minutes. From Instant Messaging to Instagramming, we’re always trying to get it all out right now.
Unfortunately, life just doesn’t work that way – even when we think it does. Forget all the conversations about overnight success and instant phenoms. There’s no such thing. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen an old movie, and noticed that one of the people considered one of the “biggest movie stars in the world” has been grinding it out for ages & ages. I’ve noticed some of the current, “biggest” names as little more than extras in their early roles, or as child actors still finding their way, or simply making cameos.
The thing is that we’re often not interested in hearing about the behind-the-scenes stories, or the before-I-became-who-I-am-today stories. Somehow, it’s far more glamorous for us to hear the stories of what we consider “success” now. In our minds, we seem to assume that people just wake up and have a huge bounty waiting for them. Thankfully, life doesn’t work that way – and GOD certainly doesn’t work that way.
divalocity:Madisin Bradley for Martha Stewart Weddings Spring 2015Photo by Matthew Scrivens

Image via LaMuseNoire.tumblr.com; Shot by Madisin Bradley for Martha Stewart Weddings

It’s ironic to talk about being grateful or thankful about waiting, isn’t it? Like everyone else, I too have a timeline of expectations, dreams, and desires that I expect to have become a total reality by now. Like everyone else, I absolutely have moments of struggle in which I question God’s plans and ask Him why important things take so darn long! Yet, I keep learning & re-learning that, for real, He knows exactly what He is doing – much more than I ever could. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that God’s timing is always absolute perfection: it’s never too early & it’s never too late. Plus, He keeps us in the waiting room to teach us important lessons that we need for the journey forward, like: discipline & commitment; organization & timeliness; empathy & compassion; focus & single-mindedness; faith & conviction. These are lessons we could never ever learn if we didn’t have to wait, if we didn’t have to build on the foundations of what we have and where we are now.
So, when you’re certain your big break should have happened by now, just surrender. Let go of that timeline of expectation, and just know that your current assignment has 2 parts: trust Him completely; and be completely diligent in the work you are doing where you are. The rest … well, it will be ready exactly when it’s supposed to be – and not a second too late. :)

The Journey to Beautiful Series: Mammypi

The Journey to Beautiful Interview Series is a celebration of influential and inspiring African women across the globe. Its aim is to teach every woman to define beauty on her own terms, to live purposefully, to accept what makes her truly unique, and to fall in love with all of who she is.

 

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NAME:  Hilda Awambeng 
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN/HERITAGE: Cameroon
LOCATION: London, UK  
WHY YOU HAVE TO KNOW HER: One of the traits that always inspires me is relentlessness. When I come across a woman who is single-minded in her focus, and relentless in the pursuit of her goals, I sit up and pay attention. Hilda Awambeng, or Mammypi as she prefers to be called, is just such a woman. She pursues her goals, in spite of what others may consider obstacles or setbacks.
Coming from Cameroonian journalistic royalty (her family founded the country’s first English language newspaper, Cameroon Post), it is clear that media and entrepreneurship are in her blood. With her company, Mammypi, she has created a fashion blog, and an online shop for fashion, beauty, and luxury accessories with literally over tens of thousands of followers and customers – all from scratch!!!
If she doesn’t inspire you, I wonder who will.

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WHO DO YOU SAY YOU ARE? 
I am a little complex mixture. I was christened Hilda, but I prefer to be referred to as Mammypi. Mammypi was a childhood alias which I grew up to cherish as I was fondly called by friends and family. I am a fashion blogger and a digital influencer. I enjoy playing dress up and pairing outfits together to create different looks. My style is minimal, on-trend and thoughtfully accessorised. I enjoy online shopping, as it is easier to browse the online racks without walking up and down the store and still not finding what you want.
Fashion to me is a means of telling my story through my outfits. Styling myself draws me to a beautiful world where there is no pain. I am rubbish at makeup, but not really bothered about it as I am most happy in my own skin.
Fashion picked me. I never set out to be a fashionista. However, from a very early age, I can recall many of my close family and friends always spoke about my ease with style. Throughout university and into adulthood, it has been the same story. So, blending my media background and interest in style, I set out to set up Mammypi. Since I started the journey in 2012, I have never looked back. Mammypi is growing daily as the readership and popularity continues to spread. 
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PHYSICAL FEATURES?
I think my legs are off the meters. They are long and sleek.  However, I also get a good amount of compliments on my hair & fingers – but I never dwell on them. 

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“Fashion is a means of telling my story through my outfits. Styling myself draws me to a beautiful world where there is no pain. I am rubbish at makeup, but not really bothered about it as I am most happy in my own skin.”


WHAT NON-PHYSICAL TRAITS DO YOU MOST LOVE ABOUT YOURSELF?
Always putting others first, even when I have my own issues to deal with, is always very fulfilling to me. Sometimes, it is looked upon as a weakness, but I prefer to see it as a gift. 

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WHAT PHYSICAL AND NON-PHYSICAL TRAITS HAVE YOU MOST STRUGGLED TO ACCEPT? HAVE YOU OVERCOME THAT STRUGGLE?   HOW?
I suffer sometimes from acne which could be very depressing. When I have very severe episodes of the condition, it steals away my joy – though I never let anyone see. It could be very hard to deal with a skin condition, especially when you have something like acne. People tend to judge you based on a condition that is beyond your control.  Because this is a hormonal issue and there is very little I can do as a person apart from seek clinical help, I  can only live my life and hope my dermatologist can figure out a long-term solution. This to me is a very minor issue compared to what others are facing in life.

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“It could be very hard to deal with a skin condition, especially when you have something like acne. People tend to judge you based on a condition that is beyond your control. I  can only live my life and hope my dermatologist can figure out a long-term solution. This to me is a very minor issue compared to what others are facing in life.


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HOW HAS YOUR FATHER INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU SEE YOURSELF?
My father is my hero and one of the most intelligent and influential people in my life. He stretches my imagination each day and is the most honest and fun man in my life. My father has taught me to go out and make things happen. His motto is “Knowledge is power” & “I am who I am”.
I grew up hearing this from him all my life. He is a true believer in education and self-belief. If you don’t believe in yourself, there is no way  the next person can believe in you. And education to him is everything.  I am the person I am today, because of my dad’s voice in my head. I am not afraid of how the world perceives me, because I am who I am and I can only do my best. I am continuously looking for new ways to reinvent myself and inspire my fans, as there are many young girls in our communities who need someone to look up to.

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WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST FEARS?
The loss of a loved one will break my heart. I fear nothing like saying goodbye to someone close to my heart. The fear of the unknown also threatens my existence. Knowing we currently live in a world of insecurities where we don’t really know the next person sitting next to us bothers me.   

“I am the person I am today, because of my dad’s voice in my head. I am not afraid of how the world perceives me, because I am who I am and I can only do my best.”


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WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST JOYS?
My family gives me utter joy. I am blessed with four brothers, a sister, plus my lovely parents. My siblings are so supportive of everything I do and it is a real blessing to know I have such strong support network I can always count on. 
WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS?
Apart from my academic qualifications, I am proud to say one of my most precious accomplishments is Mammypi. I made Mammypi happen with a bang. Working with a team of people I have never met, who are all based in India, has been a great accomplishment to me. Sometimes, it can be stressful, but with the quality of work I get and the very positive feedback from the public, I feel blessed to have laid the foundation of my legacy. 

 

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WHEN DO YOU FEEL MOST BEAUTIFUL?
When there is joy in & peace in my heart, my beauty transcends boundaries.  
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR OWN VERSION OF “BEAUTIFUL”?
My definition of “beauty” is self-confidence. Someone who believes in themselves and can influence others. That, to me, is “Beautiful”. Beautiful is not the amount of make up or expensive fashion items we wear. It is perceiving your innermost being as beautiful, and relaying that in how you comport your self amongst others.  
WHAT DO YOU DO TO STAY BEAUTIFUL, AS YOU’VE DEFINED IT?
Staying true to my beliefs and not trying to be someone else.   

“My definition of “beauty” is self-confidence. Beautiful is not the amount of make up or expensive fashion items we wear. It is perceiving your innermost being as beautiful.”


WHICH “BEAUTIFUL” WOMEN INSPIRE YOU MOST?
In pop culture, there is a catalogue of amazing women I always refer to when needed. Celebrities like Jada Pinkett-Smith, Oprah Winfrey, Taraji P.Henson, but most importantly my grand mum.  

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Stay updated with everything Mammypi. Follow her here:
Facebook: Mammypi & Fashion
Instagram: Mammypi
Twitter: @Mammypi
Website: www.mammypi.com

 Are you an inspiring & influential African woman interested in a “Journey to Beautiful” Feature? E-mail me for consideration: chioma dot onyewuchi at hotmail dot com with subject “Journey to Beautiful”.

Nigerian-Ghanaian Author Taiye Selasi Writes Book about “Loving Your Curls” for Dove Hair Care

In totally amazing news, Dove (the skin and hair care company & a subsidiary of Unilever) teamed up with Nigerian-Ghanaian author, Taiye Selasi, to create a book of poems encouraging girls and women to love their curls. Aptly titled Love Your Curls, the best-selling author of Ghana Must Go created the poems in the book, based on stories and messages from real-life women & girls with curly hair.
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Image via Jaipurliteraturefestival.org

 

As a woman of African descent with tightly coiled hair, Selasi stated that she could relate to the struggles of natural curlies, who had to learn to love their unique curly hair, in a world that glorifies straight strands. I love this Instagram post by her that beautifully sums up the journey she’s on.

In an interview with Essence, Taiye shared some details about her journey to learning and loving her natural hair:
“In those [college] years I learned to love, and above all, to care for my Afro. But it’s an ongoing journey. When I began writing this book of poems, I had occasion to revisit my relationship with my hair. Inspired by the real women who submitted their stories to Dove Hair, I decided to try something new. I cut my hair and began exploring new ways to wear my natural curls. In writing these poems, I was reminded not only that curly hair is beautiful—but, very poignantly, that beauty comes from within.”

Speaking on the poems she wrote for the book, she shared some of her favorite poems and the inspirations behind them.
“I love the poem “A Dance,” inspired by the simple experience of walking on a windy day. We curly-haired women can often feel at war with the elements (humidity especially!); it was delightful to think instead about Mother Nature’s special affection for curls. I also love the customizable poem, which I wrote my friends’ curly-haired daughters in mind. When I was young I loved reading, but so few books had characters who looked like me or had names like mine. The idea of hearing a poem with my own name would have thrilled me, and it’s an honor to be able to pass that joy on. “Dear Daughter,” like so many poems, was based on a real woman’s testimonial, submitted online. I love a multi-generational family beauty story (I write family sagas after all) and this woman’s celebration of her family’s curly lineage touched me deeply.”

Image via Elle.com; Photographed by Christopher Sturman

 

Watch Taiye talk about Love Your Curls and curly hair with Huffington Post Live here.
Download the free, customizable e-book here. The book is also available in hard copy upon request here.

I can’t state enough how amazing and much-needed a book like this is. For so many little girls, this will be the difference that teaches them that their curls are breathtakingly beautiful, which will lead them down the road to realizing just how perfect they are as God made them – beauty standards be damned!
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