Ugly Scars, Darkened Knees & Devastating Stretch Marks

The ideal is perfect, flawless skin – not a single blemish in sight. The sun bounces off this skin seamlessly, and every single crevice of this skin glows and gleams, licking every ray of the sun and beaming in every direction. It is skin every woman would kill to have. It is skin many women are willing to die to have.
Skin that’s not just flawless to the eye, but smooth to the touch. Milky, creamy, bumpless skin. Silky, ebony, faultless skin. Skin that makes everyone gasp when they see you, and sigh when they touch you. That skin!
Skin that’s not just flawless and smooth, but incredibly soft. Soft as a new born baby’s skin, a newborn’s breath. Skin that feels like you’ve barely been on this earth. Skin that’s supernatural. That skin!
Skin that doesn’t have one single line. No furrows, no wrinkles. Skin that looks like no time has passed, between the day God gave you life and today. Even if it’s been forty years or a hundred. That skin!

But what happens when you don’t have that skin? How do you love skin that just isn’t flawless or blemishless or flaw-free? When #IWokeUpLikeThis isn’t what you’re happy to see?
Recently, I made an interesting discovery about my knees: in the middle of both knees, I realized that the skin has gotten thicker and significantly darker than the rest of my body – it’s particularly easy to notice when I sit. And it has me irritated! What’s going on? How do I get rid of it? Why, in the world, is this there? Then, I realized why it is here, and that realization has caused me to appreciate the story of my knees.
The story of my knees is a direct result of my role as an active mother. These knees get on the ground to play with my son. These knees get on the floor to play “horsey” with him. These knees get on the ground to pick up my daughter. They are ground into the ground to pick up something that falls. These knees get on the ground to do work. To show love. To breathe life into little people I love more than life itself. These knees allow me to be the mother I want to be. These knees are POWERFUL, and they tell a powerful story.


As you take a look at the scars and “blemishes” you carry with you, and the stretch marks that devastate you, ask yourself, “What story does this tell?” Does it tell the story of an experience that you survived? Does it remind you of grace, mercy, and God’s divine protection?

Do you know that your stretch marks carry forever the story of one of the greatest adventures in the universe: carrying life within you? Do you know that those marks are the very finger of God, the very imprint of your children, reminding you of the incredible power that took place in you, with you, and through you?

Granted, we all want that ideal beauty. We are women, and it’s a universal desire that we (fortunately AND unfortunately) have. Of course, some things are reversible: exfoliation can help to get rid of dark spots and thick skin. Some of those things are not. However, it’s time we realize that, first of all, nobody has that flawless beauty any way. Next, it’s time we push past this ideal and reject it altogether. In the grand scheme of things, these are some of the least important things: it’s what we are doing with our time, who we are being in our lives that count the most. Plus, a face without a story, a body that has no tales to tell, is one that truly hasn’t lived.

So, would you rather be a flaw-free beauty watching life from the sidelines? Or a woman who has (yes!) some scars, some blemishes, and some marks , but whose beauty is totally her own, from the light in her eyes to the purpose that she brings to every role? A woman whose every line deeply reflects all the years of her experience, her wisdom, and her being as she has poured into herself, into others, and into the world?

So, you choose! Which story would you like to tell: an inspiring and powerful one, or none at all?

How Well Do You Treat YOU?

Nurturer. Mother. Comforter. Relationship builder. Shoulder to cry on. Counselor. Listening ear.

These are just a few words one might use to describe the women in their lives. As women, if there’s one thing about most of is, it’s that we care deeply about people we love, and go above & beyond to take care of them. We cook for them, clean up after them, really listen to them, encourage and build them up, and hold them close. We are Love Superheroes.

Unfortunately, that level of care and attention doesn’t seem to extend to ourselves. Recently, I sat with myself and asked myself about this, because I noticed that I don’t extend the level of care to myself that I should. As a mother to small children – with sleep in EXTREMELY short supply – I’ve noticed how much I forget that deserve some care, too. Even worse, I’ve noticed that I put in 100% of time and effort into activities and projects for other people, but put in a really low percentage for projects that are mine. I’ll stay up and burn the midnight candle – even on the toughest of days – for things that are important to someone else, but not for me. And I suspect that I’m not alone!

Do you ever catch yourself slaving away in the kitchen and putting together a great-looking meal for others, while neglecting to do the same for yourself? After all, it’s only you, right? Do you ever find time to do things for others, while insisting that time is in incredibly short supply when it comes to doing things for you? Do you encourage and build other people up, while consistently talking down to yourself? Ha! See what I mean?

So, how well do you really treat yourself?

If you asked me, I’d tell you I think I’m pretty extraordinary, because I believe we all are. I’d say that I have a great sense of self-worth. I’d even say I am priceless and invaluable. Yet, the way I treat myself doesn’t always add up to those beliefs. And actions trump words every time. I can’t say I love someone, while my actions show the opposite.

I am currently on a mission to treat myself in the excellent way I  deserve. Because I’m worth it, darn it! Because I, too, deserve excellent care. I’m working on keeping the commitments I make to myself. Talking to myself with love and compassion. Taking the time to be as kind and intentional with myself, as I am with the ones I love.

I hope you join me!

{Image: Nykhor Paul for New African Woman Magazine}

Ideas, A Glass of Wine, and the Life You DON’T Want

What’s your idea of a relaxing evening? A great book? A deep massage? A great movie? Catching up on your favorite TV shows via Netflix?
It’s wonderful that we have such varied ideas on what relaxation means – but make sure those ideas are actually yours! It’s amazing how external influences can affect the way we think about even the smallest details of our lives.
Recently, I was having a long day and daydreaming about what would make the perfect end to the day. The first image that popped into my mind was one of me relaxing with a tall glass of red wine. A few seconds later, I found myself shaking my head and asking myself, “What the heck?! I don’t even like wine!!”

In our current world obsessed with oversharing, it’s easy to get caught up in what someone else is doing, especially when it looks fabulous and exciting. Our desire to be just as fabulous and exciting can cause us to totally lose our own identities, and take on someone else’s – so much so that even the tiniest detail of our lives is no longer true to who we are. We forget what we like, what we believe – and ultimately, who we really are.
So, make sure that your ideas, your opinions, your thoughts, and your daydreams actually reflect the life you do want – a life that is true to you!


INSPIRATION: Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah (born Dana Owens) is a dynamite – a woman exploding with talent, incredible creativity, and great business savvy. This woman has done EVERYTHING in the entertainment business:
She’s been one of the original female rappers (in an era in which mainstream rappers actually had something substantial to say);
She’s released full jazz albums, showcasing her vocal talents;
She’s shown incredible talent as an actor on the big and small screens. Who could ever forget our introduction to Latifah’s fierce acting as “Cleo” in the classic film, Set It Off? Since then, she has gone on to wow audiences in Oscar-nominated roles in such films as Chicago and the most recent Emmy award-winning HBO film, Bessie.

As if that weren’t enough, the Queen has grown her production company, Flavour Unit Entertainment, from the ground up – producing hit after hit with partner, Shakim Compere. She’s produced everything from hit films (like Beauty Shop) to award-winning TV movies (see the Emmy award-winning HBO original movie, Bessie) and popular television series (Single Ladies), and even an eponymous talk show (The Queen Latifah Show)!!

What inspires me most about Queen Latifah is that she creates her own path every single day. In an industry that categorizes people and puts them in a box, she has consistently refused to be boxed in by anyone. In an industry that has a cookie cutter look and a very very narrow definition of beauty, Latifah defies all expectations and wears her own beauty with incredible confidence – so much so that this dynamo has represented cosmetics giant, CoverGirl for well over a decade!!!

Want to see more on why she’s so inspiring? Let us count the ways!

Queen Latifah’s look is all her own. Gorgeously tall and statuesque at 5 feet 10 inches, hip hop’s original First Lady is nobody’s cookie cutter. In an entertainment industry that sends up more praise as a woman gets thinner, Latifah is not your typical Hollywood skin-and-bones type. As a full-figured woman in this unforgiving industry, she has had her fair share of rejections, like having an agent tell her that “she should stick to television, because she’d never be a movie star”.
She’s grown from a place of criticizing her body to total self-acceptance, stating in an interview with Good Housekeeping,
“I think I got to that place by not being happy with the other side — hating your body and criticizing yourself all the time. When I was around 18, I looked in the mirror and said, You’re either going to love yourself or hate yourself. And I decided to love myself. That changed a lot of things.”
Latifah’s journey to self-acceptance must have started at an incredibly young age. At the age of 3, while playing a game of tag, she tripped on a phone cord and got a deep gash on her forehead. Those are the origins of the 2-inch scar the mogul is known for. Rather than feel encumbered by the scar, Queen Latifah embraces it wholeheartedly as part of her story and her journey.
From struggling with loving her body to becoming a beauty ambassador, talk about a 180-degree turn. Becoming a spokesperson in 2001 for global cosmetics giant, CoverGirl, Dana has shown that beauty starts from the inside – with the spark of confidence and the glow of self-acceptance; the fact that she really is truly gorgeous is just icing on the cake.



The Queen has taken on every role in the entertainment business. She has refused to take “No” for an answer – choosing instead to pave her own path when there was none. Unafraid to be the only woman in the room (as a rapper), to put out jazz albums and show the full range of her vocal abilities (as a rapper-turned-singer), and to create the role of leading lady for herself where she was told she isn’t leading lady material, Queen Latifah is INCREDIBLE.
In a recent interview with Variety for their cover story on Queen Latifah, her business partner, Shakim Compere states,

“Landing each successive role hasn’t been easy. Most writers don’t write with Latifah in mind, so she doesn’t get the opportunities that most actors get. So we’ve gotten in the habit of creating our own agenda and our own projects.”

Not satisfied with just being in front of the camera, she’s taken on major production roles. In addition to the aforementioned projects, this is a woman that is working to literally change programming on television: she’s partnered with BET’s sister network, Centric, to reprogram and rebrand it as “the first network for Black women”. Talk about star power!
Want more star power? Unsatisfied with simply being a beauty ambassador for CoverGirl, Latifah has her own line of CoverGirl cosmetics called “The Queen Collection“. She launched her collection to fill the void of great makeup products for women of darker hues. Her collection aims to “bring out the Queen in every woman” – and rightly so.
Her career has spanned almost 3 decades, and she still has staying power.

Queen Latifah reminds me to ensure that I never ever rest on my laurels. She reminds me to keep on going, in spite of the doubters. She reminds to pave my own way and create my own opportunities – it’s more interesting and fulfilling that way, anyway. She reminds me to never ever let anyone else define who I am, and to be totally unboxed – to never let anyone put me in a box or label my creativity. She reminds me to break out, and explore each of the gifts and talents that God has so blessed me with, so that when my life is over, I can stand in front of God assured that I have used up every last gift He gave me.

Like everyone else, Latifah hasn’t lived a charmed life: she has had her fair share of disappointments, tragedies, and bouts of depression.
In 1992, she lost her cherished older brother in a motorcycle accident. To compound the loss and add guilt on to an already heavy heart, he was riding the motorcycle she had bought for him just a couple of months before. Latifah was heartbroken, and spiraled into a depression.
Just 3 short years later, death came knocking too close yet again: she was the victim of a carjacking, and her close friend who was with her was fatally shot and nearly died. According to Good Housekeeping in a feature interview with Queen Latifah,
“She turned to self-medication: “Drinking a bunch of alcohol, numbing myself. Every day I would be faded, like a painting that’s just not vibrant, whose edges are dull,” she says somberly. “I wasn’t living my full life.” Indeed, in early 1996 she was arrested while driving with a small amount of marijuana and also a loaded handgun, which she had carried since the carjacking. Latifah knew it was time to stop the downward spiral. Jada Pinkett Smith, her friend and Set It Off costar, recommended a therapist to help her process the grief. And there was more to her sorrow than the death of Lance.
She dug deep and confronted the fact that, as a child, she had been molested by a babysitter — a secret she’d kept buried for years. “We ignore our feelings a lot, I realize,” she says. “Many of us have to…until they really bite us in the butt.” Therapy helped her realize that, contrary to her feelings, the abuse had not been her fault. “What set me free was looking at it from a different perspective,” she says. “I was 5, manipulated and afraid.” Today, she encourages anyone who has been through or suspects abuse to speak up: “You have to say something. The power of those who perpetrate the abuse is your fear and your shame…and that’s unacceptable.”

More than just spewing wisdom, Queen Latifah really does “walk the talk”. The Queen Latifah Show shut down production in December 2014, after two seasons. Showing stunning kindness and grace, this true star apparently paid several staff members out of her own pockets!! Wow! Who does that? When asked about the incident by Variety, she simply stated,
“I don’t know how that got out. Look, I was appreciative of how hard everybody worked, and felt we should be proud of what we did. It was bad timing, holidays were coming, and we wanted to make sure everyone would be OK through the New Year.”
What an incredible spirit.
After the cancellation of her talk show, amidst her disappointment, she wrote this beautiful Letter to Self. It’s one we should all read, and take note of when we take on projects that don’t have the “success” that we expect it to. It’s a reminder that the success is actually in the journey, and the lessons we learned along the way.

Dear Dana,
Just a little note to say Thank You…
Thank you for your strong work ethic and great effort in getting The Queen Latifah Show off the ground and running.
Your dedication and sacrifice was crucial to the entire team, and in the face of intense challenges, you displayed “True Grit”!
Your Family, Partners, Staff and Crew showed up with you every step of the way. Be very proud of that! Not everyone can say the same.
You can also say you have been a blessing to and been blessed by amazing guests and incredible audiences for this show.
We truly changed people’s lives for the better.
So… STAY POSITIVE, STAY STRONG, and most importantly, STAY OPEN… There is so much more God has in store!
Lovingly, You!
P.S. This letter is for me, my staff, my crew, and everyone who was by my side for this incredible journey. The most important thing in life is that you wake up every single day and take chances. No matter what the outcome…believe in yourself and continue to fly.

Queen Latifah, for your inner and outer beauty, incredible faith, fearless spirit, deep faith and self-assurance, selflessness and sincere kindness, you really inspire me. Hats off to you!
Oh, and don’t forget to watch Queen Latifah in the upcoming live adaptation of the musical, The Wiz, on NBC this December 3. She’ll be playing the titular character, The Wiz.

Self-Care Ritual: (C)hange the Channel

It’s amazing how much we take the world for granted. We forget that, above all else, we are spiritual beings first. Our spirits and our souls are the most important parts of who we are; our bodies are really just the bonus. I’ve been thinking lately about how differently I would live from moment to moment if I walked through life with this understanding everyday. I am still such a work in progress.
One of the most important ways we can influence what our spirits absorb is by monitoring what we read, watch, and listen to. The things we let into our minds directly influence our thoughts, and our thoughts lead to habits. The things we do repeatedly and the way we think affect the way we move as spirits through the world.

It’s imperative that we change the channel when we realize that the words we read, the images we watch, and the sounds we listen to are in direct conflict with who we want to be, how we want to think, and what we believe and hope to achieve in the world. Many of the things we consider innocuous or “not that serious” just might be more serious than we think.
Now, please don’t misunderstand me. We definitely don’t have to walk through the world listening to only things that are serious and deep; in fact, I’d argue that we shouldn’t. Life is meant for fun and pleasure, as much as it is meant for purpose and achievement. Pleasure, too, is something that God wants us to experience – just look at how many beautiful, sensual, awe-inspiring, mind-blowing things and feelings He made.

via O, the Oprah Magazine


What I am advocating, instead, is that when we realize that certain things are making us think or behave in ways we know we don’t want to, it’s time to cut them off. Unless we lie to ourselves, we always know when something isn’t uplifting or edifying to us. You know that medium of entertainment, or book, or sound, or place that tastes sweet at the beginning, but leaves us feeling bitter and icky after? That one! That conversation that leaves you a lot more empty than when you started? That one! That unwanted thought that keeps floating around in your mind, because of what you just watched? Yeah, that one!
Bottom Line: Let’s work hard to change the channel, because our lives and spirits depend on it.

LOVE & BEAUTY at the Movies: “Beyond the Lights”

There are so many great movies out there right now: movies to make you laugh, cry, feel, and simply entertain. Movies are great entertainment, and a wonderful introduction to a different world and a different perspective. However, at least for me, it’s not often that a movie sits with me and plays in my mind – on a visceral level- many days after watching it. Movies like this are rare, because they connect with us on a soul level.

I had this amazing soul connection with the Gina Prince-Bythewood-written, directed, and produced movie, “Beyond the Lights.” An intense and deeply honest at the skeletons lurking in today’s music industry, the movie is also a really beautiful love story. Here’s the official synopsis,


“Though she’s been groomed for stardom all her life by an overbearing mother (Minnie Driver), singer Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is having trouble dealing with her success. Feeling unable to cope any longer, Noni tries to kill herself, but luckily Kaz (Nate Parker), the police officer assigned to be her bodyguard, thwarts her suicide attempt. Noni and Kaz feel an instant attraction, but those in their orbit oppose the romance for fear the pair will stray from the course planned out for both of them.”

I love that the movie dealt beautifully with 2 subjects I care about deeply: love and beauty, in a nuanced and complex way.
In the movie, Noni is an incredibly successful, chart-topping pop singer with an upcoming album expected to break records – at least, she’s successful on the outside. Incredibly sexualized and objectified, she is celebrated for her body parts and superficial beauty; it becomes far too much to bear. This young woman craves to be celebrated for her talent, her mind, and her own real beauty – just the way she is.
As she reaches a life-or-death crossroad, Noni is helped along on her journey by Kaz – a young man who looks past all the superficial layers, and sees what’s there in her heart and soul. This is a celebration of love I can get with.
“Beyond the Lights” reminds me again that what the world views as “success” is very often not the real deal! Great wealth, superficial beauty, and the trappings of success do not equate to a fulfilled life. Not at all! It reminds me of this post that I wrote about taking care not to envy the relationships, life and/or looks of celebrities.

Noni’s character was created based on conversations with many of today’s leading female pop singers – many of whom are experiencing this particular struggle. I really cannot imagine what it is like to have my own thoughts and mind completely overlooked, while the world focuses only on seeing me as a “sex symbol”, or on my hips, butt, and/or other body parts. As women, many of us think that’s what we want, until we experience the prison that this is.


This movie is, in my opinion, a must-watch for every young woman or man, who has experienced that thought process. It is a wonderful soul-tug to value the beauty that is yours uniquely, to make sure that no one ever silences your voice in exchange for fame and “success”, and a re-evaluation of what success really is.
“Beyond the Lights” brings to mind this Bible verse,



“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul? Or what will a man give as an exchange for his soul?”

– Matthew 16:26

We have to fight everyday to make sure that we keep our integrity intact. We need to ensure that we feed our minds and spirits with images, sounds, and material that reminds us everyday of what real success and real beauty are. Let us never forget!

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.

ENI photoshoot

NAME: Eniola Tamara Sokoya
AGE: 25
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.

eni traditional
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’. 
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.
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.  

eni brick wall 

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.
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.
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.    
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.
eni milan
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.
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.  
Beautiful to me is that ‘sparkle’ or ‘glitter’ inside every person that colours their personality. 
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. 
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:
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Instagram: AccessoriesRm
Twitter: @AccessoriesRm


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.


NAME:  Kaliné Akinkugbe
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.



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.  
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.  
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.  


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.
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?  
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.     
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.
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.
I feel most beautiful when I am among people I love and who love me right back.  
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.   
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.  


My grandmothers, My mother, Oprah Winfrey, Benazir Bhutto, to name a few.   




Stay updated with everything Kaliné. Follow her here:
Facebook: Kaline Official
Instagram: KalineOfficial
Twitter: @KalineA
Current Music Project:




 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}


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