Michelle Hopewell

Michelle

Black British, faith filled, curvy actress with a love for food, great music, good movies, life changing literature and awkward moments.

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It’s Panto Season (oh yes it is!)

It’s about that time you guys! I know not all of you love Christmas but for those of us who have been hiding in the shadows for the last 11 months, we are finally able to shout loud and proud:

WE LOVE CHRISTMAS!

That being said it’s been Christmas for me since about late October as I entered into panto rehearsals and began performances mid November.

So since it’s December and it’s nearly Christmasssssssss I thought I would give you a run down of the top pantos to see across the countries.

panto

London – Now I’m a pretty bias so I couldn’t possibly tell you that the Greenwich Theatres production of Cinderella is the panto of the season for panto, wink wink, nudge, nudge, but going by the reviews Peter Pan at the Wembley arena looks like the most magical evening out you could have!

Big budget with big stars if you’re looking for a commercial, musical theatre quality panto, this is the one for you!

Down South –
Sleeping Beauty is currently a bit hit. Playing at the Grove Theatre in Bedfordshire there’s some well known tv names and of course one of the most beloved fairy tales out there!

Midlands –
Cinderella is definitely the favourite of this year’s panto season across the country. How can we resist rags to riches tale though? Playing at the Milton Keynes Theatre this is perfect if you fancy a bit of a giggle but also want your heart warmed.

North –
If you’re not really a massive fan of panto and interaction but you’re willing to have some festive family friendly fun (mouthful) why don’t you try a musical instead? Nearly everyone loves the movie Elf right? Did you know there’s a musical version and did you know it’s playing at the Lowry in Manchester right now? Quick get your tickets!

Wales –
There are loads of great shows to choose from in Wales right now but apparently one of the favourites this year is Jack and the Beanstalk at the Princess Royal Theatre!

Scotland –
Now my family has lived in Scotland for years now and having tread the boards at the Tron Theatre myself I can safely say that it is one of the BEST pantos you’re going to find! It’s in Glasgow and is well worth the trip no matter where you are in Scotland. This year’s show is Alice and Weegie Land! Written by the hilarious and wonderful Johnny McKnight this will become your new annual favourite!

NI –
The favourite here is Aladdin without a doubt! Playing at the SSE Arena this is of course one spectacular show! I’m bias of course, I love the story of Aladdin and my boyfriend is a Belfast boy, but you be sure that they’ll deliver a night to remember!

So get yourself to a show and get into the festive spirit!

You won’t regret.

OH NO YOU WON’T!

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Tips To Ditch Festive Shame

We made it you guys! We’re so close to the 2017 finish line. I am constantly in awe of how quickly a year can pass and how much can happen globally, nationally, and socially.

What a gift that we did make it this far because so many didn’t and what a gift that along the way we have learned so many lessons about ourselves and about the world.

As the year draws to a close and we enter into this season of festivity we also have to admit that for some of us this is the hardest time. When we come from a culture that is about consumption and shaming, how do we navigate away from those harmful practices? This time of year can be a difficult period of facing things that we have struggled with all year, but as the tinsel is hung over the tree, we might also be hung up on all the things that pose a potential threat to the progression you might have made in your journey to self acceptance.

We forget that the festive season is about love and instead we spend fretting over the amount food we’ve eaten. The clothes we have to wear. The presents we have to magically be able to afford. The family time we need to invest in, whether we struggle with our families or not. The work nights out that makes us feel isolated. The excessive amount of spending. The expectations we have for ourselves and our loved ones.

There is a way to enjoy this period without harmfully shaming yourself for the very act of living. Here are some of the tips I’m going to put into practice this festive season.

DON’T BE OVERLY AMBITIOUS
Now the problem with the holidays is that we overload ourselves. We tell ourselves we absolutely need to say yes to everything that is being thrown at us, but in reality we can’t and we shouldn’t. You need to prioritise the things that are important. Don’t overload your December diary!

SIMPLE IS STILL LOVE
For a long time my family has made it tradition to make present giving as simple as possible. The season for us isn’t about how much money we can spend on each other, it’s about how much we can love on one another. Why not be more inventive and personal with your gifts. Give something thoughtful to the people you love and don’t fixate on if it’s the most expensive gift being retailed.

DON’T BE AFRAID OF FOOD
One of the biggest fears some people have is others judging the amount of food you’ll eat, but you can’t live your life living to please someone  else. Whatever self care practices you have had throughout the year apply to festive meals. Remember that food is food – it is not morally good or bad – and you will not restrict yourself because of fear.

BE CONFLICT FREE
No family or friendship circle is perfect. We all have things we struggle about with each other. Little things that have hurt our feelings or little things that bothered us.  The holidays can compound and niggle and exaggerate those problems and that’s only natural, but know that gatherings are not organised so that you can turn them into battle grounds. Instead of putting on your armour for war, try taking down your shield all together and practice forgiveness. If you’re finding it hard to hold your tongue, take a step outside and recalibrate. Easier said than done, but try letting it go. Cue song.

TRADITIONS
They’re wonderful and steeped in history and culture but for some of us they might be triggering of some of the things that we’ve gone through. So you know what? This is an opportunity to make your own! What traditions would you like to incorporate and practice into your life now? You can bring really beautiful new things into your life and the lives of those you love. Whether it’s the practice of donating time or money, being thankful or going carolling.

TAKE A BREAK
In the same way it’s okay to say no to some of the things happening over these period because you’ve got an overwhelming amount on, it’s also okay to take a break. Self care doesn’t stop because something global is happening. Self care becomes even more imperative when these things are happening. We are at our best when we look after ourselves, so take the time out that you need. De-stress, practice mindfulness, stay positive, be kind to yourself and others and surround yourself with peace and positivity.

Regardless of what you have gone through this year or what you might be going through in the next one, please be proud of all that you have done and appreciate the gift of making it this far in your journey. Have a wonderful festive season!

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Old Body, New Body, Same Body

It used to be that I would get mad at my slim friends for saying that they felt or looked fat even though they were slim. I couldn’t believe they would insult themselves to such a level that they would compare themselves to my fat body. I wanted desperately to be as small as them.

Now I get mad because being fat isn’t a sliding scale for how worthy or beautiful you are, and it should not be a measure of whether your body is socially acceptable according western standards of beauty.

When I think of the years wasted on wanting to have the body of the woman next to me, I feel great senses of grief, but then even that grief I learn to process and remove because I cannot spend my precious time on earth what if-ing.

Old Body, New Body, Same Body

I have written before about the flaws in transformation tuesdays and glow ups that suggest your old body is something to be dismissed, something to be embarrassed about, and reflect over in loathing.

The root and focus of transformations should come from something within the soul and spirit. The desire to connect to loving yourself at all stages because the truth is you won’t always have all the control over your body you want.

Life has a way of presenting us with circumstances that mean our narrow mindsets are to be challenged. Maybe a person will come into your life, or perhaps you will end up in a situation, that forces you to shine a light on your heart and your mind.

Something that forces you to come to terms with the fact that these bodies are but flesh and bones. They are the structure to encase something that is way more valuable than you realise.

Why place the entirety of your worth in a perception of beauty that does not exist? So much of what we tell ourselves is beautiful and loveable comes from a social construct. A profitable ideal pushed by the media and industries.

You are not solely defined by the weight or shape of your body. You are not incomplete because of your genetic makeup. Whether you build abs in minutes or store fat in seconds, what should it matter?

Do you treat your body with the respect it deserves? Do you cherish the gift of life you have been given? Do you listen to your body and care for it? Do you unconditionally support and accept the bodies you see around you?

That is what matters.

There is nothing wrong with your body of yesterday or your body of tomorrow.

If you’re using the “new you” to dismiss the validity of the old you, you have completely missed the point.

Don’t you get it? You were enough from the get go! You just told yourself otherwise. You bought into the lies that we are told and the lies we tell ourselves.

We let ourselves be blinded by online content and by our friends social media. We look at people who inspire us, or people we aspire to be like, and we are trapped in their narrative instead of being concerned about our own.

You took fiction for fact and wrapped yourself up in a deception so institutionalised you don’t even see the lifelong harm you could cause yourself.

If little 8 year old you was stood in front of you right now, would you tell her that who she is isn’t good enough? Would you dash the hope and faith of a little girls heart?

I certainly hope not.

So the woman before you and the woman you are growing to be deserves that same love. That same affection. That same attention. That same adoration.

How can you be so magnificently and intricately designed and think that you’re worthless? How can you see how uniquely wonderful you are and find ways to pile on hate and loathing?

The journey to dismantling that is gruelling and challenging. It is hard and the road often feels narrow…but don’t give up.

Either way I am standing at your roadside cheering you on! This is a road without time limits, without a list of requirements or abilities necessary.

This is a road that will make winners of us all.

 

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WoC Spotlights – Zeynab

You guys, we need to take a minute and have a really real conversation before we jump into this awesome interview that will be the first of many with plus bloggers who are women of colour.

We need to just sit ourselves down with a steaming cup of tea and come to terms with the fact that there is a genuine diversity problem when it comes to the plus size blogging, fashion and beauty community. When you say the words plus size or use the phrase body positivity, most of the names that will come to your mind will probably be those of white, able bodied women. Now, this isn’t a problem – the problem is when they are the only people you think of.

When the body acceptance movement is so diverse and so vast, we need to make sure that the voices we are hearing and the faces and bodies we are seeing belong to a diverse group of people. We cannot only highlight the people who fit into institutionalised western ideals of beauty and acceptance.

So the WoC Spotlight series is going to be an opportunity for us to really celebrate how wonderfully different we all are. Besides that’s the whole point right? We are meant to be a community of tolerant people who fiercely champion the the acceptance of all!

 

A post shared by Zeynab (@thebeautyloadblog) on

 

Now that being said, lets get to know Zeynab. A London based beauty blogger, this incredible woman is giving us all we need and should know about beauty. The aesthetic is to live for and all of the beauty tips are being put into practice in my life with immediate effect. Let’s get to know her some more and hear about what its REALLY like being a plus WoC in the blogging community!

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Tell me a little bit about yourself! What’s your background and when did you start blogging? 

Hi, my name is Zeynab. I currently blog for my own beauty and lifestyle blog. I started blogging to share my love of all things beauty, after falling head over heels for the blogging community. I wanted to share my personal experience and perspective when it came to beauty. When I was starting out, I feel like there wasn’t anyone that was like me. I am a brown girl with hijab and there wasn’t someone that I could identify with, so I chose to create that person.

What is it like for you as a British plus woman of colour and blogger?

When many people think of bloggers, the names that instantly come to mind are not women of colour or plus sized. Especially within beauty blogging, sometimes I go to events I stick out like a sore thumb because I am so different. That is a good thing but also very uncomfortable for me. I feel so out of place and often question my place in the blogging community.

Who are your favourite British plus WOC?
I don’t have one favourite, I am that type of person that finds it so hard to just choose one. But at the moment, I am really into Grace Victory’s content. I love what she is about and the message is sending out. I love that she is opening a conversation about diversity in the blogging world, because let’s face it: it’s not diverse and it’s upsetting because the blogging community is for many people a different realm from the real world. However, it’s become this big corporation and it’s taken away from the realness and reliability of blogging. That’s why it’s important to start the conversations, and not be apologetic as people of colour that are plus size, and talk about these topics.

 

A post shared by Zeynab (@thebeautyloadblog) on

 

What can the plus community do to ally with you?

I feel like the plus size community is so supportive and inclusive, just to remain like that.

What are the important topics we should know that British plus WOC are dealing with? 

It’s difficult because you are dealing with fat shaming and then of top of that, racist prejudices. It’s hard when society makes you feel like you are not good enough because you don’t look a certain way, you are not a certain size, and you don’t have a light enough complexion. What’s even more sad, is that a lot of times me and you are affected by these ideals and we try so hard to change ourselves to fit these unrealistic ideals. You waste so much time and your life trying to get people to accept you, it’s not worth it. I am no means at point where I don’t care but I am working towards it. I will tell you for free it’s a lot less stressful and you just feel so much happier.

 

 

What are your hopes for the plus community and for WOC in the plus community?

I want plus and WOC to be given the same opportunities as any other individual. I want them to continue to make big waves and be unapologetic in everything they do.

How do you deal with insensitivity within the community? 

I don’t have a huge following, so that means that I have a small supportive community following me. The odd remarks I do get, I try the hardest to ignore them. These remarks are a reflection of the person leaving them and nothing to do with you as person and I am not going to let that affect me.

How do you deal with targeted discrimination and racism, hate speech and prejudice within and outside of the community? 

It’s hard. But I try to be open and unafraid to bring up these topics on the platforms that I do have. It’s about keeping the conversation going and educating people.

In your dream world what opportunities would you like to see plus WOC bloggers having?

I want to do big things. Big campaigns, brand ambassadors everything!

What tips can you give other plus WOC? What helps and encourages you?

Just ignore everyone else and do you.
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For more from the wonderful Zeynab, be sure to head on over to her blog and check out her Instagram and Twitter too!
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Belonging and Learning To Take Up Space

Belonging and learning to take up space

When we are very, very small and the world has not yet gotten to us, we believe, unless told otherwise, without a shadow of a doubt that we belong and that we can do anything.

The idea of taking up space used to be a concept I absolutely could not comprehend. I didn’t want to be seen and I certainly didn’t want to be heard. I did my best to squeeze myself into the smallest of places. I didn’t want to be anything but a gentle breeze because that’s how people wanted me to be right?

They needed me to be all soft features and voice and ideas and opinions, to match my equally soft body. You stay in this little corner and in this little box because you are this sex, this colour, this shape, this size and pretty soon you wind up feeling like there is no place you can go to exist.

I found I came into being whenever I listened to music or sang or read or watched movies or saw a piece of theatre. It was like a light would go on in me and suddenly the invisible girl was visible, even for the shortest of time, she was suddenly there again and I could live, but then it would end and the light would go out.

Darkness once more, but there was more light coming.

The body positive movement was that other light, and coupled with all the things that I love, it meant that finally, the light wasn’t going out so easily any more. It was starting to turn on and stay on.

A sense of belonging is important, taking up space is important and knowing we are enough is important. Along the way the things that support these truths are what help us grow into that next level of our lives. Here are some of those things:

 

1. Self Care – This the ultimate act of self acceptance and acknowledgement. When you take the time to get to know yourself and to care for yourself you are saying: you are enough, you are worth knowing, you are worth caring for and that is the gift of belonging to ourselves.

 

“Self care is never a selfish act – It is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on this earth to offer to others.” – Parker Palmer.

 

2. Purposeful Actions – Be deliberate when taking up space! Instead of choosing the easy option, the default option, make a bolder choice to step out and be brave. When you’re in that class, sit at the front instead of at the back. When you’re ordering that thing make a definite choice to speak up so that you can be heard. Whether its cleaning out your room or giving a talk in front of a whole bunch of people, be purposeful and unapologetic about being there and being present.

 

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born, and they day you find out why.” – Mark Twain

 

3. Do Something That Scares You – There are a whole host of things that actually put the terror in me and I am conquering those things one at a time. Life is too short for us to stay in a little bubble that has been created for us or that we have created for ourselves out of fear. We learn our greatest lessons when we are out of our comfort zone and challenging ourselves. So pick something, big or small today that scares you but that’s going to push and challenge you to grow!

 

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – Agatha Christie

 

4. Find Your Community – It matters who you surround yourself with. It is possible to have great relationships in some seasons in our lives, and for those same relationships to turn toxic when we enter into a different season. It’s so important you surround yourself with people who are excited to be part of your journey and who are there to encourage you and vice versa. We need to know that we can be building each other up and not tearing down. Not all the relationships we start off with our capable of handling that. Its always quality of quantity. So while you’re community might not end up looking like the first unattainable pilot episode of friends, you should be aiming to have people in your life championing healing in your life!

 

“The richest people in the world look for and build networks, everyone else looks for work.” – Robert Kiyosaki

 

5. Letting Go Of The Past – We could spend our whole lives living in the past and our past circumstances. We could spend the rest of our lives grieving what was lost, how we were treated, and the ways we’ve been hurt, but there comes a time when we must leave the past and move through the present and look to the future. Until we get our hands on a Tardis, we cannot rewrite the past, and even then, we shouldn’t want to because its informing us and growing us. Forge forwards and dare to let go of the issues you tying you down or hiding you away from the person you are allowed to be.

 

“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” – M Kathleen Casey

 

Nobody puts baby in the corner comes to mind when I think of how we are all searching to belong.  We are in the world but we are not strictly of this world. We are made of all of these complex, divine and beautiful things, and all of those things come together to create you, and so you are very much existing right here.

You are belonging right now.

You are alive and it is wonderful.

Now go take up some space. Go make some noise. Go spread some love.

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Body Confidence When You Don’t Feel Confident

confidence

There was definitely a point in my body confidence and acceptance journey that I assumed that once I loved myself all of my body confidence issues would miraculously melt away. I thought I would live the rest of my life out of the reach of the issues that had once pushed me so far into self loathing I could not see a world in which I didn’t view myself than less than.

I longed for the fairy tale ending of being the princess that not only chose the prince but gosh darn it, chose herself; and her perfect porcelain body with long flowing locks, sea foam eyes, socially acceptable ideals and opinions, brimming with confidence and with a glamorous bank account to match.

Only one problem: I wasn’t any of those things and nor would I ever be. The illusion was shattered and I was left looking at myself, which at the time was a busted Cinderella with braids, no confidence, an expensive degree and low key adoration for the arts that maybe didn’t adore me back.

I know what you’re thinking: how can you get to the place where you love yourself, but admit there were and sometimes are still times when you look to the girl to the left of you and don’t see a clown, but in fact a glory of womanhood you long to be? When exactly will what you are be enough for you to live a full life?

Honey, these are all excellent questions to be perfectly honest and the truth is the point of a body confidence journey is that it doesn’t always have an immediate end of destination. The travelling may take days or it might take weeks or months…or years and its difficult to think that along the road we might have moments where our resolutions slips but that is the truth of the human condition. Our perfect imperfections means that sometimes we have a bit of a struggle, but when we have hope and when we have faith – that’s when we can push on.

That being said.

Let’s admit a few things first.

    • We look at the grass and it does in fact seem greener in somebody else’s garden. Let’s be real, what are you going through right now? Financial instability, family troubles, mental health issues, pressure from work or school, failing or failed relationships, commitment phobias…the list goes on. All or some of these things are littering your own grass and you crane your neck over to see your neighbours but from your angle their garden looks clear and you’re like, HOW CAN I GET THE SAME ORDER IN MY OWN DANG GARDEN. When the truth is from your limited angle you don’t see that their garden isn’t clean but they have in fact just pushed all of the same issues you’re struggling to the back or side of their garden. So take care of your own garden even though its hard work and the temperature might seem too high or the rain and wind might seem too much. This is the only garden you’ve got and it deserves your full attention.
    • Sometimes we don’t feel that deep resounding love for ourselves. Sometimes we look at ourselves on our low confidence days and think: basic. You know what? There’s nothing wrong with being basic. How can we be this untouchable entity at all times? We simply cannot. There will be times when your crown might slip, but what matters most is how you put that crown back into place.

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  • FOMO will literally stop you from living your best life. Wait, what’s FOMO? Fear of missing out! It’s basically the same idea of the grass being greener, except instead you punish yourself for the idea that you are going to miss your chance to live a good life. This just isn’t the case! You are never going to be the same as everyone, nor will your experiences be. We are all united in the fact that our paths are unique but emphatically connected in the desire to live fully!
  • You’re not always going to be moved by body positive content. You know when you eat your favourite cookie all the time and then you start to get a bit sick of it? The same goes for pretty much everything we expose ourselves to on a regular basis – except pizza. I will never get sick of pizza. Sometimes we have chased the perfect quote or the ideal tips so hard and so desperately that the meaning of those helpful and positive things become meaningless to us. We desensitize ourselves to the things that challenge us the most as a way of self preservation, but instead of giving up, take more time to sit down and really digest things.
  • When you talk smack about yourself and you self depreciate you just prolong the process – but we still do it anyway. We find small ways to put ourselves down because to an extent we are programmed to believe that this our normal; and so after a while our default might be to throw in a little insult because how can it be okay to be so okay with yourself for so long, but actually it really is okay to be digging what you’ve got going on!

Truthfully, body confidence is a process and it is individual. It will be joyous but it will also have moments of bitterness and exhaustion because those things come hand in hand with being a human being. You are not defined by the moments where you find it hard and you struggle, but you are going to be stronger for the moments you spend fighting despite the struggles.

No matter where you are on the journey, whether it’s full blown self love affair or honeymoon phase over, you are alive and enough and you deserve to keep exploring and growing to be the best you can be.

Regardless there is a whole a community of people who are rooting for you. They love you. We love you. I love you.

You’ve got this!

 

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5 Black UK Bloggers

5 Black UK Bloggers

It’s very clear that across the world we are on the cusp of what I think will be another push forward in civil rights for people of colour. We are having to recognise that racism, prejudice, and equality are still very much present. Perhaps we are no longer in chains but we are bound in multiple other ways and these microaggressions committed daily are what stops minority groups from not only surviving but thriving.

Race. It’s not the most comfortable conversation to have but you would be surprised how much open dialogue will take away some of the stigma and fear.

Within the plus size community I think – no, I know –  that there is more we can be doing to be part of the conversation and part of seeing some solutions. Change starts at home and the plus community is meant to be a home for all of us!

So what can we do at home to be more inclusive of plus women of colour? Well, we have to know who they are first, so I want to shout out some of my favourite plus size WOC bloggers changing the game.

5 Black UK Bloggers
Political, radical, fashion forward, and unapologetic. She is the definition of “get you a girl that can do both” or in this case, it all! Within the last few months alone Steph has not only been invited to speak at Parliament as part of the youth select committee to discuss body image, but has participated in multiple panels for Black British young people, and has recently written an incredible important piece, “Fat Black Women Matter Too“. Steph is that woman we all wished we had had as an example growing up. She isn’t afraid to speak up and fight for those of us who haven’t been fought for. She is an important voice not only for women of colour in the UK but for the plus size community as a whole, challenging us to reflect on how intersectional we truly are. Make sure you follow Steph closely.

5 Black UK Bloggers
There is nothing more satisfying for me as a woman of colour than seeing the other women of colour achieving their goals. Not only is Dennetta a fierce plus model, lifestyle, stylist, and beauty blogger but she is now also a qualified fashion buyer!  This body positive goddess’ blog Livin Phat, Livin Large is relevant, current, vibrant, and bold. This woman sets goals and crushes them. She is fierce and you should have your eyes locked firmly on all the exciting things she’s destined to do for the plus fashion industry.

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Enjoying this post? Be sure to check us out on Patreon! You can pledge anything from $1+ a month to support our writers and in return we offer some amazing rewards!

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5 Black UK Bloggers
This plus model and blogger is on fire. Honest, current, and gorgeous. There’s no need to wonder why Lauren Nicole is signed to a top agency and regularly sporting some of the top plus brands. I for one am grateful for all the young black girls coming up who will get to see such a beautiful melanin queen as their example of body confidence.

5 Black UK Bloggers
Online content creator of beauty, fashion, and lifestyle, Chanel is a boss lady. This woman is taking business to a whole other level, working with UK based brands and internationally she is non-stop. Open, bubbly, and slaying, there is something so beautiful about a confident black woman and she’s on the up and up.  Her aesthetic is clean, trendy, and bold and she’s the independent black woman we can be here for.

5 Black UK Bloggers
The brows are beat, the aesthetic is vibrant and the joy is real with Kayela. I can’t help but watch her vlogs with a big grin on my own face. Giving Nicki M a run for her pinkprint money, from fashion hauls to beauty reviews, hair tips and make up tutorials I know Kayela is about to blow up and lead us all to a bright and stylish future.

The biggest lesson these incredible women are reinforcing to me, is that there is no right way to be black. Our blackness is varying and beautiful and able to inspire.

When we get to know each other, when we stand as allies against ignorance and hate, when we listen, when we celebrate, when we love – that’s when we see real change.

It’s important that you know the these women will have come up against obstacle after obstacle, ignorance in all forms and stood regardless and fought regardless to be unapologetic in their blackness and I am proud to witness their journeys.

You should be too.

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To Glow or To Grow

glow

So if you’re on any of the popular social media platforms I’m sure you will have come across the phrase “The Glow Up” by now; and for those of who aren’t so familiar with the phrase, here is the definition according to urban dictionary.

“To go from the bottom to the top to the point of disbelief. An incredible transformation.”

An incredible transformation? Visuals matter to us as a society now and so we are talking about a change to our outer appearance. We’ve all seen the transformation Tuesdays on instagram, and I have posted a few of them myself, BUT and there is a big but here, figuratively and literally (jokes), I have to say I think there’s a flaw to how we approach the glow up.

You see to glow up, we have to assume that we were previously in a place of lower status. We’re saying that the person that we were before wasn’t nearly as great and aesthetically magnificent as we are right now. Now, even though everything around us is pointing to that being a fact, let’s play a little with the idea and see if we can’t be a bit better in how we look at things.

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When I was younger, like so many of us I assumed that everything I was wasn’t good enough. The way I looked, the way I talked, the way I interacted with my peers. I felt supremely different to them in every way. I thought they were superior. They were slim, and beautiful and knew how to talk to guys, and knew all the latest fashion trends and went to all of the coolest places and just seemed to be excelling socially.

I on the other hand felt like I was just me, which meant I didn’t stand on the corner of my street and drink, I wanted to finish reading that chapter in Garth Nix’s Sabriel for the 100th time because escaping into a world full of fantasy and possibility was the perfect balm to help ease some of reality of life, and dealing with the difficulties of some of the things happening in my life at the time.

I wasn’t confident in my body, in fact there was times were, sadly, I absolutely detested it and so I didn’t want to dress myself up in the clothes my girlfriends were wearing because not only were they form fitting and bold, but a lot of the time even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t have been able to get them in my size. I mean, let’s hold a moment of silence for those of us who we wearing men’s white office shirts as our school white shirts.

Make sure you play something lit within that moment though, we’re not here to rub salt in wounds.

Right, so back to what I was saying.

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
Maya Angelou

When you don’t relate to your peers or to your body as a young person, and you already dealing with a host of issues and hormones and mental health and family issues, you are just one ball of toe up.

You’re already telling yourself you’re not good enough, you’re ugly, there’s no hope and any other negative thing you can conjure and let me tell you from first hand experience it does not take much. We were and we are bombarded with images and articles that try help solidify those untruths as facts in our young minds. We are at war with ourselves and the weapons we are given are often in the form of our favourite tv show, whatever high street brand is popular, sometimes our friends and family, and sometimes ourselves.

I remember being consumed with the idea that maybe one day I’d get older, and I’d be enough to exist. I didn’t know that the girl who was wishing for those things was already enough. She was waiting on the glow up, when she should have been hungering for the grow up.

I had a host of positive influences in my life, including my mother and my sisters and my brother and my dad, but I couldn’t always hear them. They told me I was beautiful, but when I looked in the mirror I didn’t see my friends or the women on TV and so I told myself, “Michelle, you’re not what the world wants or needs” and that couldn’t be more untrue.

You see whatever stage of growth we are at, whatever age we make it to, the world needs us, even if we don’t recognise that. What I didn’t understand was that it didn’t matter if other people thought I was cool or “beautiful” – I was already all of those things because I wanted to be me, and my future was bright because I was loved and because I wanted to love and bring love into the world.

We think that if we achieve a goal weight or have a certain amount of money or followers or make up or clothes that we will be happy and we would have reached the ultimate glow up, but the glow up is eternal, the glow up is learning to love you, for you. It is being tolerant, it is striving to help each other, it letting yourself be open, it is about making steps to bring balance to your body, mind, soul and spirit.

I wish I could tell 16 year old Michelle that the most important glow up would be an internal one, where her foundations would be in faith, and hope and love and care. It wouldn’t matter if she walked around in a paper bag, she would still glow up to be beautiful.

Talking to a friend recently, I said I felt like I was having a second wind as a woman. Suddenly I was enjoying making my exterior look good, because it wasn’t about doing it for other people or reaching this ideal in my mind because of the things I see around me. I’m not doing my nails or my hair or my make up because I want to be the woman I imagined I should be, I do it because I am happy being me and sometimes that is just sitting in my underwear going over audition stuff but actually using that as a front to watch Netflix, and sometimes its putting my very best wig and my very best heels and going out with my friends. Not to mention everything and anything in between.

I am happy to just be me. That is the ultimate glow up. Who cares if the old you didn’t have great eyeliner skills or acne or was bigger or smaller? It is all a reminder of the war that has been won for your life, all those things make you, you and that is beautiful. They are triumphs and tales of a story that is not yet done. So that’s my definition of the glow up. I hope its yours too.

 

 

 

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