Hello to New Beginnings

I have been MIA for the past little while (sorry!) and I can finally share why. I have been given an amazing career opportunity that will be sending me to Edmonton, Alberta at the end of the month! I have been running around like a headless chicken trying to finalize paperwork, figure out moving logistics and finding a new home, but I can finally take a bit of a break now that things are starting to shape up. For those of you who have read my blog for a while now, you know that I rarely ever share my career through this platform. This is for a multitude of reasons that range from ethical and legal obligations to personal comfort; however, the one overarching reason I am so closed mouthed about what I do on weekdays from 8-5 is that my blog is my safe space in which I escape from my career. I am a proud woman in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), continuously pushing boundaries and trying my best to excel in a predominantly white, male sector; however, it is soul satisfying to have a place to run to in order to express myself creatively through words and fashion. 

I have struggled a lot recently with what exactly I want to do "when I grow up" (aka a mid mid-life crisis, as sad as that sounds). I have been caught between the idea of jumping head first into the world of blogging and fashion or pursuing my career full on and attaining a VP title one day. On any given day I either want to be one, or the other or both, which has been causing me a lot of stress and worry as I am a type A personality who needs a plan to get to point B. I was pretty much floating around with no real drive before receiving news that this new career shift was a sure thing. This decision changed my perspective and through the conversations I have had recently, has made me realize the importance of being a Black woman in the field that I am in. Of course the blog will still be near and dear to my heart and a place where I can interact with so many different people and points of views, but for now, I am dedicated to ensuring that I push my career forward, without forgetting to pull other women up behind me too. 

I think it can be really easy to forget that most bloggers live in this dual state of mind, with one part of their lives dedicated to producing content and the other wrapped up in their personal lives and/or careers. A small percentage of bloggers can say that they are fully supported by their blogging, however, this small percentage are often the ones we hear most about. This leads to newbie bloggers, like myself, pushing hard to attain something that is actually pretty tough (not impossible!) to do, setting us up for feelings of failure when we do not reach certain milestones within given time frames. I have a few bones to pick with the plus size fashion/blogging world, one of them being an over glorification of this small percentage, alienating a base that made them who they are.

I still see myself making waves and speaking out for those who turned to the world of plus size fashion and body postivity after failing to meet mainstream beauty ideals, only to be faced with a new set of beauty ideals (e.g. being 5'9 or taller with that Coke bottle figure) that does nothing to celebrate who they are. I will still continue fighting for body diversity in fashion houses across the globe and calling out exclusionary behviour of any form in any way I can. But, I have come to the realization that I can do this while also paving the way for women in STEM, showing that we can excel in the fields dominated by men. At the core of it, both these goals really are the same: I want to prove that it is only through diversity that any organization, group or movement can achieve the greatness they set out to achieve in the first place. I am just lucky and fortunate enough to be able to instigate this change from two very different channels at the same time.

So, again, I apologize greatly for ghosting hard on you all. I promise to begin creating and putting out content more steadily towards the end of the month as I transition into my new role. YYC has been so very good to me and I will miss all the relationships I have made here. Edmonton is only a 3 hour drive away from Calgary (and my family and baby doggie Zen are still here), so I intend to still pop up at events and help bring body diversity to some of the city's events. I am so excited to start fresh in a new city and to see what Edmonton has in store for me! If you are in YEG and want to collaborate or just simply grab coffee and talk about your career with me, feel free to drop me a line or slide into my DMs real quick. 

Love & light always!

The "Right Way" to be Plus

There is still a very real and potentially harmful issue in the plus size world.

Yes, strides have been made to bring plus size wants and needs to the forefront of the fashion industry. Yes, designers are now looking at producing lines that go beyond a size 8. Yes, plus size models are being utilized more in mainstream media. But there is still an outstanding issue that no one is talking about.

We are now living in a time where there is such a thing as the right way to be plus.

As if fighting for plus size representation isn't tiring enough, it is now imperative that we start fighting for the wide range of body types the term plus size encapsulates to be equally and fairly represented in the media as a whole. The reality is that not all plus size bodies are deemed equal. I am the last person to ever put down anybody or group of persons based on the way they look and this is not in any way what I am trying to verbalize here. What I am trying to shine a spotlight on is the fact that the range of plus size bodies that I see in fashion campaigns and in the media is very singular and not at all representative of ALL plus size bodies. Placing hour glass figures at the top of the plus size pedestal is doing the complete opposite of what body positivity strives to do. By celebrating a certain type of plus size body, all we are doing is further alienating young girls and women who are not only shunned by the lack of plus size representation as whole, but who are now also shunned because their plus size and fuller figures don't look like the few that are actually out there.

Plus size representation in the modeling realm in particular is so important. I can never stress enough how critical it is that fuller figures be shown along side straight sized figures on the walkways of Milan an on billboards in Times Square. However, the fact remains that when discussing or portraying plus size in today's world, this discussion leaves out the apple shaped ladies of the world. The ladies who, like I, carry our weight in our abdominal areas. 
Women whose bodies were built without the small waists or full hips. I can not say this enough but I will continue to repeat it - having an hourglass body shape is not wrong. What is wrong is the fact that society as a whole has deemed the hour glass body shape as the face of plus size and full figured bodies, often discounting any other body that does not fit into this very specific mold.

I understand that plus size representation is new and there are still a few people out there who are taking their time to warm up to thick thighs and back rolls. However, I am not going to wait for these individuals to get it together before I outwardly express my love for my body. I'm sorry that my thick arms and stretch mark hips make you uncomfortable but that is no reason to actively exclude all the varying body types that come with being plus sized nor does it give anyone the authority to deem one type of body better than another.

Of course, my opinion of the industry as a whole excluding different fuller figure body types does come with exceptions. Brands like Torrid and Ashley Stewart listen to their clientele and provide campaigns with visibly plus women with an array of body types. These brands are quite literally a shining beacon that the industry as a whole should strive to follow. Not only are they utilizing visibly plus models, they are inviting bloggers to be a part of the campaign, showcasing a wide variety of body shapes and proving every body is beautiful and unique.

I am overly passionate about this disparity in today's plus size world because it is not too long ago that I used to search for someone who looked like me in magazines and fashion campaigns. I am thrilled about the strides that have been taken so far, with boss Queens and OGs like Ashley Graham and Philomena Kwao being the trailblazers in representing plus size figures. My concern comes with the fact that when we look at the plus size industry as a whole, it is still hard to find models and influencers that look like me. I am lucky enough to be at a point in my life where I am strong enough to understand that this is a serious hole in the plus size world and that it in no way means that I am not good enough; however, for those young girls who are at such a critical point in their development, seeing one body type as the standard in plus size modeling and fashion is so very detrimental. 
We are emanating this message of body positivity and being happy in your skin while simultaneously saying that if you aren't a certain type of plus then you are still considered sub-par.

So, this rant is dedicated to the young 13 year old who doesn't see their body reflected in mainstream media. It is dedicated to women who are still battling with having a full figured body in today's day and age. It is dedicated to individuals who feel that they don't make the cut because the term plus size seems to only be reserved for one body type. I know it is difficult to feel like your body is beautiful amidst the sea of unrealistic body ideals, but I'm here to tell you that you are perfect! No matter your body shape or size, you are beautiful and worthy. It saddens me that even after years of fighting for fair representation, there is now another battle that needs to be fought; however, I am not one to back down from a fight. 

The industry will not be truly diverse in their portrayal of women (and men!) until every type of body is given a chance in the spotlight. I will continue to hold the industry to realistic standards and will not shut up until all bodies are celebrated equally and with the same amount of excitement. 

Bare Introspection - Part 3

Ashley Graham Showstopper Balconet Bra - Addition Elle | Ashley Graham Thong with Lace - Addition Elle | Ashley Graham Seductive Chemise with Lace - Addition Elle

This is the part about moving forward. The part where I acknowledge that the feelings of insecurity and self doubt are a part of a past that made me who I am today. I will never be one to forget these feelings or push them aside again because they are an integral piece of the puzzle that is Inemesit. When I first began this journey towards reclaiming my body, I expected it to take a grand total of three months tops, after which I would have transformed into the body positive warrior of my dreams. However, it took me all of three months just to accept that this was my journey. By the time I had expected to be standing on roof tops spreading the body positive good news, I was just coming around to believing that I could one day achieve that goal. It was a serous hit to the ego, derailing a timeline that I had meticulously thought through and making me seriously question my next steps.  

But rather than revert to my comfort zone and deciding that this just wasn't for me, I pushed through it. I took my three month milestone (or lack thereof) as a learning opportunity, cutting myself some slack for not living up to an impossible standard that I only had myself to blame for creating. This taught me one of my most important lessons so far - the road to falling in love with my body was not a straight one. There will be ups and downs, roadblocks, set backs and a myriad of other reasons I should stop fighting but thats just the nature of life in general. It is my ability to dust myself off and try again (thanks Aaliyah) that I must embrace and hold dear. 

I am in a good place for the first time in a while. I know this may come as a surprise to people who I have known for a while. My outward exertion of positivity often hides the fact that I may not be doing so great internally. I tend to push things down and pretty much fake it till I make it, but this does nothing but stop me from reaching my full potential. This journey towards body positivity has not only helped me begin to regain the appreciation of my body, but it has also taught me so much about myself and how I handle the world around me. I am finally able to put my feelings out there and experience each one to the max, both good or bad. I am able to let people in without constant worry that I won't be good enough for them to keep around. I have finally began giving myself space to make mistakes and steer away from the idealistic me that I have always tried to achieve. I am happy and learning, albeit slowly, how to put myself first

Bare Introspection - Part 2

Waves

Vulnerable. Afraid. But Happy.

These are the emotions that crash over me like waves

Hiding behind a veil of nervous laughter 

But deep down feeling like the world knows my secret

Feeling like I've kicked open a door through which my insecurities can float into existence

Carefully scrutinizing every flaw

Every scar

Every stretch mark

Every fold

Afraid that my worth is plummeting towards the surface

Engulfed in flames

Terrified that my not flat tummy or thick thighs may offend someone

May cause someone discomfort

On the verge of running, clothed, to the back of the room

Where I can not be seen

But through this all

Past the insecurities, the fear, the anguish

I am happy.

I still have a ways to go before putting myself out there like this gets any easier

But for now I'll settle with contentment

I'll settle with being proud of how far I've come

I'll settle for embracing how far I still have to go

Because I will not allow my spirit to be broken

Because I'm happy.

No Sorries

I will not apologize for my thick thighs

My stretch marked hips 

Nor my big arms

I will not apologize for my melanin levels

My kinky hair

Nor my Jackson 5 nostrils

I will not apologize for my big lips

Fat ass

Nor my back rolls

Instead, I choose to embrace all the flaws that make me uniquely me

I relish my curves and folds and hips

I bask in the glory of my Black Girl Magic

I will strut through the world and prove that my size does not dictate my worth

I will yell from the rooftops 

I LOVE MY BODY

And above all else

I will never apologize for being me

Dear Inem 

This letter has been a long time coming 

A promise that I made to myself years ago

To tell myself all the positive things that I never did

To let myself know my true worth

 

Dear Inem, you are phenomenal

You are a piece of art

A precious diamond crafted by the pressures of time

A priceless treasure in this world

 

You may not see your importance

Your worth shadowed by unrealistic expectations

But the world is a brighter place because of your presence

Because of your smile

 

Dear Inem, you are strong

Powerful beyond your own comprehension 

Battling through life one hurdle at a time

A force of nature to be reckoned with

 

Dear Inem, it's okay to have your bad days

It's okay to let your emotions show through

To feel things as deeply as you can

To wear your heart on your sleeve

 

You can cry and hate the world

You can express your frustration

You can punch a hole through a wall

You deserve to express yourself without fear of ridicule

 

Dear Inem, tear down your walls

Let people in

Show off your true self

Embrace all that you are

 

Dear Inem, you deserve the world

You deserve to be happy

Never forget to love yourself 

And keep reminding yourself of this every single day

Bare Introspection - Part 1

Déesse Collection Underwire Plunge Chemise - Addition Elle

For as long as I can remember, I have battled with my body. I was always taller and bigger than everyone else and developed far faster than my peers. I recall the sense of distress and utter hopelessness I would feel every time I’d be forced in the same room as those who fitted the mold of “normal”. I was always the best friend and never the girlfriend, the fun one who always brought the laughter without ever really being part of the fun. I fought through it all, pushing down the feelings of inferiority and hanging onto the fact that people liked me for how funny I was or because I always brought the party. At first it took every part of me, both emotionally and physically, to keep up the façade of confidence and shut out any negative thoughts related to my body, but as I got older, it became second nature. I found a way to completely close off the part of me that dealt with my body, trapping all the negative self-talk and hurt emotions in a tiny black box that I stored in the back of my mind.

On paper, this seemed like the best plan. If I shutout all the negativity that came with being fat I would be able to make it through the sneers and stares without breaking a sweat. I had become an emotionally unstable child, putting on this over the top positive happy-go-lucky attitude in order to combat the serious feelings of worthlessness that plagued that little black box. I won’t lie, this approach got me through most of my young life and helped me to make friends in the new countries I would find myself living in every few years growing up. I always let fun Inemesit take the lead, trying to somehow gain the friendship of others before they realized how fat I was, as if that would deter them from saying a word to me. I immersed myself in every sport team, running track, playing field hockey, and swimming until I literally could not breath, just to prove to those around me that I was just fat, not unhealthy. But as much as I tried, I was always the fat friend, the girl the guys would talk to about their crushes, the one who would fake sick to miss out on a pool party because I didn’t have it in me to fake it anymore.

My journey to loving my body has taken me a good part of my 23 years of life. Looking back, these early memories still haunt me. I still feel the same overwhelming sense of “omg, will they like me enough or am I too fat to even be considered as cool” when I get introduced to new people. I still hold the ability to push things aside and fight the good fight, but I am working on actually riding the roller-coaster of feelings that come with each double take or snicker that comes my way. When I first started my blog, the amount of messages I received discussing how brave I was or how my high level of confidence would help others was unreal. I had people who I hadn’t even thought about in years telling me that my personal fight to regain my love for my body was awe inspiring. To be honest, all these messages did only one thing – they made me feel like a fraud. How could I, the girl who still cringed at the thought of swimsuit shopping, inspire others? I felt cornered into a lie, preaching body positivity without really knowing what that meant. Even to this day, I will still sit in a dark room and refresh my Instagram over an over again after posting a picture because I am terrified that someone will tear my picture apart.  

But at 23 and at a time in my life where loving myself has become so integral, Bare Introspection is my way of healing. It is my way of telling myself that it’s okay to have bad days where I don’t want to be seen in public as long as I embrace those feelings without locking them away. It is my way of openly admitting some very hard truths to myself in hopes that others will find the strength to do the same. But most importantly, Bare Introspection is my way of apologizing to my young self for shying away from my body and not growing to love it until now. The mere thought that such personal thoughts and feelings are being publically shared brings me close to tears. As I write this, my biggest fear is that I will be seen as weak, that the façade of confidence that I have spent my life building will be so openly removed. I am afraid that I will no longer be considered strong or brave and that my weaknesses will be made overly accessible. These things could all potentially happen and that’s a truth that I have to face. It is my ability to do so that will be my biggest victory. I deserve to be happy and I am taking little steps each day to do so.

Why I Do What I Do

2015 has been quite the year. It has been my first full year as an 'adult', a year in which I said good bye to one chapter of my life and dove head first into the next. It has been a year of self discovery away from the comfort of a home I'd known for 4 years. This year I found my voice and truly realized what is important to me. I have made new friends, finally said good bye to the one's who have drifted away, and surrounded myself with those who make me a better version of myself. To the ones who have held it down and continue to hold it down, thank you. You know who you are. You are the ones that I would gladly go to war for and the ones I owe everything to.

The decision to start blogging was one that took some thinking. I always heard people saying that everyone is a blogger these days, but the level of mental, physical and emotional stability it takes to put yourself out there to what is literally the world, is something that is often skipped past. When I first began posting, I remember sitting alone in my room for hours just refreshing my Instagram over and over again, waiting for that negative comment so I could delete it right away. I still have days of uncertainty after posting a picture in a crop top or short skirt, scared of what the comments will turn into, but I'm getting better. I embrace the bad because I know it will make the good that much more rewarding. I no longer delete those negative comments because they remind me of why I started the blog in the first place. I leave them there as a way to motivate myself and push through all the societal BS that seems to find a home on the pages of men and women who refuse to fit it's mold.

I'm proud of my body. I'm proud of every single stretch mark, every curve, my thick thighs and every other important detail that makes me uniquely Inemesit. I blog not because I care about the number of followers I get or because of endorsements and perks that come with it; I blog because I want to be the body positive role model I didn't have as a 12 year old who navigated a space not made for her. I want to be living proof that there is a light at the end of the tunnel that is adolescence. Being bullied for how you look,  for the colour of your skin or for excelling in school made growing up tough but I pushed through, at times alone, to find who I am today. I want to relay my story of struggle as an immigrant with a British accent pulled away from my home and placed in a world that was so foreign in hopes that at least one young girl can see her worth. I want to appeal to the fashion industry as a whole to create branding and provide models that better reflect the everyday woman. To provide clothing that doesn't force young plus size men and women to wear clothing beyond their age. I'm appealing to fashion retailers, as a woman who not too long ago was a teenager who fell prey to starving herself just to look like everyone else, to start representing women of all shapes, sizes and colours. It is so important that we don't negate the power that a select few in the design world hold over the well being of millions of young women around the world.

So there is my year in a nutshell. It has been a year of self discovery, a year of many downs and many more ups. I refuse to buy into the "New year new me" mentality because I don't need a new me. I'm okay with the me I currently am. When midnight strikes on January 1st, I will be the same Inemesit I was 2 minutes before, ready to take on 2016 with the same drive and confidence that I have worked hard to gain.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me this year. I wish you all the best this Holiday season and I am beyond excited to take on 2016 with you all.

Love & light

A Rant about Body Positivity

Starting this blog has been one of the most rewarding challenges that I’ve ever pushed myself to complete; however, it has opened my eyes to the unfortunate amount of body shaming, as well as blatant disregard of human feelings, that can come as a result of standing up and saying “hey, I’m okay with the way I look”. Take, for example, the #effyourbeautystandards movement – this positive reaffirmation of our need to love our bodies, despite what standards exist out there, has been misconstrued and reused as a way to fat shame. The opposite is also true when we look at the comments under pictures of women reposted by Instagram pages such as @plusmodelmag. Our own comrades in the fight for plus size recognition openly degrade these images stating that “they are pretty and all but I don’t think she really counts as plus size” simply because they appear to look “smaller” than a socially constructed image of what plus size should be. 

It is so ironic that I am unsure whether to laugh out loud or cry uncontrollably.

Nowhere is it stated that a requirement of being body positive is being plus size, just as being plus size does not automatically make someone body positive. Body positivity is a mind state that transcends size, race, gender and pretty much any other barrier. It is the belief that we are all beautiful in the body we are currently in, as well as the acknowledgement that our body may change as we journey through life. It is the collective understanding that each of us was created using a different mold and that our outward appearance should no more define who we are at the core as our height or favorite ice cream flavour does.

I’m fed up of the judgmental, insensitive and tactless attacks that take away from the true nature of the body positive movements. Body positivity is not a right reserved for a certain few – it should be defined as a communal world view that celebrates people in general, flaws and all.  I applaud men and women who love their bodies and are proud of their flaws, whether they are a size 0 or a size 32. I applaud men and women who have decided they want to work at changing their bodies through adopting a healthier lifestyle or plastic surgery because they have enough insight to know that their decision is what will make them happy and comfortable in their own skin. I applaud men and women who have survived eating disorders and are working to gain weight because that is the path they have chosen to attain happiness in this lifetime.

Who are we to judge others based on something as meaningless as size? I do not reserve my applause for anyone purely on the basis of how they look – my applause is intentionally blind and seeks only to celebrate those who are willing to celebrate themselves while inspiring others to do the same. 

It is time to end this backwards way of thinking about body positivity. It is not a realm in which only plus size women can inhabit nor is it a space in which negativity can be forced in. Being body positive simply means appreciating the body that you are in, sending positive and reassuring vibes to those who are equally as able to appreciate their own bodies, all while helping to create a safe, inviting environment where others, who may not be quite there yet, can learn to love themselves. 

Love & Light

I Am Denouncing Success

There is this relentless need to quantify success. It is so deeply ingrained in our culture that we are blind to its obviously blatant reach. If you just graduated from an Ivy League university, obviously, and have not backpacked across an obscure third world country, fixing the lives of the lesser, in order to prep for that post grad education, then you are unsuccessful. If you are over the age of 25 and are not settled into a career, engaged to someone of the opposite sex and have just finished putting on that last coat of white paint on your picket fence out front, then boy are you doing something wrong. If you are turning thirty and don’t have that huge, expensive, could have bought you a car rock on your left ring finger as you blowout those 30 sparkling reminders of your failure, then the world casts a harsh judgmental shadow on you. You are singled out, ostracized and pitied. And all for what?

A false notion that holds about as much water as my mother’s stainless steel colander.

This definition of success, housed by us in our collective psyches, needs to be abolished. We talk about this ever present glass ceiling, but in my opinion, it's time that we start discussing the brick wall. This big, ugly, overshadowing, brick wall that separates those who, in the eyes of society, have succeeded, and those who have failed to meet a systematically constructed idea of success. This pressure to reach that mountain peak so that you can plant your flag alongside all the successful, pat on the back, greats, needs to be eased, ebbed, and erased before it pulls us, as a society, into a void that we cannot escape.

When I see my peers, who are some of the most brilliant, ambitious, headstrong people I have the ultimate pleasure of knowing, get trampled by the overbearing foot of success, my heart shatters for them. It is in that moment that I believe we have failed as a society. I know firsthand what that unhealthy level of pressure to be successful can do to even the strongest of people. I have felt the unnerving feeling of the world slip away from underneath you as you stand in a circle of your peers, who have been granted front row seats to watch you fall to your untimely demise. I have felt that hard blow to the ego that comes about when you are completely blindsided by life and success rears its ugly head, grinning ear to ear, as you kiss goodbye a future you thought was so certain. I have walked calmly out of a room, smile plastered on my face, fighting against it all, until I am standing alone in a parking lot, holding onto my car for dear life, just so I can cry straight for an hour after failing at something success promised I could win.

Where, before, you felt invincible with the world in front of you, after, you feel disheveled, unsure of yourself and lost. Afraid that you simply will not be able to reach and attain that Holy Grail we all call success.

Enough is enough.

I am denouncing success.

My ideologically constructed sense of success no longer relies on what you, you or you think success should be. My frame of thought no longer holds that perfect picture of success, captured through a lens I no longer feel the need to see through. My success is predicated on one very simple premise – if I can look at myself in the mirror and love what I see, then I’m successful.

Point, blank, period.

Full stop.

That’s all folks.

If I am happy with me and am at peace with myself, I will exude success. It doesn't matter where this mirror is located, if it’s dripping in 24 karat gold or hanging off its last tired hinge, I will always continue to see myself as successful. Because to me, if I can look myself in the eye and still be able to appreciate myself in my unadulterated, most raw form, and still see the essence of me shine through, I've won. Won what? I don’t think any of us really know, but it’s the feeling of being able to walk through life, chin to the sky that is the ultimate trophy.

Now this is not a call for everyone to see success this way; on the contrary, this view of success should be mine, and mine alone. Because it comes from a place deep within myself, it can, and should, really only penetrate that humiliating darkness within me. Success should differ in us all because where we are coming from is so uniquely beautiful, our past stories a mosaic of hurt, loss, and love, that one universal definition for an end goal is nonsensical. Go forth and find your success, wherever it may be. Embrace your success in whatever form it comes in, even if your success is that white picket fence drying in the cherry blossom wind. 

But always remember, the definition of success comes from within you and no external force should ever be able to unhinge that.

No one should tell you that you are unsuccessful because they have not trudged through the ever winding road you have in order to get to the person you are today. There is only one you and therefore there is only one unique definition of success for you to live by.

Love & Light