Imagine being in an energy space with all of these extraordinary women!!! All the women involved were on a zoom call together to share and collaborate is history in the making. (You know when, you want to be a fly on the wall!!!) Women of Influence indeed!
I’ve got to tell you! I was super excited for #SharetheMicUK. It started in America during the BLM movement and takes women with the most leverage in society, opening their platform on instagram to help amplify the voices of black women here, as part of BHM (Back History Month.) There were loads and I wanted to see them all!!!! There were too many to choose from, alas I have selected a few of my favourites for you. These women share their take on body confidence, black hair politics, diversity, fashion and journalism. The complete line up can be found here @sharethemicuk
Simone Charles @simonecharles takes over @gwynethpaltrow
Ms Body Confidence herself says “I have always been a big girl. Now I am a proud size 18. I haven't always felt confident in my body. Discovering this group of real raw body positive women online has totally helped me change. I used to hide parts of my body, like the cellulite and stretch marks. I wanted to cover them up when I'm on shoots. And now I'm so proud to show them off. Finding those people that I can relate to online really helped me and the way I see myself. Imagine a world where people did fitness 4 fun”.
The captivating Charles speaks with passion and honesty about fitness in a refreshing way saying “The relationship we have with our bodies, the media has brainwashed us into thinking that it's all about losing weight, getting a six-pack and getting yourself nice and lean and fit. No, it's not! Fitness is about getting in tune with your body, feeling good and your mental health. It’s about giving yourself an opportunity to sweat and to challenge yourself so you can look in the mirror and say I'm happy with what I've done. I'm happy I was able to hold that plank for a minute, next time I’ll do a minute and a half. It's all about your own personal growth. It's been so revolutionary and so eye opening for me. We all have down days when we feel a bit crappy. I don't feel like I'm quite there yet...I'm still on this journey.”
June Sarpong @junesarpo takes over @victoriabeckham
It’s all about diversity, integration and charity work and as the Director for Creative Diversity @BBC, Sarpong Ms extraordinaire is a passionate advocate for inclusion. She talks eloquently about Victoria Beckham, who’s instagram page she was on, as a trailblazer. As “Somebody that actually shows the power of women and what happens when a woman is allowed to be the fullness of ‘all that she can be and all that she can do.’ And somehow managed to do this while being a mother and wife. Women have a special role to play in this fight for a better society. “
Sarpong in her greatness has written a number of books like “The Power Of Women” that debunks feminism and “Diversity” (as she explains) “I explore exclusion in its many forms and help challenge limiting beliefs so that together, we can begin to celebrate difference.” They educate, bring insight and start conversations, which really get the fire burning in your belly.
Her most recent book “The Power of White Privilege” inspired me to start the hlb book club - email firstname.lastname@example.org to join for a monthly read and discussion. It is described as a “pocket-sized book full of practical steps and action-driven solutions you can use, to help build a fairer future for us all.” It starts by explaining why we are where we are and goes on to say what those with power can do to help. I’m only halfway through but it's great so far and definitely one of those books that has come with me everywhere.
Emma Dabiri @emmadabiri takes over @gwynethpaltrow
“The racism I experienced once we went ’home’ to Ireland had a deep impact on me and set me on the course of my life’s work. I became outspoken on matters of race from a tender age but it was a lonely and exhausting existence.” As a mixed race woman with an Irish mother and Nigerian father (Yoruba) raised in Dublin, she shares her experience of the world as a woman of colour. She is a social historian who is fully herself and makes no apology for it. I am in ore. She's fantastic!
Her book ‘Twisted’ about the tangled History of Black Hair Culture, Emma Dabiri quotes “it explores black hair through the prism of history, culture, feminism and philosophy”. When it comes to racial justice, how do we transform?” Defo one for the hlb list! Her other book, What White People can do Next, looks at just that! Dabiri says she finds "Yoruba philosophy deeply inspiring, expansive & humane." When signing off, she left us with a beautiful traditional proverb “The sky is wide enough for all to fly without colliding”. Which to me means we can all live in harmony and there is space and too a place for us all.
Dabiri is so wacky! And brilliantly bold. I love it! During lockdown she started a platform called @disobedientbodies. She ditched the baggy, washed-out, out-of-shape undies (Oops used to know that oh too well - my bad) ✌🏽& decided to dress - or undress - cute for once! 💅🏽. Reminds me of my glamorous supermarket runs during lockdown. Cue Tesco ad wind machine!
Kenya Hunt @kenyahunt takes over @alexachung
“My experiences as a Black woman navigating the overwhelmingly white media and fashion industries inspired me to want to do whatever I can, wherever I am, to make sure more women of colour get in the room. For the past five years, mentoring has been a big part of what I do, running the grassroots scheme I founded called, R.O.O.M., a support network to help Black, Muslim, Asian and other marginalized fashion students and graduates get a foot in the door in the fashion industry”
Kenya speaks with a calming energy and a beautiful spirit, but don’t be fooled, there is nothing meek or mild about her. Formidably she has carved out an amazing career in the fashion industry and is currently the highly acclaimed Fashion Director for Grazia UK and author of GIRL GURL GRRL, her book on womanhood and belonging in the age of black girl magic. It sounds like a stunning collection of essays that transport you to the personal journeys of various women. So my Lovelies...guess which book’s next on the hlb list???
Funmi Fetto @funmifetto takes over @rosiehw
“I am a journalist - a Contributing Editor at @britishvogue, a Beauty Director at the @obsmagazine , a Brand Consultant and an Author. I am a British-born Nigerian. I am a Londoner. I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a Christian. I am a sister. I am a friend. I am a daughter. I am a lover of people, of good food, of music, of art, of culture, of nature. I am many many things. Yet, the world whittles all of this down to a single box. BLACK. My black is beautiful and it is a source of great pride, yet the world sees black as inferior, as other, as unequal, as less than. Black Lives Matter is not a moment, not a hashtag - it literally is our lives”. When she speaks, she talks of judgement and you can hear a hint of disappointment in her voice, like many women of colour, exasperated by that fact that we still have to explain what the problem is. She draws on her fountain of knowledge on topics that are both deeply personal and recurrent.
Fetto’s book ‘Palette, The Beauty Bible for Women of Colour’ as she describes was "Written for women of colour, for black women - women that the beauty industry has failed to consider as a valid part of the beauty conversation because we don’t fit into the Eurocentric ideal of what is deemed beautiful.' She has also written an article in British Vogue that looks at the ‘tweatments’ botox and fillers used by women of colour, which is very taboo, as it challenges the idea that black don’t crack!"
HLB Celebrates Women Making Herstory
To the ladies featured in this week's blog. I am grateful. You are shaping a future that is all the more bright. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with so many of us through the means of social media #thanksinsta. It is clear to see that you are already tearing things up and mushing down walls as you pave the way for those behind them to step out into the world as their full self. Definitely GIRL MAGIC right here.
I totally agree with Dabiri, we need to be celebrated! Who we are and what we are. Focus on what we love about ourselves. Love who we are in our pureness, our natural state. It is always easy to regonise our imperfections, but “acceptance is the gift to freedom” Dabiri says. It is possible to be ok with not being exactly what you would like. It's the judgment of ourselves that creates an unhealthy sense of self.
I am also reminded of Rhianna. ‘The Business Woman’ as she now describes herself. Originally an artist she continues to dominate every single industry she touches. She’s also what it looks like, when a woman is not boxed in, not confined, but ballsy and brave enough to “create rather than wait!” I feel that could be a hashtag hee hee!
It's interesting how each one of these women have their own personal experience but a commonality of what life is like a black women in the UK. However uniquely, it has not stopped them from being bold in their voices and bold in their choices. They have against all the odds, become powerful Women Of Influence in their fields, industries and organisations and it is now time for us to recognise that we too, are women of influence and that the world awaits.
As a Women of Influence you can impact the world in your own unique way. It's your voice, your interest, your take on things. It’s your vision of the future that counts. It‘s who you want to help and how you want to help that matters. Just start - do it - even if you're not sure - it's much easier to drive a moving car. If you want some help to kick start that side hustle - start prioritising your goals through SelfCare get in touch. Figure it out along the way and make your mark on the world. You are remarkable and whatever you give a go will be a remarkable decision - remember it’s not the size of what you do that counts, it is that you dared to do it at all!!