Aesthetically Speaking…

From boho to biker, from hip hop to Harajuku, from geek chic to grunge, the world of fashion is broad and dates back so far that the list of looks, trends, and styles are countless! Fashion can be used as our own little time stamp on history while trending looks often repeat itself as history tends to do.

1960’s Mod Style

We’ve all craved a particular dish or food and the craving remains until it is satisfied with the taste that we are in the mood for. I crave aesthetics just the same and the hunger is insatiable. Fashion connoisseurs have great tastes in style and fashion forward looks. Fashion is fun and creative. Fashion is art. It is expressive and changes just like your palate. Your aesthetic does not have to be limited to one particular look. Experiment, intermix, or if you choose, stick with the one that suits you and refine it! Here are a couple of my favorite aesthetics that I think you ought to give a try:

  1. Preppy

The preppy look is very clean cut, dapper, and pristine. Mixed between business casual and prep school attire, the preppy look is fun to wear to an office party, interview, a mixer, or upscale event. Here’s my take on it:

Purse by Tia Lynette

Sweatshirt by Fashion Over Foolishness
Blazer by H&M
Skirt by Forever21

2. One of my favorite go to styles is what I like to call the “rocker” look. I love the way that it intertwines the the 70’s hard rock feel with 90’s grunge style sprinkled with a hint of biker. It is the perfect recipe for self expression through threads:

Fishnets, distressed jeans, leather, and graphic tees are just a few of the fun garments and fabrics that is played with here. This look, once so full of teenage angst and rebellion, is now so edgy! I appreciate the way that the different layers of various textures compliment one other.

3. Geek Chic is a look that combines the patterns and fabric of the preppy look with fun accessories like suspenders, glasses, back packs, and silly socks. With this look, you have to be careful of the accessories that is added and the length of the skirt/shorts so that you are giving more nerdy and less naughty as the latter may result in a near cheapened porn star look. Yikes!

This is another beloved look of mine because it is classy yet sexy. Geek chic gives a hint of skin yet remains modest. It can be flirty and still allows you function in any setting.

While many like to have a signature look, some people like to have their attire reflect their mood or the occasion. Your fashion aesthetic can speak volumes and represent your taste in style. Be bold enough to try something new or continue to stand confidently in a look that is totally you!

Primary Colors

Dark hues and natural hair wax dim in comparison to red undertones, yellow pigmentation, and Peruvian bundles of joy. This is the misconception taught to little chocolate queens that gives them the royal blues. Primary colors. Black and coco brown shades treated as though they are secondary to them, catching all the shade for being sunkissed. Frequently compared to the dirty tar paved roads rather than the beautiful night sky bedazzled by countless stars. Primary colors. The pride and joy of the black community given high praise for their high yellow birthday suit and red bottoms as super melinated sugar mamas are deemed the second rate citizens.

Constantly reminded of who was working the fields and who was in the house, face pressed against a brown paper bag to be evaluated for acceptance, only given a second look if built like Buffy the Body, etc. I was rejected on the wedding day, but the star of racy fantasies on the honeymoon. I was told that I could not meet the family because of my complexion and course hair. Those dark days are behind the darker-complected divas as long as we ignore the negative and embrace our beauty.

Red bone and high yellow are terms used to define black people, usually women of lighter skin and of a mixed race. There is a term that is more important and less discussed in the black community. There is a term for the aforementioned form of discrimination and rejection: “colorism”. Colorism can be defined as prejudice against people/person of a dark complexion, usually among those within the same ethnic or racial group. There are many stories of bullying, prejudice, and hate-crimes. The trajedy in these testimonies is that it is done by those who look just like you.

There are women who have survived and conquered the sterotypes that hang over dark skin women of all shapes and sizes. We honor those who have paved the way for dark skinned women in the fashion and film industry such as Grace Jones, Lupita Nyonga, and Alek Wek, but there is an up and coming star who has been named the “Queen of Dark” who I absolutely adore and must add to the list. 26 year old Nyakim Gatwech is a stunning Sudanese model who took IG by storm with her dark skin and bold captions to follow! Two years ago her Uber driver told her in a disgusting tone to bleach her skin. The “Queen” responded to his nonsense with a laugh and became all the rage on social media soon after.

“My chocolate is elegant. So is what I represent… A nation of warriors”- Nyakim
“Let’s show the world how beautiful and intelligent we are apart from just being dark skinned”- Nyakim
“You are beyond beautiful and the love I have for you is unconditional because you are me”- Nyakim (a message to the black community)

In this day and age with slogans and shirts that read “melanin magic”, “melanin poppin”, “black lives matter”, and the classic “black is beautiful”, one would believe that colorism would be nonexistent in the black community, but that is not the case. However, we have progressed greatly even though this is an ongoing struggle. There is one thing that I have learned and it is that there is no white knight coming. We ebony elite must eliminate this sour state of mind rising above the hate with self-love. We need to unite together, uplift each other, and understand that the change that we want to see begins within us. We cannot keep waiting for the love and acceptance of the world when we cannot stand to even face the mirror. When it comes to our place in society we’ve got the “juice”! And you know what they say, “the blacker the berry…”

“Let’s show the world how beautiful and intelligent we are apart from just being dark skinned”-Nyakim Gatwech

I’m Spent!

Shop the Best Styles from Stores Often Overlooked!

Solitude, social distancing, senior prom cancellation, summer festivals done away with until further notice: these are a few of my least favorite things! The corona virus pandemic has forced us all to take a closer look at ourselves and to stop taking for granted the simple pleasures in life that are least appreciated…like shopping! I know there are greater things to fret about, no doubt, but I never realized how therapeutic and enjoyable it was to walk into a store or mall and run my eyes across the aisles of racks awaiting me.

Being the heavyset hottie that I am, there is a short list of retail stores that I miss because they really cater to a curvy chic’s needs! Some of these retailers unfortunately are not online but, in my opinion, all the best steals and deals are the ones that you can actually get your hands on and try on prior to purchase. There is something so very rewarding about spotting the perfect garment in just the right size in the most complimentary color there is! Let me share with you a couple of stores that will satisfy this thrill that you seek!

Vans purchased at Journeys

  1. Forever 21 : Although this brand is well-known, many are not aware of the deals that can be found here. You can shop online here, but again, the best deals are in the store. In the left picture above, the sheer leopard top was purchased for under $5 due to the seasonal sale. The leather mini skirt was also on sale for only $10. The chunky heel suede booties were not on sale, but there are extremely comfortable. The picture on the right displays a Ramones band t-shirt and spandex bell-bottom pants also from Forever 21. The band tees can get a bit expensive priced at $25-$30, but they are long lasting, stretchy, comfy, and classic.

2. Ross Dress for Less: Absolutely addictive! As a woman with curves I highly recommend any and all members of the curvy community to shop here…often! From head to toe, (minus the accessories), these entire looks are all from Ross. At Ross, I always spend less then $60 on one entire look which includes the shoes. I can spend hours in Ross, not because it is difficult to find clothing in my size or style, but quite the opposite. Everything is affordable and adorable! The crop top on the right cost less than $3, the skort was about $12, and the shoes were under $30. My little red dress in the middle was only $13 and the shoes $25. My yellow Easter dress costed my $10 and my red shoes were $30!

Jewelry and headband from Forever 21

3. Fashion Empire: Model management, boutique, studios, etc. Fashion Empire is your one stop shop for all of your beauty and fashion needs. If your are anything like me, when you are going out you want to be a show stopper and the last thing that you need is to have the queen next to you draped identical pieces! This is why I love shopping at high end shoppes tucked in away in plain sight where sizes and styles are limited so that you can drop jaws in something exclusive! Fashion Empire is owned by a team of designers, vendors, stylists, and models. You can book a personal stylist via phone or Facebook and get a unique look tailored to your style. You can also book photo shoots, makeup sessions, order personalized gear, and much more. Radiantly U, Fashion Over Foolishness, Voluptuous Woman, and Tia Lynette are available online! Connect with these brands on Facebook via Fashion Empire or directly.

In respects to the laws and guidelines put in place due to the current corona crisis, these stores are not currently open, however, shopping online is a sufficient substitute. Nevertheless, do not be heavy hearted, this too shall pass and when it does, fling the doors open and traipse into these businesses like nobody’s business!

Fashion Over Foolishness
Beni Empire
Radiantly U Boutique
Voluptuous Woman

Tia Lynette & Radiantly U

The BFF

Ten deep and ten toes down, including myself. Perfect tens, excluding myself. I couldn’t forget to add the extra five pounds tacked on after my freshman fifteen kicked in. We walked the campus as tight as ten fingers balled up into tight fists. Beautiful women of all shapes, sizes, styles, and shades, each woman killing it in her own right. The tomboy, the bougouise, the brat, the poet, the songstress, the joker, the bold, the rebel, the prissy, and the prude Cat calls and hungry howls turned heads and caused blushed cheeks to rise like Pillsbury buscuits in the oven no doubt. I grinned proudly for whichever one of my girls that was soon to reiceve a compliment. I already made up in my mind that I would turn a deaf ear to it to protect my pride because none of the suitors were calling out to me. In our sisterhood, I already determined that I was the BFF!

With such a big squad one must be wondering, “BFF to whom? How can you be besties with them all”? By now, some of you have already asked your mental Alexa to play Tokyo Vanity’s “Best Friend” as loud as possible and have began twerking in your seat. You don’t understand. Get the hump out of your back and get your hands off of your knees. That’s not what I’m refer to. In this case, the acronym BFF does not stand for “Best Friend(s) Forever”, I am talking about being the plump pal, the curvy companion, the fluffy buddy, the Big Fat Friend!

Being the heavyset hottie in the group has not always been easy. At times it is still a challenge. Even though the squad has shrunken considerably over the years and I can no longer disguise myself in numbers, I sometimes still walk around with a huge guard up when in groups or when part of a duo. Being the friend to hold the purse or pass the numbers along from a cute guy was my role many a days. It was difficult to hear that I was cute for a “big” girl and even harder to listen to a crush tell me how much they wanted to be with one of my girls. I blamed it all on my weight. I felt overlooked, overwhelmed, and underappreciated.

Girl’s night out is one of the most sought after and anticipated times that groups of friends look forward to. It’s a chance to unwind, let your hair down, and let it all hang out! Well, at least that’s what it ought to be. More than likely, the opposite happens! Every strand of hair is in place and the waist training restricts anything from hanging out. I remember, one ladies night in particular, I hit the reggae club with a friend taller than me and considerably heavier than I was. Although my mindset was totally wrong, I had told myself that tonight she could be the BFF for once and I would get the attention and numbers that I deserved. Boy was I wrong! This chick shined like the star that she is and got the attention and digits of the hottest men in the room from the youngest to the oldest. I was absolutely floored. I couldn’t understand how did I get the results that I did.

With a heavy heart, I went home alone, took off my heels and freak-um dress, and tossed my phone lacking new numbers on the nightstand. I then had a heart-to-heart with my sister who cheered me up and reminded me of how beautiful I was after she scolded me for trying to outshine my friend. After lifting my spirits she let me in on of the key ingredients that I was missing that led me to cook up a recipe for disaster. She told me, “quality not quantity”. I was stuck on this. How did math or economics play a role? She explained it. “Its not about how much you weigh, it’s about how much you bring you can bring to the table and the quality thereof. Men can see baggage full of insecurities that your dragging as well as the morals and confidence that she is carrying!” Wow! That was a word if I ever heard one! To myself, I was a BFF: a Bad Friend For real! I was a lousy pal to my friend and to myself. I had been emotionally wearing a cardboard hobo “will wed for confidence and validation” sign around my neck and didn’t even know it! No one ever viewed me as less than in my group besides me. My stinking thinking and distorted perception of my curves was the issue. It was my lack of self-image and self-love that was driving Mr. Right the wrong direction.

Do a self evaluation right now. Do you believe that you are a BFF? Are you the beautiful full figured queen or the big fat friend? Are you the Baddie that’s Fine and Focused? Are you a Bombshell Femme Fatale? Only you can decide. With self-love, confidence, and ambition you will be a true BFF (Best Friend Forever) to the one who needs you to be the most: YOU!

Let Self-Love Save You

The Death Bed

I was tangled in his sheets. Death lurking in the mattress like “Nightmare on Elm Street”. Not a horror but a tragedy. Eyes wide shut I continued to sleep. Stretching myself thin, trying to hold on to him, to tighter than a fitted sheet. All signs and blaring horns alike, obsolete. Rules of engagement broken along with our bail bond and he escaped with cold feet. But it’s a cold world for a curvy dark-skin girl, so I made him my comforter and I cocooned myself in him. Threw my dignity in the wind. Left my identity to this man’s whim. Self esteem stashed somewhere dark and dirty near the condoms, cuffs, the kinky boots and the lacy outfit. Tell me when you find it. In those sheets I lost me. Blame it on the juice, I blamed it on my genes. Big breasts thick thighs. Tell Ginuwine there isn’t any more room for even me!

I needed his attention for validation, love for confirmation, words for affirmation, and body for consummation. Penetration goes deep. Into a hole and leaves a bigger one, but I told myself it made me complete. Monogamy; fluid as a waterbed, my heart had a slow leak. The boogie man cackled underneath. Telling me if I rolled out, solitude and loneliness would haunt me. So I lay there, the devil on my shoulder clapping off the lights dimming the idea of leaving. Desire and dependency can be so deceiving. Disrobing my better judgment and tossing it to the wayside. Striving to keep him on his high horse and balance on my pedestal, his loins I began to mount and I wrapped myself with delusional images and lies that exceeded the thread count. Hill’s “Killing Me Softly” became my lullaby. I lay there, bare and misused, too empty to cry. Goose feathered pillow talks drowned out the sounds of the crows cawing at the decay of my self-love and pride. And it was there, on my back that I almost allowed me to die.

-by Markie Wolfe

Round of ApPAWS for Animal Prints!

The Myth of the Prints

The Loch Ness Monster, Yeti, Big Foot: big and scary mythical creatures and most, if not all, of these fabled beings have been proven nonexistent. Another big, fat, scary myth to add to the list of legendary lies is plus size women in animal print! For years, the curvy community, (as I like to refer us as), has been restricted and forbidden to wear prints, especially animal prints, in fear of the patterns and stripes accentuating our love handles and muffin tops. Lies! All lies!

I was taught from listening to fashion experts and reading in the top fashion magazines that patterns give the illusion that we are much bigger than what we are. I thought that prints were only meant to be used as an accent such as shoes or accessories, but never to be worn from head to toe. However, animal print can actually have the reverse effect.

Featuring Ebone Mozelle: Professional Stylist & Fashionista

Above Ebone is exemplifying the magic of mixed prints!

“Leopard prints never lose their spots or station in fashion.”– Iman

Bodysuit and dresses found on http://www.radiantlyu.com

I’ve found that animal print actually does for my body type the same thing that it does for the animal originally donning those spots and stripes: camouflage! Yes, animal print helps instead of harm our look as we’ve been told. It blends well with our body, complements darker complexions, hide our rolls, and most of all, highlights our curves!

Dress: Ross Dress for Less
Hat: Landa Izsms

When the average person pairs animal print with an accent color they tend to go for the usual choice of red or black in fear of going too bold. Be bold and beautiful! Neon and mixed prints are all the rage now! Pair that snakeskin with a neon green or yellow shoe! Throw a graphic tee on with some cheetah or tiger print bottoms. Pull on a neutral colored top and slip on a cow hide skirt. One of my favorite print is giraffe! Rare and earthy, yet overlooked. A giraffe print dress with a leather jacket is definitely an eye catcher. Try wearing a cheetah print blazer with plaid bottoms and kill the catwalk! Lions, tigers, and bears, oh my! Wear animal prints and don’t be shy!

The Elephant in the Room

I walk into the majorette audition with butterflies in my stomach. I take a gander at all of the other women who are stretching, pacing back and forth to get rid of the jitters, or sitting calmly and confidently waiting for try-outs to begin. Three judges enter the room with a young woman dressed in her majorette uniform. They quickly explain that the young lady was a study who will show us a few eight counts that we will be expected to perform on command. If this portion went well, they would then ask to see our personal audition pieces that we prepared.

An hour later, the line up of twenty girls shrank down to three, myself included. I was so close to my dream of dancing on the field and in the stands while exuding my school spirit in front of hundreds each week. Each of us danced our audition pieces, mine being to Eve’s “Tambourine”. Two of the judges applauded, one gave a standing ovation. The last judge shot me the meanest glare and guffawed afterwards.

Then there were two. A tall slender girl and I. We stood side by side awaiting our fate in front of those three judges. After much discussion among themselves, the stood and beckoned us to the table. The judge who did not seem to take a liking to me proudly placed a hand on the shoulder of my competitor and asked to speak to her in the hall as the second judge quickly made an exit. The last judge introduced himself as the band director and asked that I sat down as he had a proposition for me. I wave of nervousness washed over me as I took my seat and overheard the tall girl celebrating in the next room. The band director patted me on my back as if he was consoling me before giving me the bad news. The other judges slowly crept back into the room. One of them had their head down and the one that was not a fan of mine had a look of contempt on her face. She couldn’t hide her smirk. “Sweetie”, she began, “it was a tough decision, and we can tell you gave it your all today, but, I just don’t think that this is for you. As a matter of fact I’m not sure that you would be able to fit any of my uniforms”. The band director cleared his throat, but I’m sure it was his uneasiness that he wanted to clear away. “He and I disagree” he stated. “However, she is the coach so we won’t force anyone on her team. I would like to offer you a spot on our color guard squad though! There are plenty of girls like you on the team and it will give you a year to learn all of our stands and try out again come band camp!”

After he said, “girls like you”, the rest sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher was speaking on his behalf. I suddenly realized what the uneasiness was about. The elephant in the room was that I WAS THE ELEPHANT in that room. They acknowledged that I was a great dancer. I had made it their top two picks and had out danced many girls. It was my size that was making them uncomfortable. I stood up straight, held my head high, shook their hands, and turned down their offer to join the color guard.

A week later I was approached by a modeling troupe and became all the rage! A little over a decade later and here I am. This rejection and ridicule birthed THE BIG BADD WOLFE! A woman determined to encourage young women and men to defy and destroy the rules and stereotypes that society has placed on the curvy community!

She was on a journey that required her to be fierce. She was up for the task! – Uknown