Tag: Sisterhood

Embracing You: The Spirit of Identity

Now is the time to embrace your identity but it isn’t always easy to do so. To this end, I am delighted to adapt and repost this blog from August last year on the tough topic.  Check it out along with our podcast on the subject to as you embrace yourself for a great holiday season.

Identity is one of those things that is always there from birth–we get many tags if you will–a gender, a race and nationality, a weight, a health check and eventually a name and all sorts of abilities and so on. Still, as if it has never been there before identity, as a huge concept, pops up on the teenage radar screen with blinking red lights: Warning! Warning! This is your gender, your sexuality, your race, your ability and here is what it means.

The pressure is on to identify with different parts of you and if there is an internal clash or negative connotations about something you identify with, this can cause problems.  It is important to make the point that identity and mental health are linked, if only because clashes and negativity can cause anxiety, worries and so on.

In some instances, anxiety and stress can escalate into depression, even self-harm. And even in the majority of instances when it doesn’t escalate, the stress over identity is to be taken seriously. At the very least, bad moods and low self-esteem can set in.

And though it is easy to say don’t worry about it, that is easier said than done. It has taken me many years to really understand this and even now I have my moments. Rachita Saraogi and Rebecca Thomson, in our  UIO: Your Identity Inside Out podcast, advise not owning the negativity, leaving it with the people who perpetuate it. You might not be able to change them, but you can change your views on how you view yourself, who you are.

That’s the spirit!

Reflecting on my teenage years, I remember obsessing a lot about hair— its length, its texture and so on. While I can’t say that I have ever consciously disliked my hair for its texture or length, I was not immune to beliefs about Afro hair, if you will, the talk about good hair and bad hair.

Admittedly, there were times in my life when I wanted a certain hairstyle because it was popular and considered the highest mark of beauty. For example, long straight hair was the in thing but as I wasn’t in charge of my hair, my mother was, I didn’t get it.

I doubt if it had anything to do with the political belief that relaxed hair is somehow symbolic of a European standard of beauty. Her reasoning more or less had to do with growing up too fast and economics.

Nowadays, many teen girls have returned to natural hair, as part of a resurgence of the natural hair movement in black communities around the globe, which proposes that hair is healthier for the individual physically and mentally in its natural state.  Furthermore, some believe that natural hair suggests a stronger sense of identity with one’s heritage and straight hair suggests the opposite.

Though I don’t agree with the line of thinking, I think it is wonderful to see teen girls and women with Afro hair in its natural state—the ponytails, the braids, the Afros, but just the same I love seeing hair in all of its versatility as long as it is healthy and well maintained.  That is what is key for me and mainly why I continue to relax my hair—it is either for me to maintain, though I have worn braids over the years, returning my hair to its natural state and in high school, I sported an Afro.

Regardless of style, I identify strongly with my hair and what I have learned about this over the years is that it is mine, part of my beauty, part of my health, and rightly or wrongly it is a big, big, big part of my self-esteem. Thus, regardless of trends, movements, beliefs, politics, I need to be happy with my hair—not the world.

And nowadays, I don’t make any excuses or apologies for that. End of story. Underneath the hair is where my real identity lies and it is up to me to embody that. That’s the spirit!  For tips, check out Your Identity Inside Out

 

Celebrating Your Girl Super Power

Though women and teenage girls are experiencing unprecedented pressures to be perfect, to be happy all the time, we girls remain amazing and there is no better time to be a woman, a girl and to celebrate.

Celebrating womanhood is appropriate any time of the year but during March, Women’s History Month, honouring and celebrating women is a daily event, not to mention the excitement of International Women’s Day, March 8.

Appropriately so, we have re-released our Identity podcast, a wonderful celebration of identifying as a female.  Sisterhood co-founders Rachita and Rebecca talk about the wonderful girl cell that we ladies have.

“The girl cell is your super power. “

Ever since I heard this emancipating statement, I have been in fifth gear, encouraging teenage girls to reject the modern pressures in their lives, posing as necessary, norms that will serve them now and forever more.

Hence, our wait awhile initiative, starting its third week of life. With alarming statistics revealing that some teenage girls are actually getting non-medical cosmetic surgery, I have had endless conversations and queries about the matter. How can this be happening? Are these procedures legal, etc?

One growing concern I have is that the real point of this statistic–teenage girls are being forced to grow-up too soon– is lost on society. It some ways it appears that the story is yet another sensational piece, detaching it from real girls.  Not so fast!

The reality is that real teenage girls have had their lips done several times to make them bigger, had fillers in their mouth so gums don’t show when they smile, fillers in their nose so they can contour it, had numerous injections in their bottoms, and Botox from the age of 16.

This is real life, not reality television, impacting the lives of a generation of girls who are making these choices under pressure, often blaming the social media culture in which they live. Social media has a lot to answer for, which is why we are supporting The Telegraph’s duty of care campaign and calling on the Government with as many strokes of the pen as we can to make social media a safe space for teenage girls.

But social media alone is not the only problem. Our girls are growing up under the influence of modern pressures on and off media. Our research corroborates that some of the pressure are systematic, if you will.

So change is needed inside, out if you will.  Meanwhile, we are saying to teenage girls: embrace your girl cell, your super power, use it to strengthen your identity. Follow your passions and side step things that will likely lead to regret and enjoy the good stuff about being a girl and as for the good stuff about being a woman, await awhile. It will come.

For more tips on identity, check out Your Identity Inside Out and tap into your girl cell, your very own superpower.

UIO Launches New Podcast Series

Kicking off UIO’s new podcast series, I have a fantastic conversation about identity with Rachita Saraogi and Rebecca Thomson, co-founders of Sisterhood, a social enterprise about turning girl’s self-doubt into self-confidence through creativity.

Out today, Series 2: Episode 1: Your Identity Inside Out delves into questions that often arise during adolescence. How to deal with gender stereotypes and so on. Also, the podcast offers lots of tips on how to tap into your girl cell and use it as your super power.

Intriguing stuff! And that’s not all. To listen, download a feed reader and sign up for my rss feed here. Also, listen on iTunes, Spotify, Tunein, Stitcher and Soundcloud and check out our Twitter, Instagram or Facebook page, all @uiopodcast.

In the meantime, not only do we have another exciting line-up of fabulous guests this season, we have also taken to the studio to improve the sound and overall production quality of the podcasts. Some of the episodes are taped in Maple Street Creative in Central London and others in the White City Place podcast hub in West London.  It’s all about making better podcasts for you.

On that note, coming up in two weeks is Episode 2: On Undiagnosed Mental Illness Inside Out with Eleanor Segall, writer and expert on mental illness. Stay tuned!