Activism Middle East and North Africa Politics The World Inequality

Celebrities are not activists, but they play a role in the public perception of Palestine

Over the last 2 weeks, Palestine has been constantly bombed by Israel, stemming from the forced expulsion of Palestinian residents from their neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, that spread to protests at Al Aqsa, and other parts of Gaza, and the West Bank. Over 200 Palestinians have died, hundreds are injured and crucial infrastructure has been damaged or totally destroyed.

Across social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok, Palestinians both residing in Palestine and those in the diaspora have been sharing videos of the attacks, and their aftermath. These have been shared by activists and concerned users alike, and retweets, and reposts have been viewed thousands of times. Marches and protests have been organized and attended by thousands around the world, to put pressure on local governments to condemn the attacks against civilians, though only a few acknowledged the effect being had on Palestinians.

With the outright refusal of some influential Western governments like the US, UK, Canada, to acknowledge the ethnic cleansing happening in Palestine, social media has been instrumental in spreading awareness of the situation. Palestinians have been sharing videos on Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and Twitter of first hand experiences, some even covering live bombings, such as the bombing of an international press tower in Gaza. Others share the pictures and videos of the aftermath of their homes being destroyed, as they search through the rubble for their belongings or loved ones. These tweets, posts and videos centers the Palestinian narrative as told by Palestinians themselves, rather than Western media outlets who have biased reporting of events. However, some Palestinian activists, civilians, and journalists, who are putting the spotlight on these events  on social media platforms have had their posts removed for violating community guidelines, making it more challenging to share the events as they happen.

This is where social media influencers and celebrities, who amass hundreds of thousands and millions of followers can platform what’s occurring. When media outlets have been describing what’s been happening as a conflict, or real estate dispute instead of ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and war crimes, social media is the medium through which people can see for themselves what’s happening on the ground, from those who afflict and those who have been inflected by rockets and bombs. 

Over the past few days, some celebrities and influencers have posted differing standpoints on what’s been happening. Some, like Bella Hadid, and Mark Ruffalo (well, kind of, but that can be addressed later), have been clear on their stance in support of Palestine, through tweets or pics of them attending marches. Celebrities has also expressed Zionist views, notably Gal Gadot – who’s served in the Israeli Defense Force – who posted on Instagram about the recent escalation, without even mentioning or acknowledging Palestine as a country of its own.

Others, like Rihanna – as though inspired by Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi ad –  have made statements in an effort to impartiality, which have been bland, flat, and have left a sour taste in followers’ mouths. The attempt at a neutral take, are out of touch with reality and insensitive, as activist Marc Lamont Hill pointed out in a recent video. “Sometimes sincere efforts can be sincerely wrong. This is essentially an All Lives Matter post.” Marc Lamont Hill said in response to Rihanna’s post, a simple text post expressing her concerns about innocent Israeli and Palestinian children’s lives being lost due to violence.


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While, as Marc stated in his response video below, her post may have come from a place of genuine concern, what the post did lack, was nuance. The framing of the post, left out crucial information about the situation and the current attacks on Palestinians. Like when she wrote “violence… displayed between…” when this is an occupier, Israel, attacking Palestinians, there’s a power dynamic at play. She ended her statement with “government and extremists,” further framing this matter as one where perpetrators actions may be justified, when it’s people who are defending themselves and property.   

For celebs and influencers who’ve posted enthusiastically about their support for BLM, the silence on Palestine is disheartening. The parallels between police brutality, surveillance, biased trials, sentencing and jail time that both Black Americans and Palestinians experience are clear, and their support for each other has been vocal on both sides. 

There are decades worth of historical events that’s led to the present day scenario. But a lack of knowledge is not an excuse for not wanting to repost something in support of Palestinians – go learn from people who can inform you, and share from people who know or are experiencing for themselves. A concern over the repercussions publicly supporting Palestine may have on celebrities careers, or influencers’ brand deals, or overall brand image, are present and real. But, this begs the question, What matters more – profits or principles? Especially when they’ve taken a public stance on BLM, why not Palestine?

Let’s talk about Mark Ruffalo, who seems to be backtracking from his support of Palestine, or at least some of it. In his most recent tweet he wrote that his previous tweets might have been misconstrued as anti-Semitic, stepping back from his language that suggested Israel is committing genocide. Earlier he’d retweeted Bernie Sanders’ speech listing the damaging effects violence against Palestinians has had on children and infrastructure alike.


Bella Hadid, who has Palestinian heritage, has faced backlash from Israeli social media accounts for her support for Palestine, claiming her statements to be anti -Semitic. With threats against her family, some of her posts about Palestine were removed from her social media accounts. 

With celebrities and influencers relying on brand deals, they potentially risk their careers with their blatant political opinions, especially when they live in countries where their local government’s stance is the contrary. Going against that can be polarizing for themselves and their careers. But this is also an indicator of numbers and influence. Celebrities and influencers can capture millions of followers attention and cause them to reflect on their personal views on a human rights issue, and with social media, everyone has access to information, and can create content. Social media can connect us like we’ve never been connected before, but, we can’t stay connected to everything all the time, which is where the role of celebrities and influencers come into play. Earning their followers’ trust leads to their ability to persuade, influence, and also frame things in a specific way.

This creates an imbalanced relationship between the influencer and follower. If an influencer posts about something, it must be good, because we’ve handed that power of persuasion over to them. And if they don’t talk about something, it probably isn’t important, or not worth a follower’s time. Celebrities’ and influencers’ support or lack of support doesn’t necessarily legitimize what’s happening in Palestine. Are celebrities and influencers actively sharing posts about what’s happening, and participating in protests, knowing that they can experience backlash and still do it because it’s the right thing to do? That’s great, because the more people who are informed, can lead to more pressure on governments to do something. Have popular celebrities and influencers gone radio silent about Palestine, and picked neutral or fluffy statements? Should we expect a round 2 of the insensitive rendition of Imagine? (I hope not). It doesn’t take away from the urgency and reality of the situation. They’re free to do as they want or don’t want, it doesn’t diminish the importance of raising awareness to bring about change.

Palestine is a human rights issue. War crimes are being committed. Western support for Palestinians is crucial, because those governments can put enough pressure on Israel to stop their attacks. Celebrities and influencers posts and tweets are not activism; but they still bring attention to current events, and focus and refocus the importance and bias of these issues. And it’s about time we put that into context of the broader picture; this is a means of bringing about urgent change for Palestine. 


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Career Now + Beyond

Just because I teach children does not mean I have maternal instincts

While I have never thought of myself to be particularly maternal, I find it relatively easier to work with children. This is why I have increasingly considered exploring a career in teaching. However, this may come with a cost. In an interaction with a distant relative, I expressed my interest in pursuing teaching as a career and simultaneously not wanting children of my own. What followed next was an inexhaustible lecture on how having children is one of the greatest pleasures of life. I tried to explain how I do not picture myself as a mother in the future. According to them, however, I might have the instincts in me somewhere because nothing else can explain my desire for teaching. On the contrary, I think that teaching as a profession would provide me with a sense of fulfilment that is separate from my parental choices.

It is often inherently assumed that most women want children of their own at some point in their lives. In recent years, there has been a growing conversation about normalizing women not wanting children of their own due to various reasons. Many women choose to prioritize their careers instead of starting a family. More often than not, these women are still interrogated and counseled on the importance of having children. Ever since I began teaching, I have been questioned by various colleagues and friends about having changed my opinions on having children. I, however, do not feel that teaching has affected my maternal instincts. 

Teaching is often perceived as a gendered occupation. Whilst this has changed in recent years with more men entering teaching, it still remains largely female-dominated. According to author Bryan J. Nelson lack of male teachers is mainly because “working with children is seen as a woman’s work, men are not nurturing and something must be wrong with them if they choose to work with children.” Nelson explained that there is also the existence of a fear that men are more likely to harm or abuse children compared to women. It is difficult to determine whether or not men are more likely to be abusive than women in teaching, however, these stereotypical notions have undoubtedly added to the gender gap in the profession.

There seems to be a preconceived notion that all teachers would want to have children of their own. Even if they initially begin their careers with not wanting children, after spending an ample amount of time with kids it is assumed that they would eventually embrace motherhood. I, however, wish to challenge this view. As a teacher myself, I have never felt the desire to have children of my own even after spending long hours working with them.

I began teaching in my early teens and since then I have periodically taken on teaching/tutoring jobs. In all my jobs thus far, I have found teaching to be the most gratifying and a career that I see a future in. However, not once have I felt the desire to have children of my own. People may assume that this will change once I get married but I have also spoken to teachers who are married and would not like to have children of their own. Some teachers have also said that they would not have had children of their own had they began their careers before having children.

People find it difficult to dissociate one’s career choices from their life choices.

People often say that ‘childless teachers cannot truly understand children’. This statement automatically implies that women without children may not have maternal instincts. Maternal instinct, however, is largely a myth. It comes from deep love, devotion, intense closeness, and time spent thinking about the child. And is not limited to just mothers. Psychotherapist Dana Dorfman agrees that many aspects of maternal instincts are a myth. It is not necessary to be a mother to understand and care for children. Understanding and care come from observation and experiences. Many people land in jobs that they have had no prior experience in, however, with time they learn and excel at their job. So, why are teachers subjected to this form of generalization?

The idea that being a teacher affects one’s maternal instincts or vice versa is largely misogynistic as it exposes the underlying trend of women being incomplete without children. In the case of teachers, it becomes rather problematic because people find it difficult to dissociate one’s career choices from their life choices.

Globally women have gained greater autonomy to choose their careers and overcome misogynistic trends prevalent in societies. Choosing teaching as a career option and simultaneously not wanting children is largely questioned and viewed skeptically. So much so that people often go to extreme lengths to explain to me that working with children will lead to me changing my mind sooner rather than later. However, that is yet to happen.

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Fashion Lookbook

The dark truth behind polyester clothing and why you shouldn’t buy it

Almost all the clothes in your closet are made from polyester, one of the most popular textiles on the market. It’s become one of the go-to clothing fabrics because it’s cheap, durable and light-weight.  However, not many people know about the dark side of the polyester industry. It’s one the most destructive textiles on the planet.

Two British chemists, John Rex Whinfield and James Tennant Dickson, invented polyester in 1941.

I can’t ignore the fact most clothes are made of this versatile fabric and it would be super difficult to stop buying it altogether.  But there are plenty of reasons why polyester should be avoided to the best of your ability.

Polyester is a synthetic, man-made textile that’s usually derived from petroleum. It’s a non-biodegradable material that can be categorized as a plastic. Interestingly, it only rose to popularity in the 1970s when it was marketed as a “miracle fiber” that’s easy to clean and maintain. From this point onwards, polyester clothes were mass-produced like never before.

The mass production of 100% polyester clothing slowed down after consumers realized it’s not a comfortable clothing fabric. All those scratchy, lint-ball covered jerseys in your closet are most likely made of this low-quality material. The fabric isn’t very breathable either. It can leave you feeling sweaty and restricted if you wear it for too long. Ultimately, it’s not advisable for anyone with sensitive skin as it aggravates skin rashes, eczema and redness.

To make matters worse, polyester has had adverse effects on the environment. The production of polyester involves the use of harmful chemicals and carcinogens. As a result, the industry contributes to water and air pollution. If left untreated, it causes irreversible environmental damage. China, India, and other South-East Asian countries manufacture most of the world’s polyester. The environmental policies in these countries are more lenient than other regions of the world. This makes it possible for them to mass produce polyester without any consequences.

It’s virtually impossible to completely avoid polyester. However, you can make smarter choices. The label of a fabric  indicates what materials make up the product. Try to find items made of natural materials like cotton, silk, wool and cashmere. These high-quality materials are often more comfortable to wear and less harmful to the environment.

The US produced more than 1.28 million metric tons of polyester in 2019.

Once you start buying clothes made of natural fabrics , you’ll notice that most of your pieces last much longer. Modern polyesters can replicate the look and feel of real silk and wool, but they’re still blended with low-quality synthetic materials that you should steer clear of buying. However, blended fabrics are a better option than 100% polyesters. Generally, it’s better to buy a blended fabric item if you can’t find anything else.

If you’re an environmental activist and you want clothes to last longer than a year, avoid polyester. It might seem trivial at first, but making small changes like this could be highly beneficial in the long run. Your clothes won’t fade, gather lint-balls and make you feel uncomfortable. 

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Fashion Lookbook

Diet Prada: the fashion watchdogs that changed how I view the industry

In the age of social media, influencers and ever-changing fashion trends, clothing brands are constantly trying to stay relevant. They often resort to copying talented indie designers and high-end fashion brands. And they usually do this without considering the implications. Diet Prada is here to call them out while emphasizing that fashion is more than just items of clothing, it’s art. You can’t steal people’s art.

Diet Prada started out in 2014 as an anonymous Instagram account that called out fast fashion brands for constantly copying high-end designers and indie artists. Their witty and informative posts peaked the interest of fashion enthusiasts across the world. It was later revealed that two fashion industry professionals, Tommy Liu and Lindsay Schuyler, are behind the whole thing.


As of October 2020, Diet Prada’s Instagram account has over 2.2 million followers and there’s no sign of things slowing down.

They’ve evolved into a full-fledged fashion watchdog group ready to call out the copycats. They also speak on various issues surrounding the industry.

Major clothing brands can steal designs with ease because fashion is not fully protected under US copyright law. It’s still considered a manufacturing industry rather than a creative one. For this reason, there’s a lack of legal protection for designers and it enables the mass production of knockoffs and replicas.In an interview with Fast Company, Diet Prada co-founder, Tony Liu, shared that, “young creatives don’t have the resources to battle in court.” This is one the many reasons why Diet Prada is committed to shaming popular clothing brands that don’t respect the artistry behind fashion design. In the same interview, co-founder Lindsay Schuyler, urged us to start viewing fashion designs as intellectual property.

One of the most iconic Diet Prada moments was when they called out Fashion Nova for copying countless designer outfits worn by the Kardashian sisters. Kim Kardashian was photographed wearing a vintage 1998 Thierry Mugler cut-out dress for the 5th Annual Hollywood Beauty Awards. Fashion Nova released an exact replica within 24 hours and it retailed for only $50. Diet Prada found this suspicious for several reasons and they did not hesitate to call out both parties. Firstly, Fashion Nova’s copycat tendencies were getting out of hand. Secondly, they thought Kim Kardashian might be in on it. How on earth did Fashion Nova manage to release a knockoff Mugler dress in only 24 hours?

In the past, I rarely ever thought of who designed the the clothes that I own and whether they received adequate recognition. Since I started following Diet Prada in 2018, I can say I’ve become more fashion conscious. As a writer, I can only imagine how frustrating it would be if someone was constantly copying my work. This is the plight of so many fashion designers.

Nevertheless, Diet Prada has evolved into more than just a fashion watchdog group. If you look at their recent Instagram posts, you’ll notice that they use their platform to raise awareness about social issues like sexism, racism, and environmental concerns. They also dive deep into the detrimental effects of the fast fashion industry and strive to provide reliable fashion news. I’ve witnessed first-hand how their content is taking the fashion industry by storm.


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Self-Care Fashion Lookbook

Boobie Billie: the Instagram icon who knows how political fashion can be

Meet Boobie Billie: Instagram influencer dog whose stylish and quirky posts have expanded her platform to almost 200K followers. I had the chance to chat with Boobie about her philosophy on self-care, and talk about how she is using her platform to shed light on some very important issues regarding racial inequities.

Based in Brooklyn, NY, this Italian Greyhound-Chihuahua mix has taken over the internet with her unique style and handbag collection. She has been featured on platforms such as Cosmopolitan, Refinery29, Insider, and has participated in various Instagram takeovers on these well-known accounts.

As a lover of dogs and all things fashion, I started following Boobie a few months ago. I loved to go on her page and see her cute outfits. But I also love her persona and how unapologetic she is in everything she does, including speaking out about the current political climate and making sure that she can use her platform to uplift the issues we are facing in these times.

She’s even been encouraging her followers to vote and take action against the injustices that have recently reignited the Black Lives Matter movement.

A refreshing fashion icon of our time, Boobie brings light and positivity to her followers, not only by slaying in every outfit but also by encouraging them to practice self-care and self-love. 

Besides taking the internet by storm and uplifting her followers during the pandemic, she has been supportive of the recent Black Lives Matter movement. In the past few weeks, Boobie has used her platform to uplift Black voices and Black-owned businesses. She’s even been encouraging her followers to vote and take action against the injustices that have recently reignited the Black Lives Matter movement.

Boobie Billie began sharing her outfit of the day posts in December of 2019, and from there, she has expanded her platform to also include storytelling and entertainment for her followers. She uses her Instagram stories and the highlight feature to showcase her uniquely bold, lively, and cheeky personality. 

Some of her most iconic outfits include accessories such as sunglasses, sneakers, and tiny designer handbags from brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Fendi. Even her sneaker collection is probably better than yours.

Even her sneaker collection is probably better than yours.

When she’s not rocking her iconic fashion looks, you can find her head wrapped in a towel, cozy as ever. Sometimes she will be using a jade roller for some TLC. Boobie swears by self-care, stating “Honestly bbs, it’s something you can do to ground yourself every day and I love that for you. She knows that with a global pandemic going on and with stay at home orders all over the world, self-care is essential.

In one instance, she even challenged her followers to send her pictures of them engaging in self-care and in exchange sent them a cute collage of herself for their Zoom backgrounds. When asked what self-care has looked like for her during quarantine, she said “It’s all about keeping up with the things that make me feel gorgina and reclaiming that time for myself. Because if you’re not there for you, you can’t be there for them bbs.” 

She is a self-care icon.  

Boobie Billie also recognizes that systemic racism affects literally everything, even fashion. Realizing this was crucial for Boobie, especially in knowing how important the anti-racist movement is – not only in this chaotic political climate but also for the long term. Her platform has made her realize that she needs to be more conscious of the brands that she supports and works with. Moving forward, she will continue to think about how fashion is political and how she can use her platform to amplify Black voices and brands. 

In a recent post, she wanted to bring Black-owned businesses to the forefront with her outfits.

Boobie Billie also recognizes that systemic racism affects literally everything, even fashion.

Her caption said, “There are literally SOOO many gorg black-owned clothing and accessory brands doing FABULOUS things. Starting today, I’m going to do a better job of bringing them into my looks, so that more bbs can discover them.” Boobie knows that she can continue to support the movement with her platform and through her fashion choices. 

 She states, “I wanted to be there for my bbs in every way I could and make sure I was using my reach to get resources out there …  But going forward, there are so many ways to help keep the movement going. To me, that means choosing different accessories or brands that are just as fabulous and amazing but don’t get as much support from the mainstream fashion world. If a little fashion Italian Greyhuahua like me can do it, we all can bbs.” 

Not only has she shared various resources for folks to take action in these times, but she has even encouraged her followers to vote in the upcoming elections. She is a civically engaged icon that many of us can learn from.

In a time where many celebrities and other leaders have been silent, it is refreshing to have her on our side, advocating for the cause and sharing resources on her platform. In one of her recent posts she captions, “And to all my bbs who are BIPOC, I love you so much and I’m behind you every minute of every day.”  

As a rising influencer, we are excited to see where Boobie Billie takes her platform in the future and all the marginalized voices that she will be able to uplift through fashion.

“And to all my bbs who are BIPOC, I love you so much and I’m behind you every minute of every day.”  

A fashion-icon, self-care star, and civically engaged queen, she is doing it all and using her platform to uplift her followers. So what’s next for Boobie? “All I ever want is to make everyone feel like the gorgina angel bb that they are, so I’m going to keep doing that!

Internet, can we please have more dog influencers?


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Outfits Street Style Style Fashion Lookbook

23 Black fashion influencers you absolutely need to follow

We all know how Instagram can change peoples’ lives, build unprecedented careers, and highlight amazing voices. However, most of the top fashion and beauty faces we see across the grid and featured on media platforms are white. From fashion tips to feeds that mirror your favorite magazine spreads, these are the women whose style we can’t get enough of.

Between the top-notch style and eye-catching imagery, we’re not sure why you wouldn’t want to follow these badasses.

1. MsKristine

MsKristine wearing fitted denim jeans, a white top, and a long yellow blouse.
[Image description: MsKristine wearing fitted denim jeans, a white top, and a long yellow blouse.] Via MsKristine on Instagram
Former plus-size blogger turned fashion designer, Kristine Thompson is the founder of KIN, a shopping destination for everyday women. Fun fact: each letter of ‘KIN’ stands for a member of her family.

Her pieces are timeless and prove that you can be both trendy and curvy.

2. Stylishcurves

Alissa Wilson wearing a blue pencil skirt with yellow vest
[Image description: Alissa Wilson wearing a blue pencil skirt with yellow vest.] Via Alissa Wilson on Instagram
Alissa Wilson is the fashion editor behind Stylishcurves, a plus-size brand featuring vibrant but classy outfits. Part of her mission is to offer stylish clothing options to women of all sizes and backgrounds.

If you’re a professional looking for cute clothes, look no further for inspiration.

3. Slipintostyle

Elizabeth Delphine wearing pink pants with a red plaid blazer
[Image description: Elizabeth Delphine wearing pink pants with a red plaid blazer.] Via Elizabeth Delphine on Instagram
Elizabeth Delphine, the model and Instagram influencer behind Slipintostyle is effortlessly chic with a style reminiscent of Parisian haute couture.

If you like colorful and unique pieces, you’ll fall in love with her feed.

4. Fashionvoice4u

Ajibe Oge wearing a red jacket dress with a black oversized purse
[Image description: Ajibe Oge wearing a red jacket dress with a black oversized purse.] Via Ajibe Oge on Instagram
Fashion designer, Ajibe Oge, created Fashionvoice in 2016. The name of the platform reflects her idea that fashion has the potential to give someone a voice.

If you like colorful flowy summer dresses and funky headwraps, you should stop by her shop.

5. Romeosfashionfix

Juliette Foxx wearing turquoise pants with black and orange top
[Image description: Juliette Foxx wearing turquoise pants with black and orange top.] Via Juliette Foxx on Instagram
Every week is fashion week according to influencer Juliette Foxx and we couldn’t agree more.

Her style is casual, yet equal parts trendy and edgy as well. If you like fierce looks with statement pieces, you’ll feel right at home on Juliette’s feed.

6. Amandafinesse

Amanda Finesse standing on a sidewalk, wearing a dress with black boots, a hat, and sunglasses
[Image description: Amanda Finesse standing on a sidewalk, wearing a dress with black boots, a hat, and sunglasses.] Via Amanda Finesse on Instagram
Amanda Finesse is a New-York based style influencer and personal shopper. She provides women the tools to dress for success and believes in promoting diversity and inclusion in fashion.

If you like fun and bright fashion with a unique twist, you’ll love her feed. You can also check her out here.

7. Karenbritchick

Black woman sitting on kitchen counter, wearing a green summer dress
[Image description: Karen Blanchard sitting on kitchen counter, wearing a green summer dress.] Via Karenbritchick on Instagram
Karen Blanchard is a fashion YouTuber and Instagrammer who encourages women to own their style. Londoner living in New-York, she vlogs about what everyone is wearing in the big city.

Her fashionably laid back style is everything and her blog ‘Wheredidugetthat’ can help you emulate her!

8. Annemarieamber

Black woman posing on a set of stairs, wearing a copper colored outfit
[Image description: Anne Marie Amber posing on a set of stairs, wearing a copper colored outfit.] Via Annemarieamber on Instagram
Chicago blogger Anne Marie focuses on fashion for petite women. Her feed is a stunning mix of neutrals and classic outfits with some accent pieces thrown in.

Follow her Instagram page if you can deal with aesthetic envy!


Black woman standing in the street wearing blue shorts and a white shirt
[Image description: Stacey Robinson standing in the street wearing blue shorts and a white shirt.] Via Thisandthatfashion on Instagram
Stacey Robinson is a lifestyle and fashion blogger from Alabama. She’s a mom of three daughters who are all into fashion.

She created her blog to show young women that you don’t need a lot of makeup or expensive clothes to look amazing.

10. Veilbydaraadams

Black woman in a white wedding dress looking at her reflection and smiling
[Image description: Black woman in a white wedding dress looking at her reflection smiling.] Via Veilbydaraadams on Instagram
Dara Adams is a bridal fashion stylist committed to helping women of color feel seen in an industry that otherwise fails to represent them.

She wants to break any preconceived notion of what a bride of color “should be” by encouraging women to be fashion-forward.

11. Lovebstyle

Brittany (lovebstyle) wearing royal blue fitted pants with matching crop top and ankle length vest
[Image description: Brittany (lovebstyle) wearing royal blue fitted pants with matching crop top and ankle length vest.] Via Lovebstyle on Instagram
Brittany is a Chicago based fashion Instagrammer. Her style is comfy, cute, and feminine. 

She’ll be your virtual shopping buddy. 

12. Monroesteele

Monroe wearing a bright yellow dress with oversized belt
[Image description: Monroe wearing a bright yellow dress with oversized belt.] Via Monroesteele on Instagram
Fashion blogger, Youtuber, and editor-in-chief of @steele.magazine, Monroe knows all about the best deals and brands to support. 

If you love colorful, elegant, and modern looks, you’ll fall in love with Monroe’s feed. 

13. SoniqueSaturday

Sonique wearing kaki colored oversized pants with white tank top
[Image description: Sonique wearing kaki colored oversized pants with white tank top.] Via SoniqueSaturday on Instagram
Sonique is a fashion designer, stylist, and overall inspiring woman based in LA. Her aim in life is to encourage women to go after their dreams and to look fierce while they do. 

Check out her designs here

14. Yvettecorinne

Yvette wearing a green ankle-length flowy skirt with matching head wrap and plunging v-neck tropical print yellow top
[Image description: Yvette wearing a green ankle-length flowy skirt with matching head wrap and plunging v-neck tropical print yellow top.] Via Yvette Corinne on Instagram
Yvette is a Texas-born blogger, model, and content creator. She’s all about fashion, lifestyle and beauty. 

Check out her blog to learn how to style the latest trends and get the latest on skin care tips. 

15. Marfarlane

Martina wearing a blue dress with white flowers, looking into the camera
[Image description: Martina wearing a blue dress with white flowers, looking into the camera.] Via Marfarlane on Instagram
Martina, the face behind Marfarlane on Instagram, is a Jamaican fashion blogger passionate about telling stories through imagery and poetry. 

16. Stephstyleguide

Stephy reading a magazine sitting in bed, wearing an orange dress
[Image description: Stephy reading a magazine sitting in bed, wearing an orange dress.] Via Stephstyleguide on Instagram
Stephy D. is a fashion blogger and stylist based in Dublin.

Love prints and dresses? You’ll feel right at home in Steph’s feed. 

17. Styledbykemi

Kemi wearing a navy blue dress, smiling at the camera
[Image description: Kemi wearing a navy blue dress, smiling at the camera.] Via Styledbykemi on Instagram
Kemi Ajibare is a personal stylist from D.C. 

She embraces the beauty of individuality both in life and fashion. Check out her blog for style and wardrobe tips. 

18. Ambermystery

Adeola Olajide wearing a white lace dress
[Image description: Adeola Olajide wearing a white lace dress.] Via Ambermystery on Instagram
Adeola Olajide is the creator and designer of Ambermystery, a brand dedicated to bringing ethical fashion to forward thinking women.

19. What_maya_wears

Maya wearing a black and white checkered pattern pencil skirt with a white top and black blazer
[Image description: Maya wearing a black and white checkered pattern pencil skirt with a white top and black blazer.] Via What_maya_wears on Instagram
Are you a tall woman? If so, Maya’s feed is perfect for you!

This London fashion blogger is all about finding cute clothes for tall women.

20. Stylebymenikkib

Nikki B. wearing blue denim shorts with a gray shirt tied up at the waist
[Image description: Nikki B. wearing blue denim shorts with a gray shirt tied up at the waist.] Via Stylebymenikkib on Instagram
Nikki is a New-York based model and personal wardrobe consultant. She’s a believer that less is more when it comes to fashion. 

Her streamline approach is reflected in her timeless and classy outfit choices.

21. Marlee_eliza

Marilee wearing a pale blue dress with matching headband
[Image description: Marilee wearing a pale blue dress with matching headband.] Via Marlee_eliza on Instagram
Fashion blogger Marilee makes comfy and casual look effortlessly chic. 

If you love a cute and approachable style, look no further than her feed for inspo. 

22. Allyne_ann

Allyne wearing a blue flowy dress and smiling at the camera
[Image description: Allyne wearing a blue flowy dress and smiling at the camera.] Via Allyne_ann on Instagram
Allyne Ann is all about “styling real life and building community” through slow fashion. 

Her style is bright and fun, it will bring sunshine to your feed!

23. Eccentric_beauty_

Erin wearing green shorts with pink flowers pattern with matching blazer and black tank top
[Image description: Erin wearing green shorts with pink flowers pattern with matching blazer and a black tank top.] Via Eccentric_beauty_ on Instagram
In her own words, Erin is “the girl next door who came here to slay” and we couldn’t agree more. 

Her looks are fierce and her confidence is inspiring. 


Did your favorite make the list? Let me and The Tempest know who else should be on our fashion radar by tagging us on social media @wearethetempest!

Also, if you’re looking for more fashion inspo, check out our 10 thrifting-focused fashion influencers you need to know about.


This pandemic offers Muslim women the opportunity to reclaim agency over their religious practice

For many Muslims, Ramadan is a month met with much anticipation. For some, it’s an opportunity to rekindle connection – with nightly iftars, congregational prayers, and other mosque activities, it’s a time where community spirit thrives.  For others it can be a challenging time; both physical and cultural barriers result in some, such as women, or mothers, having an unmosqued Ramadan. This is due to the fact that in some countries or communities, women are barred from attending the mosque, or the infrastructure and space allotted to them suggest women’s space in a mosque as an afterthought rather than an integral or central part of the Muslim community.

For the entire month, the Imam leads the congregation in Taraweeh prayer, which happens only during Ramadan. Ramadan 2020 is taking place in the midst of a pandemic, and most people are observing social distancing in some form. As such, mosques will be mostly empty except for the Imam and possibly a handful of congregants.

Understandably, many people fear they will miss out and have a less meaningful Ramadan this year. Without the mosque, there is a lack of that sense of community that so many people look forward to and rely on. The concept of going virtual is somewhat difficult to grasp being far from what people define as a community.

The absence of Taraweeh prayers and the mosque community bring to light a pertinent question: why are men the gatekeepers of religion?

Men are finding themselves in a strange predicament – this year they are on the receiving end of being unmosqued; it’s the first time they’re faced with closed doors, being unwelcomed, and not having a space for worship. Women, on the other hand, know these experiences all too well.

For too long women in Muslim communities have been on the receiving end of the false narrative that their spiritual growth and development are tethered to a man or the men in their communities. For a woman, it’s taken in stride that her presence is not always welcomed or encouraged in the mosque environment, with it being cited that it is better for women to pray at home instead of at the mosque. Women have learned to adapt to these cultural mindsets and advocate for reform within the constraints of a mosque board,  though it is not always received well – change is hard to come by.

A spiritual path for women has been purported to be through men, whether an imam or their relatives. Accessibility to God, through religious practices, is taught to be fixed method, that men lead in worship, women follow, and it’s extrapolated that without men leading, women are therefore cut off from particular modes of worship, and their spiritual journey is curtailed. 

Social distancing and a pandemic may be putting a damper on regular Ramadan activities, but I’d like to put forward the idea that it’s a time where women can flourish spiritually, and it should be embraced. This Ramadan is an opportunity to flip the script and reclaim what is ours. Now is the optimal time, as women, to recognize and reclaim Ramadan as a spiritual experience that we can set the tone for and experience in our own ways. 

It’s scary and unnerving for some women who’ve been conditioned or brought up to think that their spiritual well-being relies on being led by a man when the opposite is actually the reality. In early Muslim communities, women led other women in prayers; they were in charge and invested in their own spiritual growth. Countless women memorized and recited Qur’an, a topic that can be contentious nowadays; though in some countries it is accepted (and encouraged)  for women to recite in public, there are still places where the overarching cultural perception is that a woman should refrain from projecting her voice in public spaces. 

This Ramadan is surely going to be different from what we’re used to, but there is a silver lining in all this COVID-induced chaos. The absence of congregations this Ramadan actually levels the gender-biased playing field. It gives women the space to unearth what they require to nurture a spiritual relationship for themselves – one which men are not privy to.  

Music Pop Culture

Dua Lipa’s new album “Future Nostalgia” is exactly what we needed in these hard times

I listened to Future Nostalgia the day my country went into complete lockdown. They say art is an escape from the most turbulent of times – which is why, it only felt right to be transported into Dua Lipa’s dazzling, 80s-inspired dance party while I was dreadfully quarantined at home.

The Grammy-winning artist’s sophomore album is smooth, impeccably produced pop studded with thick baselines and funky beats. It’s a distinctive dash of neon in the bland, trap-infused world of modern day music – and perhaps, her boldest statement yet.

If anything, it’s a testament to the fact that Lipa has finally owned her sound. Right from the album’s opener, Future Nostalgia, where she expresses her female-alpha nature over groovy, Prince-inspired guitars, to its final track, ‘Boys Will Be Boys’, where she tackles sexism in the most badass way possible –  Dua Lipa exhibits a blasé confidence. It’s an unmistakable quality which gives us her strongest moments on the LP, of them being ‘Cool’ – a synth-heavy track showcasing Lipa’s gorgeous, raspy voice. Heavy bass is sprinkled across the song’s chorus, leaving you with no option but to dance along. It helps in setting the right tone for the rest of this musical journey through the decades.

But the party has just begun. As the album progresses, Lipa’s tracks burst with increasing energy and euphoria. ‘Don’t Start Now’ is a triumphant anthem about successfully moving on. ‘Physical’ (inspired by Olivia Newton John’s hit of the same name) is an absolute disco banger. ‘Break My Heart’ and ‘Love Again’ are her most vulnerable moments on the record. Both tracks feature incredible disco strings and hypnotic verses. They convey the common anxieties about falling in love and risking heartbreak.

However, the subtly-produced ‘Pretty Please’ is an unexpected highlight. Lipa’s voice is the undisputed star of the track. It shifts from fluttery falsettos to harmonies, giving it a charm that’s alluring and effortless at the same time.

There’s no doubt that in Future Nostalgia, Dua Lipa has somehow crafted the perfect mix of contemporary pop and retro sounds. Although its upbeat nature juxtaposes the gloomy timing of its release, it is an album the world desperately needs right now.

Not only does it provide a surge of happiness that distracts us from our worries, but also makes us nostalgic about a time when our dance parties weren’t just for one. “I wanted to make music that takes your mind away from that,” Lipa told Vogue Australia recently. “I wanted to just make it a bit easier for me to get out of bed and not think about the negative things that are going on in the world all the time.”

While her previous effort Dua Lipa saw her trying to find her niche between generic tropical and dark indie sounds, this album marks the success of her experimentation. Her meteoric rise to fame may have been faster than the time taken to count her ‘New Rules’, but Future Nostalgia proves that she’s here for the long run. And although Lipa doesn’t deliver any heart-on-your-sleeve lyrics or stirring emotional moments on the LP, she still manages to create an impact in her sphere.

Through her brilliant, technicolor attempt to bring grooviness back into the world, Dua Lipa has provided a glittery dose of positivity to me, and millions of other people around the world. Future Nostalgia may be an album made for the clubs, but its euphoria can still be experienced within the limited territory of your four walls. It’s an absolute blast through and through and cements Lipa’s place as the disco queen of the new decade.

Fashion Lookbook

Why Tehran and Istanbul are the fashion capitals of the future

When you hear the phrase ‘fashion capital’, you might immediately think of Milan, London, Paris, or New York. After all, some of the most iconic fashion designers of recent times – Coco Chanel, Tommy Hilfiger, Alexander McQueen, and Gianni Versace, to name a few – have emerged from or are strongly affiliated with these cities. 

But there are two cities that are strikingly fashion forward, yet rarely recognized for being so: Tehran and Istanbul. Seemingly different, yet similar, these two cities have one pursuit in common: the breaking of stereotypes through self-expression. 

[Image description: A woman wears a red headscarf and stares into the camera.] Via Milad Shams on Unsplash.
When I traveled to Tehran for the first time, my trip gave me a brand new perspective on what the words ‘fashion statement’ really meant. In Iran, what you wear is more than just the brand name. Your style is a gateway of self-expression and individuality, an attitude that allowed me to embrace my truest self through my wardrobe.

Islamic dress code has in many ways inspired Iranians to create newer, more intricate ideas that fit into this framework for women and men alike. Iranians have mastered the idea of turning a simple look into a unique, chic style tailored to one’s individual personality. Many shop owners travel abroad to different countries, finding the newest, most fashion-forward trends to bring back home. In some cases, sellers open boutiques, called mezon or maison, in their own homes, where they sell only the latest trends. Here, you will find styles that are not yet on the market in many countries, but have been introduced only in cities like Paris or Milan.

Iran has its own set of designers and taste-makers that are redefining street style and Islamic or modest fashion.  For modest, yet fashion-forward styles, designers like Naghmeh Kiumarsi are setting the standards. Breaking free of the traditional black or blue chador, Naghmeh incorporates rich colors, like deep maroons and emerald greens, to pull off a sophisticated look. 

Another designer, Shadi Parand, ensures that her customers have a one-of-a-kind outfit, as she never makes the same design twice. Shadi incorporates traditional Iranian prints and integrates them into more modern styles. She also designs looks that are to be worn both indoors and outdoors.

Recently, Tehran has revamped the tried-and-true trend of pleated skirts paired with traditional loose coats by adding patterned head scarves with just the right pop of color that are tied or arranged in a number of different styles. It should be noted that these styles are complementary for both Muslims and non-Muslims, such as myself, and allow us to access the fashion world and the latest trends on our own terms.

[Image description: Two women in pink and blue coats and sparkling heels walk along a street in Istanbul.] Via negativespace.
Istanbul is equally unique, but for a different reason. Istanbul is on the cusp of the Middle East and Europe. Because of this, it has become noted for its unique take on fashion that is influenced by both East and West. 

In 2018, one of the more prominent fashion shows, MAGIC, held its annual show in Las Vegas, where Istanbul was named as a fashion capital for the first time. There, prominent Turkish designers showcased their newest designs for the American public. Designers from the most notable fashion capitals, like Milan, London, and Paris, have implemented Turkish designs and ideas into their own collections.

Designers like Zeynep Guntas moved to Milan to pursue her fashion line. Zeynep hand-paints all of her clothing, which has grown in popularity in Milan, especially as streetwear. Turkish designer Bora Aksu has grown rapidly popular in London, where he incorporates designs tailored to a more European style. Another Turkish designer, ERDEM, is based in Canada. He creates chic evening wear that is elegant and unique with intricate patterns.

[Image description: A girl in a red sweater and black headscarf is seated on a bench with her back to the camera.] Via Erfan Amiri on Unsplash.
As of late, Istanbul has shifted from mostly purely European styles to integrating more modest looks that incorporate Islamic values and Turkish culture. One notable modest fashion line is  Modanisa, which aims to produce more modest interpretations of the latest fashion trends. 

These designs not only have an ‘East meets West’ element, but also recapture a global discourse that has historically been dominated by the Western world. In a day and age when there are many misconceptions about the Middle East and Islam, designers in both Tehran and Istanbul have been working to break free of stereotypes. They also give new meaning to what it means to be fashionable or on-trend.

Not only are both cities fashion forward, the designs they produce appeal to a large, previously uncatered-to audience. This has allowed them to practice self-expression without compromising their values or preferences. This open-mindedness, creativity and innovation make both cities worthy of being the future fashion capitals of the world.


10 of the most heartwarming wedding traditions from around the world

Wedding season is here again, and with it comes non-stop action and excitement for brides, grooms, and everyone else that’s a part of such a momentous occasion – not to mention many wedding traditions!  If you’re a bride to be, you’ve probably glanced over many a wedding magazine, and Pinterest is probably your new best friend.

However, wedding planning is often as exciting as it is draining. One thing that might help when it feels like you’re running out of ideas is exploring wedding traditions from other cultures. Random as it may seem, cultural traditions can help give you inspiration for your own wedding, especially regarding what meaning and mood you’d like it to embody.

The cross-cultural wedding traditions on this list will make any girl swoon – from sweet well-wishes to the couple from guests to a literal knife dance (yes, really), there’s a little bit of inspiration here for every kind of couple. 

1.  Henna night, Turkey

[Image description: Bride is celebrated during henna night.] via Shutterstock
[Image description: Bride is celebrated during henna night.] via Shutterstock
During a Turkish henna night, known as Kina Ginesi, the bride has henna placed on her hands prior to leaving her mother. The bride wears a velvet dress and a veil and is surrounded by her female friends and family members.

While the bride sits and has her henna done, the other women sing sad songs around her. The idea is to make the bride cry before she leaves home, and once the women succeed, they each put henna on the bride’s hands and then on the hands of the bride’s mother and other guests.

While this tradition may be seen as sad to some, it commemorates the beautiful bond between a mother and a daughter.  As someone who is super close to her mom, this one gives me the feels for sure!

2. The couple’s entrance, Assyrians

[Image description: Assyrian wedding entry with woman and man seated on chairs.] Via Unsplash
[Image description: Assyrian wedding entry with woman and man seated on chairs.] Via Unsplash
I might be biased when I say this, but Assyrians really know how to throw a wedding. My favorite part of an Assyrian wedding has always been the entrance by the couple – not only is it a beautiful site to see, but it’s so much fun!

Prior to the couple entering the hall, families, and friends gather near the entrance doors. As the couple proceeds into the hall, family members and friends dance and sing in front of the newlyweds. Women often wave their yalikhta or dancing veil around the happy couple, and the touching moment displays the happiness of the couple’s family and friends for their union.

3. Zaffe, Lebanon

[Image description: Man and woman dance in the Lebanese wedding tradition.] via visualizepictures
[Image description: Man and woman dance in the Lebanese wedding tradition.] via visualizepictures
I’m not even Lebanese, but I don’t have to be to love this tradition. Typically, the zaffe takes place at the respective homes of the couple. Drums are played, zaffe dancers perform, and friends and family partake in the celebrations.

Both the bride and groom dance around the drummers, with family and friends joining in. It’s a fun and celebratory tradition that’s guaranteed to get the party started at any wedding.

4. Knife dance, Iran

[Image description: An Iranian knife dance takes place] via Fiona Hall Photography
[Image description: An Iranian knife dance takes place] via Fiona Hall Photography
There’s everybody else’s version of cutting the wedding cake, and then there’s the Iranian version. Known as raghseh chagoo, this tradition begins when a female family member or friend begins dancing to a Persian tune whilst holding the cake knife in her hand.

In true Iranian fashion, the women dance gracefully despite having to hold a knife in their hands throughout the routine. The couple then has to give her money in the hopes of earning the knife.

The woman may accept the money and then proceed to give the knife to another woman. This continues until a female relative or friend feels the bride and groom have earned the knife. It’s a unique way of celebrating the cutting of the cake and is super fun to watch.

5. Kanyadaan, India

[Image description: A bride’s hand is seen being placed on top of the groom’s hand.] via Giphy.
As a daughter, the thought of being given away is an emotional one. In Indian culture, the Kanyadaan is the process of the father giving away his daughter. During the Kanyadaan, the father of the bride takes her right hand and places it on top of the groom’s right hand. This act is the way the father asks the groom to treat his daughter as an equal partner.

After the hands are placed on top of one another, the mother of the bride pours holy water on top of both hands. As people chant during the ceremony, the water soaks through the bride’s hands and into the groom’s, signifying unity.

6. The wishing tree, the Netherlands

[Image description: A Dutch wedding tree, filled with wishes] via Shutterstock
[Image description: A Dutch wedding tree, filled with wishes] via Shutterstock
Some cultures have a wedding guestbook signed by well-wishers that couples can have as a keepsake, but the Dutch go above and beyond in this respect. In the Netherlands, there is no wedding book. Instead, there is a tree that guests adorn with well-wishes for the bride and groom.

Friends and family of the couple write down their well-wishes on small note cards or leaflets, while the tree is typically placed adjacent to the couple’s table.

After the notes are written and collected, they are given to the couple to read aloud, after which the couple ties the notes onto the tree with colorful ribbons. It’s a lovely way of wishing the couple a lifetime of happiness from the people that matter most to them.

7. Releasing doves, Philippines

[Image description: A couple holds a pair of doves.] via Shutterstock
[Image description: A couple holds a pair of doves.] via Shutterstock
Throughout history, doves have been symbols of peace, so it should be no surprise that they are often released during weddings. In Filipino tradition, the bride and groom release a pair of doves, one male, and one female.

This is seen to symbolize unity, prosperity, love, and peace within the marriage.

8. Giving the bride a pair of lovespoons, Wales

[Image description: A pair of lovespoons for a Welsh  couple] via Shutterstock
[Image description: A pair of lovespoons for a Welsh couple] via Shutterstock
The history of lovespoons alone is enough to make you swoon. Historically, lovespoons were carved out by a man and given to the woman he loved, and the spoons would usually be decorated with intricate designs symbolizing the love between the couple. The woodwork was also important to the father of the bride as it symbolized the groom’s capability to provide for their daughter.

Today, Welsh couples are gifted lovespoons by friends and family. The grooms may also gift these spoons to their brides-to-be before the wedding or in some cases after the marriage. The token of love is not just a display of creativity, but also a beautiful way to express one’s love.

9. Unity bowls of rocks, Australia

[Image description: An Australian wedding ceremony might feature the tradition of a unity bowl.] via Pinterest
[Image description: An Australian wedding ceremony might feature the tradition of a unity bowl.] via Pinterest
Prepare yourself for the waterworks. In Australia, the friends and family of the happy couple fill a bowl with various stones. At first glance, this may seem a bit strange, but the meaning behind the tradition is genuinely touching. The stones vary in color, with each symbolizing the color each family member or friend brings to the lives of the couple.

At the end of the wedding, the couple is given the bowl full of stones. The bowl serves as a symbol of the love and support that the couple has from their friends and family. It’s a lovely way to include your friends and family in one of the most important days of your life and serves as an important reminder of their love and support.

10. Bringing the flames, South Africa

[Image description: A display of a South African fire ceremony] via Shutterstock
[Image description: A display of a South African fire ceremony] via Shutterstock
This tradition is incredibly beautiful and touching. In South Africa, the parents of the bride and the groom carry firewood from their own homes to the home of the couple. There, they begin burning the wood in the hopes of igniting the flames of the new home.

What is important about this tradition is that the firewood that is brought over by the parents is a symbol of the flames from the couples’ childhood homes and the continuation of that warmth and light into their new homes and lives.

In other words, this touching tradition reminds newlyweds that home is not too far away and that the feelings of comfort and security from their childhood homes are with them always.

Health Care Mind Advice Life

I failed my A levels and got the wake up call I needed

I admit, I used to be a slacker. My A level years were the worst of it. I had a bad attitude and a messed up set of priorities as a teenager could have – I still cringe when I think about it. The last thing on my mind was my education and I wasted all my time obsessing over meaningless appearances and daydreaming about pointless scenarios. And like most high school students, I had an internet addiction.

I allowed missing an update on Facebook or being left out of an online chat session between friends consume me. And when I wasn’t obsessing over the online world, I was deeply and unhealthily involving myself in the drama of my friends’ lives. We would talk on the phone for hours, over our teenage preoccupations that seemed so life and death at the time, and I genuinely thought it was a testament to our strong, healthy and undying friendship.

All of this took a serious toll on my relationship with my family. My parents could see that I was destroying myself and wasting my potential and yet, they didn’t know how to stop it. It led to a lot of loud confrontations and declarations of disappointment. And my stubborn teenage head painted them as the bad guys.

Needless to say, all of this also affected my grades. Looking back, I don’t think I did any honest studying during my A levels. It required the kind of dedication my mind with its vapid interests, didn’t have the focus for. Unsurprisingly, it led to me eventually failing my A level exams.

I can’t say I was all that shocked, but I was hit with the hard realization of how badly I had messed up. I had somehow convinced myself that I would somehow sail by, even if it would be by a hair. But how could I? I hadn’t even tried.

After that initial failure, I fell into a depression so deep that it was kind of hard to find myself out of it. I stopped talking to all of my friends, and I have to say, none of them were all that resilient about keeping in touch with me anyway.

I’d lost any sense of self worth I’d had and wasn’t sure what to do with myself anymore. I took the exams again, but by then I had fully convinced myself that there was no way I could do well, and that the material was beyond my comprehension. There was a deep set belief in me by then that A levels were beyond me. And so I failed once again. I think I was almost waiting for it – I had a defeatist attitude that had already convinced me that I couldn’t do it, and that this was the end of the line. But the point is, that things did eventually change. That defeatist attitude melted away and I realized that I was a fighter.

It should come as no surprise that during this time, I got into an abusive relationship that was centered around my lack of self esteem and relied on me not thinking too much of myself. It took me a long time to get out of that one, much longer than it should have. I now know that a relationship is not what you need to get you through a time like this.

But in a moment of guileless honesty, not passing my A levels was probably the only thing that could have jarred me into getting my act together. It was the wake-up call that I needed – the eye opener that showed me what losing it all could mean. And to be frank, if anyone deserved to fail, I did.

I was the worst example of a student and without that incident in my life, I shudder to think of where I would be now. That one setback led me to re-evaluate my life and get a much needed attitude overhaul.

As it happened, I eventually did make my way into university. But not as the person I used to be, not even close. By the time the first year of university ended, I had a GPA high enough to get myself a place on the Dean’s list.

I now understood the value of my education. I knew how harmful falling into an internet rabbit hole and unhealthy friendships could be.

Failing final exams can seem like the end of the world. And you might not even know what to do next. Looking back, there are moments when I wish I could go back in time and talk myself out of all the bad decisions I made back then.

The way things have turned out have made me believe that everything happens for a reason. Everyone has low points in their life, but it’s up to you to decide how to push through them. It’s either sink or swim, and I chose to swim through it all. It was the push I needed to lead me to better life decisions and I wouldn’t change that for anything.

Life Stories Books Pop Culture

Asmaa Hussein is here to show you there is life after losing your soulmate

How do you live when you have lost somebody so dear to your heart?

You promised to be with each other till forever yet death has broken you apart. Dealing with such a loss isn’t easy. It takes a lot of time to heal, and the wound isn’t ever really gone, but it does get better. 

Asmaa Hussein shows women around the globe that life can go on. 

Asmaa Hussein is an author, blogger and a social worker, and she’s a true inspiration. Her following started when she started writing posts on social media to deal with the loss of her husband. Many women were able to relate to her posts about how to deal with the emptiness that comes with losing a loved one at such a young age.

She was twenty-seven when her husband died. He was shot dead while attending a peaceful protest in Egypt. Asmaa was left with a nine-month daughter to take care of as a Muslim widow. She took her pain and translated it into words.

Her reflections on how to deal with life were usually personal snippets of how she was dealing with the loss and growing as a person. She has such a way with words that resonated and touched the hearts of thousands. She set out to write her first book called, A Temporary Gift: Reflections on Love, Loss, and Healing. These journal entries also dealt with the harsh world of single parenthood.

The following is an excerpt:

“Don’t curse the burdens placed on your soul. The burdens are strengthening your soul for what’s still to come. The pain is carving your heart to make grooves for tawakkul (trust in God) to take hold. The hollow thuds of pain in your chest are teaching you to knock at the door that is always answered”

Asmaa also writes about reconnecting with God in the face of adversity. Her spiritually motivated posts are a great boost to those feeling low on their spiritual energies. A faith booster, one might say.

Asmaa’s story makes you ponder on the fleetingness of our short lives. So go on, hug and kiss the person you love. Tell them you love them and do not hesitate. It can be your pet, your parents or even just yourself. Self-love is crucial too, and not at all narcissistic, trust me.

via Instagram / @ruqayas.bookshelf
via Instagram / @ruqayas.bookshelf

Her daughter became a source of light for her in those dark times after her husband’s death. Her website, Ruqayya’s Bookshelf, is aptly named after her daughter. As Ruqayya got older, Asmaa experienced first-hand the lack of children’s books with Muslim representation.

The characters in the books she sought out were usually not relatable for her child.

I understand because, as a child, I would read books about kids with the setting being either the USA or the UK. The food mentioned in the books was always so interesting for me.

I would ask my mum, “do they always eat this? Why don’t we?” The clothing in the illustrations was surprising, too, because that is not what I saw around me. With no representation, I slowly started feeling out of place.

Asmaa took matters into her own hands and started writing a series of children’s books with Muslim representation. To date, she has twelve children’s books published.

via Instagram / @ruqayas.bookshelf

Featuring characters with Muslim names facing relatable issues, her books have now become famous around the globe. 

via Instagram / @ruqayas.bookshelf

Her posts also include letters to her daughter. Those are inspired by the fact that Asmaa knows there might come a day when she isn’t there for her daughter anymore. Thus to prepare her and give her life lessons she leaves behind little diary entries for her daughter to read as she gets older.

She says in one of the posts:

“Don’t sleep through the things you need to experience to learn how to be a better and patient person, even if it’s easier to shut your eyes and ignore the pain.”

Asmaa truly is a motivational spiritual speaker, mother, and writer.

I know I was deeply inspired by her strength, her words, and her positive outlook on life. A strong Muslim woman who I can relate to and look up to as an amazing role model. A refreshing soul in the midst of all the chaos you see on social media. A promise that you can always heal, even after a terrible loss.

That you can transform that pain and do so much good for the world.