THE KINKS IN THEIR MINDS

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I had an unfortunate meeting at my daughter’s school this morning. Last week she went in with a twist out which I pinned up for her in the morning. Her hair was let down just as seen in the pictures above and below. When she got home, it was tied up in a bun, so I casually asked why she decided to put it up, she said she did so because her teacher said there was an Ofsted inspection that morning, and her hair looked “wild”. I was horrified when I heard the word “wild” I said “did she use the word wild”? My daughter said yes. I was livid!!!’  I didn’t want my daughter to know I was that upset so I shut went upstairs, fuming, I sat down and I wrote to the teacher expressing my dissatisfaction.

The school called me  and we fixed a meeting with the Head teacher and the teacher in question. Sadly, I left feeling more frustrated than appeased. The Head teacher said I was the one that had a problem with the use of the term “wild”. She kept saying she described her own hair as wild frequently and saw no issue with it. She actually expressed her dissatisfaction with my own my letter, because I said “the school had an issue and history of not understanding Afro hair” ( they do ). She said this statement suggested that I was calling the school racist, or prejudice, when at least 2 of her close family members were married to Jamaicans, She said she understands Afro hair and I shouldn’t have brought race into it.

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My good God!!!!! I was flabbergasted and completely certain that this school needed a diversity awareness course. Firstly, the term ” wild” conjures up unruly, unsightly and animalistic. Something that needs to be tamed. All of which my daughter’s hair was not on the day,  and all of which shows an unconscious bias around what is deemed appropriate, or presentable according to a perception that bears no relation to the characteristics of an afro hair.  This unconscious bias was  slipping through in loose and derogatory language and it is the language which I sought to address.

I expressed in no uncertain term that I really didn’t care if the Head teacher described her own hair as wild, I do not want that term used to describe my daughter’s hair. Afro hair texture is not smooth or sleek in the way that Caucasian hair is. It grows up and not down and although it can be chemically straightened to look sleeker, lay flat, and look more European this is not a choice I’ll ever choose for my daughter,  or indeed my own hair. I love Afro texture hair, I love it with its kinks, curls, coils and volume. When she was going to school that morning I brushed her hair,  and I personally put two pins in her hair and sent her off saying your hair looks beautiful and she replied ” I really like it”. Now to those of you raising little black girls you know what an achievement it is to get them to the point where they “love” their natural hair.

We live in a society that has historically not appreciated the difference and beauty in Afro hair texture.  This is not an indictment on the society, because even in many African countries it is often not celebrated or held as up as an ideal beauty.    I had to stop wearing weaves, and even braids to instil confidence in my own daughter’s  hair, so yes I was  not going to let a teacher kill her new found confidence with the careless and offensive use of the word “wild”.

People may say oh she didn’t mean to cause offence, but that is not the point, she did cause offence, and she refused throughout to apologise insisting that the hair was untidy. No. my dauther’s hair was not untidy. What is untidy is the ignorance that still abounds where afro hair is concerned. What is untidy is that a lot of black people have been complicit in the rhetoric that our hair, as it grows from our scalp is unmanageable, untidy, unruly and in need of ‘something’ to make it presentable and acceptable. And often that something just happens to look more European.

The use of the term ‘wild’ is loaded, full of so much value judgement and indeed micro aggression. It’s the exact type of word that chips away at the confidence of a 9 year old, it highlights their difference in an unflattering and negative way and subconsciously forces them to concede and accept that they do not fit the  beauty ‘ideal’. It is a rhetoric that I will fight against, for the sake of my daughter and her place in this world. I do not care if other mothers do not see it or get it, because of course according to the school I’m a trouble maker, not said directly but the Head said on more than one occasion that I’m the only Afro Caribbean parent who seems to have an issue with hair. That hurt my feeling. It hurt my feeling because I remain acutely aware that I live in a society that can be unintentionally prejudice yet if I raise it,  question it, or challenge it I  will be accused of playing the race card, of being overly sensitive, or of having a chip on my shoulder.

Let me be clear, I did not and do not accuse the school of racism. No. Fadeke likes her form teacher very much and she has never expressed being treated differently. But how can race not play a role in the description of Afro hair as ‘wild’. That the school fail to see this, and would defend it is more disturbing. In the end the teacher said she didn’t mean to cause offence, and the Head said it was an unfortunate use of the word, but I was under no illusion, they didn’t get it. And that continues to upset me.

the picture of my daughter was taken on the exact same day.

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Nevertheless we Persist

 

 

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Last Saturday I was invited to speak at an International Woman’s day event organised by the Smileers. The focus was on “what it takes to build something” I was invited to participate as founder of Path to Possibilities. Here are extracts from what I said:

Success is not lonely: You can’t do it by yourself, so tap into your support network and use them to propel you forward. For those who plan to get married, I said be wise about your choice of husband. Marry someone that loves you enough to support your dreams or your crazy adventure. Your choice of partner can be the difference between soaring or stagnation, it may even derail you completely. No marriage is worth a derailment from purpose.

If you marry a man who expects you to be the sole child carer, sole home maker, or to always take care of his needs first, this may not be compatible with your own individual goals. Much respect to women who have no dreams or aspirations outside of their immediate family, feminism is about informed choice, with no value judgement – family may be enough fir some . But as I said, for me, and for some women our husband, and our children are part of our world, not our world.

Define success on your own terms: Do not let the noise of the world define what success is for you. It may not be CEO. It may not be a six figure salary. It may not be the trappings of wealth or drive for more and more material things. It may be at odds with what everyone considers to be successful. Success is individual to you and your values. Success is rarely compartmentalised either, so you should see it manifesting in every area of your life once values are aligned.

Strengths and weaknesses: in trying to develop ourselves we sometimes think we must always improve on all our weaknesses first. And that we can’t move forward until this has been developed. Sometimes this leads us to focus obsessively on those areas we are not good at at the detriment of understanding our strengths and letting that strength guide us into spaces where we will flourish.

Knowing our weaknesses is important, but the rhetoric that suggests developing them is instrumental to success can be flawed. I used body building as an analogy. I said I apply the principles of bodybuilding into my style of exercise or training. Body builders in general split their training into body parts; so one day they may work legs, next day they work arms, another day shoulders, next is back – you get my drift. There is an intense focus on splitting and training muscle groups together, this system works very efficiently because no part is neglected. Now because bodybuilders do this, they are also very much aware of their weak areas. I know for me my weakest spot is my abdominal- I’ve had two kids and muscle separation and quite frankly it’s been stretched to wrinkles. For a while I obsessed about my abs, I tried to train it hard but then realised it was making my muscle separation worse, so I stopped training it hard, I got stricter on my diet, but then I realised I was cutting out too many things because they bloated me, which made my abs appear worse. I focused so much on my abs I started to forget about how great it felt to be active, or how great my legs were looking or my shoulders, and my back. My point is yes we all have weaknesses, but overly focusing on them may stop us appreciating our strengths and even limit our drive to go to places we can occupy inspite of our weaknesses. The founder of the Smileers Francesca Danmole said ” you can simultaneously be a masterpiece and a work in progress” this is my belief too. Do not let your weaknesses be the excuse. It doesn’t have to hold you back. You don’t have to be perfect to succeed! You don’t need to tick all the boxes. Your strengths can take you far.

Stop waiting for affirmation: I was asked what piece of advice I’d give another female starting their career and I said I’ll say stop waiting for people to congratulate you, to promote you, or to value you. You wouldn’t always get the recognition you deserve or the promotion – if it’s not happening and you’ve asked and it’s not happening then leave! You don’t have to stay in the same job, or on the same path, you can leave. Sometimes the old adage is true ” a queen is not recognised in her own queendom”

I was asked why I stated the charity Path to Possibilities and my answer was simply. I am
here today, not because I’m special, or brighter, or more intelligent , I’m here because I’m standing on the shoulders of many other women who helped my mother. My efforts to educate other children is born out of that knowledge. My greatest hope is that many more of us will realise that we didn’t do it alone and that we can be instrumental in changing and touching other peoples life’s. and although it often seems like a Herculean and thankless task we owe a duty and a responsibility to God, the universe or Mother Earth not just to take, but to give back.

If you would like to join me in making a difference please come and run with me on 1 July 2017 in North London. We will be fundraising to keep more children in education. Last year Path to Possibilities established a library which we can only keep open with support. Please sign up for our annual race, if you raise £50 you’ve done more than enough to help us. http://www.race4change.co.uk

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Above is a picture of the centre I’m desperate to keep open!

happy international women’s  day.

Why you just can’t lose tummy fat

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Last week a dear friend of mine sent me two pictures of her back, followed by a message which read “Morning, I have mentioned that I don’t really want to lose weight. I do however have fatty areas that get on my nerves and simply don’t seem to want to go away. I’ll send you pics. Any advice will be greatly appreciated”. Less than a minute later she sends the pictures below.

 

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I was a bit distracted so I responded with “you said these are fatty deposits? But you don’t want to lose fat? I’ll call you later” She sent another response saying “I don’t want them to sag over my bra lol. Can’t you see how disgusting it looks. So flaming jelly like! It needs to firm up. Sure, we’ll speak after work”. This message upset me because firstly this looks normal to me, and  I don’t like when anyone uses disgusting to describe any part of their body even in jest – please say ” I don’t like X Or Y” if you must, but disgusting? No. Not even to a friend.

Now we are all human beings and designed to carry fat for survival, we all carry excess fat in different places, mine is tummy and bum and thighs too!. Some carry more fat in their arms, some their thighs. Where we carry more fat is purely down to our genetics, when we put on weight, it is likely to show in those areas first. And sadly, when we lose weight those areas are the last to go! I know  it’s frustrating!! Also  as we get older – past 35 ladies, you will notice your muscle density changes and yes fat deposits in certain areas more, its  inevitable unless you get on top of your eating and change your training style.

So what is the answer to her question – can she lose those ” bits” without losing overall body fat? The answer is no, she says she wants to firm up not lose weight though? – well the thing is you can’t firm up fat. What you can try and do with commitment and discipline  is change your body composition by  changing your diet and building muscle and dropping body fat, she may need to just tweak  her diet and start strength training to build lean muscles – as you can see she is already slim!

But oh! No one wants muscles! People just wanna “tone” right. Well there is no such thing as “tone” no such thing as ” firm” what you mean to say  is build lean muscle.  To do that you need to eat better and deliberately change your body composition through diet and style of exercise. Hang up your running shoes and pick up some weights, even your own body weight will do,  Any type of resistance training

3 Tips to lose fat all over 

  • Sugar. Dump sugar. When I say sugar people usually think table sugar, pastries, cakes, etc. Yes but you also have to understand that all carbs, white or brown converts eventually to sugar, so portion control all carbs too. That means rice, potatoes, yams, including the brown varieties. Please don’t eliminate carbs but control the portion  and understand that all carbs convert or breakdown to sugar. If you are over 35 you need to pay more attention to simple sugar, it sticks like glue to the midsection.  Also, most people tend to think that added sugar is mainly found in desserts like cookies and cakes, but it’s also found in many savory foods, like bread and pasta sauce – I honestly will never use Dolmio tomatoes sauce fir anything because if the sugar content. And some foods promoted as “natural” or “healthy” are laden with added sugar compounding the confusion, most yogurts come to mind here! Fat free but maddened with sugar!!! manufacturers add sugar to 74% of packaged foods sold in supermarkets. That’s a fact and not cool. Moral of the story don’t buy packaged food.
  1. Sugar. Avoid Sugar. I know again right. Yes. This time I want to address sugar in fruits and fruit juices. I know you don’t drink fizzy drinks ! . Some of you juice up to 4 fruits in one sitting! Good grieve!!!!! This is just sugar with sprinklings of nutrients. Please juice vegetables e.g Spinach, Kale, Mint and one Apple! Stick with one piece of fruit in your juice! Sugar is sugar is sugar. Yes it has nutrients, but it’s still sugar so don’t consume it like it’s going out of fashion.
  • More about fruits; Let me tell you something, you see the pink lady apple, it is 12% sugar. They have been engineered on sweetness, shapes, colors and resistance to disease. But mostly sugar, sugar, sugar. Of course you can eat fruits as part of a healthy and balanced diet, but if you juice 3 or 4, then have oats with honey, washed down with orange juice, hey it’s all healthy stuff, but its still all sugar! And no your midsection wouldn’t change, because all it recognizes is the sugar! If you want tasty and lower sugar fruits – try all the berries!
  1. Final tip! Avoid hidden Sugar! I know! But sugar is a demon. Let me address this thing with honey! Honey is sugar. Let me say it again honey is sugar. Full stop.

Where  is sugar hidden

  1. Leading brand of yogurts some  contain 7 teaspoons (29 grams) of sugar per serving!!! My favourite yogurt is Fage, Total! The one without honey!
  2. A breakfast bar made with “real fruit” and “whole grains” lists at least 15 grams of sugar.
  3. A cranberry/pomegranate juice product, also advertising “no high-fructose corn syrup” and “100% Vitamin C,” contains 30 grams of added sugar per 8 oz. serving. Some of the sugar is naturally occurring, but some of it has been added.

We know so much about diet and exercise now,  it’s time to convert that knowledge to personal power and stop letting people lie to you or sell you false quick fixes. Be empowered. Whatever you want to achieve.

p.s – The picture of me above shows what is possible after two children with diet and excercise at this present time I do not look this lean. This was for a bikini competition  and for three months I ate really well and strictly, I ate more food that I ever want to eat again!! to build muscles you have to eat loads! I STILL EAT LOADS! and I trained for 6 days a week.

 

5 Nigerian foods killing your goals

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All I said on my Facebook page was ” stop eating fried plantain every time you eat rice or jollof rice” Honestly,  you’d have thought I said Ghanian Jollof rice was better than Nigerian Jollof rice from the amount of people who came for me!

This did get me thinking though! About the worst Nigerian foods for ones waistline, and yes, before I go into this we do not eat fried plantain in my house (unless guests are coming!). Let me be clear, there is no difference between fried Plantain and Chips. Two great vegetables turned to killers on plates.

So here are the worst offenders stopping you achieving your goals – in the end I had to include two drinks

Ayamase stew!

Have you ever cooked this popular Yoruba stew? I have! It’s yummy no doubt! but I can tell you for nothing, there will be no weight loss, no Teyana Taylor body if you eat this ish often. And when I say often I mean even once a week. Okay lets dissect the key things that make this dish awful for your waist line. First, palm oil, let me be clear!!! Palm oil is a great oil, do not let the West demonise it for us!!! my ancestors have been eating palm oil for decades! Used as a cooking oil, palm oil has a high burning point and is safer than (for example) olive oil.  but not the quantity used in Ayamase! Because a fat is still a fat!! And calories still matter. The calorie count for a tablespoon of palm oil is 120 calories. And let’s get real, you’ll be consuming at least 4 tablespoons in your stew,  that’s 480 calories! Of oil alone.  And we haven’t added the fried meat yet! On average, a portion of Ayamase, with fried assorted meat is over 850 calories – we haven’t added the rice remember,  and you are adding dodo!! Ohhh!  shall I go into the grams of fat? No I didn’t think so! You get my point.

TIP: If you take a peak at any stew and see oil floating on top, run!! Trans fat!

Fried plantain and Eggs

This is a disaster. Shambles. You want to kill yourself? Okay then kontinue. This is worst than Ayamase because some of y’all eat this mess every weekend! Or twice a week! Everyday!! Yepa!! You take a perfectly great vegetable and protein source and turn them in a high calorific atrocity! And there is no redeeming factor because vegetable oil has no redeeming factor.  None. In one meal you are easily consuming 900 calories or more!

Puff Puff

Puff Puff is doughnut. Stop lying to yourself. This one pains me to write cause I love puff puff! And I’ll eat it when I’m out! Because it’s a special treat! But I’ll stop at 3 maximum! And never every weekend! Christmas, Easter, you get the drift! Not only is this snack deep fried! The dough is made up of flour , sugar, yeast! Nothing good! And I now see that some of y’all be eating it with ice cream! Are you for fucking real! Kontinue. Make sure your life insurance is up to date ooo – don’t leave loved ones with financial stress and a mess  when you are gone!

Agege bread

Okay, you already know that white bread has no redeeming factor! And you see, the Nigerian bread is worse! Unlike the bread where I reside – I’m sorry to burst your bubble but the bread in Nigeria taste better than the bread in the UK because they are killing iy and you with the added sugar!! Not because they are better bakers!! Wake up people!! most sliced bread in the UK contains only 2-4% sugars – and much of this is naturally occurring, it is not ‘added’. The last time I was in Nigeria! Enjoying bread and egg – I could taste the sugar – so delicious!! But if you are watching your waistline so wrong! I do not demonise bread. Only the type you eat. Please eat wholemeal, Ezekiel and the likes, if like me you enjoy it, but that Agege bread! No no no! and the ones you buy in London from Finsbury park called dough bread!! I shudder! I picked it up once at someone’s house – I looked at the back I swear the E-NUMBERS ALONE!! ENOUGH SAID.

Condensed milk!!

You people are still drinking this, in your tea, in your coffee!! Okay here are the facts. It contains 62 calories for a mere tablespoon. 1 tbsp serving of regular sweetened condensed milk contains almost 2 g of fat. The fat in condensed milk is primarily saturated fat, which can negatively impact cardiovascular health. A tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk contains over 10 g of carbohydrates, all of which are sugars. I CAN’T GO ON. Why are you doing this!!! Whyyyyyyyyyyyyy

Maltina and the likes!!

My heart wept when I read this  on a popular blog about Maltina and its cousins (all the other malt drinks)

” Maltina’s claim to fame is that it was the first malt drink to be produced locally in Nigeria. The drink comes in 33cl bottles and it has a distinct, rich and creamy taste like no other malt drink on the market. The drink’s manufacturer, Nigerian Breweries Plc (aka Heineken) are also keen to point out its health benefits as Maltina includes a wide array of vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and C, as well as calcium. Given all of the above, it’s probably no wonder that Maltina has become available abroad at British retailer Tesco and has over 5,000 followers on Twitter”.

What the actual Fuck!! Tesco sells Chocolate and cakes and pies and all other unhealthy stuff what does maltina being stocked at Tesco tell us – they are catering to their consumers – they are chasing the money like any other business!!! Here is the truth!! Forget the jagbajantis claim of vitamin just eat one small orange! The calorie in this demon is 188! Oh and 45 grams of carbohydrate – that’s more than my breakfast of toast and eggs!! If you really want that vitamin A eat a cup of Kale it gives you more with less than 50 calories!!

Eat well. Eat  Smart.

Married men on Tinder

 

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The real identities of the concerned individuals have been changed to protect their identity and respect their privacy. Even shitty people deserve privacy.

So my mate WhatsApps me 3 days ago” Titi! Titi! Isn’t Funke’s brother in law married??” Me “yes” silence … she is typing “So what’s he doing on Tinder then”? Me ” nooooooo I’ll call you NOW”!! I finish my Squats with the worse form ever and get on the phone!!!!

Rewind selecta!

I saw how Tinder operated some months ago from my mate. My mate is single. In fact one of the very many enjoyable things we did once was have a girls night in with me going through her Tinder account, swiping left or right. Ohhhhh you don’t know what Tinder is or how it works? Really? okay a quick explanation. Tinder is an online dating app that matches couples based on their physical attraction to one another. It alerts you to other Tinder users who fall within a specified age range and gender and are within a certain distance of your location. You decide whether or not you like the look of a person: if you do, swipe right; if you don’t, swipe left and they’ll never know. If you’re both interested then Tinder’s messaging function offers you a virtual private location where you can chat and get to know each other better.

Tinder is a dating website! A married man has no business being on Tinder! Now this post isn’t about men who cheat. No. That is a boring subject. This post is also not about declaring that all men are assholes. That’s not true! There are perfectly decent men who don’t and will never cheat. And you know what, there are also perfectly decent, good men, who f**k up once, because decent people do shitty things. But this is not about all that. This is about a special breed of married assholes, so brazen, so disrespectful, so audacious as to advertise themselves on a dating App used by more than 10 million users!. This right here is levels!

So I called Dayo! The sister in law! Of course I called Dayo! Are you F******* kidding me! I said “Dayo! Is your brother in law divorced or mad?” After I recounted the gist Dayo started laughing! Dayo always likes evidence – she said ” do you have evidence?” So I sent the communal Dick’s Tinder image. She calls back immediately laughing! She says “Jesus! Is this how these men are behaving! please let me go on Tinder and check if my own husband is there ooo” I quickly interrupt “if you join Tinder and someone sees you on it and reports you! you’ll have to explain that to your husband who wouldn’t believe you where there looking for him! so better don’t start wahala you can’t finish” we both laughed. Should we tell the madam of the communal dick? Hell No! Ain’t no one like that chick anyhow …… and I’ve avoided drama in my life from time …… I’m only loyal to my friends sorry! And ain’t no one like that bitch anyhow 🙈🙈🙈

More than ‘I do’ and a Womb

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When I was a younger lady living with my now husband. My dear Aunty came round to give me some advice. She was not happy with my living arrangements. I had expected her to go down the morality of living in sin route, but she didn’t, instead, she asked if I was going to marry this guy. She said ” A man can always dust off his shirt and leave, but what would you do after?” This was the point where I stared at her, I didn’t want to argue because I liked her and still like her very much, but in my mind I was thinking ” I’ll move on too innit”

The problem wasn’t just her question which some may excuse as being ” out of love” but the loaded presumption and sexism in the question. That I, a female, would struggle to put my life in order if my partner decided to leave. You see, there lies the problem, particularly in the Nigerian culture, until we believe and teach our daughter’s that they too have  options and choices; the choice to move on, the option to opt out, until then, we are belittling their existence and even sending dangerous messages for them to settle for much less and not to live fully. We are asking them to stay in abusive  and unhappy homes.

Sadly, my Nigerian culture fetishises marriage more than even love or ironically a happy marriage. The pressure is on young ladies from the age of 25. And after marriage it’s children. and wow betide the woman that seeks to leave an unhappy marriage because she is UNHAPPY. I have heard the laughs. How can she be unhappy, he pays the bills, he takes care of the children .. what is there to be unhappy about.

And when a woman hasn’t had a child or children in a marriage, the misery some  will endure  from external busy bodies! A post for another day. Whether you are married or not, have children or not. You are doing the “sisterhood” a great disservice, a huge dishonour if you proclaim (for you can have your beliefs but keep them to yourself) that our purpose or worth in life is confined to two things; marriage and children – above all. My strong belief is that our uniqueness, value and worth isn’t tied to either marriage or having children. We are unique and valuable simply because we exist. Not because we are married, not because we have children. We must, must, must, drum this into our children both boys and girls.

How to make a come back?

blog-picWhen I started this blog, I knew that I enjoyed writing, that I loved engaging, and that I had some opinions worth sharing. I started, then stopped.  As with many things soldering on is the hardest part, especially when you feel you aren’t getting anything from it,  and you know what?  I feel I’ve always had to solider on. The biggest drain on my spare time, my energy is the charity I also run, Path to Possibilities. Over the last few years I’ve concentrated efforts on trying to grow it – has it grown? well that depends on how you measure growth. All I know is that I’ve missed writing, and I’ve missed engaging, and if there is anyone out there that wants to hear from me again, please comment – it makes me want to do it when I see people engaging – and I’m prepared to post once a week – New Year Resolution!!  I don’t know how to make a come back, but I’ll try. Suggestions welcome.