Dashiki Reflections

This is not going to be one of my usual fashion posts where I will be talking about the outfit alone. I want to discuss a little about the outfit and much more on 2015.

I wore this dashiki dress in the summer, I was not going to post it but my dear sister-friend convinced me to put it up. Summer time is my favourite time of the year, I love the weather and you can wear more interesting and colourful things (you already know how I love colour and lots of it). I wore this dress before actually way back in sixth form, during a Black History Month event that I was involved in, so to my brothers who think I copied them, lies you tell twinnies.  Please do follow and check out their blog www.uptothepoint.wordpress.com

Dashiki Reflections 1

Dashiki Reflections 2

Outfit:

Dashiki dress- Made in Ghana

Wedges- Dune

Necklace- Wallis

Bangle- John Lewis

Bag- Modalu

Looking at the pictures again made me reflect on the year 2015. This year has been an interesting one, a mix of highs and lows. Through it all, one thing that I am most thankful for is growth. I am not where I was last year, I have grown in certain areas of my life. Firstly my walk with Christ has grown and matured, I am not where I used to be in 2014. At the beginning of this year I said to God, I want more of him. I was tired of just receiving the word from other people, waiting for encouragement from others and wanted to have a personal relationship with him. Secondly, my friendships and relationships have grown. Growth in friendships does not just mean you increasing your friendship group, it means bettering individual friendships and also allowing people into your life who are positive .This year I met someone and within three months we became so close. I truly believe God put her in my life, because at that time I was praying about something and when she walked into my life she answered my prayer with one bible verse. Why I say God put her in my life is because at that particular time I felt like God was not listening to me and she gave me a bible verse to mediate on. She had no clue that the verse she gave me was the answer to my prayer until later on.  Additionally, this year some people that I have known for a while have been cut off (not necessarily drama)  just some people are there for a certain time and you move on.

Thirdly, I learned this year that a ‘private life is a happy life’. I have always been private and will continue to be so. I do not like letting the whole world know my business and in particular in 2015 learnt not everything that happens in your life needs to be told. This relates to the first growth point, this year God told me to stop running to people when I was always disappointed or when I was rejoicing. There were times when I would pick the phone up and dial the number he would say,  ‘Rae put the phone down and speak to me first’. The first person I have learned to run to is God with everything and as the song says ‘Jesus be the center of it all’. This does not mean that you should keep everything to yourself, it is just striking that important balance. It depends on the type of person you are, some are extremely private and some blab out everything- its important to find the middle ground

Fourthly this year, I have learned to ‘launch out’. Many of us have wonderful ideas and visions, but because of fear we hold ourselves back. Late this year, I told myself I will no longer do to that myself. I am going to live life in such a way, that if I have an idea I will set out to do it. I encourage all that if you have been thinking about a venture you want to get into, or a new career or to set up a business or whatever it may be do it! Don’t wait for others to give you the go ahead otherwise you will be waiting forever. Many of us are sitting on ideas that could potentially be great but I encourage you to look into your hands. Ask yourself what are these hands good at doing? Are your hands good at drawing? Use that artistic ability. Are your hands good at writing? Use that creative ability.

What for 2016?

This time next year I will be reflecting back on the year and thinking of what I have done, what I achieved and what I could do better. I think reviewing yourself is so important, it gives you a fresh mind and the urge to do better. However do not wait to the end of the year to review yourself, you can have reviews throughout the year.

What to expect from the blog in 2016? More great posts on fashion, faith, politics, law, business, art etc. There will be a post a week (sometimes more than one). With the fashion posts expect more than ‘what am I wearing posts’ or ‘OOTDs’.  I love discussing with friends the history behind fashion and the business of fashion, so I will be writing more posts on that. This goes with other blog posts too.

Stay Blessed x

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Kanye West- The King of Shoes?

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On 2 December Kanye West was awarded the coveted FN Achievement Award ‘Shoe of the Year’ award which recognises the best and most talented designers in the shoe game. He won the Footwear News accolade for his collaboration with Adidas. Like many others, I have not been impressed by Kanye West’s design efforts. However some pieces from Yeezy Season 1 & 2 such as the ankle boots, sandals and the coats I like.

Kanye- King of Shoes Kanye-King of Shoes

Kanye-King of Shoes 5 I am no expert when it comes to trainers, do I even own a pair? Yes one…but that’s only for the occasional visits to the gym and my every now and then spur of the moment power walks. I prefer to wear pretty flats than trainers when dressing casually. A good friend of mine convinced me to go trainer shopping with her, she was convinced being a ‘sneaker head’ she could find something that I would like…I did not find anything. I like trainers but I just do not like it on me *shrugs shoulders*. What do I recognise with Kanye West’s Yeezus boost is that it has been the most talked about, most sought after and most recognised shoes of the year. In comparison, the Yeezus boost is probably the most sought after trainers next to the Jordan brand. It continues to climb in popularity and having being sold out just in 12 minutes (sold for $200) its impact on pop culture is undeniable. The Yeezus boost 350 was being sold on eBay for more than $10,000 dollars-everyone wanted them. Though he has not received favourable reviews and his collections have been criticised, the numbers says it all-he has an eye for footwear. Kanye West follows in the footsteps of celebrated shoe designers like Christian Louboutin, Stuart Weitzman (my favourite shoe designer alongside Salvatore Ferragamo), Manolo Blahnik and Pierre Hardy who have all been recognised by FN Achievement Awards for their work.

Kanye-King of Shoes 4

In October, when Footwear News announced it will awarding Kanye with shoe designer of the year, they said:

This year’s Shoe of the Year honour recognizes the insatiable demand for all things Yeezy. The sneaker releases dominated the market in 2015 as demand for the product crashed servers, sparked extraordinary resale value and created a need for mob control in stores. From the moment Kanye West unveiled the 750 high-tops on the Grammys, his Adidas Sneakers have been the most-coveted, most-talked about, most recognized shoes this year.

Is Kanye the King of Shoes because of his knack for design or is it his star power? After all past FNAA winners are known for their designs- Louboutin for the red sole, Stuart Weitzman’s use of unique materials and attention to detail whilst  Manolo Blahnik is known for the sleek stiletto heel. Rather the emphasis has been on his ability to draw people in using his celebrity influence. Kanye has influenced fashion, there is no denying that. He has an incredible following and has set trends. Maybe now it is not just about the design of the shoe that wins accolades but your power of influence, which Kanye has.

Image Sources: www.vogue.com, www.highsnobiety.com

 

 

 

Stay Blessed x

Commercial Awareness

Commercial awareness 1

I recently went to a commercial awareness event at an international city law firm recently and the discussions were based on the big financial and legal stories of the last few months. Commercial awareness is an attribute that many graduate employers like to see (in all sectors ranging from law to engineering to marketing) candidates have. For some employers commercial awareness may mean reading publications like Financial Times daily and for others having an understanding of business efficiency. Commercial awareness is a vital skill to have as it will give you the ability to build solutions to problems and give you an understanding of issues affecting clients.

What is commercial awareness?

Commercial awareness is extremely important. The problem is that many of us do not understand what commercial awareness exactly is and how to apply it. I used to be one of those people, not having a clue what commercial awareness actually is. I used to think that the FT was the beginning and the end of commercial awareness. The commercial awareness event I attended recently made me realise how far I have come from those days. So what exactly is Commercial awareness? It can be defined as ‘staying up-to-date on daily happenings and developments in the business and commercial world’. It also having an in-depth understanding of the business to which you have applied for or work for and similar businesses. Its more than just reading the business sections of newspapers, its also showing practical examples. For example if you are a treasurer at your university society you are responsible for budgeting, how many is spent and that the society does not get into debt. Your extracurricular activates or your part time job could be used to show that you understand the commercial aspects of a business.

What employers are looking for?

  • An understanding of their business– What do they do? What are their products and services? What areas do they practice in? What is their history? What is their strategy?
  • An understanding of the marketplace– Who are their competitors? How do they differ to their competitors?
  • An understanding of the industry– What are the recent developments in the industry? What are the future trends? What are the challenges the the industry currently faces?

How to develop commercial awareness?

Commercial awareness does not come automatically, it is a skill that is developed. It is an attribute that constantly has to be nurtured. Someone once told me that you have to act and think like what you aspire to be. This means that if you are an aspiring lawyer, you have to act and think like one. This means that if you are an aspiring investment banker, you have to act and think like one and so forth. As part of your profession, it is important to research and know what is happening within your industry. In particular what is affecting your industry, the economic and political influences, your competitors and so forth. This is not only important for knowing what is affecting your clients but the employer you wish to work for. Remember the employer you are applying to is a business too, will want to expand and be successful.

To keep up to date, improve and develop your commercial awareness I have listed websites down below that I think are helpful.

Websites:

Image: www.theguardian.com

Mind the Gap-Is Mandatory Gender Pay Reporting the right step forward in equality?

mind the gap 1

There continues to be a gap between what a man and what a woman earns in the workplace. It now stands at 19.1% for full and part time workers in the UK, this means that a woman earns 80p for every £1 a man earns. It is now forty years since equality laws were passed in the UK. By early 2016 there will be new regulations that’ll force companies with more than 250 employees to publish gender pay gap information. This will be a great change from the voluntary approach that companies were previously encouraged to publishing.

The coalition government introduced gender pay reporting under a voluntary scheme, in the Think, Act, Report Scheme. It was reported in August 2014 that only five companies (Tesco, PWC, FriendsLife, AstraZeneca and Genesis) had published their gender pay gap information by their own accord. More than 275 companies had signed up to the scheme but did not publish their gender pay gap information. Labour came up with an amendment to the bill to introduce mandatory gender pay. It gained support from the equality commission and was backed by different MPs from across the parties. This then resulted in the Liberal Democrats to prompt the government to introduce section 147 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 (SBBEA).

The Law 

Section 147 of the SBBEA requires the government to carry out its powers under section 78 of the Equality Act 2010 to make regulations for employers with 250 or more employees to publish information on gender pay gap within 12 months of the Act coming into the force. The Act received Royal Assent on 26th March 2015 meaning that the regulations must be made by 25 March 2016. Section 147 of the SSBEA and section 78 of the Equality Act has not been brought into force. The government has said that they are planning to for a consultation to be published in the summer of this year and regulations to be done by early 2016. This was confirmed by Nicky Morgan, the Minister for Women and Equalities.

Right Step forward

The move to make gender pay reporting mandatory has long been resisted by parts of the Conservative party and several businesses. The difference in the gender pay gap is the sixth highest behind Italy and Portugal. In the private sector, the gender pay gap for full time employees is 17.5% and when looking at it by occupation the figures for 2014 show that pay gap for those in full time management roles is around 16% and 25% for those working in skilled trades. Women are still working in badly paid roles compared to men who dominate skilled and professional roles. The Fawcett society has said that the latest figures suggest that the gap still relates to the stereotypes around men’s and women’s roles and their values in the workplace. According to its studies, figures show that women make up 78% of those working in social and health care whilst men account for 88% of the better paid industries of science, technology and engineering (STEM).

The architecture profession for instance women accounted for 41% of the profession in 2014 at the junior rank of a Part 1 qualified architectural assistant and as the roles become more senior the percentage falls ( they made up 35% of qualified architects, 26% of senior architects and 13% of equity partners or shareholder directors). The situation gets even worse in the engineering profession where in a 2.3 million strong industry, only 6.7% of it is women. According to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, women make up 15% of the country’s graduates yet only 1% are chartered medical engineers. Employers should be encouraged to address restrictions on flexible working and costs of childcare, so that the pay gap between men and women becomes more equal.

mind the gap 2

The mandatory gender pay reporting is the right step forward and should be welcomed. It will improve the big gap between men and women’s pay. It will also promote transparency by forcing companies to identify gender pay issues in their organisations. David Cameron said mandatory gender pay gap reporting is “ a really big move” and will “cast sunlight on the dispreprenancies and create the pressure we need for change, driving women’s wages up”. Labour has also welcomed the move but added that the Conservatives were slow to act on gender pay transparency.

The legislation will not require for instance long and detailed equal pay audits which trade unions have been campaigning for a long time. To understand what is going on in the workplace, we need more than one single figure or even just figures. There are other factors that may contribute to gap in pay such as the impact of motherhood and family responsibilities on women’s paid work or that companies are failing to provide equal pay and this is the cause behind the gap between men and women’s pay. These factors should also be taken into consideration when an employer is reporting on its gender pay gap. The government has yet to decide whether they will make big companies publish a single figure or a number of figures relating to each pay grade. Nicky Morgan has suggested that the figures could be released in bands meaning that pay will be compared at each grade rather than an overall figure.

In looking on how to improve the gender pay gap in Britain we must also start from the beginning-education. The government especially the Education Secretary and the Minister for Women and Equalities should encourage schools, colleges, sixth forms and universities to address occupational segregation.

The Reaction

Petra Wilson (Chartered Management Institute)  told the Guardian:

We welcome David Cameron’s announcement that new legislation will require every company with 250 employees or more to publish the gap between average female earnings and average male earnings. But businesses should report on more than just average pay rates. Given that the gender pay gap is widest at the top, it’s vital that companies track pay across different job levels. And, of course, the pay gap isn’t the only problem facing women at work, as the lack of women in senior roles is still a huge problem.

Transparency is the most powerful driver we have for achieving change, and this legislation will be good news for business. The new measures will help unblock the talent pipeline. Clearer employee data, improved recruitment and a reinvigorated focus on business culture will pay dividends for all employees. The evidence is clear: diverse teams make better decisions and deliver better results for businesses.

John Allen, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses

We need to keep up the momentum and break down the remaining barriers that prevent women progressing in the workplace and the boardroom”.

Gloria De Piero, shadow Minister for Women and Equalities

said it was “good news” ministers had “finally embraced pay transparency after shelving the Labour legislation for five years”.

“For pay transparency to make a real difference, we need to have an annual equal pay check which measures progress and recommends what action needs to be taken – a move the government voted against earlier this month”.

Jo Swinson, former Lib Dems Equalities minister

said: “Saying we can afford to wait for another generation to close it is, to put it mildly, unambitious. The UK economy is currently missing out on the talents of too many women. In government, my Lib Dem colleagues and I fought tooth and nail with the Conservatives to get them to agree to even minimal changes to help close the gender pay gap”.

Kate Andrews, The Adam Smith Institute

“Forcing businesses with more than 250 employees to publish their ‘pay gaps’ will only promote more myths and confusion. There is no such thing as an ‘average salary’; education, previous experiences, negotiating tactics, and unique abilities all contribute to one’s salary, none of which can be known by comparing John and Jane’s annual take-home pay on a spreadsheet.

“Furthermore, men and women often choose to make different career decisions – usually based on flexibility and rigour – so they can embrace other, equally meaningful parts of their life; this, naturally, can be reflected in their pay.”

What does it mean for employers and employees?

In whatever method the government decides for companies to publish their gender pay gap information there will be issues in terms of recruitment, reputation and retention. If there is a big gap, this is likely to have an effect on a company’s retention and ability to recruit. It will also highlight the company’s commitment to diversity and to gender equality. In addition, it will bring transparency and scrutiny to the way companies pays its employees.

Mandatory gender pay reporting could mean large costs for big employers and could expose them to sex discrimination and equal pay claims.  By big companies publishing their gender gap information, employees will be able to access the information and if they are feel they are being paid lower than their comparator group it could potentially mean there will be several pay settlements. Large costs for the big companies are likely to arise if the audit is a detailed and sophisticated one, there is a also a fear that it will be time consuming for companies too.

Indeed, the government’s plan to force big companies to publish gender pay gap information is a positive step forward in gender pay and is welcomed. However it does not make equal pay a reality. More will need to be done to encourage employers for their to be equal pay parity between men and women.

Images: www.guardian.com (Joe Giddens/PA), www.bbc.co.uk

Pollockism

One of my favourite artists is Jackson Pollock. He is famous for his style of drip painting and is one of the main figures in abstract painting. I love the way he uses colours to express energy and motions in a painting.

The outfit I wore today, reminded me of Pollock’s work. It reminded me of the time when I studied Art at A-level and I was working on a piece influenced by Pollock. I think the top looks like a pouring of colour thrown onto material. Can you see it?

Here are some pictures of my outfit of the day:

Pollickism 1

Pollickism 5

Pollickism 6

Pollickism 3

Pollickism 2

The front of top is a kriss kross arrangement of different Ntoma or Ankara (African fabric) fabrics. The back of the top is a navy sheer material.

Pollickism 4

Pollickism 7

Pollickism 8 Pollickism 9

What I wore:

Kriss Kross Ntoma/Ankara top- Made in Ghana

White Trousers- Vintage

Shoes- Marks & Spencer

Bracelet- Marks & Spencer (Limited Edition)

Bag- Zara

   Stay Blessed x

How to do suede justice?

Suede is one of Spring/Summer 2015 biggest trends. Suede was seen all over the catwalks, it is the fabric of the season alongside denim. Denim is the easiest out of the fabrics to style- everyone has denim in their wardrobe and everyone loves it. However with suede it is a little more difficult. Suede can be layered up as we have seen on the catwalks, at Chanel a loose suede top was worn with suede trousers. If you’re afraid of drowning in suede, try suede accessories- maybe a suede handbag or a suede tassel bracelet to start off.

Suede 1  suede 2

(From L to R, Derek Lam, Ralph Lauren and Burberry below)

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Here are some  suede looks that I came up with:

 Look 1- Conservative Suede

Conservative Suede

Brown Suede A-line Skirt– Marks & Spencer

White Shirt- Mango

Lace Up Sandal– Stuart Weitzman

Diamond Stud Earrings– Nina B

Handbag– Gucci

This is a simple no fuss suede look. Match a white shirt (roll up the sleeves) and pair it with a line suede skirt. Keep the accessories simple and neutral to get the conservative and effortless look. The Marks & Spencer suede skirt shown caused a stir when it first came out (online waiting list had 800 names on it within a hour) and was worn by the likes of Alexa Chung and Olivia Palermo. At £199 its not cheap  (sadly suede doesn’t come cheap but look at it as an investment, buy a suede classic piece that can be worn all year around with boots in the winter and sandals in the summer ) but Marks & Spencer has a cheaper suedette version of the skirt for £31.60.

Look 2- Matchy Matchy Suede

Matchy Matchy Suede

Suede Crop Top-Oasis

Suede Pencil Skirt-Oasis

Black and White Mules– Miu Miu

White and Black Clutch– Givenchy

Pearl and Black Double Back earrings– Thpshop

This look is inspired by the double layering suede outfits seen at Derek Lam and Chanel.

Look 3- Festival Suede Life

Festival Suede Life

Fringed waistcoat– Miss Selfridge

Denim Shorts– Topshop

White lace crop top– New Look

Semi Precious Wrap Necklace– Topshop

Brown gladiator sandals– Carvela Kurt Geiger

Aviator Sunglasses-Saint Laurent

Straw hat– ASOS

Suede fringed Handbag-ASOS

Suede is perfect for the festival outfit, wear a fringed waistcoat with on trend denim shorts or a white lightweight gypsy dress.

Stay Blessed! x

You are beautiful

This post was inspired by my a dear sister of mine. I saw her tweets and it moved me to share my own views of the perception of beauty today. It got me thinking and I decided to write a post on it. This is probably my first truly personal post on the blog (I’ll be sharing some of my experiences). I hope it will bless you all and give you an insight into what beauty means. Grab a cup of tea and some hob nobs, and hope you enjoy the post.

What does beauty mean to you? What comes to your mind when you think of a beautiful person? A face without no flaws or does it mean perfection. Does it mean having the curves in the right places, or does it mean being slim?

Here are some definitions to get you thinking  on what beauty has been defined by:

Definitions of beauty :

  • the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, colour, sound, etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).
  • a beautiful person, especially a woman.
  • a beautiful thing, as a work of art or a building.
  • Often, beauties. something that is beautiful in nature or in some natural or artificial environment.
  • an individually pleasing or beautiful quality; grace; charm:

Definitions of beautiful:

  • having beauty; possessing qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction to see, hear, think about, etc.; delighting the senses or mind
  • excellent of its kind
  • wonderful; very pleasing or satisfying
  • the concept of beauty (usually preceded by the).
  • (used with a plural verb) beautiful things or people collectively (usually preceded by the)
  • the ideal of beauty (usually preceded by the)
  • wonderful; fantastic

Why I wrote this?

I wrote this blog post based on what I believe being beautiful is. My definition of beauty comes from what God says it is and just having confidence in yourself. You may ask why I am doing this, it is really personal to me. I grew up not feeling pretty enough until I became comfortable in my own skin. I would also like to encourage younger girls growing up that they are beautiful and are wonderfully and fearfully made.

When I began writing this in my journal, I planned to write only from my personal experiences and what beauty meant to me. However, I decided to share this experience with others and ask people what beauty means to them as well. The reasons could have been long, short, spiritual, religious or inspired by anything. It could have even been selfies to express what beauty means to them. Below, I have included what people thought of what beauty means.

What does beauty mean to you?

you are beautiful 5

“Beauty is you”.

“Beauty to me is God. I believe that is where Art comes from and life imitates Art”

“First of all beauty fades…outer beauty and appearance fades true beauty comes from within. Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, shall be praised. Personally I believe my outer appearance is not enough to define my beauty. But if I search my heart and find that I have accepted the way in which God has created me it is then I will begin to see the beauty in me. The only time we can define beauty is when our heart matches our outer appearance. I believe I am beautiful not because of my face, my eyes, or my body, but I’m beautiful because I’ve accepted it in my heart that God created me in his own image and likeness. He makes all things beautiful and I count myself as one of those things”.

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“Beauty is an opinion and anyone can appear “beautiful” to you if you give them a chance”.

“I think I am beautiful because of the fact I never give up, so the fact I can think of a million reasons as to why things won’t work but I am just courageous enough to follow through it. A lot of it has to do with inner and outer beauty. I think I am beautiful because of the fact that just like anyone I have been through so much but I consistently look on the bright side. I think I am beautiful because of how my mother raised me to be the woman that I am. I am beautiful because I have a lot of self respect. And I think I am beautiful because I am surrounded by so many beautiful people that gradually becomes a part of me”.

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“My reasons are simple God made me who I am and I believe that with or without makeup I am beautiful regardless. So why should I listen to other ‘human beings’ who may think I am not beautiful? Who are you to call me, God’s creation who made me….UGLY? What matters is that God created me not you and not any one else. Therefore, I have learnt to embrace the truth that I am beautiful each time I wake up, smile, pray, eat and sleep”.

you are beautiful 4 you are beautiful 3

“I know I’m beautiful because I’m made in the image of God. My mummy says I’m beautiful too”.

“I think beauty is a feeling rather than a look. The way you feel is the way people perceive you, like if you’ve realised when someone is beautiful and rude, their beauty immediately becomes irrelevant. So I feel like the way you feel, act, and perceive yourself all constitutes to how beautiful you are”.

“I am beautiful because I love my baby face, my lips and cheeks. I love the fact that God made me in a way that delighted him but let us not forget that God measures beauty from within”.

“I’d class it as the inner you, the honest core of you shining through your skin and affecting the outer core because I do believe our souls affect our appearance”.

“I’m beautiful because God made this way and if he did then who am I (or anyone else for that matter) to argue? It takes practice to start believing that though and many years of dissatisfaction to even realise it”.

“Personality, smile, confidence is what makes some beautiful. Not always about the outer appearance. AND YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL RACHEL”.

You are beautiful one

My definition of beauty

Often beauty is seen in one way-that you have to look a certain way to be beautiful. That you have to be thin to be beautiful, that you have to have light skin to be beautiful, that your hair has to be a certain type to be beautiful. There is a ideal of beauty that it is forced down our throats by society,  I find that if you do not meet its standards you are seen as ‘ugly’. I refuse to believe anyone is ugly. Everyone looks different, God created us intentionally that way. Beauty comes in different forms. It is not one standard. This is why I do not follow the world’s standard as is it ever changing. In some parts of the world beauty has different meanings. Obviously I do like to look at beauty trends (I am a woman after all) but what I am saying is I do not look to that as my standard. As my sister said there is, ‘Nothing wrong with having an appreciation for physical beauty, but just realise that is not everything’. My perception and definition of beauty is different to the world’s.

What the Bible says about beauty? Here are some verses to help you:

  • Proverbs 31:30-Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
  • 1 Samuel 16:7-But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
  • Genesis 1:27-So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
  • Ecclesiastes 3:11-He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

What I love about God’s standard of beauty, that it is not ever changing. It remains the same throughout the ages. The bible says that the grass withers, flower fades but God’s word remains the same forever (Isaiah 40:8). This means many things will change, die, fade and go away but God’s word will stay the same throughout these changes. The same applies to beauty, the world’s standard of beauty changes all the time but God’s word remains true yesterday, today and forever. Your outer beauty may also fade, after all we will all grow old one day (I don’t know about you but I will still be fabulous when I’m eighty with all my wrinkles and grey hair). The point I’m trying to make is that outer beauty is not permanent, God’s word is. So your focus should be more on your inner beauty.

What does the Bible say about inner and outer beauty? Take a look at 1 Peter 3:3-4:

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewellery or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

This means that your beauty should not come from outside or what you wear but instead what is in your heart. God is concerned of the state of your heart, your inner beauty. Are you kind, selfless, generous, loving, humble, forgiving, patient, faithful and peaceful? These are some of the things that God considers to be beautiful in his sight. It is your heart which makes you beautiful. You can have what man says is the prettiest face but if your heart is full of hate and envy, what good is that? Why not seek to have a beautiful heart (inner beauty) as well as the beauty on the outside of you? Everything na double double *dances*, I call it double beauty blessings-having both inner and outer beauty. I know my beauty does not alone come from my Kurt Geiger heels nor my 24inch weave or even my make up but it comes from my heart. Have you ever noticed when someone who has a good heart, that light shines on their face and makes them beautiful? What is in your inside shows on the outside.

God tells you that you are wonderfully and fearfully made (Psalms 139:14). This is my definition of beauty. It further adds in the verse that ‘your works are wonderful, I know that full well’. Everything God has created is wonderful from the trees, to the seas, to animals and to you yourself. Knowing that you are wonderfully and fearfully made, comes from believing it yourself. You are beautiful when you believe you are wonderfully made and know that God created you in this way. To say that God created me beautiful is not being vain nor is it being over confident or narcissistic. It is recognising what God has said- we are FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE. There are days when I wake up and I’m not feeling great. But don’t we all have those days. We are all human. It’s okay. But I know and believe that I am still beautiful. You are beautiful. There are days when I’m struggling to fit into my jeans in the morning because the previous evening I had too much banku and tilapia. When someone calls me ugly or insults my appearance, I don’t have time for it because I know who I am. I know who God calls me. I know he created me. I know he calls me beautiful, my father God.

It wasn’t always like this.

Personal Experiences of beauty

I had struggles growing up, I disliked my physical appearance. I grew up in areas looking different to people. I didn’t appreciate my beautiful black skin, I wanted to be lighter and thinner (when I was young I used to be chubby lumpkins). People would make horrible comments about my lips and my bum, I just didn’t want to be me. They would laugh at me and make jokes and I would feel so ugly. They would ask me why my bum and lips are big, like it was my fault that I had those features. I would ask God why he gave me big lips, why couldn’t he make my lips small. Funny enough, the same people who made jokes about me back in primary school now idolise people like Kim Kardashian. Some are now wearing bum pads and distorting their pictures to make it look they have a large behind. It’s funny to me, because late last year Vogue said “Big Butts” are in because of Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea’s song. When women with “Big Butts” has always existed. Similarly, now big lips are in too, all because of Kylie Jenner drawing on her lips to make them appear bigger. When they always have been in. I don’t see how big lips can be a trend when so many people naturally have that feature. Have they all of sudden forgotten that there are many women who naturally have big lips?  Next thing you know, big noses which they call ‘unbeautiful’ will be ‘in’. If you always follow trends, you’ll always be unhappy. Love your freckles, love the gap in front of your teeth and love your dimples. Why change what makes ‘you’ you? Why would you want change yourself to look like another person? When there is only one of you on this earth.

There was this guy that I liked and he claimed that he liked me. He told me that he did not like women with big bottoms, he preferred women with a large chest (I have kindly paraphrased his words). He always use to make comments about my appearance, he said he was joking. Obviously I did not fit into his description of what was beautiful to him. I used to pretend not to get upset at his comments all because I liked him. Looking back now, I think why did I allow him to make me think so lowly of myself. How did I let another judge upon my beauty and tell me what beauty is? Do not allow another person to determine your beauty. Do not wait for a man to tell you are beautiful. Do not rely on the world to tell you are beautiful. Speak to your soul and tell yourself you are beautiful. A man when he loves you, will not insult your appearance, he will not make you feel bad about yourself. He will love all of you-your flaws and your strengths. He will appreciate both your inner and outer beauty. There is beauty in love, love is beautiful. If you find yourself seeing ‘ugliness’ in your relationship then there is no love there whatsoever. What do I mean by ‘ugliness’ in a relationship? It is whatever love is not. If it causes you pain, then it is not love. If it is abuse, then it is not love. If it makes you have low self esteem, then it is not love.

Body and appearance issues

It is always nice to look good, everyone loves to make an effort regardless of whether you like to admit it or not. The question is who are you are you doing it for? If you are doing it to please man, then you’re in the wrong. Beauty comes within, it is for you, not another. Do it for yourself. When you’re beautifying your outer beauty, make sure it is for yourself. In relationships, so many believe people that you have to make yourself look good for your partner. Yes, I believe that too but make sure it is for yourself first. When you want to lose weight, lose weight for yourself. When you want to add on weight, do it for yourself. Who are you going you gym for? There are days when Auntie so and so will comment on your weight ‘Oh, Rachel why have you lost so much weight’ or ‘Oh, Rachel you have put too much weight on try to cut back okay’. Then I’ll think long and hard of whether to eat the galaxy chocolate bar or not. I came to the realisation I will eat the galaxy chocolate bar. Why? I am happy with my weight. If I wish to lose or add weight on, it will because I have decided too. I will step on and off the treadmill, when I want too. Not because others have said too. If I am healthy and happy with my weight, what else matters?

I remember I told a friend of mine when we were back in secondary school how beautiful she looked. She told me no one had ever told her that. I was shocked. I told her girl you do not know how stunning you are. She has such a lovely inner beauty and a gorgeous smile. A friend of mine, felt too dark to be beautiful. Another friend of mine wished she was not skinny and wished she was curvier. There are pressures in society to look a certain way, that we blame the media for. Yes, some of it is created by the media but sometimes we have to look at ourselves. Why do we as women (this also applies to men) put pressure on people to look a certain way? Why do we tell women that the only  way to be beautiful is if they have a large behind? Why do we tell women that the only way to be beautiful is if they are curvy? Why do we tell women that the only the way to be beautiful is if they are skinny? Beauty comes in all sizes and shapes. Whether you have an athletic built, a skinny frame, an hourglass or a pear shape you are beautiful. No matter what shape you are, know that you are beautiful and celebrate yourself.

Why do we put women against another? Why do we create light skinned vs. dark skinned? How many times have you heard that horrible phrase ‘you’re pretty for a dark skinned girl’?  Why do we create silly stereotypes based off a light skinned girl’s appearance? Why do we create fat vs. skinny? Why do we create the notion that the colour of your hair determines your intelligence and your beauty?

Where am I now?

It took me a long time to see, that God created me beautiful, he created me in his very own image and his very own hands. This means if I am I created in his very own image, I am a reflection of him (I am beautiful just like my father God is). It was only after studying the word for a long period of time that I came to see, that it is very much an insult to call yourself ugly or someone else. God doesn’t like ugly. All that he created was good in his sight, no where does it say what he created was bad in his sight. He created you with his very own hands.

So many feel compelled to conform to the world’s standards of beauty and therefore do not think themselves good enough. My sisters and my brothers too, do not think your physical attributes are not good enough. God says you’re more than enough! You are more than just what is on the outside, there is your inner beauty.

I will not allow any standard to reduce my self worth when I have the best standard to look up too. I love all of me. I love me from my 4c hair all the way down to my size 5 and 1/2 feet.

You are beautiful.

Have a read of my poem, ‘I don’t like me’

P.S Thank you to those who shared their opinion of beauty and what it means to them, God bless you. It is not too late to share your views on what you believe beauty is, I will include it in the post. To do so you can email me at renaissanceideal@yahoo.com. Or if you wish you can share your views with me on Twitter (@RaeDosoo), Facebook (www.facebook.com/renaissanceideal) and Instagram (@renaissanceideal).

Stay Blessed

x

Smiles in the Rain

Hello *waves hand*. It has been a long time since I have posted. I’ve been very busy with law school, so that has kept me away. I’m back now and expect regular posts from Renaissance Ideal’s usual posts from Politics, Law, Fashion, Poetry, Faith, Business and much more.

I took these photos a while ago, on a miserable raining day in November. I find that wearing a smile on a rainy day makes it all better (and a fab outift helps too). The weather was lovely on the weekend but today was miserable.

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I love mixing old and new pieces together. The blazer was my mum’s and now its mine haha. I love it because it has subtle shoulder pads with white and black stripes. It makes a ordinary black blazer unique. The white polo neck top, is actually a short sleeved crop top that I tucked into the orange-red skirt.

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The gold capped shoes are one of my favourite flats-it is simple and elegant. It even matched my accessory of the day, the umbrella.

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What I was wearing:

Blazer-Originally my mum’s

White Polo Neck-Marks & Spencer

Flats-Kurt Geiger

Umbrella-Topshop

Stay Blessed

x

Great Women Of The Bible-The Mary Edition Part 1 (Mary & Mary Magdalene )

For the next two Great Women of the Bible Posts (including this post) will be dedicated to the Marys in the Bible. Mary Edition Part 1 is Mary, mother of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene.

Mary-The mother of the saviour and a woman honoured above all

Bible Reference-Matthew 1:1-25; 2; 12:46; 13;55-56; Mark 6:3; 3:31; Luke 1; 2; John 2:1-11;19:25; Acts 1:14

Family Background-Mary was of the tribe of Judah and of the line of David. She was married to Joseph, son of Heli and they conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit. She had sons James, Joses, Simon, Judas and unnamed daughters. Her cousin was Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist.

Name Meaning-Mary is a Hebrew name meaning bitterness, rebellion

Who is Mary?

Mary was a women from the tribe of Judah and the line of David. She was from the city of Galilee called Nazareth. She was betrothed to a man called Joseph, who also was from the line of David and tribe of Judah. The Bible tells us she was a virgin.

The scripture tells us that an angel of the Lord called Gabriel appeared to Mary and said:

“Rejoice, highly favoured one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

Mary was scared and troubled when she saw the angel, wondering why the angel was there. The angel told her:

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.  And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

Mary asked the angel how this could happen as she does not man (keep in mind that she was a virgin and not married to Joseph yet).

The angel told her:

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.  Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.”

Then Mary replied, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”

After the visitation of angel Gabriel, Mary went to a town in Judea to visit her relative Elizabeth. The Bible tells us that once Mary greeted Elizabeth, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb rejoiced and was filled with the holy spirit:

Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!”

Mary then replied with a song of thanksgiving in Luke 1:46-55. She stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

Mary was pledged to marry Joseph, but before they come together she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. As Joseph was a man who was faithful to the law and did not want to disgrace her publically, he made up his mind to divorce her quietly. However an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to him to take Mary as his wife because what she had conceived was from the Holy Spirit.

Soon after this, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census that everyone had to take in their town. Joseph went with Mary to the town of Bethlehem as he was from the house and the line of David. While they were there, Mary gave birth to her son Jesus. She wrapped him up in cloths in a manager, as there was no guest room available for them.

Why is Mary great?

Mary, as the mother of Jesus Christ, is the most well known female in the Bible. She was called ‘highly favoured one’ and ‘blessed are you among women’. This means that Mary had received so much grace and unmerited favour from God. Undoubtedly, as the mother of saviour she is a great woman. This alone is not her only call to greatness, but her character.

Mary was a humble and young woman who faced losing her fiancé due to being an unwed mother. Even though she was to be honoured as the mother of saviour, she must of known the possibility of being rejected and publically disgraced . Mary’s submission to God’s plans could have cost her rejection from those around her yet she was still willing to submit herself unto God.

What amazes me, is the way Mary received the message from the angel of God. She did not doubt the message but received it in obedience and faith by answering “I am the Lord’s servant…May your word to me be fulfilled”. Mary’s song of thanksgiving showed her gratitude and also spoke of her humility. Mary was mindful of the fact that she was a humble village girl.

What can we learn from Mary?

We can learn from Mary’s submission and obedience to God. Mary must of known the challenges she could have faced by submitting herself to God’s plan. She risked losing Joseph and being disgraced publically as a unwed mother. Mary probably knew the suffering she would go through as Jesus’ mother. She knew that one day she will see her son die in order to save us from our sins. She may not have realised how painful the death was to be, only until she stood there watching her child die on the cross. Still, she willing submitted herself to God and his plans. She rejoiced in his plans. She had faith in his plans. Can we willingly accept God’s plans? Can we rejoice in God’s plans like Mary did, when we know we may face challenges? Can we have faith in his plans? Can we be submissive and obedient to his plans?

Mary Magdalene- A loyal and faithful follower

Bible Reference-Matthew 27; Matthew 28; Mark 15 ; Mark 16 ; Luke 8; Luke 24; John 19:25; John 20:1-18

Family Background-The Bible does not mention her family background.

Name Meaning-Mary is a Hebrew name meaning bitterness, rebellion. The name Magdalene in Hebrew means the tower.

Who is Mary Magdalene?

Mary Magdalene is one of the most speculated woman figures in the Bible. There have been claims that have been made about her which is untrue, such as the claim that she was a prostitute. The Bible does not mention the woman who washed her washed Jesus’ feet was Mary Magdalene.

However we do know that, Mary Magdalene was a woman that Jesus cast seven demons out. She, among other women became followers of Jesus Christ. The bible mentions that these women that followed Jesus helped by supporting his ministry with their own means.

Mary Magdalene witnessed many of the crucifixion events. She was there along with Jesus’ mother Mary and other women who stood near Jesus at the cross. She along with other women went to Jesus’ tomb to anoint his body, the stone of his tomb had already been rolled away. They were told Jesus had arisen and they should tell the disciples and Peter. The disciples did not believe Mary Magdalene and the others as the Bible says ‘their words seemed like nonsense’.

Early on in the first of the day of the week, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and did not find Jesus there. So she told Simon Peter and the other disciple, that they had taken the Lord away from the tomb. The disciples looked into the tomb and found the linen that was used to wrap Jesus’ head was there. Mary Magdalene stood outside the tomb crying, the two angels then asked her why she was crying. She replied that had her Lord had been taken away. Mary Magdalene turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t realise it was him. She realised that it was Jesus when he said her name. Jesus told Mary to tell the rest that he was ascending to the father. Mary Magdalene told the disciples that she had seen Jesus. Mary Magdalene was the first to see Jesus out of his followers and disciples.

Why is Mary Magdalene great?

Mary Magdalene was great because she was the first person honoured to see Jesus after his resurrection. She had great faith and believed that he had arisen even before his disciples. Later on Jesus rebuked his disciples for their lack of faith in not believing that he had arisen when Mary Magdalene others who told them of his resurrection.

Additionally, Mary Magdalene was a loyal woman who was supportive and generous. She is listed amongst women who helped support Jesus’ ministry with their own money.

What can we learn from Mary Magdalene?

We can learn from Mary Magdalene’s great faith in Jesus. She was obedient in telling the others that Jesus had arisen when the angels of the Lord sent them. She believed when she saw Jesus and did not question him. Her faith did not waver. As a follower of Jesus, we are bound to face difficult times in the world. When Mary Magdalene and the others told the disciples that Jesus had arisen, they thought she was talking nonsense. As Christians, people may think your beliefs is ‘nonsense’ and you may be ridiculed for your beliefs. However you and I must hold onto the truth. We must keep the faith like Mary Magdalene, regardless of whether people think it is nonsense or not. Jesus is worth it all!

 

Stay Blessed

x

The Rise of the African Middle Class?

 

As a woman of African heritage, I have seen and heard many misconceptions of Africa. I am sure you have heard of this one-the infamous stereotype where Africans live in huts and drink dirty water. Growing up, I showed pictures to acquaintances and school friends of my holidays in Africa. It was always met with disbelief. They could not believe how beautiful Africa was.

As Africa’s economy is growing stronger, its image is slowly changing, something that should be welcomed and acknowledged. The image of huts and children drinking dirty water is changing into ‘Africa is finally on the path to becoming a consumer society’. They call it the ‘rise of the African middle class’. However has there not always been a middle class in Africa? Is it just because Africa’s GDP has become steady in recent years that there is now a middle class?  Has the middle class suddenly come into existence? There always has been a middle class in Africa. I hear family stories of my great grandmother (and many others in my family and beyond), being a educated woman who loved and could afford the finer things in life. Africans have always driven flashy cars and worn designer brands. There are factors that separate the African middle class of today to the African middle class of yesterday. The main difference between the middle class of the past and the middle class of today, is that there are simply more people in the middle class. There are more Africans after spending on necessities who now have the resources to spend discretionally on consumer goods.

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According to African Development Bank, the African middle class which was numbered 115 million in 1980 has risen to 326 million in the past three and a half decades. This is set to increase, with the number of middle class households in 11 key African economies (Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia excluding South Africa) to triple to 22 million by 2030 according to the Standard Bank figures. This includes lower middle class households to increase to 40 million in 2030 from the 15 million households of today.

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As reported by the Standard Bank, the 11 economies account for over of half of Sub-Saharan Africa’s total GDP (75% if South Africa is included), a population of over 525 million people (over half of Africa’s population) and an average growth of 6.3% in 2013 and a predicted growth of 6.5% forecast for 2014.

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The surge in African household incomes has brought more into the middle class group and therefore more are spending on healthcare, financial services, mortgages, education, vehicles and luxury items. The owner of The Wish Collection, a luxury store, Caron Koonin says, “The more money people make, the more they want the finest products. There’s always aspirational value”.  When an individual’s income increases, the more likely it is they would want to spend more on luxury items. This does not just happen in Africa as analysts have reported but also across the majority of middle class households in the world. Caron Koonin’s store, in Sandton City Mall Johannesburg, is the biggest shopping centre in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Wish Collection has a  large clientele with shoppers from oil rich Angola, Nigeria and Ghana. No longer are the middle class travelling abroad in order to spend, the money is staying within the continent.

Although the African middle class will grow to 1.1 billion in 2060 as the Deloitte Report (The Rise and The Rise of the African Middle Class) suggests, there are a number of problems that could impact the growth of Africa. These risks that are threatening to disrupt the continent’s growth include the current outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, Islamic extremism and growing fiscal imbalances in some countries. The IMF has warned that trade and tourism and investment confidence in some countries could be affected as the outbreak takes its toll in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. There is cause of concern with security issues in Northern Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali and Kenya as well as conflicts in South Sudan and Central African Republic. Ghana and Zambia have widening fiscal deficits driven by an increase in public sector wages and other expenditures. As a result, it has fuelled inflation and exchange rates.

We must not forget that though it is good news that there are many climbing out of poverty, more needs to be done. Africa is enjoying an era of promising economic growth that has lead to ‘The rise of the African middle class’ and what many call ‘Africa Rising’. The poorest countries in Africa are likely to see the fastest growth rates in the world, averaging more than 8% in Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique. However, corruption still remains and governments are slow to build efficient institutions for the long term. There is also a need for some African countries to diversify their economies beyond its commodities. Nigerian economists are concerned about the sustained lower global prices for oil, on which the state depends for at least 80% of its revenue. Ghana earlier this year (after a warning by the IMF) introduced measures in an attempt to diversify its economy by encouraging farmers to produce rice, sugar and poultry (which costs the country $1 billion a year to import).

The media in some African countries are under attack and some politicians are overreaching their mandate by extending their legal terms in office. Furthermore, jobs are lacking in a ever more educated generation especially for the youth. Take Nigeria for example, the continent’s biggest economy has 56% of its youth unemployed. Economic growth is high, but inequalities still exist. Though Africa has the fastest growing middle class and wealth is slowly trickling down, it is not translating into improving the livelihoods for the majority. Additionally, the lower end of the middle class is fragile and many are vulnerable to poverty.The recent US-Africa Leaders Summit demonstrated the great investment and business opportunities in Africa. Whilst leaders were praised at the summit for economic development in their individual countries, political and social issues are yet to be tackled. It is time for Africa’s leaders and politicians to understand economic growth alone would not solve Africa’s challenges. Investment in health, education, infrastructure, agriculture and most importantly good governance will tackle the continent’s challenges.

The head of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka said, “you can’t eat GDP ”. Strong growth is simply not enough. Better governance is the only solution to Africa’s challenges.