Monday, 9 January 2017

Jourdan Dunn vs Kendall Jenner: Issues within the modeling industry

Now,  I am not one to follow trending mainstream media stories as half the time, they simply aren't true. Not to mention, I never watch the annual Victoria's Secret Show. However, the 'alleged' dismissal of Jourdan Dunn, to make room for Kendall Jenner brings light to a much bigger issue! The notion that white privilege is clearly prevalent in the modeling industry.

Being born a female, and a black female at that, in a world full of unfair paradigms is hard enough. Imagine, tirelessly building your career from scratch, in a world that dictates an unrealistic idea of beauty, only to have a white model, who was born rich with a career that hasn't even reached 50% of your accomplishments, unrightfully 'replace' you. I can't. The sad truth is that this isn't the first time a black model's career and/or beauty has been undermined for someone totally mediocre, and even worse, probably wont be the last. I have nothing against Kendall Jenner, but in all honesty, anyone that tries to argue the fact that her career wasn't already a success before she was even born is a liar. She was born in to wealth, born in to privilege, born in to a family, that now, has a cult-like following for reasons unknown to many. Therefore, Kendall earning her spot to walk in the Victoria's Secret show has nothing to do with hard work, and everything to do with privilege.

Similarly, in Australia, the diversity of models is seriously lacking! Although I have done some modeling here and there, I have never bothered to take it that seriously, as I know for a fact that my success story would not be in Australia. To get any type of decent castings/jobs here as a black model, you either have to be mixed (light skinned, curly-haired), or extremely dark skinned. There is no in between. I guess there is some ridiculous idea that there is only 1 type of 'black beauty'. The next time you watch a commercial, count how many black models you see. I can almost guarantee there wouldn't be more than 1 at a time. Apart from the rare 1 that's thrown in from time to time, to keep the black race happy, and feeling 'accepted'.

This may simply be my opinion based solely on experience and observation, however, I pray I see the day that the colour of one's skin doesn't automatically hinder their chance for an opportunity. Not just in modeling, but life in general. Not just in Australia, but the world.



~Posted by Vanessa

Sunday, 17 January 2016

'Back 2 School': Charity Donation, Ghana

God has blessed me beyond my needs, which is why I believe so strongly in paying it forward and giving back to those who aren't as fortunate. I am extremely in love with Ghana, passionate about the youth and supporting their needs, especially considering they are the future of Ghana. I was inspired to create a 'Back 2 School' drive from observing Eudoxie's (rapper & actor Ludacris' wife) charity work (Unspoken Angels) in her homeland, Gabon. In addition to sharing the the same passion for philanthropy and Ghana with a close friend, Akua Aboagye, a simple conversation was the only thing needed to get started. Akua and I (with the appreciated donations and support from family and friends) researched possibilities tirelessly before we put together a school pack that consisted of pens, pencils, rubbers, sharpeners, notebooks and a backpack for 100 odd students. The Noyaa Association (Ghana) is an intervention-based school in the coastal community of Jamestown. It is dedicated to providing education to children who are not formally enrolled in the Ghana Education System. To prevent their academic decline and from falling behind their developmental competencies, the children are admitted into the Noyaa Ghana program.
Noyaa's curriculum is strategically designed to provide a baseline education for street children in the coastal community of Jamestown, Accra. The curriculum strategically prepares the students to read, reason logically and learn basic mathematics in order to transfer them into a local government school at Level Six JHS.
Akua and I hope this is just the beginning of our giving journey, and that others will take the initiative to pay it forward, no matter how big or small. 
To learn more about Noyaa, or donate, visit their website:

THANK YOU, to those who donated: 
-Aminata Kamara
-Coconsa (Senah and Linda Fiamanya)
-Kwame Agyeman 
-Latoya Amankwatia 
Photo Credit- @shutterbuggh
~Posted by Vanessa 

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Gold Coast / Surfers Paradise

When you get so consumed in all the ups and downs life throws at you, it is so important to just STOP ! Whether it's for an hour, a day, a week. This was my simple reasoning behind my impromptu trip to Gold Coast with my cousin. It was short and sweet, but I didn't even know how much I needed it. It's the simple things like laying on the beach, and soaking up an endless amount of sun that can sometimes make all the difference...

Tallebudgera Creek
Gold Coast Botanic Gardens 
Urban Paradise Art Gallery 
Thrift Shopping 

Monday, 29 June 2015

An Argument for Why Young White Men Commit Mass Shootings

I'm almost positive these aren't original thoughts or concepts I'm sharing, but I've been thinking deeply about the shooting last week in Charleston, SC, and had some thoughts around why we continue to see young, white, angry, racist men commit mass murders/shootings. 

Discrimination and oppression are felt differently by different groups and there are certainly different layers and levels of oppression. For example, as a white woman, I have experienced discrimination and oppression but not nearly at the level felt by trans women, black women and other women of color. And that is important to note. Nonetheless, I experience (almost daily) street harassment. I have to think consciously about my appearance every day and how I will be perceived based on how much I am showing. I have to work harder for less and be overly-polite and attentive to the needs of male coworkers. I often feel unsafe. I am used to not getting my way and having certain situations not work in my favor, purely because I am a woman. I've been taught by society - teachers, the media, coworkers & bosses, even friends and family - that I am not entitled to certain things, such as safety or the chance to act wild, bossy or angry. I'm taught that if I go against this system, I will not be happy or treated well by society at-large. These confinements are felt much more by men & women of color as well as gender-queer and trans folks. Especially those who are also poor. This needs to be reiterated. And unlike white men, resisting these confinements is never met with the "mental illness" argument.

However, what occurred to me is that young white men in America are not confined. Sure, if they are poor, they face certain hardships. But ultimately, white men are taught to be entitled to jobs, safety and even more importantly, women, authority and respect. 

They haven't had to deal with not getting a job purely because they are a man (unless of course it's a job like "women's health specialist" or some such title, but there will always be fine details that do not take away from the larger argument). They haven't had to deal with being spoken down to purely because they are a man (or white). They haven't had to deal with constantly questioning their safety, whether it be around police or drunk men at a house party or even walking down the street. They often don't have to deal with not "getting their way".

Which brings me to my argument: When young, white, racist men in America, feel sad or angry or that they haven't got their way, they seek power or dominance to correct the situation. That's right  - CORRECT the situation. Because white, male entitlement in America has been set in place since the country was taken over in the 16th century.

These mass shootings are murderous tantrums, performed by people who believe that the world owes them success, wealth, happiness and the right to dominate. If any of these things or other freedoms and privileges are not felt, then someone has to pay. In the case of the USA, this is far too often innocent black people. 

I think the pro-gun lobbying is so intense and so white and male because guns are a vessel for control - an easy and quick way to form dominance.

So it's clear we need to challenge this notion of who deserves certain things. And this goes into respectability politics and teaching certain people that they should confine to certain norms to be "safe" or "respected". Black people are told to dress, speak and behave in certain ways otherwise they aren't entitled to safety or respect. But as we have seen this week, being a church-going, respectable black person still does not make you safe. 

Similarly, women being completely covered up or behaving sweetly and passively are not safer or more respectable. Far too often are women raped and abused in their own homes and women in cultures across the world who cover-up also face sexual and domestic abuse. 

There should be no social hierarchy for being entitled to safety and respect. When we dismantle the system that was deliberately and forcibly built for white men to prosper (see: slavery, colonialism, laws around gender, etc.), then maybe we will see less ongoing, murderous slaughter. 

May the 9 people who died in Charleston RIP. And may we all, especially my fellow white people, stay angry and alert and teach other white people about what is going on, because if you are ignoring this, then you may as well stand with Dylann Roof. 


Cynthia Hurd

Susie Jackson

Ethel Lance

Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor

The Honorable Rev. Clementa Pinckney

Tywanza Sanders

Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr.

Rev. Sharonda Singleton

Myra Thompson

Photo from Reuters

- Posted by Olympia

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Review: Jord Watches


 Jord Watches is a unique brand that intricately uses wood as their main component, to produce beautiful, simple, sustainable and timeless watches. Jord kindly gifted us with watches of our choice. With Australia getting colder by the day, whilst America is warming up, we thought it would be cool to do a shoot showcasing the watches, juxtaposed by our opposing seasons. 

What we LOVE about Jord Watches:

~The packaging! It comes nicely presented in a wooden box, matched with a small pillow
~Their collection of watches varies to suit different skin tones
~The designs are simple enough for everyday use
~The uniqueness of the wood aspect (can be worn with everything)
~The closure is really secure
~The average cost of the watches is reasonable. For all watch lovers that appreciate quality and style, you will appreciate Jord!
~Decent selection range for both men and women
~Delivery is fast and Jord updates you every step of the way

While we didn't have any complaints with our watches, when ordering, make sure you provide Jord with the exact  measurements of your wrist to avoid the hassle of resizing like we had to. Jord Watches kindly size the watch prior to shipping it out.

Our shoot below :)

~Posted by Olympia & Vanessa 

Friday, 22 May 2015

Clean Eating with: Soeuba Gambo

A friend I met in Ghana, who actually resides in the Netherlands, has become a dear friend to me for many reasons. Her name is Soueba Gambo. Although she isn't a size 0, she has one of the most amazing bodies I have ever seen! Her motivation and drive to achieve the healthiest body she knows how is completely contagious. 

"My motto in life is to always be better, faster and stronger" ~ Soueba Gambo. The first step to a healthy lifestyle is a healthy diet. Below are 3 easy meals prepared by Soueba, that not only look good, but are also good for you! 

Cauliflower porridge topped with kiwi, almonds and goji berries
Ingredients:1 cup Cauliflower; 150 ml of Coconut milk or almond milk; 1 kiwi fruit; almonds; goji berries.
Cook the cauliflower for 3-5 minutes. When cooked blend the cauliflower together with the milk. Slice kiwi fruit to liking. Put the porridge in a bowl and serve topped with the sliced kiwi fruit, almonds and goji berries.

      Cauliflower porridge topped with cranberries, grilled pear and banana
Ingredients:1 cup Cauliflower; 150 ml of Coconut milk or almond milk; 50 gram of dried cranberries; 1 pear; 1 ripe banana; 1 tsp honey (optional).Cook the cauliflower for 3-5 minutes. When cooked blend the cauliflower together with the milk. Slice the pear and heat coconut oil in a grill pan. Add sliced pear and let it cook until they soften (brown). Put the porridge in a bowl and serve topped with the pear, sliced banana and dried cranberries. Eetsmakelijk! As we would say in Dutch.

Mixed Plate

Ingredients: Courgetti; Tomatoes; Chinese cabbage; Lentils; Pumpkin
 Cook lentils for 30 min, when cooked add coconut oil, sea salt, cumin, peppers and garlic to taste. Cook pumpkin until they are soft, mashed it and add spices to taste. Spiralize the courgetti with a spiralizer, cut the cabbage and steam them in a steamer. Slice the tomatoes. Put everything separately on a plate.

For more tips on fitness and healthy eating, follow Soueba on Instagram- @woman_of__steel 

-Posted by Vanessa 

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Relaxation Playlists on SoundCloud

Hi all,

Just a short post...

I finally got some speakers for my birthday which just passed in April, and now that the weather is getting warm, my favorite thing to do on my weekend mornings is blast neo-soul music with the natural light coming into my bedroom with some tea in my hand. Total relaxation.

Thanks to SoundCloud, there are some pretty amazing playlists that you can just leave on for hours and hours. I thought I would share three that I'm absolutely adoring right now in case you are looking for something to listen to at work, in your car, in the shower or lounging around your place like me.

Something about neo-soul music is so calm and relaxed but still upbeat. Hope you adore!

- Posted by Olympia