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    How Nigerian Style is Winning Over Vogue Magazine

    Oluchi Vogue

    Image via: BFA

    Recently, my friend alerted me to an article on Vogue.com titled, “Nigeria vs. New York: Supermodel Oluchi Weighs In on the Latest Global Style Debate.” I smiled because a few days ago, I was reading an article about Parisian vs. American style and I was thinking,” What about the Nigerian style?” The debate has always been Parisian vs. American, but I love that the global style debate is seriously incorporating Nigeria. It also doesn’t hurt that Vogue is endorsing the long overdue debate.

    The article features an interview with Oluchi, the host of Africa’s Next Top Model and a former Victoria Secret model. She talks about how her Nigerian culture influenced her style while living in the States and vice versa. American culture also helped to influence her relax sophisticated style. Essentially, both cultures played a role in her signature style. This article is a good read, because like me, I’m sure others can relate to being influenced by both. Just the other day, I wore an A-line ankara skirt with an H&M blouse to work. My skirt became a conversation piece and an educating moment. Mixing my styles has definitely made my wardrobe and the conversations around it more interesting. Check out the article here.

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    Being First-Generation American

    Being Nigerian-American

    Me wearing my big gele ūüôā

    In honor of the closing of June and it being Immigrant Heritage Month, I wanted to share my thoughts on being first- generation American.

    Growing up, being a first-generation American was HARD. ¬†I had to learn how to be a cultural hybrid. ¬†To be both Nigerian and American at the same time was a lot of pressure for the younger me. I had to learn how to be Nigerian, which meant eating and cooking Nigerian food, deciphering the level of anger my parents were experiencing through their tonal Yoruba accent when they were disciplining me, respecting every single adult and learning when to call someone “aunty” or “uncle” even if they had no relations to me, and kneeling down to “big mommies” and “big daddies,” because they were older than my parents.

    I also had to learn how to be American, which meant burning a pot or two while perfecting my Hamburger Helper recipe, begging my parents to take me to get my learner’s permit ¬†at 15 1/2 yrs. old, so I could finally hang out with my friends without having to call my parents to pick me up, and obsessing over wearing the perfect prom dress and having a perfect prom night for memories to come.

    All of those moments, were easy to deal with, but accepting my identity got tricky. ¬†I honestly didn’t like the fact that I was Nigerian-American. I wanted to just be American. I used to be ashamed of my name. ¬†Why did I have so many names? People couldn’t pronounce it and I would always get ridicule from classmates (“Bisola…Coca-Cola…Ricola”). I didn’t like when my parents were spotted with African attire, with my mom’s big gele and all (“Why couldn’t she just wear a suit like the other moms?”). ¬†I didn’t like having to over study for everything (“Mom, it’s just multiple choice. The questions are not open-ended.”) and being called the teacher’s pet for getting a perfect score.

    However, my mom always reminded me that although I was born here, my heritage is from Nigeria. She would say that I needed to be careful not to adopt certain historical, societal and cultural mentalities that negatively conflicted with my heritage.

    That meant, appreciating my name, because it had great meaning. A name that prophesied over my life a rewarding destiny. It meant paying attention to how I presented myself to the world, no sloppy clothing, dressing well at all times, 14kt. gold sets and all, so that the world would know how I wanted to be treated, with dignity and class. It meant I was college-bound and shouldn’t take the easy road in school, because anything that I did then could effect my college admission options later.

    Sometimes, when I would feel burdened and confused about racial tensions I witnessed around me, on TV and in class, my mom would remind me of who I was and continue to be. That I am first and foremost a child of the Most High King, and in Him no one is made inferior. That I came from a good family of hard-working respectable people and that I came from a country that have powerful leaders who look just like me. That I shouldn’t succumb to societal norms, but continue to keep my head high and live like the jewel I was created to be.

    Yes, at times, being a cultural hybrid was a challenge. But with it came a rich cultural background, perspective and vision. Now, I would have it no other way.

     

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    Dear Future Husband: I’m Content

    Dear Future Husband

    I’ve been going back and forth about whether I should start a series about my journey in singlehood (the not married yet and mother is worried stage) within the Nigerian community. ¬†I’ve been hesitant about starting the series, because¬†talking about marriage and my expectations can be such a sensitive area that I have slight issues of fear and vulnerability about sharing. However, knowing that shared perspectives and being transparent can be therapeutic to some and informative to others, it encourages me to keep typing. Especially, when I hear¬†25-year-olds complaining and worrying about how not being married yet is the end all be all,¬†not fully understanding¬†that marriage is the REAL DEAL. It’s not a joke. There are high ups and heavy downs. Changed personalities and circumstances can snatch one’s¬†head out of the clouds pretty quickly. At the same time, marriage can be wrapped with beautiful bows of companionship and fulfillment.

    Knowing all of this…I still complain and worry, at times. Hey, I’m human. Between friends getting married every year and my mom calling me to jest about which of her friends’ children are getting married, I’ve definitely had my fall out on my bed, woe is me, “Lord, why is EVERYONE getting married, but me?!,” moments a time or two. ¬†Between Aunties telling me that, “In Jesus name, you will get married this year,” (To whom?) and others telling me that “Chai,¬†you’re too picky!” (I mean shouldn’t I be cautious…this is for the rest of my life)— I’ve definitely had my off days.

    But overall, I’m content. I get to hop on a plane to see a friend without having to run it by anyone. I can come home late and just eat popcorn for dinner without having to worry if anyone is properly fed. I can sleep-in till 10am (which is super late for me…considering I’m typing this post at 4:30am) and than do my pilates routine without interruption. ¬†Every stage in life has its high ups and heavy downs. I’m learning to be content by realizing seasons come and go. It’s better to get the most out of every season instead of letting it pass by without any fulfillment in that state. I’m learning everyday.

    How do you stay content in your season?

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    Found in Translation: Ajebutter

     

    Definition of Ajebutter

    “I know who you are?” “An Ajebutter.”

    “Really?”

    I have been mistaken, yes — mistaken for an Ajebutter, one too many times. ¬†I can’t remember when I first heard the term used on¬†me, but I do remember one instance. ¬†I was on a date (not really…I don’t believe in dating, but so you can visualize the scene…I was at dinner), sitting at a nice restaurant across from what appeared to be a cultured man who was sizing me over and said, “You are an Ajebutter.”

    Growing up in the US, I didn’t hear it often. ¬†So unashamedly, I asked, “What?” “What does that mean?” He explained that it was a person who grow up pampered, privileged…to some spoilt. ¬†But he didn’t say it in a negative way, he wanted to actually say I appeared prissy. LOL. That I can be at times, but I most certainly wasn’t born privileged or was I spoilt. Every time I heard the terms, I resented them…the people that spoke it and the terms themselves. ¬†Because it discounted the late night work sessions, the endless note taking and tea drinking over life plans and strategies, the hours spent praying, fasting and studying my Word, so I could assure myself that I was staying in God’s will for my life. It got to a point where I complained to my pastor about my appearance of a charmed life even though my upbringing and constant grind was far from charmful. His answer? It’s the grace & favor of God over your life.

    I thought and pondered over what he said. ¬†And realized, it’s the same grace & favor that sought out Esther from the other women and “pampered” her until she was positioned to save her people. So if God’s grace & favor makes me look “pampered,” that’s because I am and continue to be until my purpose is fulfilled. And I accept it.

    Are you pampered?

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    Eating Oxtail at Work

    The other day, I was catching up on Fresh Off the Boat episodes that I missed. I can relate to the show, being a first generation American growing up with Nigerian parents in DC. One episode in particular was all too real¬†for me, the white people food episode. Food is so important in many cultures, especially Nigerian culture. It’s a part of my identity, but I didn’t always see it that way.

    My mom once told me that when I was a kid, in pre-school I believe, she used to worry about my eating habits. ¬†I refused to eat. She was so worried that she took me to see a pediatrician to discuss why I wasn’t eating. He asked my mom what she was feeding me and she proudly told him she was feeding me well. Fufu, okra soup, rice and stew with oxtail and goat meat, etc….you know, the usual. He laughed and told my mom to start buying me McDonald’s. She did and I started eating.

    Growing up, I craved Hamburger Helper over Jollof rice. My friends were eating it and it taste good in my eyes, so that’s what I wanted to eat too. ¬†In school, my taste buds were indoctrinated to believe that chicken nuggets and fish sticks were the best. No matter how many times it was thawed and microwaved. I¬†wasn’t trying to make a statement, like Eddie in Fresh Off the Boat. I just really liked Hamburger Helper.

    Fast forward to now, I loovvveeee Nigerian food. ¬†The spices, the flavor, the smell I can’t get enough of it. Before, I used to only eat it at home or Nigerian functions, but now, I bring it to work with me almost everyday. Sometimes, I prefer a home-cooked meal over Five Guys, Potbelly’s, …you name it. ¬†Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still careful about some food choices I bring to work, like my favorite, fish. But some foods like¬†stock fish, even I can’t stomach the smell, at times. Sometimes, I’m a little hesitant about eating at work, I try to find places to eat, because Nigerian food can’t always be eaten in the prettiest way. Sometimes, I want to suck the stew off the bone, like I do at home. LOL…don’t judge. But who wants to be caught doing that at work? For the sake of compromising, I restrict the foods that I do take to spare my co-workers of that sight. But,¬†all in all, I’ve learned to love to eat Nigerian food over what Eddie calls white people’s food in any setting. ¬†Being completely comfortable with who you are is a process. ¬†But I will get there, even if it takes one meal at a time.

    What do you eat at work?

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    Found in Translation: Las Gidi

    LasGidi

    When I was brainstorming the name for my blog, I wanted a name that both represented my cultural identity and feminine aesthetic. Initially, I wrote down every adjective I could think of that I felt represented me and my style, but the concepts didn’t give me that “yes, that’s it!” feeling. ¬†I was getting frustrated. because all the ideas I came up with didn’t click for me. ¬†But when I prayed, I felt more about peace with not having an answer right away. After some days, the name Gidi & Pearls came to me. ¬†Yes, that’s it!

    “Gidi” stems from “Las Gidi,” the nickname of Lagos, a progressive city in Nigeria with a lot of young professionals accomplishing and reaching their goals. “Gidi” was also a play on the word “giddy,” my state when I’m excited and playful about something, which relates to my femininity. The word “Pearls” represents my feminine and classic tendencies. And that’s how Gidi & Pearls was born.

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