Yesterday started off on a heartbreaking note, with a disappointment I was in no way shored up to handle. I've had a hard couple of months, and it felt like the last, ultimate, final straw; I wanted to just curl up in the dark and listen to Lianne La Havas while weeping. Then I remembered that I'd promised Wana I'd attend Glory Edozien's Redefining Beauty event, and in the spirit of choosing happiness, I decided to just go. And I'm grateful I did.
I know from my #AWW14 experience that when women have a safe, affirming space to share their stories, it can be a powerful thing. Yesterday was no different. It was incredibly uplifting to hear women who I admire and respect speak about struggles and triumphs that resonated deeply with me. There was laughter and crying, and the warmth and openness felt like a long drink of water when you didn't even realise how thirsty you were.
The discussions touched on overcompensating for the lack of beauty (or the presence of it in excess, as exemplified by Lola Maja's moving story), the confusing transition from girlish innocence to womanly responsibility - responsibility for your own body as well as for men's responses to it, weight, the 'natural' intrusiveness of Nigerian society when it comes to women and their appearance, the messages sent by the media about perfection and unattainable standards of beauty (you know Lupita came up), and most importantly for me, the struggle to protect or at least insulate our children from the powerful influences that shape popular perceptions of beauty and almost invariably leave them feeling inadequate.
Hosted by Glory, with Wana Udobang (OAP), Jadesola Osiberu (Director and Producer), Lola Maja (make-up guru) and Oreka Godis (OAP) on the panel, the event also included spoken word by Titilope Shonuga (she gets my life. Lord. That woman gets my whole entire life!) and an acoustic session by Omolara. It was the most uplifting experience I'd had in a very long time (and I'd just been to church that morning, smh). I'm so glad I got off my butt and went. I met some amazing new women, reconnected with old friends I hadn't seen in years, and laughed about pregnancy, motherhood, the ridiculous cost of living in Lagos, the price of small chops, the new trend of wedding guests paying for professional makeovers (I didn't even know this was a thing!)... It was amazing.
Yesterday started off on the shittiest of shitty notes, but there's nothing like sisterhood to take all of the blues away. And (like I told Glory after the event), you can bet I'm going to turn up at the next one with like six of my girlfriends, going 'yaaaaaaassss! Get your life, girl!'