When you first come across my blog and Instagram account, you’re probably thinking one of two things: 1) Here we go again… another twenty-something-year-old girl trying to have a perfectly curated feed, or 2) I wonder what she has going on? Where do I even start? What is she?
There’s no denying that I am not your average person. I want to open up more about myself on my blog this year, so I’ll start with an introduction and some background information on myself and why I became a blogger.
Allow me to re-introduce myself. My name is Nubiana (yes, that’s what it says on my birth certificate) and I’m a 24-year-old currently based in Orlando, Florida. I was born and raised in New York and I still visit frequently as my mom and siblings are still up there. I moved from New York to Florida just in time for one of the most defining points in a young girl’s life; middle school. In New York, my parents mostly made me hang out with our extended family, or kids of parents mine knew fairly well. We didn’t have Disney Channel on cable until we moved to Florida, and I was a super shy child, so I already felt like I was falling behind socially.
If you’ve ever explored Central Florida outside of Disney, you know that it’s definitely not as diverse as New York. For the first time in my life, a good number of the friends I made in middle school and high school were Caucasian. Most of them had no idea where or what Trinidad & Tobago was. A lot of them were unfamiliar with the South Asian culture – some even quick to judge it, so I figured it would be a lost cause explaining mine. I felt like I was in a small bubble where I didn’t know if it was okay to just be me. There was one summer where I went to Trinidad for a cousin’s wedding and tried to hide all evidence of myself in a sari from Facebook, simply because I didn’t know how to explain myself to my peers. At 15 years old, I found myself hiding my culture around my friends because I was afraid they wouldn’t understand me. At that time, I preferred to tell people I was half Caucasian and half African-American because it was easier than explaining my West Indian culture. There was no manual on how to fit in while standing out like a sore thumb.
Fast forward two years and woah, where did those hips come from? Once they sprouted, my hips did not lie. Having curves is celebrated in the mainstream pop culture now, but when I was younger, being thin was in. All of the popular brands and styles at my school were catered toward those with little to no curves. When skinny jeans were at their peak, I was constantly tearing myself down in the mirror. I didn’t understand why my hips had to bulge out so much when all of my friends could wear their skinny jeans with their legs looking more uniform. I had no curvy role models, no one to let me know that it was okay to have really round hips and still be able to look and feel great in my skinny jeans. I didn’t think I was beautiful because I was the complete opposite of the image of beauty at the time.
Luckily, as I got older, I made more friends from different backgrounds, and most importantly for me, I made friends that shared similar situations- being West Indians who moved from a densely populated West Indian community in New York to the middle of nowhere in Central Florida. Don’t get me wrong, I valued all of my friends at the time, but the most crucial friendships to my self-identity as a teenager were the ones I formed with people from a similar background. Those friendships were water to my wilted flowers; they helped me bloom again. It’s the little things like complaining about our nails getting stained after eating curry and trying to learn all of Kareena Kapoor’s dance moves, that built my confidence little by little. By the time I left home for college, I was finally comfortable with who I was and what I looked like.
In undergrad, I was in the best shape of my life, and could pretty much wear anything I wanted to. I started to keep up with fashion bloggers in my spare time because I loved challenging myself to try and pull off different trends. But the little voice at the back of my head started to fill with self-doubt again. How come none of the most successful bloggers (circa 2010-2012) were ethnic? Why do they all have the same slender body type? Don’t get me wrong, I adored those girls… I just wasn’t doing myself any favors. For the most part, I spent my early adult life trying to fit into jeans and dresses that hid my curves, just because my role models looked a certain way.
At one point, I said: you know what? I can’t keep up with this any longer. I’m just going to have to be the change I wish to see. People were always asking me to post outfit details, so I figured why not start a blog. The fashion/beauty/lifestyle niche is definitely an oversaturated one, but there still hasn’t been a shift in favor of diversity. The top fashion influencers now fit the same bill as the ones I looked to for guidance in 2010. Yes, I spend a ridiculous amount of time making sure my Instagram feed is up to par. And yes… sometimes I let the numbers (of followers) game get me down. But the reason why I keep going is that the shift in the fashion blogging industry needs to happen like, yesterday. At the end of the day, it’s not about how many followers I have, or the brands that do and don’t work with me. It’s so much more than that. I hope a young woman just trying to figure out who she is and where she fits in on this massive planet comes across my blog or Instagram page, and feels encouraged and empowered to be the best version of herself. I hope she sees the pride I have in who I am and who I’m going to be, regardless of who everyone else is idolizing. And if I can have that effect on even just one young woman, that’s all I could ever hope for.
- – From Nubiana, With Love