10.16.2020

SUSTAINABILITY & ACTIVEWEAR GEAR FOR a SIZE 14/16UK: MEET ASQUITH

London, UK

Moving my body and doing exercise is how I'm remaining sane in 2020.

When it was okay to go out in these London streets, I had a gym membership and a loyal gym goer for the longest time. I definitely preferred going to the gym instead of doing home workouts because I really thought that being healthy meant sweating profusely and being sore the following day.


Oh, how the tables have turned!


I haven't seen a gym in what it seems like forever and I'm not mad at it. It does take more discipline exercising from home and I definitely struggled at the beginning, but now that few months went by, I also realise that my mental health has never been better. Having a routine and moving definitely helped me relax and not feel overwhelmed with what's going on in the world right now, it helped me put things into perspective and to create a deeper connection with my body.


My weight fluctuated quite a bit in these past couples of months so I needed to invest in new activewear clothes that could fit my changing body. I am still a beginner in the sustainability activewear world, so I don't know many brands yet, but I'm doing my researches and I was contacted by an amazing brand among them all. I know how important it is to invest in clothes that are ethically sourced with better quality fabrics, but I also do know that for us plus size women there aren't a lot of options out there! I was really pleased to be contacted by a sustainable brand and to take on their offer to review their plus size section. 


Asquith is an eco activewear clothes for yoga, Pilates, sports and living in. All Asquith Pilates & yoga wear clothing collections are ethically made in their wonderful European factory then shipped to their UK warehouse.

They use the best quality, eco-friendly performance fabrics: organic cotton and bamboo.

They are sustainably sourced, naturally wick away sweat and don't fade, bobble or stretch. 

They do produce ethical & stylish clothes for women that are specifically designed to provide comfort while doing yoga and Pilates including tops, t-shirts, leggings, pants and even jumpsuits!


There are so many choices on the website, but I decided to go for something simple and ideal for days when I tend to do some strengthening pilates for my back. 
I've chosen the Balance Bra Top and the Move It Leggings in the gorgeous color Forest.

 I normally wear a size 16UK but it always depends on how elastic is the fabric that I want to purchase. 
After checking Asquith's website, I decided to go for an XXL because it was pretty close to my current measurements and because I do have a bit of a belly and I didn't want to feel uncomfortable or not being able to move freely. If you are in between sizes, you could afford to go down a size and still feel comfortable.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS:

As soon as I received the set, I immediately tried both items to see what the fit was and if I needed to change anything. Luckily, the top and leggings feel quite sturdy and do fit like a glove so nothing needs to be changed!
The first time that I've used this set I went for a long walk in a park nearby. I've never had activewear clothes made out of Bamboo and organic cotton, so I wanted to see how they would react with sweat and friction. I'm happy to report that the fabric is very elastic and you can easily move and stretch in it without problems. 

Two things that I really like and that are plus size friendly are the large underbust band of the top and the elasticated waistband of the leggings. These two features do allow for the clothes to stay in place so that I don't have to spend my time adjusting anything! Right now, I tend to use the top while doing chores around the house or when I need to pop out to run some errands. Absolute gamechanger!

FINAL THOUGHTS:

I really love this set. It's comfortable, elastic and stays in place while I'm exercising. I washed it already once and the colour is still vibrant, the fabric still soft and the fit didn't change. 
The packaging is 100% recyclable and ethically made. 
You can see the workers that made the clothes on the websites so there's a lot of transparency on the production of all Asquith's products. The fabric factory has passed the Sadex Audit, which covers social standards, environmental conditions, business ethics and the adherence of health & safety procedures.
 
I know that I was lucky enough to be gifted the set because the price point might not be accessible for everybody, but after using the leggings & top and seeing upclose the material, I trust that purchasing sustainable activewear is an investment and not just a 5-minute craving for new clothes.




6.25.2020

WHAT IT'S LIKE GROWING UP BLACK IN ITALY


Because of what’s going on in our world today after the unjust death of George Floyd, we had the chance to have more and more conversations about blackness, racism, injustice, and privilege than ever before.

I’ve never been that vocal about what my past experiences were while growing up in Italy as a black woman when I was younger.. I wasn’t ashamed by them, but I wasn’t prepared to have extensive conversations about it either.

Italy has such a rich cultural history. From cuisine to architecture, from musical talents to the history of the nation, Italy has got it all.

This will probably be one of the first articles where I share a candid view of my past, hoping that by doing so, there can be more light on why George Floyd’s case was not a dedicated episode but the results of a much bigger problem.

Italy has been a great place to grow up in and I am very appreciative of having had the opportunity. I don’t want this post to be considered a post where I'm complaining because this is not the case. I am proud to consider myself Italian, to speak Italian whenever I can, to have Italian friends, and to praise Italy as a whole.

Born in the mid-90s by immigrant Nigerian parents, my family was one of the few black families living in my town. In recent years, there has been an influx of different nationalities and people moving to Italy. The town that I grew up in was extremely small, predominantly white, and with few other nationalities sprinkled here and there. The other black family lived closed by. We got along pretty easily. 
Sharing similar experiences, troubles, and situations outside in the real world brought a sense of community between us families. 

Until I started school, race and skin colour were concepts that I didn’t care for. My time was dedicated to playing, learning colours and singing my favourite cartoon theme songs. Normal kids stuff. I got along pretty much with everyone. I am the type of person that doesn’t open that much at the beginning, but once I get a bit of confidence and I know I can talk freely, I can’t stop sharing! 

I’ve started noticing a few differences and learning more about diversity once I started attending school and had to be daily around other kids. 

You start noticing: the double takes that I would receive whenever I started talking to other kids were a clue. I didn’t know what was going on, but I could feel that there was something different between the way that I was approached.

If you are a young black kid and your family doesn't explain to you what to expect when leaving the house and venturing in the real world, you might be confused.
You can’t pinpoint why you are trying so hard to be lovable and carefree, while the world around you answers in a much colder and slightly offensive way. You can't connect what you did wrong to deserve certain behaviours from others.

When I finally got older and put two and two together, I realised that the colour of my skin was the cause of people’s odd reactions. I wasn't dreaming about it! 

At that point, I was extremely relieved because at least I knew what was the issue and that it wasn’t something to do with my personality or something that I've previously done.
 The sense of guilt and confusion quickly vanished and got replaced by a sense of perpetual frustration.

There are more incidents than I can count but I wanted to share some of them so you might understand more my point of view.

BEING OFTEN THE ONLY BLACK GIRL IN THE ROOM
I didn’t have many black peers living close to me while growing up. I had loads of friends, both female and male and all white. I was always the only black girl in the class, the only black girl in a shop, the only black girl during class trips, and the only black girls at parties. 
That wasn't an issue per se, but I could feel the stares every time that I moved and that can be exhausting in itself.

ALWAYS ACT RIGHT BECAUSE YOU REPRESENT YOUR WHOLE RACE
 Being often the only black person in a lot of public places, I quickly realised that I had to carry “the burden" of having to act a certain way so that people won't label "all black people do that certain thing".
I know it sounds crazy and I should probably do whatever I want instead of having to actively restrict myself but is not that simple. I don't blame this on racism or prejudice but on how our brain works.
Our brain tries to make connections to simplify our lives. For example: if you meet three moms and all three wear a certain shoe brand, you'll associate moms with that brand from that point on. 
The problem starts when the association is based on negative aspects like violence, theft, and other reductive stereotypes. It's also quite insulting to group people with the same skin tone altogether. We are not a monolith entity; there are so many different nuances within the black community that should be acknowledged.

The only thing that I can say to this matter is that “Google is your friend” and you should consider visiting him before forming an opinion on people. 

BEING ASKED ABOUT “DO ALL BLACK PEOPLE...”
"Can I ask you a silly question?" is normally how the interaction would start.
Yes, you think that the question is quite an “innocuous” person that we’ll ask you very random, sometimes personal questions, and tries to cage you in with all other Black people.
The actual question that starts with “do all black people…” is not even worth answering. No, Karen: I don’t know every single Black person in the world so I can’t answer you. 
I can answer questions about my personal experience with you, but assuming that I would know the answer to a “do all Black people” is quite insulting, ignorant, and offensive. I think a question shouldn't be asked if, by exchanges 

THE SHOP EXPERIENCE: BEING TREATED DIFFERENTLY WHILE IN A STORE

If you are Black, you know this feeling very well: you get into a shop, and immediately all eyes are glued on you. Every single move that you make is being analyzed.
You try to pick up the items that you need and quickly pay, so you can get out of there.
Sometimes you also have odd experiences when you arrive at the counter.  
While I was out and about with other white friends, I could hear the difference in vernacular, posture, and tone once I get to the till point. 
It doesn’t matter if I am over-polite, if I put up the biggest smile or if I keep all of the items that I want to purchase always on sight.
Sometimes the teller starts speaking with a different tone, or it doesn’t say as many thank yous that he said to the white counterparts that went before me, being slightly quicker in handling my items or once he produces the change, he’ll leave it on the counter rather than giving it to me directly in my hand. 

After Leona Lewis made a video about her personal experience in a shop in Chelsea years ago, you cannot tell me that “maybe it’s just me”, “maybe it’s just a coincidence” and “maybe I did something wrong and I deserved the treatment”.
What I can assure you is that that would be true if it wasn’t the case pretty much every.single.time. that I go shopping.  
It's exhausting trying to overcompensate, especially if in the end, the experience will be the same.


Racial discrimination is real. I wrote this article to explain to you my side of the story, that's all.
  
Thank you for reading my life experiences.

4.01.2020

5 THINGS I'VE REDISCOVERED DURING MY FIRST 2 WEEKS OF QUARANTINE


I wish this post's title could be an April fool's prank but unfortunately is not. 
These past few weeks really tested everyone's tolerance and patience. Our routine got disrupted and we found ourselves having to pick up broken pieces of our past lives.
Today marks officially two weeks of me not being at work, not seeing friends, leaving the house without a reason and not having a huge queue when shopping. The first week was definitely a rollercoaster of emotions; the second week I came to terms with this current situation and started to take it one day at the time. 
Hearing about sudden deaths of loved ones and dear friends is still a hard pill to swallow but someone we have to keep going amidst all of this chaos.

Uncertainty puts me in a funny headspace where I still seek control in my life so that I can feel more emotionally stable.

What helped me during these unprecedented times is reconnecting with activities that I put aside but are now just a breath of fresh air.

1. MY NATURAL SLEEP PATTERN
Having to work until 9pm before this lockdown meant that I always started my nighttime routine around 10pm. The issue though was that my brain was not ready to unwind and go to bed so I always end up going to sleep in the early hours of the morning.
With the arrival of spring and overall longer days, I've noticed that my body got used to the natural sun's pattern: up and early in the morning, ready for some shut eyes in the evening when is pitch black outside.

2. TYDING UP
"A tornado flew around my room before you came.." could've been easily my excuse for all of the mess that I didn't have the gut to tidy up around my bedroom.
Now that I'm spending 98.3% of the time in my room, it does annoy me to see things out of place for too long. 
Last Saturday I dedicated my whole day clearing up, recycling anything that wasn't needed, cleaning every inch of my room and getting rid of piles of clothes that wouldn't fit a child, let alone me.
Definitely a cathartic experience to find knickknacks that you completely forgot about but also an invite for new things/experiences to enter your life.

3. BE IN CONTACT WITH PEOPLE
Being always busy at work meant having few brief phone calls whenever I found few minutes for myself. 
This quarantine gave me the opportunity to be able to chat and message people that I haven't talked to in ageeeees. For somebody like me that doesn't have her family here in London, I easily forget that the whole purpose of technology is essentially to keep us closer to people that you can't physically have next to you. 
Especially now, call thy friends and loved ones often!

4. BOOKS
Most of my Italian summers were spent with a gelato in one hand and my nose deep into books. Oh how the time flies!
There's something so satisfying in starting a book and giving all of your attention to it until you read the last sentence of it.  Some publishers are giving the opportunity to download ebooks for free so make sure to search for some new reads

5. MOVING MY BODY
How many times I pleaded that I was going to join the gym again or start taking online gym classes before all Hell broke loose? Too many times if you ask me.
Because my job shifts were not set in stone, my workout had to be done just when I had few spare moments or when I wasn't too tired.
Women's Health Mag (@womenshealthmag) and Equinox (@equinox) are few pages that are having live IG workouts and plenty of IGTV exercises pretty much all day, every day.
Grab yourself some water and join in! Moving my body definitely helped me release some built up tension and sleep a lot better in the end.

When you can't see a way, it means the time has come for you to make a way - Nara Lee

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