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5 Lessons We Can Learn From 'Pose' About Being Fabulous AF

Culture & Entertainment

It was just last week that I was riding the train in a red and black striped bodysuit and high waisted jeans. Drake's "In my Feelings" was blasting in my earbuds.


There I was with a huge curly lacefront that I had anxiously waited to be delivered so that I could throw it on my head and instantly feel fabulous, despite the fact that the city was just coming off a week-long heat wave.

As I told my Instagram followers, "I'm gonna be hot as hell anyway. Might as well look like Tracee Ellis Ross while doing so."

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Only in that moment, the impeccably dressed Black Girls Rock host wasn't my muse. In that moment, the only person that came to mind was Angel Evangelista, one of the leading characters of the show Pose played by Indya Moore. In that moment, Angel made me feel like the most fabulous person on the Market Frankford line, if not the entire city. You couldn't tell me I wasn't on the way to an exclusive bar in NYC to close a million-dollar book deal over Old Fashioneds, and not to my 9-5 at a non-profit.

If you're a fan of the groundbreaking show Pose on FX, you'll know it's about more than sexual orientation or gender identity. It's about family, friends, as well as finding and defining yourself and living life on your own terms. In addition to learning about 80's ballroom culture, and witnessing some fierce fashion in plenty of extravagant ball scenes, the cast of Pose are all grasping the reins of their lives in their own way.

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They do so by being fearless and owning their femininity in a way the truly expresses how differently we all present our authentic selves, whether we're rocking huge gold bamboo earrings or big curly hair, don't care.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the cast includes the "largest number of transgender actors in series regular roles for a scripted series." The characters are all larger than life, but not in a To Wong Fu kind of way that makes you want to crack jokes. Their characters represent themselves in a way where you hope you can join them for karaoke and finally become one of the cool kids. You realize when the ball competitions are over, they go home and cry over the guy that never called and have to figure out which bills they can afford to pay late just like the rest of us.

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Whether you're anxiously awaiting to binge from the very beginning, or you're hesitant to watch because you assume the show is all about drag queens or the devastation of HIV in the 80's, let me reassure that there is a lesson in the show for us all no matter how we identify or who we love.

Here are lessons we can learn from Pose about living your absolute best life in ways Lil' Duval couldn't begin to imagine:

1.A Closed Mouth Doesn’t Get Fed, No Matter How Fierce It Is

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Whether Blanca (played by MJ Rodriguez) is marching into The New School For Dance demanding an audition for her son Damon, or challenging her rivals to a competition that many might not think her tribe has a chance winning, she's a bold example that nothing in life that's worth having will be handed to you. If you know Blanca, you know she rarely asks permission, but what I love about her character is that she's proof of what can happen when you face challenges head on, even if you don't feel the most prepared or confident.

She shows us that you'll fail, you'll be embarrassed, people will laugh at you, and make fun of you, but as long as you have your family and friends to come home to, you won't fall the hell apart. In fact, those are the very people who will give you the courage to get back out there, adjust your damn wig, and try again.

2.There's Always An Opportunity To Be Fabulous

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Of all the characters, I believe Angel Evangelista and Elektra Extravagance display this lesson the best. In my favorite episode "Giving Is Receiving," Angel literally looks like she should be sitting on top of someone's Douglas Fir with tinsel draped across her French Vanilla calves. Homegirl is rocking a baby pink boa, a white trench coat, thigh-high white patent leather boots, and hot pink stiletto nails. In a world of Ugg Boots and PINK sweatpants, my girl Angel could easily have her ass on stage at Rockefeller Center giving Mariah Carey a run for her money, and she's only about to trim a damn tree in that scene.

None of the characters are inherently wealthy, but they turn what they have into opulence and show us that "fabulous" is about more than perfectly placed eyelashes or a contour from the MUA Gods.

Fabulous is all about how you feel.

More importantly, they encourage us to make the most of out every moment, whether you're sleeping on a park bench, or you're already halfway to accomplishing your dreams. If you want to use all five of your Urban Decay Naked Palettes to sit in the house and play Jenga, just make sure you take the time to perfect that liquid liner. You never need a reason to feel or look fabulous AF.

3.How Others Value You Doesn’t Determine Your Worth

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People that identify as LGBTQ are no strangers to the disrespect and intolerance that can come as a result of them just trying to live their lives from those that aren't familiar with their community.

We all throw shade from time to time, and during our worst days, we attempt to destroy our worst enemies lives one Instagram comment at a time. What matters most is that we eventually return to our authentic selves and give out the love and respect that we may not always receive. Over the season, we've witnessed Blanca's biological family basically disown her. The mean girls of the ball world have picked apart everything from her fashion choices to feminine hygiene. Throughout it all, she focuses her fight on building a better life for her children.

While so many mistakenly assume that people who identify LGBTQ are trying to find themselves, so many of these characters are already quite familiar with who they are. Even when they aren't being applauded or stacking trophies and titles, they still bring the best parts of themselves to life everyday. But don't get it twisted: If you catch them at the right moment, you WILL get your feelings hurt.

4.It’s Better To Choose Yourself Over A Man, Than Lose Yourself Under One

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The first season of this show drops so many gems on love. We witness Angel fall in love with a man whose world is filled with briefcases, suburban single homes, and soccer moms. Elektra finds herself choosing between loving what she sees in the mirror and being in love. In the end, all of the women end up choosing themselves and show us that people can truly love us and support us financially, emotionally, and mentally, but real happiness will always remain a solo effort.

We all have a tendency to bring our baggage, flaws, and insecurities into a new relationship, but anyone who is asking you to abandon what makes you feel complete and whole outside of their company, isn't someone whose company you should keep for long.

5.The Family That Slays Together, Stays Together

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More than gender-reassignment surgery or same sex relationships, at the heart of Pose is a story about family. The show's theme emphasizes the idea that family is about more than shared DNA or last names.

It's about people who don't give up on each other. It's about the people who show up (and show out) and fight for us even when they are dealing with their own battles. There are times when my four-year-old is trying to stick a Q-tip in the dog's nose and I question if I even still want to be her mother, and here we have a character like Blanca who is trying to rescue Papi from street life, picking up the pieces of Angel's broken heart and at the damn dance school almost more than her son helping him stay on pointe...literally and figuratively.

The most fabulous thing about Pose are the bonds that are formed and endured..and of course, Blanca's statement leather jackets that are giving me all kinds of 80's Salt and Pepa life.

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A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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