Since her debut to the public eye as Prince Harry's love interest, as his wife and now-mother to his first child, it has been very clear that there is not much that will get in the way of Meghan Markle speaking her truth and leaving an impact on this world. The Duchess of Sussex revealed that in July of 2020 she suffered a miscarriage that rocked her world, not only because of the devastation but because her body forewarned her that something wasn't quite right. She shared in a personal essay posted to The New York Timesabout her experience while tending to her son:
"After changing his diaper, I felt a sharp cramp. I dropped to the floor with him in my arms, humming a lullaby to keep us both calm, the cheerful tune a stark contrast to my sense that something was not right."
She and her husband found out that they lost their baby later on that day, and though they were grateful that she was still healthy physically, the emotional turmoil that ensued was very overwhelming. In a moment's time, she was forced to accept the death of a life that grew inside of her for months, and she had to step into the consciousness of a wife who was present to process the grief with her equally devastated husband.
As the parents of two children, one that just passed away and the one at home, their lives changed forever in a matter of hours. Sprinkle the fame on top of all of that and it is a recipe to make anyone go crazy. During this time she was able to discover that though she could not voice her exact feelings, just being asked how she felt was way more valuable than words can describe. She shared:
"'Are you OK?' a journalist asked me. I answered him honestly, not knowing that what I said would resonate with so many — new moms and older ones, and anyone who had, in their own way, been silently suffering. My off-the-cuff reply seemed to give people permission to speak their truth. But it wasn't responding honestly that helped me most, it was the question itself.'Thank you for asking,' I said. 'Not many people have asked if I'm OK.'"
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Not too long ago Entertainment Times reported that Meghan and her husband may have been attempting to increase their chances of having twins using the IVF process that, by the accounts of other women like Michelle Obama, Gabrielle Union, and many others prove that it can be grueling on both a woman's body, emotional wellness, and relationship.
Thanks to the transparency of other women, the twists, turns, wins, and losses that may come with the journey to motherhood are coming to the light instead of festering in the darkness. Meghan is using her voice and platform to amplify the experiences of the people who are affected when we use the verbiage of statistics, lowkey wishing that we will never become one. The truth is, everyone is fairly susceptible to miscarriage which usually occurs within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and some people miscarry before even finding out they're expecting.
Meghan and Harry, we sure do hope you are getting better each day. To anyone who is suffering from pregnancy/infant loss, we hope that you find some peace too.
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New Jersey native creating a life that she loves while living in gratitude. She loves using beauty, and fashion to create a balanced lifestyle while prioritizing wellness. A devoted fur mom, and a full-time lover of laughter. She is out for revenge against the darkness by being light, taking her own advice, traveling the world, and letting you know that you are so lit! Connect with her via IG @iamzaniah and please visit Zaniahsworld.com
This post is in partnership with Ulta Beauty.
Gone are the days where we prioritize “the grind” over our own wellbeing. #Teamnosleep is canceled. Millennial women are prioritizing themselves and their rest above all else, and we love to see it. We’re seeing proof of this powerful shift everywhere we look, but especially in the #softlife hashtag that’s been trending all over social media. The soft life movement is all about pursuing the path of least resistance, choosing ease over struggle, and relaxing in your vulnerability.
xoNecole and Ulta Beauty have identified six beauty influencers who are fully embracing the “soft life.” They’re rejecting the notion that their worth is measured by their professional output, how many followers they have, or how hard they’re hustling. Each of these creative powerhouses has learned to make self-care a non-negotiable in their lives while walking into the fullness of their most authentic selves. There will always be a demand for more content amidst the ever-changing algorithms, but as influencers like Tiffany Renee, Caitlyn Davis, and Alanna Doherty know all too well, you can’t properly show up for others until you fully show up for yourself first.
Read all about how these six beauty influencers are approaching the soft life on their own terms.
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
As a full-time content creator and founder of the college clothing label HBCU Yearbook, Caitlyn Davis is no stranger to hard work. She started gaining followers while attending undergrad at FAMU, filming natural hair tutorials for YouTube in her dorm room. From there, she steadily picked up ambassador gigs for popular online fashion and beauty brands. “[They were] paying us around $300 a month,” she remembers. “I thought I was doing something with my money. I was like, ‘What? I'm getting paid to do something that I love?’ It became a snowball effect.”
After linking up with a cousin who had just become a makeup artist, Caitlyn fell in love with the idea of creating beauty content. “Beauty just elevates your personality,” she tells xoNecole. “And because it does that, you just feel better about yourself. And when you do that and show other people and they start learning and getting better at makeup and beauty, their personality and confidence starts to elevate as well.”
Caitlyn admits that maintaining a healthy work-life balance doesn’t come easy for her. She’s a self-proclaimed workaholic who takes pride in her business. “[I’ve learned] the soft life is working hard for what you want but knowing we're deserving of the best life has to offer, including rest.” When life gets overwhelming, she turns to the great outdoors. “I go on hikes,” she says. “There’s something about being in nature, being grounded, hearing birds, the trees moving, and water [flowing] that immediately de-stresses me."
Hometown: Knoxville, TN
Tiffany Renee grew up on a farm in Tennessee, where her first introduction to the world of beauty and fashion came via Tyra Banks. The smizing supermodel’s competition series “America’s Next Top Model” drew this southern girl in. “Beauty wasn't really a thing [in the environment I grew up in],” she says. “So I've got to give it to Tyra. A lot of my posing and wearing my makeup a certain way had a lot to do with Tyra and how she coached those models. As I got older and started experimenting more with makeup, I just grew to love it more and more.” Tiffany says she sharpened her makeup skills by learning one thing at a time, starting with winged eyeliner. Next brows, and then lashes. Along the way, she made it a point to develop the techniques that worked for her face rather than copying and pasting from YouTube tutorials.
After moving to Atlanta in 2012, Tiffany began to rack up followers on Instagram with her beauty, hair, and fashion content. She even created an online community called “Curl Gang,” which celebrates the beauty and versatility of natural hair. With all she’s accomplished, Tiffany says she’s most proud of shedding her tough exterior and learning to be vulnerable. “My life has been pretty tough, so that made me a tough woman,” she tells xoNecole. “In my relationships, I've always had this tough persona on the outside, but really, I'm internally very much a soft person.
“For me, taking on the soft life was doing the work to break that mold, and accept that it's okay to be vulnerable,” she continues. “It's okay to be expressive. It's okay to love people. It's not just about the tasks of my life, but more so about my well-being. I’m actively deciding not to hold onto things that make me [have to] be tough.”
Hometown: Napa, California
They say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. Kinya Claiborne is living proof. This lifestyle influencer has a professional resume that would make any recruiter salivate. She’s worked in print, television, and radio, and has even overseen public relations for billion-dollar projects. But like all creatives at heart, there came a point in her career where she felt a calling elsewhere. “My job wasn't sexy,” she admits. “I still loved my job and I loved working in corporate America, but there was a void. There were other things that I also loved that my job wasn't fulfilling.”
Inspired by the DailyCandy newsletters she used to read in college, Kinya launched her own lifestyle magazine called Style & Society which covers fashion, beauty, health, wellness, entertainment, travel - all the things Kinya loves. What started as a creative outlet turned into a booming business. Her readers wanted to know more about her, which led her to posting photos of herself inside her stories. “I started Style & Society back in 2013. The term influencer didn't exist back then. Brands started contacting me and wanting me to do product placements and campaigns. That's how my social media following started growing. Then eventually, the term influencer came about, and at that point, I had already been doing it.”
As you can tell from her Instagram, Kinya is always well put together. Her early beauty memories include getting her hair done at the salon with her mom and wearing different lipstick colors to school. Kinya says she’s always been a girly girl. but she’s as resilient as they come. The Northern Californian survived the Route 91 festival shooting in 2017. She also lost her brother to suicide. From her perspective, being soft isn’t just about pampering yourself, but showing up for those around you. “You can't just look at someone and know how they're feeling,” she says. “It’s so important to check in, because even a phone call, text message, or just saying hello to a stranger could really change their path.”
Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
For Taylor Winbush, presentation is everything. Embracing that belief has gotten her far. “My mom would always say ‘dress how you want to be treated,’” she says. “She would always dress up to go to the grocery store, making sure her hair was always done, and she was fresh-faced. She taught me that when you look better, you feel better.”
As a dancer and theater performer, Taylor got to hone in on her makeup skills early. “I remember even from a young age, when I used to take ballet classes, they would make you do your makeup way in the back of the mirror to make sure you'd be able to see it [far from the stage].” After moving to Atlanta in 2019 to pursue a career in acting and commercial modeling, Taylor discovered she could book more gigs if she added “content creator” to her resume. As a beauty lover, it came naturally to her, and it’s paid off tenfold.
At the start of the year, Taylor stepped out on faith and decided to work for herself full-time. She acknowledges that it’s a risk, but nothing a little discipline can’t manage. “As long as I'm doing my part, then I truly and firmly believe that God will handle the rest.”
Aside from constantly developing her self-discipline, Taylor says she’s embracing the soft life by taking care of her physical and spiritual temple. “I'm a super giving person, so I would give a lot of my time to friends and family, making sure everyone else is taken care of before me,” she says. “There's a saying that if you help someone build their sandcastle first, then what will you have left to build? I’m learning you have to take care of yourself first in order for you to help someone else.”
Hometown: Jacksonville, FL
Fashion and beauty haven’t always been a welcoming world for curvy women, but that hasn’t stopped influencer Thamarr Guerrier from accepting her rightful seat at the table. This bubbly and effervescent content creator started her lifestyle blog, Musings of a Curvy Lady, back in 2012 on her lunch break working as a nurse. “I started [my blog] as a way to promote personal style and beauty in this body of mine,” Thamarr shared on her site. “Visibility matters and you’re going to see me. I’m going to take up all the space and bring my own chair to the table.”
Thamarr’s beauty memories stem all the way back to childhood. “I was obsessed with watching my mother do her hair and makeup in the mirror,” she says. “I played dress-up in her clothes and would sneak and put on her mascara. I just couldn’t wait to be old enough to wear lipstick.”
If you peep her IG feed, you’ll notice Thamarr documents her globetrotting in head-turning looks that will make you want to book a one-way ticket to your nearest island. But it’s actually not her extravagant travel experiences that bring her the most peace. It’s the little things, like sipping a glass of wine during her skincare routine as Kacey Musgraves plays in the background. “After a shower, I always feel a little better, especially after a crummy day,” she tells xoNecole. “It’s also my favorite place to shed a tear or two. After my literal and sometimes emotional cleanse, I feel renewed. I talk positively to myself as I pamper myself with my favorite products. Taking the time and being purposeful as I go.”
Thamarr’s interpretation of “the soft life” is to live and love in a way that makes her inner being the happiest. “If it brings me peace, it’s the soft life for me.”
Hometown: Bridgetown, Barbados
It’s hard not to feel a spark of joy when you browse through Alanna Doherty’s IG page. It’s chock-full of Alanna dressed to the nines in bright psychedelic patterns. Her lush ‘fro bounces back and forth in all its glory as Alanna jams to her favorite tunes. Alanna is happiness personified, but her initial introduction to beauty was quite the opposite. “I started loving makeup and beauty products because I felt they were necessary in order to cover up my insecurities,” she tells xoNecole. “I’m finally starting to truly fall in love with them this year. I no longer need a full face of makeup to make me feel good. I’m perfectly happy going without any at all now, but love that I have the option to play with makeup. It’s more of a creative process now and I LOVE that!”
Alanna’s bold and colorful aesthetic is brave and inspiring. And when it comes to the soft life, she’s honest enough to admit that she’s figuring it out along the way. “For years I’ve been putting my own self-care behind work and I’m now starting to realize its importance in my life,” she says. “I’ve still got a long way to go but ‘the soft life’ to me would be creating the space to focus on myself and taking the time to enjoy it. I see long walks along the beach, spas, more hot yoga, and relaxing on the balcony.”
Featured image courtesy of Tiffany Renee
The issue of emotional safety at work has steadily been a thorn in the side of Black women for decades, and it doesn't seem to be letting up. Recent research conducted by the creators of Exhale, a mental wellness app for women of color, found that 36% of Black women left a job due to not feeling emotionally safe.
And we all know the debilitating horrors of microaggressions, discrimination, and sexism we've had to deal with at one time or another in the workplace, whether overt or covert. (And don't say you can't relate. At best, you're probably getting paid less than your white male and female counterparts in your industry, so even if you love your job and everyone is "super-nice," you're experiencing one or more of these issues, sis.)
With all that we, as beautiful, ambitious, go-getter Black women, have to deal with at work, what does emotional safety really look like in the workplace? And are we really in spaces where we're truly at ease and able to fully flourish?
What Is Emotional Safety?
In reference to the workplace, emotional (or psychological) safety is defined as "a shared belief held by members of a team that it’s okay to take risks, to express their ideas and concerns, to speak up with questions, and to admit mistakes — all without fear of negative consequences," Amy Gallo writes for Harvard Business Review.
The benefits of psychological safety at work are linked to a professional's ability to innovate and perform, as well as their creativity, resilience, and learning.
This psychological safety has positive effects, and a major factor in all of it is the actual team. This sort of safety leads to team members “feeling more engaged and motivated because they feel that their contributions matter and that they’re able to speak up without fear of retribution," Gallo reports, citing insights from Amy Edmondson, the Harvard Business School professor and author of The Fearless Organization, who reportedly coined the phrase “team psychological safety."
It can also lead to “better decision-making, as people feel more comfortable voicing their opinions and concerns, which often leads to a more diverse range of perspectives being heard and considered.” It fosters “a culture of continuous learning and improvement, as team members feel comfortable sharing their mistakes and learning from them.”
Black Women, Diversity and Toxic Workplaces
Further research has found a positive link between psychological safety and diversity efforts due to the fact that this sort of safety ensures inclusion, understanding, and belonging. Many of us have benefited from diversity initiatives and diverse environments where we feel we’re not only learning from people with different levels of experiences and from different walks of life but are being valued.
However, the whole idealistic practice of the so-called workplace diversity can seem like pure gaslighting due to issues such as Black and Hispanic women often being disenfranchised further due to the veiled racism and indifference involved in meeting “people of color” quotas by welcoming professionals who are neither Black nor Brown.
Despite diversity efforts, Black women are still reportedly in "survival mode" at work and are not being "tapped for their skillsets or supported for promotions." According to another recent survey, 75% of Black women say their companies are not taking full advantage of their skills, and 63% said they don't see a path for advancement at their jobs.
And with the latest blows to affirmative action, the safety net of legally forcing companies to level the career opportunity playing field is slowly gaining holes of job insecurity and covert discrimination that Black women have been fighting against for decades.
How can a Black woman feel psychologically safe in such conditions? Add to that the pay gap and the false diagnosis of "imposter syndrome"---another way to gaslight smart, accomplished Black women instead of enacting real systemic change on the part of corporations and the whole system of work in America--and you've got the perfect concoction for super-dangerous, hazardous and unsavory experience for us.
What Can Black Women Do To Feel Safe at Work?
This is quite the loaded question. While we can try self-accountability, job changes, sabbaticals, or leaving the workforce altogether, that takes the ownness away from the true culprits: corporate leaders and legislators. This issue, as the famous term goes, is above us. As managers and leaders, we can, of course, recommend and even enforce better policies that put the emotional safety of Black women---hell, of all women---as a priority.
We can also partner with workplace allies (especially those who do not look like us, as those driving the power structures often do not) to ensure that policies and practices are in place to ensure that Black women can thrive at work without fear of losing their jobs or being quietly fired or derailed simply for our unique choice in hair, our cultural elements such as our names, religions and world views, our tone of voice in meetings, or our unique way of approaching problem-solving.
We can fight legally and continue to use our voices for change. But the true one-hitter-quitter would be if legislators and billionaire CEOs made their mission to actively listen to professionals, conduct real research, implement real disruptive solutions to the problem, and stop giving lip service to grand gestures of "support" when protests or special advocacy months come around.
They have to put their money where their mouths are and conduct training that pinpoints issues like unconscious bias and ineffective communication. They have to pay us equally and actually take our brain power seriously through promotions and leadership roles beyond diversity posts.
Stunted Progress and Solutions
Experts also offer the following tips on how workplaces can be made to facilitate emotional safety:
- Company leaders must have “clear systems and accountability” in order to “create foundations for true psychological safety,” so that Black women have a “safety shield” and aren’t left to “fend for themselves.”
- Company leaders must focus on a "change in systems, not people." This includes, again, policies, the way meetings are run, how promotions are handed down, and the review processes from a human resources standpoint, but aren't limited to those things.
- Leaders are also encouraged to "level up coaching, 360 feedback, and performance management practices to surface potential biases that are negatively impacting the quality and frequency of these conversations for Black women."
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