As Told To is a recurring segment on xoNecole where real women are given a platform to tell their stories in first-person narrative as told to a writer.
This is Kenni Powe's story, as told to Charmin Michelle.
So, my life has changed. Pretty drastically.
To get to the point: yes, ladies, I know who I look like. And thank you for the compliment. Ever since she has become a superstar, I've heard the resemblance statements, as well as accumulated literally some of the best and most entertaining stories of what my life has become.
Oh my gosh, you look like Lizzo!
Has anyone ever told you that you and Lizzo look alike?
You're Lizzo's twin!
Overnight, I've had to learn to adjust to the frequent stares, the airport chases, and cameras being in my face.
It's literally a daily occurrence, a cloud of constant confusion. And not a single day passes where I don't hear about it. But truth is, this all has been going on for quite some time. I actually discovered the similarity way before the rest of world knew anything about her: I was working as a hostess at a restaurant in Buckhead, and one of my co-workers put me onto her music. He told me that we reminded him of each other and I agreed that we favored, especially in our face structure. Fast-forward to now, the world seems to think we resemble too because I get comments every time I post on social media, or every time I fly and/or visit New York, or go to an event, etc. etc. She's in the limelight, so I've grown accustomed as to why I hear it so much, but sometimes it truly baffles me that people lose their minds over it.
I've learned to embrace it all though, I've learned how to handle it.
Photo Credit: ADJ Media
I remember one time, I was on the red carpet as a Media Correspondent for an Ashley Stewart event. There were tons of notable people in attendance and I was walking the red carpet to obtain media coverage. Soon after taking my place, I caught the attention of the one and only Faith Evans. She immediately screamed and stopped her interview—and I just knew. I knew what she was screaming for, I knew what was coming next. I quickly went to embrace her so I could somewhat calm the commotion, but immediately, she began to pour her heart out to me. Or I guess I should say, to Lizzo?
She told me (us) that her son is autistic and that he loves "my" music. Stevie J was even standing right beside her, just cheesing away, as she stood there gushing and telling her story. And with each word, my heart was literally melting away. I had to interrupt her to tell her who I was before she went any further.
And I'm not exactly sure how she took the news in her mind, but I will never forget how stunned she looked; how confused. It was as if I told her I kick puppies in my free time or something.
Afterwards, we each stood mortified as we awkwardly switched over to a lighter conversation. Her and Stevie each were the absolute sweetest and took the news in stride, but I knew from that moment, I was dealing with a new lifestyle that has kind of forced me to go along with it.
So, Lizzo, if you're reading this, Faith Evans' son loves your music.
Becoming Kenni Powe
Growing up, I was a military brat—born in Europe and eventually moving to America as a kid. Once we arrived in the States, we settled and retired in Ft. Stewart, GA. My dad is a country bumpkin from South Carolina and my mom is a city girl from Harlem, so I had the best of worlds. We were a pretty typical black family: big Thanksgivings and Christmases, God was the total center of our household.
I was always chunky or thick as a child and I can remember my dad always saying to me, "You're gonna be big as a house!" (Excuse him, he didn't know any better). My mother would dress me in oversize clothes fit for the "mothers board" at church because she was afraid that I had too much body. But somehow, I never let these things discourage or sway my love for myself. I instead learned to embrace my body and not cover it up whatsoever, even when others deemed it unacceptable or overbearing. This fueled my passion to have a voice at a young age for my peers that were struggling with self-acceptance. My main issue was changing others' views on what was viewed as acceptable, instead of vice versa. I began to develop my own style and my own way of doing things that made me happy.
And me being as "outspoken" as I am, has evolved me into who I am today, practically unapologetically living my truth out loud everyday.
Skinny Is NOT A Compliment
I have a degree in Biochemistry and work full-time as a Quality Supervisor for a corporate beverage company, but my passion always lied in amplifying mine—and others—voices, and making us all feel seen and heard. It all began when I decided to lose a little weight and a host of people thought that it was significant and appropriate to tell me "oooo you look skinny" as if it were a proper compliment that I should be grateful for. I remember cringing every time I heard it. Society makes us feel as if skinny is the only way for a person to be and feel beautiful.
Can I not be and feel beautiful and be a full-figured woman too?
I would even have to correct my friend's mentality of being skinny in order to be accepted. And they weren't even plus size! This self-inflicted and constant perpetuated hate, man, it bothers me more than anything. And it ultimately affects all sizes of people and all genders. I decided I would create a movement to show people how to treat and properly compliment a person regardless of their size/color/gender.
Growing my platform and aligning with another, has only solidified what I have always believed my purpose to be.
Since building my brand, I have changed my mind most about ignoring people's thoughts and opinions.
It is imperative that I speak out and welcome the conversation, or to inquire about the mindset of opposing perspectives. You are your own engine and gas, so to be a full-functioning system you have to ensure a ton of the smaller pieces are in order (clear mind, clean house, organization etc). I've learned the more discipline in those smaller areas, the bigger obstacles are easier to accomplish. Find what it is about your story, brand, or business that you want to share and never forget it and ensure you translate that one mission in all the things you create to develop your audience. And then do that, openly.
So, start now and don't look back. Don't be swayed. As black women, we have this vision of what a successful start looks like, but ladies, it doesn't exist. All we have to do is start. Many people tell me their dreams and biggest hurdles, and it's always getting over what they think the beginning should look like, which is so crippling and causes us to never begin. Start now and don't dwell on what you don't have, but instead monopolize on what you do have until you get what you want.
I personally go after what I want by just literally being myself. Not by altering who I am to make anyone feel comfortable. Not minimizing my beliefs to fit societal norms. And not by acting as Lizzo.
Just by simply, and openly, being me.
Kenni is currently working on building her brand 'Skinny Is Not A Compliment'. For more up-to-date information about what she has coming up, you may follow her on Instagram at @kennipowe.
Featured image courtesy of Symone Seven.