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.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
The first big leap was moving to a new city and getting settled into my new home. The next big leap? Was finding community and belonging. Moving to a new city excited me! I looked forward to having my own apartment, decorating it, and exploring what the city had to offer. I also found excitement in the thought of meeting new people and expanding my connections. When it actually came down to it, I felt nervous. I heard that making new friends as an adult can be hard because we all have different responsibilities and schedules that may not align. I knew in order for me to really feel at home in my new city, I had to create community.
Having a community of people who I can share memories with, lean on in times of need, and inspire each other is something I always valued. I took a moment to truly center in on what I desired from the new friends I would make. Then I realized it all would have to start with me. I had to be centered and confident in who I was to attract who I desired to be aligned with. As someone who moved to a new city and established quality friendships, I gathered these six tips that helped me feel grounded and create community in hopes that it will help you, too.
6 tips to start building community and making new friends in a new city:
Sean Anthony Eddy/ Getty Images
Be true to yourself
Do you know who you are? If someone asked you to describe yourself in three words, what words would you use? In order to develop deep friendships, you must be a friend to yourself first. Know what refuels you and what zaps your energy. Self-study your habits and why you do the things you do. All this will be important to keep in mind when looking to create bonds with others. Every day there’s all kinds of people telling you who you should be, how you should act, or what you should wear. At the end of the day, the only opinion about yourself that truly matters is your own. Spend some alone time with yourself indoors or out at an event you like to truly discover who you are in this season of your life.
Pray about it
Before you step out into the world and cross paths with all kinds of people, it’s important to pray about building your community. God outlines what true friendship looks like in numerous Bible verses such as "Iron sharpens iron." - Proverbs 27:17 and “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.” - Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. If you desire friendships that last, pray about what you seek in friendship. I remember praying for mentally stable, happy, and whole women who moved through life with abundance mindsets. Take a moment to journal about the community you want to build and then pray on it.
Go to fun events to meet people who share your interests
Most metropolitan cities like Washington, D.C., New York City, and Atlanta are known to have strong young professional communities and events where you can connect with others. I highly encourage you to attend events in or near your community to see what the city is like and meet people. It’s likely that the people at the event have the same interests as you, which is a great way to start a conversation. You can start by searching for events on Eventbrite or following Instagram pages that highlight events happening in your city.
Carlos Barquero/ Getty Images
Accept that you won’t be compatible with everyone you meet
While living in your new city, it’s likely you’ll meet a variety of people. Please know that everyone you meet will not bud into lasting friendships, and that’s okay! You are uniquely created and not made for everyone. Then you’ll meet people who are good for only surface-level connections, and then you’ll have your girls who you can get deep with. I think sometimes people can look down on surface-level friendships, but not everyone needs to fully know you. That’s a privilege to have and to accept within yourself. Continue to check in with yourself and be real about who you crave to spend more time with and who is nice to see for a monthly or quarterly catch-up.
Join Facebook groups & GroupMe chats
If you haven’t used Facebook in a couple of years, it’s time to dust your profile off. Facebook Groups is a great place to join online communities for people who just moved to a new city like you. Typically, you have to agree to the group’s guidelines, and then you can join. For example, you can search for groups in the Facebook app by using keywords like women, Black girl, or [the name of your city] foodies. With the GroupMe app, you’ll have to be invited to join an already existing group. While you’re out and about networking, don’t hesitate to ask if they’re in any online groups/communities they recommend you join too.
Be friendly to folks in your neighborhood
When I first moved to my new apartment, I spent the first week walking around the complex and working in the community spaces to get a better feel of it. I was able to meet people in my neighborhood, enjoy small talk, and learn more about what the community has to offer. Step outside of your comfort zone and work in your apartment’s community space or a local coffee shop to connect with others.
Overall, you may feel alone in your new city, but I guarantee you’re not. There are other people experiencing living in a new city too, and all you need to do is find each other. I hope these tips help ease the nervous feelings you have about building a new community and inspire you to make a new friend today!
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