In a day and time where it seems everyone wants the title of being #goals, Karen Civil is actually living it. The digital media maven breathed fresh, innovative air onto the blogging and marketing scene back when the competition looked like there wasn't enough room for a Black Woman-led urban site that dished the latest in all things music, entertainment, and culture. And from then on, she's been an unstoppable force.
Evolving now into multiple entities, namely her branding and marketing agency Always Civil and her empowerment and motivational career-based franchise Live Civil, the New Jersey native has become and continues to be a household name and standard of excellence for those across various industries. She's also been one of my top two favorite girl bosses for YEARS. After admitting to having a long night hours before she dialed into our interview assisting on a video shoot with hip-hop artist YG, I found myself temporarily lost and intrigued at the thought of what a day in the life of my literal #career, #fitness, and all around #lifegoals would be.
From running companies to running plays with some of the biggest brands and entertainers in the nation, we wanted to know just how she manages to do and be so effortlessly on a continuous basis. This is the business of being Karen Civil.
Upon first waking up, I...
...start my day off with a conversation with myself and a conversation with the Universe, I talk to God. I light my candles, I set my affirmations for the day. I have a conversation with my dog. For me, it's all about the think, do, and be positive moments. I know I have to set the tone of my energy level and how I feel spiritually before I can go out and conquer the world and be Karen. It's me putting on all the armor before I go out and become an X-Men or Superwoman.
Courtesy of Karen Civil
"I know I have to set the tone of my energy level and how I feel spiritually before I can go out and conquer the world and be Karen."
The most hectic part at times...
...is not having enough time; even though you schedule things out a lot of things overlap. And because of the great work that I do, a lot of people and brands always want you at the forefront. It's not being able to be at everything and that goes from a business standpoint to a personal one. It's just those moments of knowing that when I am present in one situation, I am lacking in another.
My self-care looks like...
...therapy. I get Reiki healings done and I love surfing and going to the beach. I love surfing because it teaches you how to control chaos, how to control things around you and to keep calm. I'm also a big reader and, oh, my tribe! I love my good tribe of people. Sometimes in a world where you're just so busy working, you feel like 'I'm going through this alone.' It's good to have conversations with them.
What I learned in love is that...
...there are people who love me or who love the idea of me, but unfortunately they can't handle me. And for a very long time, I would dim my light to make them comfortable. But when it comes to love, they should love you for who you are and not for a part of you. I had to learn that so I let a lot of people go and realized, the person who is going to love me will love me unconditionally. They'll love me for the life that I'm in and won't feel insecure or feel like my success hinders them in anyway.
It's an ongoing process but I'm in a place where I'm not just rushing a relationship, but creating deep-rooted friendships first so we really know each other. We really know what we like, where we stand with goals; we're not just talking about what's happening in the moment. I don't want superficial love anymore so I'm taking my time with it. I'm making sure the person who enters my life understands my light, how bright it shines and that they are in love with that.
Courtesy of Karen Civil
"I'm making sure the person who enters my life understands my light, how bright it shines and that they are in love with that."
My tribe are...
...some of the most incredible people in my life; I don't even call them friends I call them family. They don't ever allow darkness to make me feel defeated in any way even when it comes from work. My tribe, they're X-Men, they're unicorns! I wish I could go down the list of them all. I have these people who are in my corner and I just love them so much. We pour back into each other, you know? We start our conversations with, "Hey how are you feeling today? Are you happy?" And it's like damn, it feels good to have friendships and to have girlfriends.
In order to take charge of my health, I...
... just decided to remove a lot of things from out of my life, which helps. I see Dr. Sebi's son, I take his medicine. I don't do any sugars, red meat, or carbs. Which is hard for us! But once you start removing those things from your body and you reset your palette, they no longer taste good to you. They're not things that you crave anymore. That's really what's been working for me.
So I'm not vegan anymore because I have to have certain fish and chicken and things like that. Even in my fridge, when my friends come over, I have like eight different waters. And I'm taking a lot of dairy out. I do a small, minimal amount of dairy. I don't do cheese or milk. And I'm not a drinker, you know some people come home and have a glass of wine--I'm cool. It just never was me.
To get unstuck, I...
...get through it by remembering who I am! I remember the greatness of my path and everything God has bestowed upon me. With every position, there's going to be naysayers so I know it comes with the territory. It's unfortunate but I move past it.
I posted something the other day that goes: 'There are two wolves and they're always fighting. One wolf is darkness and despair and the other one is light and hope. Which one wins?' You have to learn how to answer that for yourself because when I answer it, the one that wins is the one I choose to feed. And for me it's always going to be light and hope. I don't have control over anybody else's being, or how they do things but I have control over my emotions and what I give attention and life to.
Success to me...
...has many different meanings and it's changed over the course. It went from at first moving out of Elizabeth, New Jersey, to getting my first home, getting my dream car. But success now to me is being able to operate and navigate in a space that wasn't accustomed or created for a black woman to succeed. Especially on her own terms. It's being able to open up doors for other women to walk through, build tables for other women to sit at, and just being that light for other people, giving back to a world that's given me so much.
So when I talk about this women empowerment thing, I really mean it. I live it. Because I know what Angie Martinez meant for me, I know how she made me feel and she helped me strive for my career. I want to be able to do that for the next generation of women. I want to be able to help create a positive change in someone's life.
For more of Karen Civil, follow her on Instagram.
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Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Keke Palmer and Casandra “Cassie” Ventura are two of the most recent prominent Black women who have spoken out about their current and past abuse by intimate partners. These conversations seem to be happening more frequently today, but the truth is domestic violence and sexual abuse of Black women within the Black community is not new.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), 45.1 percent of Black women will experience physical violence, sexual violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime, in contrast to 30.2 percent of their white counterparts who experience similar abuse. Additionally, the Black Women’s Health Project also found Black women are three times more likely to be killed by a partner than white women.
As a result of these findings, it determined that domestic violence is the number one health issue facing Black women today.
Despite these stark statistics the prevalent misogynoir Black women face within their community further reinforce the stigma, victim-blaming, and culture of silence that prevent Black women from seeking help when experiencing abuse. Both Palmer and Ventura are examples of how Black women suffer in silence for years at the hands of an abusive partner. In Palmer’s court filings, she alleged Darius Jackson, her son’s father, abused her in multiple instances over two years. Yet, not until recently did she seek help from the courts to obtain a restraining order and sole custody of her son.
Likewise, Ventura’s lawsuit highlighted over a decade’s worth of alleged domestic violence, sexual abuse, and sex trafficking. Though Ventura and Sean Combs’ relationship ended in 2018, she shared the importance of speaking out now instead of remaining silent. “After years in silence and darkness, I am finally ready to tell my story, and to speak up on behalf of myself and for the benefit of other women who face violence and abuse in their relationships,” she shared in a statement.
Though many prominent Black women such as Rihanna, Tina Turner, Kelly Rowland, and Megan Thee Stallion have spoken out about their experiences with domestic violence, there is still a great stigma regarding the issue in the Black community.
This stigma and lack of protection for Black women manifests through people questioning the validity of Black women’s claims, which we saw on full display in the case against Tory Lanez on behalf of Megan.
We still see it in the way people make tasteless jokes about the late Tina Turner’s abuse from Ike Turner; and even in how people questioned “what Rihanna did” to Chris Brown for him to hurt her in such a way. Actions and behaviors such as these lead to the staggering reality that 91 percent of Black women are killed by someone they knew according to a study conducted by the University of Illinois Chicago.
This study also highlighted the fact that the leading cause of death for Black women between the ages of 15 and 45 is murder by an intimate partner.
As someone who has experienced physical violence in an intimate relationship, I can attest to the anxiety and doubt I felt in sharing my truth with others. Even though there was physical proof to corroborate my claims, all I could think of were the words my mother said when the news of Rihanna and Chris Brown came out, “She did something to that boy for him to do that to her.”
I share this story because even though the celebrities we see going through these experiences may never hear the conversations we have behind closed doors, there are women in our lives who are experiencing the same things and won’t speak up because of what we say.
I still remember the feeling of self-blame in my relationship with physical proof of abuse appearing on my body and the mindset that if I were only somehow a better partner and more “submissive” in my relationship these things wouldn’t continue to happen.
However, what I and all other abuse survivors know is that there is nothing you can do to appease your abuser, and the only true way to end the abuse is to leave the relationship in the safest manner possible.
Yet, what many abuse survivors also know is leaving is one of the most difficult challenges in an abusive relationship. On average it takes victims of abuse seven attempts to leave their abuser and stay separated for good according to RESPOND Inc., New England’s first domestic violence agency. Though physical and sexual abuse are often discussed the most in conversations of domestic violence and abuse we need to acknowledge that it often begins with mental and emotional gaslighting and manipulation.
According to the (NCADV) 53.8 percent of Black women will experience psychological aggression by a partner in their lifetimes. In Kelly Rowland’s 2013 song "Dirty Laundry," she showcases how psychological abuse appears in relationships with lyrics, “he said, ‘Don't nobody love you but me Not your mama, not your daddy and especially not Bey.’”
As Black women continue to speak out about their violence and challenge their abusers, it is also important for the Black community to create a safe space for them to do so. If a friend or family member confides in you about experiencing abuse be supportive and listen, avoid casting blame on them, and most importantly ask them what they want to do in terms of the next steps or leaving the relationship.
Lastly, if you or someone you know is experiencing intimate partner abuse and wants help reach out to National Domestic Violence Hotline 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) for support and resources.
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Featured image via Getty Images