Black History Month

'One day our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as complex human beings.' - Franklin A. Thomas

February is finally here, which means it's Black History Month. February is a time that sees the black community come together to commemorate heroes of the past, celebrate black excellence and recognise not only how far we've come, but also how much further is left to go.

Iceland: The Blue Lagoon

Last week, I was lucky enough to visit the beautiful country of Iceland. After my twentieth birthday, my dad treated me to a long weekend away, travelling the country full of natural wonders. During the four days we spend there, we were lucky enough to see many of the amazing 'attractions' Iceland has to offer, including the Northern Lights, frozen waterfalls, a frozen volcanic crater, geysers and so much more. 

Ten Things I Did Before Twenty

In just a few days I'll be turning twenty. I always see those '20 before 20' or '30 before 30' lists, which are essentially a list of goals a person wants to achieve before they turn a certain age. A partial bucket list. Whilst there are many things I'd like to experience and achieve in my twenties, I decided to make a list of some of the experiences I've enjoyed the most throughout my life so far.

Got a tattoo. I got my first tattoo! It took me a very long time to muster the courage to get it done but I finally did it and I couldn't be happier with how it looks.

Volunteered abroad. I know everyone always says it, but volunteering really is one of the most rewarding, life-changing experiences you can have. The three weeks I spent volunteering in Ecuador were some of the best weeks of my life.

Learnt to drive. After nineteen years of relying on my mum to drive me around, I finally learnt to drive and passed my test first time.

Explored the Galápagos Islands. Visiting the Galapagos Islands is an opportunity that doesn't come around too often but it's one that everyone should take given the opportunity. Exploring the islands was an amazing experience that I'll never forget.

Swam with sharks. This was one of the scariest, yet most exciting things I've ever done. I never in a million years thought I'd swim with sharks, nor did I want to. But when the opportunity came around I couldn't miss out.

Moved to London and started university. Moving to London is something that I've always wanted to do and I finally got the opportunity after being accepted by Middlesex University. The concept of moving away from home and living in a big city was daunting but it was one of the best decisions of my life and I've met some of the most amazing people through it.

Visited New York. For my eighteenth birthday, I was lucky enough to go to New York. Visiting America is something that's always been on my bucket list so I was so excited to go.

Went to Auschwitz. As part of my A level History coursework, I was given the opportunity to fly to Poland for the day and visit Auschwitz I and II. The experience is haunting, yet rewarding and enlightening. Given the opportunity, I would definitely go back and would encourage everyone to visit one day.

Voted. Voting is something I believe that everyone should do regardless of whether you think it won't make a difference or not.

Moved in with my best friends. This year, I moved into a flat with six of my best friends. Living with so many people can be challenging, but I love having a friend there to talk to 24/7 and the independence of living away from home.

Summer Makeup Tips

Summer is great, but maybe not when it comes to wearing makeup. It often tends to to end up looking sticky and cakey and because of this, many girls prefer to go makeup-free. If you still prefer to wear makeup over the summer, you can follow some of these tips to help prevent your makeup looking cakey and create a more natural look.


Some people prefer to use BB creams or tinted moisturiser, which are a lot lighter than foundation, but I find that they don't give me enough coverage, so just applying a light layer of foundation works a lot better for me. Too much foundation during the summer can often end up looking cakey and unnatural.


If you tan during the summer then the chances are your foundation is going to end up being too light for you. Instead of spending out on new foundation and trying to find the right colour (that will probably change again soon anyway) it's probably better to get some True Match Foundation as it adjusts to the colour of your skin to ensure a natural look. I use L'Oreal Paris True Match Foundation (£9.99)


I find that contour looks way too heavy on my face during the summer months, but without it I look too plain. During summer I prefer to replace my contour stick with a bronzer instead to add a bit of a glow to my cheeks and forehead.


Mascara can be a pain during the summer. The main problem with it is that it can melt due to the heat and leave you with black marks under your eyes. To solve this I switched to waterproof mascara and I no longer have this problem. It's also great for if you're going to be in the sea or a swimming pool because you shouldn't come out with panda eyes. 


I've only recently discovered setting powder and I can't believe I've never used it before. I apply it after I've finished all my makeup and it works to keep your makeup in place and leave a matte finish. If I don't apply it I'll usually end up looking shiny and oily as the day goes on. I use the NYX Professional Makeup Studio Finishing Powder (£9.00)

Dressing For Yourself

It's summer. It's hot. Girls are going to go outside in skirts, shorts, crop tops and dresses. Why? Because it's too hot to be covered from head to toe. No, we aren't dressing 'provocatively' to get attention from men. Women wear less during the summer, not only for their health, but because they have the right to.

"If you say that a woman wearing revealing clothes deserves to be sexually assaulted, you are saying a woman's body is inherently deserving of rape. That women are inherently deserving of rape. That women have to make sure their body is hidden in order to not deserve to be raped. That is misogyny in its purest form." - Unknown

The funny thing about our society is the amount of double standards that exist within it. Men, for example, can walk around completely topless, wearing only a pair of jeans or shorts and no one will bat an eyelid. Girls, however, will be judged and shamed the moment they step out of the house wearing a skirt that shows a little bit "too much" (by societies standards) leg, a top that exposes a bit of cleavage or one that shows her stomach. Why? Because the female body is over-sexualised.


The picture below is from an art project conducted by Rosea Lake called 'Judgements'. The picture shows what society thinks about women based on the length of her skirt and it couldn't be more accurate.

It doesn't metter whether you choose to wear a long, medium or short skirt. As a woman, you are going to get judged no matter what. If it's considered too short, you're a slut. If it's considered too long, you're a prude. And then there's everything in between.

A woman's worth is in no way measured by the length of her skirt or dress or the amount of clothes she chooses to wear.  

Okay, so you might not agree with the length of someone's skirt, but that is no reason to belittle them. What they're wearing has no affect on you whatsoever; if you don't like it you can simply ignore it rather than reducing someones self-worth and knocking the confidence they undoubtedly worked extremely hard to build. And most importantly, no girl is ever 'asking for it'. Instead of shaming women and telling them to cover up in order to protect themselves and their modesty, maybe we should be teaching men that women deserve respect regardless of the length of their skirt and stop perpetuating rape culture. 


Since I've started dressing for myself, I've felt a lot happier and a lot more confident than I did before. I've accepted the fact that not everyone's going to like or agree with my choice in clothing and I've learnt that, at the end of the day, it's my body and I'm in charge of how I dress it. I've learnt to ignore the disapproving looks and suggestive comments from strangers because I've realised that I don't care what they think. We're strangers to each other. So if they don't like what I'm wearing then that's their problem, not mine.

I choose to wear skirts and shorts during the summer because it keeps me cool, I like the way they look, and most importantly, because I'm dressing for myself.

My First Tattoo

Last week I finally plucked up the courage to get my first tattoo. I've wanted one for years but could never decide what I wanted, and when I finally decided what I wanted I couldn't decide where I wanted it, and once I decided where I wanted it I was too scared to actually go and do it. The only reason I actually went through with it last week is because my mum wanted to get one too, so she booked us in together. We used a local tattoo artist that my mum's been to before so it was reassuring to have someone that she'd already had experience with and trusted.

I've always liked the idea of small and dainty tattoos, I can't really see myself as the type of person to be have a massive tattoo up the side of my arm. Flower tattoos have always appealed to me so after a lot of thought I decided that I wanted get a lily. I've always thought that lilies were so beautiful, plus my great grandma's name is Lillian so it made sense. The only problem with lily tattoos is that most of them were quite large and bulky and I wanted a more delicate one with a stem, but I finally found an idea I liked after a while.

I've never been very good with pain and I hate anything that involves needles so I was extremely nervous on my way to the studio. When we got to the there I made my mum go first so that I could watch her before it was my turn. Watching her calmed me down as it didn't really seem to bother her so I was a lot less nervous when it was finally my turn to get in the chair. Before he started my tattoo, he placed a stencil on my arm so I could see what it would look like. I didn't like it at first so I decided to make it bigger and position it straighter rather than having it at an angle and it looked perfect.

It didn't hurt even half as much as I thought it would. It was just like lots of tiny little scratches and sometimes I couldn't feel anything at all. It only took about 20 minutes to finish it with the shading and everything and I was done. 

I'm so happy with it and I love how it looks. I was so nervous about getting something and then not liking how it turned out but thankfully this looks exactly how I imagined and hoped it would look.

My Summer Reading List

Since starting university, I haven't really had the opportunity to read as much as I used to. I haven't had much time to myself since I was either always around people or trying to meet deadlines. Now that I'm home for the summer I have a lot more time to myself and want to use some of that time to read some of the books that have been on my reading list for a while now. 

Since I haven't yet read any of them I've only included a description of each book.


1. THE DELIRIUM TRILOGY by Lauren Oliver

There was a time when love was the most important thing in the world. People would go to the end of the earth to find it. They would tell lies. Even kill for it. Then, at last, they found the cure. Lena Haloway is very much looking forward to being cured and living a safe, predictable life. She watched love destroy her mother and isn't about to make the same mistake. But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena meets Enigmatic Alex, a boy from the "Wilds" who lives under the government's radar. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love?

2. AMERICANAH by Chimamanda Ngozi Adchie

In this epic tale of love and enlightenment, 'Americana' delves into the lives of Ifemelu and Obinze, a young couple in love. We're taken on their journey West, away from a military controlled Nigeria as they are forced to live on separate continents. Ifemelu is faced with racism for the first time and begins to understand the hardships of being black in America. Obinze is a quiet spirit that wishes to join Ifemelu on her journey to America but is forced to live a secret life in London because of the post 9/11 state pf America. After 15 years apart, they are reunited in a now democratic Nigeria with a new love and passion for each other and their country.


Maddy is allergic to the world; stepping outside the sterile sanctuary of her home could kill her. But then Olly moves in next door. And just like that, Maddy is ready to risk everything, everything to see where it leads.

N O N - F I C T I O N


Through a life of passion and struggle, Malcolm X became one of the most influential figures of the 20th century. In this riveting account, he tells of his journey from a prison cell to Mecca, describing his transition from hoodlum to Muslim minister. Here, the man who called himself "the angriest black man in America" relates how his conversion to true Islam helped him confront his rage and recognise the brotherhood of all mankind.

2. THE FREEDOM WRITERS DIARY: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them by The Freedom Writers with Erin Gruwell

Shocked by the teenage violence she witnessed during the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, Erin Gruwell became a teacher at a high school rampant with hostility and racial intolerance. For many of these students - whose ranks included substance abusers, gang members, the homeless, and victims of abuse - Gruwell was the first person to treat them with dignity, to believe in their potential and help them see it themselves. Soon, their loyalty towards their teacher and burning enthusiasm to help end violence and intolerance became a free of its own. Inspired by the reading of 'The Diary of Anne Frank' and meeting Zlata Filipovic, the students began a joint diary of their inner-city upbringings. Told through anonymous entries to protect their identities and allow for complete candour, 'The Freedom Writers Diary' is filled.


The London Sky Garden

Located in Central London, high above Fenchurch Street, sits the Sky Gardens. Last week I visited with my friends to celebrate the end of our first year of university and as our last night out together before we all moved home. It was also an excuse to dress up and sip fancy, overpriced cocktails.

Before you can visit the Sky Gardens, you have to book a table in advance. They allow two hour spots, so we decided to book our table between 08.15 and 10.15, which was the perfect time to watch as the sun set over London. Luckily, the night we booked was pretty clear so we were able to get a good view of the sunset, and it looked absolutely amazing as it set over the London skyline.

Upon our arrival we were lead to our table straight away. We were lucky enough to be given a sofa table big enough for all eight of us right next to the window and directly opposite the Shard. It was by far the best view I've ever sipped cocktails to.

Not only do the sky gardens have amazing views on the outside, but the variety of plants and mood lighting on the inside made it even more impressive. There are also signs as you walk around which show you the key landmarks of London and tell you more about the plants surrounding you.

Unfortunately, the balcony was closed during our visit although it didn't make much of a difference as the whole building is made up of windows.

The cocktails were a little pricey at £12.50 a glass, although I thought this was pretty justified considering entry into the Sky Gardens is completely free. I bought a cocktail called 'The Pink One' which was supposed to come out with candy floss although they'd unfortunately run out of candy floss during my visit so they replaced it with a flower and blackberry. It still looked and tasted amazing. I would have loved to have tried some more of the cocktails but as a student currently saving up for my flat next year, I couldn't justify spending another £12.50.

If you're visiting London, on a budget or just looking for something to do, I'd definitely recommend visiting the Sky Gardens. I had an amazing couple of hours with such an amazing view and I definitely plan on going back sometime.

Dear White People...

Based on the film of the same title released in 2014, Dear White People is a Netflix original series that follows a group of black students attending a predominantly white Ivy-League University in America. It successfully tackles a number of social issues, including racism, homophobia and police brutality, and it does so brilliantly.

Before the show was even released, it received a lot of criticism from people claiming the trailer was offensive and "anti-white". Dear White People is not racist, nor is it prejudice. Logan Browning, who plays Samantha White, advises people to "watch the first episode. In the first seven minutes, anything you thought was going to be anti-white, is knocked down... [you'll] see that everyone's voice is represented in the show". The show is based around truth and highlights the everyday racism that still occurs now, aiming to educate viewers about the discrimination that black people still receive whether intentional or not. The purpose of the series is not to offend white people, but to educate them and it does an excellent job.

Here are a few of the most important moments from the series:
Warning - Spoilers

1. Sam's Radio Rants 

Sam White is the first character we're introduced to. She's an outspoken activists who host the controversial radio show, Dear White People, and uses her platform to speak out on the issue of racism on campus. Her radio rants are passionate and enlightening and contain some of the most important messages of the series.

Perhaps the most memorable speech she gives (at least for me) is the one after a black-face party takes place on campus. Sam takes to the radio to vent her feelings about the event and those who attended or saw nothing wrong with its occurrence. She says: “When you mock or belittle us, you enforce an existing system. Cops everywhere staring down the barrel of a gun at a black man don’t see a human being, they see a caricature, a thug, a n***a. So…nah! You don’t get to show up in a Halloween costume version of us and claim irony or ignorance. Not anymore.”

2. When Coco Embraces Her Natural Hair

During flashbacks of Coco's life, we learn that in an attempt to fit in with her white peers, Coco decided to start wearing straight wigs and ditch her natural hair. Although there's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to wear straight wigs/weaves or straighten your hair, the only reason Coco did it is because she thought it would help her to fit in and for acceptance. Towards the end of the series, she finally realises that she doesn't need to have straight hair in order to fit in or be accepted and ditches the wig, embracing her natural curls. From this moment on, she seems to be a lot happier and comfortable with her appearance.

I have African-American hair and I personally choose to straighten it. I don't do this in an attempt to fit in with or look like white people, I do it because I find it a lot easier to manage and because I like the way it looks.

Although the issue is not addressed in the series (but briefly mentioned in the film), many white people view African-American hair as a novelty. Throughout my childhood, I'd often get people (even strangers) come up to me thinking it was acceptable to touch my hair. It's not. My hair is not a novelty for your amusement or curiosity. I don't come up to you and randomly feel your hair, it's not normal, don't do it.

Along with this, I also get people telling me how I should wear my hair. When I had it curly I'd constantly be told that my hair would be so nice if I straightened it, and now I have it straight I get people telling me I should embrace my curls because "they'd be so pretty". What I do with my hair is no one else's business. White people aren't constantly told what to do with their hair, so don't tell me what to do with mine.

3. The N-Word and Police Brutality

In my opinion, the most important episode of the series is Chapter V. During a college party, an altercation erupts between Reggie and his white classmate, Addison, after he sings the n-word. Reggie politely asks him not to sing it, which sparks an argument with Addison claiming that he's not racist and shouldn't have to censor himself. The campus police arrive shortly after, assume Reggie is dangerous and pull a gun on him.

Although Reggie walks away from the incident unharmed, the episode highlights the risk of police brutality black citizens face everyday and makes you think about how much things could have escalated. A harmless argument at a party could have cost a young, unarmed man his life. This isn't just for dramatic effect, the same can be seen in real life in the cases of Mike Brown, Eric Garner and many more young black citizens who have lost their lives unnecessarily due to police brutality.

After the almost fatal incident, Reggie writes and performs a moving and heartbreaking poem at an open mic night, which highlights just how much the incident affected him. You can read Reggie's poem below.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,
among these — life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,
unless you’re loud and Black and possess an opinion,
then all you get is a bullet,
a bullet that held me at bay,
a bullet that can puncture my skin,
take all my dre
ams away,
a bullet that can silence the words that I speak
to my mother just because I’m other.
A bullet held me captive,
gun in my face, your hate misplaced.
White skin, light skin, but for me, not the right skin.
Judging me with no crime committed.
Reckless trigger finger itching to prove your worth,
by disproving mine.
My life in your hands,
My life on the line.
Fred Hampton. Tamir Rice. Rekia Boyd. Reggie Green?
Spared by a piece of paper,
a student ID that you had to see before you could identify me,
and set me supposedly free.
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,
for some of us, maybe.
There’s nothing self-evident about it."

In my opinion, Dear White People is a show that everyone should watch regardless of race. Not only does it focus on racism, but many other social issues that are important within our society, handling these subjects through both care and bluntness along with both seriousness and humour. If you haven't seen it already, please take some time out to watch it. You can watch the trailer below.

5 Things I Learnt During My First Year of University

It's been just over a week since I officially finished my first year of university, which means that I'm no longer stressed over looming deadlines or incomplete assignments and I finally have time to relax. I've spent the past week relaxing and spending time with my friends before we all move back home for the summer at the end of the month. Although I am happy that first year of uni is over and I can go home for a while to see my family, I'm sad that it's gone so quickly and I'll definitely miss living with my best friends over the summer and the independence that comes with it.

Before I began university I had many expectations of university life and living in halls. These are some of the things I've learnt from my first year of university:

1. Budgeting is hard

Moving away from home for the first time and having a lot of money in your pocket isn't always a good thing. You will spend a lot of money during freshers on unnecessary things just because you can, especially if you live in London. I've gotten a lot better at budgeting as the year's gone on although it took some getting used to and can be very hard sometimes.

2. You might not be friends with your flatmates

Although I didn't have this problem, I've come to learn that I was very lucky. After talking to many people I've met at university, the majority have said that they don't really see or talk to their flatmates. They're not really friends with them, they're simply people they live with. Most people will find friends at freshers events, from talking to other people in halls and on their course, so don't worry if you don't instantly bond with your flatmates because you will still make friends.

3. You will question your course

£9,000 is a lot of money and there will definitely be times when you ask yourself if it's really worth it. There will be parts of your course that you won't like, but that's the same for anything. I found that although there were some parts of my course that I didn't particularly like, there were parts that I didn't expect myself to enjoy but ended up being some of my favourite parts of the course.

4. You will feel down

Even if you don't really get homesick, there will be times where you miss your family and want to go home. Some experience this more than others but it will happen to everyone at some point.

5. It'll be one of the best times of your life

You're becoming more independent now that you're moving away from home, making new friends and experiencing new things in a new town or city. For me, this year has been one of the best years of my life and I'm so glad I chose to come to university instead of going straight into work, not only because of the university experience but because it'll give me a better chance at getting a good job at the end of it.