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WELCOME TO CHARLOTTE'S CLOSET

APRIL ISSUE

Hey, now Closet Crew! What it do? Welcome to the 6th installment of Charlotte's Closet. In addition to talking about and loving all things fashion, Charlotte's Closet is also an extension of my mind. Sometimes we will find ourselves digging deep in the closet and unpacking some things. Buckle up buttercups; we're going in. 

Confidence can make you just as insecurity can break you. 

That being said, I'd like to share one of my biggest insecurities with you. It's been buried in my closet long enough, and I'm ready to bring it to the forefront. As a curvy woman, you would think my biggest insecurity would be my weight, right? Not really. I've learned to be comfortable in the skin that I'm in. The flaw that I find in myself when I look in the mirror is my big lips. This stems from my childhood when I would be mercilessly teased about my lips: Big lip this, bubble lip that… y'all know how cruel kids can be. It cut me like a knife every time it happened. They even made a song about it, and the lyrics went something like this: Bubble Lip Brown Sugar, that's what she all about. I heard it so much that it stuck in my head, and would even find myself unconsciously humming the tune. Even when I got older and blossomed into a woman, the insecurity remained. 

That teasing rode me from childhood into adulthood. So much so that I shied away from wearing lipstick. It's very rare, if ever, that I paint my lips. Even if I'm doing a full beat with a makeup artist, I usually wipe the lipstick off and just go with Chapstick. This is also part of the reason why you hardly see me smile in pictures. Every time I do, I start hearing that song in my head Bubble lip, brown sugar. I don't smile because I'm unconsciously trying to shrink my lips and don't want to do anything to draw unnecessary attention to them. The crazy part is that I know that my lips are beautiful, handed down to me from my mama, who got them from her mama; still, they make me feel in a way. The irony is that people in the beauty industry go out of their way to give their lips that plump look. They're paying top dollar for something that I got naturally. Hey Kardashians. I see a plethora of lip plumping products on the market and even internet hacks to plump up your lips. I know for a fact that my husband loves these big ole soup coolers, but what does any of that matter if I don't love them? 

One thing about insecurities they will show up like a pimple on a date night and try to ruin some shit. Self-Sabotage is the name of the game, and unbeknownst to me, I was playing it to let doubt win. I was letting my childhood insecurities taint my image of myself, and as a result, they were stopping me from being my truly fabulous, best self. Luckily for me, I have friends who love me enough to wish me well. A good, good girlfriend of mine hit my line, and baabbbby we exhaled! This friend had been trying to get me in red lipstick for over ten years, and one day I finally broke down and confided in her the reason why I had been hesitant. 

Lipsticks

One thing about insecurities they will show up like a pimple on a date night and try to ruin some shit. Self-Sabotage is the name of the game, and unbeknownst to me, I was playing it to let doubt win. I was letting my childhood insecurities taint my image of myself, and as a result, they were stopping me from being my truly fabulous, best self. Luckily for me, I have friends who love me enough to wish me well. A good, good girlfriend of mine hit my line, and baabbbby we exhaled! This friend had been trying to get me in red lipstick for over ten years, and one day I finally broke down and confided in her the reason why I had been hesitant. 

She didn't pressure me about it, and it never really came up again until I started writing this column. The phone call between us that evening reminded me of that Betty Wright song. I will spare you the profanities; here's the clean version. "I love what you're doing. The pictures are really nice, but I know you are not pulling this shit again? I see you dressing and giving tips and spreading confidence, but here you are doing any and everything not to draw attention to one of your most beautiful features; those lips. I understand about your insecurities, but you gotta shake that shit off if you plan on really doing this. I need them lips to be as dressed up as the rest of you. You can't be preaching confidence, and you are holding on to old mess." 

I was stunned that she noticed. I was not stunned that she called me out because that's how we are with each other straight, no chaser. There's something to be said about the truth-tellers of the world. So, I closed my eyes and exhaled. Just like that, my crown had been adjusted. Not only did she identify the problem, but she came up with a solution. 

We decided that I first needed to buy some lipstick because I didn't own any, and it irked her that I didn't. The second thing we did was have a come to Jesus Zoom meeting to help me to get me over this insecurity I have about my lips. We practiced until I saw what I needed to see, and going forward, decided that these lips would be as dressed as the rest of me. The third thing was her encouraging me to write about my insecurity, and it definitely helped. Even as I read over this article, I'm still in awe that I held onto this for so long. For forty years, I was the victim of someone else's opinion of me. I decided from now on; people were going to get this BIG LIP ENERGY. You don't like it? I don't know what to tell you, and honestly? I could care less. What I do know is that I will no longer be a victim of anyone's opinion. And that's on Mary and all her lambs. 

We all struggle one way or another, so I hope that this article helps anyone struggling with similar insecurities like my good girlfriend helped me. Thanks for letting me go all deep in Charlotte's Closet. You are all invited to intellectualink.com to view our "Girl get your shit together" Zoom with my good girlfriend, and me giving you all of this Big Lip Energy. Until the next time Closet Crew, remember to be YOU for YOU

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MEET AYANA 

Ayana N. Ellis is an 8x Author from Brooklyn, NY. In addition to her literary work, she is also the Host of Quiet On The Set, a film critic comedy show which boasts celebrities such as Michael Blackson and Nore, to name a few, now Streaming on Tubi. She is also the host of popular music Podcast, Behind The Lyrics, available on Spotify, Itunes, YouTube, and her IGTV ayanaellis_official

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MARCH ISSUE

All dressed up and nowhere to go, rekindling my passion for fashion post-pandemic. 

Howdy Do Closet Crew? It’s about to be Spring again, and I’m feeling fine, not really, but pass the ice-cold glass of wine anyway. Cheers to us for making it this far. Spring is usually the time for new beginnings, new styles, shedding the heaviness of winter. Spring is the perfect time to start showing off those new outfits. Spring 2020 and 2021 were two totally different seasons. March of 2020 found me in a perpetual state of anxiety, up all day and night living in fear, watching the news in horror as the Covid numbers continued to spike. Getting dressed up was the furthest thing from my mind, let alone going outside. Then a funny thing happened; an Instagram friend turned me on to D-Nice’s “Club Quarantine.” So, for shits and giggles, I decided to get dressed like we were really going to the club.

As we learned more and more about this pandemic that was wreaking havoc on life as we know it, I began to learn to live with it. I was never totally comfortable with it, but I was no longer completely terrified by it. Gradually, I started doing little things like going to the store, visiting relatives, finding cool masks to match my outfits. My anxieties were still high, but I was adjusting as best I could. 

When the opportunity presented itself to start writing this column for Intellectual Ink, it reignited my passion for fashion. I would find myself getting dressed a bit more, but as the months began to wear on between articles, I found myself falling back into my old pattern and old pajamas. Once again hunkered down in my house watching the news and the numbers, wondering if this madness would ever end? I like to call these the Pandemic Blues.

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One of the best parts about writing this column is that I find myself spending a lot of time combing through my closet. I often found myself looking at all the outfits, lots still with tags on them, making plans for when they finally opened outside back up, and I would finally be able to wear them. The problem was; outside didn’t look to be opening back up any time soon. Then it hit me. Why should I have to wait for outside to open up just to get dressed? With this in mind, I grabbed some of my favorite outfits, booked myself a hotel room, a photographer and make-up artist, and hit the road. I was on my way to what was supposed to be a glamorous weekend of self-care and fabulosity! Then the worst blizzard of 2021 threw me a curveball. I sat in that beautiful hotel room, watching from the balcony as mother nature buried the tristate in snow. I was supposed to be doing my glam photo shoot and ended up a spectator at a winter wonderland.

I spent two days eating room service, drinking wine while feeling my passion for fashion dwindle a little bit with each falling flake. If that wasn’t bad enough, the heat went out in my hotel room. It was like the universe was conspiring against me. Just as I was about to pack up my wardrobe and give up on the photoshoot, the universe sent me a sign. The manager called and offered to upgrade my room to a luxury suite. That clinched it for me. I was going forward with my plans, and snow be damned! I had to cancel the make-up artist, but the photographer was still down to brave the weather so we could get it done. As I was getting my looks together, I realized something; even though I didn’t have a damn place to go, it felt good to be putting on something other than pajamas. The popping of tags on those outfits that had been taunting me from the closet and the feel of the different materials against my skin. The only word I can think to describe those feelings is “empowering.” I learned a powerful lesson on that snowy weekend: No matter what’s going on in this crazy world, always take the time to make yourself feel good. Throw on that outfit, make up your face. Be fabulous, even if it’s only for you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with dressing up, even if you have nowhere to go.