Image result for nicole murphy working out
Nicole Murphy
By Brenda Alexander

When I saw the picture of Nicole Murphy stepping into her 50h birthday party with a bedazzled catsuit and matching bustier, her boobs lifted, ass sitting high, coca cola shaped figure and Halle Berry inspired short cut I gagged. To make matters worse, she had the audacity to twerk and dip it low while Beyonce’s Drunk In Love serenaded her in the background. I prayed to God that if that’s not what I will look like going into my 50th birthday, feel free to take me out early.

I did a quick google search of black celebs in their 50s and found that gorgeous, high-cheekboned Cynthia Bailey of RHOA is slaying with her #50Cynt movement. After researching how they are keeping their bodies young, I wanted to share a few tips that can help you get on the right track.

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Nicole Murphy Fitness

Nicole Murphy has a wellness website and YouTube channel with diet and exercise tips and tutorials. Nicole Murphy Fitness gives subscribers easy and quick ways to get and stay fit. She incorporates a variety of exercises into her routine to stay active and keep things fun and fresh. In addition to sweating it out in the gym, she encourages trying things like yoga, circuit training, weight training, cycling and kickboxing to give your body a well rounded experience.

Cynthia Bailey prefers more creative methods of working out, as like most, exercising is not her favorite pastime. Outdoor workouts that include walks and runs around the park is more her speed and she is also really into yoga. More importantly, she is most interested in the spiritual workout. She told Blushing in Hollywood that meditating is what keeps her in tact and grounded in her health. She tries to start her day with 30 minutes of meditation.

Cynthia Bailey
Both Murphy and Bailey work with a nutritionist. Their diet consists of a balance of protein, fruits vegetables and water, with an emphasis on portion control. They both steer away from fried foods and opt for foods that are baked, steamed and grilled. Bailey insists that it’s important to not deprive yourself of the foods you enjoy, telling People Magazine, “I don’t deprive myself of anything that I have a craving for because I won’t stop thinking about it until I eat it already, and move on.”

Murphy indulges in the same. She loves burgers, pizzas and fries just like any other girl but balances it out by blending the sin foods with green and leafy veggies to make them dense in nutrients. So instead of a beef burger with bacon and cheddar, Murphy may eat a turkey burger with lettuce, onion, mushroom and tomato with wheat bread. Sounds good to me!

As you can see, diet and exercise aren’t the worst! Let’s train our bodies now so we aren't trying to catch up at 50. The great thing about today is we have an advantage: the internet. Gone are the days when you have to actually spend money on a trainer or nutritionist. YouTube is your trainer and Google can be your nutritionist. Now werk!

How do you stay fit?

Brenda is a Philadelphia native with a love for Marketing, Creative writing, wine and Jesus. Her work has been featured on Mayvenn’s Real Beautiful blog and she is the co-author of the book Christmas 364: Be Merry and Bright Beyond Christmas Night (available for purchase on amazon). Follow her on IG @trulybrenda_ and trulybrenda.wordpress.com


By Erickka Sy Savané

Young, Ivorian artist Latitia Ky is someone to watch. Using hair (yes hair!) she's creating beautiful, thought-provoking images to spread body positivity and draw attention to the subtle and not-so-subtle ways that we body shame young girls. Here's a story, in her own words, taken from her IG that may have you thinking differently about some of the ways that you may be body shaming a young girl without even knowing it. 


Via IG
Latitia writes of this image via her IG: 
I never struggled with my body, I always liked it. What I never liked were the comments. In relation to my body I have big boobs, which is not the problem even if I'm not always happy with them. People might think, I should be and even if I am very Ok. with that the most time, it's not always funny. When i was younger (about 14), many people, especially women called me a whore, for just having them. I often got told that I am too slutty and my shirts are too sexy. The thing is, i never wore anything the others don't, just normal shirts, it just looked different on me. People won't belive how many adult (in my case women) assault young teenager girls. When you are 14 and haven't even thought about sex, being a "whore" really confuses. In the other case for the men you're also just boobs, nothing else. It's the only thing they can see. 
I don't dress nondescript, I don't want to. I can't see why I should dress very careful just because anybody feels attacked by my body. I wear what I like, and I do what I like, not to impress any men, not to be "sexy" for society. I do it just for me because I want to.
Commenters could definitely relate...

--"I feel this story personally because I know what it feels like even though I am only 14"

--"It's nice to know that people experience and have experienced the same things as me at such a young age... People think I'm "asking" for attention when all I want is the opposite. I've been going through this since I was 11, and it's been getting worse recently. I'm slowly learning to love myself and accept myself for the way I am."

--"I've had similar experiences my whole life and its nice to hear I'm not alone. I've been told such things even from family members and its shocking and it hurts. My whole life I've heard stuff about my body because I'm curvier and honestly this whole series us amazing. It's such a blessing to hear that other people understand and have been there too."

--"You’re amazing!! This art brings me joy and I even share with my 9 year old daughter!!"

Via IG
Latitia also writes that she was shamed in her teens for being too skinny.
"Does she eat?" "I feel like she's going to break," "she looks like she is sick" "she's awful."
"When I was 18, a lot of things changed for me. I have met, discovered people and experienced events that helped me to love myself as I am, and this growing self-confidence in my physicality has affected my entire life. I started to dream, to have projects and to believe that i was able to achieve them despite my limitations.
Read more of this extremely intelligent young woman's posts on her instagram page and share them with a teen who might need to hear what she has to say!

Were you body shamed as a teen for being too skinny or too developed? 

Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of CurlyNikki.com, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in Essence.comEbony.com, Madamenoire.com, xoNecole.com, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or  ErickkaSySavane.com


 By Erickka Sy Savané

Let’s face it, some questions are just taboo. If you’ve ever asked a woman, “How many months are you?” when she wasn’t even pregnant then you know there aren’t enough rocks to crawl under. It’s right up there with “Is that your grandchild?” when it’s actually the person’s kid.
I’ve been both the asker and the one asked, and it can suck on both ends. Usually, the person asking is just excited and can’t wait to share in the big news, but for the person who isn’t pregnant, well, it’s not so cool. Does any woman want to look pregnant when she is not?

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To be on the safe side, common sense says that asking someone if they are pregnant is a no-no unless they are being transported to the hospital delivery room because it’s just not worth the embarrassment of being wrong. Most would argue that it’s none of your well-meaning business anyway. If a person wants you to know they will tell you. Actress Tia Mowry has been very vocal about the negative impact of the media’s constant speculation that she is pregnant and equates it to a form of body shaming. At one point she felt compelled to share this message on Instagram.
But the truth is nothing is ever so black and white, and there are only a few occasions when–dare I say it–it’s okay to ask. Here are some…

1. When she’s such a good friend that even if she isn’t pregnant you can both have a good laugh. When one of my besties asked me if I was preggers and I definitely wasn’t, I didn’t get mad, sad or offended. If anything, it was an indication to go easy on the Cheese Puffs. Seriously, if your homegirls can’t ask you anything then maybe you need to re-evaluate the friendship.

2. You want to be mean. True story, Sandy was just a few weeks into a relationship with her man when they happened upon his ex-girlfriend at a party.  “Congratulations!” she said enthusiastically.
“For what?” asked Sandy.
“The baby!” said his ex, pointing to her belly, with a wicked smile.

3. You’re her husband or boyfriend. Not every woman is ready to announce a pregnancy even to the person she loves and some women don’t even know that they are pregnant, like in the case of Carol who hadn’t lost the weight from her first baby so a big belly was no biggie. It took her husband insisting on her taking a test for them to discover that she was actually six months. The same thing happened to my mom who had my brother and then me just 10 months later. She didn’t find out I was coming until she was a full nine months. Perhaps if one of her sisters had said, “Hmmm…you look pregnant,” she would have found out sooner.

4. When the person is constantly sick, tired and/or moody. Nausea, vomiting, and threatening to stab you for showing up 10 minutes late to lunch are all indications that a person might be with child. Sooooo, for your own safety, you might wanna ask in your sweetest voice, “Hey, do you think you’re pregnant?”

Are there any instances when you think it’s okay to ask a woman if she's pregnant?

Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of CurlyNikki.com, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in Essence.comEbony.com, Madamenoire.com, xoNecole.com, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or ErickkaSySavane.com


 By Erickka Sy Savané

Let’s face it, some questions are just taboo. If you’ve ever asked a woman, “How many months are you?” when she wasn’t even pregnant then you know there aren’t enough rocks to crawl under. It’s right up there with “Is that your grandchild?” when it’s actually the person’s kid.
I’ve been both the asker and the one asked, and it can suck on both ends. Usually, the person asking is just excited and can’t wait to share in the big news, but for the person who isn’t pregnant, well, it’s not so cool. Does any woman want to look pregnant when she is not?

 Continue
To be on the safe side, common sense says that asking someone if they are pregnant is a no-no unless they are being transported to the hospital delivery room because it’s just not worth the embarrassment of being wrong. Most would argue that it’s none of your well-meaning business anyway. If a person wants you to know they will tell you. Actress Tia Mowry has been very vocal about the negative impact of the media’s constant speculation that she is pregnant and equates it to a form of body shaming. At one point she felt compelled to share this message on Instagram.
But the truth is nothing is ever so black and white, and there are only a few occasions when–dare I say it–it’s okay to ask. Here are some…

1. When she’s such a good friend that even if she isn’t pregnant you can both have a good laugh. When one of my besties asked me if I was preggers and I definitely wasn’t, I didn’t get mad, sad or offended. If anything, it was an indication to go easy on the Cheese Puffs. Seriously, if your homegirls can’t ask you anything then maybe you need to re-evaluate the friendship.

2. You want to be mean. True story, Sandy was just a few weeks into a relationship with her man when they happened upon his ex-girlfriend at a party.  “Congratulations!” she said enthusiastically.
“For what?” asked Sandy.
“The baby!” said his ex, pointing to her belly, with a wicked smile.

3. You’re her husband or boyfriend. Not every woman is ready to announce a pregnancy even to the person she loves and some women don’t even know that they are pregnant, like in the case of Carol who hadn’t lost the weight from her first baby so a big belly was no biggie. It took her husband insisting on her taking a test for them to discover that she was actually six months. The same thing happened to my mom who had my brother and then me just 10 months later. She didn’t find out I was coming until she was a full nine months. Perhaps if one of her sisters had said, “Hmmm…you look pregnant,” she would have found out sooner.

4. When the person is constantly sick, tired and/or moody. Nausea, vomiting, and threatening to stab you for showing up 10 minutes late to lunch are all indications that a person might be with child. Sooooo, for your own safety, you might wanna ask in your sweetest voice, “Hey, do you think you’re pregnant?”

Are there any instances when you think it’s okay to ask a woman if she's pregnant?

Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of CurlyNikki.com, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in Essence.comEbony.com, Madamenoire.com, xoNecole.com, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or ErickkaSySavane.com

The Awakenings Project by Marissa Southards
By Sharee Silerio

When Marissa Southards picked up a camera three years ago, she was simply trying something new. One day, her husband Brian, a pencil artist, brought a professional-level camera home so he could work in a different medium.

Active in St. Louis protests and the Black Lives Matter movement, she took the camera into the streets to capture what was going on.

“You see an image, and it angers you, or it makes you mad. Or it inspires you. We are now equipped with the ability to tell our own story, because we have cameras now. One of the best quotes that I have ever heard was ‘The revolution will not be televised.’ And it won't be. We're telling our own story and we're doing it through pictures.”

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After reviewing her protest photos, Southards’ husband noticed that she captured some unforgettable moments. Though her work was beautiful, she rejected the part of her that was an artist.

“I felt like, I'm a mom. I'm a career professional. I'm a wife. I'm an activist. These are the most important things,” she said. “Yes, I have this creativity, but I'm not going to do anything about it.”

After flipping through Instagram, she came upon a photo of her friend Ashley, covered but topless, fully without shame.

“Her attitude was, ‘If you don't like it, look away, but I love who I am.’ There was something about this woman owning everything about who she is that sparked something in me. I call it Revelation X because it was that true moment that I realized I am really stuck in my own way."

With her husband’s help, she took a photo of the word “empowered” on her bare back, put it in black and white, and then posted it on social media. She received a lot of positive feedback, and her friend Julie proposed using her space, the botanical beauty store Blissoma, for a shoot. After planning and promoting, they expected 10, maybe 12 women to show up.

Marissa Southards 
“There was a line. I ended up getting 52 women, girls and Trans women who were ready to reclaim themselves. Every woman chose a word that best reflected them, and it was not the label that society gave them,” says Southhards.

Thus, on October 29, 2016, The Awakenings Project was born in St. Louis, Missouri. The series was so powerful that Southards did it again. This past summer, she shot Awakenings II in Mattoon, IL, St. Louis, and Chicago, which included 101 participants. Awakenings III, which kicked off in Chicago this past weekend, has a wait list and will span multiple cities such as Louisville, Kentucky; Mobile, AL; St. Louis; Mattoon; and more.

Testimony

Oracle
Kujichagulia (Self-determination)
Using the body as a form of empowerment, protest, healing and reclamation has become a passion for Southards. This January, she planned an action during the St. Louis Women’s March when its leaders decided to silence women of color by disregarding their point of view, feelings and experiences.

“For generations, white women's bodies have been put on a pedestal. They have been used to shame women of color. Specifically, if you don't fit this idea, if you don't look like me, we're going to shame you. We decided to take back the messaging of our own bodies,” Southhards explains.

During the march, seven women walked down Market Street with little to no clothing on, and messages written on them such as: 53% of white women voted for Trump; Black Women Matter; Black Trans Women Matter; Resist; and No Justice, No Peace. By the end of the march, the group had grown to about 42 women.

Women's March 2017
Kelly Morrison, one of the models for Awakenings II, also participated in Southards’ Women’s March action says,

“There is something really beautiful and empowering about stripping away the context of everyone's opinion of you and focusing on how you see yourself, and putting that word on your body for all to see."
When using the female body as a form of protest, Southards feels that it's important to focus on issues that impact all women.

“Body as canvas is not a form of protest utilized very often. There's a very human element to it, and it’s very risky," says Marissa. "You have to be very cautious about it. But because it is so visual, the impact is bold. There is no way to ignore it."

To keep up with activist and photographer Marissa Southards, follow her on Facebook  & Instagram

Do you think bodies used as canvas is a viable form of protest?
 Sharee Silerio is a St. Louis-based freelance writer, Film and TV writer-producer, and blogger. When she isn’t creating content for The Root or The St. Louis American, she enjoys watching drama/sci-fi/comedy movies and TV shows, writing faith and self-love posts forSincerelySharee.com, relaxing with a cup of chai tea, crafting chic DIY event décor, and traveling. Review her freelance portfolio at ShareeSilerio.com then connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.