Life is delicate, how do you show yourself love?

                                                         photo by @jana_akkari

We focus our energy on others. We care for them, nurture them, sometimes we even help others get back on their feet – this is what we do because we love. While our relationships are important, it’s difficult to care for others if we neglect ourselves. Have you shown yourself, love, recently?

Sometimes, Self-Love is associated with narcissism or being selfish. On the contrary,  according to Google, Self-Love, by definition, is the “regard for one’s own well-being and happiness (chiefly considered as a desirable rather than narcissistic characteristic).” This post will explore 5 different ways to practice self-love that can be used in everyday life.

  1. Self-Care

Self-care is key to a good relationship with oneself and others. Self-care is “any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept, in theory, it’s something we very often overlook”. Think about it this way, for a professor to teach their students, they first learn the subject so they could, in turn, benefit others. In the same light, how can we expect to take care of our loved ones, if we ourselves are not in good health? Try this – keep track of your progress

  1. Think Positive

People with a positive attitude are happier, more resilient, better decision-makers, and perform at a higher level than those with a negative attitude (and even live longer). Have you ever heard the phrase “you’re your own worst critic”? Honestly, truer words have never been said. We always tend to put ourselves down and focus on our flaws and imperfections, but here’s a news flash to everyone out there: no one is perfect. Situations are out of your control, but your attitude isn’t. Try this – have you smiled at someone today?   

  1. Acceptance

Embrace the imperfections of life. Whether it be that frustrating adult acne or those annoying pounds that just won’t shed, everyone has some sort of “flaw” that they’re dealing with. But at the end of the day, everything that is a part of you is what makes you who you are. We create unnecessary anxiety the more we fight and resist the things that happen to us. Part of giving self-love takes an enormous amount of courage to love and accept yourself for who you are. Try this – ask yourself “am I the person that I want to be?”

  1. Turn Comparisons into Compari-donts

Comparing yourself to others is never a smart idea. We’re always going to want other things and look like this person or that person. We get so caught up in the idea of other people and their accomplishments, that we forget our own worth and end up being saddened because we’re not like the others. But at the end of the day, no one knows what the next person is struggling with. Try this – Make a list of everything good you have in your life, and literally count your blessings

  1. Take a Mental Break

Take time out for yourself; it is okay to take a break, especially during times when you feel mentally overwhelmed. Take a minute to examine habits that make you feel more anxious or unproductive and take a mental break from that. How many times have you been saddened because your photo didn’t get as many likes as you thought? How many times have you been upset because you saw snaps of your friends hanging out without you? Social media has been associated with low moods and depression, and while technology advances our lives, try not to jump to social media as a way to alleviate boredom. So I challenge you: take a break. Opt for a book in bed or maybe walk around or do an exercise if you’re at your desk all day.

At the end of the day, the path to self-love takes time, but we owe it to ourselves.

I’ll leave you with a quote:

“You’re always with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company.”

– Diane Von Furstenberg

Tell us what YOU do to show self-love! And don’t forget to enter our Self-Love Giveaway

Textures This Fall

Style a textured look this fall with some of the pieces we’ve curated for you!

The Beige Black Side Split Cardi exudes a fresh look with minimal effort.

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For a Neutral look: 

  • Black loose-fit or skinny jeans
  • Black top
  • Flat D’Orsay Shoes like these from Zara

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  • Drawstring Bucket Bag from Zara

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  • Ahfif White Edge Cotton Scarf in Linen

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When dressing a statement piece, minimize accessories.

Casual look…

  • Girlfriend Jeans from H&M

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  • White Short-sleeved top from H&M

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  • Leather Chelsea Boots in Black or Brown from Zara

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  • Soft City Hand Bag from Zara

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  • Ahfif Taupe Premium Cotton-Wool Scarf

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Follow us on Instagram @ahfif and @bossmuslimahs to see what we’ve been up to! 

 

Combatting Sexual Violence

(featured image taken from www.georgiahanias.com)

By Raeesa Ashique, Blog Contributor 

The summer before I moved for university, my parents warned me repeatedly about walking home after dark, and told me to never walk alone. Now, let’s be honest: if I wanted to act on this advice, I’d have to skip class to get home before dark. Not to mention I’d never study, as I work best on campus. But they had a right to worry – we’ve heard too many horror stories about campuses, and it has instilled a sense of caution.

Alhamdulillah, I have always felt safe at my school, but the terrible truth is that campuses have become associated with violence and assault, sexual assault in particular. Let’s just take a moment to absorb this. Sexual assault cases are common at a place of opportunity and education, of personal and academic growth. How is this acceptable at an institutional level? How are students supposed to learn if they don’t feel safe?

Emma Watson, actress and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, addressed these issues in her speech to the UN last month where she was introducing HeForShe’s Impact 10x10x10 plan. This initiative will include ten heads of state, ten global CEOs, and ten university presidents in the goal of erasing sexual violence from university campuses. She pointed out that inequality definitely exists in post-secondary institutions, although they should be a “place of refuge that takes action against all forms of violence”. She then questions the current culture on many campuses which send “the message that sexual violence isn’t actually a form of violence”.

I am very passionate about this topic, which is how I found myself sitting in a presentation a couple weeks ago on the topic of sexual violence, social justice, and compassion. I would like to share the story I heard, and a few words of wisdom.

Dr. Rachel Alicia Griffin is a survivor. She is now an associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies at South Illinois University, cross-appointed in Africana Studies, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She is the recipient of several awards, and has published in several journals. She travels the US doing keynotes and workshops on sexual assault, and has come to Canada several times as well.

She delivered a powerful, emotional, and compelling presentation, sharing her story of being raped in her own bedroom as a high school student by a boy she liked. She stayed silent for years, doing everything she could to feel better. She tried to be the best, the brightest, and the prettiest, but nothing could take away her feelings of worthlessness.

Seven years later, she finally told a peer support advocate at her university. The girl responded with, “I believe you. What happened to you was not your fault.”

Now imagine if, after years and years of silence when she finally built up the courage to open up, this girl had doubted her. If she had instead responded with “Are you sure?” or “I don’t believe that.” Dr. Griffin says this girl saved her. The woman with the PhD who travels the country to speak, the woman who has made something of herself and learned to live with her past, would not exist if not for this girl’s response.

So remember this, if you are ever in the situation of the peer support member. Be supportive, and keep your doubts to yourself. Dr. Griffin says that, as humans, it’s perfectly fine to doubt a person’s story, but that isn’t our place to vocalize. Never question whether they’re telling the truth. You don’t understand the damage you may unintentionally do.

Remember this as well, if you are ever (God forbid) on the other side of the table. It’s not your fault that something terrible was done to you. It is not your shame, and it should not be your shame.

Which brings me to the next key point from the presentation: compassion. Dr. Griffin says, “Survivors are people just like me and you. We have hopes, dreams, and fears… Survivors can be anyone and can be anything.” It’s never okay to blame survivors because of what was done to them. Remember that they are people too, and deserve the same treatment and respect.

She talks about how perpetrators are also human, and therefore also deserve compassion. A lot of perpetrators feel scared and alone after realizing what they have done, and therefore should not be demonized. Dealing with the situation should be left up to the law.

Finally, campuses need to make an effort to actively prevent sexual violence, because without this effort, they are effectively condoning it.

However, this is not only a campus problem, and we need to promote the conversation in all settings. It’s an uncomfortable and touchy topic, but it needs to be addressed much more than it is. We need everyone aware if we ever want to see real change. As Dr. Griffin says, “This is an all-hands-on-deck journey.”

As a society, we need to make sure that survivors feel safe coming forward and saying, “I am hurt. I need help.” We should all do our part in building this accepting and positive environment.

At Ahfif, we host sales that give part or all of the proceeds to organizations that advocate for human rights, such as our recent Warehouse Sale that donated one new clothing item for every order to the Grateful Garment Poject. This organization’s mission is to make sure every victim of a sexual crime is provided with whatever they need such as clothing, toiletries, snacks, etc.

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Follow Raeesa on Instagram at @raeesashique

Follow us on Instagram @ahfif and @bossmuslimahs to see what we’ve been up to! 

How to Love Your Body

By Raeesa Ashique, Blog Contributor 

I follow several female trainers on social media because they provide inspiration and motivation in terms of how and why I go to the gym, and I read just about every training-related article on my newsfeed simply because one of these trainers posted it. Also, I love fangirling over successful women from all areas, whether they are athletes, human rights activists, politicians, or my fellow bloggers.

One article I read this summer was on body types, and it felt like a revelation. The three basic body types are ectomorph, endomorph, and mesomorph. The first has a slim build and fast metabolism. These people find it difficult to gain weight, so bulking up is particularly difficult. The second is the opposite: they have a slower metabolism, and can gain both fat and muscle relatively easily, but find it difficult to shift weight. The third type is basically a happy medium: they have a naturally athletic build, and can gain or lose weight easily. Of course, most people don’t fit neatly into one category, but are some combination.

Okay, I’ll admit: the article wasn’t actually ground-breaking, but the information was tangible and scientific and provided some interesting perspective. First, it encouraged me to consider the most efficient eating and exercise habits for my body type in order to maximize my result, and second, it put a spin on the body image discussion. I realize I’m risking sounding like a broken record here, but I will add my two cents anyway.

The model build has created an unrealistic and unreasonable standard of beauty, which inherently makes no sense. How can there be a “standard” body type? But people believe it, because the media promotes it.

I became very conscious of this when I met Martha Hunt, the Victoria’s Secret model, this summer. She came to Toronto Eaton Centre to launch a new collection, and I got an autograph, which is slightly embarrassing to admit. (But come on, she’s gorgeous.) She was sitting behind a table signing photos, and my first impression – no exaggeration – was shock at how small her arms were. I’d become so accustomed to a certain image on ads and posters that it now seems like the norm, so I never consciously realized how ridiculously skinny models are.

I can tell you from experience that skinny should not be everyone’s goal. I won’t pretend to have body image issues, because it feels disrespectful to those with legitimate insecurities, but I used to hate being a twig as much as I hated when people pointed it out. I think it’s key for girls to understand this: skinny does not necessarily mean healthy, and being underweight is not desirable by those who are. Don’t aim to be skinny for its sake alone.

I’m still built like a thirteen-year-old, because I was tall for my age in eighth grade and haven’t grown in either direction since, but I don’t mind anymore. I wish I could say I had a transition moment, but the truth is that I didn’t – I just became accustomed to how I looked and developed my own sense of style, and that was that.

I would love for other girls to reach this point as well, so here is my advice: don’t subscribe to this idea that there is a standard body type. It is unreasonable and discouraging. For example, I could yearn to look like Kim Kardashian (I don’t, by the way), but I know I could squat every day for a year and never look like her. I’m just built differently. It’s the same idea for all these girls who want to be stick-thin.

Just remember that the grass may seem greener on the other side, but everyone has their own problems. Wanting to look like someone else is never the solution.

Now, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want abs like Kayla Itsines, because I would love to achieve her level of fitness. But don’t let this be the “be all end all” of your body image. Don’t hate yourself because you don’t look like Gisele. Don’t idolize the images that the media throws at us every day.

The only way to be happy is to accept your body the way it is, and move forward from there. Exercise, establish your own sense of style, wear clothes and makeup that make you happy. Don’t worry about impressing people, and don’t wait to “look good” to feel good. There is no single definition for attractiveness, and once you understand this, it all gets easier.

Follow Raessa on Instagram at @raeesashique

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Let’s Pop Some Tags

Thrift store: Blue Polka Dot Blazer-$5

Thrift store: Black Undershirt-$3

Hollister Jeans-$25

Windsor: Cream Heels-$20

By Ola Abuelhassan (from olaabu.com), Blog Contributor 

I’ll try to refrain from making anymore references from Macklemore’s Thrift Shop throughout this post, you’re welcome.

I sat here for a good five minutes trying to remember when the first time I went thrift shopping was and I honestly couldn’t. I can’t remember how, why, or what got me to that thrift store but I am eternally grateful (I hope you read that in the voices of the little aliens from Toy Story).

I’ve been thrift shopping for as long as I can remember and I grow to love it even more everyday. Not only am I paying pretty much nothing, but I’m actually getting quality stuff for it. I love seeing the look on people’s faces when they ask where I got a really nice article of clothing from and I respond with “Oh I thrifted it for like 6 bucks”. I recently bought a Nike windbreaker for about $12 and that was sort of on the pricey side if I do say so myself. $12 is on the pricey side like just think about that for a second. I often find myself browsing through Forever 21 and saying “Uhm no thanks I can get that at the thrift store for like $3” and many of the friends I’ve turned towards thrift shopping now say the same thing.

Many people might be thrown off by the fact that everything is used but honestly that’s the part I love the most. Everything has a story behind it and every time I say that to one of my friends, I get the same response: “Okay Phoebe Buffay”. I’m not really complaining though, you can’t not love Phoebe. These pieces could have been passed down for years or bought just last year and only been worn once, either way it’s the unknown part that intrigues me. Just give the clothes a little wash and you’re good to go.

The best part however is that there is so much more than just clothes. I have little knick knacks around my room that are totally weird and random but hey they’re cute and were only like 50 cents. I’ve gotten back into reading a lot lately and the little library in my room is stocked up with books I got at the thrift store. 50 cents to a dollar for a book that normally retails for about $13 at Barnes & Noble? I think yes. It also opens me up to so many new books. I’m not losing much if I never do pick up that book again but it’ll still look real cute sitting there on my shelf.

Thrift shopping really gets me out of my comfort zone which I think we all need to do once in awhile. So get on Yelp, look for nearby thrift stores and secondhand shops and just go. Get that grandpa sweater and that obnoxious 80s blouse if you’re feeling it, again you’re not losing much. Even if it just hangs in your closet untouched, as many of my thrifted clothes end up because I was just feeling bold in the moment I purchased them.

Follow Ola on Instagram at @ola.abu and Twitter at @Olerrss and her blog–olaabu.com

Follow us on Instagram @ahfif and @bossmuslimahs to see what we’ve been up to!

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Diary of a Muslim Gym Junkie

By Raeesa Ashique, Blog Contributor 

My gym life has always had many ups and downs. Exams in April interfered with my regular routine, May was more off than on, and then Ramadan came. Fasting with a full-time job meant my free time was spent sleeping or catching up on Quran reading, and I justified continuing to skip the gym. But alhamdulillah I mustered up the discipline to get back into shape the last two months of summer.

I won’t mention all the physical and mental benefits of working out, since they are pretty obvious and can be found on any fitness site. Instead, I will offer some perspective and some advice. I’m no fitness guru, but I hope to encourage some of you to hit the gym.

Decide what you want to focus on – this can be mainly cardio, weight-training, or resistance exercises. I primarily do cardio, alternating between the treadmill, elliptical, and rowing machine, followed by core circuit training. Come up with some routines in advance, so indecision does not become an excuse to skip a workout.

My second piece of advice: be realistic. Having unreasonably high expectations will make achieving them difficult, and attempting to reach them intimidating. For example, say I decide to run five miles every day. I’ll probably quit after a week, since I would rather quit than fail. Make sure that you can realistically stick to your plan, and slowly increase your expectations as time passes.

Thirdly, make your intention! Allah has given us our bodies as an amaanah, or a trust, and we are supposed to take care of them. This means staying healthy, keeping in shape, and not exposing them to unhealthy or toxic substances. I think we’ve all heard the famous hadith “Actions are judged by their intentions”.  It is a beautiful thought, knowing that a simple intention can turn a workout into worship.

For my hijabi girls: I feel you. Actually, this is for any of you modest women. I won’t pretend it’s easy to cover – it’s hot under all those layers, but there is some consolation.

I always feel like covering at the gym is da’wah. Remember: you are making an impression on the people who see you, and you are racking up reward for this act of worship as well! Allah rewards us for our struggles, so make the double intention of staying healthy and being modest for His sake.

You also want to wear the right clothes. I can’t tell you what the right clothes are, since it depends on your own comfort level. Personally, I wear workout leggings (the ones from Pink are my favorite) with oversized men’s workout tops (which I “borrow” from my dad!) since they are super light material and fall to mid-thigh. I try to avoid cotton since it’s much less breathable, with my scarf being the only exception. I wear two-piece cotton scarves rather than maxi scarves, since it reduces the amount of material surrounding my face and sticking to my neck. I definitely prefer the voluminous scarf look for day-to-day wear, but this doesn’t matter at the gym: I’m there to get in shape, not to take selfies.

Finally, I would like to touch on body image (although I will save the extensive discussion for a future post). I know this will sound cliché, but I wouldn’t be saying this if I did not completely believe it. Don’t get obsessed with your weight. Focus on how you feel. If you feel stronger, if you feel satisfied with your progress, if your routine is encouraging healthier eating, if you generally feel good: your routine is working.

Weight is just a number, and does not necessarily correlate to progress. For example, my body type is such that my weight doesn’t fluctuate. I can do crazy amounts of cardio for two months, and my weight will stay the same. Instead, try to measure progress in terms of how long you can run for, how many squats you can do, or how your cardio has improved.

This may take a while to accept, but it is very true: if you don’t feel good, then no amount of weight loss or dieting will make you happy. And ultimately, feeling good and pleasing Allah are the goals.   

Follow Raessa on Instagram at @raeesashique

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Using Women’s Bodies as a Battleground

Photo taken from The New York Times

Thoughts on the Burkini Ban

By Aishah Waheed, Blog Contributor 

With the recent news surrounding the burkini ban it is easy to forget our true values of religion and what our main focus should be on. We are always being suffocated with physical-appearance-obsessed news on a daily-basis. Whether it be covering too much or covering not enough (and as of recent, the validity of wearing no-makeup!), this subject is given so much importance that it is easy to be so focused on this and forget other aspects of ourselves that are more significant.

We spend time, (as society tells us to do!), obsessing over  just our appearances, but even then it feels like we’re on our own hamster wheel as you’re always trying to keep up with what society deems as appropriate. Society and the western cultural norms criticises its own kind so you or I coming with our hair covered or with our loose clothing isn’t going to sit well. Sometimes we will win, other times we will have others norms imposed upon us.

It’s time we stop looking for acceptance in places where we will not find it. It’s time we start focusing on the real you, which is your inner self. That is the most important and precious part of yourself yet we are not taught to beautify it. It is that beauty which touches hearts and souls and is the solution to the breaking down of the barriers and walls that society has created.

Improve yourself to become the best version of yourself. That is the greatest gift to you from you and the best thing about it, you can be in any place across the globe, in whatever situation it does not matter, as this change is within you. It is something you and only you control.

I’ve seen caged souls in so-called free countries and I’ve seen free souls that are caged in prison-like countries. Freedom starts from within, it is knowing that no one or nothing is more powerful and more loving than God. It is cherishing that love and building that connection with Him knowing Him and Him alone controls everything. It is knowing that you only need to find acceptance with Him.

So with this thought in mind, I leave you with this beautiful quote :

“The best revenge is to improve yourself.” – Imam Ali (May Allah be pleased with him)

Check out this site that promotes a methodology in self-evaluation, removing of ego, and beautifying of character.

Follow Aishah on Instagram & Twitter

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I Took a Social Media Break

By Waffa Abu-Hajar, Blog Coordinator

It was my last year in high school and I finally had the space in my schedule to take the subjects I always loved the most: Photography and English.

Although high school until then was kind of boring, senior year for me was a time in which I began realizing my passions and who I was as a person. I would post the photos I took for assignments on Instagram, Facebook, and sometimes Twitter. I became very engaged on social media. I loved it.

The next fall came and I was ready to begin my first semester in community college. As a community college student, I was determined to complete all my units, and get good grades so within two years so I will be able to transfer to a university.

I spent a lot of time debating which photos I should post and constantly checking how many likes I got on a status became a habit. Towards the end of fall semester, it became clear to me that social media really takes up a lot of my time. I wanted to take a step back and practice “being present in the moment”, which lead me to take a social media break.

This break was about two weeks, and I have to admit, in the beginning it was really difficult. But by the end of it, I was being more conscious of the environment around me, noticing things I hadn’t before, and it made me a happier person. Sharing, liking, and posting weren’t as important for me anymore and I decided it was more important to be more present to enjoy the company of the people actually around me.

But being a community college student, many people may not know, this interaction can be less than frequent and hard to come by. Between attending class, studying at libraries and coffee shops, while juggling other responsibilities, having time for friends can be difficult.

Now, I’m not saying spending a great deal of time on social media is good for you, but when you post a status or a photo and your friends like or comment, it is gratifying, and can also be a comforting feeling. It’s hard for a lot of people to admit, but it is a place where people are able to connect. I love being able to keep up with my friends, follow creatives on Instagram, and stay in touch with people from all over the world.

While it is crucial that we, as a society, don’t get too caught up with constant feeds refreshing every few minutes, it’s also nice to have a touch of community at our fingertips.

Follow Waffa on Instagram and Twitter at @waffabuhajar

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How to be a Grown Woman

By Sumayya Tobah, Editor

I’ll admit, I’ve had a lifelong obsession with Peter Pan. The idea that I could be pulled away from my everyday life and whisked away to an island where I’ll never grow up or worry about grown-up things fascinated me longer than I’d care to admit.

But growing up happens to us all. Whether it creeps up on you through the years or happens overnight, it happens to us all. We all grow up.

I asked my Facebook friends the other day if there was a moment, however fleeting, that they felt like a grown up. I was curious: what does it mean to be a grown-up? What does that look like to different people?

The answers varied, from eating ice cream for breakfast or sleeping all day without accountability, to paying taxes and moving away from home. Other answers included taking care of yourself when you’re sick, paying your own rent and being called “auntie” by a young child. All answers incredibly valid, all lending a piece of perspective to an entirely unique experience.

For me, it was the moment I fixed the toilet.

I was away from home for an internship, and while I was also paying my own bills and doing my own groceries, I cannot describe the sense of pride that came with fixing my own toilet. Keep in mind, I am not a “handy” woman. I once used tape to fix my cracked laptop. I also once used tape to fix a cracked window. I tend to keep a roll of tape in my purse. But being on my own and only having one toilet, I knew what I had to do. No one was going to take care of this for me, I had to figure it out on my own.

When the toilet was flushing properly again, I called my mom. I left my best friend a voice note. This was such a defining moment for me. I fixed my own toilet.

So what is it that makes you a grown up?

I chose to write about this because I have yet to fully figure it out. Despite having graduated and being a part of the “grown-up world” for some time now, I still don’t know.

Here’s what I always thought: being a grown-up means putting someone else first, but also knowing when to put yourself first. It means knowing when to compromise, but also knowing when and how to stand up for yourself. Always be honest, except for that little white lie. Eat healthily, but don’t forget to treat yourself. And the golden rule: keep it all together.

This sounds a little bit like the ramblings of a crazy person. How can all this be possible? There must be some kind of secret formula to attaining this “adult” status that our parents and colleagues seem to have figured out.

Ultimately, like anything, being a grown-up is about achieving balance. But I now see it a little differently than I used to.

Instead of seeing adulthood has having to maintain balance in my qualities, I now see it as a state in which I have to maintain balance in my moments. For every moment you have to pay your own bill or fix your own toilet, be sure to have a few moments where you eat ice cream for breakfast or spend the whole day in bed. For every stressed-out Thursday at the office in a necktie or heels, be sure to spend a Sunday in your PJs, eating pizza and watching bad TV.

Being a grown-up means balancing the perks and the obstacles. It’s about knowing when you can act like a kid.


But again, I’m still waiting for Peter Pan. What could I possibly know?

Follow Sumayya on Instagram and Twitter @thisissumayya

Follow us on Instagram @ahfif and @bossmuslimahs to see what we’ve been up to! 

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