Basic Space: Chinelo

August 29, 2020

Basic Space: Chinelo

Chinelo talks creating space for herself, staying sane during quarantine, and navigating the Western beauty and wellness industries as a Nigerian woman.


Please tell me a little bit about yourself and what you do!

My name is Chinelo; I am a sustainable lifestyle and fashion content creator, a self-portrait photographer, skincare enthusiast, stylist, the occasional model and wine connoisseur, etc.

What does self-care mean to you? Why do you think it’s important?

Self-care to me is loving on yourself. Whenever I would hear about self-care, I would usually hear about the physical aspect of it--like giving yourself a facial, or an at-home spa--but to me, self-care is more than the physical. It’s about taking care of yourself mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually; doing that thing that makes your heart smile, that doesn’t require too much effort, that thing you always look forward to and never dread and never get tired of. I believe self-care is very important for our overall wellness, it is a form of self-love, and plays an important role in maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself.

What are some everyday habits you implement to ensure you’re caring for yourself?

Some of my everyday/weekly habits include:

  • Making sure I get enough hours of sleep; for me the perfect amount is 6-7 hours.
  • Making sure I drink lots of water, which helps with skin hydration, digestion etc. I always have a big glass of water by my bed, so it’s the first thing I drink when I wake up.
  • Skincare is very important to me, so apart from drinking lots of water, I try to do a mask or a facial at least once a week or every other week.
  • Spending time with God, meditating, and journaling.
  • I don’t workout everyday, but when I do, I love how I feel right after, so I try to implement that at least twice a week. It can be from taking a walk or a hike, to doing yoga and squats in my bedroom (more often the latter).
  • Spending time in nature barefoot to feel grounded has become a personal favorite of mine.
  • Eating healthy really makes me feel good, so incorporating lots of fruits and vegetables in my diet everyday helps with digestion.
  • Dancing is a big part of my self-care routine.
  • Bonus: Cleaning, Grocery shopping, doing laundry, watching movies, etc.

What’s been keeping you sane during quarantine?

Reverting back to old hobbies, like painting/drawing, doing little DIYs around the house, cooking ramen almost everyday, taking care of my health, spending time with myself and God, reading, and binge-watching tv shows and movies.

How do you check in on yourself?

By spending time with myself in solitude, when I first wake up, I use that time to reflect, express gratitude, and meditate. I also practice mindfulness in most things I do, and ground myself in the present moment.

Do you think having time to implement self-care is a privilege?

Self-care is a form of self-preservation, and it is different for everyone; it doesn’t have to be high-costing. It can be taking a moment to yourself while in a stressful situation, to unwinding from a long day with a glass of wine, or actively changing your environment. I understand that some people may not have the privilege to exercise/implement self-care in their lives, so I do believe it can be a privilege.

What does inclusivity mean to you? Why do you think it’s important?

Inclusivity to me is giving equal rights, empathizing and showing love to all people regardless of gender, race, health, disabilities, etc. A lot of people don’t want to feel ostracized, and being a BIPOC, it is very common for us to feel like that.

What does a more inclusive future look like to you? How do you think we can all collectively work towards that?

Seeing more of our people represented in the media, like being on the cover of magazines, and showcasing us as the main character--as opposed to the sidekick--on TV, in politics, and in corporate America. We can achieve this by building a more inclusive workplace culture, and also seeking out BIPOC voices.

Why do you think representation in the media (especially in the beauty and wellness industries) is important for underrepresented communities?

The beauty industry is one of the most viewed parts of the media. When I was younger, I was always looking for people that looked more like me: short 4c hair, dark skin, etc. I grew up with a lot of different insecurities and I needed someone to look up to in the media. I never saw that; it was something that I had to figure out alone and overcome on my own. Being dark skinned in a culture that also struggles with colorism as well, it was really hard navigating childhood, and learning that what I deemed imperfections were my most beautiful qualities. I believe this is important, because, as a young girl I never wanted to feel ostracized, I wanted to be included and I’m not speaking for everyone, but a lot of people don’t want to feel like an afterthought, especially BIPOC, so seeing yourself represented is empowering.

Do you remember the first time you felt represented by the media (TV show/movie/etc.)?

Growing up as a Black woman living in Nigeria and one who loves musicals, when Dream Girls came out, I felt a connection to the movie and felt empowered seeing black women represented in a different light. It was the first movie that I saw then that conveyed a bit of racism in the 1960s before I came back to America and did my own research on Black history. Another movie was Black Panther; this movie gave me a visualization of what a country in Africa would look like if it wasn’t colonized.

Why are sustainability and ethical living important to you? What changes have you made to live according to these ideals?

Both are very important; sustainability is important because we are in the middle of a climate crisis--there are so many environmental issues globally that we need to address, and in order to fix this issue and preserve life, we need to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Living an ethical lifestyle is just as important, because it is the right thing to do. It is more broad and addresses a lot of problems in different industries, such as the working conditions, exploitation of labor, animal cruelty, etc. Becoming more sustainable/ethical was a lifestyle shift in a lot of areas; when I realized I wanted to make this shift, the first part was recognizing companies that did not align with my personal ethos (fairtrade). I already loved thrifting, so that part of the lifestyle wasn’t much of a challenge for me, but I had to change so many other things, like buying plastic bottles and replacing that with a water filter, taking my own reusable grocery bag instead of the plastic bag that was offered, refusing plastic straws and cutleries at restaurants and bringing my own, etc. I am still a work in progress, I still occasionally eat out, but being aware of our environmental issues was the first step for me.

What industries do you think have the longest way to go in terms of inclusivity?

The fashion and beauty industry is making small improvements, but they are still a work in progress. Corporate [businesses] still have a lot of work to do as far as diversity and gender equality goes.

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