Velé Muse: Imani | Model and Environmental Activist
Imani Goodman| Model & Environmental Activist
Meet Imani: Imani is an Ethical Model and Environmental Activist, pursuing a radically authentic life. She is the founder of Exrthangel, launching February, an online community fostered out of the lack of inclusivity within the environmental and sustainable movement.
As our model for our Fall '17 Shoot, and dear friend, she continues to expand our views on what it looks like to be committed to manifesting truth, and living with arms open wide and full of grace. In specific, many of our recent conversations have touched on how our different backgrounds - ethnicity, culture, family - affect our relationship with beauty and self acceptance. This is just the beginning of the dialogue we would like to have on inclusivity, but we count ourselves lucky to have friends like Imani to walk alongside on the messy and beautiful journey to learn what it means to internalize the truth that we are worthy, and wanted.
How has a friend encouraged you lately?
Like most of the world, I had a tremendously tumultuous 2017 that shook my foundation. A lovely friend of mine helped me to process this new space I had entered without encouraging me to wallow. She partnered this with covering me in affirming love and encouraged me to seek creativity and community as vehicles for healing. I strive to be a supportive force for others in the ways this friend has been for me.
What would you share with a friend who's struggling to know her self worth?
For one, the most valuable practice you can adopt is bestowing patience towards yourself, so that your inner truth has time to emerge. In my experience, self worth certainly is not a destination. It is more of an evolving relationship that you’ll have to continually foster within yourself and psyche, which will take on many forms as you mature and encounter life. Lastly, speak it, declare it, and so it is.
How has being a woman of color affected your relationship with the word "beauty."
In my experience in some ways, it hasn't. I was fortunate to be surrounded by divine black femininity and beauty growing up. My understanding of beauty developed out of my personal identity being affirmed by representative figures that I was surrounded by. Only when I encountered predominately white environments did I have to literally fight to maintain a sense of outwardly expressed self-love and appreciation. This double consciousness revealed to me the fickleness of "beauty" as a term, while simultaneously cementing "beauty" as a belief system solely. "Beauty" tends to become more tainted to me when it is being accessed against a fictional prototype, regardless of race. Though I am well aware that misogynoir denounces aspects of my appearance, that has nothing to do with how I acknowledged MY own beauty.
Are there any things in the fashion industry, you wish would change to better represent women of color?
I certainly do not want to overlook the choices and inclusive embodiment from designers like Tracy Reese, Prabal Gurung, to Gypsy Sport. However, I become agitated when the splashes of compulsory "color" seem more obligatory than systemic. I'm not sure if the fashion industry as a whole quite understands the vital importance inclusivity means to an industry that literally sells personal image, beyond avoiding the alienation of certain demographics. In this sense it appears shallow at times, but for those fashion houses that holistically progress it is ever more apparent. Also, not to shame any individual with inherited features, I would appreciate seeing more models of color without eurocentric resemblance. This practice is again a deceptive diminishment of diversity when whole ranges of features are nowhere to be found. Like most things, there is work to be had.
This double consciousness revealed to me the fickleness of "beauty" as a term, while simultaneously cementing "beauty" as a belief system solely.
Any words of advice you would have for your 16 year old self?
Realize that it is never you; they (the industries) are merely not ready to embrace you. In the meantime embrace yourself so that the power of your confidence will transcend into a collective reverence. And it if that never manifest, so be it. At least you did not navigate your life harboring self-hatred.
Any favorite quotes for when you need a little boost?
I’m not really a quote person. I typically seek nature to recharge, but I will leave you with this.
“To know yourself as the Being underneath the thinker, the stillness underneath the mental noise, the love and joy underneath the pain, is freedom, salvation, enlightenment”