Nobody likes to talk about race and racial discrimination in the real world, so why in the world would anyone talk about race in a fantasy novel. Well, my question always was why not? Fantasy is no stranger to this idea of magical classism, and it seems like because of that people seem to think that magical classism transcends race or that in fantasy worlds like Harry Potter or Percy Jackson or even The Hunger Games (Fantasy-ish. More like a branch of sci-fi since it’s dystopian but you get it) that racism doesn’t exist or at the very least the problem of racial discrimination is never blatantly mentioned in those novels.
When I set out to write The Immortal Queen Tsubame, I decided to bring that issue to the forefront, so not only does MaLeila, the protagonist, have the fact that she was essentially new magical blood and a female going against her, she had the fact that she was black as a third strike against her in a magical world that was predominantly run by white men who could trace their magical ties back thousands of years if they had. And I know a lot of people have an issue with that. They want people to be able to imagine the character and cast the story, but the fact of the matter is that there is no story if the MC wasn’t black and she didn’t have to face certain social discrimination that propel some of the events of the rest of the novel even though the book is a fantasy.
I also bring to the table the issue of black/African-American slavery in the magical world because certainly because a person had magic didn’t make them some perfect moral authority and in some ways, being a slave owner or slave that could use magic made the situation much worse. I can’t really delve into how without spoiling the book, but it was an interesting undertaking to say the least to figure out how race would affect a magical world. And if you’re interested to see how I deal with it, check out The Immortal Queen Tsubame.
So I’ve been in a writing rut lately, but just because I’ve been in a rut doesn’t mean I’m short of ideas. And there’s one idea in particular that’s been running through my head and distracting me from daily life because I’m constantly thinking about how this story can go so I decided to share it with you all. So without further ado, I’d like everyone to meet Hadiyya. Well, if you’ve read or plan to meet Confessions of a Fat Girl you’ve already met her or are going to meet her, but I plan for her to be the star of her own novel.
Hadiyya always stood out to me as a character. For one, her prompting is the catalyst that leads to Season meeting her love interest for the first time in Confessions of a Fat Girl, and she’s also Muslim and I decided she was Muslim very early on in the writing of Confessions of a Fat Girl, like in the first chapter. Her relationship with Season is loosely based off me and my best friend from college with a few differences. Like Season and Hadiyya, we both have different philosophies when it comes to faith, namely that I’m Muslim and she’s atheist (Sort of. At the very least, she is very skeptical about the existence of a Supreme Being or power). But while Season and Hadiyya are the same race (or identify as the same race since Season is biracial), I’m black and she’s white. So we were definitely like the odd couple on campus and everyone in the administrative staff (and I do mean everyone) knew who we were. Again, Season and Hadiyya are only loosely based on my real life friendship. Still I was really apprehensive about making Hadiyya Muslim despite my good experiences so far.
There’s some really awful propaganda going out about Muslims. I mean, as far as media is concerned, everyone who ever did anything wrong is Muslim, and that’s just not true. It’s like any other group of people. A select few are really bad people, but many more aren’t. And when people said dumb shit like all Muslims are terrorists, my debate is as follows: Some men rape women, but not all men are rapists; In America, Christian Caucasian people enslaved, tortured, and raped black people and use Christianity as justification, but many more Christians are really good people; Some parents abuse their children, but that doesn’t mean that all parents are child abusers. You get where I’m going here? So how is it that an entire group of people can be demonized for their faith based on the actions of a few comparatively? And because no one seems to want to answer this question or deal with this question, I think it’s important to show another side of the Muslim faith and who better to write it than someone who is Muslim.
My religion isn’t something I’ve really broadcasted in the past, but I feel like if everyone else can get on social media and proclaim proudly what they are, then I should to. And I should be able to write about it just like everyone else can write about things that are important to them. That’s not to say Hadiyya is me because she’s Muslim. She’s going to do things and get involved in things that I never would. Not bad things mind you (or maybe it will be bad depending on your moral compass), just things I would never do. But I do think that there’s this unspoken agreement that in mainstream and commercial publishing, you shouldn’t necessarily mention religion or else your book is categorized as a book about faith or religious fiction, and it was something I had to grapple with as I wrote all the books in the Confessions Universe. But the fact of the matter is faith or lack of faith is a big part of people’s lives. It’s especially a big part of the black community, which the characters I write about are part of.
Now I have no intentions for this book to be a preachy book on Islam and Islamophobia and being Muslim because being Muslim does not define Hadiyya, but it is a part of who she is, as is her martial arts training, her skills in cosmetology, her love for movies from the seventies and eighties, her like for neon pink nail polish (lol), and her strong dislike for bullying, oppression, and sexism. And just like any other person, she has hurts and pains and desires and relationship problems, which brings me to what this book is about.
It’s in the Confessions Universe of course, and it’s New Adult but what it will be a confession of… I haven’t decided yet because while being Muslim is one of the things that defines Hadiyya, it’s not going to be the defining focus of this book. It’s about… something else that I can’t really give away without spoiling the book. Not yet anyway. But I can say this book will deal with a platonic romantic relationship between Hadiyya and a man she meets. A more than friends, less than lovers type of thing, but a little too close to be brother and sister that will really question socially accepted definitions of love, friendship, and romance. Because contrary to popular belief, love and romance is more than just being involved in a monogamous, sexual, touch-feely relationship with someone. You can have love for and romance with (and when I say romance, I mean a strong emotional connection) someone without being in love and wanting to spend the rest of your live with them, and many of the problems Hadiyya faces in her book will deal with the assumptions people make because of how mainstream media has defined friendship, love, and romance as these three separate entities where only two can be companions without raising eyebrows.
And I know some people are going to read this book, particularly other Muslims, and say that something Hadiyya does or says isn’t a total picture or reflection of the Muslim faith. I know, okay? But no matter what your religion, philosophical beliefs, or professions, we all have a different way of expressing it and this book isn’t about Hadiyya expressing being Muslim hence why this book is not—I repeat, IS NOT!—going to be titled “Confessions of a Muslim Girl” (again, that’s NOT the title). It’s about Hadiyya expressing herself and being Muslim is just a part of that expression, and like all my books, I’ll try to leave it up to everyone who reads it what to make of that.
This post was brought to you by:
Respect for Muslims Productions
I Can Love You But Not Be In Love With You Productions
So today I finished writing, Confessions of a Fat Girl. As soon as I finished and because I plan to wait an entire week before I go back and edit it, I immediately went on to make a cover for it. I knew exactly what I wanted the cover to look like based on a reoccurring image that appears in the novel, so it didn’t take long. The longest part was finding the pictures I wanted to make this image. So here it is. And below are the attributions for the photo I edited.
*In agreement with the creative commons license for this photo, I attribute the photo of the woman in the background to this link.*
Hey everyone. It’s been a while since I’ve updated this thing, but I’ve been working really hard to write Confessions of a Fat Girl. For some reason it’s probably the hardest book I’ve ever wrote and not because I don’t know what’s going to happen, but because I really relate to the plight of my protagonists. Sometimes I just have to stop and takes breaks because of the emotional blockage that builds up before I just force myself through it. So there’s that and then there’s the fact that I started writing Star Wars fanfiction again. So when I have that emotional blockage, I just write fanfiction. Then I’m in the process of looking for a job and… well, there’s just a whole lot going on, but to rant about my personal problems isn’t why I’m here.
I’m here to talk about that title. The title that might be a little controversial. That title that says that I don’t like the plus sized model ads. I can imagine initial reactions to that. So you’re a body shamer, you don’t believe clothing should be marketed to bigger woman, you’re playing into and being affected by so-called normalized expectations of feminine beauty that men have been using as one of the ways to marginalize women. Sigh. No. I’m not. It’s the very opposite actually. Not only do my size 14 non-slender legs, big butt, and huge arms disagree with you, but it’s also because I reject normalized expectations of feminine beauty that men have been using as a way to marginalize women that I don’t like the so-called plus sized model industry nor the ads.
I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life people. I struggle with it now. Even at my smallest weight, which was 138 pounds when I was seventeen , I struggled with my weight. No matter how big or small I was or am, I’m the fat girl. And I obsessed over it. Now I realize that some of that was the beginnings and seeds of what could have become a full blown eating disorder if I hadn’t realized and made the conscious choice that no matter how hard it was, I refused to let food and my weight dictate my entire life and take enjoyment out my life. So now, I’m 160 or so pounds and mostly happy with myself for the most part. Even so, I still struggle and while like everyone else I was like, “Alright. Actual big girls modeling clothes for bigger people,” I found that these same ads triggered all those insecurities about my body image and my weight I was. Why? Well, look at the plus sized model ads throughout this entire post.
I know. I know. What’s wrong with them? They’re celebrating curves and thickness and trying to accommodate and welcome bigger woman, right? I should happy about this, right? But the things is I’m not and the reason is that the plus size model and clothing industry still caters to a certain ideal of what a so-called plus sized woman “should” look like. Sure they’re big girls, but all of them have big breast slim waists, flat-ish stomachs, long slender legs, wide hips, slender arms, and not a blemish in sight. They may be bigger, but they all still fit into an acceptable standard of beauty, a standard where big sausage arms, big thighs and short legs, a-shaped bodies with little to no breast, no discernable collar bone, and full faces without a defined jaw line aren’t accepted.
A good article that somewhat draws attention to this is the buzzfeed article This Is What Plus-Size Clothes Look Like On Plus-Size Women. Read the article for yourself, but the gist of the article and pictures are that the plus size modeling industry and the plus size clothing industry is a gimmick to make more money just like everything else in the fashion industry. It’s a way to get those women who probably wouldn’t look twice at designer clothing because it wouldn’t fit to spend their money, and ultimately, for girl like me—who very well may always think of herself as the fat girl no matter how big or small she gets—it’s telling them that their kind of curvy or fat or whatever you want to call still isn’t right and doesn’t fit within the mold of beauty. Women are still being presented with a standard they might not ever be able to attain.
Now, that’s not to say that they’re aren’t designers who really want to cater to the needs of plus sized women, who want to break the beauty mold and accept all woman, all body types, skinny, curvy, not curvy, and somewhere in between all that. However, I am saying that while I think the fashion industry has taken a step in the right direction, it has an incredibly long way to go in embracing more diverse body types.
Time really flies. I didn’t realize it had been so long since I updated. Admittedly, I’ve been in a rut and living my own real live new adult novel lately, filled with angst, depression, despair sometimes and some brief moments of happiness, mostly when I realized that the guy I’m very much in love with knows I’m alive and comes to seek me out rather than the other way around. So yes. I’m a little happier than I have been lately and found some inspiration to work on Confessions of a Fat Girl, which is where I got the idea for this post.
So the story is all about Season and how she battles with the onset of an eating disorder she won’t admit she’s developing and how that effects all her relationships and her relationships effect the disorder. One of those relationships is with Victor. You guys remember him, right? If you don’t know who he is, I won’t spoil it, but he shows up in my other two books. And I wanted to make him the star of his own book, but Victor just doesn’t have enough conflict within himself or outside of him that affect him, nor do things bother him. However, he is Season’s very serious boyfriend in Confessions of a Fat Girl and in the novel, Victor’s a virgin. That’s right guys, I reversed the roles here. Victor is the virgin with little experience in things of sexual nature and Season is the non-virginal female who has to know what boundaries she can push and ease Victor into his sexual awakening… Okay, I’m exaggerating a little. He’s purposely saving it for marriage, and I’m not sure if they get married or not yet at all, but I do know it’s not in the duration of the book which brings me to the point of this post:
Yes. It exists. I mean, you would think in a world where women are criticized for being sluts because they had sex being a virgin is a good thing. NOPE! They get shamed for being a virgin with things like, “You can’t marry someone if you don’t know if you’re sexually compatible,” “You don’t know what you like if you haven’t experimented,” “That’s old fashioned,” and blah, blah, blah!!! Damned for doing and damned for not doing people. So you may as well be damned for doing whatever the hell you’ve made the choice do because someone is going to persecute you for it either damn way!
Here’s the thing, people talk about slut shaming, people talk about how wrong it is, how you should be allowed to have as much sex as you want without anyone judging you for it. But I think when we started to fight so harshly against sexual repression and oppression, we became to covertly sent the message that once you get a certain age, it is not okay to not have sex, even when someone makes the active choice not to. If you’re choosing not to have sex or you choose not to deal with relationships until a certain time period in your life, that should be fine and no one should be telling them that they’re asexual or never going to find someone that wants to be with them. Unfortunately, that’s what virgins of a certain age are faced with.
For example in this article called, When Guys Find Out I’m a Virgin, a girl defends her decision (a totally non-religious decision might I add) to not have sex until marriage. I thought it was awesome that she was so convicted in her choice, especially in a very sexualized world where it seems like even toy commercials are wiring us to want sex. Then I read the comments that said she might be asexual or she might have a psychological problem or that she was wrong to think that way and should rethink her choice. First of all, her choice is harming not a damn soul. Second of all, I think these commenters missed the part where she said she was in no way anti-sex, that she pretty much can’t wait to have sex, that once or twice she’s almost given in to the guy who liked her so much and wanted to rip off her clothes and she thought about letting him, but he left the room to respect her decision. Did they miss all that? It was the first time I became aware of the stigma that’s being created against virginity at a certain age and really began to look into this idea of virgin shaming. And to my surprise, it existed.
And then I thought about the guys. The guys who are expected to be the controllers of the bedroom, to take charge and know exactly how to please a woman, to have her melting like butter in his arms from a simple touch. Virgin shaming is so much worse for them. Somehow, being a man and a virgin is seen as taking away from their sense of masculinity. Somehow people assume a virgin won’t know what to do when it comes time to get in bed, that they don’t know and won’t ever know how to pleasure a woman. That if they’re waiting for marriage, the two parties involve will be sexually incompatible and the marriage will be over. Or that they’re deprived or… or… all the other things I’ve heard people say about male virgins and all virgins.
And it’s not just what’s said, it’s what’s not said in movies, books, music, and various other forms of entertainment. I can’t name a romance novel where the guy is the shy virgin and the woman takes control. If he is, he’s being made fun of or his sex partner is just as virginal as he is and they both awkwardly fumble through it as though it’s not that serious or it in no way can be romantic or erotic.
Here’s the thing guys. Even the two most compatible people on the planet have to work at sex. Yes. I said it. Sex takes practice. And it doesn’t matter how many people you’ve been with or haven’t been with, sometimes it takes a while to understand what the other person likes or to get over the initial awkwardness. For some people, that’s two hours and for some people it takes more than that. Days, weeks, maybe even a few months. But eventually everyone gets the hang of it and they’re sex lives turn out to be just fine. Or maybe it doesn’t, but that’s totally not dependent on how many people you’ve had sex with or haven’t had sex with in the past. There are a lot of factors that play into it.
My point in this long rant? If you want to have sex. Go for it. No one is stopping you. If you don’t want to have sex, for whatever reason you don’t want to, then don’t. Either way, don’t let anyone judge or shame you for whatever decision you make. And in your efforts to no be shamed, please don’t shame someone who makes a different choice than the one you made.
So Confessions of a Fat Girl are for all the girls who have a problem with how they look whether it’s too fat, too skinny, too short, too tall etc… It’s also for virgins, particularly the male virgins. Whatever the reason you made your choice, it’s okay.
This post is brought to you by:
The Power of Choice Productions
There Will Be No Slut Shaming Productions
There Will Be No Virgin Shaming Productions
I Married a Virgin Man… And He Knew Where to Put His Penis Productions
*All Images Courtesy of Google Images*
Note: No. I did not marry a virgin man. I’m very single, but if you are single man and happen to be a virgin, please send me your number. Lol. Just kidding…. Mostly.
As a writer that is a proponent for diversity in fiction, particular a proponent of more racial diversity in fiction, it should be no surprise to any readers of this post that Fox’s new show Empire caught my attention right away. It’s gotten a lot of criticism, good and bad, and I had no intention of saying anything about it until this checklist was shared on Facebook.
The executives at FOX NETWORK ran down the following check list before Premiering the New show “EMPIRE” tonight…….. here’s that check list…
1.) Black Men killing each other…. “check”
2.) Angry Black Woman going after a Black male “check”
3.) Educated, Successful Black Male with a White Woman “check”
4.) Display of Effeminized Black Males “check”
5.) Blacks committing crimes and going to prison “check”
6.) Two Bitter Black Women going after each other ….one being lightskin, the other brown skin…. “check”
7.) The Promotion of Ignorant ass Crack Baby Rap Music “check”
8.) Overweight Black Woman displaying her self hate by wearing a BLONDE WIG “check”
THIS SHOW IS GONNA BE A HIT !!!!! BRILLIANT
Before I discuss this, I’m going to throw out a disclaimer that I don’t know the legitimacy of this list. All I know is that it showed up in my personal Facebook timeline where a lot of people were beating down the show.
Now because I’m a very open minded person and and as a writer I must see all sides of the argument in order to present them, I see where both the defenders and the opponents of this show are coming from. In its defense, the show is pretty well written, has some good acting (especially by Taraji P. Henson), and is unafraid to delve into detail about the taboos and customs of the black community. Issues like homosexuality, drug dealing with the intent to get out as soon as possible to start legitimate business, jail, marriage, divorce, etc… If it weren’t so well written the entire show would be a cliché, but then again everything is a cliché if it’s not well written and executed so make what you will of all those tropes.
On the other hand are its opponents. Some of their conclusions are a stretch, but I can see why their upset over this portrayal of blackness. There’s this portrayal that black people are nothing but a bunch of self-hating backstabbing thugs that will do whatever it takes to get on top in the world and get a couple of dollars, no matter who they stomp down in the process (family and friends). That’s evidenced by how Cookie and Lucious are trying to turn their own sons against each other, even though so far the two have resisted. The very atmosphere of the show is one of no loyalty, no trust, and taking advantage of people to get what you can from them while they’re useful.
Now, let’s step back and analyze this. Do both sides have a point? Yes. Absolutely!
On the defenders side, as black people, we’re starved for any portrayal of black people in a television show, especially where the black people get leading roles. And let’s not talk about getting GOOD shows with black people in leading roles. It’s one of my pet peeves with Tyler Perry. Sure the man is trying to make good whole TV with a message for his people, but damn can he work on the execution, the dimension of his characters, the sometimes offensive, condescending and judgmental message he sends, etc. So when Empire came out, many people cheered. Another show paving the way for us. And to anyone who has a problem with it, my suggestion is that you turn to FX, MTV, VHI, HBO, Lifetime and you’ll see white people acting like that on any given day and no one is critiquing them like Empire being critiqued.
No one critiqued Breaking Bad for it’s portrayal of a white man selling drugs to take care of his family even though it eventually gets out of hand. We didn’t agree with what he did all the time, but we loved him all the same because his intentions were (most of the time) good. This reminds me a lot of Cookie who sold drugs and got sent to jail trying to help Lucious, and most people who like the show couldn’t give two f**** about the message it sends.
The opponents of Empire don’t see all this. They see some, most, or all of the issues in the above list I shared. They see this show as giving a bad name to black people and black life because that’s not the entire scope of black life. Black life is more than just doing whatever it takes to come out on top. And the opponent’s problem is the lack of other black shows to balance that out. So yeah we Empire, How to Get Away with Murder, and Scandal. But where’s our more wholesome portrayals. Where’s our normal black family trying to do the right thing, who did everything right and are dealing not just with issues specific to the black community, but specific to the universal community.
Where’s the Cosby Show, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Martin (debatable) and That’s So Raven, of the 2010’s. The shows that everyone, no matter what color can relate to and say I’d like my family to be like that. Those families and portrayals weren’t perfect, the black people in them were good people with a somewhat regular life who simply made mistakes along the way like all people do. Yeah not all white people are portrayed like that in television, but for every Breaking Bad there’s a Girl Meets World or a Switched at Birth (that one’s debatable too) or a Community or a New Girl. And they’re not always cheesy, over-the-top, and dramatic. They’re good shows you can unwind around and watch with the family. Sure we have Black-ish, but meh. Your mileage may vary with that one like mines does.
So what I think it all boils down to, and what it all boils down to for me as a writer, is that Empire isn’t a bad show. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with it. It’s just one portrayal of black life. But it’s not the only portrayal, and I think that’s where its opponents are having issues. We need balance in the portrayal of black people—just like there is a somewhat balance in the portrayal of white people—in all media from books to movies to television. And when writers decide on those portrayals, we shouldn’t be judged on it. There’s no way one show can be the picture of a race, but because the rest of the picture is lacking crucial aspects, that’s what it seems like.
So I became aware of this hashtag going around on twitter: #RespectForMuslims. And it’s really weird, because I’m writing a new novel and while the main character is atheist, her best friend is Muslim and I make it clear she’s Muslim, not just imply because she happens to wear her hair covered. Odd couple aren’t they. Not as odd as you think because it’s very indicative of my friend with my best friend from college. One of us is Muslim and the other is kind of atheist or more specifically, thinks there may be a God, but doesn’t believe in organized religion. Three guesses who the Muslim in this relationship is…?
If you guessed, that me, Holly Dae, is the Muslim, you guessed right. I’m Muslim, but I tend not to broadcast that on my social media or on this blog. Why? Well, because of all the stereotypes of Muslims. This idea that we’re either all terrorists or we read the Quran all day or that we’re all a bunch of big hypocrites because our religion teaches us some things and sometimes, we do another. I caught hell for wanting to be a writer and wanting to write about people who weren’t perfect and came from all walks of life. And I made the same argument to them that I’m going to make to anyone who won’t respect me because I’m Muslim. The religion is perfect, but the people aren’t. We struggle like everyone else and sometimes a lot of ugly comes out of us, but so does a lot of beauty. Saying all Muslims are terrorists and using that as an excuse to nullify the religion is like saying all men are rapists and deciding that world has no use for men.
With that said, I’m Holly Dae. I’m a Star Wars fanatic, I still play pokemon at 23 years old, I write YA and NA that tackles sex, drugs, and other taboo topics that are universal to the human race and the main and supporting characters are atheists, Christians, Jehovah witnesses, men, women, black, white purple, whatever suits my fancy at the time, and I’m Muslim. #RespectForMuslims.