Unlike the blog of many french women out there, I am going to touch upon a very sensitive subject but one I feel compelled to address: that of self-acceptance. I am a 5’2 French/American woman of North African descent. I grew up in Paris, France a country that worships skinny white women and at a time where women like me weren’t included in this narrative. As someone who is neither tall or white, finding a place in a society that worships a certain type of women made me feel undesirable and unattractive. It also led me to develop unhealthy body issues and feeling embarrassed of my ethnicity. Seriously, I faced countless microaggressions and internalized this to the point of becoming severely obsessed with becoming skinny to gain acceptance.

It took a lot of work, self-introspection and positive affirmations to realize that I have been socially conditioned to hate myself. Thankfully over the years, I have come to accept my thickalicious brown body in all of its glory.  It’s been somewhat of a bumpy road to self-acceptance especially here in Los Angeles where beauty standards are extremely high. In this sense, Living in Los Angeles is no more different than Paris, however, unlike France, women in the US are paving the way and smashing old European beauty standards by featuring women of all sizes, celebrating different body types and being more inclusive in contrast to French women who are culturally conditioned to follow European Standards of Beauty.  

Does this mean that I am advocating for unhealthy eating habits? Of course not!  I believe that being healthy is truly important, but also believe that self-acceptance is just as important.  It is also important for me to offer a different POV at a time when women are running under the scalpel to fulfill someone’s else fantasy and meet some impossible beauty standards! This is the kind of toxic archaic patriarchal bullshit that we must collectively take a stand against, this means RESIST this nonsense! I am tired, exhausted of having to defend myself against the derisory gaze of a society that does not have my best interest at heart. Self-acceptance and self-care are critical acts of self-love and to quote one of my most cherish feminist sheheroin, the greatest Audrey Lorde ” Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

The following photography shots were taken by my good friend, super talented photographer Pedro Oros, a Compton-based artist with the goal of showcasing a different type of French woman: one who is comfortable in her skin and unapologetic about her thickness and her brown body.

xx, Kenza

 

 

 

Photography credit: Pedro Oros

Artistic Direction: Kenza Johnson

 

Happy Friday/Joyeux Vendredi ma petite famille! It’s been a week or so since my last post. I have been battling a little cold, but this didn’t keep me away from turning to the web to find some much-needed swoon-worthy digital comfort to get me over the hump, like this beautiful crazy cat lady portrait from Santiago De Chile-based artist Holly Jolley.  Her work is infused with feel-good inspiration and captures women in various settings. I am also obsessed with her IG page and have become a loyal follower.

All that pink got me lusting for more rose inspiration! there is no doubt left in my mind that Pink is a mood-booster par-excellence. I have always been skeptical of gender-based theme colors. I love earthy tone colors, blacks, and greys, but pink is definitely growing on me.  First, let’s dispell one outdated conception once and for all: Pink is longer a cliche color reserved for girls or ballet dancers. It exudes charm and sophistication. If you’re not convinced, check out this whimsical Maison rose in the Montmartre area of Paris. How about a nice dose of pink in a city of light notoriously known for its grisaille? By the way, this lush green foliage gives this house such post-card appeal! Also, Notice the old cobblestones and old street lantern? I’m just overwhelmed by this dream-inducing photo. I wish I could click my heels and wink my eyes and wake-up in this surreal world, preferably wearing this Oversized felted bouclé and eco shearling coat, round glasses, and elegant tassel bag. Ah, la vie en rose. Speaking of la vie, I am in love with Clare V, vivre sa vie tee. Clare V is a Los Angeles-based fashion brand founded by a French expat who created a brand with the goal to make stylish utilitarian apparels that meet the demands of modern women. I’m super excited to see this fashion revival undertaking in Los Angeles, and to know that a fellow french woman is behind this brand, is cherry on the icing!

If you’re like me coming out of a nasty cold and have lost your glow, I guarantee you will fall in love with this blush from Tarte Cosmetic. I love, love, love this blush! It is organic, great for sensitive skin and is made out of Amazonian clay. The real kicker is that it promises to last 12 hours. I can attest to the validity of that claim. First this post is not sponsored by Tarte, second, I have tried it, and third, I am now a supporter of this brand because it truly delivers on its promise to last 12 hours. I not only got that “royal flush,” but managed to get tons of compliments from co-workers about ma bonne mine (healthy glow). Now that I feel so much better, who is headed to Paris with me?
xx, Kenza

 

crazy cat lady

 

electrodomesticos

mujeres

 

 

 

 

Photography credits:

  1. Holly Jolley
  2. Miu Miu
  3. Pinterest
  4. Need Supply 
  5. Bergdorf Goodman
  6. Anthropology 
  7. Tarte Cosmetics

Looking fabulous is not limited to a particular season, but fall is one season where fab rules! From bold textures and earthy tones to colorful animal prints, sequins, terra cotta, mauves, dusty roses, burgundy, dramatic colors like silver metallic. Textured clothing such as velvet, corduroy, suede, fringes, and the oh so ever glamorous tortoise pattern that is singlehandedly an enduring trend beloved by the fashion world also play a central role in this season.

      1. Fall is fun and offers the perfect opportunity to be playful, sophisticated and dazzle the crowd, and what a better way to spruce up your glamour one level with this zebra-patterned Carine pocket calf leather from Hugo Matha, a young French designer who has taken the fashion scene by storm.  Be ready to hear a lot more from him in this blog.
      2. I am lusting for those sexy suede fuschia pumps from the iconic paris based shoe designer  Roger Vivier.
      3. This glow purse in tortoise Film from Maryam Nassir Zadeh is absolutely stunning and makes such a Hollywood statement!
      4. I also love, love, love this Alpaca Camel Beret from Brooklyn-based designer laura manoogian and those super cute mesh socks in olive stripes from darner.
      5. Of course, scents are critically essential and not to be downplayed. One of my favorite scent of the moment is the Bal D’afrique eau de parfum from Byredo.
      6.  If you haven’t checked out Zara’s fall collection yet, you should take a peek at their uber sophisticated jewelry collection. those sparkly chain earrings and faux-pearls and coin necklace will ensure you shine at your next vernissage without going bankrupt.  I love Zara for that. I believe that social equity in the fashion world is so critical and that women regardless of social status, education or income should look good and feel their absolute best!
      7. I’m also fond of pastels and this cute nail polish shows how pastel colors aren’t limited to summer.

    xx, Kenza

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credits via: Hugo matha; roger vivier; byredo; need supply and Zara websites

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fall brings new change, trends, and warm hues. from burnt orange, olive green with sprinkles of gold, whiskey brown, and burgundy, deep warm colors are here to uplift us, inspire us and energize us. This is a very exciting time for me. The transitional phase of shading off my old skin and looking onward is fulfilling, but I would be remiss if didn’t mention the excitement a new wardrobe brings, new goals, seasonal produce, and drinks (hello pumpkin chai latte) and above all, a reprieve from scorching heatwaves. If you are in LA,  the struggle can be real. So I welcome the whimsical foliage and cool breeze. Speaking of cool breeze, what a better way to tackle the season’s crisp morning with this rich burgundy hat?  Such a statement hat that evokes Parisian elegance and with this Bordeaux Chanel polish, you’ll nail (no pun attended) that French look in no time!

In my quest for all things burgundy, I have also dug up this soft velvet mask.   This fluffy bathrobe and adorable animal slippers will also keep you nice warm and comfy on cold autumn evenings, and it does get frisky during this season.   I’m so here for it, looking forward to a sultry evening, laying on this anthropology Atelier sofa  as I indulge my imaginative mind to  Leila Marouane’s The Sexual Life of an Islamist in Paris, a satirical novel that offers a detailed account of Mohammed, a French Algerian man who has Gallicized his name to score french women. While humorous, the story reflects a contemporary post-colonial narrative of French North African communities in Paris. I’m an unapologetic homebody and true to that spirit, I have to surround myself with comfortable things like this collection of super comfy bedspreads found on H&M home to get me in a Romanesque spirit. Now, this is what I refer to L’art de la relaxation mes ami(es).

xx, Kenza

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve always had a personal affinity for brown earthy colors and with the turn of the leaf right around the corner, I have curated some must-have items for fall. Coppertone and terracotta tones can compliment one’s decor and wardrobe in a subtle but whimsical way, without being intrusive. Personally, I have always gravitated towards earthy tones ever since being a kid. Spending time at my aunt’s riad in El Jadida, Morocco.  Earthy tones are part of the natural landscape in North Africa and to this day my north african roots continue to claim me like a tight-fisted mother.

  1. Vermont Tank Body Suits with short shoulders straps or long sleeves;
  2. H&M linen duvet cover set;
  3. In Bed Store 100% Linen duvet cover set has me particularly smitten with its deep tobacco hue.
  4. TAN-LUXE’s Tan Booster;
  5. Jonathan Adler’s Pouli Pouf;
  6. Il Bisonte’s briefcase in soft but rich terracotta color adds dimension and texture and pretty much goes well with everything. Wouldn’t you agree?
  7. Graham Velvet Sofa 

 

 

 

 

Photo credits: H&M; Jonathan Adler; Tan-Luxe; Nico Nico Clothing; In Bed Store; Il Bisonte; Urban Outfitter.

xx, Kenza