Editor-in-Chief: Fifunmi Osinubi
Writer: Itseju Ikomi
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Makeup: Cass Koncept
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We are almost at the end of the month-long annual celebration of women and this year, we are Breaking The Bias. For Sunday Times Bestselling author, public figure, and creator of the viral movement #SaggyBoobsMatter, Chidera Eggerue popularly known online as ‘The Slum Flower’, advocating for the equality of women has always been her life’s mission and she is just getting started.
I had the opportunity of meeting Chidera in person during her time off in Lagos, Nigeria. I was surprised to see this mogul in the making has quite the playful and bubbly personality contrary to her more serious disposition online. Chidera’s smile and joyful personality can light up any room and bring a smile to anyone’s face, and you can quote me on that.
However, for this twenty-seven year old, it was not always roses and sunshine. She has always been one to question authority when it did not align with her beliefs and value system. Chidera had this to say about her early years growing up in Peckham, South London and what she would say to her younger self right now, “My early years were very challenging in terms of having to learn how to advocate for myself as the first-born Nigerian daughter. It was not easy because I learnt that it does not matter how well phrased and arranged your argument or point is, if an adult of authority decides the answer is no, the answer is no. I had to learn other ways to be smart in terms of advocating for myself. To my younger self, I would tell her to continue to ask why when people say, “because you’re a girl”. Continue to ask why when someone tries to convince you to set a limit on what your dreams are for yourself because often times, people do not have a reason why. They are just going off what someone else told them. We tend to look at people who are in positions of authority as automatically correct; we never dare to question the source of their own beliefs. We just assume that if they are in a position of authority, they must be knowledgeable regardless and it is not always entirely true, so I would tell my younger self to keep trusting your curiosity.”
From fashion blogging, to a growing and active social media presence, to now being the author of not one but two books, Chidera openly shares how her journey to success has been anything but linear. A free spirit at heart, ready to try new things and maximize the power of the internet to spread her message, it was no surprise her Twitter presence grew with the support of many women who found her tweets relatable and empowering and suggested she write a book. “My journey to success has not been linear at all. I thought I was going to be a fashion designer at one point and went to fashion school for three years only to realize I am better at social media. This was around the time being an influencer was very much a new concept. I quickly realized the internet has so much potential when it comes to sharing your ideas, making your presence known and putting your voice out there. I learnt I could have an impact bigger than just social media and the realization gave me the courage to write my first book, ‘What A Time To Be Alone’ which was published in the year 2018. I designed the book cover myself using Adobe InDesign and shared a few preview images of the cover on Twitter and it got a lot of positive reception. Eventually, a literary agent invited me to a meeting and the rest is history. ‘What A Time To Be Alone’ is now a physical hard back that exists in the world today and it all started with me choosing to go for an idea I could have otherwise chosen not to.”
I’m excited to reveal all the ways I plan to continue putting my message out to the world. I believe every human being deserves to have the freedom of being creative without experiencing judgement of which box they are supposed to squeeze themselves into to receive acceptance.
I am sure I can speak for many, myself included when I say, ‘What A Time To Be Alone’ was such a comfort book for many women who set out on a quest to rediscover themselves away from the outside world during the stay at home lockdown period in one of the most chaotic years in history, year 2020. Although there currently are no lockdown restrictions in many parts of the world today, ‘What A Time To Be Alone’ still retains its relevance as a work of literature for women that transcends time and generations who are looking to build a relationship with themselves and show up to the world as their most authentic, whole and happy selves. “We see a lot of content online about the importance of being alone and not fearing your own company and it became widely popularized to embrace your solitude. For me, I believe ‘What A Time To Be Alone’ is a standout book with very memorable messages because it refers to many real life situations through African proverbs that really simplify its message while still maintaining the core of it. The beauty of ‘What A Time To Be Alone’ is you can pick it up at any page. I intentionally did not number the pages so anyone can start wherever they choose to just like how it is in life, that we can start right where we are. We do not have to wait till next week Monday to improve our lives or to rebuild our relationship with ourselves. We can start now with what we have and grow with it until it becomes enough, and we become enough in that way.”
We know Chidera Eggerue aka ‘The Slum Flower’ to be a true Girl Boss and inspiration to women all around the world. Chidera shares that many would be surprised to know that she is a big softie when she feels safe, loved, and accepted. In turn, she also believes in creating an environment for women, most especially African women to drop the ‘strong and independent’ narrative and be able to embrace their softness and authentic selves without fear of being taken advantage of. “I am a big softie at heart especially in relationships. I love being soft with people I care about, and I think this part of myself is one I protect because I think it needs to be earned. The reason I believe this soft side of me needs to be earned is because it is a delicate side of myself, and I do not want to stop myself from forming connections in fear my softness will be taken for granted. Instead, what I do is reveal my softness in layers when I feel I am in an environment that reveals it. I think people will be surprised to see me in that state of being.”
Speaking of being your authentic self, for this bestseller, remaining true to who she is and her values despite the media attention and fear of controversy has always been her goal. She expresses how she remains grounded ensuring her ideologies and values align with her actions by making sure that even in her real life when no one is watching, she still embodies those values.“How I make sure my ideas and values align with my actions is by making sure even in my real life when no one is looking, I still exude those values. When it comes to media attention and the fear of seeming controversial, people want to be brands now and do not exactly want to exist for themselves anymore. They just exist for the next corporate opportunity or the next brand deal. You shouldn’t live your life this way, especially if you are living a life where you want to put integrity at the centre of what you do. The hard truth is, integrity might cost you and might mean saying no to big cheques, it might mean disappointing certain people, but it will keep you true to yourself and will pay off in the long run.
One thing about Chidera Eggerue, She makes stepping into your power and encouraging women to unabashedly do the same, look easy. However, it is no surprise her journey to being a voice for women, most especially women of colour has not always been smooth sailing. Through her journey so far, she came to realize the importance of finding community and building a strong support system. “The people who value you and support you are the people who you should be pouring your energy into. These are the people who are going to ride for you. Finding your community and letting them be your rock? Irreplaceable.”
Having achieved great levels of success and tried her hands in different career fields to get there, Chidera shares openly how she is still in the process of “figuring out her career path.” Being the dynamic person she is, she seems to constantly be evolving and is not keen on identifying herself with only one version of who she is or her past work. “When you’re a creative, if something you have done has gone viral or has shown tremendous amounts of success, there is a temptation to stay stuck in that cycle because of the idea of following the model of what has provided you success, but you have to allow yourself evolve beyond that thing that blew you up, because you can’t stay stagnant”, Chidera says. “I’m excited to reveal all the ways I plan to continue putting my message out to the world. I am very passionate about design and using my creativity in ways people least expect. I enjoy being unpredictable and I believe every human being deserves to have the freedom of being creative without experiencing judgement of which box they are supposed to squeeze themselves into to receive acceptance.”
For me, 2022 is looking like the year where I exemplify what it means to take your power back.
For those who do not know, Chidera Eggerue is the creator of the viral body positivity movement #SaggyBoobsMatter. A movement which implores women to break free from societal standards of beauty and what the female body is supposed to look like. Considering she is the creator of the body confidence movement, I ask Chidera what her journey to self-love and acceptance has been like. Does being the founder of such a viral movement mean you have achieved completion in your self-love and acceptance journey? Her response was rather interesting.
“Honestly, being the founder of a body confidence movement does not mean I have completed the journey of self-love and acceptance because I do not believe self-love and self-acceptance is something we will ever attain in completion. Rather it is a lifelong journey, and it is okay to have moments where you doubt your own greatness because there will be moments where you realize your greatness. My journey to complete self-love and acceptance is one I am still on and have accepted I am never going to complete. I just need to keep trying, because trying to love yourself is better than accepting a false narrative about yourself which involves you believing you do not deserve the very best life has to offer.”
I personally say cheers to rejecting false narratives about ourselves this year. Never one to let her success get to her head despite already being a trailblazer at such a young age, The SlumFlower is ready to reinvent her craft and take the world by storm this year, 2022. According to her, “2022 for me is looking like the year where I exemplify what it means to take your power back in an industry that says you need to trade your power for a platform. I want to show people, especially women, that you can do things your way after experiencing massive levels of what people will regard as success. I want people to see that you can leave it all behind and start a whole new path, not expecting people to understand but choosing to go this route because you see the bigger picture and believe in yourself. I hope everyone gets to experience this feeling one day, where they believe in themselves first before anyone does, Chidera Eggerue closes off.