All posts by shadibozorg

Meet: Arti

Arti Naidu knows her purpose in this world- to give new mothers the birth of their dreams. For many women, pregnancy is an emotional and spiritual journey beyond any other, but the actual process of giving birth hasn’t always had the greatest reputation. That’s where Arti comes in.

A model and aesthetician, Arti has always had an interest in making women feel beautiful, happy and at peace. After meeting a number of new mothers and pregnant women in her line of work as an aesthetician, she developed a fascination for the process of birth. This moved her to train to become a doula. Her passion about a procedure that so many females fear is a little bemusing to me at first, but as she continues to speak of the emotional journey of a birth, I begin to understand why she’s so spirited about it.

Arti has a firm grasp on the energy around her, and she knows that she can utilize that power to help women during one of the most challenging events that they will ever go through. The job of a doula is to be an emotional supporter of the mother-to-be, but also to maintain a calm and positive energy in the birthing room. She meets with the parents a number of times beforehand and discusses their hopes, fears, and everything they want out of the day- the bulk of her attention being on the needs of the mother. She calls this the planning of the birth party, and suddenly the entire thing sounds exciting to me.  She sets up the birth room just as the mother wants it, making sure she is surrounded by things that will bring her comfort and joy. On the day, she’s all in: whether her support be through encouraging words, hand holding, making sure the mother is physically comfortable, or even being there for the partner. She’s there to provide peace and tranquility, a feeling that will transfer to the baby.

“Strong emotional imprints are already being made on your baby during birth. ” She emphasizes the importance of the energy in the room, and the needs of the mother during the entire process. “So many women have told me that they felt there was no one there to ask them what they wanted, or why they were in so much pain, and sometimes they couldn’t even verbalize what they wanted. That’s what I’m there for.” The purpose of a doula is to ensure that the birth, a memory the mother will hold onto for the rest of their life, is a positive and happy journey. I tell her that the thought of giving birth doesn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy inside, but rather fills me with a large amount of anxiety, and she laughs. She assures me that it’s common and completely normal, but it’s not the way it should be.

“In the past, so many women died, hospital births were brutal. The spiritual journey of the birth was lost. But now we have the opportunity to change that.” The relationship with her clients is simple- what do they want? She makes a point of getting to know their personalities, asking what they would like to see happen, learning their birth plan and then monitoring the birth to ensure that everything is as it should be. “If you put your fear aside and don’t let birthing scare you, and you think instead of what your dream birth would be, what the environment that puts you in a calm place would be, then it can be the most amazing journey of your life.”

Arti’s passion about her line of work is both inspiring and comforting; in our two hour long conversation she made me see birth in a completely new light. The significance of a doula is relatively new in Western culture, but on a steady rise. “I just want women giving birth to be as comfortable as possible. As a mother, you don’t have a lot of control when the time comes, and giving up that control is difficult. You have to put it into the hands of people you completely trust and are comfortable with. People that are there to make you feel at peace.”

Hair and Make Up by  Kym D from Swank Makeup
Arti’s Instagram @vamalifewellness

God Blessed My Persian Face

When I was in elementary school I was made fun of for a number of reasons. Being a visible minority in the 9/11 era and living in a waspy neighbourhood sucked on a few different levels. One of my most vivid memories of these events was being told I was ugly because my eyebrows were thick and bushy and full of Persian life. The whole “sand n*****”,  “terrorist”, “get out of our country” thing was pretty bad too, but a lot of my childhood was filled with hating the way I looked because I wasn’t a white girl.

I remember going home and looking at myself in the mirror and resenting my heritage for causing me the struggle of not being totally hairless and blonde. One day after a notably bad recess break, I went home after school and took my sister’s razor. With the fierce determination to lessen “the damage” of my thick eyebrows, I went to town. I looked ridiculous, of course, because I was 11 and I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing.

Today, thick eyebrows are everything. Terms like “on fleek”, “on point”, “proper” have been used to describe a girl with eyebrows like the ones I once tried to eliminate from my existence. There are multiple memes floating everywhere praising the holy thick eyebrow. I’m not gonna lie, my eyebrow game is proper. Why? Because my eyebrows are thick as fuck because I’m Persian, and we are born into the world covered in hair. Which is still not okay, by the way. Just the eyebrows are okay.

I hated them until about 4 years ago. I would pluck them into tiny lines like the magazines just to avoid looking the way I was born to look. Now? Now it’s cool. Now I get compliments. Now there are white girls asking me “how I got them so thick” so they can snag some tips. The same type of girls who once called me ugly. Nope. Now I refuse to ever let Western media determine how I feel about myself, and this happened after I was finally validated by it. Funny, that something as minor as eyebrows could have caused my life so much grief. So sad and alarming at the same time.

The cultural appropriation conversation is typically pretty cringeworthy. It’s a lot of political correctness vs. ignorance vs. oversensitivity vs. a lack of empathy. It goes in all different directions. I’ve thought a lot about what it means to me. Am I guilty of it? What is it even really? Why can’t we all just get along and appreciate whatever we want? Because it’s not that easy.

I’m not even on the bad end of it. Eyebrows are universal, I know that. I’m not saying anyone is appropriating Middle Eastern eyebrows. I’m saying how come it’s only okay when a specific group says it is? What about headscarves? What about bindis? And crownrows? Headpieces? Where’s the line? What’s okay and what’s not?

Girls like me, who were shamed for looking a certain way and then later praised for it, often feel resentment towards the people who are now embracing what they once rejected. It’s not fair that it’s only “cool” to look a type of way after white girls do it. Plain and simple. It’s not fair that my friend was thrown rocks at for wearing a culturally traditional bindi and now some 18 year old chick from LA is wearing one to Coachella and being photographed for Nylon. It’s not cool that girls with afros were bullied into relaxing their hair, then told weaves were “ratchet” and now you can clock a weave on any given white girl. It’s not fair because it was never okay until someone else said it was, we were never given the choice and never given the chance to actually enjoy the way we looked or the things we did until someone else said we could. Yes, it’s important to empower yourself via yourself, but it’s hard to do so when you’re young and being bullied by both your peers and society.

There’s a big difference between appreciating and embracing other cultures and exploiting them. My experience has been that my “exoticness” was never really appreciated until certain aspects of my image were sought after. I’m a curvy girl. I feel good about that, but I grew up hating it. I wanted to be a size zero, something my body physically will never be. Now it’s okay for me to have thick eyebrows. Now it’s okay for me to be “thick”. Now it’s okay for me to be “exotic”. And that’s cool, thanks for seeing it, but it wasn’t until it became “okay” that I realized how fickle the media and society’s view on me are. Fuck that. Fuck that forever.

That’s why when someone gets offended by you possibly cultural appropriating them it’s best for you to take a minute to think about the journey they’ve gone through. The whole process of learning to accept themselves that they might have faced before you assume they should take it as a compliment. How sacred what you’re utilizing for fashion is to them. It’s never as simple as you think it is.

I’m flattered by every compliment I get about my skin tone, my eyebrows, my hair, my anything that was given to me thanks to my heritage, but I will never forget how this very society looked at me before. I’m not saying walk on eggshells, I’m not even saying stop doing certain things, I’m just saying that it’s important to recognize where the resentment comes from. Empathy goes a long way. Evidently, so do good eyebrows.

Meet: Dehara

Dehara has a soul you can feel from a mile away. She has an energy that both demands your attention and keeps you seeking more. Born in Winnipeg and raised in Vancouver, she’s never been one to shy away from her goals- if she wants something she’s going to get it done. She’s also a new mother, and an amazing one at that. Her daughter has the same captivating energy that she does, which doesn’t surprise me at all.

Upon meeting Xenaiya, Dehara’s adorable baby, we’ve already hugged, laughed and become best friends. She’s a baby full of love and intelligence, something her mother has clearly bred into her. Dehara’s bond with her daughter is beautiful, to say the least. She’s real with her and talks to her like a person, which Xenaiya responds to. I can tell she’s going to be a firecracker, because her attitude is already shining through at just 1 and a half years old.

I’ve always been fascinated with the thought of motherhood, but I had never fully considered it. It’s a subject that can go both ways depending on what you want out of life. Being a woman is a phenomenal gift, and the definitions of womanhood are not what they once were. It’s up to us. While there’s still the assumption that all females want to become mothers, we’ve also have reached a point where it’s okay to freely admit you don’t want to have children. I’ve always wondered if it’s even possible to juggle everything at once. Is that a selfish thought? I never had complete assurance when it came to having kids, which led me to assume I didn’t want any. But after my conversation with Dehara, I know it’s an idea that I can keep open ended.

Dehara has everything going on and then some- she’s an entrepreneur, a fiercely independent woman, a mother, a  devoted sister and a partner to someone equally as devoted to life as she is. Her journey hasn’t been an easy one, but it’s clear to me she sees every single part of her existence as a miracle. She’s been through heartbreak and loss a number of times her life, but throughout it all she has always stayed devoted to rising up.

Upon finishing high school, Dehara played professional soccer for schools and countries around the world, including South Africa, the US, Norway and England. Feeling fulfilled in her athletic career at 25, Dehara moved back home to Vancouver.  She was hit with the news that her mother was sick. Within a short time she lost her boyfriend to suicide and her mother to cancer.

After taking her time to recover from events that would break the average person down forever, Dehara knew that she had to morph back into her true self to stay strong for her family, to make her mother proud. She began her career in real  estate, working side by side with her father at September Real Estate. Before long, she met her partner Xavier. By that time she knew she wanted a relationship, to start a family, and to continue spreading love into her world. He was the one.

During her pregnancy with Xenaiya she was told by her doctor that she was at risk for diabetes. Knowing she had to take action but not completely trusting Western medication, she researched different natural supplements she could take instead. She was approached to use Moringa– a superfood thats benefits include muscle recovery and help with arthritis. It also feeds the fetus all the nutrients it needs for proper development while keeping the mother healthy. Interested, but knowing it was overpriced, Dehara saw the opportunity to spread the word. At 30$ per bag that lasts up to 3 months, she has sourced the product directly to the Philippines, where her mother is from. She saw the opportunity to build a business on a product that promotes both ethical manufacturing and health and benefits her motherland.

Oh. She sings too. A songwriter that speaks freely from the heart, she sings from her soul. Her music is about finding your way, moving on, growing up, but also about love and relationships. She lists Sade, Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill as some of her biggest inspirations. She plans on putting out an EP within the next year.

The fire in Dehara’s belly never went out- and it was never meant to. She’s a light for everyone around her, and she made me realize that life doesn’t have to be in a set path. Things change, sometimes they break down, and they should. That is what teaches us to grow and makes us evaluate what we’re all really doing here. She wants the best out of life, and she’s getting it. The devotion she has to being a loving mother and a woman of power assures me that it’s possible to do both.

After our conversation is over I feel uplifted. Despite everything she went through in her life, Dehara is concrete proof that nothing should ever hold you back from living a happy existence. She’s shown me that it actually is possible to have it all- as long as you’re willing to keep your perspective in check.

Photography: Marissa Morelos of MJ Photography

Make Up: Auzsha Potozny

Dehara’s Instagram: @deharaseptember

I ♥ Toronto

Maybe it’s just me.

But there’s magic in this city. I’ve been here for just over a week and I already know it’s home. Walking down the street is inspiring. Everywhere you look there’s something to see. People are rushed, yea, but they’re all going somewhere. There’s a general energy that says ‘let’s get shit done and do it well’.

Maybe it’s just me, but everyone I talk to seems to agree. It’s funny how cities have such different personalities. Vancouver is beautiful. Gorgeous. Stunning. But I’m not superficial. I came here for a reason, and that reason finally feels validated.

My roommates agree. Old friends, new friends, family. Yeah, there’s definitely something magic in the air.

There are a countless number of villages scattered throughout downtown Toronto, and that’s what makes it continuously exciting. Vancouver is multicultural, but it never felt diverse. You can feel other people, no matter what background they come from, embrace other cultures and actually enjoy them too. It doesn’t feel segregated.

I currently live in The Village, off Church Street. It’s Thee Village, Toronto’s equivalent to Davie. Where else would I want to be? Despite being straight, I’ve always found comfort within the LGBT community. The isolation I felt growing up has lead me to always feel the most connected with others who had experienced something similar or the same. It’s the kind of adversity that makes you step away from bullshit and decide to love instead. That understanding lives here.

Dating in Toronto also feels completely different. Dates aren’t strictly about the endgame (sorry mom) but about meeting people, vibing, connecting. I’ve always been someone to strike up a conversation worth having with anyone, but I’ve never felt so understood by strangers before. No one really has the time to beat around the bush and fill up space with small talk, because they’ve got their eye on the bigger picture.

Again, maybe it’s just me. Maybe I just move fast. Maybe it’s just the luck I have that allows me to connect with great people. Maybe my bright eyes are making me delusional. Maybe I just needed a new place to explore. Either way, it feels good to be here. It feels right. It feels like home.

It’s official, I ♥ Toronto.

The Yaletown Diet

You’re classy and sassy and you’re sure as hell not about to step your off-brand Louboutins inside some dingy Gastown bar. You retired from Granville when you realized you were getting more attention than your friends at The Roxy. You’re moving up in the world, say goodbye to amateur hour, you deserve Yaletown.

You’re not an “aspiring” model anymore, you’ve got over 5,000 followers on Instagram. You’re #instafamous. You are Moses to the Jews; part the bridges and tunnels and lead your insta-followers to the elusive world hidden in Yaletown’s three cobblestoned streets. Give your followers a window into the lifestyle provided to you by one of Vancouver’s many 30K millionaires (your followers don’t need to know that part) #instacrop.

Yaletown isn’t a right, it’s a privilege. You have a responsibility to yourself and to your insta-followers to get on board the Yaletown diet.

The Cleanse

It’s vital that every Yaletown hottie has a killer bod, so stop eating and call it a cleanse. No need to get all complicated with meal plans and calorie counting, just avoid all food at all costs. No gluten, no fat, no sugar, no starch, no protein, no anything, no problem. Alcohol doesn’t count. Make sure you tell us all you’re on a cleanse for that extra motivation. If you feel like you’re about to pass out, blend a carrot with some kale and drink it while looking at a picture of a pizza alongside a fat chick #fitspo. Your dog isn’t just a super cute accessory, you got it to stay active. Walk your Chihuahua around a fire hydrant a few times to burn off the 25 calories from that fucking kale smoothie. It’s okay, you’ll have more willpower tomorrow. Losing 10 pounds in 3 days is a piece of cake. No cake included.

Natural is Subjective

To some people natural is what you’re born with, but we say it’s what you wake up with. You have no excuse to look average, and your natural look is only a few treatments away.  Wax and laser your body until you have a clean slate to glue and sew all your new parts onto. Next up, your fakessentials: hair, eyelashes, nails. Little East Indian girls dream of having their hair cropped and sold to the West. Don’t kill the kid’s dreams, glue that shit to your head. Extend your lashes so you can glare at your Vietnamese aesthetician with style as she shellacs your nails. When you’re on The Real Housewives of Vancouver, you’ll get this shit for free. Now you’re one step closer to waking up every morning as the perfect version of you- you know, the natural look. #iwokeuplikethis #longhairdontcare

Darwin’s Lizards

You’ve dominated nature once, you can do it again. This is survival of the fittest, and you’re an evolved woman ahead of her time. Reptiles get new skin, why can’t you? Inject the lips, implant the tits and throw a botox party to save a few dollars. There’s nothing sexier than a woman with a high financial quotient. Your body is a temple, not a homeless shelter. Everyone knows good interior design doesn’t come cheap, so invest in yourself. Refresh. 350 new followers.

Wear the Yaletown Uniform

Your starving, I mean cleansing, is working wonders for you. Show it off in your Yaletown uniform, known by outsiders as the “bandage dress.” If you haven’t already, find yourself a sugar daddy to sponsor you; you cannot walk through an intimate room like Pierre’s Champagne Lounge wearing the same dress as last Thursday. That 2 meter walk is your fucking runway. It’s okay if you’re walking like Bambi, you look hot. #showstopper

The High Life

Now that you’ve established your natural look, give your personality a lift. Being totally wasted is essential when you aren’t interesting, and drugs will help with that. Make a “bathroom trip” every 20 minutes to ensure you’re staying on top of your game. It’s also a great way to meet the white-knights who ensure you’re always equipped with some nose candy (zero calories, hell yes). Some guys are so generous. You know what they say, stay as high as your heels.

No New Friends

Yaletown co-habitants don’t look nearly as bomb as you do now that you’ve bankrolled your looks, but they still need to be put in their place. #nonewfriends Remind those bitches of how hot you are by showing your superiority with a disgusted face and an eye roll. For best results, practice this look in the mirror between contouring and backcombing before leaving for Y-Town. You’re a woman with class, and you left your bar fights behind on Granville Street. Compliment the girl in the washroom on her passé dress, have her follow you on Instagram and don’t follow her back. Bitch- 0, You- 1 (followers, that is).

Claim Mister Right Now

If you’re single and ready to mingle, it’s time to find Mr. Right Now. Your sugar daddy is at home with his wife, so it’s time to find someone to sponsor your night out. If the club promoter doesn’t pimp you out to someone’s bottle service upon entry, do laps across the 35 year old buff guy with bottle service at VIP until he notices you and signals you over. Nod and listen attentively over Avici as he tells you about his “import and export business” and how “much money he makes.” After he gets you drunk enough, take selfies in his Mercedes on the way to his house. This is ideal back-log material for your Instagram inventory. Afterwards, assume starfish position while he fucks you rapidly and asks you if “you like that”. Best three minutes of your life.

Public Relations

This is crucial, and must be constant. Make sure to Instagram everything you do to showcase your natural beauty, your sponsored lifestyle and your Yaletown cleanse. Isn’t it pathetic that other girls have to make a duck face? Now yours comes naturally! Staying on top of your PR is the key to keeping those followers tapping twice on your photos.

Embrace The New You, Until It Gets Old

Being this hot is a way of life, and it’s a lot of work. You deserve to look your best, and if you make an honest commitment to follow these instructions, you’ll be on your way to becoming a Yaletown legend. If you’re ever down on yourself, call the doctor and have him pull your face up. Cut those calories, put on your uniform, and bask in that attention. You’ve earned it. Your Instagram followers and your happiness are directly correlated- ugly chicks get no hits, and you were destined for #instafame. When you’ve hit your peak and time starts catching up to you, you can start a new life. After all, Yaletown is just another village; once you become the village idiot, you can retire your Instagram account, move to Kits and take up yoga.

I’m Moving Across the Country

Below is my current pump up song. It’s from the Blue Crush soundtrack, a cinematic experience to be reckoned with. You should listen to it while you read this to really understand how I’m feeling in this very moment. Also because Nikki Costa needs more recognition, and also just because it’s a very inspiring song. Almost as inspiring as Blue Crush.

Tomorrow afternoon I’m getting on a plane to start my one way journey to Toronto. The centre of the universe, as it were. A Canadian city that actually made it to real city status. New York but in Canada. The six. Drake. Crackhead mayor. From what I gather everyone in Toronto thinks they’re the one. Which, if you know me well enough, you know I’ve always blindly assumed I am. I’ve been told I’ll fit right in. I was also told that on my first day of kindergarden and we all know how that ended, so people have been wrong before. Let’s hope for the best.

I’ve lived in Vancouver for my entire life. This city has taught me most of  what I know about life so far, which is a blessing and a curse. I know Vancouver like the back of my hand- I could tell you where to go and what to do at any given moment. I made small talk with the mayor once. I’m friends with all the local hobos. It’s my city. But being here my whole life has also limited my experience of the world, which is the sole reason I’m moving to Toronto.

I’m kind of a nutcase when it comes to fulfilling my human experience. I’m not opposed to acting like a crazy person (acting?) just to make things more fun or get some kind for reaction out of my life. I think that’s important- to be a little crazy. I booked my flight to Toronto right in the middle of a mental breakdown and nothing has ever felt more right to me. I’m excited to feel out an entirely new side of life, but I’m also so grateful for all the experiences I’ve already had here. I’m blessed to have finally figured out who I am thanks to the people I’ve been surrounded by and everything I’ve been taught and given. So far.

This is my new chapter, but it’s not a fresh start. I’m taking with me all the love and joy and pain and amazingness and bullshit that I’ve aquired in my life. Those things, the great and terrible, are what made me realize I’m capable of moving to a new city by myself just to make shit happen.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be struggling as fuck for a while. I will definitely call a few of you crying, but I’ve never been more ready to dive right into life.

So here we are, on my official public diary. On this brand spankin’ new website that has my name on it and is owned by me. Whatchu know about being a narcissistic but fiercely independent lady?