Culture

 

S.H.E Culture

#No Rules for Socialites: An 80s Inspired Street Look

No Rules

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What looks like a dirty old tunnel that hasn’t been in use for some years in downtown San Myshuno, wasn’t what it seemed. Born out of the dirt and grime rose a runway. The models donned 80s inspired workout gear reminiscent of Jane Fonda or Oliva Newton-John. I could only imagine the men who observed the shoot chanted ” Let’s get physical”  in their heads. The thong panties, coupled with thigh-high boots with a worn high-end look. That’s the trick these days. You could pay easily over a thousand dollars for a pair of jeans that looked like it’s been run over and thrown away wet.

 

This was no ordinary shoot with no ordinary models. The blonde, a new hair color for her, may leave her unrecognizable. But once you get up close and see those emerald green eyes, you immediately see the resemblance. Marseille Powers, daughter of supermodel legend Reagan Leeds-Powers had her mother’s domineering presence on set. So many people had hoped Marseille would follow in her mother’s footsteps, but alas, she was merely doing a favor for a friend by participating in this photoshoot.

The socialite has other plans in the works, the major one being heading her father’s newest club of his world-renowned nightclub chain, Tomo. Just about any city in the world worth its salt has a Tomo or at least one of the other more than 500 nightclubs, hotels, or country clubs owned by Powers Enterprises. Marseille herself is unassuming, but she drips money. You can smell the wealth and prestige that any well-bred high-class girl like Marseille exudes as soon as she walks into the room.

The other model is no stranger to having a legendary model as a mother either, Ekko Takashi-Wright is the daughter of the most successful Japanese-American supermodel in history, Aoki Takashi. Aoki and Reagan are old friends and so are their daughters as they were brought up together. Their fathers were business partners, the families took weekend trips to The Cape or Hamptons, often yachting. Weekend in St. Tropez? Hey, no problem. The uber-wealthy have the resources in spades. No, maybe money isn’t everything and by upon first meeting Marsy, you would think that it was the last thing on her mind. She’s going to light the streets of San Myshuno up, I for one can’t wait to see what she has planned.

-Ayana Dinha.

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80s Look Back: It’s A Pleasure Principle

The Pleasure Principle

By Parminder Patel Editor-At-Large

Our look back at the 80s continues with these cool throwback pictures to 1987! Anyone not living under a rock knew about Pleasure Principle and danced along with Janet…Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty.

Supermodel Reagan Leeds-Powers’ mother, Apollonia De-Sai shared some of her throwback pictures with us and talked about what it meant to her to move to the United States after leaving Trinidad and Tobago in 1986.

“I wanted to come to America and dance. My dream had always been to choreograph for Michael the king and his sister, Janet. No one could move like them. They gave me hope ‘dat a little black ‘ting like me could make it as a dancer. Michael and Janet had an amazing energy, the likes which we have not seen since. I bought this ‘Pleasure Principle’ in Miami as soon as it came out. I didn’t want to take it off! I wore it so many times, it eventually got so faded.”

“The song and video were one of the many that I regularly danced to and perfected my skills. It will always be special to me. I miss those days. I miss those days. The 80s were hands down the decade.”

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What No One Told a Lil’ Black ‘Ting About Depression and Suicide

By Apollonia De-Sai, contributor

I had grown up during a time that mental illness and suicide wasn’t thought of something that affected black people. I’m originally from Trinidad and Tobago and I have a thick West Indian skin. I don’t know what it was like for other young women growing up in the United States, but in TNT, if you complained about depression, you may be branded as crazy or that you needed to pray more.

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I didn’t know that I had started getting depression in my early 20s right after I gave birth back to back to my daughters, Reagan and Kennedey. My mistake was that I believed it started then, but really when I thought back to my teen years, there were times I felt immense sadness, but I often expressed myself through anger and intimidation.

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If someone would’ve told me that I was depressed, I would have laughed at them and told them to get the hell out of my face. I never thought of myself as being mentally weak. I believed depression and mental illness only affected pathetic people, losers, and quitters. My family knew me as hot-headed diva that was quick to anger and never held back when it was time for a fight or argument.

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My husband, Raymond received the worse of my wrath during our marriage. I blamed him for where I was in life; married with two babies, no job, and no degree. I got knocked up with my oldest, Reagan in college and had to drop. But not before I had to get married, as my father had demanded I do. I never wanted kids and I hated my life. Of course, I feel differently now and I love my girls and grandbabies more than anything.

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You would think that the first time I ended up in a mental hospital, that it would wake me up and push me to get my life together. This was in New York City and by this time, I had already run away and left my family. I didn’t think I’d miss my kids so much or that I would be such a failure at trying to start a dance career once I left Miami.

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One evening, I was very low; feeling down on myself. I didn’t “actively” make a plan to commit suicide that night. But I drank nearly a whole bottle of Vodka and popped my Oxycontin and Soma like candy. I kept on. I kept on. The details are still foggy in my head, but I remember going to the bathroom and getting sick. I don’t think the thought of committing suicide ever entered my mind. I never told anyone that I wanted to die, I never had any suicidal ideations. But there I was, on that particular night, whether it was conscious or sub-conscious, I consumed a lot of substances that surely could have killed me had my neighbor not found me passed out on my living room floor.

Reagan and Kennedey were extremely upset when I told them about this incident years later after we had reunited. Reagan was a bit skeptical that I had suffered from depression all those years while she was growing up. Like many people mistakenly believe that depressed persons are quiet and mostly withdrawn. Yes, there were many times I was withdrawn, but Reagan didn’t understand that one could have intense mood swings and fits of anger, especially if there are other underlying causes. It wrecked me to the core to think that my life should have ended that night. I never said to myself: Apollonia, you’re going to kill yourself. I just talked to God; I prayed that He let me not wake up the next day. Praying wasn’t something I often did; mostly because my mother was overzealous and tried to beat you down with her beliefs without ever really listening.

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The next thing I remembered was waking up in a behavioral health hospital the next day. I had officially sunk bottom at that point. Not because I was too good to end up in a mental hospital, but because I still refused to believe anything was wrong with me.

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I cursed the nurse out when she asked me if I had any “suicidal thoughts” that day or thoughts of self-harm. “Good morning, Apollonia. How are you feeling today? Any thoughts of harming yourself?” asked the Nurse  “Excuse me? What the fuck kind of question is that? You don’t know me!”  She looked confused and said they were required to ask those questions.  “Of course not! Why would you ask me that?”  I demanded to know at that time. “Well, Apollonia, we are required to ask the patients questions about their symptoms, what brought them here. You came in because you tried to harm yourself. Now, again, I need to know if you have any of those thoughts right now. Also, how is your depression and anxiety today?” she asked. I shook my head, still unable to understand what these questions could possibly have to do with me.

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I thought the doctor assigned to my case was an idiot as well. I hated him because he was the key to my freedom. He decided when I would get discharged.

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The entire experience of being in that hospital was awful. The group therapy sessions were no better. Some of the other patients there had mental illnesses I could not even fathom. When someone said they heard voices and cut themselves, I thought: What the fuck? I don’t belong here! I am not crazy!

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I cussed out the group leader too and told him I was not here for any American Psych 101 bullshit.

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I learned years later that no mental illness is better than the other. I was no better than anyone else at that hospital. We were all broke, we were all sick, and we all needed help. It just took me several years to recognize that. But I did. Eventually, I began seeing Dr. Ambrose, a very good psychiatrist. She helped me to understand why I felt so much anger towards my husband and father. They were both my head and ultimately controlled where my life ended up. I was not a wimpy woman nor was I submissive. But Raymond was the breadwinner, that meant his word was law.  My father is the one who demanded that Raymond and I get married once we told my parents I was pregnant. I couldn’t fight him on that and I agreed.

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Dr. Ambrose also showed me that I could not continue blaming Raymond and my father for how my life turned out. I could not change the past nor could I change the fact that I left my girls and husband without a word and they knew nothing of my whereabouts. Through her training and analysis, I was able to find the courage to seek forgiveness and acceptance from Reagan and Kennedey, which I did. It was not an easy task my any means, but I had to see my kids and my new grandbaby, Marseille. It got to the point where it felt like I couldn’t breathe at times knowing my children were out there and I could not see them or talk to them.

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Eventually, that did change. I moved to Isla Paradiso and made amends with Reagan, Kennedey, and Raymond. We ended up getting divorced, which is something I still regret to this day, but I gained my family back, including my little grandbaby.

Depression has been a lifelong struggle for me. I wish I could tell you that it goes away, but for most of us, it doesn’t. It’s a real illness and you must treat it like any other and realize it takes care, understanding, proper treatment, and patience. Aside from running a chain of successful dance studios, I am a mental health advocate and I frequently go back to Trinidad and Tobago and talk to young girls about depression and other psychological issues. For anyone out there reading this article, I just want to say, please hold on. Don’t end your life because you haven’t found the right solution yet, believe me, it is out there; we just need to find it together.

Apollonia De-Sai

 

*Author’s Note: You can read Apollonia’s entire POV in chapter 39 of Reagan Leeds: Run The World. Although I used my Sim to tell this story, it comes from a very real place and many of my experiences with depression.

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Live To Tell: My Story of Domestic Violence

By Reagan Leeds-Powers

*Note, domestic violence can be committed by women and men.

When I was in my early twenties, I was physically abused by my boyfriend. It only happened that one time, but he had abused me throughout our relationship. Millions of people know my story and that my abuser was my ex, Rashin Dodge. Yes, the hip-hop mogul-legend, and businessman. I’ll never take away Ra’s contribution to hip-hop or his place as one of the greatest rappers in history. But there is an ugly side to the hip-hop culture; that invokes misogyny, promotes domestic violence, and sexual violence. The following is not a piece on the history of female degradation and abuse in the industry. I will save that for another time.

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I was a young up and coming model, fresh out of college, living in Starlight Shores. I had just signed with Nu Model Management. I was strutting on the hottest runways for the biggest names in fashion in New York, London, Paris, Milan, and Los Angeles. There was no shortage of designers and photographers who wanted to work with me. By the time I was 22 I had covered the pages of ELLE, Vogue, Glamour, and several others.

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At the height of my career, I could make up to fifty thousand dollars in a single day. My closet looked like a well-organized boutique on Robertson or 5th Avenue. I had every designer bag that was worth its salt in my closet. Sure, many of these purchases were made by me, but the bulk of it came courtesy of my boyfriend, Rashin.

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Let me go back in time and paint you a picture of my relationship. Ra was already the biggest rapper in the game when we met at an industry party in Starlight. Many of the haters, I like to call “fans” (because they stalked my every move) claimed I was thirst trapping and had my sights set on Ra. Nothing could’ve been further from the truth. Unlike the other dozens of women in the casino that night, I was chilling. I kept to myself and my small circle of friends.

All eyes were on me, something that wasn’t out of the norm. Why would it be any different when Ra was concerned? Maybe that sounds conceit, but it was the truth. Ra was curious about the young model that didn’t make a beeline for him as soon as he entered the room. He ended up approaching me, and I gave him my number, but only after he could see that I wasn’t impressed by his celebrity.

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Rashin wined and dined me, bought me clothes, jewelry, a luxury car, and gave me money. I didn’t want for anything. What Ra did was, try to control me. He also cheated on me throughout our relationship, and he belittled me to no end.

On the outside, I was the picture of confidence. No one could guess that a supermodel would have low self-esteem. I’d known from an early age that I was pretty and desirable. I used my appearance to my advantage (one of the few things I learned from my mother at a young age). By the time I got to high school, my looks were the only thing I relied on to give me confidence. The attention I received from boys made me dependent on male validation.

Many of my fans know my mother left us when I was in high school and of the rocky relationship I had with her growing up. Not having the love I needed from a mother or the confidence only another woman can give you left me depleted in the esteem and self-confidence department.

I had and still do have, a wonderful father who was encouraging, supportive, and loving. So how did I turn to such an abusive man like Rashin if I was raised by a man that was opposite? There were many reasons. But the primary one; I discovered years later was that I felt unloved and like I wasn’t worthy due to the lack of positive reinforcement of my mother’s love. I was never as smart and talented as my younger sister, Kennedey. She was the one, who skipped a grade, had a high IQ score, and painted masterpieces. All I had was my looks and diva persona that a lot of people took to. People had said for years; I was so much like my mother, a label I fiercely rejected.

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Ra was the king, and by default, I was his queen. He sought to control me because in the beginning, he was the big fish and I was still very much a small fish in comparison. Ra had a lot of women before me, and what I discovered later, women during our time together. People told me back then, that I shouldn’t be surprised, and I knew what I was signing up for, and that all rappers cheat. You see, those people didn’t know the “Reagan Leeds” because if they did, they would understand that wittingly allowing a man to cheat is something I would never agree to, I don’t care who the man is.

Rashin started to resent the attention I received in the media and online. He claimed that my work that took me overseas was the reason we didn’t spend a lot of time together. He didn’t consider the fifteen hour days he spends on his album or his frequent visits to the club had anything to do with it. It was always my fault. Because Ra blamed me for putting a strain on our relationship, he used that to justify his cheating. Not that I believed Ra ever really had a conscience, and he would have cheated anyway, but he used that excuse as a way to defend his fucked up attitude and antics toward me. He began to use methods of control, mental, emotional, and verbal abuse to break me down. It came to the point that I hated seeing my reflection in a mirror. Even throughout all the insults, the intimidation, and the yelling, I stayed. I was ashamed that I allowed any man to treat me in that manner, especially when I knew from my father’s example how a woman should be treated.

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During the hardest moments of our relationship, Ra began accusing me of the things he was guilty of such as cheating and me only being with him because of who he was. He became paranoid and convinced I was messing with his friends; which was a lie. He had threatened that if I “ever got out of line” with another man, that I would not like the “end result.” That was the first time I ever felt physically threatened by Ra. I should have heeded the warning signs long before then; especially at that moment, but I waited too long.

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Eventually, I found concrete proof that Ra was cheating on me with just about every girl, video vixen, model, stripper associated with the industry. I even discovered he had gotten some dancer pregnant. When I confronted him about it, he didn’t deny it, and he grew cocky saying there was nothing I could do about it. I told him I was breaking up with and wanted nothing else to do with him.

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He didn’t take the news very well and said that it wasn’t over until he said it was over. I remember as I screamed how much I hated him, being surprised at a painful blow to my face. It took me a moment to realize what had happened. It didn’t immediately register that my boyfriend, a man I felt I loved had just punched me in my face.

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I didn’t know what to do. I thought he would hit me again. His face was contorted in anger, and right after the moment, he hit me, a very calm and eerie expression rested on his face. Suddenly my instincts kicked in. It was fight or flight time. I was only in my underwear. Somehow, as I fled his bedroom in the middle of the night, I managed to grab my clothes and keys and drive home.

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The next twenty-four hours were the worst hours of my life at that point. I hadn’t registered what had happened. I didn’t understand how I could go from being supposedly in love with someone, being a part of a power couple to being curled up and crying on my bedroom floor.

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I felt embarrassed and ashamed like it was my fault somehow or like someone would find out and come point their finger at me, teasing me like kids on the playground. I’d hit rock bottom, and I didn’t know how I allowed myself to get there.

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I remember laying on the floor thinking about the morning we found out my mother had abandoned us. I equated that instance as being the first major time I had felt so low and unloved in my life to how I felt after being hit by Rashin. Those were the darkest moments of my life. Both involved something someone else had done to me, but I internalized it, and it manifested through how I looked at myself and my need for validation.

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I tried shielding Kennedey, but I couldn’t as we lived together. I was a protective older sister, and I was afraid of what seeing my bruised and beaten would do to her. Kennedey surprised me.

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She was so strong and supportive. She was understandably outraged, and she didn’t hold back on Ra when he called or came to the house to see me. Kennedey was now the protector, and she didn’t allow Ra to even breathe in my direction.

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It was a very long time after that fateful night that I even saw Rashin again. After I had met the man of my dreams, my now husband, and father of my children, Jaylen Powers. I am not going to go into a lot of detail on the night Rashin, and his crew had the audacity to show up to Jay’s club and their confrontation and how Jay paid Rashin back for what he did to me; I’ll let Jay tell you that. I had finally closed that chapter of my life and Ra experienced all the humiliation and consequences that was due him.

It was only in the months after experiencing physical abuse that I realized I had suffered from other kinds of abuse by Rashin. Unfortunately, I like many other people, do not recognize the severity of mental, verbal, and emotional abuse. What is important to understand is that these are all elements of domestic violence and often the non–physical abuse is a precursor to the later actual physical form.

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I was a rich and beautiful supermodel; a girl no one would think of as a domestic violence victim, but I was. I had a college degree, a beautiful home, friends, family, and great job. If I could be abused, any woman can be. No one is immune and no one should be ashamed to admit they were a victim. But it is crucial that you become a survivor. Spouses and boyfriends of women and girls kill far too many in domestic violence situations. The guy may have not intentionally killed his wife or girlfriend, but one wrong fall, punch, a hit could be fatal. You could think to yourself that your man would never want to kill, and maybe that is true, but do you want to take that chance? Don’t wait until it’s too late.

According to a recent study by the CDC, violence is one of the leading causes of death of women in the United States. Half of those are committed by romantic partners; whether current or former. Black and Native American women experience the highest rates. Think about that for a moment; half of these violent deaths can be prevented. It is never the woman’s fault, and you can’t believe that you can change a man by thinking therapy or your love is the cure for his violent ways. This, of course, applies to women who are abusers as well.  The abuser needs to do the work and get the help. You can not stand by and wait for them to do it. You can not risk becoming another statistic. You also need to realize some men just will not change and think what they are doing is wrong. That’s not for you to change their thinking. Just get out.

-Reagan Leeds-Powers
As a survivor of domestic violence, I have dedicated my life to educating women and girls about intimate partner violence and various forms of abuse. Through the Reagan and Jaylen Powers Foundation, we can provide domestic violence victims and their children, safe shelter, a new home, education, and support.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

1-800-799-7233 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)

Author’s Note: Much of the information shared in this article was taken from Chapter 16 “You Will Learn” of Reagan Leeds: Run The World, printed in February 2014. You can read it here.

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Inspiring Biography of Legendary Supermodel Reagan Leeds

Reagan Leeds: Run The World

Reagan Leeds, a drama attracting, party-loving diva who’s found herself in some trouble from time to time due to her own personal vices. Reagan is a model trying to make it in her world on Isla Paradiso. She currently lives with her sister Kennedey and their two cats Sammy and Tinky.

The sisters along with their dad, Ray moved to Appaloosa Plains from Miami while they were in high school shortly after Reagan’s mother, Apollonia left them to “find herself”. Upon graduating from college the Leeds sisters moved to Starlight Shores then Isla Paradiso.

I’ve written the story of Reagan’s life and of those other Sims that are apart of it. Therefore most of this blog will be written from Reagan’s own point of view. I’ve also included points of view from several other characters within the story. There will also be flashbacks in some chapters to a previous time in their lives when sharing their stories.

Reagan believes it’s her world and everyone else is just along for the ride. Proven to be the thorn in many a foes’ sides, she is constantly running into drama with everyone she considers to be a hater.

Although Reagan may be a bit shallow and superficial, there are reasons for that, the biggest being that her mother left their family and wasn’t a very good one to Reagan and Kennedey while they were growing up. Reagan starts out pretty bratty and diva-like in the story, but as she faces harsh realities, she begins to grow up and appreciate the people around her.

Come follow Reagan as she makes her move from Starlight Shores and the fun she had there dating and working in the modeling industry to her time in the present on Isla Paradiso and all her world travels while she tries to figure out who she is and where she wants to be in life.

Read it here.

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