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Are We Oppressing Ourselves?

In 2012, 14.6 million cosmetic plastic surgeries were performed. In 2016 we stand in the era of the Kylie Jenner lip craze where injections and Botox have become as nonchalant as getting a manicure.

This surgery crazed generation has made me wonder, when did empowerment become associated with altering our physical form, the unique features we were born with, into the narrowly defined definition of beautiful? Surgeons and girls who’ve undergone the knife, or aspire to, refute the criticism stating they feel more beautiful, it was their decision, and they’re so much happier. They speak of cosmetic surgery as an empowering, personal decision.

But is it their decision? Where does their insecurity of their nose, boobs, or whatever they desire to change originate?

Consider labiaplasty, the surgery procedure for altering the labia. After stumbling upon a blog post that informs men how to “identify” a “roast beef vagina” I became aware of the stigma against women with “large” labias. Referred to as “meat curtains” or “the dreaded roast beef” it’s presented as a disgusting, deformity. Large labias pose no medical issues, the reasoning behind labiaplasty is rooted in the conclusion, spread by men, that enlarged labias are unattractive. Since 2011, an increasing number of women undergo the surgery. One of the most popular types of labiaplasty, referred to as the “Barbie”, requires stitching the two lips together for a smaller labia and reducing or, in some cases, amputating the entire labia.

This specific surgery sounds frighteningly similar to Type II and Type III of FGM, female genital mutilation. FGM is practiced in mostly indigenous villages which involves the altering of the vagina in order to control young girl’s sexuality. As awareness of the health risks FGM poses grows so does the support for legal prohibition. But as FGM is further limited and discouraged, our participation in this self mutilation, in the name of vaginal rejuvenation, grows.

This self imposed oppression extends just beyond the cosmetic world. My nineteen year old friends, all attending incredible colleges pursuing degrees in subjects I struggle to comprehend rarely entertain me with the knowledge they’ve attained and often disregard their obligations and homework in favor of romantic pursuits. Many girls live their life by the aspirational rhyme “ring by spring”, which summarizes their desire to be engaged by their senior year of college.

Their infatuation with marriage, at such a young age, reminds me of the child brides, subjected to an arranged marriage and taught that the best, and only, occupation they will hold in their life will be as a wife. I’m not trying to discourage marriage, rather question what women are focusing on and why they’re focusing on it. We have the opportunities and advantages to change the world. Why are we then using our resources to attempt to resemble a plastic doll used only as means as entertainment and infatuation for her unattainable, unhealthy looks? Why do we aspire to have a contracted partnership instead of aspiring to find people who help us grow and make our lives brighter?

Here at Empowered By You we hope to inspire you to do things greater than follow classic, rather outdated, roles. Shift the paradigm, make an impact–and please, please don’t let the size of your labia distract you from your bright, bold future.



A heartbreaking tragedy…the death of Grace Mukamurenzi’s sister left Grace, not only, with feeling of grief and loss; but, two orphans, twins, aged 13. 

Grace was just an ordinary woman who operated a hair salon called Light. However, the profits from her business and her husband’s job were hardly enough to live on when it was just the two of them. This sudden addition of two more mouths created the unstoppable, admirable Grace Mukamurenzi we know today.

After receiving a loan from Operation Rwanda Trust Group, Wonder Grace not only expanded her salon, generating more profit and saving many women from bad hairstyles, but also purchased piglets–launching a piggery! These two businesses grew rapidly.

This growth supplied Wonder Grace with the means to build a house, open her first savings account, and afford insurance. Wonder Grace also installed electricity in her home; improving security and allowing for more hours for homework and family time. As every superhero does, Grace also makes sure to give back. She shares her personal success by creating jobs, employing two neighbors and currently working towards hiring even more.

A business owner (of two businesses, mind you), mother, and proud wife–we have to wonder, how does she do it all?


Summer. A time for weekend vacations, short lived romances, and poolside breaks. I live for summer.

Unfortunately, so do yeast infections and UTI’s. The warm, wet environment presents a perfect breeding ground for the bacteria. If you’re not wearing the right underwear prepare to kiss your bikini days goodbye and enjoy the misery of a vaginal infection.

EBY has moisture wicking fabric with cotton lining. Traditional, non-moisture wicking underwear’s absorb the sweat becoming heavier and moving more creating irritation down there and providing the perfect environment for your worst nightmare.

Avoid the antibiotics and discomfort with our Empowered By You underwear.

Hump Day? Watch This.

Here at Empowered By You we are on a mission to shift the paradigm. Our purposeful, high technology underwear has changed the means of lingerie from a tool of objectification to empowerment. The way we run our business is a paradigm shifter in itself; instead of cutting corners and prioritizing profits we have created a product that preforms at the highest level and given it a greater purpose.  We have shifted the perception of breakdowns, choosing to view them as opportunities for our biggest, brightest breakthrough. When asked what is my personal (in progress) paradigm shift I identified confidence; specifically, confidence in my decisions.

In an attempt to shift  my mindset I googeled “Tony Robbins” and watched the attached Ted Talk. Tony Robbins stands tall at six feet seven inches and projects confidence bolstering wisdom, fuel to many well known celebrities such as: Serena Williams, Mother Theresa, Bill Clinton, and Princess Diana. He dismisses the rather cliché title of “life coach” (and the superficial connotations, concerning wealth and appearance, attached to the title); instead, Tony Robbins focuses on “the why” placing destiny in the driver’s hands. “Decision is the ultimate power,” he proclaims, “Is it the beginning or the end. You decide whether the conditions will control you.”

This is terrifying. I’ve lived by “everything happens for a reason” for as long as I can remember. I stay complacent with my conditions, convinced of their unchangeable nature. Robbins states that “decision is the ultimate power”. Personally, I avoid decisions as if they’re the swine flu. Whether it’s simply deciding what restaurant my friends and I will eat at or whether to text that person, apply for that job; I often find myself paralyzed with fear and unable to decide. My indecision is a decision in itself. One that, yes, prevents me from messing up or making a mistake but also prevents me from learning, growing, and living the life I want to live. Tony Robbins inspires the return to purpose, living a life with more meaning and less excuses. My circumstances and past become irrelevant; the only thing that matters is what I decide. Today, I begin creating a more decisive, confident life as a consumer. I decide to use my power of purchase choosing products that make a positive impact. From the underwear I wear to the bag that I sport. My decisions matter. Every single one.

3 Ways Chantel Mukamama Is Just Like Rihanna


#1: She WORK WORK WORKS…with the loan from Operation Rwanda Trust Group she upgraded a table, where she sold produce and old tools, to an agriculture supply shop and added things such as fencing, wheelbarrows, tar and hardware.

#2: Rihanna launched a college scholarship program, Chantel launched her own mini one. She sends her (now) SIX children to school and has a savings account that ensures all of her children get the education they need.

#3: They’re both BALLERS.  Chantel continues to grow her business and is currently making plans to expand her shop. She is also constructing a building where she will supply affordable housing to her community. I drink to that, I drink to that.


Queen S

With Wimbledon upon us, all that is being discussed is the incredible, empowered Serena Williams. The thirty-four year old, number one ranked women’s tennis player is powerfully and unapologetically juxtaposing with the unspoken societal rules that persuade us to conform to inequality.

Williams profession is a statement itself, being a female athlete is no easy feat and is often riddled with unsporting conditions. For example, even though the U.S. Open women’s tournament sold out faster than the men’s in 2015 (and had higher ratings of viewers in 2013 and 2014); Williams still is paid only half the amount the men’s number one is paid. Williams isn’t just an athlete; she can’t be. Due to her gender her profession is tightly intertwined with the discrepancies between men and women’s athletics. Williams not only has to train at the highest level but consider a onslaught of sexist, racist, or simply incorrect comments and whether to address or ignore them. Consider (one of the several) Indian Wells incidents: the (now former) CEO Raymond Moore stated that the female players in the Women’s Tennis Association “ride on the coattails of the men” and suggested women “go down every night on [their] knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport. They really have.” This sexist comment was not an anomaly, but an everyday occurrence of the shit Serena endures. Serena reminded girls everywhere that, “we shouldn’t have to drop our knees at any point.”  She’s not just an athlete, she’s an activist.

Williams, though her body was described as a “monster truck that crushes Volkswagens at sports arenas” a slew of other rude (and odd) analogies, refuses to allow anyone to imprison her in the box of masculinity simply because she is an athlete. Williams’s recent appearance in Beyonce’s video “Sorry” did not include her flexing her muscles, downing protein powder, or thunderously swinging her racket. Rather, dressed in body hugging black leotard, she rolls seductively on the floor, embracing and flaunting her sexuality.

Williams also shows that there is more to life than the desperate, panicked search for a partner many girls engage in. She is enough for herself. It doesn’t stop her from enjoying flings and dates with some of the most sought men (those Drake rumors though…) but exposes the illusion of co-dependence our culture has cultivated.

Serena Williams has an incredible life: she is in a Beyonce video, she is the number one tennis player in the world, she is the face of women’s tennis and she is unmarried, childless and thirty-four. This single life is the stuff of nightmares for my friends and one society concludes can only end with cats and loneliness.

But Williams isn’t lonely. She is God damn powerful. Serena doesn’t tell girls that they can be different, that they can have dreams bigger than settling for a nine to five job and a child in a lukewarm marriage–she shows. The unjust disparities, racism, and sexism she has faced combined with society’s standards of an acceptable life (for a woman) prove to be irrelevant to Williams. She shows that no one, but you, can hold you back from being the best. So ladies, take a cue from Serena and go put on your Empowered By You underwear and kick some ass.

The Seamless(ish) Private Party

I skim a text, as my Uber driver, I believe her name was Rolia, explains the incompetence of yellow cabs, “They have no care for other drivers,” her accent is thick and filled with despise. I murmur a sound of agreement, preoccupied. “No later than 10:25” the Promoter had ordered, I briefly glance at the time…it’s 10:40. But this is New York. Late is the new early? Honestly, I did attempt punctuality but at 10:25 I was naked, except for my EBY striped Alice and Olivia thong, with about ten dresses lying rejected on the floor. Rolia pulls up to Up & Down, the pre-game before Nick Jonas’s “private party” at Oak. “Dear God,” I mumble staring at the hoards of, mostly women, mostly underaged, teetering in too-tall heels and dresses so tight I can tell that they’re not wearing seamless undies. I stand hopelessly lost for about twenty minutes, imagining an alternate reality where I’m home, sprawled out on my couch, perhaps enjoying a re-run of Friends.

Two girls in front of me are pushing and jabbing their way through the crowd; suddenly, one of the girls yelps, “Ow! What the hell?” She is clutching her perfectly, pedicured foot which has clearly been pierced by an unforgiving stiletto. The offender spins around and stares at her dryly, seemingly unconcerned, “are you bleeding?” The girl replies with a shake of her head, “Then I don’t see the problem,” She retorts shrugging and turning away.

“Olivia!” The promoter yells in a tone reminiscent of the voice my father used the time I flooded the house with toilet water. I jostle my way towards him and he shoots me a scathing look. I seamlessly reach for my ID and he stares at me like I’ve sprouted a third eye, slowly shaking his head. I awkwardly place my ID back into the front of my wallet and the bouncer stamps my hand. Once inside, I hear an overexcited, “Hey Girl!” An short brunette and a tall blonde greet me as though we’re best friends, I’m fairly certain we’ve never met before but I play along (seamlessly). The promoter hands me a drink and then directs me to partake in a sufficiently awkward group photo (Do I smile? Do I not smile? It’s does not appear to be a smiling occasion, but then what do you do with your mouth?) I attempt a smize, as that appears to be the choice of the other girls.

He hands me the phone to appraise the picture and I discover I look more constipated than alluring. “Go dance,” he orders. The blonde and brunette grab my arms and begin humping the air. I honestly don’t know what’s worse: the dancing, the music, or their underwear lines.

I check my phone, relieved to see a text (from a friend(ish)) inviting me to “come chill”. “I’m going to go to the bathroom,” I lie seamlessly to the girls, eager to break away from their uncomfortable dancing. “Oh we’ll come!” The brunette announces grinning ear to ear. 

We walk towards the direction of the bathroom, me: leading the way, them: trailing behind like lost ducklings. We enter the bathroom, which appears twice as crowded as the club, and then I sprint, making a seamless breakaway! I race towards the door, up the stairs, eat shit, get up again, and find the exit. Two girls are pushing on the door, one is crying, “It won’t open!” I press the bar and push, it opens. Hallelujah. Disregarding the scraped knee, and bruised pride, I silently praise myself for my seamless(ish) escape from the misogynistic, claustrophobic club. I hail a yellow cab and prepare myself for his/her careless driving Rolia warned me of.


final mariaThree Questions with Maria Mukankubana:

Q: I understand you own a thriving eatery, “a favorite among locals.” Can you tell us your story to success?

Honestly, initially I couldn’t find work anywhere. I was pregnant and unemployed. I looked and applied to countless places being rejected at everyone. But I would not accept failure. I joined an Opportunity International Trust Group and worked incredibly hard. After opening my eatery I was able to quadruple my family’s monthly income.

Q: That’s incredible. What were the biggest changes you noticed after your business took off?

Well, I experienced a lot of changes. I went from feeling worried to having this security I had never had before. I gained a lot of independence and respect–most notably from my husband.

Q: What’re you looking forward to in the future?

I’m excited to see how my business grows. I’m thrilled I can provide an education and housing for this future baby and I’m so excited to raise my baby in a household where there is a real partnership and mutual respect.

Empowered By You Teams Up with Xtend Barre

We are excited to announce that Xtend Barre has joined the #rebelwacause campaign to help us in our mission of empowering women! We kicked off the campaign with an interview of the badass creator and founder of Xtend Barre, Andrea Rogers in EBY founder Renata Black’s Huffington Post series “Paradigm Shifters”.

Like us, Xtend Barre aims to empower. Andrea wants Xtend Barre to be a place where people of all walks of life and levels of fitness are welcome. This empowers women and men to try barre workouts without the intimidation factor.

Andrea’s philosophy is to make “every single client leave the studio feeling strong, proud, happy and, most importantly, valued.” And it works. “

I have the privilege of watching our Xtend Barre clients evolve and become more confident, happier and stronger,” Andrea explains, “It sounds cheesy, but it’s a gift.”

For the month of June, we are sponsoring classes at Xtend Barre locations and providing free EBY seamless panties. If you haven’t checked it out yet, the women of Xtend Barre are already sharing what empowers them on our instagram! We are #EmpoweredByXtendBarre.

Read the rest of the interview by our founder, Renata Black, and learn about Andrea’s breakdown to breakthrough moment, all on the Huffington Post!

First Female President for Nepal

In a notable herald of changing South-Asian politics, Bidhya Devi Bhandari has been elected the first female president of Nepal. She replaces Ram Baran Yadav, whose 2 year term that started in 2008 was prolonged due to extensive negotiations in drafting the new constitution. Ms. Bhandari has campaigned for democracy since her teens, leading protests that brought an end to a 240-year Hindu dynasty and ousting the last King Gyanendra, in 2006-2008. She has long been favored for the figurehead presidency as Nepal tries to shift from a male-centered culture to one inclusive of women. She has been accredited with influencing sections in the constitution that require 1/3 of Parliament to be comprised of women and either the Vice-President or President be a woman in all future elections. Though Nepal is a communist country and Bhandari will not act as President in the traditional sense, the election shows considerable moral changes in Nepal’s journey to equalizing the gender gap.