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!