What I learned from my Love Island experience
Updated: May 2
Going against the grain.
My Love Island experience as a first generation African-American-Muslim woman....
Although I was so very excited (and also very much nervous) for such an adventure, the decision to go on the show wasn’t an easy one. If you come from a similar culture as I do, then you understand why I'd say that.
If you don’t, then I’ll try to explain.
Born in Guinea and raised in the Bronx NY, I come from a very tight and close knit community that lives a certain way of life. If I’m being honest, the “American lifestyle” or this modern day lifestyle is everything our community tells us not to live by.
However, being a first generation American, I struggled with balancing these two completely different lifestyles.
I am not “Guinean enough” for the Guinean community, and yet I’m also not "American enough" for the American community.
Being a Fulani and Muslim woman in my community means staying home with your family until you’re married, doing house chores, dressing modestly, being married off (probably to someone you might not even like 🥴) & having kids, and living an “obedient” and traditional life.... --- inferior, that’s what we are supposed to be.
However, I refuse to live my life that way.
The first time I did something considered “unconventional” (in terms of my culture) was when I went away for college.
The idea of me as a woman to be living outside of my parents' house was not accepted. I fought so hard; I involved my school teachers and principal; and it took EVERYTHING for them to let me go away for college.
I mean, I was also strategic in only applying to colleges that are out of NYC... So it was either they let me go away or I won’t be able to start school that fall.
But I digress...
It’s so crazy that my family consider me “Americanized” because I speak my mind on things.
It’s so funny whenever I’m about to travel I’m told “instead of looking for a husband you always want to travel the world”. Like, I mean... for one, I won’t “hunt” for a husband and two, when else am I supposed to travel if not when I’m single and have free time lmao.
I’m not saying you can’t do those things with a husband and kids. But I do want to enjoy my life before being responsible of mini Aïssatas running around.
Before going on national TV, modeling was (and still is) one of the biggest "unconventional" thing I’m doing. Interesting enough, I get so many DMs and emails from women who come from similar backgrounds seeking advice because they want to do the same (or similar) but are afraid to do so...
When I got on Love Island, those DMs and emails multiplied because we aren’t allowed to date before we get married. As such, seeing me do so on national TV while staying true to myself, my morals and my values was very inspiring to many people.
To be honest, the experience was something that I knew was out of my comfort zone, but it’s an experience that I will never take back.
So listen, if I can do it, SO CAN YOU!
What my Love Island USA experience taught me is that: I am stronger than I think; I can adapt to any environment I’m in; I am open minded; I am not afraid and I can do anything I put my heart and mind into.
Most importantly, I am so grateful to CBS for allowing me to send my message— as women, it’s ok to take things at our own pace; it’s cool to be celibate; it’s ok to stay stay true to ourselves and not feel pressured to change ourselves for anyone; & when we do that... we will attract the right person.
I do not live a “traditional” Guinean girl lifestyle.
However, I am at a place in my life where I’m ok with that. As long as I am happy with myself and not compromising my morals and values, then nothing else matters.
If there’s any message that I want y’all to take away from this is: stop blocking your blessings because of century old traditions, get out of your comfort zone, don’t be afraid to take risks, and don’t let people’s opinions deter you from following your dreams or accomplishing your goals!
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& Remember, THERE IS ROOM FOR EVERYONE. I want all of us to win!
Let's get to this bag, the world is ours.