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TINASHA LARAYE: A Lesson in Resiliency



ALEONA ISAKOVA MODE INTERNATIONALE: Sustainable accessories from across the globe


26 U R More: Jennifer Strickland by N I CO L E L U C H ACO

Former supermodel-turned-spokeswoman Jennifer Strickland on why she gave up modeling and fasted the mirror for 40 days.

On the Cover

8 Mode Internationale: Accessories We searched the globe for the most innovative luxury designs. These sustainable accessories from South America to East India command distinction from the rest.

43 What A Man Thinks with Justin Stumvoll D R E S S B Y Eliza J. P H OTO G RA P H Y B Y

David Ochoa

B AC K COV E R T U L L E S K I R T B Y Dark Pony Designs N E C K L A C E B Y Uno de 50 P H OTO G RA P H Y B Y Maari Christante

Life Coach, Author, and Cohost of the Liberation Project Justin Stumvoll answers your burning questions about love, dating, and relationships from the male perspective.

38 Tinasha LaRaye “The Rhythm of Resilience� by N I CO L E L U C H ACO

Artist and Director Tinasha LaRaye knows a thing or two about resilience. Read how LaRaye found her rhythm when facing opposition.

32 Misoon Kim The latest in style from Seoul with a vintage-Rococo inspired collection from South Korean Designer Misoon Kim.



Rediscovering Au Naturel

What Emotionally Healthy People Don’t Do

by S KY E W E I N B E RG

Our resident expert on holistic, eco-friendly skincare shares her favorite beauty brands.

48 Across the Globe: Shoes Ethical style doesn’t have to lack in quality. These worthy brands put sustainable footgear on our map.

10 Au Paris! by L I B I E R R E Y N O L D S

Four tips to add a Francophile style to your look!

by L I S A M U R RAY

Seven signs to test your emotional well-being.

16 Aleona Isakova Designer Aleona Isakova’s Garden of Eden collection is a vision of the “Divine” with hand-made, exclusive Italian silks.

6 Full Bloom Glitter, matte, and highlighters are the rage this season calling on our uniqueness with bold and ethereal looks.

EDITOR’S NOTE t ELOQUENT WOMAN Magazine we’re celebrating a shift in culture brought about by the powerful #metoo and #timesup movements. Sexual assault and harassment have taken center stage in virtually every sector of our lives including business, entertainment, sports, and political arenas. It was difficult to comprehend the enormity of such stories streaming from athletes to A-list celebrities; the long list of exposures were both staggering and, at times, stomach churning. In the wake of powerful confessions from women, men, and sadly, even children, questions are now being raised, “What do we do about it?” As a magazine, we are fighting a war against the hypersexualization of the female as well as the idea of selling sex. We seek to raise awareness for a new generation that true beauty shines from the inside and will always be in fashion. I was impacted by the discovery of yet another former Supermodel-turned-Spokeswoman Jennifer Strickland, who is actively fighting for women’s value through her work with adolescents and young adults by exposing the mechanisms of a critical and, at times cruel, beauty industry. I thought it was important to hear from men as well on the current cultural paradigm. As I sat down to talk with Life Coach and Co-host of The Liberation Project, Justin Stumvoll, he took issue with the current “media driven sexual-revolution” and the “public thrashing” of the masculine man, saying: “[Men] have been reduced down to our sexuality, we have been minimized to, ‘I am just a sexual being, I have no depth, no character, no quality.’ [But] we are much more than just a sex drive. We are a human being, longing for connection and to be known by the world around us.” It was a reminder worth noting that there are men actively fighting for women’s value and bothered by a media saturated with the portrayal of the male, sex-driven mysogynist. You can hear more from Justin Stumvoll at #theliberationproject and read his insightful responses to your questions on love and relationships in this issue. We would love to hear from you! You can send comments or inquiries regarding this summer issue to

R eyna N ichol Lee

Yours Truly,

REYNA NICHOL LEE Founder / Editor-in-Chief


DAV ID & J O RDAN O C H OA Creative Directors David Ochoa has been a professional photographer for over 10 years now, after he decided to take on his father’s legacy when his dad passed away in 2003. Eight years later, he met professional makeup artist Jordan Rosenthal while on a photography job. In 2013, they became Mr. & Mrs. Ochoa and have partnered up in their career and life to become the dynamic duo they are. Together, they share their gift with others by bringing out the ultimate best in who they work on.

LI BI ER R EY N O L DS Fashion Editor & Stylist


Libier Reynolds is a creative entrepreneur who’s mission is to serve women! To help them discover the freedom of knowing their worth and seeing themselves as enough! She is the author of Through The Wilderness a memoir of overcoming selfhatred and addiction. She creates regular content for Television in Sacramento, her blog and YouTube Channel with her focus on beauty, style and inspiration. 

Brienne has 10 years experience with styling and designing in the fashion industry. In the past she has designed children’s wear, women’s wear, and high-end pet wear. Her current projects include custom design women’s dresses and ready-to-wear garments for men and women. Brienne has a passion for individuality and authenticity. She uses design to call out the true beauty in her clients, empowering them to be confident and comfortable in their identity.

AMBER AARON Stylist & Fashion Writer Amber Aaron is an Oakland native, L.A. based wardrobe stylist and freelance journalist. Upon earning her Masters in Luxury Goods & Services from the International University of Monaco, Amber re-located to Los Angeles to begin her fashion career in style consultancy. Amber’s credentials and global industry experience have given her an edge on the business of fashion, allowing her to make innovative and savvy decisions for clients that are ahead of the curve and on trend. Amber’s portfolio can be viewed at

M AA R I CHR I STANT E Photographer

NI CO L E LU C H ACO Writer Nicole Luchaco is a freelance writer, visual stylist and professional conversationalist. Born and raised in Alaska; she sleeps best on planes, trains and in cars. Nicole can often be found researching the nutritional value of vegetable-anything, volunteering her time in a foreign country and listening to someone’s life story.

With an extensive background in boutique portraits and commercial photography, Maari Christante has taken her craft and vision and leaped into the fine art world.  Here she creates inspiring, hope-filled, photoart adventures. Each image has a flair of beauty and boldness, wonder and wisdom. View her work at Fightsong Studio.

CRIST BL AC KWE L L Photographer

DAVID ROCHE Stylist David Roche is a Montreal-born musician, stylist and model. He is the epitome of the Dapper man, styling in a manner that is both eclectic and classy. Roche brings a simple sophistication to everyday menswear. He currently resides in Northern California where he is sought after for his unique style consultations.

Crist Blackwell is a photographer based in Northern California. A man with many hats, he covers everything from weddings to magazine shoots. He is passionate about uncovering gold in others, laughing, and always living in the intentionality of a creative life. View more of his work at

BLOOM This season’s beauty trends focus on rich hues, ethereal highlighters, and new iconic looks, amplifying the celebration of complex and unique beauty. For nails, striking minimalism takes the show with clean geometric designs, and all over rich sunset tones. Across the runways, the warrior in all of us is being called upon through golden tones and bold looks. Here are 7 beauty and nail picks that honor eco-friendly preferences. 1. EVERYTHING LIPSTICK All things golden is in this season. The rich, long lasting color, and nourishing ingredients of these lipsticks make them hard to beat.

2. CELESTIAL SPHERE EYE SOOT IN ARA Rituel de Fille are known for their stardust and dewy tones.


4. LIT HIGHLIGHT POWDER Blac Minerals “Lit” highlighter can have you feeling sunkissed and radiant.










5. TEDDY GRAHAM AND FROSTED PLUMS EYESHADOW Glitter and matte are the textures of the season. By sweeping on one of these pigments from Beauty Bakerie, you can’t go wrong.



Glory Boon’s magical concealer melts into your skin and is formulated to co-exist with your unique and natural pigments. It’s smooth, light, and oh-so-luxurious; you may forget you’re even wearing it.

Prana Potions products are birthed from a belief in a plant-based, ecoconscious beauty care ritual created by a young herbalist in Hawaii. Her creme foundations are the perfect partner to any of the trends. ÉL O Q U E NT M AG.CO M 7



“Worth it” is an understatement when considering these international designers for gorgeous accessories this season. When it comes to shape, texture, versatility, and quality, there’s no reason you need to step out accessorized like anyone else!

B ROT H E R V E L L I E S | South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco NUSA DISC $495

M E LO N M O N G O L I A N M I N I I S L A N D $1050

M A S I E C I RC L E S T U D S $45

S I LV I A TC H E RA S S I | Colombia

M A RY J E A N South Africa

A N YA KO N E C K L AC E $350

M A RY J E A N M M E R E B A N G L E $80

A R M O U R D E CO E A R R I N G S $101

ARIA HANDMADE South America B O RA S CA R F $35.95




Parisian style has been a delight to my soul since I was a petite fille. I was drawn to the elegance of French style since my mother and I received a bottle of Chanel Number 5 perfume 20 years ago! I can remember thinking how much I loved it’s simplicity and elegance! That bottle has held its own throughout the years because it’s followed style elements that make French women so chic! Simple with just that little something to give it character and poise! ÉL O Q U E NT M AG.CO M 11

Here are some tips to help you add a Francophile mood to your style.

Start by choosing a very basic and neutral base for your outfit; think colors like nude, ivory, black, gray, white, or navy. Here I chose black faux-leather leggings with black pumps to keep the color consistent and added an elegant top with a pop of powder blue as my wow-factor!

Add an element of class with a fun accessory like a metallic shoe or a great handbag that adds a pop of color or vintage feel! Think about adding a third element to your outfit by throwing on an oversized blazer and capping it on your shoulders. This creates interest and elegance. Pairing Navy blue and coral with pops of brown or taupe are always a hit! ÉL O Q U E NT M AG.CO M 13

Add a white collar under any crew neck sweater or top! I love adding a little more drama with a billowing bow blouse elegantly tied out of a basic sweater!

MODEL Jennifer Kidwell @jennywearsvintage

High waisted pants, especially these black and white ones, are in line with elegant lines! They fit well and create a waistline that all women (no matter your size) are able to cinch and give you those “embracing womanhood� vibes! A blazer, especially a double breasted one, can take you from season to season!





ONA O VA Russian native Aleona Isakova had a dream to tell a story through haute-couture. As Art Director for Favore Fashion House since 1991, her collections have been shown in Jerusalem, Moscow, London, Sydney, and the United States. In her Garden of Eden collection, Isakova demonstrates her divine attention to detail with each hand-made gown of exclusive silks from France and Italy.




Russian native Aleona Isakova had a dream to tell a story through haute-couture. As Art Director for Favore Fashion House since 1991, her collections have been shown in Jerusalem, Moscow, London, Sydney, and the United States. In her Garden of Eden collection, Isakova demonstrates her divine attention to detail with each hand-made gown of exclusive silks from France and Italy.












Au Naturel B Y S KY E W E I N B E RG

An eagerness for purer products, made by dedicated artisans, continues to rise. The very roots of holistic care have always resided in honoring our natural, organic beauty and it comes as no surprise that eco-friendly is still “in,” this summer. These Top 5 products not only celebrate nature’s healing properties, but come from brands where authenticity is revered.

S U N WO R S H I P P E R F AC E O I L I am a forever fan of this company and their dedication to creating phenomenal eco-products. With a light texture, divine smell, and soothing corrective effect, this Sun Worshipper Face Oil by URBAPOTHECARY has changed the appearance of my skin by increasing my skin’s moisture, balance, and overall vitality.



2 CREME BRULEE FOR KINKS, C U R L S, A N D CO I L S Beija-Flor was birthed from a personal connection to the hummingbird, and their celebration of nature’s strength is felt in every vegan product they’ve created. The Creme Brulee For Kinks, Curls, and Coils not only smells like an actual dessert, but feels like a luxury indulgence each time I use it.

DETOXIFY CHARCOAL FACE MASK With NB Botanical’s incredible dedication to skin nourishment, it comes as no surprise that every single product I’ve had the pleasure of using can be described as therapeutic, luxurious, and restorative. However, my favorite by far is their Detoxifying Charcoal Face Mask.

5 WHIPPED BODY BUT TER Throughout the seasonal shifts in my daily routine, I have been a long term user of body butter because of it’s unique ability to bring vibrancy back into my parched skin. However, I have never experienced a more healing application than I do with 100 Percent Pure’s Whipped Body Butters.


CHAMOMILE & ROSEHIP CALMING DAY CREAM Pai Skincare has been circulating the organic skincare trending list for sometime now. This healing day cream has become a staple in my routine with its delicate, cooling remedy. ÉL O Q U E NT M AG.CO M 25


By Nicole Luchaco

David Ochoa Makeup by Jordan Ochoa Hair by Tara McCutchen Photography by


W I F E , M O T H E R , A N D F O R M E R I N T E R N AT I O N A L M O D E L J E N N I F E R S T R I C K L A N D TA C K L E S B O D Y I S S U E S A N D T H E B E A U T Y O F K N O W I N G O N E ' S VA L U E .


hen Jennifer was seventeen years old, a modeling agent put a measuring tape around her waist and said, “You need to lose an inch and a half here and two inches in your hips.” Her father’s jaw dropped, and he exclaimed, “How is she going to lose two inches in her hips?”

By that time, however, Strickland was no stranger to body-altering critique. She began her modeling career at the tender age of eight years old. “When I was seventeen, I looked like Daryl Hannah; I looked like I had just walked out of Splash,” said Strickland. The former international model turned speaker recalled that her mother feared that Strickland would be self-conscious because of her height, and consequently enrolled her uncoordinated daughter in a local modeling school. “I was six feet tall by the time that I graduated from high school. I enrolled in a beauty pageant and won Miss Photogenic,” said Strickland. That was only the beginning. Strickland appeared in national TV commercials, signed with a modeling agency at fifteen years old, and by seventeen was living in Hollywood under contract with the Nina Blanchard Agency (which is now Ford Models Los Angeles). “Nina Blanchard and Eileen Ford were my mother hens,” said Strickland. Now a wife, mother of three, accomplished author and speaker, and the founder of the nonprofit U R More,

Strickland credits her years as a professional model with giving her the platform on which she now stands. “You are more than what the magazines say. Your body is sacred. It’s not a convenience store,” said Strickland. “You know, one of the lies of the world is that your body is just a thing, and that it’s not connected to your soul.” That’s how the name U R More came into being. Strickland’s life message is that you are cherished, you are chosen, you are loved. And when you start living that way, it changes everything. The way that Strickland approaches the topic of value is intriguing. “I have [women] identify the lies they’re believing.” “Everywhere I go, it is a common thread for women to get their value from others’ opinions; whether your father told you that you were fat, or you were bullied. Another lie is: You are what you see in the mirror. Yet another: You are what magazines tell you.” Because of her history in the modeling industry, Strickland has a unique and insightful perspective on body image; her body was her job. “In the beginning it was innocent. I did Olay commercials, Converse tennis shoe commercials, Fanta orange drink.I got to dance on the pier in Hollywood, drive a Porsche. All of my friends thought that it was so cool! Mercedes Benz commercials, fly to Seattle and do Eddie Bauer catalogs, fly all over the place and work for the German catalogs. So I was making $1,500, $2,000 and $3,000 a day as an eighteen year old girl,” said Strickland. ÉLOQUENTMAG.COM 27

At seventeen, Strickland was sent to Europe to build her modeling portfolio. In each city, agents placed her in models’ apartments and she lived with other girls from all over the world. The agents would sometimes watch over her for the first 24 hours and thenget back to work, leaving the young models to fend for themselves. In the days before cell phones were commonplace, Strickland found herself navigating foreign countries with street maps and metros. She attended 15 to 20 interviews per day, meetingmultiple designers and interviewing for catalogs.

It was a normal occurrence for Strickland to see girls weeping backstage after starving themselves and giving up school in pursuit of this dream, only to be met with rejection. Not skinny enough, not pretty enough, not perfect enough.

While it sounded like the dream to those back in the states, Strickland recalls that there were many disturbing moments. “I saw so much. I lived with a bulimic girl in Australia. It is forever imprinted on my mind what it’s like to live with a bulimic,” she said. The eating disorders ran rampant among the girls, most of whom suffered from poor self-image. Strickland recalls that most quit school, but that was not a sacrifice she was willing to make. She would work the European markets in the summers and return home to college in the fall. “If I had known my worth, I never would have let those people criticize my body all of the time. You find out real quick that you’re not tan enough, or curvy enough; your stomach’s not flat enough; your hair is too frizzy.”

At the brink of her despair, Strickland met some people in a park handing out Bibles. After battling with her soul to find her purpose, Strickland surrendered her life to Christ and left the modeling industry. “I knew that God was telling me that I was more,” Strickland said.“That I was worth more than being analyzed for the rest of my life for my appearance. That I had gifts and talents and abilities. But I was eight years old [when I started modeling], it was the only job I had ever had. It was theonly road that I had ever known.”

“I was worth more than being analyzed for the rest of my life for my appearance.” When Strickland graduated from college she began doing runway for Giorgio Armani in Milan, a nearly impossible feat. “You don’t just see Giorgio Armani. You see his cousin, his sister, his bouncer; you go to the studios like five times before you see the big guy,” Strickland laughed.“I stumbled on the stage and got sent away and then got another chance and got his big shows. He showcased me with his 1995 haute couture line, and put me in the newspapers. But I was borderline anorexic by that point. It was the only way that I could do the runway. I was starving myself, but we all were,” Strickland recalled.

“I hit rock bottom after the Armani shows,” she said. “I had been taken advantage of; I was depressed; I had some very unhealthy relationships. It was really painful. I was 22. I contemplated suicide. And I fled Milan to Munich, Germany.”

Walking down the street one day in Munich, Strickland was deep in thought about leaving the industry. At that moment an old man stopped her. He had silver hair and bright blue shiny eyes." 'You cannot sell beauty,' he said. I am literally standing in the middle of this huge, wide road in Munich on my way to meet a photographer." Strickland recounted. “And [the man] says, ‘Where are you going?‘ ” Strickland told him that she was on her way to meet a photographer, to which he responded, ’What? So they can use you? Like you are just a piece of furniture?! Turn around now. Go home!‘ She turned around and never took another picture for money again. “He told me that I couldn’t sell beauty, that I shouldn’t sell my face. All of my life I was told that I should!” Strickland said. “So I turned around and never took another picture for money again.” “Models and actresses have a natural magnetism with the camera; it’s not something that can be learned.” As a model, Strickland discovered that although the camera may be safe, many of the men on the other side of it were not. “That is the set up in the modeling industry,” she said. “Young girls on the other side of the camera from older men. Is that really healthy?”

“Models and actresses have a natural magnetism with the camera; It's not something that can be learned.�

Strickland recalled many dangerous and disturbing scenarios with photographers. A lot of healing has taken place since that time, but her repulsion is still palpable. “Nothing could entice me to put my daughter or anyone that I care about in those scenarios. Day, after day, after day, after day in front of the camera.” Strickland said. “That’s where I began to believe that lie, ‘I’m only what man thinks of me. I’m only what they think of me.’” These were the thoughts that plagued Strickland and led her to leave the industry to help women and girls.

“…We have a generation of girls with the poorest self-image we have ever seen.” Strickland left the industry in ’96, took the money she made from modeling, and went back to school to get her Master’s degree in Writing. “I knew that I was a writer and I knew that I was supposed to write my story. I wrote it, and then I put it in a drawer for three years,” she laughed. Four years after she left the industry, Strickland met her husband Shane. They were married and had two children right away. Strickland’s husband, whom she affectionately calls The Cowboy, challenged her to pursue her dream. Strickland recalled the fear of opening up that portion of her life again. “I looked pretty in the pictures, but it wasn’t pretty.” The modeling industry had taken a toll on more than just her body. “I had to walk through the long journey of forgiveness. I had to forgive the whole modeling industry, so that I wouldn’t be angry every time that I looked at a magazine! Because I knew the lies! I had lived them!” Strickland said. In 2008, Strickland released her first book Girl Perfect, translated into five languages. After appearing on television to share her testimony, Strickland began to receive letters from all over the world. “From New Zealand, Russia, Germany -everywhere! Telling me that for the first time they felt like someone knew how they felt. A lot of pain [was in those letters]:date rape, bulimia, anorexia. Divorce, abandonment, sexual abuse-- you name it. They flooded in,” she said.

Strickland says that the Girl Perfect book and study guide help women learn what real beauty is by redefining it. “I have seen so much healing,” Strickland said. “I have gained a lot of insight into the battle for value. I see it in the prisons; I saw it on the runway. It’s everywhere.” Strickland observed that this is the first time in history that the camera has turned inward, stating that with the advent of social media and selfie technology, it’s no longer a photographer critiquing you; you have turned on yourself. “Consequently, we have a generation of girls with the poorest self-image we have ever seen,” Strickland observed. After emerging from the industry, Strickland took a long and hard look at herself, by fasting from mirrors for 40 days. “In the beginning I gained a bunch of weight and I didn’t dress well. The pendulum swung. I was hiding. I didn’t know how to be the best of who I was, because I really didn’t know who I was,” she said. The arrival of The Cowboy prompted Strickland to come out of hiding and to begin to feel comfortable in her own skin. Strickland’s life was defined by lies that she now endeavors to obliterate in other women’s lives. Her advice to anyone believing them is the buzzword of the century, detox. “I would recommend a fast from the mirror. And the scale. And the skinny jeans. And the iPhone. No cameras, no social media, no mirrors. No mirrors! 40 days. And counseling,” she said. “I think that they need to talk about it. When did you first believe the lie that you are your body?” Strickland went on to explain the logic behind this question, articulating the fact that your body will continue to change and be altered by things like pregnancy. “This will go on your entire life until you are ninety-nine and dripping with wrinkles from head to toe,” she said. “We’ve just got to get over it! You can only determine to be the best you can be in the skin that you are in, to reflect the interior qualities that make a woman beautiful.” Strickland believes that true beauty is grace. Grace for someone’s shortcomings. It is forgiveness and faith. The ability to believe in someone when they are not there yet. “That is all that we should expect of ourselves,” Strickland said. “To be the best of who we can be.”

“If I had known my worth, I never would have let those people criticize my body...”



Maari Christante H A I R Amanda Fator M A K E U P Michelle Mcdevitt K E Y S TY L I S T Brienne Peetz S TY L I S T David Roche P H OTO G RA P H E R

MISOON KIM The South Korean fashion scene is currently booming with a youth infused-trend-setting culture at it’s forefront. Since it’s inception in 2015, Seoul Fashion Week, has garnered acclaim not only throughout Asia, but internationally as well. Seoul Designer Misoon Kim’s featured Spring/Summer 2018 collection is bringing an air of Rococo delicacy as it influenced the 1950s and 60s, while breathing vitality into the timeless elegance of women’s ready-to-wear.

B B AO B A B TWIN TOWER DRESS Silk Double Layered Cocktail Dress $766 U N O D E 50 Scales Gold Plated Earrings $109

B B AO B A B SUMMERNIGHT DRESS Cotton Shirts Dress $299 U N O D E 50 Half Moon Pearl Ring $160

B B AO B A B CONCERTO DRESS Contrast Colored BMD $346 U N O D E 50 Fresh Ring $215


B B AO B A B PRETTY WOMAN DRESS Linen Polkadot Dress U N O D E 50 Oasis Pearl Earrings $125

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here’s a reason why you were born,” she stated emphatically. There was a weighty pause, and she continued. “Why are you here? What is your purpose? There is something very interesting about you that you were placed here to contribute to this generation.”

“I was taught that if you keep pushing on a wall it will fall. I just find a way. I caught that from my parents,” she said. “I’ve had moments when I wanted to back down and I have had to choose [to press on]. A lot of that happened in college when I was Miss Black Oklahoma. They refused to put my picture on the wall of queens in the hall of queens.”

´ At the vibrant age of thirty, Meet Tinasha LaRaye. she holds the titles of singer, actor, dancer, screenwriter, director and producer, poet and spoken word artist. She is a teacher and coach in all of the above. LaRaye´ was a Clara Luper scholar, Miss Black Oklahoma City peagent queen and holds a Master of Arts in screenwriting and directing. But when the performer was asked which title she identifies with most readily she replied,“I’m a storyteller. I wear a storyteller hat. Each story needs something different from me.”

The Miss Black Oklahoma City is a university scholarship pageant that was started by Clara Luper. Luper was a prominent leader in the American Civil Rights Movement and led the 1958 Oklahoma City sit-in movement. The pageant originated during the time when segregation still ran rampant in the United States and African- American women were not allowed to compete within the Miss America pageant system. In the name of honoring the resiliency of the ones who went before, the Miss Black Oklahoma scholarship pageant remains in full swing to this day. “It’s not to isolate or separate ourselves from the Miss Oklahoma [pageant] or to participate with the idea of segregation or anything like that, just strictly honor,” LaRaye´ said.

That response aptly encapsulates the Oklahoma City native who is no stranger to doing whatever it takes to persevere through challenging circumstances.



“Every year that the pageant continues it reminds women that they are valuable and seen, that they have a legacy and history.” Unwilling to conform to the shallow conception that beauty is measured by a set of physical standards, the pageant has an extensive application process. Included in the competition is a talent section and onstage interviews. Contestants are asked to share what they will do with the platform they will be given in the event of claiming the title of Miss Black Oklahoma. A title that LaRaye´ never thought she would vie for.

As her talent for the pageant, LaRaye´ performed her first piece of spoken word called “The Rhythm.” A piece chronicling the journey of African-Americans in the entertainment industry. From hymns on the plantation to the first academy award winner Hattie McDaniel. “The Rhythm is the rhythm of getting beaten down and getting back up,” she said. “There actually is a rhythm to resiliency, and that same rhythm is beating through my veins.” she said. LaRaye´is no stranger to creating momentum and presently the rhythm of her determination is directed towards creating opportunities for women and more specifically, for women of color. Upon winning the title of Miss Black Oklahoma, she was taken directly under the wing of the Clara Luper family in a three-year mentorship. “I’ve learned so much about where a yes can take you,” she said. “And where a no can take you.” According to LaRaye´ received an unexpected no when Oklahoma City University refused to place her winning photo, along with three other women

“The reality is that I don’t like pageants!” she laughed. However, representation for ´ campus was incredibly African-Americans on important to LaRaye, who saw the collegiate pageant as a way to showcase the scholars and shift stereotypical perceptions on campus. All of the women around her in the Black Student Association were involved in the pageant, and LaRaye´ quickly became aware of the competitive culture. In a year's time, she would win university pageant and go on to win the her title as queen in the state-wide Miss Black Oklahoma. During this time she found that she was passionate about advocating for others and teaching that divides, no matter how large, can be bridged.


who had won Miss Black Oklahoma, on the wall of queens. “That was a moment when we had to push. I learned the value of people fighting for me, because it wasn’t a battle that I could have ´ fought,” she said. During that time, LaRaye’s scholarship advisor became the chairman of the Diversity Counsel and went to bat on the women's behalf. From 2007 until 2010 the photo remained undisplayed, collecting dust alongside the previous winners from 2005 and 2006.

There were women of color from the Miss Oklahoma and Miss America pageants whose photos were displayed on the wall of queens, but when the topic was raised regarding the winners of the Miss Black Oklahoma pageant, LaRaye´ says, “I will quote the individual - there was a huge gasp, and she said, ‘You mean [display their photos] with the Miss Oklahoma’s and the Miss Americas?’ ” The individual then suggested that the winner’s photos be displayed in the cafeteria. However, the Diversity Council strongly objected. In 2009, the president of the university stepped in and gave approval for the photos to be displayed on the existing wall of queens. Still, that was not the end of the battle. LaRaye´and fellow winners found opposition at every turn, being told that dimensions of photos were incorrect and would need to be resized, and the list went on and on. “We started getting the micro-aggressive run around,” she said. Finally in 2010, the women’s photos were placed in the hallowed hall.


I learned what it was to get things done for people that are not in a position to get things done for themselves,” she said. This was not the last time that LaRaye would need strength and resiliency in her collegiate career. LaRaye´was pursuing her MA in screenwriting and directing at Oklahoma City University, when she was approached to direct First & Female, a documentary short chronicling the race between two female candidates vying to become the first female governor of Oklahoma in 2010. This was a historic moment for the state and became LaRaye’s directorial debut. “I had no idea that it was going to turn out the way that it



did, writing about Oklahoma's women and the fight to break through glass ceilings,” she said. But according to LaRaye,´ many women did not want to discuss the limiting factors that they were facing. “They didn’t want to bring any negative light on how they got to where they were, because they knew that they weren’t done moving up,” she mused. “I had to go to someone who would tell me the truth.” And that woman, was Marilyn LuperHildreth, Clara Luper's daughter, whom LaRaye´ described as having an articulate and bold nature equal to that of her mother.

“...Let me step in and teach you my world,to make space for you to come alongside of me, or after me. ” As she followed the election and conducted interviews, a surprising theme began to emerge. LaRaye´was delighted to uncover a story not about competition, but of mentorship. “What’s interesting in women’s circles; you constantly think that it’s us pulling each other down. But that actually wasn’t the case in Oklahoma,” she said. “The women were actually pulling each other up and creating space behind the scenes to go, ‘Hey, you may not know what this looks like; let me step in and teach you my world, to make space for you to come alongside of me, or after me.’ ” LaRaye´said that learning that lesson was a powerful experience, “Life is all about connecting with other people. About sharing experiences and enjoyment and fulfillment,”

she said. “If you are always making people the will miss connecting points and the essence of who a person is." She credits her parents with giving her a solid foundation to build upon. Openly stating that she is not a self-made woman, but rather the product of a deep and profound inheritance. Her father was a pastor and from an early age taught her that she was loved and could succeed, that everyone mattered and had a purpose. Her empowering upbringing and resulting tenacity were put to the test when LaRaye´ encountered unexpected opposition, but she says those trials taught her a priceless lesson, “Sometimes there is a person that is opposition, sometimes it can be [yourself] that is the opposition, sometimes it can be a system that is the opposition. Sometimes it can be the brokenness of a community and habitual patterns,” she said. “Which is why I don’tmake people enemies, because I realize there’s way more obstacles than just people in life. You can fight for something, not against something.”

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s a man, one of the greatest gifts that I’ve been given is the opportunity to explore and come to know the intimate depths of my wife’s heart.

I kept this hatred close, as it was the only thing that I subconsciously believed could protect me from being abused.

I find that as I honor and respect the femininity uniquely expressed through my wife Abi, I’m given a chance to discover profound things about my masculinity. The gentleness, tenderness, kindness, and vulnerability required to know her intimately woo’s me back to revelations of my own humanity. These revelations of my humanity can only be found as I surrender my need to hide behind walls of fear built to protect me from the inevitable pain one must face in any relationship that has depth.

Early on in my marriage I was quick to fly off the handle and respond disproportionately to the circumstance at hand. I was quick to become aggressive and create as much distance between Abi and I in my heart as possible. One morning, after an explosion between the two of us, Abi took off to work and I was left at home all alone to think. I found myself standing in front of the mirror rambling out loud in a tirade about Abi.

It has been an indescribable pleasure to support, protect, and love my wife, both in what it has done for her, and also what it has done for myself.

Q: “IF I HAVE HAD A TRAUMATIC PAST WITH MEN, AND MANY THINGS TRIGGER MY PAST, HOW DO I STAY COMMITTED TO HIM [THE MAN I’M CURRENTLY WITH]? HOW DO I LEARN TO TRUST HIM? WHEN HE DOES CERTAIN THINGS, IT TRIGGERS ME. HOW DO I STILL LOVE HIM AND NOT BLAME HIM FOR THINGS? - ANONYMOUS Inside of every adult, who has a history of trauma, exists a child who is deeply scared and in dire need of compassion. I grew up in a house where my mom expressed tremendous amounts of rage and physical abuse. (She’s since found healing, as have I, and she’s one of my best friends.) As I stepped into relationship with Abi, I was quick to be on guard. I had made a vow as a kid that I would never allow a woman to hit or abuse me ever again. Hidden beneath the surface was a deep hatred for women and a lingering unforgiveness.

“ Inside of every adult, who has a history of trauma, exists a child who is deeply scared and in dire need of compassion. ” Suddenly, amidst all of my blame, I had a revelation. Out of my mouth exploded a sentence that forever changed my life, “Justin, Abi is not your problem! You are your own problem!” The words cut deep. I knew they were true. She wasn’t my problem, my unresolved pain, hatred, and unforgiveness were my problem and they were poisoning the relationship. I was holding the sins of my mother against my wife. She was paying a debt she didn’t owe me, nor could she ever repay. After much process, I decided to quit being a victim to my trauma and take my life back. I started by taking ownership for all of my behavior towards ÉLOQUENTMAG.COM 43

Abi, regardless of what I thought was justified. I apologized in depth for all of my indiscretions. I acknowledged out loud, “You are not my mom, and I have been seeing your actions through that lens. I am sorry, please forgive me. You are your own person and I need to see you without all the extra baggage.”

comparing every man they meet to Mr. Perfect and they think they’ll never get over him.

I began to take time, almost daily, to build a case for Abi. I would meditate quietly and imagine the scared little boy inside. I would tell him, “You’re okay, no one is going to hurt you anymore. Abi is not mom. She’s not here to hurt you. You are safe and loved. I see you. I know you feel scared, but I can stand up for you. You don’t need to be on guard all the time.”

There’s this idea that the right man will fulfill your heart and make you happy. No man can or will do that for you. A man, or any human for that matter, was never meant to be your source of fulfillment. If you can’t get over a man, it’s because you’re living in an imagined reality of what that man could be for you and how he could “make” you feel. You believe that you can’t find joy, happiness, or whatever you thought you were getting from that person, through another avenue. Choosing to not get over someone is really choosing to place the power of your well being into the hands of someone else. Imagining life with this man you “can’t get over” is really just a way to avoid having to grieve a loss as well as face your deeper fear that you don’t believe you’re worthy of finding another relationship where you feel loved and known.

These words of truth and compassion began a deep journey of healing, one that no matter how perfect Abi was, she couldn’t have made happen, only I could do that. I then chose to begin the journey of healing with my mom. I realized that women didn’t hurt me. An entire gender wasn’t to blame. The culprit for my pain in this area wasn’t even my mom. WHAT? That’s right, the culprit was everything that drove her. She acted out of fear, judgment, shame, self-hatred, just to name a few things. I realized that at the rate I was going, I was on the road to becoming just like my mom towards Abi. If I was going to break the cycle I had to stop acting out of fear, judgment, shame, self-hatred and so on. I decided to act out of peace, acceptance, love and so much more. You see, I realized that I couldn’t make Abi understand my pain. I also couldn’t make her change her behavior enough to make me better. But what I could do is take ownership for my life and own my healing process. I had all these accounts against women and no amount of blaming could give me justice, so I decided to get real justice in my life. I decided to forgive. Q: “I WAS WONDERING, IS IT POSSIBLE TO NEVER GET OVER SOMEONE?” ~D.W. I’ve met with so many women who think they found Mr. Perfect only to have Mr. Perfect exit out of their life. Years later, they’re still

Here’s a hard dose of honest truth, for every woman who feels like they can’t get over Mr. Perfect. YOU NEVER WILL AS LONG AS YOU THINK HE WAS PERFECT!

So is it possible to never get over someone? Yes, if you choose to hide in the illusion of what was, rather than accept what is and move forward.






ot long ago, I was sitting with a client who, shock of all shocks, didn’t want to be in therapy. He expressed whole-heartedly that, “Only people with mental illness need a therapist, but anyone with common sense can figure out their own problems.” “So then, why are you here,” I asked? “Because my wife and I aren’t getting along and she said if I didn’t come, she was done with this marriage,” he stated quite matter-of- factly. I responded, “I guess you have a problem, then, don’t you?”


Truth be told, most of us think we are normal, healthy, and yes, right. Most of us would like to believe that we have a reasonable amount of intelligence with which to successfully navigate life and relationships. Yet when I ask individuals what emotional health looks like, they look at me quizzically. Few have an answer. Emotional health is something rarely discussed, almost universally assumed, and hardly ever dealt with effectively. We teach physical health to our children in school. They understand about the importance of exercise and diet to our physical well-being. We teach spiritual health in church so that individuals can gain a greater understanding of scripture. Where is the class that teaches emotional health? I never saw one when I was in high school. Apart from a general psychology course that taught the theories of Freud and Adler, where was there any mention of what emotionally healthy individuals do or don’t do?

1. They don’t make decisions based on their

“ Emotional health is something rarely discussed, almost universally assumed, and hardly ever dealt with effectively. ”

emotions. While they are able to acknowledge their emotions and face them, they have developed the habit of thinking through their emotions, a skill called “processing,” in order to understand their emotions, what they are, why they are feeling them, and what they need to do with their emotions in order to help them make the best decision possible. They thoughtfully respond to a situation instead of emotionally reacting to a situation. There’s a big difference.

2. They don’t shame themselves. When they do

blow it (as we all do,) instead of beating themselves over the head with shame and condemnation, they have learned how to be compassionate with themselves, offer forgiveness to themselves, so that they can move forward productively. Shame is never productive. When we shame ourselves, we can never forgive, we can never learn. Compassion allows us to let go of perfection, defensiveness, and hopelessness because it opens up the possibility of healing, learning, and growing. Compassion sees a future whereas shame sees only the moment. ÉLOQUENTMAG.COM 45

“ They thoughtfully respond to a situation instead of emotionally reacting to a situation. ”

3. They don’t make the same mistakes repeatedly.

The truth is we all make mistakes. Some people, no matter how well- intentioned, keep repeating the same mistakes time and again. When emotionally healthy people make mistakes, they are able to use their mistakes as learning opportunities. They try to understand the events that led to the mistake, the emotions that potentially motivated their decision. T h e y a s s e s s h o w th ey c ou ld h ave d one t hings differently then as well as how they might respond differently in the future.

4. They don’t need other’s approval.

Healthy individuals have developed their identity, they know who they are as well as what they believe. They have grappled to discover their passion and their purpose. They are driven from within. Therefore, they are not motivated or discouraged by other’s approval or criticism. They validate themselves. They encourage themselves. When they have down days, before they pick up the phone to call someone, they quiet themselves and speak words of kindness and truth instead.

5. They don’t blame.

Blame projects responsibility for our lives on someone else. Healthy individuals own responsibility for their lives and their decisions. Because their worth isn’t dependent on being right, they can own responsibility for their wounds, their words and their actions, understanding that owning responsibility is the first step toward healing.

6. They never expect or rely on someone else

to meet their needs. Instead of looking into the

clouds for the answers to their problems, they look within, to themselves and God, to find an answer or solve a problem. Healthy individuals are able to experience temporary discomfort in order to reach a larger goal. They can delay gratification on the way toward achieving the goals they have set out to accomplish for themselves.

7. They don’t pretend to be something or

someone they are not. Healthy people are

authentic people. They know their identity, their values and beliefs and they walk them out consistently. Their words and their actions match. They are individuals on whom you can count. When they give their word, you can trustthey will follow through.

“ Healthy people are authentic people. They know their identity, their values and beliefs and they walk them out consistently. ”

ABOUT LISA SO, HOW MANY OF THESE QUALITIES CAN YOU IDENTIFY IN YOURSELF? Most people have struggled at some point with one or more of these characteristics. When we have no clear understanding of what emotional health is, we have nothing at which to aim. The more we are able to understand emotional health, the more we will be empowered to cultivate these qualities into our lives and relationships.

Health feels


Health leads to

more health. Health brings


Lisa is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author, speaker, coffee lover, and wife. Her online community provides a compassionate place embrace peace in the midst of the stresses and struggles of life. In her new book, Peace for a Lifetime, Lisa Murray shares the keys to cultivating a life that’s deeply rooted, overflowing, and abundant, the fruit of which is peace. While she grew up in the Florida sunshine, she and her husband now live just outside Nashville in Franklin, TN. Peace for a Lifetime is available on Facebook: Lisa Murray Twitter: @_Lisa_Murray









Quality footwear is a fashion detail that should never be compromised, but when sustainability and a good cause are added to the mix, it’s an all around win! We shopped the globe for the best in ethical footwear and what’s coming from designers of Ethiopia, India, Lebanon and Sweden will have you reaching for your passport!








B ROT H E R V E L L I E S South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco 8 RO S E G O L D B I A N CA B O OT $525 16 PA PAY E T U R E D D H A RA S A N DA L $715


M O N AA / Ghana 14 Q U I C K L A DY S A N DA L 17 E M P R E S S S A N DA L


RA F I A C H I C / Morocco 10 PA L E R M O F L AT $275 12 MARRAKECH BROGUE $282 D M O D OT / India 9 RO S A S N E A K E R $55 13 S T I VA L I N E RA B O OT $55 G RA N DT M A S O N / Cape Town S.A. 11 T H E YAC H T $111 15 T H E B A L L E T $120


S AWA / Ethiopia 1 DR BESS LIGHT LEOPARD $92 5 D R B E S S PA R M E $80


/ Lebanon

AZA L E A V E LV E T A N K L E B O OT I E $395 6 A S I A PO I N T E D TO E L AC E - U P H E E L $225 2

E L I E S AA B / Lebanon 4 B L AC K S U E D E W E D G E S $986

T E N PO I N T S / Sweden 3 E L I S E A N K L E B O OT $207 7 NEW TOULOUSE CHELSEA $158





ELOQUENT Summer 2018  

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