WTF Zine Vol.1

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CREDITS EDITOR Balraj Bains WRITERS Maryrose Balraj Bains Sarah Chun (See) ARTISTS Noora Yousuf Al-Mulla Chloe Elliot bLRAJ docs/wtf_vol1


WELCOME Hi and welcome to WTF Zine aka Whatever the Feeling Zine. A place where we encourage each other to feel what we feel and share our experiences with the world. Because when we share, we understand each other more and can help each other out. So much of the media out there is negative based or spilling out opinions as facts instead of letting us make up our own minds. To us, our gut feelings, or intuition, along with our own logic is valuable as a means to think for ourselves. Our feelings are important to us as they tell us so much e.g. ‘Is this good for me or not’. In this zine, we look at our emotions, our thoughts, our beliefs and our experiences and express them in different ways to get people more involved in trusting themselves and valuing our feelings as well as what others feel in a supportive environment. Our emotion and consciousness is important to us as we believe it is an essential part of what makes us human. Now is the time for us to acknowledge ourselves and those around us as human beings and not robots. We think showing authenticity and emotion is strong, not weak. Every single one of you out there is a creator and valuable in your own unique way and it is time to celebrate that!

Be real, be you! Balraj Bains WTF Zine Editor






CONTENTS ARTICLES 01. What Embracing my Natural Hair Full Time has Taught Me Maryrose

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02. Getting Comfortable with Myself Balraj Bains

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03. My Journey to True Art: A Glimpse of Art Psychotherapy Sarah Chun (See)

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04. Illustration and Collage Nora Yusuf Al-Mulla

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05. Fashion Design Photography Chloe Elliot

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06. That Fluid Hazy Life bLRAJ

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WHAT EMBRACING MY NATURAL HAIR FULL TIME HAS TAUGHT ME MARYROSE About two years back on my blog, I announced to the world my decision to cease the wearing of hair pieces, attachments, wigs, weaves and the lot, for a number of reasons. Have I since regretted this decision? Absolutely not. However, I must say I have learnt a lot about my self-worth and the importance of me making such an extreme (as some would call it) stand. Motherly Guidance Being born and bred in London, most black children during my youth were forced by their mothers to relax there hair due to the lack of knowledge on how to care for natural kinky hair. Yet my mother refused to follow this trend. From my mother’s young days back in Nigeria, she, with effort, learnt all the braiding styles she could do with natural hair. This was in preparation, you could say, for when she would later have her own girls. So, of course, having three girls was a great way for my mum to present her skills in natural hair styling, though as you can imagine, doing all three young girls hair in one night was most definitely not easy. Social and Media Influence So I embraced my natural hair without blinking an eye, and I guess I was not being phased by all the Caucasian hair advertisements I would see on TV, or my black school friends who

had their hair permed. Yet during my later secondary school days, with the rising popularity of Keeping up with the Kardashians and the Real Housewives of Atlanta, soon most of us were adopting the trend of wearing yaki/remi weaves. Thus, at 16 I had my first weave. But to cut the long story short, since then I was hooked on wearing weaves and updated myself with better quality hair available, whist teaching myself via YouTube on how to sew yourself the perfect sew-in and what not. This went on all the way into university until third year, when I began to dig deeper into my faith and essentially became more serious with God. Spiritual Awareness on who I am Through this journey, I had strong convictions that I was not being true to myself by excessively wearing hairpieces. I felt that I was taking away 60% of who I am, my identity, by constantly wearing straight weaves. Furthermore, I felt that all the excuses I would tell myself as to why I needed to wear weaves (such as it protecting my hair) were simply useless: as God certainly made no mistake when he decided to invent my kind of hair. Therefore, in October 2015, I said a forever goodbye to it all and never looked back.


Lesson 1: I am my hair We all know the famous song by India Arie – ‘I am not my hair’, and this has been the popular phrase for individuals making big decisions about what they do with their hair. I am a black girl, and my hair most certainly attests to that. I was fearfully and -8-

wonderfully made. My type 4, curly, kinky, thick beautiful tresses are very much part of my identity. I take pride in my hair, because it is intrinsically and unapologetically part of my unique genetic makeup, and takes me back to my historical roots, the motherland of West Africa. I effectively want to be known as that girl with the big afro than blending in with all the synonymous weaves. Nevertheless, these are just my own thoughts, and I mean not to offend. Our hair is part of what makes us unique, and I strongly think that we black girls need to appreciate it more. Lesson 2: Wearing protective styles (attachments) to protect the hair, is a myth. Since embracing my hair full time, my hair has benefited immensely compared to all the times I was wearing weaves and extensions. My hair has been growing and is a lot thicker, as I am now able to give it all the TLC it needs. Honestly, the difference in my hair now is just amazing and I love to play with it and observe just how great it is. Lesson 3: I am more confident I remember the days at uni, when I would often wear my hair in an afro, and it was as if I was strutting the streets to my class with the whole world looking at me. I felt weirdly

liberated, both financially and mentally. I was flaunting MY hair, and was truly confident about it. I wanted everyone to see how beautiful kinky natural hair was. I wanted to encourage my sistas to embrace their hair more and I certainly received many compliments from strangers because of my renewed acceptance of my hair. I would always tell myself that anyone who had anything negative to say about my hair only had a problem with themselves.

From the words of a fellow natural blogger, Desiree Headley: “Everyone’s personal journey with deciding to go natural is different and personal, but the end results should be clear. We should all be proud of whatever natural state we were born with, learn to embrace it and take care of it.” I’m rooting for you girl.

Follow Maryrose Blog: Instagram: somaryrose







The Underbelly




GETTING COMFORTABLE WITH MYSELF BALRAJ BAINS I’m writing to say I can’t categorise who I am and that I am actually okay with that. Once upon a time, I was that child that obeyed all my elders and believed every word that came out of their mouths. I was the ‘conscientious’ well behaved child who always did their homework. I was the one who worried if I stepped out of line that I would get caught and told off. But here’s the thing, that’s just not me. It was only recently that I became more self-aware of who I am and who I am not. How do I know this? I know this because I was always acting out of fear. The goody-two-shoes who would never skip a class, even at university. And when I was acting from fear, rather than self-assurance, I was not able to relax and be myself, whatever myself naturally would have been in each moment. So how have things changed? I was journey that woke me up. At the end of uni, I felt pushed over the edge. So much so that I found myself questioning everything and for once in my life, not caring so much about handing in work or worrying about what the tutors might say. My inside voice was way too loud to ignore. It’s not because I was trying to be difficult, but rather because I wanted

to do something I actually wanted to do instead of all the pressure of the ‘shoulds’ from the world around me. In this case, it was seeing the hyped up varsity ice hockey match (which I missed every year before). And let me tell you this, it was one hundred percent worth it. It may sound funny but I was proud of that moment because for once, I listened to myself and not anyone else. For once I dared to risk being myself and it paid off. Who’s going to remember the mark for a random assignment I wasn’t passionate about anyway? After that part of my life, I really began the journey of becoming more comfortable with myself. I am now very grateful for this journey, as difficult as it has been at times, as without it I would have still been living a lie (which I thought was so real and true). It has sent me on a path which has involved figuring out what I like and don’t like, who I am and most importantly changing my mental patterns. When we are young, we soak in everything around us, so I think the environment you surround yourself with changes who you are dramatically. So now I am deciding to choose what environments I want to place myself in, what I surround myself with and who I want to spend time with. And I’m choosing to be in environments that I feel happy


Getting comfortable in Korea, where I really am a foreigner.


People are friendlier than you might think

in, authentic in and around people that support and help each other up. It’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to be happy and when we live authentically without judgement and with compassion, we can really flourish.

features when people kept looking at my face. But then I understood it was my own deeply buried insecurities of the past that were being triggered and that people are just interested in seeing someone that looks different. I even found myself noticing ‘foreigners’ without intending to because there are so few that they (me included) are easily noticeable.

As well as accepting my emotions more, I also started to accept my physical appearance more. In the UK, even though I was born here, I often feel like an outsider in a white world. But then I went to Korea where there are not many ethnic minorities at all. I was one kind of Asian in a different part of Asia and found myself feeling uncomfortable about my different facial features (from the back I blended in and I loved being average height). I started to second guess my physical

The list of things I felt uncomfortable about came pouring in. Do people think I’m boring if I don’t drink? Will people not like me if I don’t agree with what they’re saying? Am I a weirdo if I like and dress differently to the majority and expectations? And each time I choose to answer back and say no, I’m not boring or unlikeable or weird


(being weird is not so bad in my books anyway). I am a human being and whatever I am in any given moment is whatever I am. It’s not something that can be categorised. My skin may be brown (and I’m totally cool with that), but I am not brown! There’s so much more to live for than to worry about being judged for something so small. I used to be so afraid of being judged as being ‘not-cool’: to me that meant I would be naïve and not ever taken seriously. But now, I understand I can be however I want and still deserve to be respected. I don’t have to look or talk a certain way to be taken seriously and I don’t have to be serious all the time either. It’s more important to be authentic and yourself. This way of living (I’m still developing resilience) lets me live my life in a much more real and fulfilling way. Sometimes we feel happy, sometimes sad. Sometimes we want to dress in all black and other times we might want to wear pastel pink and none of that needs to be judged. We don’t have to keep ourselves in a category, and allowing ourselves the freedom to be fluid, and accepting our own humanity, is way more fun. Over the past couple of years I have become more and more comfortable with myself in my entirety. In a world where we put on a smile because it’s

more acceptable, I’m daring to feel my sadness because it’s real. It’s there and it’s telling me something. In a world where it’s rude to say no because it might upset someone, I’m daring to say no because it’s right for me and we aren’t responsible for others’ reactions (we don’t really have power to make others feel a certain way, so I go for being honest about my feelings without accusing). And in a world where loving yourself is unheard of, I’m daring to love myself more and more, because if you can’t love yourself, how can you be yourself or know how to truly love anyone else? I’m choosing to live more comfortably with the one person I have to spend all my life with. Life keeps moving, things change and we change, so I have decided not to take my ‘identity’ so seriously. I’m still on this ever-changing journey which requires me to actively keep practising being comfortable with myself through the highs and lows. I hope that one day we will all be living authentically, fully and be comfortable with who we are at any given moment, including all the tears and all the laughter. Only I decide who I am and I am more than a category. I am ever-growing, ever-changing, I am me. Follow Balraj Instagram: balraj_bains Websiittee: balrajbains -17-


FASHION DESIGN PHOTOGRAPHY CHLOE ELLIOT Westminster Fashion Graduate 2017 Follow Chloe Instagram : chloecharlotteelliott Contact via Email:






MY JOURNEY TO TRUE ART: A GLIMPSE OF ART PSYCHOTHERAPY SARAH CHUN (SEE) I am an Art Psychotherapist to be. I have always been fascinated by the use of expressive arts as a primary mode of communication. A way to provide people with an outlet for complex and confusing emotions that can’t easily be treated with medication. There exists the potential that we all have the ability of healing ourselves and also the concept that arts have the potential to improve lives. Especially as words are not always possible/enough to express one’s experience. It is through art making that people can begin to tell their stories and the therapeutic process leads the way towards a greater personal understanding. In turn, making both conscious and unconscious emotions become visible and tangible. Here, I am going to share my own personal journey of what that process was like for me, how my way of art changed through time and why it’ll never be the same again. The biggest challenge I faced was the thought that I needed to be absolutely original. ‘Creative’. I came from a psychology background and knowing that my passion lies between art and psychology, I worried that I wasn’t creative enough and I have nothing to prove that I am.

So... what does it mean to be creative even? More importantly - Are you creative? There was a period of time when I wanted to prove that I was the creative one. It felt like that’s something special, something that we were born with, not that you can earn. I tried so hard, and as a result, I found myself going the opposite direction. Nowadays, we seem to tie creativity to an end product. Almost like we expect to see how a creative mind works and hopefully make a living out of it the end product. But is that so? Is that only what it can do? To me, it’s a way of expressing. It’s more than just the end product: the process is just as important. Isn’t creativity all about perspectives? And how one communicate those ideas? Playing with the deliverer and receiver perceptions? I believe we were all born to be creative, that’s how we explore the world around us and it’s something so fundamental. As Passco once said, ‘Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.’ However, it seems like, somewhere along the way, we changed. We


Reaching for Help Sarah Chin (See)


suddenly become so afraid of being different or being judged for our personal preferences. We strive to be seen, yet we demand our privacy. At least that was me. I then slowly dropped out of art.

which surprised me. I realised the moment you let go, and let your subconscious drive, it tells you a lot about yourself. But only if you open your heart to it.

I couldn’t take the pressure of creating something brand new. I worried that I might not be creative enough to call myself creative or even to make art… and therefore, I created nothing. I then struggled to balance myself between my love for art and to be original. This was true until I came across a saying by Salvador Dali: ‘Those who do not want to imitate anything produce nothing.’ I then realised that nothing was ever really original as it’s always based on something else. No matter how small, it has been done by someone somewhere before you. Rather than waiting for the right moment, an inspiration, a spark, I slowly developed a way to cope: I decided to start off with the intention of duplication so I wouldn’t stand out. Just paint for the sake of it, enjoy the sense of being in control, lifting the paintbrush, switching from palette to canvas, watching each strokes layer by layer as it forms a picture. Ultimately, I changed my way of art making to work more spontaneously, the result of

I started by using a dropper to make a mark at the centre of the page. I then began to blow the drop in one direction (upwards). The simple action created a sensation in my body which made me feel rather vulnerable. The process of blowing and watching the drop turn into strips spreading was creating a sense for me of reaching out for help. Throughout this process, I felt that for the first time I was being understood. This art making process allowed my unconscious material to surface: I realised how desperately I wanted to get out of the current situation, and with help from others, it might be possible to untangle doubts about my own identity. Doubts that stem from being in between two cultures with that feeling that no-one would fully understand me. To me, this piece felt like it was screaming for help, trying to extend as far as possible to get all the help that one could get from more than one source, hence the different directions. Showing you my creations isn’t the hardest part, because you wouldn’t necessarily know what


it means to me as the creator, and the story behind it. That means I can stay safe in the metaphor and let your own imagination guide you. But this time, I told you what it meant to me, so you get a sense of how powerful art can be. How it can be so simple yet powerful and expressive. At least for me. This piece is particularly powerful for me; as it mirrors my inner experience, and I was in sync with it. It was the first time I felt such a way about art.

By changing to a more spontaneous/ unconscious way of art making, I discovered another aspect of myself my desire for help. I now tell myself not to be worried and just paint! Follow your heart and intuition and let them guide you. They somehow already know what you truly need to know. Let art speak to you. Art heals x Peace x

Follow Sarah Chun (See) Instagram messysprout


THAT HAZY FLUID LIFE bLRAJ ‘Each piece comes out unique. Unique to the vibe of the time when I am making it. Each moment never happens the same way twice. I have to trust myself in each moment that it will turn out alright.’








GRAZIEEEE Thank you for taking the time to look at our work! We hope you enjoyed our first ever zine and the stories and creative work we have shared with you. Thank you to all the contributors for your amazing work and valuable pieces!!! If you are interested in contacting editors, writers or artists, having your work published or any enquiries in general send us a line at We would love to hear from you! Let’s celebrate being human and share the love, Peace out.