LULU LINDEN

Open up, buttercup


I've come a long way since I started blogging. I'm no longer the 22-year-old perfectionist keying away about what I hoped and planned my life would be or wearing outfits representative of who I thought I was meant to become. Now, I find myself keying away about what life actually is and who I actually am, fully embracing that all of this is subject to, and most likely will, change.  Being open to the changes of my life has made me more open in general — especially here. In a recent interview with Dame, I gave them a tour of my bedroom and shared a bit about my journey to self acceptance. Below is my favorite excerpt, but see the full piece here.

So, now that I don't have that regular validation of having someone directly in my life who's like "I like your body, I like the way you look, I like these things,” ...I have to do that for myself.


Women have complicated relationships with their bodies, but it can be especially entrenched for black women. I was wondering if you could speak a bit to the journey you're on within your own body, and maybe how you've had to reframe what society has dictated about beauty standards in order to better love yourself?

That's something that I'm only looking at now. I'm thinking big picture, like going back to puberty. Because the thing about becoming a woman and blossoming...is that it always happens through the eyes of someone else. That's why people say, "The Male Gaze." I knew that I had wider hips and that meant that I was "more of a woman" because men started reacting to it. So, one thing that I've realized, in terms of accepting my body, is now I'm accepting it on my own terms. This is the longest I've ever been single, aside from childhood. I had a high school boyfriend, a long term college boyfriend, and then after college, I've pretty much been single since. So, now that I don't have that regular validation of having someone directly in my life who's like "I like your body, I like the way you look, I like these things,” ...I have to do that for myself. And when I do that for myself, it's not the same way that a boyfriend would. Mind you, I totally like my ass, my hips, and my boobs...and yes, a guy can like that for his own sexual reasons but the reason I like those things is it makes me feel really feminine, and I'm really loving my femininity.



Who You're Becoming and Who You Are


I think it goes without saying that growth is necessary. It's a thing that happens, right? As we continue to live, we continue to change, and much has been said about this type of change. One of my favorite quotes on change comes from a world renowned Brooklyn-born philosopher: "Everybody look at you strange, say you changed. Like you work that hard to stay the same." Jay-Z you guys, Jay-Z said that. 

"I feel more than anything like I'm in a stage of change where things are infinitely possible, and being open to all of those possibilities is resulting in an awkward floundering and figuring out."

But for all that has been said of change and the benefits of it, the good that comes along with the fresh new eyes you get from growth, I wish more was said of that weird space in between. I've heard the phrase "growing pains" used to describe it, but that doesn't quite fit for me because what I'm experiencing isn't painful. I feel more than anything like I'm in a stage of change where things are infinitely possible, and being open to all of those possibilities is resulting in an awkward floundering and figuring out. It's not painful, just unclear.

And while things being unclear isn't my favorite, it is something that I'm accepting as this part of growth. On my search for clarity, I'm posing questions to myself and those around me, forcing myself to try new things, to stretch into and fill the space in between who I am and who I'm becoming.


The Details




Hello Patience, we meet again


I have many strengths. I know how to make amazing mac n' cheese (the cheesy, baked southern kind), I can pick out the perfect red lipstick for any of my friends, and dogs love me. You’ll notice that on this list, patience doesn't make an appearance. That's because I don’t have it. I’ve never liked waiting, and while I know there aren't many people who do, there are some for whom waiting is tolerable. Can you believe that there are some people who see waiting as an opportunity to do something else? For example, if they’re waiting for a bus that’s a few minutes late, they cheerily use that time to read a book or call a friend. My brain doesn’t work that way. I’d spend those extra minutes mentally cursing the bus, the driver, its passengers, and worrying about what will happen now that I am all of 7 minutes late. So yes, waiting isn’t a very pleasant experience for me. 

"It's maddening to realize some things are just out of your control and subject to the timing of life."

And because life and the powers that be know this, it seems like more and more lately it’s been the one thing required of me. I'm waiting to get that next level in my career, I'm waiting for a strike of creativity to propel my next project, I'm waiting to find someone I can feel passionate about again. Hell, as I write this on my morning commute, I'm waiting for the 6 train to get moving! And all the time I'm waiting, I've been moving as many pieces as are in my control to move and sitting impatiently with my hands clasped. It's maddening to realize some things are just out of your control and subject to the timing of life. 

So, I'm trying to find my options. I can't be stuck in a state of frustration because of time. Either I get comfortable with where I am presently so I don’t even feel the need to wait for something better, or I just get comfortable with waiting. Because of who I am, I know the former won't work. It's that hope for something better that keeps me excited about life, which means I'm going to have to become good friends with patience—no cursing at the cosmos allowed.



My god, the arch support is magnificent

How to Style Fila Disruptor

On any given day on any given street in New York City you will see a host of very interesting looking people. I call them "the cool people". Not very original, but the fact stands: these folks look cool. Within this category of cool people is a subgroup of New Yorkers (I usually see them around SoHo, though they can be spotted all over) to whom I refer as “the sneaker wearers”. Again, not very original, but as descriptive as I need to be for you to understand that these people wear the hell out of a pair of kicks. The Hypebaes and Hypebeasts of the city, if you will. And as they pass me by with their incredibly trendy cut-and-colored hair and athletic-wear-as-fashion aesthetic I think, “you know, those Nikes look like they have incredible arch support. Arch support sounds nice,” before I continue click-clacking in low block heels to my destination.

You see, I was not raised to look twice at sneakers. Not for some snobby, posh reason, but simply because I could not afford them. You can imagine as a child of the 90s raised in Brooklyn where Jordans and Nikes were a sign of status, this made made me an easy target for teasing. The few times I felt the need to step out of bounds and ask my mom for clothes like the other kids, the look on her face—a mix of frustration that I would dare even ask and disappointment that she couldn’t provide it—was enough for me to never ask again.

"Instead of feeling less than for not having a crisp pair of white Air Force Ones on the first day of high school, I decided that sneakers just weren’t my style."

Instead, she dressed me like any Caribbean mother would dress their young daughter: well-ironed dresses and coordinate sets, neat cornrows or plaits, and simple black Mary Jane shoes. If there was a function to attend, those shoes turned into ivory Mary Janes with a half-inch heel and a bit of sparkle. If I recall correctly, I think I may have had a pair of brandless Velcro tennis shoes. Nonetheless, I always looked presentable. Regardless of how rich or poor you were, whether you were wearing designer clothes or not, she always said you should look presentable, like you cared about yourself.

That rule stuck with me as I begun styling myself with what little money she gave me, and even as I started working. Instead of feeling less than for not having a crisp pair of white Air Force Ones on the first day of high school, I decided that sneakers just weren’t my style. Spending over $50 on a pair of shoes? That was just an irresponsible way to spend money, not a sign of being more fashionable than anyone else. This idea followed me well into my 20s to where I am present day, except now I live in a city where walking is a main mode of transportation. Flats, booties, and block heels just ain't cutting it out here on these uneven city streets. 

After almost two years of living in New York, lusting after the cool kids and their effortless comfort, I stepped foot inside a sneaker store. The first time I walked out empty-handed. I still couldn't make sense of spending $70 on shoes, but my feet, fed up with the lack of support, walked me right back in a few days later. I got over the lingering guilt of indulging in something I could've never afforded in my youth and walked out with a pair of Filas I've just discovered are called Disruptors, which I feel is accurate for the role they're currently playing in my life. 

*Full disclosure, I went through a Paramore phase in high school and was moved to buy a pair of Converses on sale at the local Ross Dress For Less, but that was the extent of my interest in sneakers prior to this moment. 

How to Style Fila Disruptor
How to Style Fila Disruptor
How to Style Fila Disruptor
How to Style Fila Disruptor
How to Style Fila Disruptor
How to Style Fila Disruptor
Style a Black Dress With Sneakers
Black Dress with Sneakers
How to Style Fila Disruptor

Rules, schmules, am I right, guys?


There are some people you only need look at for a second to know, “Oh, yeah, this person is bad ass-rebel-rule breaker. Laws? You don’t need them. Order? Overrated.” No matter how many vegan leather moto jackets I buy or all black outfits I wear, no one will ever utter these words about me. And that’s fine. Following rules has brought me comfort. They function almost as a mathematic equation for security: if I do X, then Y must occur. Flawless arithmetic, in my book.

"I’ve been following the rules to solve for Y and I’m ending up with everything but. In short, the rules aren't working."

Here is where I should mention that math has always been my worst subject. I never really understood algebraic equations, so it makes sense that my formula has been failing me lately. I’ve been following the rules to solve for Y and I’m ending up with everything but. In short, the rules aren't working. 

When I step back and look at myself, where I am now, and what I've managed to accomplish, there are so many moments when I expected one outcome and got something totally, completely, absolutely NOT what I had calculated I would get. This has led me down a road of pretty consistent disappointment and frustration, at the end of which I found myself yelling, "Well, what the hell are the point of these rules, anyway!?" Naturally, it's in this fit of rage that I started to figure something out.

Life is no respecter of rules. You can't Pythagorean theorem your way through it. I've always needed validation in my choices—to know that what I'm doing will give me a desired outcome—but rigidly aligning myself to a set of rules is not insurance. Some things just have no guarantee. Instead of dwelling on the unpleasant reality of this, I'm trying to find freedom in it. If you don't bend, you'll break, and while I'm no badass rule breaker (don't think I'll ever be really), I'm finding some peace in the bending of rules.




Let's just pretend we're all in Old Havana


If there's anything you need to know about me, it's that I live for thematic dressing. When I was packing for Cuba, my goal was to recreate all of Chiquita Banana's most iconic outfits. Looking back, I feel like I accomplished this, short of wearing a fruit basket on my head which to be honest, had I had one, would've gotten worn.

"It's a incredibly easy aesthetic to recreate even if you don't find yourself skipping through the streets (read: stopping at every vintage car you see for a photo op) of Old Havana."

The formula was simple: primary colors, ruffles, an off the shoulder moment here, a thigh high split there. It's a incredibly easy aesthetic to recreate even if you don't find yourself skipping through the streets (read: stopping at every vintage car you see for a photo op) of Old Havana. It's also a very affordable aesthetic to recreate as evidenced by the fact that nothing I brought with me was over  $30 because let's be real, after paying for the trip—airfare, AirBnb, food, transportation, souvenirs—that's all this jet-setter could afford.

Now I'm not saying that you won't be able to splurge on anything above $30 if you feel the urge to dress thematically, but if you are in the same poor-person camp as me and you're looking for affordable summer dresses, I've got your back, boo!





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