natural hair

Stand Tall in Your Truth

Yes. At 6’6” I am obviously tall (shoutout to all of the strangers who think they are the first person to tell me this) but what does it mean to truly Stand Tall?

I think it’s different for everyone.

For me, I try my best to Stand Tall in every single thing that I do. Standing up for yourself in all areas of your life can be difficult. Do I fall short? Yes. But I have more wins than losses and I use my losses as knowledge to fuel my future wins. Standing Tall has saved me from making bad decisions, from believing lies that people tell me about myself, from lies that I tell myself and it has certainly saved my back from the terrors of slouching. Standing Tall is not just a physical occurrence, it is an act of pure self love.

I wanted to wear my badge of honor, so I created a shirt for myself and thought…what if others want to wear their truth too? No matter what your height is, we all Stand Tall for something. What is it for you?

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I can’t wait for us to Stand Tall together! Coming soon…

Full Circle

Graduation season is in full swing and recently I had the absolute honor to be the commencement speaker for my Alma Maters Black Graduation. It was a full circle moment for so many reasons. At University of the Pacific, I found my voice. It was where I discovered my confidence and realized that being Black was a privilege. I could explain it further but I thought there was no better way to show my sheer amazement for the day but to post my actual speech. 

I am incredibly grateful for Marshea Pratt and her entire staff for asking me to speak and congratulations to the 2019 University of the Pacific Black Graduates!

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Good evening! How is everyone doing today? Greetings friends, faculty, staff, alumni and the illustrious class of 2019! Yes, you better make some noise for yourself! You did that!

My name is Alicia Jay. I received my Bachelors in broadcasting in 2002 and my Masters in Public Relations in 2003 right here at Pacific. I see you sitting there trying to do the math and let me just do it for you...I am 38 years old and looking great I might add. Now the burning question, did I play a sport at Pacific? Yes. I was the captain of the soccer team. The tallest goalie Pacific has ever had. Y’all actually believed me?

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Really, I played basketball for 5 years because I redshirted for a season. For those of you who don’t know what that is, I was granted an extra year of eligibility because I needed to get stronger. When I walked on this campus I was a very skinny girl, with absolutely no muscle, who didn’t know who she was, with zero confidence. I came all the way down from Beaverton, Oregon where I was one of a few black kids in the school district. Not the school...the entire district. I would walk home from elementary school with my little brother and someone would yell nigger out the window. I had a teacher that would bring me up in front of the class on a regular basis and tell everyone how poor my spelling scores were and what a terrible student I was. Later when I began my career in basketball, my Father pulled me off of the court during a game because he could see that I was visibly shaken due to the other teams racial remarks against me. On top of that, I was bullied on a regular basis for being exceptionally tall. Now, I know that they were making fun of me because they wanted my gift and couldn’t have it but at the time every comment felt like a knife to my side. So by the time I arrived at UOP, I was depleted. I was low. I was suicidal.

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During the first week, my teammate and I got a knock on our door and when we opened it, we were greeted by every black person on campus. The entire black student union came to make sure that we knew that they were there and more importantly that they had our back. After they left, my roommate and teammate who was from Oakland (shout out to Ahshalic) was shocked that the group were ALL of the black people in the student union, but for me, I was juiced! I finally had MY community with me. The 15 people at my door made me feel seen. They are my best friends to this day. They are the people who brought me back from hating who I was and more importantly taught me what a privilege it is to be black. They are my Sorors who I crossed with in 2001 when we reinitiated Delta Sigma Theta Sorority incorporated right here on this campus. They are my community that reminds me every day that I do in fact belong in the rooms that I am in and have the strength of every single black person who paved the way before me.

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Look around you right now. No matter where you go, you will always have a thread of being in this graduating class with each other. This moment is the starting point to the rest of your lives. Now, I’m gonna take it church. I need you to greet your graduating class right now. Hug your neighbor to the left and the right. Congratulate them. Really. Do it right now. Don’t make me come down there and hug each and every one of you because I will...

Now, why am I up here? Sure. I have accomplished some things. I could talk about how after graduating from Pacific, I commenced a 13 year career in corporate America with the Golden State Warriors in Game operations and marketing. I won awards, produced championship games, I was in parades and I have three rings which of course I am wearing tonight because I earned these bad boys and paid the taxes on them so please believe I wear them whenever I get the chance.

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I could talk about creating a successful lifestyle platform called TallSWAG that helps people to stand tall every day, in every way, that has brought me to many stages just like this one, enabled me to change lives and even star in a number one hit television show on TLC that was watched by millions of viewers. BTW I’m @TallSWAG on all social channels.

Click the photo for more about why I decided to go on a show with the word GIANT in the title.

Click the photo for more about why I decided to go on a show with the word GIANT in the title.

I could also talk about meeting Michelle Obama. I have proof y’all. Look. She is hugging me like I’m family. That’s not photoshopped. I still can’t believe that.

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But I am not going to talk about any of those things. Today, I am going to talk about painting your own picture.

The other day, I went to one of those paint and sip classes for the first time. If you haven’t been, it’s a class that teaches you how to paint the template of a picture while you sip the drink of your choice.
This was the one that we were going to paint.

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So, I get there. Find my easel. And I see the outline that is drawn. I make sure all of the colors are there and I am ready to paint it exactly how they told me too and something just clicked...why? There’s nothing wrong with it but I don’t put flowers in my hair and these colors don’t really go with my apartment...why did I have to stay in these lines? The answer is...you don’t.

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As you walk into the rest of your lives there are many people that are going to try and box you in and up. They will put parameters around you and give you parameters to stick to.

They will tell you your hair is too natural,
that you can’t deviate from the plan,
that you are intimidating,
that you don’t deserve the promotion, a seat at the table or can create your own table.

That is their version of the painting. Those are their lines. Don’t let those lies incarcerate your truth. You are bold. You are dynamic. You are a game changer and a history maker. You are everything that many people don’t want you to be

and they will do things to make you believe that their version is better. Do not let them.

8 months ago I listened to myself say this and walked away from a guided portrait to pursue my own work of art. I am now a full time entrepreneur. It has been challenging, it is taking prayer, patience and persistence but any great feat does. In your path you will encounter many lessons and it is your job to live through them, learn from them and pass them on, so today that is what I am going to do for you. These are lessons I learned for someone in this room today and you better appreciate them because they were not pleasant but like all lessons completely necessary...

Starting over is essential. You will do it many times throughout your life. They will all be scary. They will all be worth it. You arrive at every new start with the necessary lessons for that level of your life. Nothing is wasted. Use the levels, don’t let the levels use you.

You belong in the room. Whether it be a room that you created or one that you are helping to create, you deserve to be there. Your path led you to this place.

God makes no mistakes. Embrace it and thrive in it.

You are the only one with your gifts. No two people are the same. We are created to accomplish things that only we can do. Stop comparing your gifts to someone else’s. There is no comparison. Create your lane and thrive in your purpose.

Congratulate and Collaborate. We are here to build with our community. We achieve together. Our gifts are to be shared and celebrated. Contribute to and gain from your community.

Hard work always pays off. You must move your feet or someone else will. Purpose cannot be achieved without movement.

Never stand at closed doors. Closed doors are a blessing. They carve our path just like open ones do. Do not stare at them. They are there to create movement. Thank them for the experience and move forward.

The bear is scared of you. Your gifts will scare people into forming weapons against you. They will not prosper. Move past their noise and towards the achievement of your goals.

Ignore the clock. Shed the worlds timeline of success. Work hard. Follow your path and let your purpose unfold in the way that it was meant to. Don’t rush your story. Live it.

Get out of your own way. Your feelings will stop you from doing what it takes to accomplish your purpose. Choose faith over feelings always.

Leave it here. You will never see a U-Haul behind a hearse. You are here to leave a positive mark on the world. Get out there and use your gifts to do it. Use your influence to the fullest.

Now, these are very important points but really it all comes down to this very moment. You have accomplished something amazing and I am very proud of you but if you don’t do anything with it, you just paid a lot of money for a cap and gown. Use your gifts, your black privilege and the knowledge that you have gained right here at UOP to change the world in the most humble way possible. There is nobody that can do it in the way that you can except for you.

It has truly been an honor. Thank you for having me and congratulations to OUR new class of 2019!

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Congratulations to the 2019 University of the Pacific Black graduating class!

Congratulations to the 2019 University of the Pacific Black graduating class!

Sweat Equity

We have all been there. You are straight chillin on the couch, when your friend calls last minute with something fun that you just can’t pass up. You only have moments to get ready and are currently in sweat mode. What to do? Remix those sweats boo!

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You can add some very small things that will make a big impact on a chic athleisure look. In this case, I added a simple faux leather jacket, hoops and some nude pumps. Seriously, thats it. I guarantee you already have accessories that you can add. No purchase necessary. Just go in that closet and mix it up.

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ASOS DESIGN Tall Hoodie & Jogger Set (shown in size L) /Faux Leather Jacket - ASOS  (similar here) /Glasses and Hoops - Forever 21/Pumps - Calvin Klein (shown in size 12)  Photos by  Alina Mamlyuk

ASOS DESIGN Tall Hoodie & Jogger Set (shown in size L)/Faux Leather Jacket - ASOS (similar here)/Glasses and Hoops - Forever 21/Pumps - Calvin Klein (shown in size 12)

Photos by Alina Mamlyuk

If you are looking for sweats, I highly recommend the ASOS loungewear line but if you already have them, there are simple, easy and free ways to pump them up 20 notches. Try some things out. The worst thing that can happen is you have to buy a new pair of sweats and the best is unlocking new looks you didn’t even know you had in your closet. That doesn’t sound like much of a risk to me. Besides, you need that emergency look on hand for that one last minute friend that we all have, know and love. Stay ready so you wont have to get ready. Period.

Every Rose Has Its Thorn

These jeans are only $39.99. I could just leave that right here and stop the blog because when have you found a jean that fits, with a 37” inseam, at that price lately? But where I am at right now, I can’t just talk about the clothing because there is SO MUCH going on in my life. Jeans are great. We need to clothe our body. These are fabulous, have amazing stretch and beautiful embroidery but I can’t just stop at the denim.

I want to use the rose detail to convey a truth that has revealed itself in my life:

every rose has its thorn.

I am happier than I have been in years but there are a lot of unknowns in my life that sometimes keep me awake. I am still single, building an unseen empire, hustling like I never have before and mourning some of the changes that have happened over the last 8 months. It’s been a cornucopia of emotions. Incredible highs and odd lows that I had never felt before all wrapped up in a beautiful package of purpose. I hang on to my vision knowing that is is strong, prosperous and regardless of the current foggy view, will prevail.

When I followed God’s prompt to move and begin, I thought that meant a flawless walk in the steps He had created for me but the truth is, there is no such thing as flawless. In fact, when you follow God more often than not, all of the rough spots become intense. When you are walking in what you were made to be, opposition is at it’s strongest. You can call it a test. You can call it distraction. You can call it an attack from Satan himself. Whatever you want to call it just know that you have to push through it. It’s not an end, it’s a lesson that needs to be learned in order for you to continue down the path that was made for you.

When it comes to anything in life, expect the thorns and embrace them. Nothing you will ever experience that is real and true will be without the prick of something that is perceived as unpleasant. Don’t run from the growth, feel every part of it and use it to strengthen your design.

Currently growing. Currently feeling. Currently becoming who He needs me to be. 

You gotta love a dusty booty from the concrete wall lol. I could have photoshopped it out but it was too much work and plus, who cares that I have dust on my butt from the wall (insert shrugging emoji here).

You gotta love a dusty booty from the concrete wall lol. I could have photoshopped it out but it was too much work and plus, who cares that I have dust on my butt from the wall (insert shrugging emoji here).

Just Give me the Light

Warning. I really liked this outfit and photos so there are a plethora of them. Like 12. There is also different lighting in almost every photo because the sun was going bananas. It’s cool though because it shows you that you should never compare yourself to others because what you are comparing yourself to could just be great lighting. Love yourself, love your lane and by all means, take 1000 selfies in some bomb lighting. Let’s get to outfit shall we?…

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Can we talk about this jean jacket? It’s from Alloy (which is clearly one of my favorite tall retailers). Also, If you have been on their site, the beautiful Jamie Lea is rocking it in the fiercest way possible. As you can see on her and I, this jacket has an amazing cut and is super flattering. Alloy really constructed it right. It’s tall in the right places. You know what I mean. Some “tall” clothes out there are just tall all over. The arms, the body, even the dang pockets are over cut. This jacket does not do that. I love the wash, quality and price. It’s only $64.90. Also, Alloy always has some sort of amazing coupon code so if you don’t see it on their site, google that bad boy.

I’m geeked about the jacket and also pumped about the sneakers…here’s why…

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As you may or may have not seen, I recently took a trip to the Nike World Campus in my hometown of Beaverton, Oregon to visit one of my High School basketball coaches. His name is Sam McCracken. He was a great coach and now he is the founder, General Manager and visionary of the Nike N7 fund and collection. These kicks (specifically the Nike Air Huarache City Utility Premium N7) are one of my favorites from the line. I love them but I love what they do even more. All of the proceeds from the Huarache (and entire line), are given back to youth sport and physical activity programs in the Native American Community. The line is fire and the power of change that it provides is phenomenal. I am so proud of my coach and his entire team for all that they do.

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Whhhhhhew that was a lot of scrolling. I hope you are still with me!

I seriously love this outfit because it’s very much the direction I am going with my style. I am changing in so many ways right now and the way I am dressing is one of them. This is me 76% of the time (hence the 1000th time you have seen these skinny jeans).

I look forward to sharing all of these changes with you and what I am rockin along the way. Thank you for being there, thank you for being you, thank you for giving me your light and love. I appreciate it more than you will ever know.