tall girls

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.

Werking from Home

In the past 8 months, there have been so many changes in my life. Despite the best of plans, I don’t think that you can ever be ready to catapult into full time entrepreneurship. It’s incredibly freeing and sometimes equally as terrifying. You are literally steering the ship and relying on your own volition for everything. It took me some time to adjust. Driving your own cause takes will power, meticulous scheduling and a lot of prayer. I have called out to God more times than I can count. However at the end of the day, it’s completely worth it.

One of the biggest adjustments has been working from home. I was business casual for 13 years and now I have a commute of zero. I literally could work in my pajammie jams all day. Ok, for a time I was but I found that my mind would stay in bed as long as I still had the clothes that I slept in on. So what do you do? Sit at your computer with a full suit on? That would be a full on negative ghostwriter for me. If I am at home, I am going to be comfortable but I also need to be able to pick up and go at a moments notice. So what’s a tall girl to do? I jumped on the net to find the chicest of sweats and landed at our good friend ASOS.

Admittedly, I could wear the ASOS tall line every single day and especially now because the loungewear is straight fire. This ribbed top and pant are a prime example of the amazing pieces they have to kick it in the most fashionable way possible.

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And when I have to run to a meeting or meet up, I pick out my pineapple (aka fluff the fro), throw-on some accessories and I strut down the street like the boss I was created to be. In this case, I literally added an earring, circle bag and block heels. I go from work-at-home chic to power meeting ready in the blink of an eye.

These are sweats people! I mean it’s changed my whole style point of view. Fierce and incredibly comfortable at the same time? Sign me up! Let’s take this lewk in shall we!? Scroll and I will see you at the end…

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You will undoubtably see my style changing in different ways. My life is vastly transforming and that means that everything is morphing to compliment it. I look forward to sharing these new lewks and lookout on life with you. We are constantly learning in growing in all areas and I am honored to do it with each and every one of you. Talk to you soon gorgeous!

Poshmark

Like many people, I’m trying to minimize everything I own (for the record, I have not watched Tidying Up yet but it’s on my list). I have way too many things and instead of giving them to some random thrift store, I decided to sell them to Tall Girls that truly need them. Enter postmark!

This is the first wave (around 33 items). in my mind I was going to go through everything and list it all at once but man is it hard to get rid of things. I think for us in particular, we think ‘when will we ever find this item again?’ So we keep everything we can and end up needing an extra closet for things that we don’t even wear. But the thing is, in order to make space for the new things in our lives, you must clear the old. I am doing that in more ways than one and I am waiting in anticipation to see how God honors it.

So, check out the store and tell me what you think. There are jeans, shoes, maxi dresses, floor length bridesmaids dresses and a couple of things that haven’t even been worn yet.

Here are some things that are posted. I can’t wait for you to rock them!

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.

Sparkle and Shine

Tis the season to dress up! Everyone is going to holiday parties. From Glam to ugly sweater, there are so many different looks to put together. While there are many style moments remember this...

Continue to be you.

No matter what the party, let YOUR style shine through! 

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You don't have to rock a dress to every soiree nor do you have to rock a traditional red and green colorblocked palette. You can make your look subtle or scream. It is completely up to you!

#ISparkleWhen I am completely myself. I love being me during the holidays and every other day of the year. I shine by being unapologetically me.  

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So whatever you decide to wear to your holiday parties...stand tall and rock it with confidence. You know what you like and feel best in. Get out there and strut mama!

When I wore this look, you couldn't tell me nothin! The faux fur is not only chic, it's warm too. The wrists were nice and toasty in this chilly weather. The pop of floral embroidery added a nice touch and I was completely comfy in the jeans and boots (the studs add an edge that I am completely here for). This look definitely captivated the room.

I really love the options LTS has for the holidays! There is a little bit of everything and guess what...you can win some of it! Throughout the whole month of December you can enter to win your own piece of LTS sparkle by entering to win HERE.  

I really want to see what you rock for the holidays so don't forget to tag @TallSWAG in your posts. See you soon and whatever you do...don't forget to sparkle and shine all of the time!