Today Miriam welcomes Brenda Chuinkam onto the podcast. Brenda is a designer, entrepreneur, blogger and many other things! She is one of 4 children and is very pro-African, especially in regards to the culture and fashion.
In this episode they talk about mental health, being authentic and trauma.
- Brenda’s Dad was a diplomat which meant her and her family moved around a lot, each sibling was born in a different country! Brenda was raised multiculturally and was well travelled at a young age thanks to her Dad’s job.
- From a young age, Brenda has always been able to adapt to new situations and get along/form relationships with many different types of people.
- When Brenda was 17 she decided she wanted to lose weight after seeing a photo of herself. She lost over 60 pounds in 7 months, demonstrating that when Brenda was determined about something she would make it happen.
- After she had lost the weight she realised that she had become to obsessed with food and calories and she wasn’t enjoying food anymore. She went to university and gained a stone, this is when she decided to learn more about exercise and nutrition and learned how to maintain a healthy weight in a positive way.
- Brenda’s mum started her own business which meant she wasn’t at home as much as she was previously, she got a tutor for Brenda. Devastatingly this tutor sexually assaulted her, she kept it a secret as he asked, it went on for over a year. It wasn’t until Brenda was in her late 20s that she shared this with people.
- In Cameroon, there is a practice called breast ironing, it is a process to suppress breast growth and the reasoning given behind it is to stop male attention. Brenda’s Grandmother decided to start ironing Brenda’s breasts when she started puberty, it was extremely traumatising but her Grandmother didn’t feel like she was doing anything wrong, she was following tradition and thought she was helping Brenda.
- As a child, Brenda was an extrovert but she took on shame from the sexual assault and breast ironing she devastatingly had to experience and it mean she became introverted and not herself for many years.
- Being in the Western world and learning about many different people who were easily themselves, via the internet and magazines, really helped Brenda find herself again. It made her want more for herself.
- Brenda has always prioritised herself as an adult. If she needs a day off she takes a day off. Generally, her mental health is an 8 or 9 out of 10. She believes it also helps that she has such a great support system. She has been sad before but hasn’t ever suffered from depression as an adult.
“As a child for me it was always exciting”
“You’re very authentic, you’re very real, I like how you share yourself because you don’t pretend”
“It was being in the Western world that helped me”
“I always take care of myself, I always prioritise myself”
“We just need a place where we can talk about it”
ABOUT THE GUEST
Brenda Chuinkam is a young Afropreneur based in Canada with a love for all things African. Born in Gabon, raised in the USA and Cameroon but a citizen of Canada, her rich upbringing and diverse background is a pure reflection of her colourful personality. Her fun and unique ability to share everyday life experiences while looking very stylish has enabled her to amass quite a large community on social media. As the Founder of an e-commerce that strives to give back to the Cameroonian community and promote its culture, she also recognizes the importance of paving the way forward for the youth back home. When Brenda is not creating content, exploring the world or buying fabrics, you can find her in bed eating plantain chips while watching silly reality tv shows 🙂
ABOUT THE HOST
Miriam is a Trauma Informed Coach, an African, a mom of three daughters, a blogger and writer. After graduating from the London School of Economics, she built her international career in the fields of banking and international development, working for organisations such as the World Economic Forum, Lombard Odier Private Bank, JP Morgan, the Mastercard Foundation and the United Nations. She now uses her passion for psychology and dedicates her time to coaching others to free themselves from the burden of childhood trauma. Her wish to help other women connect to their inner wisdom, love themselves and follow their passion. In her effort to destigmatize mental health and normalize mental health conversations in black communities, she wrote her memoir about surviving childhood and finding her worth.
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