Nyemade Boiwu: More to the Story
Taylor Harrington 8/17/2021 4:09pm EST
Nyemade Boiwu is the body positivity expert that we all need in our corner. Nyemade founded National Plus Guide, is executive director for Every Man Counts, is a peer advocate for the Delaware chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and is a huge advocate for self-love and acceptance.
Today we are talking to Nyemade Boiwu. Nyemade is the Executive Director for Every Man Counts, co-host of More Than My Size, creator of National Plus Guide, and she is a peer advocate for NAMI Delaware, which is the National Alliance for Mental Illness. Thank you so much for joining us, Nyemade! How did you first put yourself out there to connect with others in these ways?
I grew up in upstate New York, but I moved to Florida and I lived there for about 12 years, but getting closer to my 30th birthday I kind of had a “Where do I go into life? What’s my purpose? What’s my direction?” moment. I had been at my corporate job for a while, but it really wasn’t fulfilling me. When I was younger I was one of those annoying overachievers in high school. I was part of every club and doing all the extracurriculars, but when I moved to Florida I was like, “I’m just gonna be young and have fun and retrieve.” I did that and don’t regret it. It was super fun, but I was getting around this time where I’m like, “Okay, so now what, what’s my purpose?” I had things that I always knew that I was interested in, like connecting with people, talking to people, but I also was one of those people who’s like, “Well, maybe when I’m smaller I’ll do this, when I’m smaller I’ll do that.” I was, at the time, just sort of working on my fitness a little bit too and I happened to come across CeCe Olisa’s YouTube page and she has a saying, “Don’t wait on your weight to live the life that you want.” When I tell you it was like, ‘boom, lightswitch’. That’s exactly what I was doing and I was like, ‘I’m not doing it anymore. My size doesn’t change my personality, it doesn’t change my brain, so I’m just gonna put myself out there. The stuff I want to do, I’m just gonna do it.’ So then I sat down, I was like, ‘Well, what am I really good at? What do I enjoy doing?’ I think that’s one of the great things about the time that we live in right now is that people don’t feel as boxed in to do certain jobs. You can literally find your passion and find a way to make a career out of that for you. I think also a lot of times, especially for me, sometimes we don’t realize our gifts or talents because they come easily to us. I’ve always been good at communication, like just putting stuff in a way that people understand and the way that people are able to take in, and strangers love talking to me even when I don’t want to talk to them. I’ll just make eye contact with someone and they’ll tell me their life story. Instead of just thinking, ‘Oh, it’s just this thing I can do’, I’m like, ‘This is an actual gift and talent I was blessed with and I enjoy it, so how can I turn that into something?’ I just started different communication styles that I like, so writing, social media, interviews, and things like that. Then I decided to just start putting myself out there. I looked up people who were doing similar things and what they were doing, you know? it’s hard sometimes, especially because at this point, I’m in my early 30s, to sort of get your foot in the door with some people who have gone to school for it and have been doing it for years. The thing I love about social media is that you don’t have to find a seat at the table, you can literally make your own table, and then eventually people will start asking to sit at your table. You just have to keep working at it, so that’s what I did. I wrote out my list, figured out where I want to go, figured out the path I need to get there, and I’ve just been sort of chipping away at it since then.
Your content is so engaging and it really makes people think. What advice would you give to somebody that wants to find the confidence to break through those walls of self-doubt?
I think you just really have to dig deep, which sounds easier than it is. Something that I say to myself is that ‘those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter’. Sometimes I have to repeat that to myself, like when I’m scared about doing something or I’m worried about saying something, I remind myself that the people who matter aren’t going to be thinking about the things that I’m worried about, they’ll be hearing the message, and they’ll be taking in what they should take in. The people who do have a problem with it, that’s their problem, honestly. You just have to remind yourself that there is literally nothing in this entire world that everybody agrees on. You will always have naysayers no matter what you do, so for me, my role is to just really know the intent that I’m coming from and to be as clear as possible with my message and then just put it out there. Depending on what the subject is, or what’s going on, maybe I’m open for conversation, but at the end of the day, everybody is worthy. Every single person has worth and every single person has knowledge. Everybody has something that they probably have extensive knowledge on, so even if it’s not something you find interesting or you find worthy, it doesn’t mean that other people don’t.
That’s amazing and beautiful. You’re such a great example and resource for people to turn to. How can our readers follow along with your journey?
The fastest way is on Instagram @thatafricanbutterfly. People always want you to find like a niche, but I don’t want to be boxed into certain areas, I am versatile. I mean, I get that it means that I may not grow as fast as other people, but I’m okay with that. Growth and follower count isn’t my purpose, impacting people is my purpose and having someone get totally connected with that. One day I can have a dancing video, one day I can talk about mental illness, one day I can talk about refugees, or just have a game morning where we play games and have cereal, but that’s my personality. I like that it’s broad. If you follow me on Instagram, you can see all of that. I’m on YouTube as well and I’m trying to get better about posting more often on my personal YouTube and Twitter. I just tweet about reality shows, so if you want to hear my opinions on reality shows, I’m on Twitter for that.
Who doesn’t love to talk about trash TV, right? Nyemade, what can you tell us about Every Man Counts?
Every Man Counts is actually a nonprofit my older sister started. It’s just to help men in the community. It really started more on the ends of helping them in court because she is a mediator, so people would go to her for mediation. She would see that often, the men weren’t prepared enough and they love their kids or want to spend time with their kids, but they don’t have all the tools necessary to come into court fully prepared. Court is already a system that’s biased towards women and moms, but the truth is, you need men to really have a full family. It’s funny because my personal platform is so much about female empowerment it’s like, “How can you be the executive of man’s organization?” I’m like, “because if we help get the men straight, they’ll stop stressing us out so much.”
There is someone who does relationship advice on the page now on Wednesdays, they give advice to build characters and things like that. We do a lot of things about just helping men be better versions of themselves, and also especially helping them with the family unit. Before COVID sat down, we had Father/Daughter tea parties, fishing with dad, stuff like that. Hopefully, we will be bringing those back again soon.
I love that so much because family is so important. Where do you see yourself in five years, both professionally and personally?
So my five-year goal, and I turn 35 in a few months actually, so for my 40th, I would like to be entering the next decade of my life in a way that’s really set up mostly virtually because I love traveling. I want to travel all the time, and not just to visit places but to live in little spots all the time. I hope by that point I will have written and published at least one of my books. I have a children’s series in my head that I just need the time to put to paper, so I hope that I will have written and published that. I definitely hope I’m out of corporate America by then, and I hope that my show More Than My Size is doing well because I think it’s really important. That’s the YouTube series and also podcasts that I mentioned earlier that I do with my friend, Alicia. A lot of times, as you mentioned, with plus-size women or people in general, it’s like ‘oh, they’re so lazy, or they do nothing.’ I do a lot of things on the career side and so does Alicia, plus, she has a family. I think it’s important to give voices to women who are not apologetic about their size who are also taking charge. I hope in five years that that’s still around and still doing well, and I really hope that my National Plus Guide has just taken off because that’s my baby. I came up with the concept a couple of years ago when I moved to Delaware because trying to find a doctor who’s not fat-phobic is very difficult. They all instantly just want to tell you to lose weight, and not that that’s not important, but like, my elbow isn’t gonna be better if I lose weight, but that’s how they treat it often. I wanted a place where I could just go and get recommendations of like,’ this person is not fat-phobic’ or ‘these are the plus-sized boutiques in your area’, but I couldn’t find that so I decided to create it. National Plus Guide is a directory for all things plus positive, so we’re growing that right now. I hope in five years it really is a resource that people can go to and be like, ‘What hotels have decent sized beds and decent sized showers? What restaurants have seating?’ Even from that, I also want it to be a platform to just spread positivity about being plus size. We just started this new series I’m really excited about. We’re recording the first episode because we do lives on that page as well just to spread awareness, but we’re doing a Plus Love series. I know for me growing up, I always felt that I was too fat and that no one would love me even though I was much smaller then than I am now, but people do love people at all sizes and people find love at all sizes, but where can you really see that? I feel like I had trouble finding it. We’ve really been reposting and sharing pictures of just plus-sized people being in love, so now we’re starting a series where we’re going to talk to couples, and talk about their love stories and share that. So, definitely in five years, I hope that it really is a hub of positivity and where people really go to find resources.
I love this so much. We all know somebody that’s plus size, right?
My core thing is, I think, because of where I grew up in upstate New York, it was really conservative, white, and very traditional. I just always felt like I was other than, you know, like struggling with my mental health stuff. I was fatter than everyone else, I was blacker than everyone else, and I was an immigrant. I was born in Liberia, so I just felt so strongly that I didn’t belong and that I was the only one like me and I wasn’t. There are tons of people who were going through the same things and that same stuff, but I wish they had been more vocal back then so I wouldn’t have felt so alone. I kind of make it my mission now to be vocal with the hopes that someone else who is feeling alone will be like, ‘Oh, I’m not alone. Someone gets it.’ It’s not even so much for them to be like, ‘Oh, you’re amazing.’ It’s like, for them to feel like, ‘I can talk about this too because she talked about it.’ That’s really my ultimate purpose and goal, just helping others build their own confidence to speak their true voice.
Incredible! Again, make sure you are following @thatafricanbutterfly on all social media platforms. Nyemade is going to teach you so many things while you growing and laughing alongside her. Thanks again for joining us, Nyemade!
Originally from Edison, New Jersey, Taylor won the 2005 “Middlesex County Caring Award”, and hasn’t stopped caring since. When she is not writing or hosting More to the Story, Taylor can be found chasing her two mutts around Athens, Ohio where she currently resides with her husband. Moving to Appalachia has made a huge impact on her life, and she can’t wait to share some of her stories, laughs, and (mis)adventures with you!
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