On Feb. 23, the Black Artist Coalition intertwined two of my favorite things, Black people and fashion to create an evening full of creativity and glam. The Flex Your Fit event was hosted by the President and Vice President of the organization, Kierstan Hicks and Laila Monadi. It featured Black individuals across campus who desired to show off their style in a chance to win prizes.

The Flex Your Fit was an intimate event, with a crowd of no more than 30 people in attendance. The hosts began by introducing themselves and running down how the night was going to flow. The hosts explained the event was curated for Black, Indigenous and people of color, to show off their styles, celebrate fashion and express themselves within a safe space. The audience would then vote for superlatives of each contestant and for the “Outfit of the Night” award the top three winners would win prizes. Shortly after, the show began.

The first contestant was Nchuo Fuh, a first year student studying Engineering. They came in wearing a vibrant, yellow, floral patterned dress, yellow socks and Mary Jane heels. Their hair was in pigtails, revealing a pair of lemon slice earrings. Their aesthetic reminded me of Lemon Meringue, the beloved character from the “Strawberry Shortcake” franchise. Fuh’s personality radiated as they walked, with them spinning around, throwing up peace signs and smiling while on stage. They were a great start to the event.

The second contestant was Anya Tadisina, a third-year student studying Psychology. Tadisina’s entire presence was nothing short of intimidating. Her demeanor while on stage made the audience go absolutely crazy. Tadisina’s outfit, an all-over print blazer, a black bikini top, a gray, flowy maxi skirt and a pair of black platform wedges, seemed to embody her personality. Her hair was slicked back together, tying the gender nonconforming outfit. Tadisina had a way of enchanting you with their presence, making it hard to look away from the stage. Her outfit showed their dominance and truly made their performance a pleasure to observe.

The third contestant was Vice President Laila Monadi, a third-year student studying biochemistry. She wore a stone-washed black denim jacket, an eclectic beige graphic tee, baggy cargo jeans and white “Adidas Superstars,” accessorizing with chains on their jeans and two pairs of their own hand-made earrings. Her stage presence was delightful, allowing the audience to see much of Monadi with the way they danced and moved around on stage. You were able to get a better understanding of who Laila was as an individual through their outfit and stage presence, filling the room with nothing but good vibes.

The fourth contestant was Matthew Jones, a second-year engineering student. Jones came onto the stage wearing a durag bedazzled with flowers, a crop top, black mesh pants and black dress shoes. Jones’ outfit was very interesting and aesthetically pleasing to look at. From his use of masculine pieces like the durag and men’s dress shoes to the touch of femininity with the crop top, I truly loved how well he executed merging the two gender-normative behaviors, creating his own aesthetic with it.

Not to mention, his stage presence while performing was outstanding. The way he performed to the crowd, lip-synching and using the entirety of the stage, was a pleasure to watch. Nubian Message asked Matthew how he felt about being in the show.

Matthew Jones: “I really enjoyed it, I enjoyed seeing so much Black creativity. I just enjoyed being with the performers. I was nervous at first but then the other performers were so interesting, creative and fun, it made me less nervous.”

Matthew also went on to explain their fashion taste, saying how they take inspiration from nature and wanted to experiment with combining hyper-masculinity into his outfit. That, he executed effortlessly.

The fifth contestant, Shaniya Woolridge, a fourth-year studying Anthropology, wore a green knitted dress. Layered it with white lace leg-warmers and a black corset, which they paired with black platforms and a black and leather choker with chains. Woolridge’s outfit collided bohemian aesthetics with romantic goth to create their own cohesive style. Woolridge’s dances were very carefree and flowy, and I enjoyed their stage presence a lot.

The sixth contestant was Sharonda Daniels, a third-year student studying Applied Education Studies and Computer Programming. Daniels wore a white top with a pink, plaid shirt and white heels. She paired it with pink headphones with cat ears at the top and a thin, brown, knitted shawl. Daniels briefly performed on stage before walking her way through the crowd, giving us an unexpected performance by breaking the fourth wall. Daniel’s performance was powerful, from the music choice to the way she strutted through the crowd.

The seventh and final performance was none other than Mona Abraham, a third year studying Art & Design. Abraham’s outfit was captivating, to say the least. Abraham’s outfit was something out of an afro-futuristic Pinterest mood board. Their locs were up in a high ponytail, and they wore a hot pink velvet blazer with the shoulders pointed out and the back cut out. A black lingerie-lace top, a black skirt with the same pointed design as their blazer and white, snake-skin boots. Abraham’s accessories were unfathomable, bold and impossible to describe.

Abraham’s entire appearance and performance made it seem like the audience wasn’t even there. Watching Abraham gave me a sense of comfort and nostalgia and was absolutely enchanting. The performance was memorable and an outstanding closing to the event, landing Abraham first place for Outfit of the Night. Nubian Message asked Abraham how she felt about the event and winning first place.

Mona Abraham: “I’m happy to be in a space with like-minded people where I am welcomed and appreciated. I’m very happy to be recognized for something I’m passionate about.”
The Flex Your Fit event was unforgettable. It allowed me to forget that Black people fill less than 10% of the student body at State because, in this space, we were the majority. It was comforting seeing so many creatives enjoy themselves and show off their taste. It allowed me to bathe in its good vibes, and I truly look forward to another event put on by the Black Artist Coalition.


Originally Published 3/9/23