Do you prefer synthetic or natural beauty?

On April 18th, it was the battle of synthetic beauty vs natural beauty at the YP Insight Forum.  Regular YP Insight participant, Alana, took the lead on the night, as we discussed the topic of her choice.

After breaking the ice, she kicked off the conversation by asking, what is beauty to you?  Responses included:

  • “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” – Shaniqua (me)
  • “I think it’s on the inside, it’s not what we’re taught.” – Naomi
  • “It can be a number of things… I think it’s subjective” – Renee
  • “I think beauty is everything… To me, beauty is in my cat” – Alana

We then moved on to the beauty industry, with Alana posing the question, do you believe the beauty industry needs any changes or improvements?  Some individuals raised the need for more dark-skinned girls – “They need to make dark-skinned girls feel good” – while we all agreed that there needs to be more representation.

References were also made to what Kendrick Lamar did in his latest music video and Alicia Keys not wearing make up.  Overall though, Alana thinks that there needs to be more self-acceptance and self-expression.

Next up was the big question of the night: do you prefer synthetic or natural beauty?  Personally, I couldn’t say whether I prefer natural or synthetic beauty, because I just like beauty.  Tania said that she prefers natural beauty, because she thinks there are certain things you notice more without make up.

However, Andrae said that he prefered in-between, because some people can’t carry off natural and some people work better with make up.  On the other hand, Alana believes that everyone can do natural, as no one was born with make up on their face.  And Steven, he “prefer[s] natural all day”.

Naomi responded to a point Andrae and some others made by saying that the problem with make up is when it comes off and there’s been too much going on – “I think it should be used to enhance your features.”  Naomi also made us think a little deeper about synthetic beauty, as we had been focusing on make up, saying that you might draw on your eyebrows, but you might also pluck your eyebrows.

Alana then asked us about our views on men taking on women’s beauty trends.  Steven thinks that “they are all liars”, while I believe that there’s a broad spectrum, from drag queens to men simply wearing make up.

This led on to a conversation about social norms with Naomi saying, “I think men wearing dresses, boys wearing blue and girls wearing pink is a norm that has been pushed on us.”  Steven carried this point on slightly by explaining that straight men wearing make up goes back far in time, even past the Egyptian times, which gave us all something to think about.  I mean, who set out the norms that we’re all supposed to buy into?

With the next question, Alana got very deep with us.  She asked, do you believe the reason why some men go for synthetic beauty is because natural beauty shows truths, imperfections and flaws, therefore making the men remind themselves of their own flaws?  Or is there another reason?

Andrae thinks that it depends on the man and Steven thinks that it is purely based on the man’s insecurities – “If you’re comfortable within yourself, you won’t care if a woman has weave, short hair, is bald.”

“I think some of these problems we go through as women is because of you men,” Tanya strongly expressed.  Steven also agreed with what Tania had to say and he later added, “It’s a double standard – why can I be what I want to be and you can’t?”

Us females also spoke about males approaching us more depending on how our hair is done, whether we are wearing make up and what we happen to be wearing.  I said I was approached more when my hair was straightened and in braids.  Naomi said she was approached more when she wore a dress.  But there was a variation of whether we got approached more in make up or not.

Alana’s final question of the night was, what’s your message to women about the whole concept of beauty?

  • “Do you boo boo.” – Steven
  • “Be yourself.” – Andrae
  • “Beauty is the truest form of yourself.” – Renee
  • “Beauty is personality as well.” – Monique
  • “Do what you want to do.  Be what you want to be. ” – Alana
  • “Beauty comes from within.” – Naomi

Our next forum will be on May 16th when we’ll be talking Mental Health from 6.30-8.30pm in Project B and we’ll be joined by some guest speakers.  Hopefully this will challenge the stigma of mental health and generate some interesting points, so come chill with us and join the conversation while we munch on some snacks.

And don’t forget to make a pledge to our crowdfunding campaign as we work towards empowering more young voices:

Stay updated with Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter, following @youngpeopleinsight on Instagram, liking Young People Insight on Facebook and subscribing to the Young People Insight YouTube channel.

Info for April’s YP Insight Forum & Poetic Insight

Somehow, we’re already on to the month of April.  We’re one day away from the launch of our crowdfunding campaign, and of course we’ve got two more Young People Insight events coming up.

Alana wanted to talk about Synthetic Beauty vs Natural Beauty, and that will be the topic of conversation on April 18th at the YP Insight forum.  The ideals of beauty are constantly changing and the argument between synthetic or natural seems to constantly be in our faces, so I’m interested to see where this conversation will take us.

There are a whole lot of questions I could ask, but I’m going to save them for the day and let you come with any questions you want to raise.

If you’re 16-25, this is the opportunity for you to come and chill with us at Project B from 6.30-8.30pm, munch on some snacks and join the conversation.  It’s a fun night and all views are welcome, which is what makes the conversation so interesting. Let us know you’re coming by registering on Eventbrite.

Like the month of March, April’s Poetic Insight won’t have a theme, so every poet will have the opportunity to speak their mind on whatever they want.  Last month was powerful, so you won’t want to miss out.  If you want to perform, just send an email to or message me on 07910092565.

So save the date of April 25th and enjoy some inspiring poetry with us at Project B.  Doors open at 7pm, with performances starting at 7.15pm and the event concluding at about 9pm.  Get your free tickets now by registering on Eventbrite.

Stay updated with Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter, following @youngpeopleinsight on Instagram, liking Young People Insight on Facebook and subscribing to the Young People Insight YouTube channel.

Crowdfunding Campaign Coming Soon

As you know, Young People Insight has been running as a physical platform for over a year now.  It has been empowering the voices of young people, and giving them the opportunity to speak their mind through forum discussions and poetry nights.

I’ve loved the journey so far, but I want to go further and empower the voices of young people in Croydon.  Through YP Insight, I want to get them more engaged in their community, develop their confidence and build their communication skills.

To do this, I’ve got something very special coming up.  I’ve been working hard on creating a crowdfunding campaign over the past two months and April 12th will see the launch of our campaign, ‘Empower Youth Voices’.

Through this campaign, I not only want to raise funds, but I want to raise awareness of YP Insight so that more work can be carried out through the platform.  Yet in order for it to be a success, I need support from you.  It may be by sharing this blog post and future posts on social media, telling people you know about the campaign or making a pledge when the campaign goes live.

It’s going to be exciting, so look out for the campaign on April 12th when it goes live on Fundsurfer.  You’ll be playing a part in Young People Insight by showing that our voices matter to you.  For now though, I want to say thank you for all of your support so far.  This would not work without you.

Stay updated with our campaign and all things Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter, following @youngpeopleinsight on Instagram, liking Young People Insight on Facebook and subscribing to the Young People Insight YouTube channel.


Freedom to Speak at Poetic Insight

Poetic Insight returned on March 28th for another inspiring night of poetry and spoken word from a group of talented young individuals. With no theme this month, we were treated to young people speaking their mind on a variety of topics.

Rhianna reminded us how hurtful our words can be to others, while Tony dropped some deep poetry about oppression.  Faith was an element throughout – Aaron let us know that Jesus has his back and Jack told us that we’re all beautiful because we’re made in God’s image.

Two of the most memorable moments of the night came from Alana, who expressed how sagging pants corrode our eyes, and Sid, who finished off the night strong with a spoken word piece touching on Islamaphobia, Syria and the USA.

I want to say a big thank you to Rhianna, Aaron, Alana, Tony, Jack, Melvis, Gamma Kid and Sid for making the night so special.  These events would not be possible without you.

A poem shared at the beginning of the night was sent in from Nina, a young person in Bosnia, who wrote about the anniversary of an artillery attack on Tuzla during the Bosnian war.  Here it is for you to read:

The Gate

The sky is grey today.
And it will never
be bright on this day.
I am gray today.

A place that always calms me
is now on my mind.
The air is evaporating
and I can’t breathe.

My heart is cramping
the bone in the throat is enormous,
my town is silent today,
as it was once…

Silent, quietly remembering
the beauty of colorful faces
the white skies and bright smiles.
Someone dared to destroy that.

I’m not here
but I feel something
missing in my heart
I feel a cramp.

How much more families would it have?
Would I meet their children,
maybe play with them?
Would I love?

I don’t know.

But it hurts that the clarity of my town
Was destroyed by a gray cloud and strong lightning,
and there was only liquid.
Are they not sorry?

Are they not thinking of the beauty of the taken souls,
the smiles so bright and sunny?
How can they not see
that they are the stain they pretend to clean?

My town aches me today
and the last thing I want to do is sing.
But that is the only way
I can show myself crying.

The next Poetic Insight will be on April 25th.  Like this month, there won’t be a theme, so let your creative juices flow and feel free to speak your mind on anything you want.  If you want to perform, email me at

Stay updated with Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter, following @youngpeopleinsight on Instagram, liking Young People Insight on Facebook and subscribing to the Young People Insight YouTube channel.

How Would You Define Freedom of Speech?

Freedom of speech was the topic of conversation at the YP Insight forum on March 21st, and as you can probably imagine, it was an intriguing and thought-provoking one.  With all of us having the freedom of speech, the conversation jumped from one topic to another throughout, but that’s what made it all the more fun.

I started by asking, how would you define freedom of speech?  Responses included:

  • “The freedom to say what you want, when you want.” – Kyle
  • “It’s when you can say whatever you want and not be chastised for it… But it’s very difficult in this world.” – Alana
  • There’s no true freedom of speech, as everybody’s vetting themselves.  We have to be careful about what we say now. – Steven
  • “I don’t think it’s that free.” – Rhianna

Hakeem brought in a different element, expressing that some people are more free than others and that it all depends on who you are, as the more people that are watching, the less the freedom of speech.

We then spoke about whether we think freedom of speech has its limits.  Rhianna thinks that there are limitations, because we have to think about what we say, as there are things we can say that someone won’t like.

Jason thinks that it depends on what the message is, while Alana believes that there are limits according to a person’s status or appearance.  Hakeem said that it’s all changed, especially with social media, which many of us agreed with.

Steven made a great point, saying that it’s now pushed for us to be politically correct that freedom of speech is limited.  He added, “I don’t vet [I say].  I just think whether it’s worth it.”  However, Steven believes that what you think and what you say should be two different things.  Jason also made reference to vetting, as he said that we all have to vet what we say, but a lot of that vetting is subconscious.

When I asked if freedom of speech is even a reality anymore, responses back included:

  • “You’ve got to pick something.” – Steven
  • “I feel the freedom of speech is slowly coming into reality – more people are having an open mind and seeing that the media is a lie.” – Alana

This led on to us speaking about the differences in culture and how culture may have an effect on what we say.  We also spoke about the differences between what we might say in public and behind closed doors, which led to Jason saying, “To say something and knowing you shouldn’t be saying it is an inner conflict.”

My final question for the night was, how can we encourage freedom of speech?  Alana thinks it through authenticity and being yourself, but Hakeem doesn’t think that you can because of the way society is – “A lot of people are afraid to speak, because of the consequences.”

However, Jason thinks that freedom of speech starts within and that some people are not free at all.  Kyle backed up this point in a sense and made a great statement of his own, saying, “You can’t tell me what to say.  I’ll say what I want… If you can’t say what you want, you’re not really free.”

We’ll be back on April 18th when we’ll be talking Synthetic Beauty vs Natural Beauty from 6.30-8.30pm in Project B.  This is set to generate a whole lot of questions and raise a variety of points, so come chill with us and join the conversation while we munch on some snacks.  And don’t forget to tell a friend to tell a friend.

Stay updated with Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter, following @youngpeopleinsight on Instagram, liking Young People Insight on Facebook and subscribing to the Young People Insight YouTube channel.

Introducing You to Our YouTube Channel

One of the things I’ve mentioned a number of times on this blog is starting a Young People Insight YouTube channel, but I think I may have failed to mention that the channel has been set up!  You can now enjoy the visual element of YP Insight, as well as the written element, which is what I’ve always wanted.

If you couldn’t make it to the first Poetic Insight of 2017 or if you want to re-live some of the amazing poetry, you can catch some of the best bits here.

If you want more, here are some more of the best bits, but be aware that these are just a little more explicit.

And if that wasn’t enough, you can now catch half of the performances from last month’s Poetic Insight.

Part 2 will be coming soon with the rest of the performances, so keep an eye out for that.  In the meantime, enjoy watching these videos as many times as you want and please subscribe to our YouTube channel, Young People Insight.

See you next Tuesday at Project B for the youth forum and then on March 28th for this month’s Poetic Insight.



Info for March’s YP Insight Forum & Poetic Insight

We’re into March, my favourite month of the year, solely because of my love for college basketball in the USA and that beautiful thing called March Madness.  It’s not about college basketball here at Young People Insight, but I’m looking forward to all that we’ve got coming up all the same.

On March 21st, we’ll be discussing Freedom of Speech at the YP Insight forum, as requested by Jamal.  With opinions being blasted and an increase in sensitivity, it seems that freedom of speech does not really mean the freedom to speak anymore, unless what we say makes the masses happy or comfortable.

We’ll be asking how you define freedom of speech.  Does it have its limits?  Does it even exist anymore?  And as always, come ready with your own questions, as they take the discussions in interesting directions I never would have thought of.

So if you’re 16-25, come down to Project B from 6.30-8.30pm to join in the conversation at the YP Insight forum.  If you want to let us know you’re coming down, register here:

Speaking of freedom of speech, this month’s Poetic Insight won’t have a theme, so every poet will have the freedom to speak out on whatever subject matter they choose.  It’s bound to make the night a whole lot more interesting and provide new insight into each young individual.  If you want to perform, just send an email to or message me 07910092565.

Come and enjoy an inspiring night of poetry with us on March 28th, when we’ll actually be back at Project B, due to unforeseen circumstances.  Doors open at 7pm, with performances starting at 7.15pm and the event concluding at about 9pm.  If you plan on coming down, get your free tickets here:

Stay updated with Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter, following @youngpeopleinsight on Instagram, and liking Young People Insight on Facebook .