In June, at Unbothered’s first-ever live event, The Glow Up, I denounced the entire concept of a “glow up.” During our live taping of UB’s Go Off, Sis podcast, I rejected the notion that we have to consistently keep getting hotter or “better” every year of our lives. The constant pressure to defy aging (remember the 10-year challenge?) and improve on our looks or to succumb to societal standards of success and have a jaw-dropping “how it started vs. how it’s going” story felt like too much expectation. Can’t we just be? I’m tired! Well, as Unbothered celebrates its five-year anniversary this month, I’ve decided to eat my words.
Unbothered’s glow up isn’t just about looks — although we did look good as hell during our come up — or surface-level accolades like a shiny Instagram feed or cute TikToks (which we’ve also delivered). The growth we’ve shown in the past five years is about something more important than all of the above: community.
Our community of vibrant Black folks is 269k (and counting!) strong on Instagram, and it’s your comments, engagement, and energy that keep us going. It’s also the community we’ve built within our team that I am so proud of. I spent most of my career before Refinery29 in Canadian television, and that industry has been historically very exclusionary and very, very white. I never had a Black woman boss before Unbothered. I never got to sit in Zoom rooms with only Black women’s faces looking back at me. I’ve never been able to exhale at work and truly be myself like this before Unbothered. Even before I was officially part of the team while I was working elsewhere at Refinery29, The Unbothered girls (shout out to our former social media manager Laurise McMillian and editorial director Danielle Cadet) were so welcoming and immediately greeted me with smiles and genuine support. Coming from a media industry that uses Black women for clout instead of nurturing and respecting them, it brought tears to my eyes to join a team with the sole mission of lifting up and championing Black folks.
Unbothered started in a little boardroom in 2017. Our fearless leader (and now UB’s vice president), Chelsea Sanders, and a group of Black women at Refinery29 (including founder Aly Hickson) bonded over a shared vision and a simple dream: create a space for young, dope Black folks to be themselves, to be celebrated, understood, heard, and seen. And five years later, that dream has been realized through incredible live events (the biggest being The Glow Up, our two-day summer blowout in Atlanta, which included live music, local eats, dope talent, and immaculate vibes), fun in-person meet ups, necessary reporting and storytelling, and stunning cover moments.
Our latest digital cover is a true testament to our glow up. It’s all about showcasing talent who — much like us — brilliantly built their careers on the internet and changed Black culture online before conquering the entertainment industry. LaLa Milan. Aliyah Bah. Cleo West (aka Cleotrapa). Elsa Majimbo. Fannita Leggett. What these ladies have in common is that they prioritized community and creativity digitally before expanding their empires into other avenues. We've been rocking with each of them since day one because their work epitomizes everything we stand for at Unbothered. And not only are they killing the game, but they are Black women who set the bar by changing culture (as we continuously do).
To really end the year on a high note, we hosted a private event this week in New York City with signature cocktails by Patrón, gift bags, custom activations, and a special performance by viral sensation Lola Brooke. Some of our faves came through, including Maiya the Don, Tyla-Lauren, Sesali Bowen (an Unbothered alum), and cover girl Cleotrapa.
It was incredible to look around the room and see all of the things dreamt up in that boardroom five years ago come to life. Beautiful Black folks (seriously, everyone showed OUT) came together to celebrate us, but also just to be — joyful, happy, grateful, ratchet, emotional — and the room was full of love and intention. Tears were shed! A time was had! And Unbothered’s glow up is only just beginning.