My name is Mercy Chikowore. I’m 30 years old and I’m a communications manager/writer/badass/African. [Laughing] It’s an occupation! It takes a lot of hard work being an African.
I do the bare minimum when it comes to skincare because I had a really bad reaction to a moisturizer 4 years ago. I ended up with spots on my face. So that made me paranoid about using stuff. Now, I just use soap and water. I’m a fan of Dove. I also use raw Shea butter. Sometimes when I’m putting on makeup, I use this gluten free bio moisturizer.
I’m obsessed with makeup, but I don’t have as many products as I think a makeup junkie would have. I watch makeup videos all the time. I wear makeup every day since I’m working out of the house now. I just got the FIT Me by Maybelline, and I really like it. I’m using their darkest shade, Mocha. It’s funny because it’s hard to find that shade! When I was downtown Silver Spring Maryland, the girl at the CVS told me they didn’t sell Mocha at that store; the darkest shade they had was Toffee. I don’t know if they just sell it online, but I’m a part of their influencer program, so they sent me the FIT Me Mocha, and when I put it on it was the smoothest thing I have ever felt on my face.
I really just use drugstore stuff because it works just as good as the expensive stuff. I’ve been watching a lot of drugstore tutorials and the faces will look the exact same way as when they use the high-end stuff.
I just bought the Milani bronzer which looks really pretty. I use that every day now. I love eyeliners from the little beauty stores. I’m not cheap, but I’m not going to spend $30 on something that’s could be $5 and does exact the same thing. I will spend my money on lipsticks, though.
My favorite lipsticks are by MAC and Kat Von D. Kat Von D has the best eye shadow and her matte liquid lipstick is perfect. They last all day long. I have to use oil and Vaseline to get it off.
I don’t have a preference if people call them Dreads or Locs. But, I guess there is some taboo with Dreads. I think historically they called them Dreads out of a negative connotation. I have had people say, “Oh, I like your braids and I’m just like…okay.”
I’ve had them for 6 years. My friend Jeanni started them in her College Park Maryland dorm. I hated them at first because my hair was really thin. I felt like I looked like Sealy in the Color Purple. My best friend and I started our Locs at the same time and we just wore hats to work for a whole year because our hair looked a mess! In the beginning, it was really hard. I was working at a Black organization, and the President would come in every day and be like “What are you doing [with your hat on]? He’d be like, “I don’t understand this [laughing]”.
It took a while for me to get used to them. Then I got over it and then they started flourishing.
I dyed them blonde like two years ago.
I honestly enjoy being a twin and having a sister that is the same age as me. I think I’m lucky to be born with somebody else to experience life. It’s weird because we moved around a lot. We were born in Japan, we moved to New York, then Zimbabwe where we’re from, then Switzerland, then South Carolina. I can’t imagine how I would have turned out now if I had gone through that by myself.
I think what’s hard about being a twin is that people always want to compare us. I can’t go out with her without someone asking, “Which one talks more?” Or “Do you weigh more than her?” It just feels like you’re part of an experiment and I don’t like that. Especially when men are like “Oh, do you have the same boyfriend?” We just look at them like “Why would we do that?”
But I do like when people are like “Oh my gosh there’s two of you? You’re both so gorgeous.” I think that’s sweet.
I think we were both kind of tomboyish growing up. We went to school in Europe and they just weren’t into thicker Black women. So I don’t think we cared that much about image. We both kind of wore baggy stuff. I got into wearing tighter things and makeup because I’m in PR and image is really important and I just like dressing up and wearing heels. I just want to look cute for myself.
I think now people are trying to be woke about Africa, which I appreciate. While living in South Carolina, whenever I’d say I’m from Zimbabwe, people would be like “Oh, okay.” They wouldn’t know anything about Zimbabwe, which I understand. I know it’s not the most exciting country to know about in Africa, even though I love Zimbabwe. A lot of people know more about Nigeria, but Zimbabwe is usually in the news for unfortunate reasons.
When I tell people how I was born in Japan and grew up in Switzerland, people are excited. But when I tell them I’m from Zimbabwe they don’t care, which makes me sad. But, I expect it. A lot of times I’ll get looks like “Oh, you Black woman had this more interesting, worldly experience that I didn’t have.” Weird.
I really appreciate that people are getting the South African experience because they’re not only going to the resorts, but they’re also going to the Shanty towns and going to Robben Island. That’s where you get to see how real poverty is. Poverty is real here, but in South Africa or Zimbabwe, people there in poverty are legit sleeping on soil. So I appreciate that people are hoping to expand their global experience to Africa.
A lot of Africans will say I’m westernized. Some will be like, “Oh, I didn’t think you were from Africa,” despite my features. The biggest difference is that I don’t have an accent. You’ll also always get the typical questions like “When was the last time you went home?” or “How many family members do you have here?” or “When are you going back?”
Sometimes they’ll judge you for those answers. I haven’t been back to Zimbabwe since 2001. So they’ll feel like I’m far removed. Then I’ll have some family in Zimbabwe who’ll ask when I’m coming back and I’m like, “I don’t know”. And they’ll be like, “Oh, you’re American now.”
I just haven’t been back in so long and you just get used to where you’re living.
So, it can be difficult but I always make sure people know I’m from Zimbabwe just to represent because they probably haven’t met a person from there. You know, just to put our footprint out there.
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