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Fred Siriex Meets Freddie Harrel and the Renault Clio

If you hang with me IRL, you must have heard me say, a million times, ‘I LOVE LOVE”. I’m such a sucker for love, love stories, and you can often catch me crying at the TV adverts while Tom is usually laughing at my face. I don’t do cheesy though, and that’s probably why First Dates in one of my fave TV shows. If you’re team First Dates too, you must know my new friend Fred Siriex.

We’re both French (although that’s a cap I don’t wear everyday), Freds and very keen on anything Va Va Voom.

So to celebrate the Renault Clio’s 25th anniversary, he took me for a quick spin while I asked him a few Va Va Voom related questions – Enjoy the clash of accents hehe

Freddie x

BEFORE I AM A WOMAN, BEFORE I AM BLACK, I AM FREDDIE

This was a tricky one. Stepping into so much truth felt daunting.

God I dreaded the publication of this video, but like most things I get nervous about, it turned out to be liberating, freeing. You’ll see me writing more on here, enough with the fashion fluff, these are the sods I want to use to grow, and to help anyone who can relate to grow with me too.

I was telling you in my last update that I felt like a Brit who just happened to have a French accent. Truth is, first i’m not a fan of my accent, and if it wasn’t for people telling me it was cute, I would hate it even more. I don’t feel French, this accent is almost like a burden and it reminds me of the struggle it was to try to fit.

When StyleLikeU asked me to take part in the first episode of their first international edition, I was overwhelmed with flattery and pride.

But how could I possibly have anything interesting to say? Wait. People keep telling me that I come across so sure of myself and confident. Are you joking?! I’m slowly claiming power over my person back, I am finally realizing that I am what’s underneath and not these layers of bullshit people obsessed with boxes have tried to pin on me. (Freddie. Unleashed)

I didn’t grow up French, I became French when I crossed the UK border with my thick Parisian twang. But growing up black in France (and i’m sure in lots of other places) will tie your tongue so tight you forget you even have a voice to start with. Talking about racism is so taboo in France. And I guess everywhere. I don’t understand why some white people get so personally offended when you start on the subject. Just look at the comments section of the Guardian Facebook page: every time it is about racism, a bunch of white people are quick to claim that it is talking about races that makes things worse.

Some say they are colorblind. Being colorblind is nothing more than white privilege. I am not colorblind, and to be fair, no one needs to be colorblind. The problem is not to see colours, the problem is to set a hierarchy within them. Black is not a dirty word, the same way that white isn’t.

I was telling you briefly about the horrific experience I had with my ex French close friends, I remember one of them telling me in our last conversations that I was obsessed with racism and that it didn’t exist anymore (this is partly why I was so scared of this video coming out, odd what someone who is no longer a friend can do to you right?) Trust me, I barely talk about racism. I know better, I am French. I try to mingle and disappear in the crowd (my bright style came to me after I moved to London, if you’re wondering), but one mention of discrimination and you become a problem. That’s why I was so nervous about this video, I didn’t want to come across needy, moany, ungrateful (don’t ask me for what, but I’ve been told many times than necessary that if it hadn’t been for France I would have died of starvation already) I’m not used to step in so much truth.

I haven’t wished to visit France again since some of my bridesmaids, including my witness, tried to sabotage my wedding and wrote to Tom on the first day of our honeymoon, as we landed in Bali, to tell him he had no clue about the woman he had just married. No, it is the contrary. I’ve never been myself more than since I left Paris 5 years ago. I left its negativity, I left its narrow mind and bloomed and bloomed like a plant on GMO. I am in my truth, I probably saw these girls 6-7 times in these past 5 years, we used to be miserable together, share our miserable love stories together, our miserable work lives together. We used to keep each other in our misery, but then I stepped out and grew, embarked on a life I designed for myself with great friends and a great life partner and things went tits up. I no longer fitted with them, and what do you do to misfits? Especially misfits with a large social following with countless amazingly positive and supportive comments? You bully them, you want to see the end of them. The fact that they told me “you’ve changed, you forgot where you come from and who your real friends are” still baffles me today, and the fact that it was the reason of their anger and why they put so much effort into trying to ruin day 2 of our wedding along with our honeymoon?! Speechless.

Who was I expected to be after almost 5 years?! What’s the point of so much work?! Remaining the same person?! Unfortunately, I have little time for that. Allow me to reintroduce myself: Hi, I’m Freddie.

You don’t get to pick and choose, I come as whole. The girl who left Paris would have been friend with anyone who would have deemed her worthy of their friendship. That’s what my former gang was made of: girls who took an insecure and desperate girl under their wing, someone else to be frustrated and miserable with. That’s why I hammer that message everywhere: WATCH who you surround yourself with. I have the best friends in the world now, and grew into an adult I love beyond everything. I do love myself, I’m not ashamed to say it. But I had to surround myself with inspiring people to get there.

I was so nervous to receive my wedding photos, because they were on there along with my other bridesmaids. But now I look at these photos smiling: on one single shot you have my insecure and sad past, the beautiful present, and the promising future. Watch me grow. And if you’re not keen on this show, look away cause nothing is going to stop me mama 🙂

In this video, I briefly explained what it was to grow up black in Paris. Until the age of 10, I was unaware of the limits people will attribute to my origins, to the tone of my skin. Until the age of 10 I thought I could be anything, do anything but then I quickly stepped out of this mindset and made myself sick to my stomach imagining all the physical and economical changes I would have to make to even begin to dream slightly bigger. I was 11 the first time I wished I was dead, I remember trying to drown myself in my parents’ bath, only to learn soon that your body, unlike you, will fight such a situation. I never thought I’d live past 18, no way would I bear life for so long. I was black, therefore I wasn’t smart, I was ugly. I remember telling everyone I wanted to be a neurosurgeon, I can’t even bear the sight of blood, but that would prove them I was smart – wouldn’t it? I’d ask my mum for blonde braids mixed with the black ones, just so I could flaunt blonde strands like my friends. I also remember pretending I was West Indian, and not African. Because if you’re from the French West Indies, you’re not the child of an immigrant. You’re almost just as French, not quite at all, but closer. Immigrant, this dirty word we save for non-white people. A white person moving country is an expat. I was the daughter of dirty immigrants.

And another note, I’m on a flight from Geneva where I bought the latest French magazines. And the same thing again happens as I look through the French Glamour (haven’t picked up the others yet): not a sight of a black girl. No Asian girl, no mixed-race girl, only white girls. I won’t bother reading it, I’ll wait till I land in London and grab a copy of a local magazine where we all are represented. You know what’s funny? I hear that I’m on today’s Metro UK cover…

I feel so much lighter since this video came out. I was already feeling valid, smart and beautiful. But this video is a farewell to my Frenchness, and an ode to my blackness.

Allow me to introduce myself AGAIN: HI, I AM FREDDIE.

Hope you enjoy it!

Freddie x