By Julia Tobin

What is your definition of a female role model?  What kind of qualities do they possess? For me Aaliyah has been a lifelong source of inspiration and my ultimate role model.  Aaliyah was an old soul spreading a message that would prove to be timeless. “I stay true to myself and my style and I’m always pushing myself to be aware of that and be original”.  How often we have been told to be something other than ourselves, to look and act a certain way when our true liberation comes from being the most authentic expression of who we are.

Throughout her career Aaliyah continually experimented with contrasts, conveying new and unseen parts of herself through her art.  She embodied the yin and yang of the human embodiment so effortlessly, wearing baggy trousers with crop tops, doing martial arts and singing sweetly.  She was fierce and gentle, seductive and sweet. She was softly spoken but her words were wise and powerful. She knew that she didn’t need to be extroverted and loud to be appreciated.  Aaliyah was a shy person but this never stopped her from pursuing her dreams. Before performing she would say a prayer and meditate and whilst recording in the studio she would turn the lights off so no one could see her.  I remember reading this fact many years ago and it changed my perception of what an ‘artist’ had to be. We automatically assume that someone performing onstage revels in the chance to be center of attention when this isn’t the case. Unlike many other artists Aaliyah used her femininity and sensuality in an empowering way, exemplifying the mystique of an Egyptian goddess.  “I like to look sexy but not out there sexy. I don’t wear things that are ridiculously short or low cut. I feel that your talent should do the talking, not a revealing outfit”. Aaliyah was more interested in being classy rather than sassy. She transcended the norm and in doing so inspires countless women to do the same, still to this day.

August 25th will mark the 17th anniversary since Aaliyah’s passing but her mark on earth is still very much apparent.  Both her style and sentiments remain timeless. Those micro shades that have been gracing the fashion pages this season, the revival of sportswear swag with a sprinkle of femininity, and the realisation that we are ‘More than a Woman’ were all propelled by Aaliyah’s influence.  Nicknamed ‘babygirl’ by her friends, Aaliyah knew that her sweetness was her strength and that her originality was her lasting gift to the world.

Now turn up the volume, crop your top and dance around to these Aaliyah classics.  When the music stops, take her message of embracing your uniqueness out onto the streets and share it with all that you meet.   Aaliyah’s legacy transcends music, it’s a movement.

M.A.C X Aaliyah is available online June 20 and in-store everywhere June 21st.