Laura Nonye Hayes
Activities: Dancer, Weight training, Yoga
Q: So, tell me about Laura, Where did you grow up and what were you like as a kid?
I was born in Nigeria, Kaduna. I left at the age of six and a half and came to the states with my mother. We briefly lived in New York, and then settled in Connecticut. I danced. That’s what my mother would say. Not in the class kind of dance, I just moved and I loved moving. I was a loving child, yet curious and peculiar. If I were my kid, I’d watch myself in awe and laugh at the crazy. That’s how my mother described it.
Q: When did you start dancing?
I like to say that I started dancing in the womb… (smile) However, my mother says as a toddler. She and my grandmother were in the kitchen one day, and the pressure cooker was going off. According to my mother, I started crawling and tapping my hand to the sound. She tells me that my grandmother said, “She will dance”.
Q: What has dance contributed to your life?
Dance has saved my life every time, from questions and feelings of,”where do I go next” to “why doesn’t he love me?” Or “they told me I can’t but I really know that I can” to “I don’t think I’m gonna get up from this push up… Push girl, PUSH,” it’s all a dance. Dance has given me a knowing beyond anything that has ever been taught to me. It’s shown me many excellent examples of trust and has allowed me to meet, learn, and know myself.
Q: Talk about the moment you realized it was what you wanted to do as your career?
The audition, it was the audition for the arts school I attended in Connecticut, my mother suggested it. The Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven is, in my opinion, Connecticut’s version of New York City’s Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School. I remember feeling forced, and at the time, not understanding why I’d have to leave my boyfriend. I was upset, and promised myself that I would blow the audition on purpose. We were told to freestyle- all I know is the drums started playing and I blacked out. When I came back, my arms were bent, sharp, and open. My fingers flexed, pointing upward; my chest and face were to the sky and I was in releve’, or on my tippy toes.
I decided then that I wanted to feel that feeling for the rest of my life. Before that, I thought the best feeling I could ever have was the one I got from being around my boyfriend, until I met “my dance.” No one can give you that feeling. It’s a within/universal/existence thing. It’s been like that ever since. I have slipped many times; however, dance has always been first. It is my heart beat.
Q: I read a stat that reported 82% of African-American women, 77% of Hispanic women, and 62% of Caucasian women are obese or overweight and as a whole two-thirds of the US population (male and female combined) are overweight or obese. When you read these statistics, what feelings does it evoke in you?
Fear, the fear of “not enough,” never being satisfied, or greed. There is a consistency in people consuming more than they need in the US, from food, to alcohol, to people’s energy. Then illnesses such as Obesity, Alcoholism, High Blood Pressure due to anger, and stress occur. The United States is a very fortunate country that often forgets it is. We only see what we don’t have or can’t obtain and live in excess because of it. It’s kind of like an aesthetically fit woman who looks in the mirror and sees an obese reflection, so she doesn’t eat, or she throws up what she does eat. We are all confused.
However, I believe the answer lies within us. Obesity will continue to rise due to the chemically enhanced foods we consume, the higher priced healthier food choices in comparison to the low cost of genetically modified foods, and depression brought on by comparing ourselves and lives to others. The people of this nation eat their feelings. It’s a vicious circle/cycle of “not enough,” and often at times a generational tradition; overconsumption that is.
In my opinion it’s a stronger cycle among African and/or African Americans descendants. Slavery was a doozy. From figuring out how to make food for survival from scraps of fat, corn mill or very little, to the way many may or may not feel when they see their reflection in the mirror, due to manipulation of self for controlling purposes. Being trained to think that your three-fourths of a man is a great chunk of the not enough mentality. Even if it was hundreds of years ago, there are imprints that, when not recognized and plucked out, carry on. Hence the epidemic in question.
The only hope for all humans is to go inside and figure out why we do what we do. From that place of consciousness there will be lighter spirits and lighter bodies and a world that will not self-destruct. It may even grow and create longevity instead.
Q: Why do you think obesity is such an epidemic in the US especially among women?
It’s such an epidemic in the US, because we don’t know what poor is. We don’t have to drink muddy water in this country. If someone is hungry, they will be able to find some kind of sustenance for survival. It may be cheap and lacking in nutrients, but because of that food, they are often granted another day to figure it out. People in other countries don’t have these luxuries.
Many people in the US have never left the towns they grew up in and if they do leave the US, the goal is usually to go somewhere that has a resort of some sort. Not many are up for going to the favelas of Brazil or the poorest of poor areas of India. We need wi-fi. The poorest man in the US has a cell phone and needs wi-fi.
Americans must step in the gratitude pool and meditate. If we do not do it soon, there will definitely continue to be an increase in conspicuous consumption because of the luxury of availability and the fear of “not enough.”
Q: You’re in amazing shape, and I know part of it is because of dance. What other activities do you do to stay in shape, if any and do you watch what you eat?
Ha! Look who’s talking! I honestly have always been solid. That just comes from my mother. I call it the African gene. I’ve seen many African women with a similar build, solid. Now definition, is easier as a young adult. My teenage years were easy as well. I could eat 7 jr. Whoppers, a box of crackers, some ginger ale and still have a flat tummy. It would all go to my bum and upper traps. I started to reflect on what I ate and why, going into my 2nd year as a personal trainer. I can catch it when I see what it is and where it’s going. I look at my habits and question where they are going as well. Wayne Dyer said, “The student should always look within his human self and see what habits or creations are there that need to be plucked out and disposed of. For only by refusing to any longer allow habits of judging, condemning, criticizing, to exist can he be free”. I have been and am still plucking, been at it for a while now. It is within the past month that I have begun to truly dispose of the plucked. Change is good. Change is natural.
Q: If you had to use three words to describe yourself, what would they be?
Patient, Universal, Long
Q: Why did you decide to be a part of the MCBMI campaign?
Cause you’re awesome and you inspire me so much. When I first saw you I was like… I want to know this woman. You’re ridiculously awesome all around. You give STRONG WOMAN! I never embraced my body fully until I saw, via Cocoa Foxx, that there were more women like me and they were still sexy; you owned it. You own it!
This campaign makes sense. We need all the motivation we can get. In a society that relies on selected parts of religion as the blueprint of living when it comes to women, we take what we can get. We settle while men are confident and unapologetically living freely. We have subconsciously forgotten our SOURCE, strength, awesomeness, intelligence, truth, freedom…
MCBMI is a reminder, especially when it feels like amnesia is setting in, that I can do anything I want. It’s our birth right, not the pursuit of happiness. No, our birth right is freedom and it started from within. Make a decision, put action toward it and elevate infinitely. Why? Because you can do whatever YOU want. Now do it and know why.