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This Polyglot Model Transcends Just About Every Stereotype

People

Fatima Morken knows something about the pain of scars. A resilient songwriter and model, she has endured a divorce, and seen the effects of addiction in the home up close. The Houston, TX native sat down to talk about how her strong Christian faith helped her persevere, and share her ambition to help women improve their lives.


At age 23, Morken thought she was living her version of the American Dream. She was married to a man she loved. They already owned their dream home, and could afford to take overseas trips annually. Although blessed financially, Morken’s marriage abruptly ended in a divorce.

In the wake of the divorce, Morken set out to find her voice again. She spent time in therapy, prayer, and leaned on Scripture daily.

Fatima Morken

The divorce was shocking and excruciatingly painful," says Morken. "I am now free and healed — the happiest and most fulfilled I have ever been. I bask in the fact that God will never break his promises to me. His immeasurable love and forgiveness rebuilt me, and empowers me every day.”

Fatima Morken

Morken also understands the helplessness associated with watching a family member struggle with alcoholism, and gambling. It nearly destroyed her home. It’s common for a family dealing with addiction to experience codependency, and even low self-esteem. The Adult Children of Alcoholics World Service Organization refers to this family dysfunction as “sick thinking” which needs to be repaired daily. Morken turned to her faith again. In time, she learned it wasn’t her fault. In difficult times, her love of music has been a refuge. Her own painful experiences have helped the songwriter connect with deeper human emotions in her lyrics. She draws artistic inspiration from stories of strength, triumph, love and pain — much like her own story. Her musical influences include Celine Dion and French pop artist Lara Fabian. In her late 20s, after a dissatisfying career in education, she received an opportunity to train with Actors Models and Talent for Christ, a faith-based talent development ministry. AMTC has launched the careers of artists such as Megan Fox, Miley Cyrus and country music star Chris Young. The SHINE Conference — an invitation-only event in Orlando, Fla. — gave Morken the chance to perform in front of industry executives, and a platform to launch her career.

I make sure everyone I meet feels important, valued, unique, special, but above all LOVED. I want to make a huge difference with my music by telling it like it is — writing lyrics totally based in personal experiences and beauty.”

The artist is also modeling as a way to tell her story, and help women find their own strength.

As the USA model for two French clothing lines, La Cotonniére and Dakidaya, Morken’s job depends greatly on her appearance. In the age of makeup, professional editing and social media, it can be easy to view models as flawless. It’s her goal to help change this perception of beauty by showing authenticity. She chooses projects with minimal makeup, and is open with fans on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The model is proud of her imperfections, including a scar on her left leg.

“It is sometimes assumed models have no physical defects," says Morken. "We are not perfect! The scar is my trademark and I am very proud of it! I don’t let my imperfections keep me from achieving my goals.”

On top of everything else, Morken is also a polyglot, fluent in English, Spanish and Italian; intermediate in French and Portuguese and learning German. In spite of her natural language skills, she still faces ignorance when it comes to her intelligence. “I let people discover their own stereotypes [about models] are incorrect,” she says of the negative comments she sometimes receives on set.

When asked about her opportunity to make a difference as an artist, Morken’s eyes lit up with excitement. In addition to volunteering through her church, she gives her time and talents to aspiring models with style advice. It’s an opportunity to help women feel beautiful. She hopes her story will encourage women in all walks of life to overcome, even if life seems bleak at the moment.

“I just want people to see that one doesn’t have to be perfect for things to work out," Morken remarks.

Career

Male Managers Afraid To Mentor Women In Wake Of #MeToo Movement

Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.


In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.

What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.

Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.

Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.

While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.

According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.

In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.


Source-Alex Brandon, AP

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.

Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.

The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.