Tag Archives: Beauty

Dirty Laundry: Good Hair

11 Feb

Good Hair?! My heart almost stopped when I heard a few of my family members use the term. Why? Adults can choose to believe whatever they want about themselves. They can build themselves up or foolishly put themselves down by superficial traits such as hair texture, but it is serious issue when we transfer our warped vision to children.

Aren’t children in and of themselves beautiful just because of their innocence and unadulterated will to be happy and joyous; untainted by life’s criticisms? You can’t tell me that the hair texture is a determining factor in that. And it shouldn’t be. There should be no separation and discrimination based on the tightness of curl in hair just like there shouldn’t be a differentiation based on skin color. In a world where people are fixated on labeling in order to categorize a person to then decide how to deal with them, we do not need to place additional labels on ourselves that create division.

Whether Afro Puffs, tendrils, braids, waves, silky, kinky, nappy,curly, or bone straight all hair has its good and bad days and in whatever state it chooses to take on or be put in, it is beautiful. In these modern times, we need to focus more energy on the things that truly matter and since we have yet to hear that someone’s graduation rate or college acceptance was based on their hair, we have more important aspects of our community that deserves our attention.

Confidence Saves

20 Jan
English: Algenist in Sephora window

Image via Wikipedia

It pays to have confidence. Or better yet, it saves!

As an avid patron of the beauty industry there are certain things I swear by when it comes to beauty products like Vaseline and Cocoa Butter Stick, but on one particular day I was paying a visit to Sephora in order to replace my a must have in my beauty arsenal. As usual the beauty consultant asked me if I was looking for anything specific or had any questions and I actually did. However it was more of a technical question about ingredients more than anything else. After about 30 minutes I left the store with a suggested regimen to address a ton of skin concerns that I didn’t even have upon entering the store. This list of suggested products was about double, if not triple the price of what I use now. I mean the woman even created issues that didn’t exist. I so badly wanted to ask her how old she thought I was only as a means to demonstrate that whatever I was using was apparently working because she like so many others, mistook me for younger than I actually am.

What I realized is that this industry is part of the machine that tells us we have an issue and must purchase something to fix it. Even if what we have, isn’t truly an issue (like my freckles!). What we need to do (especially as women) is be confident in our own machinery so that we don’t internalize problems that aren’t even there to begin with. We have enough to worry about and the necessity to exfoliate with papaya enzymes so that we defy age isn’t worth the worry and rarely, the price.

The Curious Case of Compliments

6 Jul

Here’s the scenario: You walk into a room or establishment, minding your business then you lock eyes with a woman who gives you the head to toe once over, you smile, she looks away or even better rolls her eyes before averting them. Do you immediately think, what is up with that? Or perhaps, you’re the evil eye-rolling girl. Better yet what about the false compliments: Ooh, I love your hair (when you really don’t) or those pants are so cute (as you walk away laughing because you really think the pants are hideous)?

Here’s the deal: at some point we must all reach a maturity and security level where we can acknowledge the beauty in others and appreciate it. Instead of comparing your looks to another woman’s as a means of seeing how you measure up, be proud of what you look like and practice complimenting other women. The sneering scans and critical commentary just reveal a certain level of insecurity which is definitely not attractive. I love style and fashion and realize the work women put into their image, so I force myself to speak up when I notice an element of style in another woman who I admire because it’s the mature, healthy, and honest thing to do when I really do think she has beautiful hair or skin, or think she is really rocking a pair of shoes or piece of jewelry. It doesn’t take anything away from me to compliment another woman. And what if that’s the only compliment she received that day? It may very well encourage the confidence we all desire to possess.

In the July 2011 Ebony Magazine, in the Editor’s Letter simply titled “I Hate Haters”, Amy DuBois Barnett (Editor in Chief) described a similar observation when attending a party in Chicago,where an associate of hers provided unsolicited, scathing critiques of women at the event. She summed it up best, “the more negativity you spew, the worse you look. Not only is meanness an unattractive and unsexy trait, but it’s an obvious sign of insecurity. If you feel good about yourself, there’s just no need to tear anyone else down.”

“Brown Skin Lady”

7 Jun

In a world of diversity, how can you generalize beauty and attractiveness?  

A few weeks ago, Psychology Today published an article of an Evolutionary Psychologist by the name of Satoshi Kanazawa who attempted to do just that when he asserted that based on “research” Black women are physically less attractive than woman of other races. Even though this is 2011, and these claims seem to belong somewhere in the archives containing the justification of the Tuskegee Experiment and  The Bell CurveI am not surprised by such an assertion, I am however disappointed.

Racial discrimination is a daily struggle and the assassination of the Black female image is no exception. Having to defend our cultural markers of beauty while women of other races are praised for the very characteristics we are demeaned for is not only ludicrous but devastates the very confidence that is necessary for survival, and it does so in a systematic way. We are constantly criticized for being too dark while others are encouraged to tan, told our lips are “too big” while our female counterparts are encouraged to either inject or slather on laboratory created lip-plumpers. As a method of being shamed for having ample behinds our backsides are given tacky nicknames like “ghetto booty”,  while those same assets of Jennifer Beal, Kim Kardashian, and Jennifer Lopez are hot and desirable. In a Black Woman’s world, having ass is nothing new under the sun. As we tug our skirts down that ride up because we were blessed with so much backyard, slather lip gloss on our full lips, and religiously rub cocoa butter on our equally cocoa complexions, we can’t help but to wonder when will our beauty be something that is applauded in the light, not just secretly desired in the dark. When will we cease having to defend that with which we are born proud?

Ignorance is a virus that acts as a stowaway in the brain, waiting for a moment to attack the defenseless. I’d so like to ask Mr. Kanazawa what his goal was in perpetuating such ignorance (was it to contribute to the epidemic of self-hatred that already plagues throngs of Black women?). I’d also like to know how he would explain the generations of gorgeous Black women before me, the sisters that saunter down the streets with me, the legions of little girls that will grow into beautiful black women. Are we all some exceptions to his rule? Needless to say Psychology Today removed the article from their website (because of an apparent crashing of the sight due to high traffic). Sadly though if even one set of eyes read the posting (and in their ignorance believed it), the damage was already done.

Birthday Gifts?!

31 May

Life happens whether we get with the program or not. Regardless of that little tidbit of information, the effects of aging on a young person’s life can be a bit daunting at times.

As I’m brushing the last few swipes of bronzer on my cheeks, I lean forward to get a closer look and WTH? A gray hair at the top of my head! Now I have had a few for sometime, but I was okay with those little trespassers because I couldn’t see them, but now I had a pesky, refusing to go-with-the-grain silver invader waving at everyone from its birds-eye view from the crown of my head.

I was instantly disappointed, but not because of only that gray hair, but all of the new gifts I have received with each passing year: the nagging pounds in places I can’t even target (because hell how do you lose weight where your armpit and your back meet), the achy ankles and knees after I attempt to do something about the pounds, the hormonal fluxes that have me running for the benzoyl peroxide treatment to stave off acne, the sunburn that I am almost guaranteed if I remain outside in over 80 degree heat for any time over an hour and lets not start on the general intolerance for heat. The fact that when I miss sleep, I feel crazy and the admission that some of my once favorite foods, not just don’t agree with me (umm, I didn’t know I had to make an agreement with food beyond its agreeing to lay on the plate and my agreement to eat it)!

My head started to spin with all this new-ness which is overwhelming to say the least for a woman who is already tentative about aging in the first place. I wanted to whine, almost wanted to cry. But before I let myself go down the path of an emotional breakdown over the physical letdowns, I took a breath and said to myself, Well Girl at least you have hair!  Followed almost immediately by the thought  And at least you have the right mind and resources to be able to rectify some of these challenges. I stepped away from the sink, grabbed my cellphone and called the person who was most equipped to handle my tango with anxiety…my hair stylist! A gray hair was nothing that some cellophane (temp. hair color) couldn’t fix. And although I was starting to accept these gifts from birthdays of the past, I didn’t necessarily have to look at them everyday!

Sweat it Out

3 Oct
Woman in a rowing boat

Image by National Media Museum via Flickr

As a black woman, how many times have I heard that the reason why black woman don’t exercise is because they don’t want to sweat their hair out. First of all, to all that believe that statement, shame on you for falling victim to the ever-present stereotype. For those women who actually choose to sacrifice health and a fly body for your hair, do you know how ridiculous that is!?

Hair is a superficial thing that we have given entirely too much influence over our lives. Yes, it is a crown. But only such. And shouldn’t keep you from protecting that which actually gives you life (your heart), or the sensation of adoration that you feel for your hair (your brain). Exercise is essential to the health of your overall body which includes the hair. We all want to look good, but having a fly hair style and a fat ass (not in a good way) or better yet, high blood pressure is projecting a false reality that you are actually fly. Being fly, hot, or whatever term you use to describe your flawless style is all-encompassing and should be a reflection of what you are inside as well as what you are on the outside.

Ladies: IT’S JUST HAIR! I would rather a world of beautiful healthy people and let’s face it, if you drop dead due to health issues associated with inactivity, no one will appreciate your hair anyway! So, lets work to erase that notion and sweat it out.