Tag Archives: Women

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.

“Who You Calling A B**CH?!”

28 Aug

I’m sorry, but maybe I am getting old! When did it become okay for women to use the word B**CH as a term of endearment. For so long it seems as if women were fighting against the title, now some of us claim it with pride?! I’ve heard ladies declare, “I’m a bad B**CH” on several occasions and every time it troubles me. For a few reasons. First, because I have a tremendous respect for words and the power they hold. Second because if you choose to refer to yourself as a B**CH, aren’t you granting permission to men to do it as well? How can you cop an attitude with a guy for calling you a B**CH if you pride yourself on being one? Doesn’t seem like you have much grounds for a fight there…
Not trying to knock anyone (just make you think), if you were in fact all that, wouldn’t you use a thesaurus and find an edifying word minus the negative connotation that builds your ego without sacrificing your self-esteem?

The Importance of Personal Style

27 Aug
Vogues

Image by Mageca via Flickr

As I poured over the pages of the coveted September issue of Vogue (aptly deemed the fashion bible), it dawned on me how much we are bombarded with advertising that tells us how we should look (why must you choose either a strong eye or lip in makeup application?!). But truthfully (partly due to the ever-changing trends in women’s fashion), it is important to at some point in time in your life, define your personal sense of style. One that depicts how you want to be seen in the world, not to simply duplicate what you have been told to look like but what you desire and feel comfortable looking like. When you embody your style, you own it, believe in it, defend it without saying anything. You actually get the attention without asking for it. Sometimes you want to fit in where other times you shun it. At times you may have to feign confidence until you actually attain in, but either way you are being true to you.

I do grow weary of the industry telling me I should want to look like a 16-year-old girl when I have a woman’s body, but some of the stuff is cute, I must admit. I like kitschy prints sometimes and colored jeans (although this a warmed over trend from my 9th grade year). I also love glitter nail polish, while some decry it as being age inappropriate for us 30-something gals. And with all the celebrities donning them as they walk the busy avenues and sit in VIP, I love the way stilettos look, but I’m gonna be honest, most times those b***hes hurt like hell. If I do risk wearing a pair, believe that I have a pair of sandals or ballet flats near by because that’s me; comfort trumps trend . There is nothing cute about limping around in your 5 inches or blisters on your feet and my personal style won’t even allow me to fake that!

“Daughters”

12 Aug

I have heard a lot of men say that they can tell when a woman has been raised with a father in the home. What I’ve realized is that fathers need to be more than just present, more than just a testosterone filled force that looms around the household as an intimidating figure that threatens potential suitors in between going to work and paying the bills.

Fathers need to be active in their daughters’ lives. Just like fathers are supposed to (stereotypically) play baseball with their sons in the backyard, men need to engage with their daughters too and not just for the proclamation of having a “daddy’s girl”, but because women need a strong foundation in their primary male relationship in order to function socially.

A father needs to show his daughter love and affection so that she won’t crave it. So that she won’t fall for the first guy that gives her a compliment. A father should be so encouraging and affirming that the this girl already knows the woman she is destined to be.  A father should be an example of what a man should be in terms of responsibilities yes, but more in the way he interacts with the world. How does he treat women? Other people? How does he address and resolve challenges? Is he even-tempered or highly reactive?

A father can essentially keep his daughter from being screwed (whatever way you take this statement). He can be the first person she learns to stand up to, so that defending her beliefs or demanding the respect she deserves from other men in the world won’t be a foreign concept. Women have minimal issues standing up to other women. When she is denied the salary increase she deserves, when the boss asks her how much she wants the promotion, as he places his hand on her knee, a woman needs to know how to handle the situation. Who better for the role of teacher, than a father.

What I find is that fathers at times feel that with a daughter, their role is limited. That as long as he keeps his daughter “off the pole (as Chris Rock puts it)” he’s been successful. As long as she doesn’t end up a teen pregnancy statistic or with some deadbeat thug, his job is done, but what these father’s don’t realize that is there are countless educated, worldly successful women who are broken and clueless. Broken because they don’t know their true value, never having been validated by the man who gave them life. Clueless when it comes to how to manage healthy relationships with men because they’ve spent their lives simply “dealing” with men; mastering the skillful art of obedience and invisibility. Sure these women are not strippers, but these women are not whole. And the only one who can heal the issue is a father.

“Let’s Not Play the Game”

9 Jul

Men, You need to start talking. In person. To us. Women.

Not just when you want some one on one action in between the sheets either. Or when you need help hashing out an issue at work or with a family member. Why? Because we are interested in what is going on in your heart. Not your mind. Your heart. We’re growing weary of this game playing of trying to read your nonverbal gestures as a means to figure it out. Sure, you have a lot to say. At times. Like when you feel like it. But what if that is not enough? What if you are not receiving what you want from us because you never really ask? What if the attitude and cold shoulder you are on the receiving end of is because you choose silence when the situation requires spoken sentiment?

We want to know how you feel, and while crying is not for the faint of heart, we crave the verbal expression of the emotion being stirred behind your ribs.

I’m speaking for generations and legions of women when I say that we don’t want to read your pursed lips and over-emphasized mandibles, implying clenched teeth that we see through the flesh right at your jaw line; as a method of understanding you, nor your hunched shoulders while you stare past us into space. While we do profess to be powerful, mind-reading is not one of our abilities. We really want to know how you feel about us even if it isn’t favorable and to leave all that to the imagination of a woman is actually creating an even bigger issue for you.

We speak because it is important to us that you hear the content of our hearts directly from us. It may surprise you, even vex you, but in the end, you know. There is no mystery; No veil of secrecy that shrouds our true desires. It is our gift to you. Because we love you that much. Because we feel you deserve the truth. Because we would love for you to return the favor.

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.”

Independent Woman

3 Jul

I’ve often been accused of being “too independent”.   I find that the term often gets hurled if a woman doesn’t fulfill a man’s expectations or asserts her preference, or expertise. That implication is never said in a positive way and most often is followed by some qualifier/explanation as to why “women” are single, or deemed un-loveable. It is viewed as an inhibitor to male/female relationships as opposed to a contributor to our success. I find myself wondering: Can someone really be “too” independent? I mean is independence really something that can exist in excess?

According to the Oxford Dictionary/Thesaurus: The definition (and synonyms) of independent is: Not ruled or controlled by another. Not relying on another; not connected (syn: autonomy, self-determination, freedom, self-sufficiency).

The true definition of independence in and of itself is not corrupt. However, the use of the term as an insult is. I’m proud to be independent because being so enables me to make decisions for myself that are necessary for my development and survival. I appreciate my ability to be a free-thinker and not base my choices on those of others, making me uneasily influenced. Being independent can at times set you apart from a crowd of followers. What intrigues me is the irony of being labeled an independent woman.

Why would a man want a woman who can be controlled? Wouldn’t that make her easy to be controlled by others outside of him?

I find that those who are attracted (not just in the physical sense) to me, are, because I defy expectations and labels in a myriad of ways. I don’t believe that I have to be any one way or do any specific things because of who people think I am and what they believe I should do. 

 The truth is, being independent got me to and through college. I valued my intellect when others believed I should value (and therefore focus on) my beauty. I am not afraid to assert my opinion which in many cases can be educational and sometimes even show you a shortcut to avoid traffic. Being independent has contributed to this music loving, travel channel and basketball watching (sometimes even shooting), stiletto and Nike wearing, self-proclaimed nerd who is an artist that also reads and cooks, all while balancing beauty and intellect. I am all those things because they are important to me. I don’t think any of these elements are in excess.

Being that independent woman does not mean that I do not want or need a man in my life. I believe that women and men need each other regardless of how independent we are because we will never truly understand what it means to be in each other’s skin (just based on science alone), and we need to guide each other through the differences as a means to better understanding and appreciation.

If we look at the true meaning of independence and its value, I ask, who wouldn’t want to possess that? If independence is a means to sustain and is imperative for survival, why should being so be viewed as an obstruction to healthy relationships?

“Sexy Ladies”

22 Jun
Mudflap girl -- One variation of the unclad fe...

Image via Wikipedia

What have I learned in my 31 years? That being sexy isn’t something you try to do or be, you just are, and most of the time it has absolutely nothing to do with sex (Now spread that to all the youngsters trying their damnedest to be sexy in ankle breaking stilettos at the mall).

Confidence gives birth to sexy-ness. Your unwillingness to compromise in a world where everyone is trying to fit in. Its defining your own style (beyond fashion) and in doing so being unafraid to stand apart from the rest. Its empowering to feel comfortable in your own skin. To say, do, and be exactly how you feel at the moment, unabashedly.

To wear red lipstick in the afternoon because you just want to. To wear jeans when everyone else is wearing a dress. To voice your opinion in a matter of fact way because you actually have one. To be unafraid to break a sweat. To proudly declare that you watch Glee on Tuesdays and Entourage on Sundays. To enjoy nights in Black cocktail dresses at the opera and nights in sweats watching the NBA . That you listen to The Smiths, The Dream, and The Roots. To rock straight hair one day and a mohawk the next. To devour sushi and chili dogs without discrimination. To defy the box and stare labels in the eye unapologetically. That is sexy.  It’s a way of being that you exude and gives off the aura that attracts others to you. It may be that a “freakum” dress has influence on that confidence but rest assured,  sexy-ness has very little to do with the wrapping paper and everything to do with what lies beneath.

“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.

“When Will You Call”

1 May

It’s always helpful to stay in touch with your youth. It’s even more helpful to interact with youth because they can’t help but keep it real and open your eyes when you actually start to believe the grown-up crap that is being fed to us on a daily basis.

In a general conversation with my younger brother about guys and what sometimes frustrates me about them. He admitted : “Yeah we’re weird sometimes.” I followed with, “so is that why sometimes a guy who like a girl, doesn’t contact them regularly?” He immediately responded with “Naw, I don’t have that problem. I mean I may not text a girl how I’m feeling every minute of the day with updates, but I will definitely make contact with a girl I like!” Let me add that he said this emphatically.

So ladies, from the mouth of a single 22-year-old college student with an athletic career that keeps him training and practicing when he is not studying and partying, to your ears-I think its safe to assume that if he is not contacting you in any regard, he is just not as into you as you are into him. (Now, fellas if I am wrong, you need to speak up).

The way I see it is a guy can at least contact you to say “I’m really busy, but I’m interested.” Plus in this modern world of email, texting, social-networking etc. Is there really a valid reason as to why they couldn’t contact you.

I think as women we spend a lot of time making excuses for a guy’s behavior, when they don’t even ask to be excused. I will say that most guys have issues with being direct (even though they claim they don’t), partially because they want to win at everything (even if it is being player of the year) and sadly I think that even weighs more than them not wanting to hurt a woman’s feelings. But here’s the deal: We all have to be real with ourselves and question how much we value ourselves. Who doesn’t believe that they (at least) deserve a phone call?

http://youtu.be/i1QVzMFcwBA