Release your inhibitions

In today’s society of social media, selfies, big butts, and Brazilian bundles… chances are scrutiny is everywhere: at home, in the workplace, in clubs and organizations, and even when we’re just out and about. From our hairstyle of choice, to our selection of clothes, down to the God-given quality of our skin, we’re constantly under a magnifying glass by people we don’t even know.

We’re judged on how we talk, how we walk, our demeanor, our orientation, the length of our hair, the tone of our skin, the fullness of our lips, the bone in our hips, and even the ridges in our teeth.

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Because of these close examinations, it’s no wonder we take special care to make sure our hair is neat and tidy, our clothes match and have decent quality, and that we speak with articulation, but at some point we have to realize that enough is enough. Our life is our own and no one should be able to dictate how we should be our own person. From social media to that nosy co-worker to that hating  “friend”there’s always someone trying to dim our light, trying to downplay our highs and broadcast our lows. A promotion, big purchase, new car, closing on a house, acceptance letter, even a new hair color…those people will come around trying to tell you what you “shoulda, coulda, woulda” did and why you made the wrong choice and that they probably could’ve done it too. For some reason people will try to find a way to rain on your parade but it’s you, yourself, and I marching through this thing called life.

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This past Sunday’s church service delivered a great message- “Don’t allow others to trick you out of your blessings”. In short, if you like something, if you want something, if you have your heart set on something and you’re in route to get it…don’t allow someone to talk you out of it. Many will try to tell you what they would do if they were you but the simple, yet humorous fact is… they’re not you.

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If you want to rock a blue afro then shave it off the next week, do it. Do it because that’s what you want to do. WorldStarHipHop, TheShadeRoom, BallerAlert, MediaTakeOut, Tumblr, and many more have been the home for “embarrassing” memes of people getting called out. Whether it was a video that went viral for an obese woman wearing too small clothing, a man receiving a lace front, or someone inside of McDonalds cursing the cashier…sure it’s funny but why do we care? What does it matter that a man wants to feel confident and extend his locks. Who are we to judge a woman who may not be able to purchase a new wardrobe. It may be funny to watch and listen to but, who knows if the man had to really find the money to buy a meal and why shouldn’t he deserve to have it prepared in the way he desired. This viewpoint may be playing the devils advocate, but moral of the story, we’re all living our own life the way we know how, who knows what the other deals with on a daily basis while we pass such harsh judgement.

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If you’ve heard the catchy YouTube hit “She Ratchet”… then you’d recognize the meme included above, and for others…this just may be your mantra…constantly judging people while you’re not such hot stuff yourself. By all means if you want to come outside wearing red weave, green nails, and yellow teeth…go ahead; theoretically speaking (haha!) On the other hand why do we act and live life through others eyes. We might not buy a shirt that we like because someone we know has it or we might not go to the party on Saturday because the outfit we want to wear isn’t “good enough”. If we made decisions based on others opinions throughout life, we’d never find happiness. So many people have harshly judged men in the African American community for pressing or perming their hair. Sure, for some it may seem odd for a man to adjust his natural hair as it’s more accustomed to by women but, if a man chooses to jazz himself up, who is he hurting?

It all starts as fun and games-the teasing and poking fun at the “odd” ones, but what about those that feel conscious about some decisions for fear of what society may say. To some extent we’ve all done it. That second guessing yourself when it comes to a second helping of food, the decision to make a new purchase, or even to wear a bikini.

Who cares about him, her, he she, them, they…

do YOU!

“They don’t want us to eat…”

“They don’t want us to live…”

“They don’t want us to succeed…”

“They don’t want us to win! So, We’re going to win more!”

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#NOMAKEUP

Soulful, raspy, sensual, humble, curvaceous, stylish, humanitarian, mogul, actress, pianist, director, singer, and mother, are just some of the words used to describe the one and only, Alicia Keys.

She stole our hearts at the peak of the 2000’s with Fallin’ and kept leading us on with songs like Diary, You Don’t Know My Name, No One, and Girl on Fire. She’s taken a break, started a family, begun directing plays, began fighting for human rights, and somehow in between it all she still managed to make music. It seems that she has a new sound and a new outlook on life based on one of her newest singles, “In Common”. It’s a fresh take on a new love. The song talks about the joys, surprise and worry that someone could possibly love her and accept her for who she is.

One of her newest mantras is the no makeup movement. In the world of today, with no shortage of hip, butt, and lip injections, breast augmentations, skin bleaching, weaves, and makeup it’s no surprise that our girls are beginning to look like full blown women at such a young age. Makeup and the other assets is something women indulge in for various reasons, whether it be simple self-expression or possibly concealing a flaw they may not like, but as a young child turning on the television or even going to the store, seeing everyone dolled up, with extreme curves…I can only imagine going through puberty during this epidemic. Now more than ever, seeing these things could lead the youth to develop low self-esteem, absence of confidence among other things with no one to look up to. Thanks to Alicia Keys and many other women in the industry, we can finally find some inspiration for our girls instead of weeding out all the celebrities.

Alicia Keys published a piece in Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter and made several statements that really made me stop and think.

“Does it start somewhere in second grade after picture day when you wear your frizzy hair out ’cause your mama says it’s beautiful but all your “friends” laugh at you?”

Deny as we may, we’ve all had this feeling. Our outfit wasn’t the best, our shoes weren’t the newest, we might’ve been “late bloomers”, we may have had to wear braces, might’ve had acne, our voice may have been a bit funny sounding, our hair wasn’t the longest or straightest, and our skin wasn’t the smoothest or lightest-as society has taught us, or it might’ve just been a bad day and we forgot to care about how we look for others sake.

“You grab the brush and gel and pull your beautiful big hair back into the tightest ponytail you possibly can to contain your unique hair in a bun — hiding a piece of who you are in order to fit into a picture of what others seem to see as perfection.”

I can remember in elementary school seeing movies like Clueless or Bring it On, and even seeing celebrities like Aaliyah and Beyoncé and looking up to them, in a sense kind of wanting to be them, because they’re so beautiful and must live an awesome life. I can remember in high school, if you didn’t have the new Jordan’s, a pair of True Religions, a designer purse, the most “laid” sew in…. well, you know the rest. At such a young age it’s instilled in us, somehow, that we need to look like this, have this, do this, talk like this, walk like this, etc.

“Before I started my new album, I wrote a list of all the things that I was sick of. And one was how much women are brainwashed into feeling like we have to be skinny, or sexy, or desirable, or perfect. One of the many things I was tired of was the constant judgment of women. The constant stereotyping through every medium that makes us feel like being a normal size is not normal, and heaven forbid if you’re plus-size. Or the constant message that being sexy means being naked.”

I wish I could’ve included the entire article because it was so raw and real. The stigma that Alicia Keys along with many everyday women experience is real! There are many who like putting on a “face” simply because they like it and there are also those who really struggle with their inner happiness and acceptance. They’re not curvy enough so they have to get injections, their butts are a little flatter than some so why not pump it up, lips aren’t as full as her’s: Botox! The list goes on and on. One problem I’ve identified is that we can find 1,000 flaws, but can’t seem to recognize 10 beauties. Alicia Keys wrote a song, “When a Girl Can’t Be Herself”. The lyrics are inspiring: In the morning from the minute that I wake up , What if I don’t want to put on all that makeup, Who says I must conceal what I’m made of , Maybe all this Maybelline is covering my self-esteem. After receiving so much flack at the recent VMA’s, Alicia Keys tweeted, “Y’all, choosing to be makeup free doesn’t mean I’m anti-makeup. Do you!”.  It seems as though people were confused. Alicia simply means that she no longer wants makeup to be her go-to when it comes to being beautiful. She doesn’t want to feel obligated to plaster it on before she leaves the house. She also doesn’t want to put anyone down if they do choose to indulge in it.

The key is self-worth, confidence, and acceptance. Be unashamed, proud, and unapologetic. If you like it wear it, if you want it get it, but if you’re not happy with yourself then you’ll never be able to accept you for you. TLC may have been the best to say it:

You can buy your hair if it won’t grow

You can fix your nose if he says so

You can buy all the make up

That M.A.C. can make

But if you can’t look inside you

Find out who am I too

Be in the position to make me feel

So damn unpretty

I’ll make you feel unpretty too

Let’s follow in Alicia Keys’ footsteps and set an example for others, including our youth.  Here’s a link to the full article. http://www.lennyletter.com/style/a410/alicia-keys-time-to-uncover/

 

#BlackGirlMagic

#WomenofColorWednesday

 

Afro-Textured Hair IS Good Hair

“I wish I had good hair,” is what I used to say before I fully fell in love with everything about myself, hair included.

Growing up, many Black girls like me are conditioned to believe that our hair is not good unless it’s 1) long and 2) straight. Perms/relaxers were the cure to “nappy” hair. If your hair was anything outside of the norm, it was considered unkept. Being natural wasn’t even a thing like it is today, so rocking an afro definitely wasn’t encouraged.

Now that I think about it, I am completely disgusted with myself for believing in these ideologies, which led me saying things like, “I wish I was mixed so I could have good hair” and “I’m going to marry a white man so my kids can have good hair.”

What if society fetishized afro-textured hair as much as it fetishizes mixed-raced hair? I mean, everybody always loves Becky with the good hair. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for my sistas with the afros.

Mainstream media contributes to this lack of love for afro-textured hair. It’s underrepresented and isn’t considered as beautiful as softer, curlier textures. Even people I know personally have this false ideology of what good hair is supposed to look like.

It’s time that we change the idea of what it means to have “good hair.” Black women have good hair. I have good hair. Afro-textured hair IS good hair. I had to stop and question…I don’t have good hair? According to what? The media? Pop culture? Men that drool over these Instagram honeys who are biracial with long, curly hair?

Caring for your hair, loving your hair, and keeping your hair healthy is what should constitute as having good hair. As Maya Payne Smart said in her article, “This Is How You Learn to Love Your Hair, your hair should “reflect great self-awareness, self-confidence and vision. Always remember who gave you that head of hair–your parents, your ancestors, your Creator. Then care for it like the inheritance it is.”

It’s time that we forget everything we were told about Black hair, and restructure our thinking to be more inclusive to all hair types, and realizing that mix-raced hair isn’t the only type of good hair. And for that reason, I rock my afro with dignity, confidence, pride, and love.