Dear Shea Moisture

Y’all messed up.

I’m not going to rehash the whole debacle because other writers have already done it brilliantly and I don’t think I can top that. However, with CEO Rich Dennis’s interview this morning on the Breakfast Club, there is some additional nuance that I want to address.

You can watch the interview below.  If you don’t want to watch the whole video check out minutes  12:00-18:30. There’s some direct back and forth about Mr. Dennis’s reaction to the ad.

Charlamagne (because he’s a pot stirrer) says that Shea Moisture has “built up enough cachet” to be able to have white women in the commercial. This is completely false. Team Natural is totally fine with white women being in your commercials because the additional  money means you will be able to get on the shelves in new markets that, unlike Atlanta, D.C., Houston, or NYC, aren’t so saturated with Black women. HOWEVER. No company will ever build up enough cachet  to stop catering to its core consumer base. That goes double for companies in the Black hair & beauty space, because there are so few brands you can buy at CVS or Target or Wal-Mart that cater to our kinks, curls, coils, and rainbow of brown hues. The problem was not that white women were in the commercial, it was that the commercial featured

At about 18:00 Mr. Dennis says, “You have to rock with us so we can continue to grow.” Actually,  no, we don’t. Politics limits us to two parties, one of which is blatantly racist. So if we want any hope of representation on Capitol Hill, Black people are stuck with voting Democrat because most of their policies don’t actively harm us and some of them even help. But Black women are the top spending demographic on hair and beauty. We enjoy pampering ourselves, we enjoy looking good, and we absolutely can and will support brands which aren’t afraid to cater to us in everything they do. Oyin Handmade, Taliah Waajid, and  Beija Flor Naturals are three alternatives that I will move my dollars to. At the start of my natural journey, I was a broke law student and spending more than $8 on a hair product was just unfathomable–and since Oyin and Beija Flor were both online only at the time, that kept me from being a regular user.  But as a working adult, I can spend a few extra coins where I feel they’re appreciated. I still keep a bottle of Taliah Waajid Protective Mist Bodifier. It’s great for midweek detangling, keeping my hair moisturized when get braid extensions, and for easily taking down my cornrows from crochet braids. I love Shea Moisture’s black soap body wash and makeup line, but as far as hair products they’re canceled until further notice.

Bye Felicia!

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Dying to be beautiful

Yesterday I came across an article detailing yet another butt-injection related death. In case you didn’t know, butt injections (yeah, that donk on Nicki Minaj? Not real) have become increasingly popular. So much so that people are letting themselves be hoodwinked into letting folks with no credentials, licenses, or medical expertise inject them with God knows what. So far I’ve heard of cement, pig fat, petroleum, caulking, and industrial grade silicone being pumped into people’s behinds. It’s just crazy to me!

First of all, it should be common knowledge by now that you get what you pay for when it comes to medical care. Cosmetic procedures have been woefully underregulated for years now. Since these procedures are elective, the medical (and legal) community don’t take them as seriously as they should. It’s true that licensed plastic surgeons have done residencies in their field. However, things like Botox and butt injections can be performed by any medical doctor. I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust a chiropractor whose seen a couple of Botox demos to inject poison into MY face. No thank you! Still, even those circumstances are rarely fatal because it’s taking place in a sterile environment, with the proper equipment, by a medical professional who will follow up with the appropriate after-care. The problem is that since the standards are lower, people think that just anybody can perform these procedures. Even LaKeisha down the block. -_-

But what really saddens me is the lengths that women go to to prove that they’re beautiful. Ladies, we are literally killing ourselves trying to achieve an ever-evolving standard of beauty that almost no one can reach without limitless time and money to spend on perfecting their appearance. And maybe not even then. The money we spend on all these lotions and potions to erase the wrinkles, define the curls, smooth the jiggle, etc is unfathomable. It’s not enough to put chemicals on our faces and hair, now we’ve got to put it in our bodies just to think that we’re presentable! There was a study done saying that looking at thin models and plus size models makes women feel bad about themselves, which tells me that a lot of us are just downright uncomfortable with our bodies. Which is sad because it’s supposed to be a temple that we cherish and celebrate.

I like to consider myself low maintenance, but Lord knows I’ve fallen prey to the Beauty Industrial Complex too. When it comes to hair products? You name it, I’ve probably tried it. And even though I’m not a spendthrift, I’m going on a shopping fast because I honestly don’t need anymore clothes or shoes right now. I just want all of us to realize that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. There’s nothing wrong with the body you were born with it as long as you take good care of it.

Beneath the surface

Beauty and fashion often seem like frivolous pursuits. As a child, I rather disdained them myself; they just weren’t important to me. I’m still a fairly low maintenance kind of woman, but as I’ve gotten older I realize why they’re so important.

Obviously, people judge you based on your outward appearance. But the real kicker is how your appearance displays what you feel about yourself. I won’t expound on that because I know you all have heard it before, it’s not a novel concept. It really hit home to me recently though. I’m on the brink of a massive life transition–next year I will be done with law school (FOREVER praisetheLordhallelujah!!! *church stomp*), move in with Tex and get married. From May 11, 2013 onward my life is a blank page. What will I fill it with? Who do I want to be? Certainly not the modest-bordering-on-timid girl that my current wardrobe makes me out to be. After a life spent trying to blend in, I’ve realized that standing out is okay sometimes and I’m slowly but steadily making adjustments. A little sparkle on the neck or wrist never hurt anyone. Not all dresses and skirts are impractical and uncomfortable. And there’s a wonderful middle ground between high heels and hi-tops that makes me feel positively chic. 🙂

But then there’s my hair. I dyed it yesterday. I got caramel brown highlights when I did my Big Chop last summer. I liked them, but as soon as I got them I couldn’t wait for them to grow out. Since my grays were showing and I only have 1-2 inches of highlights left since I never touched them up, I dyed it. I was thrilled when I looked in the mirror. The highlights just gave me a lightness that I don’t feel. Mysterious, sophisticated black is my natural hair color and I’ve always been in love with it. However, there are other things that aren’t so easily changed or reversible. I struggle with being natural because the unruly cloud that grows  from my scalp is at odds with how I envision myself. I’ve flirted with the idea of being wild and bohemian, but the idea of trying on that persona is like putting on a clown suit to me. “Not I,” said the cat! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate my natural hair. I don’t think it’s ugly or that there’s anything inherently wrong with it…it just doesn’t feel like me.

Now, there are some practical considerations. I don’t miss the chemical risks associated with relaxers, but then again…. surely 3-4 relaxers a year can’t be more damaging than putting a 16-20% concentration of aluminum on my underarms everyday. I drink bottled water & use reheatable Ziploc food storage. Ya know? And funny enough, while people complain about what humidity and sweat does to their perms I have a far more difficult time maintaining my twists & twist-outs than I ever did my perm. I have spent as much or more money trying to find hair products that work on my natural hair, than I did on a bimonthly relaxer at the salon. (Let’s not even talk about how much it costs for weave & braids.) And the time commitment is ridiculous too! I used to be able to wash & dry my hair in one hour, and it only took longer if I got fancy with a roller set. Every hour I spend on my hair is an hour less I can spend on cooking, exercising, or simply relaxing.

So I’m at a crossroads. I’m going to give it another month before I do anything irreversible, but I really think a perm might be best for my lifestyle. I guess the real question is, why does it even matter?

Dressed

What story do I want my closet to tell?

I’ve always been interested in fashion. But, having a virtually nonexistent shopping budget meant that my wardrobe consisted mostly of jeans and t-shirts. The flyest things I owned were relegated to the winter season since the double whammy of Christmas and my birthday in January always meant several new outfits. Now that I’m growing up, finishing law school and looking to enter the work force, I’m recreating my wardrobe. I read a post at Wardrobe Oxygen that linked to this one. Both articles essentially ask the question: what are your style personalities? My closet is still a work in progress as I edit out the things that don’t work for me, but the looks below reflect what I’m drawn to and aspire to in my fashion presentation.

Sporty Prep- My main aesthetic. Relaxed, classic, stylish.

Role models: Katie Holmes, Emma Stone

Loves: Stripes & polka dots, khakis, sneakers, jeans, t-shirts

FLORAL WEDGES photo | Katie HolmesEMMA STONE photo | Emma Stone

Georgia Peach- My playful side. Flirty, feminine, sweet.

Role models: Taylor Swift, Reese Witherspoon

Loves: Floral patterns, empire waists, long cardigans, ballet flats

REESE WITHERSPOON photo | Reese Witherspoon

Madame Secretary- My professional persona. Refined, pulled together, bold.

Role models: Kerry Washington, Michelle Obama

Loves: Geometric patterns, solid colors, tailored silhouettes

KERRY WASHINGTON photo | Kerry Washington 

All three personalities love: Neutrals & jewel tones; small scale, un-busy prints; statement shoes & bags; blazers & sweaters

So what about you? How would you describe your wardrobe alter egos?

For Natural Girls When Miss Jessie’s is Not Enuf

I’m thinking about going back to the creamy crack.

It’s been about 2 years since my last touch up, and my hair is thicker and healthier than before. Natural hair looks good on me and I don’t feel any less attractive than I did with a perm. The thing is, it’s a lot more work to get my hair to do what I want it to do. When I had a TWA, I could wash and go easily. Now I’m at that terrible in-between stage where you can’t do anything with it but a side part or slick it back and slap a headband on it. Except my natural hair will NOT be parted or slicked back. (There’s not enough gel in the world for me to get a sleek puff.) I also fight a constant battle against dryness. Product application used to be a breeze, so I could stay on top of moisturizing and sealing without breaking a sweat. Now, even when I section it out, it always seems to be thirsty before the end of the day. Detangling is a nightmare. No matter what I do, I get knots. I can take a 1/2 inch section of hair, and go through with my fingers, wide tooth comb, and rat tail comb. But in the time it takes to grab my bottle of leave in to get some product, the hair has RE-TANGLED ITSELF. Where they do that at?!?! O_O

FInally we come down to the pure vanity of it. I’m a quiet, reserved person and my style reflects that. I go for the classics–stripes, florals & solid colors. Blouses, khakis, loafers and understated jewelry. When I did the big chop, my afro had an almost perfect circular shape. Now it just flops around and sticks out every which way. It’s a mop top and I’m not a mop top kind of girl. I’m not wild so why should my hair be? It drives me crazy I tell you!

Now I’m sure that some of you, meaning well, will suggest a different product. A different regimen. A new styling technique. And if you’re thinking about pulling the whole “Going natural changed my life” story I’m going to save you the trouble and tell you I am not here for that. Being natural is just not important enough for me to struggle with my hair for several hours a week. I’m after manageability and convenience. Weaves and braid styles cost money and I’d have to find someone who could do them right, not to mention I just plain don’t like them that much on me. And with all the things going on in my life, spending hours teaching myself different styles just isn’t something I’m willing to do.

So here we are. I don’t want to cut it all off (although Jess did so recently & looks amazing). Although a relaxer would solve my problems, I’m not dying to get one–they made my scalp really dry.  The only thing left to do is try heat training, so I’m going to do that until the end of the year (straightening twice a month) and then reassess.