Au Natural: My Personal Politics on Black Beauty

I remember the day when I handed my sister the scissors and I said “cut until you hit new growth”.  It had been several months since my last perm and my hair was separating out into two distinct textures: straight at the ends and kinky at the roots.  I had finally gained enough courage to trump my fear of of cutting and taken that plunge:  I was giving up chemical straightening my hair.  I was going natural.

At that point, I was the only one I knew who had done so.   I was about nineteen… I guess the natural revolution amongst young black women was just beginning to take root.  Though only five years later, it has now turned into a rights of passage for many women of color, especially educated women.  The shedding process even has a name: “Big Chop”: the removing of the indoctrination, lol, and the lie that permanently straight hair is better, prettier or easier to manage, in favor of embracing their hair as it grew naturally.

Though now more common and less stigmatized, many people still feel that natural hair is a novelty.  The ‘uniqueness’ of my natural hair has attracted many compliments from people of all backgrounds.  The only source of negativity, unfortunately, is homegrown: other black people who feel that it is inappropriate, unsightly and flat out unacceptable to leave their hair in such a state: its natural state.

I went natural as a statement of my personal politics: I am beautiful the way that I was made.  I didn’t wholly believe it for the better portion of my life, and I knew why: I was trying to live up to a standard of beauty that was not my own.  Those things that I obsessed over that made me “ugly” were things about myself that I could not change: therefore, I decided to take ownership of what it meant for me to be beautiful.  That meant embracing myself for me, stop comparing myself to what I was not, stop altering my native in the belief that doing so would make me look better.  I was black: that meant dark skin, wide nose, and kinky hair.  I was beautiful as is.  And so I put to rest my skin lightening products and the perm.  And it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Unfortunately, I was so unnerved by how short my hair was, that I immediately retreated into a braid hibernation, with periodic exposure of my growing ‘fro.  It was well received by some and disgusted others, but at the end of the day, it was what I had to work with, for better or worse.

I recently had a second big chop due to a bleaching fall out… but now that natural hair is much more common than it was five years ago, I’m taking another hybernation, but also taking time to learn the proper way to maintain my hair.  I hope that more black women will take this self-affirming journey with me.  I hope that the up and coming generation will embrace their natural hair more readily than the past ones have.  If I have children, I plan on educating my daughters about their hair and culture so that they can learn to see their hair and themselves as Nappy and Happy :-). 

Your beauty is what you make of it… don’t let anyone make you feel less beautiful.

This is sooo cute! I’m getting this book… like right now…
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Geek Chic… On a Budget!

I have been a glasses wearer since I was about seven or eight years old.  Back in the day, you were not cool if you wore glass, period.  So when I was about eighteen, I decided that I wanted to see my face and I traded in my glasses for contacts… around the same time (while i was still in college), glasses made a comeback thanks to the  birth of geek chic.

Since then, I like to switch in between feeling pretty, getting all made up and wearing my contacts so as not to obstruct what I’m working with (conceited pout) and an incredibly trendy pair glasses that polish off a great, well put together look.

Problem was the trendiest pair were usually designer: Gucci, Fendi, AK, etc…  I spent $250+ dollars on a bad ass pair of Dolce and Gabanna frames in 2009 (not including the cost of the Rx lenses)… I lost them shortly before going to London.  I still cry about them sometimes.  Even with a Vision plan on my benefits, glasses still cost a pretty penny.  And now that I’m actually trying to save money, I have to think twice about spending a few hundred on glasses verses less than one hundred on my vision plan for a year’s supply of contacts.

So, imagine, if you will, my absolute elation when I found this site:  http://www.warbyparker.com/.  I literally just

A pair that I'm considering... Looks great with bangs and a bob

walked up a complete stranger whose glasses were so boss that I had to find out where they were from.  Not only is it less than $100 dollars for a pair of glasses with prescription (Rx), they have an excellent range of really trendy men and women’s frames.  You can find a pair of glasses that will complement your face shape and you can even shop according to face width (which is great for me, as I have a wide face that make glasses shopping a bit difficult).  They even offer a FREE home try on, where you can select the glasses that you like the most, get them shipped to your house (once agian FOR FREE) to try on in person to see which pair works for you!  You can then send them back for free and order your favorite pair with your Rx!

And here’s what really sold me:  for every pair of glasses bought, they donate a pair to an individual without access to glasses.  They’ve distributed Rx glasses to following countries:

  • Afghanistan
  • El Salvador
  • Moldova
  • Ethiopia
  • Brazil
  • Cambodia
  • Nigeria
  • Ukraine
  • Bulgaria
  • Fiji
  • Costa Rica
  • Grenada
  • Lebanon
  • Philippines
  • Egypt
  • Trinidad
  • South Africa
  • Sierra Leone

So they’re incredibly stylish with a global humanitarian service mission: affordable and altruistic?!   I couldn’t ask for anything more!

To my fellow fashion and budget conscious geeks, go out in droves!!  Support this company!!  Warby Parker pretty much get an all around awesome rating in my book :-).

A thought on Relationships

As I’m still single, this is just the conclusion that I have come to through living vicariously through my not-so-single friends. 

I used to think that love was complicated, but it’s really not.  It’s getting past that first step that’s just so damn frustrating, putting yourself out there romantically and initiating that contact with a potential suitor, without seeming desperate.  And even when it is initiated, the whole process is a bit awkward, trying to figure out how to be yourself without scaring the other person off.  It’s frustrating and making yourself vulnerable is never fun.

But the fact is that when two people who are mutually attracted to each other cross paths, sparks fly naturally.  It becomes easier.  Hesitation fades and all that is left is two people who want to be together.

Now staying together… that’s a whole ‘nother post.

Ouch!! (disappointedly) Oh …

So today, I decided to be stupid, young and spontaneous and I got something pierced… my left tragus to be exact.

It hurt like hell…  and apparently it will take about a year to heal.  Looking in the mirror, I can’t help but think that the ball closure of the curved dumbbell she placed in the piercing looks ridiculously large and awkward: like i just superglued a random ball bearing from my roller blades onto my ear.

The lesson?  Don’t ever get a cartilage piercing on a whim…  The fifty bucks blown, the pain and the awkwardness of the piercing doesn’t really seem worth it after the fact -_- …

… Taps foots restlessly

I don’t know when I grew to be so impatient. I was never by any means a calm person, but I’m a middle child: I’m used to not having anything I wanted or the desired attention.  I learned how to wait for my turn and savor it when it came.

But of late, I’m so impatient. I get road rage when I’m in the slowest lane on the highway, banging frustratedly on the steering wheel of my poor little Nissan. I snap at people I once took the abuse of regularly. I’m far more impulsive than usual. No sooner than something is promised to me, I expect it to be fulfilled rather quickly.

I don’t know when I got to be so impatient. I’ve just finally articulated my goals and the timelines that I wish to accomplish these by, and suddenly I can’t wait. Life is going to slow. I’m dissatisfied and I get angry that I’m not there yet: stuck in the slow lane again.

My fuse is a lot shorter than I remember.

My Ideal Life Plan

1. I get to be selfish and think only of myself my entire 20s (see #2)
2. I have fun… nothing forever, nothing serious, just pure and utter fun 😉
3. After I get tired of the selfishness and fun, I’ll grow up and get some responsibility… I dunno how, but it happens…
4. I start an insanely successful career and become extremely admired and an expert in my field…
5. Then fall completely, utterly and insanely in love with the man of my dreams sent to me by God… 🙂
6. Get hitched and be even more selfish for a few years…
7. Pop out six kids in ten years (Raise them right is intermittent in there somewhere)
8. Career change! Move to academia: Dean Guillaume-OfMyDreams sounds catchy
9. Retire around the third or fourth kid graduating college/high school… depends on how old I am
10. See my kids off into their own marriages and lives…
11. Retire to the Caribbean fueled completely by my six kids… I ain’t pop them babies out for nothing!
12. Grow old with Mr. OfMyDreams
13. Die happy after also accomplishing all the goals that I didn’t feel like sharing with WordPress 😛

To be successful, loved and put some of my DNA into this world!!!  That’s all I want… is that so terrible?!?!?