Thursday, February 28, 2008

I am not my hair (says India Arie)

So I recently read an article in Glamour magazine where they had a diverse panel of women discussing race and beauty. While I could talk all day on the various areas of that subject I think I will limit my soapbox time this go round and discuss hair. For many black women hair can be as versatile as clothes. It can simply be an accessory, a mask for deeper pain towards ones self, a political statement, or a source of controversy. And the lines about people's opinions on black hair do not cut racially.

At Work
Braids, kinky hair, and dreadlocks are often looked at as unprofessional in the workforce (one FORMER Glamour staffer stated that afro's were a "Don't"). And there has been many a court case where an African American has claimed discrimination because their boss has a policy against braids in the office. What stings is, how does going with, instead of against, the way you were naturally created to look become an offense to others? The reality is, although few now are going to outright say, don't wear your hair natural, you know that the higher you want to go the more you're going to have to play the hair game. Until you get Oprah like-status, you can't just do what cha wanna (at least not without a fight).
Having naturally, unrelaxed curly hair, I float between the "natural look" and the straight look (when I flat iorn my hair) often. I can say that my supervisor has mentioned that she really likes the straight look while never mentioning my curly look. Meaning, I guess I should only wear my hair straight to work. I've even gone for job interviews as a student with the same company with both styles at different, and guess what? I got the job when my hair was straight but not when curly (of course there could have been other variables but still makes me wonder). Furthermore, the people judging women. I never felt unprofessional with my curly hair with my white employers but not the same with black women. I get it, they feel they are in a better place to tell me what's acceptable but still...

Not to be vain, but I think my curly hair is cute. I get compliments on it all the time by all races and genders. But I tell you who I don't get compliments men. Unless those men are "bohemian" themselves (for example have dreadlocks) they aren't with my do. I get flattery from every race of men, even biracial men but not the brothas. I've had black men pull my hair (more than once) to see if it's real. I've met a guy twice, once with curly hair once with straight and lets say the reaction was not the same. It's got me to the point that I'm paranoid. Fearful of going on a first date with my hair in its natural state. At best I'll wear it in a pony tail natural, can't have too much curl and scare them off! It's a shame really because what does that say that black men don't like your hair but other men do?
In the Glamour article, one woman with dreadlocks stated the same thing, saying black men made her feel unattractive yet this is not an issue with the white man she's now married to.

I had a girl of another ethnic group ask me, "why do black women have short hair? why doesn't their hair grow long like others?" I say they do. Have you ever seen a person with dreadlocks down their back? That's their hair! And not just dreadlocks, I have many friends with long hair, all their own. It's called taking good care of your hair. Which, sorry to say, many of us don't due to the harsh chemicals and heat we torture our hair with trying to assimilate into the Westernized style of beauty (I'm not pointing fingers, it is what it is, as they say, I do it too). But on the flip side, our African ancestry, for the most part was such that our hair grows out instead of down. There was a reason for that , at one time.
But I've also had black women ask me about my hair- "how do you get it curly like that? Do you roller set it, straw set it?" No, I say, I simply wash and blow dry. It's natural. When I told this particular woman that, she didn't believe me. God forbid black women have different textures of hair! Could it be a weave? Nope, though nothing wrong with that. Although, many men don't like them (you'd be surprised how many women, and not just black women thank you, rock the weave). Women don't do it for you, they put the weave in for their own satisfaction.
Then I get the ever popular (especially from black folks) "what other races do you have in you?" I ask "What makes you think I'm mixed?" "It's the hair" they say. As if they are searching for an exception to the "hair rule".

Good Hair
I had a friend of another ethnicity once tell me, after seeing my process of straightening my hair, in a round about way, that she was glad she had her hair (she was Asian). I tried not be offened, sometimes it does take blood sweat and tears to straighten unrelaxed hair but damn! Then I had a roommate in college, a white girl, who was fascinated with my process of doing my hair. I wasn't too bothered but (and this is shared experience with many black women who have had white female roomates), doing your hair becomes a performance complete with a question and answer period. I took it in stride- no I don't wash my hair every day (it would get too dry and break off), I use mosterizer to put oil in my hair. My roomate was most fascinated with the ever popular wrap (a technique used by Latinas (particularly Dominicans) and Blacks alike). She thought it was so great that when unwrapped my hair would be ready to go with a shine to boot. She wanted me to do that to her didn't work out so easily.
In general black women have a special bond with our hair because it goes against the norm and the farther from norm it goes the "worse" it supposedly becomes (aka bad hair). The kinker it is (and most like our African ancestry), the more society has taught us to hate it. Perhaps we are the only race of people that does that to ourselves (I mean I have heard of other races saying they have bad hair days but the term good hair isn't really used, maybe curly haired women of other races may face this image?).

Political vs. Creative
There are times when I feel more empowered with my natural do but no I'm not making a statement, fist in the air, bring down the Establishment/man. I simply feel relaxers damage the hell out of your hair and it grows oh so much faster without it. I'm not a spoken word artist, although I am an artist, I like my 70's long flowy skirt but I also like my pencil skirt. Some people wear their hair natural as a political or spiritual statement other's just like the change it can offer. Few other groups can really do as many things with their hair (successfully) as black women can. So with all out trials and tribulations with our hair that is something to clap for. I simply like change. I cut my hair short, I let it grow long, I (gasp) wear a weave a time or two. I can go for a full Beyonce blonde one minute and tone it down and go clean black hair like Alicia Keys and I've even gone red. Hey, It's a woman's prerogative to change her damn mind...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Maybe Baby

This is a double header, I was on a roll...
So I just read an article in my Marie Claire Magazine called Work Now, Have Babies Later discussing the benefits of having kids later in life (not too late of course). As a girl nearing the end of her twenties (and really not particularly in a rush to have a rug rat hanging off my hip) it was nice to read this article. Hear are the main benefits to waiting until your thirties to have kids.
1) You cash in- Among full time workers between 40 and 45 with professional degrees, those who had their first kid at 25 made an average of 46k while those who waited until 35 made 79k. A woman’s average long-term salary increases by 3% for each year she delays kids. (I’m not saying wait till 40 or 50 to have your maximum profit but it’s not to now, you’re not “behind” if you don’t have kids in your twenties)
2)You may live longer (now this is what I like to hear)- Researches found that 34 is the optimum age to get pregnant in terms of health and longevity of the mother and 32 for the baby.
3)You have more bargaiing chips with the boss because you’ve established clout and therefore can get more flexibility as opposed to the younger mothers who are less experienced.
4)Maybe you’ll need in vitro. Maybe you won’t. A recent study found that after 35, the definition for infertility is trying for two years having sex at least two days during your most fertile week and not getting pregnant (as opposed to the former trying for one year).
This still may not change the “stigma” of not having a burping machine to run home to by 30 but when someone bugs me (you hear that Dad!) at least now I have something to throw at them.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Chemistry vs. Practicality

So I've talked to several friends who are in relationships and I've thought back to my own past experiences and asked my friends and self- does instant chemistry predict a relationship? Meaning, if you meet a guy (or gal) and you hit it off majorly, does that mean he/she is something to investigate in the love department? And in the alternative, you meet someone and you have a date and they were nice and it was...okay. Nothing wrong, but no instant connection but, you know, maybe it can happen with time. You can't predict love but how long do you hold out in the hopes of a connection?
I mean if you look forward to texting, emailing, calling, iming and hanging out with someone you kind of have the hope that it could go somewhere. However, what if that seemed like work? What if you never caught yourself thinking about that person, although you had a nice enough time hanging with them, you just aren't that into them. There is nothing wrong with them, for all practical purposes they'd be a good person to build a relationship with but... it's been almost two months and your heart isn't skipping a beat just yet. Should you give up? Give it time? No one wants to throw away a good thing.
I've had friends who've said the guys they instantly connected with have done them dirty, and I've been there as well. But some of my friends who are seeing guys now said there wasn't that instant connection and for some even strong doubt that they weren't someone they wanted to continue going out with yet they now would seriously consider marrying the guys they are seeing at some point in the future.
Makes me also wonder- do women, in general, have more patience for that lack of initial chemistry than men? Is that why you see more women with guys you'd never think they'd get with? Would a man wait it out? Something in me says no. Simply put- are men more into chemsitry and women more in to practicality?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


First they brought your favorite books to the screen (fine), then your favorite comic books (okay) tv shows (alright), 70's and 80's cartoons to the screen (sure), then your favorite video games (not bad) but your favorite board games- they've taken it too far now!

Read below:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hasbro Inc on Wednesday said it signed a six-year deal with Universal Pictures for the film company to make at least four movies based on well-known games like Monopoly, Battleship, Candy Land and Ouija.

The first movie from the deal is to be released in either 2010 or 2011, with Universal releasing at least one film per year thereafter, the companies said.
Universal pictures is part of NBC Universal, which is 80 percent owned by General Electric Co and 20 percent by France's Vivendi.
(Reporting by Justin Grant, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

Sooo, a Monopoly movie? I just can't get the premise here? Or at least one that's interesting. People trying to make a profit in real estate? Maybe competing against each other? Maybe landing in jail? Would this be a comedy with an ensemble cast?

I mean, I guess it was sucessful when they did it with Clue back in the 80's but that was a mystery game so it was easy to bring to the screen but Candy land? Seriously?

Or the Ouija board? I guess that could be a scary movie? I can see how this might be interesting (horror movie fan that I am).

Battleship- a war movie?

I don't know *scratches her head in thought*. I'm back on the Candy land. I barely remember that premise of the game (you're finding somebody I think) I just remembered I loved it. I guess if I was still in elementary school this might appeal to me but I don't know...GET SOME NEW IDEAS HOLLYWOOD.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Would you trust a man to take the pill?

Sooo, this has been in the work for a while now but Researchers at the University of Kansas and the University of Kansas Medical Center have recieved a grant to develop a male contraceptive. The pill will cause temporary infertility. Meanwhile Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle and in Europe are working on a hormone contraceptive that lowers sperm count. It may be five years for a male pill hits the market but one could appear in Europe sooner.
So what do you think? Would you trust your guy to take the pill in lieu of you taking it? I wonder if both types of pills can be taken and would that increase the effectiveness of not getting pregnant. In any event I am not so sure I would trust the guy. My thoughts are that since women are used to doing so why fix it if it aint broke. I can't see a guy, whose never had to do so before, start taking a birth control pill. Maybe a younger generation new to the "process" would be more sucessful. But call me crazy if women decided to liberate themselves and force the man to see how it feels and take the pill, well, I think we'd see a lot more pregnacies happening. But on the other hand, guys wouldn't you feel more empowered? A guy couldn't argue that he was "trapped" when a woman doesn't take the pill because he can now too (not to mention he should have been using the condom anyway). To me, it's only fair to spread the proverbial wealth and put the responsibility on both parties because, hello, the act is done by both. I'm just saying...still I don't know if I'd trust the guy...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Valentine's Day!!!! Yea Me!

Yes, I am single and no other day shows you the negative side of that more than Valentine ’s Day. But I won’t sit here and bash V-day saying how it’s pointless and over hyped (hey, your significant other should celebrate your love everyday, right) because in all honestly, if I got a Valentine’s gift from someone I liked I’d be excited. So instead of hating I’ll take this time to turn the negatives of being single and going through endless dating to positives in honor of V-day:

1) The “great” guy or girl you met who “disappears” and you never hear from them again. Instead of saying “(s)he’s just not that in to you” I prefer to think he’s dead. The circumstance is tragic and yet there is nothing you could have done differently. Death happens to the best of us. You’re still fabulous. But it’s sad, so sad, what with them dying and all.

2)The bad date. So the guy/girl didn’t win the genetic lottery or he did but he has the personality of a mosquito. Hey, at least you got to step out and get some much need fresh air and hey, practice makes perfect.

3)He/She comes with more baggage than Britney Spears, Michael Jackson and OJ Simpson combined. Yes, run, don’t walk away. But think of this, God only gives you as much as you can handle. So when you meet Mr./Ms. Right and you find they have explosive diarrhea, it’s not a deal breaker because you’ve been around much worse.

4)They can’t speak proper English or have no clue of how to act in an adult relationship. Take it upon yourself to teach them but don’t get involved. Maybe they’ll make a movie from your story of helping the dating down trodden. (Don’t) Lean on Me? Freedom (Daters)? Dangerous (Dating) Minds? I'm just saying...

5) No special someone to give you gifts on holidays or perhaps they “disappear” around those times (only to reappear later). Don’t sweat it. You’re saving money (especially you guys). You can put that birthday/Valentines/Christmas gift money towards paying for a house, going on vacation, buying those shoes you wanted. And if they reappear… each one teach one, get them the same thing they got you- nothing! Susan Orman would be proud of the money you’re saving!

6)He only wants you as a bootie call and/or touches you inappropriately before those boundaries should be crossed. Don’t get angry. Every event is an opportunity. When he comes over take this time to practice your kickboxing skills and give him a high kick to the head! If he doesn’t learn his lesson or is (surprisingly) angry, practice some more. Again, practice makes perfect! Watch out Billy Blanks.

7)Single party of one! So you have to do some things alone. That makes you independent and most people find that attractive. No one is really looking for someone to replace their shadow so having the ability to do things separate from your future partner would probably lead to a lasting relationship. And in all honesty there are a lot of things I want to do alone, read (I don’t care what people say, reading a book/magazine together, taking turns reading out loud, sounds fantastically ridiculous to me) go shopping, use the bathroom…

8)Everyone around you is hooked up…and then there’s you. Don’t be sad. You’re unique! You’re special and don’t blend into the crowd cause you’re your own person. And if anyone looks at you with pity well look to number 6 and practice that kickboxing!

9)Blind dates. Hey, you’re a risk taker and that’s good. And it’ll help you build that poker face which can help in games and in negotiations. You’ve mastered the ability to hide your horror in the fact that the blind date across from you looks less like Terrance Howard and more like Flava Flav. That's talent!

10)Constant dating of different people that goes no where. You feel you’ve said the same thing at every date to Jessica, Mary, Tanya or Billy, Kareem, Jason. “I work at such and such, I’m a Cancer, my favorite color is blue, I want to visit Italy someday, I want 2.5 kids” rinse and repeat. You really should just record it on tape, bring it on the date, press play and concentrate on your food. But don’t get weary. These repeat conversations are good for your memory. Hey, maybe you could take that new memory skill and go into acting! Or mix up your conversations and learn the power of word play. Again, great for the mind and writing which can only help your career!

Okay, I’m done. To all you single peeps out there happy Valentine’s day and hey it could be worse you could be dead like those people who “disappeared” in number one which would totally suck...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Public Service Announcement

VOTE!!!!! (unless you're republican)

That is all.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Brazil recap.

I'm baaack! As I am layed up in my bed going in and out of my medicated induced drowsiness (I brought back a sinus infection) thought I'd do a recap of my trip. Brazil was a blast. The people are indeed one of the most friendly people I have ever encountered. It blows my mind just how kind they were to me and I honestly feel we could learn a lesson in their happiness despite their economic issues. Rich in diversity (Sorry to say I had no clue there were Asian people in Brazil, really Brazil should be called the melting pot, not only do they have every race but it seems they blend together effortessly), culture, beaches, mountains and other natural resources. I didn't get jacked not once! Actually felt pretty safe. But with all it's beauty one cannot ignore the extreme poverty. Very heart breaking to see children on living on the street. People there seem to ignore it but I, along with other tourist couldn't see past it. I've just never seen homeless kids before. NOt that I think we don't have any it's just that they are usually in shelters. I've never seen them alone, sleeping on the city streets.
Other things I noticed, prostitution. So, I stayed on the Copacabana which was the hot spot for such "working girls". And having noticed that many of these working girls looked just like me, i kept my eye out for any suspicisous activities around me. Most of their "customers" happened to be older white men and I caught a few giving me and my other friend who is black the eye (people watcher that I am). In general there appeared to be very few black middle class and up (well there is a hardly a middle class period) and darn sure even less Black female tourist (although there were a heck of a lot of black american men there, hmmm). My friend and I were often mistaken for locals. A couple of black guys approached us and were quickly disappointed to find we were American's just like them. Sorry!
The city is cool (great market shopping and the food is yummylicious) but I wonder if as a tourist this city appeals more to men than women. There were "exotic" looking women in string bikini's galore (and hardly a Giselle look alike around, not saying there weren't any gorgeous women but many of the body types were "curvier" than I thought and many women wore bikinis who, let's just say, made me think them bold, at least thats the word choice I shall make after seeing a few 80 year old women in two pieces and 200 pound women in bikini's, not to mention all the men in speedos which was...unfortunate, I thought I'd see a lot more hot men than I saw).
But anyway, great trip!