How We See Us vs. How Others See Us

I came across a post by The Good Curl that spoke about the “Brown Paper” syndrome that still seems to be prevalent in the Afro Canadian/Afro Caribbean/Afro American community.  She was not impressed with India Arie’s new album cover, claiming that her skin-tone did not seem to be as dark as it naturally is and challenging India’s foothold on self-acceptance.   She was questioning how black people see each other and themselves.

Just for fun, I did a Google Image Search and found what I like to call “The Many Shades of India.”  Here is just a handful below.  How many can you count?  It’s more than fair to say that the power of lighting is astounding…

IndiaArie_Collage

The Many Shades of India
Photo Credit

My response to The Good Curl was that it is often hard for others to see you the way you see yourself. Continue reading

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I Love My Hair – Now

Crooklyn’s Troy
– the look on her face here says it all –
photo credit

When my mom had me, it was the seventies and she was all about the Afrocentrism thing. Black Power, Nubian Pride, Mama Africa, yadda yadda yadda… She cut off her perm and grew an afro. She cut her best friend’s shoulder length hair into an afro too, much to the chagrin of her friend’s ultra conservative, ultra traditional West Indian mother. But not before she gave my six-year-old head a matching afro.

After that, I spent most of my time either telling people I wasn’t a boy , feeling sorry for myself because I didn’t have shiny, straight hair like my friends at school (all races, including black), or avoiding cameras at all costs. Pretty traumatic, actually… by kid standards.

Eventually, I did get a perm (against my mother’s will – a story for another day), but by that time, the damage had already been done. To this day I bob-and-weave when anybody pulls out a camera.

Fast forward to last week, when I came across this video –

All I can say is where was this when I was growing up? At the time, I was so desperate to conform to the beauty standards du jour that I didn’t realize my hair was, in fact, beautiful and versatile and a part of me that I should embrace and be proud of. I was just too young to see.

Hindsight is 20/20. Thanks Ma!

And thanks to vinegarandwater for sharing.

What were your childhood hair experiences? How did you feel about your hair growing up?

CoverGirl Comes Alive with Janelle Monae

I’m always too rushed/lazy/confused in the morning to do much more than wash what needs washing and brush what needs brushing.  If I’m feeling like being especially GLAM, I might put on some lip gloss and mascara.

All this to say that happenings in the makeup world don’t usually make ripples in the water for me.  That is, until I stumbled upon these…

Y’all… gone are the days of the stereotypical “Girl-Next-Door.”  CoverGirl continues to break boundaries by featuring the unique and trend-bucking Janelle Monae, who joins the ranks of the emblematic Queen Latifah, P!nk, and Ellen DeGeneres, as its face.

One of the best quotes I’ve come across from Janelle is:

That’s what I’ve always been fighting for – making sure that people love themselves for who they are, and we don’t pick on people because we’re uncomfortable with ourselves, or who they are. That’s been my message, from when I was young to now. There are lots of young girls out there who are struggling with their identities… afraid of being discriminated against or teased. I take risks and use my imagination so that other people will feel free and take risks. That’s my hope. (source: io9.com)

It’s good to see the brand recognize and celebrate diversity.  Sounds like she’s a perfect fit for their campaign!

In the aftermath of Viola Davis and Gabby Douglas receiving flack and negative comments about their hair, what does this new partnership between Janelle and CoverGirl mean to you?

Tar Slinging

I’m going to reveal a secret that so many do not want to talk about: the majority of black women do not have flowing blond hair!  GASP!

BrownButterBeauty - Viola Davis

Beautiful Natural Viola Davis
photo credit

There’s been a lot of talk about Viola Davis at the 2012 Academy Awards.  She chose to ditch the wigs that we are accustomed to seeing her and so many other black celebrities wearing and instead opted to wear her hair pretty much the way it grows out of her head… GASP!!

Consequently, this was followed by chatter about whether or not the look was appropriate for the occasion.  There were equal parts mud (or dare I say tar) slinging for her lack of formality and commendation for her bravery.  Brave?  I guess so, but why is doing what comes natural brave?

Particularly prominent was talk show host Wendy Williams, who disapproved loudly of Ms. Davis’ look.  The natural hair community was up-in-arms over her degrading remarks.  While I acknowledge people’s right to an opinion and the freedom to express it, I feel that women in the media (and particularly black women in the media) have a responsibility to champion our image and to pave the way for the world to embrace it in all its forms, whether it be silken haired or kinky and curly.  Ms. Williams doesn’t have to like natural hair, but she certainly should not be knocking others who do.

I did a quick Google Search of Wendy Williams to see what she considers to be appropriate red carpet hair and (surprise, surprise) I found that she pretty much sports one hair style all the time.  C’mon Wendy. Where’s your sense of individual style and imagination?  And there were a few photos that made me question her right to judge anyone’s appearance, ever.

Wendy Williams' Idea of Flaxen Beauty

Why is this more beautiful?
photo credit

LJ Knight was featured on BGLH asking the question: Are Nappy Headed Insults Making a Pop Culture Comeback?  The focus of her post was the comments made by Ms. Williams, shining a light on the uncomfortable topic of self-love and acceptance.  LJ’s post is well written and expresses an opinion with which I certainly agree: Ms. Williams’ attack on Ms. Davis’ appearance was uncalled for, as well as a step backwards for promoting distinctively black beauty.