Every day I go through the average door. But yesterday was a unique day. So I chose to go through the beautiful one.
Therein lies the power of Dove’s new inspirational ad campaign. (They’ve been quietly setting a new precedent when it comes to ads about beauty and women, Dove. I love it and I don’t think the media talks about this initiative enough.) In this video, women in different countries are presented with two entryways in front of buildings they’re walking into: Average or Beautiful. The images are immediately powerful. Some women stand before the doors and visibly wonder where to go. Some hesitate. One woman simply walks away, deciding not to choose either. Some, without hesitation, walk through the Average door and later discuss how sad their choice made them feel. Interestingly enough, these are all beautiful women, and those that walk through the Average door boggle the mind, especially those that society would say are “traditionally” beautiful. Says a lot about how, ultimately, a woman feels about herself.
There was a moment that got me, of course, right in the center of the chest and elicited my tears. (At 1:55). This woman’s quote is the one I provided above. It spoke to me because 10 years ago, had I been standing before those doors, I would have chosen “Average” in a heartbeat. My choices would have been related to not wanting to appear vain; related to what I would assume society thought of me; related to visions of what people standing nearby would whisper about the average girl having the audacity to walk through the beautiful door. Such was my world back then. I’ve talked about it at length here; I grew up in a dark place as a young woman, racked with low self-esteem, low self-worth, low everything. So that’s why it got me. I imagined myself 10 years ago and like this beautiful woman expresses, it would have been another day going into door Average.
But then, like her, I felt joyful. Because right now, this very moment, had I stood before those doors? Having worked on myself and owning who I am as a woman, a person, a human being? I would have chosen “Beautiful.” Without hesitation.
When I was 15 years old, my love of words helped me to decipher an interesting conversation going on around me.
Picture it, 1994, a suburban high school: a 15 year-old sophomore is sitting in her Sports and Entertaining Marketing Class. She is sitting quietly, which is how she is able to hear the following, paraphrased conversation:
Girl 1: I mean, can you believe it? Does she even see her face? Girl 2: She obviously has a unibrow. Someone should tell her. [Laughter]
Our sophomore immediately wonders if they are talking about her. After all, the laughter seems to be pointed in her direction. And when she turns around casually to glance at the girls, they quite obviously avert their attention. She then thinks to herself: “‘Uni’ means one. One brow. One brow? Do I have one brow?” (See where the breakdown of words came in? This was and is how I think when it comes to words. Etymology at its best.) Later, when she gets home and looks at herself in the mirror, it’s quickly confirmed that yes, there is one continuous, thick brow growing above her eyes. She is more confused than embarrassed. Was it so bad? What was the big deal? What is worthy of laughter? (It should be added that our sophomore was so used to being laughed at by now that these things weren’t that shocking anymore.) Nevertheless, rather impulsively, she finds one of her father’s razors and proceeds to shave straight down the middle, turning the unibrow into two very thick brows. There. Done.
That was my first experience with removing facial hair. From there began my many, many, many adventures with said removal, including fun with hair creams that burned unremittingly and waxing strips that got stuck on my skin. Good times. The fact was that I was–and am–one hairy girl, and was way too willing to come up with my own ideas on how to lessen it/get rid of it. By age 19 and now in college, a few of my similarly hirsute friends mentioned that they went to professionals for hair removal. After realizing that the nail shop by my house also specialized in waxing, I decided to try it. Micki, who has been waxing this face for a whopping 17 years now, basically destroyed me that first time in her room. I wanted to scream. She was unrelenting. She was waxing me everywhere. Lip, sideburns, under the lip, neck, forehead, hairline (yes, you read that right), etc. I nearly wept. But guess what happened afterward? I looked like a newborn. I mean, my face was 10 pounds lighter. Needless to say: hook, line, sinker.
17 years later, through the cast of characters that have been given free rein to this face, let’s note the following two things I’ve learned, shall we?
1. I now have two, count ’em two, ladies who provide me with my monthly pain. First is Julia, who works by my job and is the very best at what she does. She’s so good that I find my time with her relaxing. Like, while she’s pulling hot wax off my face, I fall asleep. Second is my old friend, Micki, whose shop is by my house (basically one by work, one by home) and who knows all the intricacies of my face. After 17 years, I trust her.
2. However, I still have to be clear with both of them on what I want. Because, frankly, they get a bit trigger happy with all the hair I give them. (I don’t know how many times Micki has giddily exclaimed, “you have so much hair! So much hair!”) So hairline waxing went away quickly. Stay away from the super sensitive areas on my face that respond to waxing with major breakouts. Weird creams after the wax? Nope. You get my drift: gone is the 19 year-old teenager. Wax me right, lady. With new people who sub when Julia or Micki are unavailable, I make sure that I thoroughly explain what I want. That doesn’t mean they always listen. And what can one do when hot wax has been placed on an area you didn’t want? Le sigh. Needless to say, they lose my business indefinitely.
So when I explain to some of my friends that I get a facial wax, they don’t understand. Not just your eyebrows? they ask incredulously. The whole face? But weeks after the last wax and all that very dark and very curly hair starts re-infiltrating my skin, the necessity of a facial wax becomes very clear. It typically starts at the chin. Then the mustache. Then my old friend the unibrow begins to peek around the corner, ready for its arrival. Believe me, they understand then. (Even my mother once asked if I had a thyroid problem. I replied, “Nah, it’s called genetics, Mom. In other words, I blame you and Daddy.” Specifically, the blame goes to my Dad, who had all the hair. My mother doesn’t have a speck of hair on her body. Not.one.speck.)
Do I blame those girls from yesteryear from talking about me and laughing over the unibrow? Nah. I forgave a lot of those insensitive people a long time ago for being ridiculous. I’m pretty sure that as I got older, I likely would have noticed it, even though they kind of forced my hand. In the end, wax on, wax off. (See what I did there?)
p.s.: I may be trying threading soon. For you ladies who thread, how do you like it?
“…and it inspired me to buy some and wear it whenever I go out.”
My sister said these words to me the other evening as we headed out to dinner. Nice, huh? (Incidentally, she was indeed wearing her new burgundy lippy from MAC, and she wore it proudly.) Just reminded me that gone are the days when I wanted to hide my lips however and whenever I could. Now I clothe them in bright red. What’s even cooler is that my sister has the same plumpalicious lips as I do, and I love that she’s coming out of her comfort zone.
And she wasn’t kidding about me always wearing my red lippy…
So other than Ruby Woo, my new preferred red lippy is Cream Lip Stain from the Sephora Collection in Always Red. In fact, I’m wearing that shade in most of the photos above. And I have to tell you that this red addiction continues: I just found two more colors that I want to try out. Yikes…
I don’t talk about you a lot on here, which is a bit confusing, being that musically and style-wise and hair-wise, I adore everything about you. Nevertheless, we will lovingly blame Lupita, who fills up a lot of my time and leaves no room for anyone else. But trust that I stalk follow you on Pinterest and everything else you do. Anyway, we’re talking about you now.
You had me at Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams (I still hum “I Decided” at random moments during the day).
You had me at True (seriously, the video for Lovers in the Parking Lot is everything for me).
You had me when you big chopped your hair and returned to natural and completely energized and revitalized your personal style. For real, Solo, when you cut that hair? It was dizzying.
But your wedding this past weekend to Alan Ferguson? The photos of that wedding? I don’t know what to say. No, wait, I do. Your unique take on your nuptials–the style, the artistic touch–was kind of intoxicating. Let’s look again, shall we? (All forthcoming photos courtesy of Vogue.)
Feast your eyes on that first portrait of Solange in her wedding dress. That hair. That red lippy. Those gold cuffs. That cape. I can’t. And that intriguing yet simple photo on the bottom with the bridal party…
I’m inspired because Solange was simply herself. That was it. There was no overdone anything, no bombastic displays of wedding-ness. It was just elegant and beautiful. That was all. I’m also inspired because in those few daydream-y moments when I’m supposed to be working but I’m looking off into the distance instead and lost in my little world of sunshine and roses and the envisioning of my one-day nuptials fill my head, I never see bombastic displays of wedding-ness. Just a simple dress and an awesome guy and my mother beaming in the front row.
Oh, and did I mention that Solange and her new hubby arrived pre-wedding on bicycles?
Not pennies, but products. And if you sport your natural texture, you know exactly what I’m referring to. The search for products that will benefit your natural hair seems never-ending, not just in the beginning, but sometimes throughout the hair journey. Add to the fact that I believe our natural roots occasionally like to play too much and change their spots–what worked in the beginning suddenly doesn’t do a thing for the strands. So even the natural evolution of our hair can often make the search for the right hair products maddening. How am I dealing with this, you ask? Well, here and there, I do look up to the heavens and scream “Khaaaaaaannnnnnnnnaturalhairproducts!” when I deal with some products. (If you got that Star Trek reference, hello, my love and fellow Trekkie. Yes, in my African household, we were raised as Trekkies.) But, by and large, I’ve gazed up into said heavens and thanked them for their sweet rewards. Yes, nearly two years into my return to natural (December will make it official!), I’m happy to report that there are certain staple products that make Her all shiny and happy. We’ll call them TSP’s Products from Heaven ™. Here they are.
I mentioned this Product from Heaven earlier this week. I mean, I wouldn’t be surprised if clouds and sunshine were part of the ingredients. This product does so well for my thick hair. It softens it, it makes it smell so fresh and so clean clean. It does wonders. I typically use it after washing as part of my moisturizing routine, for twisting, Bantuing, taking care of those ends, and/or when my hair is just needs a pick-me-up. By the way, Shea butter is one of the ingredients in the solution, so I think that’s the key. My hair is married to Shea butter. Were you at the wedding?
Um. I don’t know what to say. This product was hiding in my bathroom one day and I decided to use it and the cream touched my hair and my hair said, “I bow to your will, my Master.” It detangles ontouch. It leaves my hair soft and manageable. I use it as a leave-in, as a twisting product, as a best friend, as a confidante. Wherever you are, Ms. Waajid, thank you. Thank you.
I received a sample of My Wild Spirit Hair Oil in a gift bag for a natural hair show (thanks, Toia!) and it immediately took to it (and purchased much bigger bottles from the manufacturer). Light, not heavy, lovely fragrance. I use it in my layering moisture process (the LOC method). Simply divine.
I took a break from this product for a bit, but now it’s back. (No real reason. My product junkie-ism has me forgetting what I have, which is what happened to The Great Detangler above. Sigh.) I’m a longtime love of Shea Moisture products, and this one hasn’t failed me. I also use it in my LOC method process (the “C”). It does what a moisturizing cream is supposed to do.
That’s all, folks! A few staples that treat my hair very well. Divine Products from Heaven. I’m still on a hunt for a shampoo that doesn’t give me wiry hair and nightmares and a conditioner with good slip. But we’ll talk about that later.
But it’s Tuesday, This Square Peg. Do you own a calendar over there where you are? I do, I do. Wanted to share what I wore last night to a spoken word event at Busboys & Poets, which featured one of my very talented friends. Can I just say that she was awesome? To share one’s work isn’t easy, especially with the very cathartic nature of poetry. But she did it and she did it so well.
So when trying to figure out what to wear, I knew I wanted to be comfortable and stylish, which is all the time. But I also knew that I didn’t want to wear anything new. Why? Because confession: I have a bad habit of buying something new whenever I have to go somewhere, whether an event, traveling, etc. It’s a weird panic mode I go into, believing that none of the clothes I have will be sufficient. I thought I didn’t know where that habit came from, but I should inform you that my mother does the exact same thing. It’s genetic. So, needless to say, an apology for all those years that I tsk tsked her for claiming that she had no new clothes and needed brand new ones before events is very necessary. I’ll get on that. We become our parents, folks. Deny it to yourselves no more. Anyway, since my new goal is to get rid of that habit, I decided to shop right from my own closet. I settled on a pair of skinny jeans, a T-shirt, blazer, and boots, all individual items that I’ve had for a while and were perfect for putting together. See below.
You like? A few details, if you’re interested:
Tuxedo Blazer: JC Penney’s
T-Shirt: Etsy (it says “Take Me to Paris”; more on my adventures wearing that shirt will come in another post, believe me). Check out/purchase the shirt here.
Skinny Jeans: Forever 21
Boots (you can see them a bit clearer in the second photo): Ross
Scarf: I love this scarf more than anything right now. I wear it constantly. Love the merging of gray and black and red (yes, it’s all combined together!) Found it at DSW, which I have to say is fabulous with not only shoes, but accessories.
Now let’s get a bit up close and personal and discuss hair and make-up.
Make-up was quick and easy: eye shadow, MAC Studio Fix, and my boyfriend, Ruby Woo.
The hair: I wanted an Afro. Plain and simple. So I spritzed by hair with my accidental mixture, did a little teasing with the hands and a pick, and done.
The earrings: Target.
We were ready to go. Simple, stylish, comfortable.
So what are your style confessions? Do you shop from your closet or run to the store like me and Mama? Tell, tell, in the comments!
Happy November, ya’ll. This weekend, I decided to put in some Bantu knots for her in an effort to change up the usual two-strand twist and/or fro look that she likes to sport. This isn’t the first time I wore Bantus, but I changed things up a bit. Typically, I Bantu on dry, stretched hair; i.e., an old twist-out. This time wasn’t that different, but I decided to follow a method I saw on YouTube and do things a liiiitle bit differently. So:
I started by sectioning my hair. I almost never do this. Something about putting my hair into sections before styling makes me believe that the styling process will be prolonged and therefore cause my arms to fall off.
I should say that I started by turning on the TV for some much-needed entertainment-while-doing-my-hair. This is intrinsic.
Anyway, after sectioning my hair into about 4 or 5 big ole sections, I began by dividing the first section of hair into smaller sections. Usually, in the past, I’ve Bantu’ed with huge, chunky sections of hair. But the course I saw on YouTube University convinced me otherwise. With the smaller section in hand, I lightly sprayed my hair with my accidental mixture of water, Cantu Shea Butter leave-in conditioner, and some essential oils, focusing on my ends. It’s an accidental mixture because I kind of threw it all together one day. And it’s been working. Thank goodness for accidental experiments when I just happen to be hanging out in the bathroom. I digress. (Constantly.) This is a change for me with lightly wetting my hair for Bantus. I typically do them completely dry.
After spraying the section, I then applied a dab of my Jane Carter Nourish and Shine Product from Heaven throughout the section, again focusing on the ends.
I then two-strand twisted the section before Bantu-ing: winding the twist around and around my finger until it basically created a ball/knot. I’d like to happily add that this was the first time I Bantu’ed without using bobby pins to secure the knots. My hair knotted all by itself!
After about 1,000 knots, I gave my hair some time to air dry before placing my gigantic satin bonnet on my head and heading off to SleepLand.
In the morning, I may have whispered a tiny prayer before taking off the bonnet, the Natural Hair I Hope This Style Worked prayer.
I coated my fingers and hands with some oil and undid each knot. Then I gently untwisted them and began to fluff.
Photos of the process and the results below. I really liked this “different” approach to this style, and I certainly loved how awesome and soft my hair turned out in the end. Will definitely stick to this process for the future.
Onwards for the rest of the weekend. Last night, me and a friend headed to the theater and saw The Hundred-Foot Journey, a wonderful film by Lasse Hallstrom (no surprise there; he directed Chocolat, a movie that remains one of my absolute favorites) about an Indian family that turns a little French village upside down when they open a restaurant across the street (100 feet away) from a Michelin-starred French restaurant. It was moving, sweet, compelling, lovely, funny, and beautiful. Ugh, I loved it. It made me both happy and hungry. Five Square Pegs on that one. Get thee to a theater and see it if you can.
Other than the hair and the movie, it was a grand weekend. We feted a good friend of mine for a surprise baby shower (can’t wait to meet her little girl!); I ran errands and got in a few cat naps; and, most importantly, engaged in my usual fulfilling spiritual activities.
This past weekend, me and a good friend decided to host a Natural Hair Swap Party. And it was all kinds of awesome.
The Original Plan: a year ago, as my friends sat in a car and discussed the different products we use for our natural manes and how effective/ineffective they were, I found it interesting that the same products that worked for one person did the complete opposite for another. Moreover, most of us had used these products once or twice and abandoned them for other options. I wondered aloud about having a party where all of us would bring our products and swap them with each other to create the same effect: what didn’t work for me may work for you. It was also an idea to curb the product junkie-ism/convenience stores that most of us had in our bathrooms.
The Details: each naturalista would bring their gently used (used once or twice, so no half bottles or barely there) products. And then swap! In other words, no one would come empty-handed or leave that way. So, yeah, there was no significant curbing of that product junkie-ism I mentioned earlier, since we were all going back home with something, but we were returning home with decidedly fewer things that we came with. So success?
The Execution: what better time of year do this than in the autumn, when a lot of us are going through our assortment of products to prepare our manes for the upcoming changes in weather? As mentioned, we gathered this past Sunday for the party. It was pretty awesome to have a bunch of naturalistas and mutual friends in one room. Along with the actual swapping, we played a few natural hair inspired games (name 10 natural hair vloggers/bloggers and 10 natural hair brands), gave out prizes (gift bags with all kinds of hair goodies inside), favors, etc. So much fun. The swapping itself was great: my co-hostess came up with the brilliant idea of giving everyone a ticket with a number on it. For Swapping Round 1, whomever had their number called could come up to the products and grab one product. After everyone got their turn, in Swapping Round 2, the ladies could feel free and take as much as we wanted. It was a wonderful bedlam. As intended, no one left without something, including yours truly and her co-hostess.
Not only was it terrific to see a plan come together, a year in the making, at that, but the ladies thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Needless to say, we plan on making it an annual event. Below are a few more photos from the party.
You know how much I love my MAC Ruby Woo lipstick. A reminder.
It’s my go-to when I dress up and it’s also my burst of color for any casual outfit. I love it like crazy. But the thing is, I rarely wear my Ruby Woo when I head into the OK Corral, the 9-to-5, the day to day. One of my co-workers asked me if I even wear makeup. I was like, uh, yeah? But the question didn’t really surprise me: the fact is, I feel like this place doesn’t deserve me all made up, even if it’s just lipstick and some eye shadow. Kinda intense, right? I’ll tell you why: I feel like makeup is for having fun times, good times, dressy times, those sorts of things. Things that have nothing to do with reporting to the Man five days a week. It’s extreme, but it also underscores how I feel about this place. Sigh. Working on a better attitude in 5,4,3,2…Anyway, so I resist putting my “face” on when I come in. Sure, I wear lip gloss or even the Woo once in a blue moon, and I definitely don’t leave the house without my MAC Studio Fix powder plus foundation, but I largely steer clear of my favorite lipstick. But before you can shake your head and lecture me on the importance of looking good for myself, regardless of my environment, I have you beat. From now, I will Ruby Woo wherever I go. This includes the place of nightmares that I call work. What inspired me? My bestie. When we went to Vegas last week, I loved how, regardless of wherever we went, she put her lipstick on. This meant the grocery store, a donut run, so on and so forth. She was never without her lipstick. I thought that was awesome. It reminded me of what I said above: it’s for me. Doesn’t matter where I happen to be. So, my personal rule, which effectively began yesterday: wear your lipstick when you want to, wherever you’re going, if you feel like it. Rather than letting my eager fingers bypass my Ruby Woo in favor of a boring shade of lip gloss, I’ll wear it if I very well please. Not just for fall, of course, but year-round.
And because I love you, here are a few car selfies (celfies) from yesterday when the Ruby Woo Rule went into effect.
Did I mention that I decided to straighten the fro for a spell, as well? You like? We’ll take it one day at a time as far as how it lasts, but I also want to giddily point out that when the stylist flat ironed it, before putting in some bouncy curls, it was down to my shoulders. Woohoo! It’s my intent to have healthy hair, first and foremost, but I’m also growing it out, as well, so that was nice to see. The versatility of natural hair is really everything.
Do you wear makeup and/or lipstick to work? What beauty changes have you made for yourself lately?