calling all big heads.

Let’s get right to it, shall we? For most of my days on this planet, I’ve been reminded by my mother about how this thing that sits on my neck nearly cost her her life. If you have a large coconut, I’m sure you’ve heard similar stories from your mom. And lest you think Mom is exaggerating or teasing me unnecessarily, kindly note that for my high school graduation, my cap had to be special ordered from another state because the ones they had at school didn’t fit my head.

Now you understand.

Obviously, I rarely wore hats throughout the years. Moreover, once this lovely fro of mine was nurtured and came into bloom, there was no way I was going to attempt to fit a hat on it. Alas, however, I soon discovered that sometimes the old college try works out: a big head and an afro aren’t obstacles to anything (other than sitting in front of the television). See Exhibit A below.

hatgirl

The caption says it all, no? So now that we’ve obviously mastered hats and fros, the next thing I’d like to try are head wraps. I’ve always been fascinated by the head wrap look, primarily because I grew up with Ghanaian women who could tie a wrap around their heads like nobody’s business. These days, I also love seeing my fellow chocolate ladies rocking them, too, especially other naturalistas. And just like a larger-than-the-average-bear sized head/fro isn’t going to keep me from adorning it with a hat, the next stop is head wraps. Naturally, I sailed on over to Pinterest for some styling ideas, and also to get some, uh, tips on actually tying one. (Mom has shown me more than once. Just like binomials, I don’t get it.) Here are a few beauts I saw.

Don’t you adore the looks? Chic, practical, fun, gorg.

Summertime, and the wrapping is easy…

Tell me: are you a head wrap lady?

shopgirl?

I don’t know what it is about entering a store and looking through racks of clothes and trying them on that fills me with pre-root canal-esque queasiness, fear, and disdain. Most of my friends hear my “I detest shopping” complaint and are shocked that my recent weight loss didn’t translate into a complete change in mindset, as if my ability to wear smaller sizes somehow means that now I want to run through store aisles with gleeful abandon. No. And perish that thought, immediately. The fact is, friends: I’ve never

shutitdown
The typical reaction in front of every single store.

liked shopping.

My relationship with the acquiring of clothes, specifically, has been the following: my mother purchased my clothes until I was in my mid-twenties. First of all, this is what the mothers of sheltered girls do. Second, since there were tumbleweeds running through my wallet (former minimum wage girls unite!) most of the time, I heartily left it to my primary caregiver to clothe me. When I finally started working my first “real” job and making a bit more money and taking care of myself, all of that changed. I was now responsible for heading to the stores and finding my own clothes. A task that became my white whale. I had no idea what my personal style was back then. I wore the clothes my mom bought me and let’s be real: as chic as my mom was and still is, I was her daughter. (And always a little girl in her eyes.) My clothes were floral and functional. So to have to figure out what looked good on me, what I liked: hello, Moby Dick. Also, I was (am?) a lazy drone who didn’t like looking for anything. Add to that a preference to hide in clothes rather than be accentuated by them and you had someone that side eyed the department store 100 percent of the time. Needless to say, I kept to the floral and functional options and seriously kept it moving.

But then comes the passage of time, journeys, figuring out what I like, learning that I’d rather look at flowers than wear them emblazoned on a dress, that sort of thing. Yet I still can’t come to terms with it: peering through tags and fabric, searching, de-clothing in a white room that may or may not be on a camera pointed right at me. I just don’t like the process. And forget shopping with friends. Goodness. Yes, it’s my lot in life to be surrounded by lovely women who spend gobs of time strolling through stores and pronouncing that something is cute every ten seconds. (I do love them, though. I promise. At times. Kidding.)

So what does This Square Peg do? After all, you’ve seen some of my finds on here for Fabu Fashion days, so you know that I shop. Here it is, dear reader, my shopping modus operandi: I run in and out. My time inside stores doesn’t go beyond a certain amount of time, lest someone finds me in a melted heap somewhere by the shoe section. I even try things on, but it has to be for a serious reason, like I need the outfit for a special event and hardly feel like returning it. And I do it quickly. Everything must be done quickly before The Queasiness comes. You thought I was exaggerating, weren’t you? I wish. I really do get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. But let’s end here, shall we? We’ll save all the gory stuff for my future therapist. May he or she be blessed with patience and plenty of ink in their pen.

Anyway, folks, yet another strange adventure in the life of your Square Peg. Tell me: are you a shopper? Are you not? How do you feel about the whole thing?

just beautiful.

My grandmother was hearing-impaired. I have memories of standing in the corner, breathless and amazed, as I watched she and my mother sign to one another. This brief video touched me because it took me to that memory. It also spoke to the simple beauty and emotion of  a hearing-impaired individual going through his day, doing ordinary things, and having the people around him communicating with him. What if that happened every single day, all the time?

Really, really beautiful.

The Boss.

DianaRoss

Last night, a friend invited me to join her for Motown: The Musical. So well-done, first and foremost, and such a great opportunity to reminisce about how those incredible songs have been with me since I was a child. What a wonderful journey.

But above all, above all, the musical reminded me of my enduring love for the woman you see above. The Boss. The BOOSSSSSS.

Diana Ross has been with me since birth, y’all. I sang Touch Me in the Morning and Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To) to various family members until they begged me to chill out. (Didn’t work.) I told old classmates that she was my real mom. (Long story, but it had to do with my big hair and her big hair and feeling that we were bound.) I would gaze at her in silent awe during films, interviews, while looking through photos. Last year, when Mom and I went to see Lionel Richie in concert, he teased us and told us that he had invited a “special guest” for the concert, one of his closest friends, a woman and singer we all knew. Naturally, I bolted up from my seat, my heart thumping and racing, my bladder about to let loose, my lips repeatedly forming the syllables of her name, because I just knew it was her. My mother looked up at me, agape, aware that this would be the highlight of my life. Well, I said Lionel teased us, right? He was kidding. She wasn’t there.

The jury is still out on whether I forgive him for that.

Anyway, just recently, I was in the car at a red light and I was blasting Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. I was singing along with abandon, with drama, with wild gestures. Then I noticed that the woman in the lane next to me was watching my performance, wild-eyed and stunned. Amused by her reaction, I continued with my joyful, slightly crazed rendering of one of my favorite songs and kept it moving. To me, that’s life as a fan of Ms. Ross The Boss: joyful adoration.

So to that lady in the next lane: you’re welcome.

The Mild African Woman.

My name is This Square Peg, I am an African Woman, and I cannot eat spicy foods.

{Moment of silence}

It’s weird, right? That when I eat anything spicy I see my life flashing before my eyes? It’s been like this since I was a wee lass. (Apparently, I’m also Irish.) I have memories of my mother cooking milder versions of the same foods because some of us (read: me) couldn’t take the peppery heat. One time, in my haste to inhale the Chinese food in front of me, I accidentally swallowed an entire red pepper. I was in bed for the rest of the night. There may have been hallucinations. Seriously.

So why am I able to cover my egg white omelets with Sriracha sauce and

For Today - Affordable Flavor (Wood)
I bow to you, my benevolent master.

eat with abandon? Even when my lips burn after eating, as they now are, I typically am able to withstand the heat after a bit. Am I building some kind of resistance, finally, to spiciness?

No. I can only handle Sriracha. Nothing else. So, so strange. In the end, I add my inability to largely eat spicy foods to the list of other things that I, as an African Woman, was denied:

  • Discernible hips
  • An actual derrière (although, thanks to squats, something might be growing back there)

Just unfair.

Are you like me? Or can you handle the heat?

Products from Heaven: Fits Like a Dove.

Here’s the real, no-holds barred truth about Your Square Peg: she sweats like a chocolate pig. There’s no other way to say it.

Ever since I woke up one morning a million years ago and discovered the monster known as–shudder–puberty, the sweat glands opened up, got to work, and decided to work overtime every single day. So when it comes to controlling that interesting region under the arms, I’ve been using Secret antiperspirant ever since I can remember, especially after my mother discreetly told me that borrowing my father’s deodorant (true story) was no longer acceptable. (I was 12. And it smelled nice. Strange children grow up to be sassy square pegs, so join me in embracing the strange, won’t you?)

Sidenote: I’ve long heard the conversations around me about not wearing deodorant because of all the chemicals. I appreciate it, and until I do research and find something organic and chemical free to control the sweat monster, sticking with the standard.

You know how Secret (and other antiperspirants) advertise the whole “invisible solid” thing on their products? Which should calm your fears about wearing dark clothes and not having white stains staring back at you in the mirror? Here’s a secret: This. Isn’t. True. This has never been true. You know it as much as I do. Nevertheless, I stuck with Secret through the years, wearing dark blouses very carefully and slowly, lest I disturb the Force, and kept it moving. But one gets tired of holding her breath as she pulls on her clothes. Enter Dove Dry Spray, which I happened to notice on dovedryspraythe shelf one afternoon last week. The following words on the bottle caught my eye: wetness protection. After engaging in the usual Square Peg side eye that I give any product, I decided to give it a try. It goes on dry, it boasted 48-hour odor protection, as well–why not, right?

Well, I don’t call it a Product from Heaven just because. It’s awesome. For one thing, I wasn’t lied to: this thing goes on instantly dry, it gives this chocolate square pig peg actual wetness protection, and I’ve yet to see any of those pesky white stains on my clothes. I love it so. And that scent…so heavenly.

So there you go: yet another Product from Heaven that I’ve stumbled on while meandering in the aisles of a store. Maybe I should just move in?

Ladies: care to share what you do when it comes to antiperspirant?

The Great Lotion vs Oil Debate.

Well, it’s not cats vs. dogs, but in my opinion, it’s pretty high up there in terms of which you prefer. (Dogs, by the way.)

Anyway, I’ve been a lotion lover since I can remember. Hands down, Suave lotion was my favorite since I was old enough to buy my own beauty products in Rite Aid; its soft feel and lovely scent usually made waking up in the mornings for school somewhat bearable. Somewhat. I experimented with all kinds, though, judging them based on how my both dry and sensitive skin reacted to them, and how my senses were ignited by their aroma. However, several years ago, I discovered Aveeno Lotion and I’ve been a one-lotion lady ever since. All that said, the idea of using body oils was a foreign concept to me. For one thing, I had images of slipping off seats and other surfaces because of being just super oily. Just no. And honestly, having had oily skin since puberty struck (oily T-Zones represent!), the idea of introducing more oil onto my skin was no bueno.

But things change, huh? It started when I watched one of my favorite YouTube personalities, Evelyn from the Internets, discuss her skincare essentials. (Watch that video here, and stay for the rest of her videos because she. is. pure. hilarity.) When she discussed using body oils, it intrigued me. Mainly because I, too, want my clavicle all shiny and such (again, watch the video and you’ll know what I’m referring to.) Hey: with weight loss comes evident clavicle bones. And I’ve always loved that part of my body. So, yep, there you have it: I now wanted to try body oils because I want a shiny clavicle. This Square Peg is all about transparency, don’t you know?

bodyoil
       In all its glory.

It just so happened, as I wondered which oil to experiment with a few days later, that my mother had a bottle of Neutrogena Body Oil in her room. Also a surprise, being that she has been the founder and CEO of using lotion since I could remember. Anyway, I asked her if she liked it. It’s ok, she replied. I only use a bit, though, here and there, along with my lotion. Banning my oft-repeated images of being so oiled up that I fall of chairs from my mind, I asked if I could use some. Take the whole thing, she said. And so, after a great workout last night and jumping into the shower, I decided to use the oil.

Oh, powerful body oil gods, I just didn’t know. I didn’t know how so fresh and so clean clean I would feel. I didn’t know how that lovely aroma would make me smile in my sleep. I didn’t know just how the clavicle shine would delight my eyes. I feel refreshed. This morning, as I sit before this monitor, the aroma continues to cuddle my senses and I welcome it.

The bottle promises a “sheer moisturizing experience”. This is true. Not only do I feel refreshed, but I feel moisturized, hydrated, not dry. The light sesame formula mentioned on the bottle holds true, as well. It’s not overwhelming, throat-clogging, and no, I haven’t yet fallen off any chairs because I’m all greased up. I will say that being light with the application helps, though. Anyway, I love this product.

But I’m not bidding 1,000 goodbyes to lotion quite yet. Because ashiness lives, y’all. And since my feet and elbows hold PhDs in ash, and those two areas tend to be kind of tough, I decided to combine the lotion with the oil and applied both to those areas. Other than that, yeah, I’m officially a body oil believer.

So, tell me, dears, are you a Lotion Lady or a Body Oil Babe?

because your Mother is always right.

So my mother hasn’t dressed me since I was a teenager, but deep down in her heart, I know she wants to. I would classify my personal style as modern, unfussy, feminine, subtly chic. In other words, I like to look lovely but I’m the lady who won’t overwhelm the room with my fashion choices. My mother, on the other hand, is just plain fashionable. She will always turn heads and not the what in the world is she wearing? turning of heads, but the Wow, I want what she’s wearing! kind of heads. That said, when she gives me fashion advice, I tend to listen–just not 100 percent of the time, since sometimes, it may not be my style or the look I’m going for. Those moments are fun, by the way. (“You have a problem with this suggestion?” “No, Ma, I just don’t feel it. Can’t I just say no?” “Hmph.”) Anyway, I know she longs for the days when she would just buy my clothes and dress me 100 percent of the time. Instead of doing that, however, recently she’s been hanging up clothes in her room and simply pointing me in their direction. Try this, she likes to say, her voice soft and leading, as if I’m being tricked into being potty trained all over again. I can’t fit it anymore, she then says, smiling, but perhaps you can. Oh, I know the game. That was the case with a dress she led me to a few weeks ago. I studied the dress. Pretty, pink, very feminine, almost romantic. I turned it down. She asked me why. I told her that despite how nice it was, it didn’t really capture me. Fine, she replied, knowing that a day like yesterday would come.

You see, yesterday afternoon, I had nothing to wear to our house of worship. Absolutely nothing. Most of my clothes are either well-worn or too big, and I wasn’t in the mood to incite déjà vu with my ensemble or snap on a belt to hold my stuff together. (I need to go shopping, I know.) Enter Mom’s dress.

I put it on. It looked terrific. It fit like a glove. So there you go. Listen to your mother, because she’s always right.

(By the way, she merely smiled when I came downstairs in the dress. Just a nice, serene smile. Later, she calmly told me to always listen to her. Haaaa!)

I snapped a few photos of the dress for your viewing pleasure. Well, my sissy snapped the photos and oh, the angles. I’m a straight angle kind of gal, not the camera looking up at me. Nevertheless, she’s an artiste. Enjoy.

dress23 dress22 dress21

Several Things African Mothers are Not Here For.*

(*Or, rather specifically, my African mother)

Discussing anything having to do with shaving or other such topics with your adolescent, hirsute daughter, leading her to make the type of mistakes and gaffes that defy description.

The idea that Idris Elba possesses any kind of good looks and responding to statements of that vein with comments such as, “there are about 12 men walking around the market in Accra right now who look better than him.” (Respectful side eye ensues.)

Mom3
The woman herself. I should add that I love her to pieces.

Magazine covers that proclaim someone to be the Most Beautiful… or the The Sexiest…because she will never, ever agree with that mumbo jumbo.

Complaints about being hungry, because “there’s rice in the kitchen.” Because whether breakfast, lunch, or dinner, rice will fix everything.

The knowledge that her daughter will watch movies she’s seen many times before or listen to the same songs over and over again. And over again.

The possibility that her daughter may marry a man with a large head.

Leaving the house to see a movie without a 100% guarantee that the ending will be happy. And since you can’t know that, she’s not going.

Speaking of leaving the house, doing anything that requires dressing up and leaving the house unless it’s worth it. So this means trips to the theater to see a show. And that’s it.

You, when you forget yourself and somehow believe that being in your mid 30s gives you the laughable right to express every silly thought that enters your head. Please have several seats, you.

The idea that the African dresses she sews for her daughter are too tight. (“Quiet. And stick your butt out.”)

Any kind of behavior that’s the opposite of ladylike, gentleman-like, or human being-like.

Parenting without large doses of cleverness, dignity, strength, tough love, cuddly love (within reason; let’s not get crazy), faith, and a dedication to her children and family.

If you don’t have an African mother, please feel free to borrow mine. But I’ll need her back, ok?