Danai and Lupita. Okoye and Nakia. Africa and Africa. New Muse and Still Muse.
World Class Chocolate and World Class Chocolate.
When I was a little growing brown girl, I saw women of color in my home, in my community, among my relatives. But I didn’t realize that representation outside of that nexus was important until I was much older. A young woman is exposed to so much in the media, especially during those formative years where popular ideals of what’s “beautiful” take over and unleash their particular brand of power. I wish I had seen images like this when I was fifteen years old, y’all. I really do.
Nevertheless! I see them now. And I love it into infinity.
I also love that millions of little growing brown girls are seeing images like this, too.
By now, I’m sure you’ve seen photos of Queen Lupita at the 2016 Met Gala.
Oh, you haven’t?
No, we won’t go there. I’m here to help.
Right? Are you still breathing? Let’s look at one more, shall we?
If you look to the left of Lupita, that’s actor Nate Parker in the background, to the left, quite humorously and openly caught up in the rapture of the Queen.
Absolutely loving the glamour and grandeur and chocolateness and beauty and class and elegance of our lady. And that hair! I won’t discuss the foolishness of Vogue magazine crediting Lupita’s hairstyle to Audrey Hepburn and completely diminishing the distinctly African influences behind the style. Not worth my typing time. But trust and believe that our Lupita responded in her usual classy and direct way.
When I was a teenager, the answer to that question would have been yes, yes, a thousand times, yes. Back then, I was a connoisseur of all things glossy reading materials: the goal was to spend every bit of my pocket money (the African parent’s version of allowance) on any magazine I could feast my eyes on. From the fashion bibles (Vogue, Elle, Bazaar, etc.) to the women’s magazines brimming with articles that I totally didn’t identify with but read anyway (looking at you, Cosmopolitan), to my beloved teen mags (Sassy, Seventeen, Teen, YM, etc.), to the entertainment magazines that I loved so (Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly, etc.)–the addiction was so, so real.
In hindsight, I think the magazines represented a version of life that seemed so glamorous and glitzy; hardly anything like my boring teen life in Somewheres, VA. These days, you can hardly bribe me to spend money on a magazine. Funny, how something that was once a crutch becomes unnecessary when you 1) grow up; 2) realize that “glamour” is utterly relative and fleeting; 3) would rather spend money on dinner and a play than a glossy read about something that won’t matter the next day. My sharp-eyed readers will read that last two statements and wonder about all the magazines that bear the lovely chocolate face of my Lupita, muttering to themselves that they know I’ve purchased those. No, my dear ones. I read the articles online and gaze at my queen through a computer screen. Welcome to the dawn of a new generation. The few mags I’ve actually flipped through have come to me via my mother’s subscriptions. I will admit this, though: the best thing about that airport life is flipping through those silly gossip rags. The best thing, as well, is recycling them once I get back to reality. (Do you view the airport like I do? An Oz where things like carbs and healthy eating don’t matter, where pretzels can be chewed with abandon while you chuckle over the latest antics of yet another starlet unable to make good life choices?)
I digress, as usual. The point of this post isn’t to look back in anger or regret. Here’s to that 15 year-old eagerly taking in the words and images crowding the pages of yet another shiny magazine. Because a few good things came out of the obsession. For one, I didn’t just stick with fashion and teen journals. I also devoured Time, Life, Newsweek: all of which fed my hunger for stories about real people and real life, certainly a boon for my fiction. Another thing: I accumulated enough facts to join any trivia team and win it for the team. Use my brain. I don’t mind. Lastly, it was fun! I have awesome memories of afternoons spent on my unmade bed, going through magazine after magazine, smiling at the sights I saw, reading until it was time for dinner. It really did make Boring Teen Life slightly less ordinary.
15 seconds of Queen Lupita twirling during her InStyle magazine shoot, as posted by her highness on her Instagram page. Take in all that African Girl Wonder. Breathe it in. And then find an empty office somewhere and do your own Friday twirl. Slow motion would even be better.
First, hi. Second, yep, it’s been several weeks. Third, yep, we’re in an entirely different year than we were in my last post. Hope you’re loving 2015 so far. Me? I’m trying to make it through the day without passing out within inches of my co-workers.
During the past week, I was felled by a vicious attack of the Influenza Monster (IM). Perhaps this was the IM’s revenge for the several years I refused to allow a portion of it to be injected into my bloodstream? I don’t know. Perhaps it heard me talking to friend after friend about how powerful it supposedly was this winter and decided to force me to speak from experience?
Don’t know. Punishment for my devil-may-care lifestyle where I don’t wash my hands 100 times a day and/or pour Purel all over myself and still hug my friends? Who knows. The point is that it was hardcore, you people. It was hardcore. My entire body ached. Even my eyeballs hurt. I learned what a cougheeze™ is, which is when your body produces a violent cough and a violent sneeze all at the same time. Unrelenting and painful. (Shout out to my mom for her enduring patience and taking care of This Square Peg.) The IM basically stole my essence. Now, as I sit before this computer, I have the energy of an orange. Not the healthy part of an orange, but let’s say an orange had to go to the grocery store and go shopping. Well, that would be me: just completely unable. I have little to no energy. Yesterday while waiting for the train to take me home, I nearly fell to the ground voluntarily, just to get off my feet. Sigh. Hoping to be back to the “100 percent” of my former self, which is still an orange, but perhaps an orange who isn’t walking through the hallways at the OK Corral as if she’s 75 years old.
May 2015 find you IM free, wherever you are. I also hope that all your dreams come true and you get to meet Lupita Nyong’o. Oh, wait. That’s me.