December 31, 2011

Cheers for the New Year!

Happy New Year!  

I think I am not alone in welcoming a new year, as 2011 was often turbulent and filled with many global highs and lows.  2011 was, as People Magazine proclaimed, the year of "The Protestor." The Arab Spring was the watershed event that gave way to the Occupy Movement.  The global community rejoiced when the Egyptian people's voices were finally heard.  However, we learned that the price of freedom is high.   

The new year, however, brings with it possibility, hope, and maybe the change we've all been waiting for.  I am hopeful and vigilant.  

May you all find peace and happiness in 2012. 


December 30, 2011

Kinky Curly Paradigm

A year ago, I decided to cut off my locked hair of 8 years.  I blogged about my "Big Chop", it's significance, and the politics of black women's hair.  While I was reflecting on the past year, I stumbled upon Larry D. Rosalez-Lewis, a freelance photographer.  He was recently featured on BGLH (a natural hair blog), and he had something very profound to say about hair:
Wearing my hair natural was never an epic decision or affirmation of my blackness, but the way people respond has caused me to really examine my thoughts about natural hair, blackness and race relations, and the spiritual aspects of hair.
This is exactly what I have been pondering for the last year.  Both men and women of African descent have the same curly/kinky, Afro-textured strands growing from their heads.  Yet, until now, black women have been held to a separate set of standards for hair and beauty - a white paradigm instead of a black one.  I discussed the white paradigm of beauty at length in my blog post a year ago.  So I won't rehash it here.  I will say, however, that Black women who "go natural" are met with the most resistance from other black people.  There are still too many black people who believe that natural hair is "unprofessional," "unkempt," "unclean" and just plain "ugly."  However, naturals all over the country attest to the acceptance and even intrigue their hair receives from whites.  

Things are changing, though.  The new generation of natural haired black women are trailblazers in the quest for affirmative black female identity.  Bloggers like Curly Nikki, Afrobella, Kurly Bella, Natural Chica, and Vloggers like Kimmaytube, BeautifulBrwnBabyDol, and KinkyKurlyQueen have reconstructed black female identity (literally) from the hair follicles down.  I don't know which came first - the blogs or the changing attitudes about black women and natural hair.  Whatever the case may be, everyone is fascinated with kinky, curly Afro-textured hair.  I no longer get aggravated when people "just want to touch it."  I understand.   Hair that grows out and not down is like nothing else.  There is a spirit about it that is difficult to articulate.  

Although, there are some unenlightened black folks still lurking behind weaves, wigs, pieces, and lye, naturals represent a significant percentage of the black female population.  According to a recent USA Today article, "The number of black women who say they do not use products to chemically relax or straighten their hair jumped to 36% in 2011, up from 26% in 2010, according to a report by Mintel, a consumer spending and market research firm. Sales of relaxer kits dropped by 17% between 2006 and 2011, according to Mintel." Maybe one day we can put the "relaxer" folks out of business.

I feel a kinky, curly paradigm shift in the air.  

December 05, 2011

Drama in the Fitting Room

I think it's safe to say that every woman would like nothing better than to sachet into the fitting room with several, single-digit-sized skinny jeans and slip effortlessly into them without needing a crane, a vat of grease, or a few Hail Mary's.

We've all experienced stressful visits to the fitting room, when nothing that supposed to fit actually fits, and the mirror seems like a magnifying glass illuminating every lump, bump, and imperfection under the cruel and unforgiving florescent lights.    

I was talking about this to a colleague of mine who recently lost a significant amount of weight.  She was recounting to me how refreshing it is to go shopping for clothes now, and how she is no longer subjected to the "Women's World" suits.  She wondered why so many plus-sized women's suits came in obnoxious colors like purple, pink, and electric blue.  Having no other alternative, she would grab an arm full of these pink and purple nightmares and head to the fitting room hoping for a miracle.  There she stood looking like she was on her way to a Deaconess meeting.  For years, she said, the thought of professional attire was frightening.  

But now, after shedding so many pounds, she feels as though she is a part of entirely new world.  She had traded pink and purple for navy and black and elastic waists for buttons, belts, and "hooks and eyes."