When Life Hands You a Broken Heel...

Friday, February 27, 2009

Buy a new pair of shoes!

Have you ever had a day that was just so randomly bizarre that you have to laugh about it? Well, I had that kind of day today. After dealing with Times Square madness this morning and sitting through an excruciatingly boring four-hour taped lecture for the MPRE exam (a professional responsibility exam that many law students are required to take in order to become a licensed attorney) with two ten-minute breaks, I had to endure my first (and hopefully - only) heel break in NYC (very "Sex and the City"). Any woman who has had her heel snap in half while walking in a crowded area (especially in the Big Apple) knows that this is an incredibly annoying and embarrassing circumstance, especially when it involves one of her favorite pairs of shoes! Pre-heel break, I was walking towards a nearby subway, with a heavy backpack, attempting to take off my jacket (it was relatively warm out today) while also trying to pass a group of elderly men and women, who looked down when they heard the very crunchy snap of my dear shoe. I then realized what the sound was, immediately noticed the drastic change in my gait, and I had to think fast! I rushed into a nearby building (a bank), tried to snap my semi-detached heel back in place (which did not work), and then tried to walk with one functional heel with as much grace as possible to a nearby taxi cab to take me back to my apartment.

When I got home, I could not help but think about the whole circumstance and laugh about it, despite a lingering desire to feel incredibly embarrassed and irritated about the whole thing. However, I realized that my desire to laugh about the heel break came from a realization that life just happens - and little situations like this keep it interesting, despite the specific complications of the situation at hand. Instead of feeling really embarrassed, I instead focused on the fact that I was lucky that the heel did not snap in the subway, where I would not have had as easy access to a cab at all, and I felt incredibly lucky that the heel snapped at the end of my day, on my way home. When a local shoe repair shop employee told me later today that the shoe would require a complete heel replacement (and he would have to replace the good heel as well since it would be a completely different heel color all together), I declined putting the shoes through the extended misery and threw them away in a nearby trash can on my way back to my apartment and did not look back, knowing that I could just get a new pair this weekend, fresh and ready to be worn.

What's my overall point of this lovely and somewhat petty rant about my day? If you are going through a crazy situation, try and see the light at the end of the tunnel and notice whatever "good" may be hiding in the circumstance. Perhaps it is a situation that you will be able to look back on and laugh, express gratefulness that you made it through, and move on. And perhaps purchase a new set of shoes as you walk on. ;)

Blacks Who "Grow Up White" - The "Oreo"/"Carlton" Complex

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

When I ask "what's your oreo status?," I'm not asking if you have a package of Oreo cookies in your kitchen cupboard. Nope - I'm going deeper on this one. When I ask this question, I'm asking: To what degree are you "black" on the outside and "white" on the inside? And is this even a legit question? What does it even mean to be black on the outside and white on the inside? Despite the ridiculousness of this question, plenty of people still refer to others as Oreos or imply it through their statements, so I am taking a moment to blog about it.

A lot of blacks get accused of being "Oreos" - a phenomenon I find quite intriguing. These "Carlton-esque" types (think "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air") are considered contrary to the norm because on some level, they remind people of what is considered "white culture" or "white standards" and yet, on the outside, happen to be black. Those who freely call others Oreos are likely to abide by the principle that speaking "white" is in opposition to speaking "black" (e.g. to speak articulately and without any usage of ebonics/broken English). "Oreo" logic also suggests that studying and doing well in school can turn you into an Oreo - as if studying and learning is so "culturally white" that you may as well just forget about studying and do something else if you want to maintain the true essence of "blackness" and remain cool among your peers.

Now...I have sympathy for Oreos. It is harder to be an Oreo in American society because they are fighting the multitude of stereotypes held against black Americans. Why bother risk being viewed as an Oreo and possible alienation by your peers?

Viewing my life through the lens of "Oreo-ology," I did indeed grow up as an Oreo but I didn't necessarily have what most people consider the "typical black American" experience growing up - my family is from the Caribbean (I am first-generation American) and I grew up in a predominately privileged white suburb, so I wasn't as much of an "other" to my peers because techically, we were mostly all "culturally white" - whether or not you were racially white. But I do believe my personality and my growing up experience would have been different if I, for example, grew up in a predominately black American environment which was not as economically privileged and more prone to critique me if I exhibited "Carlton" characteristics.

Every now and again I am reminded of my supposed "Carlton" status by various people - but I find that older non-black Americans (as well as non-blacks abroad), on average, are more likely to bring it to my attention as I grow older (I have recently been compared to Condoleeza Rice for some reason when I dress in either business casual or a formal suit). On average, people have said, "Wow, you are so articulate" or the classic "Well, you are different" comment (in their interesting attempt to compare me to "most black Americans") - as if somehow being black automatically means that I cannot form a grammatically correct sentence in my head or my personality and character are somehow an anomaly in the black American experience. I will admit that when people make these statements, I tend to automatically put them in the "ignorant" category in my head because I find it somewhat esoteric that they are shocked by the existence of an articulate black person, considering the growing amount of black politicians and media moguls that clearly defy the stereotypes out there. Now I just laugh it off, but it is still amusing to see someone get confused when they hear me talking on the cell phone and wonder how my voice is associated with brown skin.

Yet, I don't think that my existence makes them rethink their stereotypes of black Americans - I, to many of them, am the exception - just like Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell, and President Barack Obama appear to be the "black exception" within the political arena. Clearly such "stereotypers" are not aware of the growing numbers of Oreos my age and younger who are bursting forth onto the professional scene. I just hope they don't get too overwhelmed by cookie overload.

Conceptualizing a Voluptuous Woman Within a Thin Standard

Voluptuous: (Webster-Merriam Definition)

Main Entry:
\və-ˈləp(t)-shə-wəs, -shəs\
Middle English, from Latin voluptuosus, irregular from voluptas pleasure, from volup pleasurable; akin to Greek elpesthai to hope, Latin velle to wish — more at will
14th century
1 a: full of delight or pleasure to the senses : conducive to or arising from sensuous or sensual gratification : luxurious b: suggesting sensual pleasure by fullness and beauty of form 2: given to or spent in enjoyment of luxury, pleasure, or sensual gratifications
synonyms see
— vo·lup·tu·ous·ly adverb
— vo·lup·tu·ous·ness noun


Somehow, over time, the term "voluptuous" evolved from the above definition that was used as a pleasant description for the female mystique and beautiful curves to just another way of saying “fat.” An example of this transition is a situation in which a girl was talking about one of my friends to a guy and described my friend to him as “voluptuous,” and he immediately responded, “Oh…she’s fat.” Not only did this offend my friend when she heard about the situation, but it also offended my own personal understanding of the term “voluptuous.” How is it that in today’s day and age where women are running to plastic surgeons for breast and butt implants, we still find the term voluptuous to be an offensive and/or negative term?

A few days after my friend told me about this story, I was watching "Good Morning America" and one of the top Victoria’s Secret models, the stunning Marisa Miller, came on to be interviewed and disclosed the fact that she is considered a “curvy model” in the modeling industry – to the astonishment of Diane Sawyer, who could not believe that this model was categorized as “curvy" (she must have also considered the term "curvy" to mean "voluptuous"/"fat").
Let’s have a look:

Her measurements, as listed by Wikipedia, are 34D-23-35 (US), 5 feet, 8 inches tall. I understand that she has a larger-than-the-norm breast size for the modeling industry, but labeling Ms. Miller as "curvy" is quite strange in my opinion - she is incredibly thin, and yet, the modeling industry chooses to call her curvy because she does not fit into the standard of non-breast/non-butt that the modeling industry chooses to promote and blast across magazine pages every month.

In a world where extreme skinny has become the standard of body beautiful, I stand in rebellion of this hopefully temporary standard as I observe my own 26-year-old 34D-27-37 figure standing 5’7 feet tall in front of me in the mirror. This is me. And I accept and love what I see.

The more important question I have now is – do you accept what you see? I hope the answer is yes. And if it is not - I truly do hope that at some point, you will accept your body and your beauty overall.

One of the reasons why I created this blog is because I wanted to encourage women to accept themselves and celebrate their unique beauty. So if you have curves, I say rock them! Be comfortable in your own skin. Dove’s national campaigns about accepting your own natural beauty and the show “Do I Look Good Naked?” are relatively recent nation-wide additions to the subtle yet powerful underground revolution against the “unhealthy skinny” prototype that has been promulgated by the modeling industry down women’s throats, as if to say that curvy women must accept that their bodies are considerably second-class to the thin prototypes found in high fashion magazines.

I disagree. It’s time to stop chastising the curvy female form – no matter what size it comes in – and start celebrating what we have naturally been given – and celebrate the fact that it is a wonderful thing to have curve – and it is a major compliment to be considered “curvy.”

What We Can Learn From Tyler Perry About Love

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I am a huge fan of Tyler Perry, and have been inspired by every single one of his films (I particularly love "Madea's Family Reunion" and "Why Did I Get Married?"). He has an uncanny ability to appeal to a very large audience, crossing racial, religious, and national boundaries. He knows how to appeal to the heart while tickling your funny bone, and it is not hard to feel refreshed and amused at the end of any of Perry's films. I just ran across this article on Essence.com entitled "Tyler Perry's Love Lessons," and I was amused by Essence's ability to extract a few of the many love themes within his movies. I think we can all learn something from Perry's lessons and continue to support his creative plots so more people can take advantage of his unique messages and apply them to their own personal lives and relationships: (click on link below)

Tyler Perry's Love Lessons

Skin Care for Every Age

Skin care is incredibly important for women of every age, color, and skin type, and every skin care regimen is person-specific, suiting her age, her type of skin, as well as her lifestyle. Inspired by the youthful glow of the older women in my family, I've taken advantage of opportunities to talk to them about effective skin regimens and tips, and I have made it a point to make wise investments in the right products that will maximize my skin's smoothness, clarity and vitality. Ever since I've moved to New York City, I became particularly aware of the elements I was exposed to everyday (bus exhaust, etc) that could mess with my pores, so I particularly took advantage of my Conair Face Spa, which gently cleanses and refreshes my pores. I also take advantage of good facial scrubs and masks (both pricey and not-so-pricey) that also add various beneficial effects to my skin overall. Although I am only 26, I find that now is a better time than ever to make sure my regimen is on point so I won't have to deal with more issues than I care to deal with as I age into my 30s and 40s. Plus, I think Botox is overrated.

Total Beauty has provided an excellent summary of skin care products for different age groups, and I think it is worth a quick read:

The Right Skin Care for Your Age

If you make the right choices for your skin today, you will have less "skin maintenance" work to do in the future, so make wise decisions, and be sure to speak to skin consultants in department stores if you need specific advice on your type of skin or on particular skin issues such as acne or wrinkle-prevention.

Claiming Your Victory in Troubled Times, Part II

Monday, February 23, 2009

In response to the comment in my blog posting below, "Claiming Your Victory in Troubled Times," I decided to make a follow-up post that provides more detailed advice and information for those who are dealing with hardship and anxiety during these tough economic times and are looking for some concrete advice. Lo and behold, I tripped upon an interesting article in one of my favorite magazines, "Essence," which provides some good advice for those who are interested in confronting their anxiety and looking for solutions:

As a part of an article entitled "High Anxiety," (p. 110) featured in Essence Magazine's March 2009 edition, Angela Neal-Barnett, Ph.D., offers some advice in her piece entitled "Transforming Anxiety Into Action," providing tips on how to draft a plan "with measurable results and time frames," using the following steps below:
1) Turn Your Worry into A Goal
"I'll never pay off all these bills" becomes "I want to be free of all credit card debt by 2015."

2) Figure out what specific actions will get you to your goal.
Do you need to look for a part-time job on the weekends to earn an extra $100 a week? Do you need to work an extra five years before you can retire?

3) Work around stumbling blocks.
In the past, what has stopped you from reaching your goal? Be honest. Perhaps, for instance, you've been stashing away your credit-card statements without reading them. Make opening your mail the first thing you do when you come home.

4) Measure and monitor your progress.
Will you, for instance, check in with a debt counselor once a month to stay accountable to your credit-card repayment schedule?

5) Congratulate yourself periodically.
As you reach a milestone, indulge in a treat that will keep you motivated.

Dr. Neal-Barnett also provides advice in another segment of this Essence article, "High Anxiety," in a piece entitled "3 Steps To Serenity," below:
1) Deconstuct Your Demons. "What we say we're afraid of is really our core fear," says therapist Angela Neal-Barnett, who suggests leading yourself in what she calls the "so what?" chorus. Ask yourself what's so troubling about the dreaded consequences, and drill down until you get to their emotional root. For instance, a sister panicked about her plummeting 401(k) may initially say that she fears losing everything. So what? She may delay retirement another 15 years. So what? She doesn't want to work for the rest of her life. That's the core fear - working herself to the grave - not postponing retirement. With that knowledge, she can work with an adviser to figure out measures (such as catch-up payments and additional revenue streams) so that she may only have to raise her retirement age five years or so.

2) Stay in the moment. Once you've figured out the "so what," stop dwelling on the what-ifs. Lama Choyin Rangdrol, an African-American Buddhist meditation teacher and the founder of Rainbowdharma, suggests this exercise: Inhale and imagine the air is cleansing your body. Then exhale as you imagine the air clearing out the confusions, stress and anxiety. Use it to put the breaks on runaway thoughts.

3) Get treatment if you need it. See a medical, mental health or substance abuse professional if anxiety interferes with your sleep, work, appetite or other aspects of your daily life for a prolonged period.

I am no stranger to anxiety and stress, so I empathize when others are searching for advice and crave some sort of concrete advice for their various circumstances. I hope these pieces from this March 2009 Essence article ("High Anxiety") are helpful to those of you out there looking for some piece of mind in this headache of an economic mess. These tips, in addition to the many more provided by other experts, should help mitigate some of the anxiety that you may be facing at the moment.

Why the New York Post Should Be Boycotted

Friday, February 20, 2009

*Note: For those of you who have a predisposition for disliking blog posts having anything to do with race matters, I very much encourage you to stop reading this now.*

The New York Post has pretty much gotten away with quite a number of provoking images under the protective umbrella of freedom of speech. However, the Post is still subject to its dependence on making a profit from its readers and advertisers, which may diminish in light of a vast number of people who have already decided to boycott the Post in response to an allegedly racist image that has angered many around the country and the world. (To be fair - I commend some Post employees who have actually stated that the cartoon was a terrible idea. Perhaps they should consider working for a more cultivated and enlightened publication.)

I have quite a number of things to say about the cartoon - however, AP News covered this topic and summed up the whole matter quite succinctly:
NY Post cartoon of dead chimpanzee stirs outrage
By: Karen Matthews, Associated Press Writer – Wed Feb 18, 6:20 pm ET
NEW YORK – A New York Post cartoon that some have interpreted as comparing President Barack Obama to a violent chimpanzee gunned down by police drew outrage Wednesday from civil rights leaders and elected officials who said it echoed racist stereotypes of blacks as monkeys.
The cartoon in Wednesday's Post by Sean Delonas shows two police officers, one with a smoking gun, standing over the body of a bullet-riddled chimp. The caption reads: "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."
The cartoon refers to a chimpanzee named Travis who was killed Monday by police in Stamford, Conn., after it mauled a friend of its owner.
Some critics called the cartoon racist and said it trivialized a tragedy in which a woman was disfigured and a chimpanzee killed. Others said the cartoon suggests that Obama should be assassinated. Many urged a boycott of the Post and the companies that advertise in it.
"How could the Post let this cartoon pass as satire?" said Barbara Ciara, president of the National Association of Black Journalists. "To compare the nation's first African-American commander in chief to a dead chimpanzee is nothing short of racist drivel."
State Sen. Eric Adams called it a "throwback to the days" when black men were lynched.
The Rev. Al Sharpton called the cartoon "troubling at best given the historic racist attacks of African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys."
The cartoon set off a furious response against the Post. Its phones rang all day with angry callers. Protesters picketed the tabloid's Manhattan offices, demanding an apology and a boycott and chanting "shut the Post down."
Col Allan, editor-in-chief of the Post, defended the work.
"The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut," Allan said in a statement. "It broadly mocks Washington's efforts to revive the economy. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist."
The cartoon drew hundreds of comments on the Internet including at the liberal Huffington Post, where columnist Sam Stein wrote: "At its most benign, the cartoon suggests that the stimulus bill was so bad, monkeys may as well have written it. Most provocatively, it compares the president to a rabid chimp."
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs declined comment.
"I have not seen the cartoon," he told reporters aboard Air Force One as Obama returned to Washington from Arizona, where he announced his plan to deal with the foreclosure crisis. "But I don't think it's altogether newsworthy reading the New York Post."

I think it would be foolish to sit back and assume that the Post did not have a clue as to the hidden meaning and/or possible interpretation of that cartoon. However, if the Post truly does lack sensitivity on race-related matters (which their half-apology appears to suggest), perhaps they should take some time to enlighten themselves before their cartoons empty their pockets.

Claiming Your Victory in Troubled Times

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Living in New York City, I've noticed an increasing number of troubled faces, especially as of late. The economy has hit every city around the world on some catastrophic level, and the Big Apple has unfortunately endured a monster bite, leaving many New Yorkers miserable and wondering about their jobs, their finances, their families, their...everything! As a law student, I've noticed that some of my colleagues are concerned about the security of their law firm job offers here in New York City, since many firms here have unfortunately been negatively affected by the recession. For anyone who is worried about any particular issue and craves a more optimistic outlook, I would like to offer you a simple coin of wisdom: Claim your victory!

How exactly do you "claim victory", you ask? It's simple: it is a thought-processing mechanism that you consciously kick into gear from the moment you wake up in the morning until the moment you go to bed at night. Positively evaluate your self-confidence outside of your circumstances, rather than remain swallowed by your circumstances. Despite what the media or society may say, your victory and your perception of your victory is not at all attached to any particular monetary/relational/academic accomplishment - it is instead attached to your conceptualization of how YOU view yourself in whatever circumstance. Your perception of self has a key role to play in your daily comprehension and evaluation of situations and issues happening to you and around you. If you claim victory first thing in the morning - nothing can stop you. Your perspective on situations will 100% change once you speak confidence and joy into your mind and your life - fewer things will get on your nerves, you will have a calmer and more focused response to situations, and you will have a more peaceful mindset for planning and problem-solving. So don't forget to sprinkle in some "victory-talk" into your cup of joe tomorrow morning!

In light of being and feeling victorious, it is also necessary to be realistic about your life plans and always have a realistic "plan B" while also having strong faith in your "plan A" as well. If you find that it is very easy to give up when situations become challenging, I very much encourage you to simply consider those challenging situations as a test for you to challenge yourself to rise to a higher and more victorious level of thought life. One of the things that many people do not realize is that negative self-speak is one of the top reasons why people self-sabotage their dreams and ascent to the next level in whatever arena in their lives. If you have a particular goal for 2009, and you find yourself negatively speaking over something in your life, you should switch up your speech and start speaking victory, confidence and accomplishment over that issue instead, as if you know and believe that you will achieve that goal. "The Secret" tries to label this mental strategy as some sort of metaphysical secret knowledge that only successful and happy people know about and implement in their lives. What do I call it? Common sense for a more joyful, peaceful, and triumphant life!

Are "Open Relationships" a Good Idea?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"Open relationships" seem to be the "in thing" among young people today, yet I cannot understand why anyone would put themselves through this sort of relational headache. An "open relationship" (e.g. two people who are sort of "together" but choose not to be tied to each other - just yet or at all) is just another way of saying, "He/She is just not all that into you." If I chose to seriously date someone, it was after the man made it known that he was really into me and wanted to be committed to me, 100%. I have never settled for anything less, simply because I knew what I deserved - a person that respected me, my heart, my spirit, etc. etc. I also knew I didn't want to waste my time with someone that I knew wasn't the best person for me. For those who believe that an "open relationship" is easier for them since it is supposedly "easier" than a committed boyfriend/girlfriend relationship - I very much encourage you to comment on this post and explain your reasoning - because in my opinion, open relationships are just an excuse for saying - "You're alright, but I can do better" or "You're alright, but I'm not really into being with you completely right now." Either statement is a slap in anybody's face - so why bother stand there to receive it? Move on to somebody who is more worthy of your time!

My thoughts on a better type of relationship: I have an "old-school" mentality, despite only being 26 years old. I truly do believe that a man should take it upon himself to truly "court" a woman - to treat her like a princess with his heart, his words, and his actions. He should take it upon himself to creatively demonstrate his interest in her, by getting to know her, spending time with her, while also respecting her and her interests as well. He should also make it known that he is interested in her, but should not force his interest upon her if she declines the pursuit. Also - at some point during the courtship, both people should talk about the idea of considering moving the relationship to a a more committed stance - "boyfriend"/"girlfriend". In my opinion, courtship is ideal because it allows both people to get to know each other without making such a huge commitment that feelings easily get very hurt should either party choose to go separate ways.

In my relationship, I very much felt courted and treasured by my boyfriend, who took it upon himself to court me and make me feel like a princess before we decided to be in a relationship. I encourage others to reconsider their beliefs about relationships and purge the ideas of "hooking up" or "open relationships," and instead trade up for something more "old-school" - courtship - which is way more respecting of both parties involved in the relationship transaction.

Embrace Your Lips on Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Whether you are single or in a relationship, today is a day to celebrate your lips! It doesn't matter if your lips are thin, thick, or medium-sized - treat your lips to a special treat that adds that special kick to your beauty regimen. Of course, in this crazy economy, you may want to bypass the expensive lip products and instead visit your local drugstore and find a shade of lipstick/lip gloss or lipbalm that fits your needs and your unique look. That said, there is a plethora of options available at your local CVS/Rite Aid/Walmart, etc., and it is good (and cost-effective) to already know what kind of lip product will suit you best before you shell out the cash. Total Beauty has saved you some research time and has compiled a great list of pricey lipsticks and their not-so-pricey equivalents that can be found at your local drugstore (click on link below):

Total Beauty's Lipsticks Comparison Guide

Now, I won't just leave you hanging with an article without some personal tips for your lips! It is very important to keep your lips moist AND exfoliated with some sort of lip balm and exfoliator. To exfoliate, you can gently rub your lips with a moistened washcloth and/or a lip scrub. Treating your lips like a palette will help with your lipstick application, allow your lipstick to stay on longer, and also soften your lips and make them even more kissable than they were before!

When considering lip balms or chapsticks, I heavily advise you to consider one with SPF 15 - otherwise the sun can cause damage to them and also slightly alter the balance of their natural color. In addition to my Cherry Chapstick (which has SPF 15), I have fallen in love with Carol's Daughter's lip balms, which lay smoothly on my lips, make them extra extra soft, and the flavor and scent are just right and not overbearing at all. I currently use Carol's Daughter's "West - Natural Shine for Lips" in Mango, and I can honestly say it is the best lip gloss/lip balm I have ever used. Check it out! :)

Remember to spend some time to enjoy Valentine's Day today - and don't forget to love your beautiful self!

Happy Valentine's Day Glitter Graphics

My Personal Love for Windproof Hair and Quick Tips

Friday, February 13, 2009

What is up with the weather these days? The wind in New York City almost knocked me off my feet yesterday - I felt like Mary Poppins without the umbrella, fighting the elements and trying to push through the semi-tornados rushing past while still managing to carry my law books in my backpack on the way to school. Interestingly enough, a friend of mine emailed me and said - "well, you should be fine in this weather because you love it when the wind blows and your hair falls right back into place anyway." Well, I wouldn't say that yesterday's type of NYC-style tornados is my "cup of tea", but I will say that I love it when my hair falls perfectly back into place after being consumed by wind.

Here are a few of my personal tips for windproof hair:
1) Avoid product overload in your hair - if you overload your hair with gels, hair lotions, very heavy leave-in conditioners, etc., you are bound to pull an "Alfalfa" look in the wind.
2) The Dominican Blowout/Roundbrush technique (for straight hairstyles): Ever since I went the "Dominican hairstyling" route, I haven't looked back. The roundbrush method of drying my hair in layers is the best way to get that great shiny bounce in the hair that just falls perfectly back into place if messed up by a windstorm.
3) Avoid the extra strong hairspray - unless you use one of those very light hairsprays, hair stiffened up by too much hairspray in a windstorm is bound to look weird after being attacked by a windstorm.
4) No split ends - it is harder to manage any look when you have split ends. Trim those off, so you can have a more "tight" hairstyle bouncing straight back into place after it dances around outside.
5) Protect your tresses with some LIGHT hairdressing - the weather has all sorts of drying effects on your hair, so you want to protect your hair and its shine with a light hairdressing that does not weigh the hair down (I am a big fan of Chi Silk Infusion).

My Personal Top Ten Valentine's Day Beauty Things To Do

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I always like to take advantage of as many holidays as possible to treat myself to some sort of interesting beauty regimen. Valentine's Day is one of them! It is one of those days that you can treat yourself and indulge in some beautification self-love! Some of my V-Day to-do's may seem cheesy, but they get me hyped for that special day:

10) Red or pink nail polish - I'm not a fan of bright pinks and reds - just something that is muted and has a great shine to it. Great for both fingers and toes (I tend to prefer a darker hue of the red or pink on the toes though).
9) Red lipstick - I always wear a dark red lipstick, but whatever - I added it to my list anyway. :) This is not the holiday for me to experiment with other colors :).
8) Scented perfumes and lotions - I'm a big fan of Victoria's Secrets perfumes and lotions - I'm pretty sure I have all of Victoria's Secret's "body splashes." They all have matching lotions (which is important if you want to "layer" the scents by putting on the lotion and spray the matching perfume on top for a longer lasting scent). The perfumes have romantic names and have amazing floral scents that indulge the senses.
7) Wearing a piece of red clothing at some point during Valentine's Day week (the week prior to V-Day) - cheesy, but I pretty much do this every year since I was a little tot.
6) Indulging in face mask treatments - I am slightly obsessed with "The Body Shop", and I have a whole bunch of masks that I bought while I was in Korea two years ago. To say that I went on a beauty shopping spree there is quite the understatement...
5) Exfoliating scrubs and sponges - I love my skin to be sparkling smooth by the time V-Day rolls around. Exfoliating is incredibly important especially during the winter months, where the dry weather and bitter cold can make your skin a bit rough. I top off my exfoliation with a facial spa treatment.
4) The facial spa: After exfoliating, I use "The Facial Spa" by Conair. AMAZING! It gently steams your face, and opens all of your pores. I usually do a gentle moisturizing mask afterwards in order to smooth over my skin and give it a nice polished finish. I love how my skin feels after doing this.
3) Candles - if there is ever a time to indulge in great scented candles, it is Valentine's Day! Most drug stores carry them (CVS, Walmart, Duane Reade, etc.). Bed Bath and Beyond in particular has an excellent candle collection - I visit that section of the store quite often in order to indulge in the Yankee Candle scents (yum!).
2) Eyelashes - I am very into long eyelashes on V-Day, but you won't ever catch me wearing fake lashes. I am all about great mascaras - Loreal's Carbon Black Mascara is my favorite lengthening mascara right now - it stretches and darkens the lashes, and 2 or 3 applications provides me with the perfect long lash look. I may also include Maybelline's mascara, "The Blackest Black," in order to finish it off for lash perfection.
1) A Victoria's Secret item (besides the perfumes and lotions) - I have to treat myself to Vikki's! Isn't Valentine's Day the day for every woman to feel sexy and put something on that makes them feel cute and womanly? I answer in the affirmative! :) What do I buy, you ask? Won't tell ya - it is called Victoria's Secret for a reason! :)

A Broken Economy and Bipartisan Politics

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I'm not really into political blogging (I leave that to Huffington Post), but I figured I would take a moment to address the apparent fetishism for bipartisanship in Washington today. At a time where the economy is truly suffering, the stock market is in the dumpster, people are losing jos, and companies are shutting down, I think it is crucial to push forward Obama's economic stimulus agenda and let go of this interest in appeasing as many bipartisan interests as possible.

An interesting editorial piece sums up the bipartisan effort:

"Obama press conference shows bipartisanship overrated" by George Harris:

"In tonight's press conference, President Barack Obama emphasized the urgency of the stimulus package legislation on which the Senate voted today to end debate, essentially insuring passage tomorrow.

Sixty one Senators voted to end debate on the stimulus package, including three Republicans. Some critics point to the few Republican votes as a failure of the president to achieve bipartisanship despite considerable effort to include the opposition party in the development of the legislation.

But achieving bipartisanship is and always has been unnecessary to achieving a more civil tone in political debate, and President Obama has probably incorrectly implied that one is equivalent with the other in his choice of language about the issue.

It is unreasonable to expect that 75 or 80% of any group of people will ever agree on complicated issues such as taxation, abortion, education or the stimulus package.

Bipartisanship is not likely, expected, necessary or even desirable. Good debate reveals differences of opinions and brings clarity to positions about proposals."


Obama warned that that failing to act right now "could turn a crisis into a catastrophe,” addressing head on the concerns about his approach to the bill (which Republicans have chosen to not support). Translation: Stop the foolishness and let's get this done.

I admire Obama's interest in pushing for bipartisanship - but let's be honest - people don't really care for the Republican agenda right now, so why bother appease it? Their agenda encouraged the mess this economy is in at the moment (the past eight years of Bush proves this point). Oddly enough, I think President Obama has had an uncanny ability to reach out and shake the Republican party's hand while simultaneously dismissing the party's goals as flawed, which Republicans have noticed and subsequently labeled as "arrogant."

Perhaps it is time for Democrats and Republicans to truly let go of their political agendas and figure out what is best for the American people - but the question remains: can this actually be done? And how much longer can this broken economy wait in line for its political healing potion?

"Thinking" Yourself Into Beautiful

Monday, February 9, 2009

It's Monday, the beginning of the work/school week - do you feel beautiful today? Do you think that you will be gorgeous on every single day of this week? Well, it may be a silly question to ask, but if I had to answer on your behalf, I would answer with a resounding YES.

It's not egotistical to love yourself, and to appreciate your beauty. However, we live in a society that sometimes promotes the idea that your natural self can only be beautiful if you PURCHASE your beauty (through makeup, a special bra, plastic surgery, etc.). That's a great message to make companies richer, but what does that do to your confidence and self-esteem? That when you look in the mirror, some sort of concealer, lip plumper or some combination of eye shadow colors will transform you into some version of supposed perfection? Well, if you want the truth about beauty, here it is: You cannot PURCHASE beauty. You can only THINK it. You can only BELIEVE it. Beauty is a perception, a concept that varies from mind to mind. Therefore, don't fall for the hype and conform to society's supposed "ideal beautiful" - even Hollywood stars require photoshopping and plastic surgery to conform to an ironically evolving and changing standard of beauty.

Main point? Purchasing beauty will empty your wallet. Thinking and knowing your beauty will realize it into existence. What YOU need to do: Let go of the world's hype, look at yourself through your own lens (not the media) and notice your real beauty.

We are trained to think that we are not naturally beautiful (the "what is wrong with me"/"what can I find wrong with my look?" complex). This video pretty much sums up this point:

I know it sounds somewhat esoteric to state that you can "think" yourself into beauty, but it is the truth. You know the saying, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder"? Well, its time to reframe our conception of whose "eye" we are looking through - and it is not Johnnie Boy down the street. You should really be focused on looking at your beauty through your own lens, cleansed of whatever societal conceptions of beauty that may have already poisoned your self-esteem like toxic traffic fumes.

There are books out there like "The Secret" and self-help speakers out there who talk about "mind-mapping", both which talk about your "thinker" and how to reframe your thinking, and the how your thoughts dictate your life. For example, if you want more money and success in life, you can visualize them into existence by changing your thought life and therefore your actions as well as the reality around you. The principles they teach are not new - they are very much common sense and practical, if you seriously sat down to think about it. You can actually "think yourself into beauty," and be able to realize your beauty by emanating it through your thought pattern. And it doesn't require any sort of rocket science to do it. Here are some quick examples of reshaping your thoughts about your beauty:

Your usual thought: "Why do I look so fat/skinny all the time?"
Pinpoint the problem --> You think there is an ideal beautiful body type. (There is no ideal - despite what the media may say).
Reshaped thought: "I love my size - my curves are right where they should be! I'm going to wear clothes that fit my size, and flatter the size that I have."

Your usual thought: "Why does my nose look like that?"
Pinpoint the problem --> You think there is something wrong with your nose. Why? You are comparing it to some idea of what a better nose looks like.
Reshaped thought: "My nose makes me uniquely beautiful and I embrace it."

Your usual thought: "Why is my skin so pale/dark/whatever in between?"
Pinpoint the problem --> You think that your skin would look better if you altered it to look like whatever you believe is ideal (tanner, darker, lighter, etc).
Reshaped thought: "Wow, my skin is absolutely stunning! I can rock my skin tone with whatever fashions and makeup I want to! I have all these wonderful skin undertone colors that make my skin unique and I can rock this wonderful tone in a way that no one else can!"

Your usual thought: "If only my breasts were bigger, I would be able to get more attention and be more popular."
Pinpoint the problem --> You've equated bigger breasts with being beautiful. Correction: bigger breasts do not make you more of a woman. Women of all chest sizes are all beautiful.
Reshaped thought: "I may have this chest size, but I love it! I'm going to wear clothes that flatter my size and I'm going to wear those clothes well!"

Interestingly enough, there is someone out there that dreams about having the very thing that you complain about - so let go of the hype and the lack of self confidence about your beauty. The reshaped thoughts may seem cheesy, but they purposely throw the negative thought words out, and instead focus on the positives about your look and your beauty. "The Secret", just like all of these other books out there, pretty much tell you that you can think yourself into whatever you want in life - that you can shape your reality if you think it into existence. Well, I'm here to tell you that this idea applies to your beauty - you can think your beauty into existence by thinking positively about it. By regarding yourself as beautiful, you will appreciate your unique look better, and work with it, and rock it well, which will naturally result in a thought pattern that will reflect on how you walk, carry yourself, treat yourself, take care of yourself, interact with other people, and the words you choose to describe yourself. The ability to look in the mirror this morning and say to yourself, "Wow, I am really beautiful today. I know this - and I feel it" can take you a lot farther in your ability to emanate beauty. Why? Because your thought life realized it into existence just by those words: "I am beautiful." You may think it sounds too easy - but try it out. Changing your thought will change your reality. You'll be pleasantly surprised how far your thought life can take you!

Tips for a Date or a Single Night on Valentine's Day

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Valentine's Day appears to be one of the most beloved and most hated holidays of all time. There is something about it that just emanates "if you do not have someone special in your life, you kinda suck!" kind of attitude. Or if you are in a relationship or going out on a date for the first time, there is pressure on each partner (well, perhaps more pressure on the guy) to "bring it" on Valentine's Day - the candy, the cards, the gifts, the flowers, the jewelry, etc. etc). Interestingly enough, a guest on one of the Morning News shows this past week basically stated that she doesn't celebrate Valentine's Day - that it is really a holiday meant for kids who exchange cute Valentine's Day cards in school. Her comment made me ponder: What is Valentine's Day supposed to mean to me? To you? Are we supposed to subscribe to this cookie-cutter standard of the ideal Valentine's Day? And what is that ideal anyway? Does it even exist? Must we be slaves to even the capitalistic tendencies of this holiday to splurge on your honey and buy them oversized red velvet teddy bears? My answer: Of course not!

For the Single Person:

DO YOU! Do what makes you happy on this day. I sound cliche, but I am speaking from experience. I think Valentine's Day is one of the hardest holidays for people who have experienced love in a relationship and are no longer dating that person, and the holiday brings back memories of some of the more pleasant days together (been there!). I remember newly coming out of a relationship and then a few months later having to walk by a CVS everyday with its nauseating display of candies and too-big-for-comfort teddy bears smushed up against the window, screaming to consumers, "BUY ME! BUY ME!" or perhaps, screaming to others, "Doesn't it suck to be single?" Instead of trying really hard to look the other way, I decided to re-think the holiday at that moment and embrace it, determined to have a blast on Valentine's Day - and make it a day about loving me and the things I'm interested in. Just because I didn't have a man by my side on that very chilly day did not mean that I had to sit there and hope and pray that God sends me a man by next Valentine's Day! I was able to do whatever I wanted, and celebrate the things that made me happy. Talking to other positive-thinking single people also helped - you really should stay away from those who are depressed about being single and that's all they can talk about on Valentine's Day. No thanks - don't need the downer.

Another great idea is to celebrate Valentine's Day with friends - like doing a cute sleepover, or going out to a party/club, etc. Pros of going out: in a club setting, you'll be bumping up next to a whole bunch of singles who want some love too. Cons of going out: you may run into too many couples making out and holding hands, thereby making you feel worse for being on your own. However, if you can withstand all that, go out and get your groove on. I would personally opt for a fun sleepover, consisting of great videos and perhaps a caseload of Body Shop face masks and pedicure kits to soothe the nerves.

For the Person in a Relationship:

BE CREATIVE! You really should think outside the box and figure out ways to celebrate this day. Also, you should do stuff that symbolizes the UNIQUENESS of your relationship! Consider googling up your favorite restaurant, salsa dance studio, movie theater, bed and breakfast, lounge, etc. and make plans. Think about making your gift, rather than making a simple purchase (and also save a bit of dinero!). However, be careful with this - know your partner well! I speak from personal experience - I once wrote several poems in a cute mini-book for an ex-boyfriend (we were together at the time, of course). He liked it, but apparently wasn't all that into poetry so I kind of felt like it was a semi-wasted effort on my part. You want the gift to mean something to both of you - and hopefully in equal measure. I therefore urge you to know what your partner is into before you plop a hand-made vase with painted-on hearts on their doorstep. (I'm still brainstorming about my gift for my boyfriend - I would ask you for suggestions but I have to follow my own advice and make it unique and personal! :o)).

For the Person Going on a Date With Someone New or Relatively New:

HAVE FUN with each other and enjoy the night without feeling too much pressure because it is...dun dun dun - V-Day! Don't absorb pressure to make everything perfect, or BE perfect during the date. You're not tied to each other, so don't treat it like you are - just feel free to be yourself and enjoy the idea of Valentine's Day without getting consumed by all of the lovely-dovey "I love you's" floating around you at other tables at your chosen restaurant. (Being yourself also helps the relationship grow to another level or perhaps stall it at the entrance gate, which is also a good thing if you're not right for each other). Also, I highly advise you to keep your gifts to each other simple, if you choose to give the other person a gift. Don't go all crazy and buy a 10-karat diamond necklace from Zales (slight exaggeration, but you know what I mean). I would personally stick to chocolates or a nice and simple "Happy Valentine's Day!" card if I were in your shoes - anything else could potentially cause awkwardness, especially if the "I love you's" haven't surfaced yet.

Clothing/Makeup: I also urge you to wear something you feel comfortable and sexy in at the same time - the last thing you want to do is add discomfort to your Valentine's date by wondering why you decided to wear an uncomfortable skirt, or pair of pants or shoes (constant outfit fixing or twitching in your chair isn't too cute). Also, overdoing your look may potentially come across as trying way too hard to impress (e.g. wearing way too much makeup - this isn't a modeling photoshoot). (Quick side story - I once put on a lot of green eye shadow for one day to try and impress a guy when I was younger (as if green eyeshadow was the male kryptonite). His response? He just told my girlfriend that I wore too much eyeshadow and thought it was weird. I didn't repeat that mistake.).

I do like this V-Day makeup tutorial. It requires a bit of effort, but the look isn't too overdone...

The main point: Have fun on Valentine's Day, wear red or pink, smile, and do what makes you comfortable. Call up a friend and/or family member and tell them that you love and care about them. And if need be, skip all the festivities of the day, and pop in "Bridget Jones's Diary" and have a few laughs. :) (I LOVE that movie!)

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Is "Chocolate" In Style, Thanks to the Obamas?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Is "chocolate" in style, thanks to the Obamas? By "chocolate," I mean "African American"/"black" - and yes, I actually do think that the Obamas have on some level triggered some sort of consciousness on Madison Avenue about the marketability of selling "chocolate" to the masses, which became incredibly clear when companies started capitalizing on the Obama victory, selling all sorts of Obama paraphernalia (from collectible plates to Obama Chia pets to mini dolls that look like Malia and Sasha). Tyra Banks is also another chocolate commodity in her own right, selling herself through her own self-created brand of all things modelicious and girl-power-esque. Oprah has always been a marketable entity - similar to King Midas, anything she touches or breathes on seems to turn to gold. And now Raven Simone, a multi-millionaire in her own right, has shown to be a remarkable phenomenon with her television show and all of her Raven Simone-related products on the market. And let's not even get into the fact that Beyonce can sell pretty much anything.

Now, this is a pretty small list of "blacks in style" in this country that have quite a bit of power when it comes to the marketability of their images. However, their prominence in the media seems to suggest an increasing acceptance of chocolate into mainstream American culture, no longer something confined to the auspices of BET and Essence Magazine. Perhaps chocolate will lose its "otherness" and perhaps be more popularly considered an intriguing segment of American culture, something to be celebrated, rather than analyzed or critiqued by the likes of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh (shudder).

If chocolate is back in style, I more than welcome it. It's about time that the media revamp its image of blacks in the media and realize that black Americans are a diverse and culturally complex group of individuals that have incredible power in the marketplace. Beauty companies were foolish to ignore the purchasing power of black women, for example, only recently tailoring their products (e.g. makeup, hair items) to fit the needs of black women. However, the fashion world is still behind the times, still struggling to hire black models and put them on the runway, despite outcries by prominent designers and even Vogue through the Black Italian Vogue magazine issue that sold like hotcakes off the stands (and are now selling for hundreds of dollars on Ebay). However, I do believe that the fashion industry will follow suit with realizing the marketability and beauty of chocolate, incorporating its unique and diverse attributes into its conceptualization of the American market. This nation is becoming increasingly diverse, and more and more companies are realizing that they are missing out on profits by leaving chocolate out. And in a country where the power of the dollar appears to dictate decisions in boardroom discussions, leaving chocolate out of the mix will only result in a pretty bland and boring taste of the "same ol' same" and leave people yearning for a more encompassing product market.

What Kind of Cleavage is Appropriate?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Cleavage is pretty much around the corner in NYC - in several weeks, you'll be noticing fewer jackets (or skimpier jackets), and slim tops that may or may not modestly cover a woman's cleavage. Spring time welcomes the celebration of the female body - and men clearly appreciate it. However - how much cleavage is too much cleavage?

it's pretty intuitive that cleavage at work is a big no-no. It is pretty distracting, and can negatively affect how people treat and respect you as a person and as an employee. However, you shouldn't feel pressure to tape down your breasts with masking tape. According to Elisabeth Squires, author of "Boobs: A Guide to Your Girls," the appearance of breasts can help women in a workplace setting: "A recent study showed men photos of women in a workplace with large breasts showing cleavage, medium breasts and small breasts. When asked about who looked most professional and personable, the men chose the women with medium-sized breasts," she said. Squires further noted that "you don't have to be flat-chested to be taken seriously. You just have to be proportionate. For women who are small busted, that may mean a little padding. For well-endowed women, that may mean a minimizer." My take on all of this: I don't think it's too smart to show much cleavage at all in the workplace - I'm not sure how it wins respect from either men or women. I do, however, believe that a woman should feel comfortable with her size and wear clothing that fits appropriately - nothing too baggy, and nothing too tight. And I very much vouch for a minimizer on a woman if her bra is peaking through a button-down shirt. Victoria's Secret is a secret for a reason.

In everyday life, outside of the workplace, a woman has every right to show off as much as she wants, but the question is - is it a good idea to "bust" loose and show off the "girls"? I don't think so. I like the idea of "sexy modesty" - you shouldn't show much at all, but the clothing should fit in a way that very much flatters your figure. Women have been blessed with curves - show them off! Just don't show them off like a video vixen princess! BET does that enough already. In my own personal style, I try not to wear skinny jeans plus a tight top - I would rather wear looser bottoms with a flattering top, or tight jeans with a somewhat looser blouse. The only time I feel comfortable wearing extremely tight-fitting clothes is when I go running (spandex!) or a party that calls for tight-fitting attire.

The foundation of proper cleavage is a great bra. I'm a big fan of Victoria's Secret myself - plus, the employees there can measure your bust size (you should do this about twice a year, depending on how often your weight fluctuates). In particular, I love their "Very Sexy" collection - fits wonderfully!

Overall, a woman should very comfortable celebrating her curves, whether she is thin or thick. However, celebrate them in a way that wins respect, rather than encourage disrespect or the wrong sort of attention. And celebrate them with style!

Hot New Layout Look

I am more than thrilled that I found this layout, thanks to "ExoticMommie"! So excited! :o)

Some of my poetry for you....

Re-reading Into Perplexity

Rewrite your business upon the densest paper imaginable
Re-ask this spiritual unrest what the mathematical equation is to the answer you’ve provided as a solution to worry
And you will find your equation nonexistent.
And very few zero’s can be re-written as 2s or 3s.
Within unperplexed clarity I find myself subsumed in the ponds of peace
And grab nonchalanty for the first pencil that I can find
So that I can clarify for you
The point
Of complete, yet perplexed ramble, found within
This kaledeidoscopic dribble.
So please pause
And re-read
Into my perplexity.

Making Your Beauty Work for YOU

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What is it about black eyeliner and mascara that really "gets" me? It pulls me in like candy draws a five year old, and I've been researching the best eyeliner and mascara that best suits me for years! I have even gone so far as to take some time during my travels to Europe and Asia to look for different types of makeup, hoping that perhaps markets abroad may offer a different and perhaps better melange of options.

It is very important to figure out what you like most about yourself and have fun enhancing it and playing it up to your advantage. I am very much about playing with eye makeup because I love the shape of my eyes (almond shape) and my eye color (brown), and I am very self-aware of what works/doesn't work for me. Make makeup work for you, rather than the other way around. Too often women walk up to beauty counters or stores for a "fix" - to be dazzled by the glitter and glitz of the makeup packaging, only to be disappointed by the resulting effect of the makeup on their face. And such disappointment doesn't exactly come cheap - the product that is now collecting dust on your shelf is the same product that somehow convinced you to shell out a whole bunch of cash to purchase it. (At times I wonder if the majority of the cost of the product is due to the glitzy packaging! That's a shame...).

That's why I very much encourage you to buy makeup and experiment with makeup with an agenda - if you even have to make a list before you go to the beauty store (I do this!), I encourage you to do so. And even before you leave your home, make sure to spend at least a minute or two studying your features in the mirror to figure out how EXACTLY you want to play with your look. When I say EXACTLY, I mean it - you want to nail your new look down to a science. The same way an artist knows how he wants his painting to look and buys the required materials to make it work, you need to study your palette and have a strong idea of what you are looking for, so you don't go out and waste money and time on a product that you will subsequently be a major disappointment (I've been there!).

I also encourage you to expand your perception of your best features. For example, you may think that your lips are your best feature, not realizing that if you shaped up your eyebrows and perhaps applied a little bronzer, you would make your look even more spicy. Every woman has SEVERAL features to play up, but we tend to focus on maybe only one or two features, probably because we don't always appreciate all of our features, or because people constantly compliment us on one particular feature and we therefore pay more attention it, rather than embracing more than just one great feature.

And if you think you don't have a great feature, I very much challenge you on that belief. I can find a great feature on just about anybody, so there is not much you could do to make me think otherwise if I took a look at you. Everyone is uniquely beautiful, and women have been blessed with a bounty of options to play their beauty up to their unique advantage - so have fun and explore your beauty!