What Do Smart Women Look Like?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I think there is a weird misconception that a woman who is smart has to be packaged in one particular flavor of a look, easily categorized as a smarty-pants and nothing else. Stereotypically, she is the woman that you see wearing glasses, hair pinned back in a ponytail, and clothing that strays far from any element of sexiness or appeal. She wears minimal makeup, and if she happens to be wearing heels, it is due to the fact that she is going to work, going to an interview, or going to some event where she is about to illustrate her brilliance.


It is amazing how a woman's appearance, to many people, dictates her personality, who she is as a person, and whether or not she has an I.Q. level higher than a peanut. I have heard both women and men comment on passersby, making comments about certain women that have led me to conclude that they believe that a woman is how she dresses. I have to stress the fact that this is not the case. In fact, you may very well reach erroneous conclusions about either men or women who choose to dress in particular fashions that do not stereotypically embody "intelligent fashion." I have met many men who choose to dress in fashions that resemble the likes of Kid Rock, 50 Cent, Eminem and Ja-Rule, and yet, are able to beat whatever "rough and tough" stereotype that some attach to them by quoting Shakespeare and displaying academic credentials that would impress even the likes of President Obama.

But let's not stray far from the point: it is important not to jump to the conclusion that just because you see a woman in a short skirt and heels, or a woman who is busty and has hips and likes to show off her figure, she cannot be book smart. On the contrary, I have known many women who have chosen to dress in fashions that simply reflect her taste in fashion, and are not burdened by any attempt to dress "stereotypically intelligent" - and can hold down an intellectual conversation while wearing an outfit some others may consider "too sexy" or "too appealing." Today, I ask you: Why can't a woman be both sexy and smart? Is there some rule that states, "If you are a woman, and you want to be perceived as smart, make sure no one can tell you enjoy clothes that flatter your womanly curves and like wearing heels"? You must be kidding me - I personally wear whatever I want to wear, and because I have curves, I like to wear clothes that tastefully accentuate my figure. And for all the other women out there who want to let their hair down, put on that bright pink lip gloss, and try out those cute heels that you've hesitated bringing out of your closet out of fear of how you'd be perceived, let it all go, and do what you want. People's opinion of you does not dictate your intelligence level - you have every right to dictate your own wardrobe, regardless of whether people accept it or not. In other words: BE YOURSELF.

My Obsession with Dark Red Lipstick

Friday, May 29, 2009

Ok, this is going to be a silly post, but I have to confess: I have an obsession with dark red lipstick. I'm pretty certain my youtube videos and pretty much every picture on my Facebook page highlights this fact. I gleefully admit that I have been wearing the same color in different makeup brands since I was in high school, and I am starting to seriously wonder why I can't adjust to other colors that I buy but never care to wear more than once (a repeat situation that somehow provides me the false notion that I am about to embark on a new "look," only to wind up frantically searching for my usual dark crimson red somewhere in my makeup kit). There is a strange comfort that I find in that color - an element of embedded contrast that I personally like to believe actually enhances my beauty. I have indeed for the past few years struggled with varying up my lip color look. I have recently settled on NARS Scarlett Empress - a deep red that satisfies my need for a deep crimson look that does not fade away after I drink my morning coffee (like so many lipsticks do). I liked NARS so much that I decided to go out of my element within this great (and my new fave) makeup brand and invest in a deep pink color - and for some weird reason, I can't get into this deep pink look, even when my outfit calls for the occasion to experiment with pink lip color (this actually happened again yesterday when I sported a cute pink cowneck top ensemble).

I would like to say that my obsession with red lips comes from my personal conclusion that dark red lips look the best on brown skin tones (a proposition that I stand by with a peculiar vengeance), but I think it may go deeper. Perhaps I am nervous about experimenting outside of a particular makeup look, that perhaps my penchant for red lips has to do with my desire to remain in a particular "beauty comfort zone", outside of which I may feel a bit uncomfortable. Only through watching various makeup youtue videos have I recently begun to experiment with primer and various eyeshadow colors (I plan to blog and make a youtube video soon about those various experiments). However, I have yet to feel as comfortable with experimenting with various lip color tones, particularly those that in my opinion contrast but beautifully coincide with brown skin tones. But I am open to your comments on this topic, so please feel free to enlighten me with your opinion about lipsticks on various skin tones if you want to! :)

My Hair Care Regimen Video (YouTube)

Friday, May 22, 2009

"Good Hair" ... Does It Exist?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I just recently tripped on some video recaps of the Tyra Banks Show on the topic of "good hair" (see example above), and I only needed to watch a few minutes of the show before jumping into writing this blog post. I want to start off by stating that I am quite happy that Tyra Banks has decided to discuss some closeted issues in the black community (issues and conversation topics that many people unfamiliar with "black culture" do not understand or know about). That said, I honestly don't care to go into any deep discussion on the topic of what is or isn't good hair or why so many people in the black community still believe in the idea of "good hair" because the whole idea is based on the false and ridiculous belief that straighter hair is better than "nappy" or "really curly" hair. We live in the 21st century, and yet a good number of black women (like some of the ones on the Tyra Show) still seem to cling to the idea that looser curl patterns are better than "nappier" curl patterns. In my opinion, hair is hair - and curls are curls - no matter what curl pattern, length or style it is in. The whole concept of "good hair" has led many people into a complex about their natural beauty, and I think that is such a waste of self-confidence and esteem. I have seen plenty of black women rock AMAZING natural styles, from afros to sisterlocks to dreadlocks (among the PLENTY of other STUNNING styles that look WONDERFUL on natural hair).

I personally choose to straighten ("perm"/"relax") my hair, like this style: 

Contrary to some people's opinions about "relaxing" hair, my decision to "relax" my hair has nothing to do with any form of "self-hate" - it is simply an option that I choose to exercise because I have never really worn my hair any other way (besides straight) since I was a child. Do I think that my hair looks better straight? Not necessarily - it is simply a choice that I exercise through habit, and I am used to styling my hair when it is "relaxed."  I personally think I also look great in braids, from very curly styles to "Brandy-like" straight micro-braids. I also loved trying out a cute cornrow hairstyle during my years in college, which definitely received a lot of compliments. I simply love "choice" - and I have never seen a problem with exercising it when it comes to my hair.

My sister and I have two different curl patterns - she has a much looser curl (e.g. Tatiana Ali's hair), while I have a slightly tighter curl pattern. Using "good hair" logic, her hair would qualify as being "better" than mine because of the looseness of her curls compared to mine, but did that ever bother me? Not at all - we both choose to wear our hair in different styles (she relaxes her hair and wears her hair VERY long down her back (past her waist), and I also relax my hair but choose to stick to a more shoulder-length/midback-length hair cut, and I have also worn my hair in various braid/cornrow styles as well. In addition, due to our different curl patterns and hair types overall, we take care of our hair in slightly different ways. I love my hair just as much as she loves her hair, and society's perception of "good hair" versus "bad hair" do not play into our self-confidence with the beauty of our different types of hair.

Overall, we all need to get over this false notion of a certain type of "good hair" and truly appreciate ALL hair types - not just naturally straighter types. In other words: ALL hair is GOOD hair. Any other definition of "good" can be thrown back into the nineteenth century, never to be resurrected again.

Why It Is So Important To Select Friends Carefully

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I am a big fan of B.Scott's channel on YouTube, and appreciate his frankness on so many controversial and not-so-controversial topics. This video on letting go of certain types of friendships is such an important topic for everybody! I'm sure most people have been in a situation where they questioned whether or not to let go of a particular friendship, for various reasons. I have definitely been in this situation and can empathize with every point in B.Scott's video, particularly letting go of negative and competitive friendships. As much as I love and cherish my friends, I am very reluctant to hold on to certain friends that don't "fit well" anymore or drain the life out of me - particularly if the person always has a negative vibe or a negative response to something positive going on, or if they are so competitive that if I say something, they have to match it and "one-up" me on whatever topic, from the most basic topic to the more interesting conversation pieces. Today, I can honestly say that I have no "drainers" in my life, primarily due to the fact that I treasure having peace in my life as much as possible, and guard it with a golden key by choosing my relationships very carefully. A major reason why I have chosen to let certain romantic relationships go, for example, is due to the fact that I am very particular with the kind of man I let into my heart - at that point, it is not only a matter of my keeping "peace" in my life, but also maintaining a sound heart, mind, romantic vibe, trust, and all the other matters that automatically attach to dating.

I very much encourage you to re-evaluate your friendships and cherish the ones that uplift you and keep you encouraged, and consider separating yourself from those that drain the life out of you. Your friends have a major impact on your life, whether you like it or not - so treasure the ones who truly show themselves "friendly," and let go of the ones who are wolves cleverly dressed in "friend" clothing.

Obama is President, and Yet She Crossed the Street...

Monday, May 11, 2009

A good friend of mine (a young black man) was a bit shocked at a situation that recently happened to him: He explained that as he casually walked down the street on the Upper East Side in New York City (in his sports clothes, since he just finished playing basketball on a nearby court), a young woman who was walking her dog in his direction on the sidewalk decided to immediately cross the street upon seeing him. I did not want to automatically assume that this woman freaked out upon seeing a black man and crossed the street on impulse, so I asked him if he thought her decision had anything to do with his skin color. Unfortunately, it did - he explained that she was walking her dog, her head was looking down, and when she looked up, they made brief eye contact with each other, she noticed he was walking in her direction, looked startled/shocked, and she (along with her dog) then made a immediate sharp right turn off the sidewalk and successfully slid between two tightly-parked cars on the street to get to the sidewalk across the street.

Note: He is black, and she is Asian. They have never met before or had any type of interaction.

My friend was quite confused about the whole ordeal, and didn't quite understand how, in the 21st century, in the age of Obama, that this woman could possibly have an irrational fear of a black man. He wasn't necessarily mad about it - but he was definitely surprised that a young woman (in her early 20s) could have reacted to him (in my opinion, a nice-looking guy who happened to be dressed in his basketball-playing gear) in such a drastic and strange way. Now, admittedly, not too many blacks live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, so perhaps he looked out of place, but there was nothing menacing or strange about his appearance. I do, however, believe that she most likely has been heavily influenced by an incredibly biased media that has done an amazing job at convincing people that blacks - particularly young black men - are people to be naturally afraid of on a day to day basis ("negrophobia"). And yet, at the same time, the media is currently promoting positive images of President Obama and his family. Perhaps she, along with many other people, view the Obamas as the exception to the rule - that perhaps, they could very well be the Cosbys/the "family next door." However, I have never viewed the Obamas as the exception - I saw them as the rule and the standard, and I consider the negative images of blacks on television as the extreme exception that has been blown out of proportion by a media desperate and eager to pigeon-hole blacks into particular categories.

Interestingly enough, my friend noted that he found it strange that this woman happened to be a minority as well (Asian) and decided to react to him in such a harsh manner, particularly in light of the fact that a older white couple was simultaneously passing by him without even flinching. When he asked me about my thoughts on that particular issue, I reflected back to the beliefs we choose to accept/reject about the "other" - and clearly, the young woman had absorbed a perception about black men that directly led to her decision to act so irrationally. I sometimes wonder if the Obama presidency will help reverse erroneous, idiotic, and obviously stereotypical beliefs about black people and potentially reverse the negative stereotypes that may be embedded in some people's consciousness/subconciousness. I guess only time will tell...

Has "Sex and the City" taken over today's teens?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I just watched a clip of the Tyra Banks Show and was astonished by the very innocent-looking young woman on stage who felt very comfortable discussing her very promiscuous sex life as well as telling her parents about her different sexual experiences (who, by the way, were sitting right next to her). Like Tyra, my mouth dropped to the floor on several occasions, and I could not help but wonder - to what degree has "Sex and the City" become the norm among today's young women? To some degree we are shaped by the media we indulge in, and I am not surprised that the young woman on the Tyra Show admittedly related to Carrie Bradshaw (the main character on SATC). But I am more than disappointed in the fact that she (and I am sure plenty of other women) finds Carrie's type of behavior acceptable in society. One of the biggest take away points that I wanted to share in my brief blog post today is the fact that there is a BIG difference between television and reality when it comes to matters of romance, sex and the heart. Just like video games and violence have an impact on young men and their perception of real world violence, sex on television (think Gossip Girls, Sex and the City, and many soap operas, to name a few media items) have a major impact on young women who are looking for some sort of intimacy with the opposite sex. Very rarely do we see the innocent interactions between men and women as we saw on the hit television show, "Friends" (I adored that show!). Instead, we are taken more than knee-deep into the lustful passions of women both young and not-so-young, and as women relate more and more to the characters, the more they identify with the actions of the characters and consider incorporating such decision-making (wrong or right) into their own everyday lives.

To answer the question, "Has Sex and the City taken over today's teens?," I would love to answer, "No way!" However, my ideal answer and the real answer unfortunately may not sync up.