Some Quick Tips for Those Looking for Love

Saturday, June 27, 2009

You probably see these quick tips in magazines ALL the time, but the list that I found in July 2009's Redbook magazine, "Looking for love: 5 ways to get started," (p.94), is actually quite good and to the point. I have to admit, it is incredibly easy to say to oneself: "No one is out there for me!," but I beg to differ: every woman can find a good match out in the world, and every man can do the same as well. I will speak from personal experience when I tell you that when my boyfriend and I met, I wasn't necessarily looking for love at all, but we became very good friends, and after a while, it just made sense to seal the deal and make our relationship permanent, because we loved each other too much to not be with each other. The love story that you tell (or will tell) may be the same, or may be different. Either way, don't lose hope on finding that special one. The five tips listed below provide some great insight and some hope:
Redbook Magazine, "Looking for Love: 5 ways to get started," (p.94)
-by: Nicole Yorio

1. Get a Life. Maintain an exciting schedule full of friends, hobbies, and activities you love. Being happy in your life will draw others to you.
2. Get out there. Take advantage of online dating services, blind dates set up by friends, or classes where you might connect with someone with similar interests. Keep an open mind - you never know whom you'll discover.
3. Don't be shy. Make eye contact, smile, and start conversations. Nothing is more attractive than someone who is interested in the world.
4. Move on. If you feel sure that a guy doesn't have what you're seeking, don't keep seeing him. Each additional date with the wrong person is a missed opportunity to meet the right one.
5. Enjoy the journey. You're meeting new people, trying new activities, and exploring the fun, sexy side of yourself. The guy for you will come when the time is right.

My favorite tip: #5! It is a perfect combo of all of the aforementioned tips, and I love the statement: "The guy for you will come when the time is right." Too many of us want the guy to come when we want him to come. Let life work itself out - you may be pleasantly surprised by what you trip upon when you are in the process of falling in love with yourself and life, first.

The Chris Brown/Rihanna Court Hearing

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

For those of you who are interested, here is the relatively brief video of Chris Brown and Rihanna in court today:

Does Michelle Obama's Hair "Soften" Her Skin Color?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I just finished reading the now well-circulated and discussed article entitled, "The Michelle Obama hair challenge," written by Erin Aubry Kaplan. In this article, Erin delves deep into a discussion about Michelle Obama's hairstyle and what it means for her image, and the potential societal ramifications of having a black First Lady in the White House. Overall, I agree with most of her points, but there is something quite unsettling about the notion that Michelle Obama's hair "softens" her race:

"...I wonder whether such a young, high-profile black woman who gets her hair straightened or relaxed as a matter of course will occasionally let it be something different: unstraightened, less straightened, or anything that doesn't bounce, lie flat or swing like a pageboy. In other words, a do that suggests her ethnicity rather than softens it."

Further down in the article, she states:

"Hair texture and skin color work in tandem: The darker you are, the harder you have to offset it with "good" hair in order to be considered attractive or acceptable. If Michelle weren't dark-skinned with classic black features, she might not be so wedded to super-straight locks."

I find both of these statements somewhat disturbing, and I am not quite sure if I am wedded to the same opinion. As a black woman, I have worn my hair in various styles, from braids, to cornrows, and the "relaxed"/"straightened" look, and I have loved how each and every hairstyle accentuated my beauty. Unfortunately, "accepted" femininity in American society has always centered on styles that were of the more "flowing" or "as-close-to-straight-as-humanly possible" nature, and for centuries, black women have found themselves in different degrees of negotiation stages with their hair and what it means to be beautiful: "If I go straight, that means xyz. If I stay natural, that means xyz. If I do braids with straightened hair underneath, that means xyz." All of these different, and individualized decisions, lead black women to a place where they feel comfortable with their beauty, and how their hair fits within the current paradigm of "accepted femininity." As much as a black woman's hair may have an impact on how others perceive her, I am disturbed by the proposition that straightened hair automatically softens her image, or offsets darker skin tones. Many natural hairdos do not automatically lend themselves to political undertones, and I think it is erroneous to conclude that a more natural hairdo cannot both enhance a black woman's beauty and have a "softened" effect at the same time. I know plenty of black women who have rocked absolutely stunning natural hairdos that have also brought out their particularly stunning features, and these styles were not necessarily of the "Pantene Relaxed and Natural" commercial variety.

Michelle can rock various non-straight hairstyles that would look absolutely wonderful, and not be considered threatening or societally-misplaced in the beauty spectrum. These do's could both enhance her ethnicity as well as enhance her beauty, as well as complement her dark and lovely skin tone. If she chooses to wear her hair straight, perhaps it is not out of pressure to fit a standard or not be a threat to those scared of "nappiness." Perhaps her straightened hair is just her style right now. Will I be more than thrilled if she changes it up? Of course - she is a major fashion icon right now, and any style she does will have varying degrees of impact on women of all races and ethnicities. If she sticks with the style, so be it. Straightened hair or not, Michelle does not need hair to "soften" her racial identity - on the contrary, the softness and femininity of her beauty is already automatically intertwined with her racial identity and her skin tone, and her decision to wear her hair in any particular style is simply a transient beauty accessory.

Problems with Today's Music and its Effects on Today's Children

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"Drizzy Drake"

I can't help but ponder about the music industry these days and seriously wonder what is happening to the quality of pop/rap/R&B music. I didn't think the day would come so early, when I would start saying, "Back in the day (for me, the 80s and 90s), the music was amazing!" If you scroll through my IPOD, you will see a serious amount of pop, rock, rap and r&b music from the 1980s and 1990s - music that, in my opinion, had amazing authenticity, zest and soulfulness to it. Which artist today could possibly compare to Sade, Boys to Men, Tears for Fears, Tony! Toni! Toné!, and the list goes on! Interestingly enough, I am more than disappointed in how the music industry today packages artists out of their natural element and into some prototypical, cookie-cutter image in the name of sales. I am talking about guys like 50 Cent, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Drizzy Drake, to name a few. These artists claim to be "hard," but what do they even know about a hard knock life? These artists are prepackaged to look tough, rough, and people buy into the images because the look and the sound are enough to convince people that these artists know what it is like to live a rough lifestyle. If you spend some time seriously researching these artists' backgrounds, you'll be surprised to know the actual truth about their relatively tame origins.

Now, on the radio, songs have gone from relatively "sexual" to downright nasty. One of the songs that won't leave the airways these days is the song entitled, "Birthday Sex," by Jeremih. Some people may like it, but in my opinion, this type of song style is worse than music produced by Keith Sweat, which is really bad. I don't mean to pick on these artists, but I am seriously tired of hearing songs on the radio that should not be heard by young children (who walk around singing these lyrics and also implementing these words into their daily lifestyles). I understand that the music industry is very liberal and has the right to put out whatever songs it chooses to, but we need to be way more mindful about what the more popular radio stations (and television music channels) are choosing to play over and over again.

For those of you who may think that this music is simply a part of your culture, I beg to differ with you: since when is our culture based on drugs, sex and crime? Isn't there anything more substantial to urban or pop culture? I understand that these themes have always been present in music on some level (particularly since the days of Elvis Presley), but it has gotten substantially worse, and has arrived at one of the most base and disappointing levels of artistry - it even pains me to even call it "art." We need to re-evaluate the music that we choose to buy, listen to, and re-think what we allow to represent American music culture, as well as the overall culture of younger generations today. Otherwise, children today will unfortunately continue to be influenced by songs that may have a decent or good beat, but have zero substance and deleterious effects in the long run.

Pressures to be Perfect

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I've received some messages in my Youtube account, and have watched some informative videos on Youtube, that inspired me to write this blog post (and do a follow-up Youtube video as well). Many people in this world are in constant pursuit of perfection, and at times, that pursuit can evolve into a pressure that can feel overwhelming. For the person who feels that pressure, it can appear as a gnawing and constant pressure to measure up to a particular standard imposed on you by yourself, others, or what he or she perceive others to be pressuring them to be or become, and hopefully avoid a sense of failure rise to some level of accepted or ideal accomplishment. Interestingly enough, so many people live their lives day by day managing this pressure, and among these people, many are drowning within the pressure to various points of psychological breakdown/distress. You may not even realize that your best friend, colleague, family member, or an acquaintance that always seems to have their act together, is drowning in the pressure and would, if provided, appreciate a vacation from it.

I am no stranger to pressures to be perfect - hence, the reason why I feel qualified to write this post, and also a partial reason for my inspiration to label this blog, "Brains and Beauty." As a woman, I completely understand the pressures to look beautiful. As a student, I have always put pressure on myself to do well academically, and acknowledged good grades with a sense of accomplishment and a "pat on the back" for a job well done. As a daughter, I've put pressure on myself to be a perfect daughter who rarely makes mistakes, and live life perfectly. As a result, I've put pressure on myself to be the perfect combination of both brains and beauty, eventually coming to the conclusion in my mid-twenties that the pressure to be perfect was literally gnawing at my ability to reasonably enjoy my life to the fullest. On many days, I had an agenda to make strides towards some goal/combination of goals, and if I did not accomplish them, I would feel as if that day was a "less than perfect" day, and I went to bed feeling incomplete. Managing this pressure for perfection increasingly became a burden, and I began to realize that although this pressure may have helped me accomplish a lot within 25 years, there was a better way to live life and accomplish everything without attempting to measure up to a self-imposed standard of perfection.

What is that better way? There are various ways to be released from the pressure for perfection - for me, I chose my faith: Christianity. In the beginning of my law school career, I attended a church with a relaxed environment that discussed life principles and advice through lessons of the Bible, and I eventually realized and accepted that I was already "perfect" in the eyes of God and did not have to live for whatever self-imposed concept of perfection that existed in my own mind. I can honestly say that my law school experience was manageable and at times quite enjoyable primarily due to my faith in God.

Now, I understand that many of you who are reading this may not be Christian, believe in God, or experienced a relationship with God in a similar way, but I can tell you that if you need a release from a daily pressure for perfection, that release is truly possible. If you asked for my honest opinion about the ideal way, I would say that embracing a relationship with God and attending a church that is right for you is a great start (of course, I am speaking from personal experience). (Note: I am not asking you to embrace an idea of going through the motions of being a Christian - e.g., going to church, praying "traditional" prayers, etc. I specifically mean actually embracing a relationship with God and understanding how He really feels about you. Check out the ministries of Joel Osteen or Joyce Meyer online for some great examples).
Besides a faith-based approach, I would encourage you to write down what you feel pressure about on a day to day basis, and ask yourself why you feel that pressure, if that pressure is necessary in order to be successful, and begin to accept yourself and your accomplishments on a daily basis outside of that pressure. I also encourage you to consider therapy if needed, or check out self-help books (if you feel comfortable perusing them in the store, or if not, online), and dig your heels into ways you can enjoy your life a little bit better, every day.

There is no one cure-all solution to relieving yourself from pressure for perfection. Depending on your particular pressure(s), personality, lifestyle, etc., what works for you may be a tailored solution that may or may not have worked for me. But I will say this: one of the best things you can possibly do for your every day life is to unlearn this particular kind of pressure, and learn how to accomplish your daily goals and dreams, and be satisfied and comfortable with your work at the end of the day. This is not an overnight process - but if you commit to a particular solution on a day to day basis (and adjust it as needed), you'll eventually realize the benefits of feeling increasingly "pressure-less" and more personally satisfied, accomplished, complete, relaxed, and joyful overall in all areas of your life.

The Media's Fascination with Jon and Kate Plus 8, and All Things "Reality"...

There is something to be said about the media's intense placement of focus and attention on the stars of "Jon and Kate, Plus 8" - I don't really "get it." I understand that the show is a highly-rated show on the television network, TLC, and that the content of the show is quite amusing and very entertaining, but as the media loves to do, it is currently in the process of sinking its quite pointy teeth deeper and deeper into what appeared to be a seemingly decent family set-up and is enjoying the process of destroying the image of this family in the name of money. Now, I don't really care for the show all that much (every now and again I am very amused by the children and their antics though!), but I will say that I do care about the fact that this is an actual family that the media is picking apart - literally - by the seams. I think it is incredibly easy to confuse real life for fantasy, and are perhaps equating the Jon and Kate Plus 8 show with shows like the Brady Bunch, feeling incredibly free to criticize and evaluate them simply because they are on television to entertain and amuse us on a weekly basis. However, it is absolutely crucial that we do not fall into the trap of assuming that these are not real people with real emotions, and we must remember that they actually do hear the comments that are being spewed their way, minute by minute. Even more importantly, Jon and Kate's kids are probably hearing the media's comments as well (if not directly through the media, then their friends may be telling them, etc.). I know that the media is always sitting on top of an anxious piggy bank, desperate to fill its little piggy slot with revenue derived from the next big media blitz, but I think it should seriously stop trying to tear real people apart.

Reality television in and of itself, to be honest, is a free-for-all with the media, which is why I would encourage anyone who wants to be on a reality show to think twice before considering showing up in line for a chance to have their 5 seconds of fame on television. Reason? It is very rare that the media will be kind to just about anyone on television these days - all you have to do is watch shows like TMZ on television to realize that just about everyone on television is torn apart for everything they say, what they do, what they wear, an out of place wrinkle, or even a sleepy expression that can be read and interpreted in about five million ways. In my opinion, everyday life brings enough stuff to do and think about without tacking on the chaos that is attached to the seemingly hypocritical and harsh world of stardom these days. And yet, this call for "you can be the next big thing!" tears at the hearts of so many people every single day, who are simply yearning for a chance to be seen, to be noticed, to be popular - to simply be brought to a newer level of importance. I really do hope that more people will begin to reevaluate such a personal need, understand the psychological roots of their desire for fame, and realize that the world of reality television, for many of its stars, is equivalent to a beautifully-wrapped box with a gigantic piece of coal sitting inside of it.

Video Response to Hair Care Video Questions

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Pressure to Fit In?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

One of the principles that I abide by everyday is the fact that I have the right to choose who I am and I do not have to subscribe to any particular pattern of behavior, attitude or thought, in order to happily live my life. There are plenty of pressures to conform behavior to those that we choose to (or want to) be friends with, date, etc., but I do not understand the allure in changing who I am for someone else. Now, I am not saying that I haven't personally been influenced by those that I have let into my life - no human being can live so stubbornly as to not be influenced in any way by those around them. Looking back on my old dating relationships, for example, I realize that I had altered some of my perspectives and beliefs in order to conform to my partner's thought life. My decision to do well in school and eventually go to a top university and eventually graduate from law school was largely based on my family's interest in placing academic success as a top priority, as well as friends who were also interested in performing well in school and in life overall. However, I will definitely say that I am very picky about who I let influence my life and my perception of self - I don't like to have intimate friendships with "downers" - people who constantly live in a negative people who do anything to bring another person down - and I don't really care to hang out with people who are constantly criticizing/hating on/prejudiced against other people. As much as I value my friendships, my friends know that I don't really care to conform to any particular societal group or cookie-cutter stereotype, and they know that I stand by my beliefs, while duly respecting their perspectives as well.

The idea of "fitting in" may feel like a never-ending social pressure for many people, but I personally believe in "fitting into myself," continually growing into my own individuality, while allowing myself to have fun, be encouraged and lifted up through enjoying the company of others.