Don't Let Anyone Limit Your Dreams

Monday, August 31, 2009

In the movie "Pursuit of Happyness" (2006), Will Smith's character (Chris Gardner) says to his son, "Don't ever let somebody tell you you can't do something - not even me." He continues, "You got a dream...You gotta protect it. People can't do somethin' themselves, they wanna tell you you can't do it. If you want somethin', go get it. Period." The quote may sound extra cute and sugary to some of you, but within the context of the movie, it was a really powerful statement. I am a big proponent of the quote, primarily due to the fact that I have always believed it and applied it to my life. The quote also packs plenty of "punch" for those who need some inspiration to re-fuel their ambition right now. I believe every person has the right to determine his or her destiny, and that no other person should be given the right to limit another person's dreams or happiness. If you work hard and are determined to achieve a particular goal, you have every right to keep on pushing forward without letting other people interfere with your ambition. You also have the right to keep pushing on in the middle of a setback. Think about a successful person you know, and/or any successful person you see in the media (think Bill Gates, Oprah, and the list goes on). Many successful people dealt with people or situations that either tried to directly limit or abort their success, and/or tried to indirectly halt or abort their dream goals. However, when all is said and done, you have the ability and right to push on forward toward your dream, despite the existence of naysayers that may be surrounding you. Absolutely no one can take that right away from you.

Achieving success usually means overcoming some sort of obstacle along the way - so don't cancel out your dreams even though it feels like you're facing a wall. For every achievement in my life, I always made a conscious choice to push forward if and when an obstacle crossed my path. An obstacle may look and feel defeating at first, but it is so important to realize that it will only be a permanent brick wall if you allow it to be a brick wall. Even if you don't have anyone around you to encourage you on a regular basis, I really hope that you will continue on and push forward toward your dream, and push all the critics to the side as you step into your next achievement in life. :)

Back To School Style - Are You Ready?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kwan (my boyfriend) and I just came back from the mall and of course, ran into the "back to school" mall traffic! As we walked past different stores, I couldn't help but notice the various fashions and the amount of young men and women exploring the racks in most of the stores, looking for the perfect outfits. I would like to encourage any student who is about to go back to school (grade school, college, grad school, etc.) to not get too caught up in trying to fit into any particular fashion standard. For example, don't feel pressured into wearing skinny jeans, baggy jeans, showing more skin, wearing crazy high gladiator heels, or wearing clothing that is way too tight to breathe in! Instead, find clothes that you like, regardless of whether or not they are up to par with the standards set by Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, or Vogue Magazine. I just graduated from grad school, but this time of year always reminds me of the excitement of going to the store and picking out the newest clothes for school that I thought fit my body well, and clothes that accentuated my personality and style. (I also had a funny tendency to buy a shirt in more than one color if I really liked it :)). I personally preferred stores like Macy's, Sears, and Kohl's, and occasionally checked out JC Penny's - all of the stores had amazing back to school deals, and I always did my research and studied each catalogue ahead of time to nail down which clothes that I liked the best.

If by chance you are not able to splurge on clothes and new fashions this fall season, do not fret! Find different ways to combine your outfits and create a new look that you would wear to school. Have fun combining different scarves, shirts and blouses with your skirts, pants and shorts, change up which shoes you choose to wear with different outfits, and change up your color combinations for a new style. I would also suggest even changing up your makeup or hairdo style in order to give your overall appearance a fresh new look. I also recommend that you do not compare yourself to others and their choice of style - As I always say, be you, and create your own style. You never know, you may set a new trend, and people will want to copy your style!

Is Lil' Wayne the New Denzel?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Rapper Paul Wall
Have you ever noticed guys posing around you, trying to look cool in order to impress you and/or win your attention? Interestingly enough, I've noticed an increasing number of guys trying to "pose" as they drive or walk around town. I know posing is by no means a new phenomenon, but now, the posing seems to have taken on a strong "Lil Wayne" flavor, which is hilarious as well as unfortunate. In one summer, I noticed more than a few guys who have taken on the Lil' Wayne look, and trying to get attention and win ladies with variations of this particular look:

Rapper Lil Wayne

Now, I don't mean to sound superficial, but really? Lil Wayne may be popular on the music charts (which is questionable enough on its own), but I really don't think most women are attracted to that look. In fact, I don't think most women are attracted to guys who don't pull their pants up and/or dress appropriately overall. So my question is: why do guys think that it is cool and attractive to dress this way? I have asked my guy friends this question, and they just shrug their shoulders as well. I personally think these "Lil Wayne" look-alikes are just confused, they don't realize how they actually appear in society, and are completely unaware of the vast amount of women who find the look incredibly unattractive as well as unappealing. I have never heard a girl swoon over guys who dress like Lil Wayne - with a shirt way too big, pants hanging off their behind, etc. On the other hand, I've heard plenty of women swoon over Denzel Washington/Morris Chestnut/Boris Kudjoe/Tay Diggs/Blair Underwood types PLENTY of times (see pics below).

I have always been attracted to men who know how to dress well and carry themselves with class, and I don't think I am an anomaly among most women. I just hope the young men clueless enough to dress so inappropriately choose to wise up and pull their pants up if they really want to attract a good woman.

Do Men Prefer Long Hair?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I just came across some random youtube videos of women combing really long hair, and as much as I found the hair itself lovely, I was slightly disturbed by the amount of male commenters underneath the videos stating that the hair was "so sexy," etc. I understand that these people could simply have a long hair fetish, but I then wondered if men naturally prefer women with longer hair.

I personally don't believe that men really care if hair is short or long - rather, they are attracted to hair that looks healthy overall. Interestingly enough, research indicates that men may actually prefer long hair on women. In the article "Why do men prefer long hair" on, the author states, "research has demonstrated that there is an evolutionary reason for men to prefer long hair to short hair on women." The article notes that "according to evolutionary theory, features considered attractive by the opposite sex serve as indicators of reproductive fitness." This may sound bogus, but the article travels deeper into this theory: "Experiments and observations have demonstrated that a woman's hair plays a major role in how men rate a woman's attractiveness. The quality and length of hair serves as a marker of genetic strength and overall health." Furthermore, "several studies have demonstrated that men find women with medium-length to long hair more attractive than shorter haired counterparts. Men also rate longer haired women as healthier and fitter than shorter haired women."

So, does this mean that you have to give up your short locks if you want to attract men? Of course not. All you have to do is look at the male fascination with Halle Berry, and any red-blooded male will tell you that she is a stunning woman with her short hair. The article also duly points out that "men are not ruled by evolutionary biases and many men report preferring short hair to long hair." It continues, "Shorter hair that is healthy and lustrous is better than having long hair that is damaged and unkempt." I completely agree with this author when he/she states, "Whatever the length, maintaining your hair's healthy appearance is the best way to ensure your partner or potential partner will appreciate the beauty of your hair."

So if you feel the need to get extensions in order to appear more attractive, you can let that feeling go - men will dig you, whether your hair is or looks really long, or if it is really short. Just be yourself and wear a hairstyle that you like that can be maintained in a healthy way, and the right man for you will be attracted to your unique style.

Stress and Beauty - A Major Disconnect

Friday, August 21, 2009

Have you ever wondered about the relationship between stress and beauty? You may actually be concerned about how the stress in your life may be affecting your health, and perhaps, even your youthful glow. Additionally, the media pours beauty products down our throats on a daily basis, convincing us that if we do happen to show signs of stress or age, there is always a product that can fix it.

Stress can have serious effects on your beauty. According to Shakila Akhter in her article, "Stress Leads to Ugliness," (2002) "Emotional stresses disturb the body homeostasis that results in hormonal malfunctioning, impairment of body immunological functions and slows down the skin rejuvenation." Akhter provides further explanation of the skin and its renewal process:

"Skin constantly renews itself. At young age the cell renewal process completes within 28 days but as we grow older the speed of this process slows down. In addition to age that process is also effected due to our mental state of mind. The period of mental disturbance slows down the process of cell renewal, destroys collagen fibers in the skin, breaks down its elastin and increases the production of sebum oils in oily skin people and dehydrate dry skin."

Your mental health is therefore the key to beautiful skin, so take care of your mind as well as your skin on a daily basis in order to maintain a youthful glow and complexion. This sounds easier than done, right? I totally agree with you. I have always been aware of the effects that stress has on my hair and skin, but some of the information and advice regarding how to relieve stress was incompatible with my personality and/or lifestyle. Akhter provides some very basic and helpful tips that can help with relieving stress and minimizing stressful effects on your beauty (This list is especially useful if you notice side effects of stress like physical changes (e.g. weight gain, weight loss, hair breakage, skin changes, etc.):
-First of all just leave the stressful situation and drink a glass of water.
-Don’t make any decision during those phases.
-Don’t make any negative judgement about yourself.
-Think about positive traits of your personality. Nobody is ideal and perfect in this world. Every one has some weakness, if you too have some than there is nothing wrong with you.
-Don’t try to seek the help of cigarette, alcohol or any drug.
-Get involved yourself in some easy to do work like cleaning your wardrobe, arranging your bookshelf, do painting. But whatever work you start you have to complete it.
-Call your friend, talk to him/her about your problem. If you don’t want to do so than just take a paper and write down about every thing that is coming to your mind without censoring anything.
-Do aerobics or yoga or just go out for a long walk.

I have a terribly bad habit of drinking coffee when I am really stressed out, and I am currently in the process of changing that bad habit and am choosing to drink more water overall. I stay away from drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, I tend to talk out issues with close friends, and I am a big fan of exercising (particularly running, pilates, yoga and dance). When I am really stressed, I like to take epsom salt baths as soon as possible, which relax my body and mind.

I encourage you not to wait to take care of yourself until you get into a stressful situation. Instead, I suggest being proactive rather than reactive, and begin to address whatever physical and mental health issues you may have, so that when you do find yourself in a stress storm, your ability to react accordingly will be a lot better. And of course, the effects on your beauty and overall complexion will (hopefully) be minimal.

My Issue with Pantene's Hair Products

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Let me preface this post by stating that I have absolutely nothing against the Pantene brand in and of itself. I love their advertisements, and the brand definitely puts itself out there for the purpose of raising awareness for different causes, which I think is an excellent move. On a personal level however, I don't care for Pantene, based on my own experience with their products. Furthermore, I have a personal tick against any company that promotes beauty products for women of color and the products do not deliver what they promise. If you type in "pantene" and "women of color," you will indubitably find complaint after complaint in numerous forums across the internet, created over the course of several years (in fact, when I type in "pantene" and "women of color," the first hit that appears in google is an actual site entitled "Warning About Pantene Shampoo and Conditioner for Women of Color"). Interestingly enough, my experience with the Pantene Relaxed and Natural Shampoo as well as Pantene Beautiful Lengths shampoo was not at all far from the experiences of other women - the shampoo pretty much weakened my hair and directly contributed to some really annoying breakage. The second main ingredient in the Pantene Relaxed and Natural Shampoo happens to be petroleum, which just coats the hair with grease, rather than adding any strength to the hair strand. The main ingredients in the Pantene Beautiful Lengths Shampoo seem to be quite normal for any shampoo, but there is something else in their list of ingredients that had the exact same breakage impact on my hair. Yet, when I switch to my other hair products that I always tend to use (usually dominican products), my hair goes back to normal and the breakage stops. Go figure. A vast majority of other women in the forums online seem to have the same experience.

My issues with Pantene's shampoos on relaxed hair lend themselves to one basic overall tip for any company that wants to promote their brand to women of color:

Please do not produce or advertise products that do not work for your consumers. If you notice numerous websites and forums dedicated to consumers' distaste for your products, that should be an indicator that you should change the chemical composition or overall strategy with production if you want to maximize profits. And if you don't change the product, don't be surprised when sales decline - word travels fast, and women tend not to visit the same beauty product twice if it messes with their hair after the first use.

Enough said. :)