Sunday, April 22, 2007

This is Serious Business People!

This will be a very short post, I've got to fix my hair.

After an experiment gone horribly wrong last night and waking up this morning sporting the 'Yaphet Kotto' 'fro, it looks like I'll be continuing my search for the best product for my almost natural hair for a while. After this morning's surprise, I'm willing to spend whatever it takes to get it right. If you happen to be traveling this same road I can tell you, I hit paydirt on Afrobella's blog with a number of natural sites that I will be exploring and am happy to share with you:

If you're in the same boat I'm in, surely you'll find what you need on any one of these sites. I am particularly impressed with Motown Girl, not only because she is from the 'D', but the girl's got it all if you're seriously looking for some information that you can use. They all have a wealth of information on natural hair care and products, transition pictures and how-tos. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Going Natural

There are women that have to use the daily chair and whip method in taming their locks, I was one of those women. For years I wanted to hang up the whip and chair and had been telling myself that natural is beautiful but continued to relax my hair. One night two years ago (to my husband’s horror) I decided to take the scissors to my shoulder length hair. After all I rationalized, it was only hair. So I cut it. All of it, and wore it super short, relaxed with blond streaks for a year. I liked it (he loved it) but it sure was a lot of work maintaining it, and I found that I had begun to lose interest in hair dryers, flat irons and that kind of drudgery.

So I decided last year I would transition back to my natural hair but quickly found that it was a lot harder than I imagined since I had become so used to straight hair. Imagine that, going back to my roots was a culture shock! But, I cut it all off again finally cutting out all the relaxer. Then I chickened out at the last minute on going straight up natural and moved to a texturizer because I still wasn’t quite feeling the ‘fro. My last chop was in February which was so closely cropped that if I didn’t have a texturizer, my hair would have been so kinky I could have played connect-the-dots on my scalp… alright, maybe that’s just a little bit dramatic, but it was awfully short.

Will I be Happy to be Nappy?

I am still fearing the ‘fro. You see, I have a five-finger forehead and that just doesn’t seem to work with a short ‘fro on me. The texturizer gives me a softer look. To my surprise too, the texturizer gives me more options than I thought I had for experimentation. I can now stick a toe or two across the line and play around with the naturally kinky look and then hop back to my safe place for a silkier, more structured curl.

However, now that it’s growing longer, I have decisions to make. Do I wean myself off the texturizer and go all the way? Or do I keep the pacifier (texturizer)? I think I’ll let it grow some more before I ‘man up’ as my husband tells me, and go for the ‘fro.

I have to say I'm anxious to try a couple of products: Miss Jessie's Curly Pudding and Curly Kinky. I'm not familiar with any similar products so feel free to let me know of any others you may have tried. I have been researching these two products but I'm not sure they have the muscle to beat my kinks into submission for any duration. It seems like the products are made more for multi-ethnic women. They may work, or they may not, but the beautiful thing is they will not chemically alter the structure of my hair and I can wash it out and try something else.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Cultural Looting

Kikoi is a generic term for a 100% East African cotton hand-knitted cloth that was traditionally worn by men. It is a hot fashion trend now as ethnic style becomes more popular. As a fashion item, the beautiful and very versatile kikoi is used as a beach wrap, sarong, and as head wraps. The kikoi as a traditional household staple in Kenya is used for baby slings, curtains and other household items such as pillow coverings and, throws in addition to clothing.

The Kikoi is also an artistic expression of a region and its culture. Weaving and selling Kikoi to tourists is how many families in the region, primarily Kenya, earn a living. The arts and crafts sector is Kenya's second highest foreign exchange earner after agriculture and contributes around 18 percent of the country's gross domestic product.
Culture constitutes a history system of core ideas shared by a society. The use of kikoi is part of Kenya’s cultural heritage and should be protected and preserved for future generations.

Kikoi should not be a region’s honest intellectual property up for grabs by any company or government to seize and economically benefit from the indigenous culture of another country at the expense of their livelihood.

Kenyan activists are fighting to retain cultural designs developed in East Africa but are being patented by companies in the UK, the United States and Japan. After losing the kiondo basket, a handmade sisal basket unique to Kenya to Japan, the popular kikoi fabric design is currently at risk of being patented by the Kikoy Company, a British company.
Kikoy Ltd filed an application to register the word Kikoi alone as a UK trademark on August 26, 2006. While raising the alarm in Nairobi on February 21, 2007, Kenya Industrial Property Institute, Managing Director, Prof James Odek, said Kenya had until February 22nd to oppose the application before the trademark application is granted in the UK. February 23rd was the final day to submit any opposition to the registration.

Granting the trademark to the UK firm would mean that Kenyans have to request permission from the UK firm to market kikoi items despite it being a traditional cloth in Kenya and the rest of the region. Should the patent by the Kikoy Company be granted it will result in losses in millions of shillings in income and jobs that provide hundreds of people in the region, particularly Kenya, who sell kikoi items the means to earn a living.

Cooperation for Fair Trade in Africa (COFTA), a Nairobi-based body of nongovernmental organizations, is challenging the Kikoy Company’s patent application for sole ownership of the trademark of the kikoi.

Trade and Industry Ministry Permanent Secretary David Nalo indicated that Kenya will do all within its means to block the Kikoy Company from registering 'Kikoi' as its trademark.
He said preliminary objections have already been filed seeking to block the moved the foreign company is taking to register the Kenya’s indigenous business concern as its sole trademark.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

2007 Swimwear Do’s and Don’ts for Bikini Island

Once you’ve waxed yourself all clean and shiny, you’re probably anxious to hop into that new suit you bought in February and head for the beach (if you’re not in Michigan!). The rest of us still need to shop for a new swimwear wardrobe for the summer. If you’re lucky every swimsuit or bikini you put on will look fabulous on you and swimwear shopping will be fun. The rest of us aren’t that lucky and need a little more spandex here and there to hold it in and for us and shopping is less fun and more challenge. But however great the challenge, there is a suit out there that will make almost every body type look great at the beach.

For the swimwear illiterate, here is an update to your swimwear vocabulary:

Maillot -- One-piece suit (some creative types have even labeled a cut-out style the "monokini"). This year maillots are cut out, one-shouldered and halter-necked.

Tankini -- A variation of the bikini, this sporty style has a longer top that leaves only a small portion of the tummy exposed. Don't want to expose your tummy at all? Go for the mock tankini.

Bandini -- A bikini with a bandeau top; ie, a straight, wide horizontal band of cloth worn covering the breasts.

Camikini -- Same as the tankini except the top looks like a camisole.

Boy shorts -- These resemble really short shorts. Careful here -- tends to make the leg look shorter-- but still a favorite style.

Although it’s not easy for some of us to find the perfect suit, it’s not impossible. There are a few general rules to keep in mind when shopping for swimwear:
Buy one to two dress sizes larger than you wear.
Finger Test – put your finger under the shoulder strap and lift, if there is less than 1” space between your shoulder and finger, go up a size. Obviously the reverse is true if there is more than 1” space.
Wide straps or a bandeau-style top minimizes the appearance of a larger bust.
IBTC (Itty-Bitty Titty Committee members) go for a triangle-cut cup or a cup with details that draw attention to the breast. The detail adds the illusion of volume.
The most important factor to consider is the fit of the bottoms and the cut of the leg. If you have a short torso, go for a low rise bottom. This will give the illusion of a longer torso. A woman with a long torso should go for bottoms that hit higher than the hipbone. Low rise on a long torso give a Gumby-like appearance.
If you are heavier than you’d like to be all over, trying a minimizing suit will be a good choice for you. Wearing too tight suits to corral and control bulges will only accentuate them. Wear the proper size suit with 15-20% Lycra or spandex and have adjustable neck and back straps.
If you're not sure of your size, get measured. Also, take a trusted friend shopping with you. They won't lie and tell you that your butt looks small in the white bikini bottoms. See more swimwear at

As I mentioned in my Retro Rewind post, retro is in and it goes beyond makeup. Halter tops, sweetheart necklines and belts are in in 2007 swimwear.
Now, there are some definite don’ts and while I won’t elaborate with words, the pictures will say more than enough. In general, I find it troubling to make fun of people. However, we all have mirrors in our homes, or the home of a friend or relative. If ANYONE lets you make it to the beach like any of the below Definite Don’ts they are NOT your friend and probably likes you well enough to push you under a bus.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Bikini Island

Hot wax, wooden paddles and a stranger in your nether region? Doesn’t sound very sexy to most women, but many swear by the results. A Brazilian bikini wax removes the hair from the entire pubic region, leaving a small patch just above the vaginal area. Many women prefer a Brazilian wax because it gives a clean, close wax and the freedom to wear almost anything or nothing.

Visiting a salon for a Brazilian bikini wax for the first time can be a little unnerving. When you arrive, you'll be taken to the private waxing area, which may be a room or just a portion of the salon blocked off by curtains or a partition. You'll lie on your back on a table covered with clean paper or sheets, with your legs down or your knees up, as you would in the gynecologist's office. You may be provided a paper thong, or you may not. This is because the technician will be taking it all off or just leaving a little runway strip if you choose.
The technician only needs about a quarter-inch of hair for the wax to grab onto and will start by using small scissors to trim down your pubic hair. The technician will then wax away the "triangle" on your mons pubis.

A traditional Brazilian wax includes the labia and the area that reaches up between the cheeks. If there are stray hairs after waxing, the technician may also tweeze the area. The key to allowing wax to penetrate into the follicles (and provide the closest possible wax) is to relax.
Your technician should use a low-temperature or hard wax for the least amount of discomfort. The wax should be the consistency of taffy. The wax is smoothed on over a pre-waxing oil that is applied to your skin as a prep after clipping you pubic hair to keep the wax from sticking to the skin. This allows the wax to be used without strips, making for a much more comfortable experience. As the wax cools, it basically shrink-wraps each hair and pulls it out from the root.

Twist and Shout!

Glamorous? No. Some technicians may take you through a series of contortions in order to get the cleanest results possible. Most likely, your technician will remove stray hairs with a set of tweezers. Your technician may also flip you on your knees and have you spread’em. If there are areas you are not comfortable having waxed (say, between the cheeks) let your technician know. Painful? You bet it is. It can definitely be quite painful the first time, but your pain threshold may rise with subsequent waxings. If your technician is good, he or she will move quickly to minimize the amount of discomfort you may experience. If your technician doesn’t seem to be conscious of your discomfort, speak up and let him or her know. When your technician is done he or she should apply soothing lotion to the waxed area and you should have a perfectly smooth genital region.

You may still experience red bumps and ingrown hairs, just like with shaving. The results will last anywhere from ten days to three weeks, with no maintenance, and there's no shave that can get you this clean and smooth. You have to go ten to fourteen days between wax jobs, so you may have a period of time with a five o'clock shadow.
The procedure can take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes and can cost from $50 to 85 depending on location; regular bikini waxes can range from $30 to $50. Good and cheap are usually mutually exclusive when it comes to paying for personal services such as waxing. Always try to get the best price but I suggest that you not bargain shop for this procedure. Check to make sure your technician is not using you as a practice run. Ask your technician how many Brazilian waxings he or she does a week. You want someone who is professional and experienced. As always, ensure the facility is clean and reputable.

Friday, April 06, 2007

I'm Not Done Yet

In an effort to further refine and help to express my opinion to those I have discussed this with on and off-line, visit out these links:

They make you think twice (or more) about the continued gratuitous use of the n'word.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

N’Word, Please!

A coworker asked me today how I felt about the use of the n’word. The conversation was inspired by an article in Ebony magazine that promised at the end of the piece, the n’word would receive its long overdue burial at Ebony and Jet magazines without fanfare or ceremony.

Based on the opinions of my coworker who I consider to be quite intelligent, the word has seeded a shifting landscape plowed and tilled primarily by African Americans. Her question is this: ‘why, if the word evokes such negative connotations and represents such a painful period in our history, do so many of us use it without compunction and often as a term of endearment even, then lose our minds when someone else not of African American descent uses it?’ Of course, the question these days has all but had the bite taken out of it. But for a waning population of those who lived through ‘it’ it still bears fangs that drip the blood of our forefathers and of those whose shoulders we now stand on. For them, the word picks at sores not quite scabbed over in our own culture and in American society at large the sores will be raw in perpetuity.

Some of our own brothers and sisters, rappers, comedians and other entertainers have desensitized themselves to the word. Society views this self-desensitization as a license to use a word commonized by the very people it was designed to denigrate and has been filed into the book of socially accepted vernacular. Of course the n’word is protected under the 1st Amendment as a right of free speech and will always be a part of the American experience, however bad. But who’s free to use it? Just us? White kids desperate to prove their street cred? The Klan? Michael Richards? A white coworker in his or her bliss ignorance trying to fit in at the water cooler? For those who feel it’s not ok, who has the authority to revoke the license? Should it be considered a congruous term in the lexicon of modern American language, or is this the carriage pulling the horse?

We fall on the floor laughing when we are in the comfort of our circle of friends and talk about the stupid n’word that acted a fool at the doctor’s office/drugstore/grocery store/McDonald’s. Our entertainers stand before audiences the world over rapping or singing about n’words, our brothers use it as a greeting for their closest of friends ‘hey n’guh, my n’guh. But, the moment someone who is not African American utters the word, we’re forming torch bearing mobs running for the nearest lynching tree. WTF? WE opened Pandora’s box, the n’word has escaped and it cannot be reclaimed.

I have to admit, I see my coworker’s point to a degree. Though, in my opinion, it’s not that simple, not so black and white so in part of my friend’s justification of why this question is moot, I’ll have to agree to disagree. In my own humble opinion, there are n’words or as my husband calls them n’double gars. African American ones, White ones, Arab ones, Jewish ones, Hispanic ones, and maybe even some Hindu ones. Anyone who can kill without conscience, those who lay in wait and watch hard working men and women leave their homes to go to work only to clean out the contents of their house once they turn the corner , those who entice our babies with the drug du jour, those who snatch children off the street and pimp them. Do I need to continue? For those I can reserve the use of the word without apology.
Would it rub my skin raw if someone outside the African American society used the n’word as a characterization of these, the lowest type of degenerates? Yes, probably. Its paradoxical, I know, and would take a volume to explain why I feel the way I do, but this is my truth as contradictory as it is and it is so for others, too. At the end of the day, it’s my opinion, protected by the Constitution. She doesn’t necessarily agree, and that’s ok, that’s her right.

So, let me ask you, has the use of the n’word had the sting taken out of it and has become innocuous and non-threatening when used by someone outside of your culture?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Retro Rewind

Vive la ‘60s! Pack up the harsh reds, deep maroons and the heavy matte foundation for the fall, soft colors and dewy skin are in for spring and summer. Skin is clean and fresh. A light dab of foundation to even out the skin tone is all you need.

Lips are soft and pretty for the spring and summer. Start by conditioning the skin on your lips with a good balm. Follow up by evening up the tone by prepping your lips with foundation. This will set your lip color for more even, longer lasting color. Finish with a liner that blends with your lip color.

Eyes pop with dramatic color. Use deep, rich pigments for intense color. Line your lids as close as possible to your lash line. The mod look was heavy on the blue eyeshadow, but keep in mind retro style represents flashback, not throwback.

Miles of lashes never go out of style. Use a fiber-filling mascara for extra length and volume. Too Faced Lash Injection is a good choice.