Monday, April 30, 2012

Men Find Women Attractive so Let's Get Over it

I just watched an interesting video (below). I have posted one of this blogger's her videos before. I don't agree with everything she says and it's conflicting for me that she seems to be loved by the Men's Rights Movement who I mentioned before looks very scary to me. But when calm, and respectful people voice the arguments of this group I can see some of their points. But those points never really come across from their websites or videos because they filled by so much woman hating at the same time. Some of their issues fall flat because of the statements of their individual members who may actually be dangerous, misogynist men. So that was my disclaimer and also watch out because there is foul language in this video.


I think the point is (that I agree with) that men naturally are drawn to physically attractive women and want to have physical relations with them. In the past there were few negative consequences for the men when they did that. I also believe that women try to look attractive to get the attention of men even though they deny it and sometimes get upset when men are attracted to them. Sometimes they just get upset because attract men they don't want or they attract men who don't want them for relationships.

I wish women would stop saying that the only reason to look good is "for yourself" and not for anyone else because it makes women who want to attract men sound inferior, stupid, or less enlightened or something! They make it seem like a woman is wrong for trying to attract a partner or for wanting one at all! I personally find balance because I dress in a way that both men and I find attractive and that I do not find degrading or too uncomfortable. In the past women and men would readily admit that they wanted a partner and they wanted to get married but now people will actually call that stupid, desperate, old fashioned, or a sign of low self-esteem!!! I want a husband and a family and I am not ashamed to say that!

Women are drawn more to men who can be providers and in the past (and present) there are few negative consequences for that. Women also like attractive men and we should stop acting like we don't objectify them to for physical or utility/provider reasons. I readily admit to this and I think it's natural and serves my purposes and the purposes of many others who are willing to admit the same. Women have their standards for a partner and so do women and men's reasons are no less valid than women's. I'm willing to work to meet a man's standards only if he is willing to work to meet mine...that to me is equality!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Are you really that great the way you are?

We all know how unpleasant it feels to be told you are not good enough and to be insulted about your looks, intelligence, education, accomplishments, social class, wealth, job and anything whatsoever. It feels even worse when you believe these things yourself and think that you are worthless and not good enough compared to other people. That is why people have low self-esteem and feel depressed every day. This has prompted parents' and teachers' attempts to protect their children and students from being put down or from feeling bad about themselves. Even the media does this to an extent. This is admirable. However, this can often be taken too far to the point where ANY behaviour is called "great" and everyone is "the best" and "a winner"! If everyone is the best then no one is because there is no criteria being used to judge what behaviour, accomplishment, or quality is better than another. It is useless and sometimes dishonest praise for mediocre qualities, status, and achievements. It makes people who do not meet standards for achievement and personal qualities feel better about themselves and that they are worthy of all the same rewards in life just like those who meet the standards. But if there are no standards for excellence then what are people to strive for? If everything is acceptable then people will just do whatever they want and expect zero negative consequences.

Prime examples of this are when (sorry it's true) people who are less attractive, uneducated, struggling financially, and unsuccessful expect to reap the same rewards as those who are highly attractive, highly educated, wealthier, and successful in their careers. They expect the same praise and attention and to be just as desirable to romantic partners as people who meet the higher standards. It's harsh I know. The problem is, while they think they are Halle Berry, Albert Einstein, or Donald Trump no one else believes it and they won't treat you that way (if they do to your face then they won't behind your back). They won't buy your claims that you are the best especially if they desire someone of a higher standard and there are other better options available. If you really are so great I just have to say PROOVE IT! Convince us that you are as hot or hotter than the people most call attractive, that you are smarter than educated professionals and doctors, and that you can provide the same high standard of living that a wealthier person can. Your argument will fall flat and instead you will try to convince others that their standards are too high, shallow, materialistic, naive, unimportant or whatever insult you can come up with to guilt them into accepting you.

People do things to earn rewards and avoid punishments so what happens when everyone is rewarded and praised and poor behaviour is excused and left unpunished? Well, I think that there are people who have internalized standards and see through the "everyone's a winner" facade and they strive to be "the best" even if others dishonestly say there is no competition and everyone is equal. These people are not fooled because they can see with their own eyes that those who achieve and are the best reap more rewards in life than those who have lower standards and achievements. They shield themselves from the mass feel-good delusions meant to protect the vulnerable and strive to win what they want and need! They strive for excellence! If a man wants a very attractive woman he will not go for someone who is too different from what he considers beautiful even if she has a sense of humor. If an employer wants an intelligent person with a degree he will not care how smart you say you are unless you have that degree. If you apply for a loan they don't care how hard a worker you are and they won't lend to you if they suspect you are too poor to ever pay them back. There are consequences for not living up to standards and we have to acknowledge this instead of hiding our heads in the sand! If you want certain benefits and rewards in life you have to WORK HARD to live up to the standards of the people who can give you the rewards.

People will tell you don't worry about your appearance
and weight; don't try to be more feminine, educated or
well-mannered than others; and don't try to be the epitomy
of beauty and femininity.  But if you want to be the best
and attract the best men then you must strive for
To some people striving for excellence is being fake, not being yourself, and pretending to be something you are not. Others will say that you are good enough just the way you are, everyone should accept you just as you are, and you will find someone who loves you just as you are. But are you really being "the best version of you" and "doing the best you can"? Well, what if you're a  lazy, unattractive, smelly, jerk with a bad attitude attracted to a guy who is sweet, kind, physically active, highly attractive, desirable to many women,  and who wants someone similar to himself? Well he will never be attracted to you and you will never have him. He has positive qualities while you have negative qualities. If you want a man with positive qualities then you have to become a better person yourself. That could mean working on yourself using self-help or a professional, getting into shape, learning how to be nice, taking better care of yourself, and developing the qualities of desirable women. You need to change to get what you want. Furthermore, these will all be positive changes that can help you to get along better with friends, family, and coworkers too! There is also the fantastic benefit of being proud of yourself and increasing your self-esteem because you now know you are great, a much better person, and being the best you can be...never underestimate that and how good it feels! On the other hand if you want a lazy, unattractive, smelly jerk with a bad attitude then you don't have to change a thing...but is that the man you are looking for? Do you like being that way really?

Don't be so afraid to change. If you constantly improve yourself then you become the best you that you can be. Why do you believe that you are your best self right now? How do you know you can't be much better? If you strive for excellence in many aspects of your life then you will become the best girlfriend (or potential girlfriend), wife, friend, daughter, employee, or professional you can be. Did you think that it would be easy and you wouldn't have to work for it? Even if these things come naturally to others you may just be one of the unfortunate people (like myself) who needs to make an effort. Take a look at yourself and make an HONEST list of your positive and negative characteristics to identify areas where you need to improve. I did this early on when I started this blog, I do it regularly, and I am realistic about my qualities and flaws. I recognize and accept my flaws as well as the responsibility to change them and become the best person I could be. I didn't deserve the label of very attractive, feminine, and pleasant before but I think those labels are more accurate now. I worked and improved myself in order to deserve those accolades. You may have to work and strive for excellence too!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Hatred of All Things Feminine, Elegant, Cute, and Pretty

There are some people who just hate anything feminine, girly, pretty, or elegant. In the not too distant past most women could appreciate these things. Nowadays some women detest the feminine and adamantly believe that liking feminine things harms women, makes them appear weak, and makes them vulnerable to men. I read an excellent post today on The Seductive Woman about Envious Women (this blog was formerly The Art of Being Feminine but changed sites so I missed out on months of new posts! I'm glad it's still around though and old posts can still be read on The Art of Being Feminine). It just reminded me that no matter what you do some people will just dislike you either due to envy or just because they have different preferences. People can have whatever preferences they want and disagree with something but why does there have to be hatred and putting down of a person's intelligence, worth, personality, and dignity just because they like something different? Well, maybe sometimes that's due to envy and jealousy according to The Seductive Woman. I think that's the reason why some people hate Zooey Deschanel. She just too girly, old fashioned feminine, and cutesy for them so they hate her but I'm wondering if some of it is envy that they don't feel secure enough to be girly, feminine, silly, and adorkable like her? There aren't many women like her on television at all but it's like they won't even allow one! I don't want to watch female lawyers and cops everyday and I enjoy seeing a girly-girl who isn't catty, shallow, rich, and scheming all the time.

I  have been reading posts on Tumblr and when I searched for femininity I actually came across a site about anti-femininity! Sorry I can't find a site link. But from what I recall it's a site about lesbians who prefer the masculine or androgynous look, two looks I totally dislike for myself. It's fine though that the blogger likes what she likes but I noticed that she posted a link to a blog I frequent called The Feminine Woman. The blogger posted the link so that the site could be ridiculed!!? I'm not saying that this blogger is envious at all, but I'm just using it to show that some people hate and ridicule femininity. On Tumbler there are TONS of photos of girly/feminine images that I like to reblog and there are many other images of that kind of androgynous/masculine version of femininity that has become "normal" in society today. There are anti-feminist messages and pro-feminist messages. There is a post stating "I'd rather be dark and twisted than light and frilly" or something like that.

To some people the idea of a woman doing ANYTHING that would make her attractive to men is stupid, shows low self-esteem, and is a bad example to other women. For one, I think these people are in denial about all the things they actually do to be accepted by others. They take baths, wear deodorant, don't go out naked, and don't start fights with random people so that they can be accepted and get along with others. Unless they make their own clothes then they are buying what everyone else is wearing and not being totally unique. If you are buying anything modern then you are following trends and not being as individual as you think. Furthermore, they are acting like women don't get anything out of this! I have high standards for men and I'm aiming high in terms of success and looks. If I want an attractive and successful man then I have to make sure that I'm attractive and successful myself. I like pretty boys and cute guys and I expect them to take care of their appearance, shave (I'm wary of even dating hairy guys and if he shaves his body AWESOME), have good hygiene, and be physically active, healthy, and not overweight. How can I ask for those things if I'm not willing to be attractive for them too? So if you are a woman who doesn't care about the way your man looks then sure you won't feel the need to look attractive for him. I want an attractive man so I present myself in a way to get that man and that is empowering because I made my own CHOICE! Furthermore, I actually like feminine clothes and they make me look WAY better than the way I used to dress. I also feel great when I'm nice, well-mannered, pleasant, and fun because it makes me feel like a good person...because good people are NICE!!! People can question my intelligence if they like but hey, I have the papers to prove it, society believes it, and so do the people I know so nothing anyone online says has credibility in the real world.

In the Black community if you have Black celebrities as role models, buy what they wear, and listen only to their music you are being a follower too yet you make fun of Black people who find role models who are not Black? So following Black people is always good even if many are not good examples? Emulating a successful White or Asian role model is unacceptable even if they are highly successful and have all the desirable traits the person wants? Why should anyone limit themselves by race? You are segregating yourself and saying things are off limits to you just because you are Black! All of these opportunities have been opened to you and you put up a sign saying "No Blacks Allowed!!!!" I have never had a Black teacher or professor in my life so my educational and professional role models are all White people and many are White men because there are no Black role models available. I look for Black examples of femininity but there aren't many that show the type of femininity I like and I find more examples from Asian and White women. On Tumbler it seems like 98% of the femininity posts are by Asian and White women so I think that says something about who is the most interested in feminine things and becoming more feminine! A starving person should eat whatever they are given and not toss it back because it's not their preferred brand or flavor!!! Stop standing in your own way!

So far in my real life I haven't been treated differently by women because of the way I look and dress and some really like it. But I have to watch out for those who hate femininity and try to not take their comments personally. One thing I have noticed is some men act funny when they hear about my education and career field. They are acting nervous and self-conscious but they still talk to me anyway. That is something that I'll have to deal with and I don't take that personally either. I just have to accept that I won't be able to get along with everyone because of this and due to class differences, the way I talk, the way I write, and my interests and that's okay. I'm an intellectual, girly, geeky, open to new ideas and experiences type of person and I need to find friends and a man who appreciates those things :) Moving on and moving up...keeping my eye on the prize!

UPDATE: The Seductive Woman linked to an article on Mail Online called 'There are downsides to looking this pretty': Why women hate me for being beautiful. I read the article and looked at the attached photos. Okay, now if this woman looked like someone the guys like such as Megan Fox or something I wouldn't be surprised, but this woman? She gets so much free stuff because she's so beautiful? I just find that hard to believe. I'm thinking, if her story is true at all, that it is because of the way she dresses or carries herself and she may be really flirty in some way. People may dislike her for something other than her looks. Maybe she says things that make it sound like she would steal someone's husband. The photos just don't go with the story. No I am not envious of her beauty whatsoever. I'm younger and more attractive but I've never experienced the things she has.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Looking to Africa for Fashion and Beauty Standards?

Someone made a comment on my post about sarees asking why I wrote about Indian clothing instead of traditional clothing worn by African women (I think she suggested Nigerian clothing). I was irritated by the comment so I looked at the links she posted then deleted it (why put up with negativity if I don't have to right?). Well I did a post in December about Elegant African Women and some fashions they had that I thought were nice. I couldn't find many videos so I posted the ones with dresses I actually liked. Although the dress shapes were nice I don't really like geometric designs and prefer my clothing to have either solids or flowers, and sometimes pinstripes. So I shy away from bright geometic designs like in the African dresses. They dresses are very...almost super modern looking because of the patterns and I prefer retro looks. So for whatever reason I like the sarees more. I suppose if the African dresses were plain I would like them more. Plus, I just don't like head wraps and prefer big loose natural hair. I didn't grow up with fashions like that and actually I'm more accustomed to seeing people wearing sarees in Toronto so I guess I'm used to them. I'm also more accustomed to seeing traditional East Asian clothing in Toronto on television and in movies. I can't even think of an African movie that I've seen where women were wearing dresses like in the videos or the links that were posted in the comments.

This all brings me to the main point I wanted to write about. Why is it that we expect Black people, who have never been to Africa and have been out of Africa for generations to have a preference for African fashions and beauty?  African fashion is foreign to me. The African women I know didn't even wear traditional clothes and they wore Western clothing the way I did! My parents and grandparents are from the Caribbean and they never showed me traditional clothes. The closest thing to traditional would be Caribana costumes but those are basically showgirl costumes so not something anyone would wear in their everyday lives. So do we expect that Black people around the world have some genetic preference for clothing? I think it's really unfair to expect that.

Now this brings me to my second point and this is the difficult one. Why are Black people who have never been to Africa and have been out of Africa for generations supposed to have a preference for African facial features? Again, are people expecting that Black people have a genetic preference for certain features? I think that there are some preferences, like the ones that I mentioned in my post about the Black standard of beauty, that may be widespread because they indicate health and youth. But we must also recognize that a lot of what we think is beautiful is based on what we see and what we are told is beautiful meaning that a lot of our preferences are socialized. So if a Black girl grows up around very few Black women and mostly sees White and Asian women in real life, and mainly White women on television why do we expect her to have a preference for traditional African features? Especially given that the Black women on television tend to be biracial (and in my case family members and friends with medium skin tones).Why would we try to live up to a standard of beauty from a place we don't live especially if its very different from the standard of the people we actually live around? A Black Canadian woman may be considered gorgeous in Kenya but that is irrelevant if she's considered unattractive in Canada where she lives.

What are African facial features anyway? I keep reading people saying that the Black actresses the media calls beautiful have European features. Other than them having lighter skin sometimes I don't think many of them look White at all if you compare them to the average White woman. Here's an example:

I mean when you look at Sanaa Lathan do you actually think her features "look White" compared to Christy Brinkly's? All of the Black women who people rate as beautiful do not have pencil thin noses and neither do many White women! I do not think Sanaa looks White and she is successful in Hollywood. What Black features does she not have? Also remember a lot of Black women like myself have the same skin tone as Sanaa. Is there some African face/jaw shape that Sanaa is supposed to have or is having an oval face a White thing? Let's try again:

Now looking at Halle Berry and Paris Hilton are you seriously trying to tell me that they look alike? No Halle's nose is not the widest I have ever seen by it is nowhere near as pinched as Paris' and her nose is very common and there are some White women who have fuller lips. You know what, a lot of the White women I find attractive actually have broader noses...hmm maybe they actually have more Black features??? I actually think Black men probably have a thing for Elisha Cuthbert, Britney Spears, and Pink below but that's just my theory ;)  Seriously, all three women look like Black women painted White to me and Britney and Pink are not lacking in "thickness" either. Why is it only the so-called White features credited for women's beauty? I think White women with more so-called Black features are actually very attractive and plenty of them are getting tanned, lip injections, and nose jobs that make their features "less White". These women are considered to be highly attractive but they shouldn't be since their noses are not very narrow and pointy and they don't have thin lips like other White women.

It just seems to me that people don't prefer the extremes and consider more "average" features to be attractive. In other words, skin not too light or dark, nose not too wide or thin, lips not to thick or thin, and body not too fat or thin. Although many biracial women have these features some don't, and many Black and White women have similar features. I mean I haven't kept up with the current models today but are there any really popular White models who have Barbara Streisand noses and non-existent lips? White people don't even find very so-called White features to be the most attractive.

Now don't even try to bring up Alek Wek, India Arie, or Whoopie Goldberg and say that they have African features because I have seen many photos of African women and models with the same skin tone who look nothing like them and have thinner noses than anyone I've posted here. There is so much variety so how can there be an African standard to accept? You know all of this talking about facial features makes me uncomfortable so I put off doing this post. It just reminds me of those racist experiments that were done where White scientists measured people's facial features so they could use them to objectively tell who was White or Black and use that to discriminate. It's a slippery slope if Black people start insisting that only Black women with skin of a certain shade, nose of a certain width, and lips or a certain size are beautiful and can be employed on television or as models. Isn't that the same kind of thing that started wars? It's like White people stopped rating us based on skin tone and facial features and Black people want to start doing it again!

I'm going to end this post by saying that I will not automatically prefer African fashion over styles that I like if they are very different from Western styles. I like sarees but like I said, I won't start wearing them because they are too different from Western fashions. There is nothing wrong with admiring other cultures and being inspired by them, it's called being open to new things. Also, when I choose beauty role models I will choose those who have many or a few features that are similar to mine (e.g., Kelly Rowland as my make-up icon). I will have many hair role models, some with a similar skin tone, some with a similar body shape, and some with similar facial features and I will benefit from looking at all of them. That is the only option that makes sense to me. Last of all, everyone has preferences and you can like whatever you want and so will I. I didn't make society the way it is and I did not make you the way you are, I just point out what I notice so don't shoot the messenger!
UPDATE: Actually, I'll come clean because what does it matter anyway. I read a post HERE on Lipstick Alley and it irritated me. I forgot about the earlier comment I wrote about above, but when I read this thread it irritated me all over again. I was actually really glad to there were several women who liked my blog but then there were a couple who just wrote me off immediately, and one was because of the saree post! The other was because of the victim mentality post, but I warned readers it was controversial and it's not as though I made the concept up. I also CLEARLY stated that I may be out of touch with the way other people are feeling about the issue but this blog is to help me understand my thoughts and feelings so whatever. Well you can't get along with everyone and I think that I have a different world view from them. I don't limit myself by race and they do and I believe I can control over my life and they don't so it's unlikely that I will see eye-to-eye.

Furthermore, this isn't a Black Women's Empowerment blog because that is the name of a blog group and I'm not a member. I do read a couple of their blogs but I don't know their underlying philosophy and I don't read the blogs of the group founders. Anyways, they automatically assumed that I use this blog to uplift White men or something. Also they labeled me an elitist who puts down Black women when that is the exact opposite of what I try to do with this blog! It's about my studies to become more feminine and how I'm struggling with that as a Black woman. If others find it helpful that's just a bonus and something nice I can do for someone else. But because they don't like the other BWE blogs they lumped me in with are they seriously going to reject any blog that is about empowering Black women before even reading it? I guess they can shut their minds if they want to. Self-improvement isn't for everyone and maybe they are completely happy with themselves and their lives.

Monday, April 23, 2012

New Tumblr Site

I just started a new Tumblr site at . I'm not crazy about the template but it's good enough for now. Readers can post submissions so this can be more of a group thing. It would be a great place to post photos and feminine things that would be helpful for Black women. But of course it has to be respectful and all posts will be reviewed first. I hope that this will be a good thing :) I started the site last week and didn't know what to do with it but Orch1d said I should start one so I actually tried it out. So far a year of posts fits on three pages lol!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

An EBW does not "Keep it Real"

This post was inspired by a fantastic article Black women-Devil's Advocate: Has our Femininity Been Denied? Here are two definitions of keeping it real from the Urban Dictionary:
A manufactured street code for continued white supremacy. As used in common speech, could also be phrased, "keeping it submissive" or "keeping politically, socially, and economically irrelevant." African-Americans (especially men) who have evolved into greatness through traditional paths are invalidated as they have not "kept it real." The term's definition relegates and caps many potential great African Americans through peer-pressure, advertising, greater social misunderstanding, and ambiguous racial identity.The phrase is harmful in that it not only damages the collective psyche of a large portion of the American populace, it also limits (in all facets) the unlimited potential that this group could have upon the country. "Thurgood Marshall, Barack Obama, Bill Cosby, Oprah Winfrey, Morgan Freeman, Booker T. Washington, (Sports Analyst) James Brown, and Condoleeza Rice are not keeping it real." "50 Cent and Michael Vick are keeping it real."
A black person's excuse for being ignorant or doing ignorant [things]. The person who says that they are "keepin' it real" usually claims to be denying pop culture and sticking with their own thing.
Where in the world did this ridiculous and self-defeating idea come from? Keeping it real is purposefully living up to a stereotype about Black people that is usually harmful to you but makes you fit in with stereotypical Black people. If you were obese and lost weight, if you grew up poor and are now successful, if you were deathly ill and are now healthy, if you were an addict and now sober, if you were unattractive and are now beautiful what is the utility of living as though your life did not improve? Many of our ancestors were slaves but now we are free. Many of our ancestors were barred from education but now education is available. Remember the bad place you came from ONLY to make sure you never go back to that place!

In order to not go back to that bad place you will probably have to eliminate any people or situations that could drag you back down. If you have friends that push unhealthy foods on you then you need to avoid situations where they have food or find new friends. If you don't want to be in another abusive relationship then you need to stay away from men with those tendancies and women who normalize the abuse. If you were poor then you need to avoid people who threaten your wealth such as moochers, people who want you to save them, and people who insist you waste your money on extravagant things. If you have improved your looks you have to avoid people who pressure you to ignore your looks. If you want to achieve any of these successful and beneficial states then the first step may be to eliminate these influences from your life immediately! Beware of people who propose that being Black and keeping it real means doing the opposite of what respected, productive, law abiding, "average" people do!

Not keeping it real for Black women means not dating men who expect you to financially support them or men who do not respect your education or success. These men could pass down those same attitudes to your children and they may never become successful themselves. These men may never be in a position to help you the way you have helped them so this could land you both in financial ruin. Women of other ethnicities do not bother with men who are poor and unsuccessful (if they are smart) but people in the Black community will convince you that's your job to suffer and that's just keeping it real! Other women don't carry or raise their men so why should you? Stop 'othering' yourself by being so different from women who are not Black.

Not keeping it real means staying away from magazines, films, television shows, and studies that encourage embracing obesity (e.g., study saying overweight Black women have higher self-esteem than other women, depictions of "mammy types" etc.). Being obese is a health problem and any attempt to applaud the willful sabatoging of one's health is malicious! Allowing yourself to become obese or unhealthy increases your chances for heart disease or diabetes. This article clearly describes this. People in the Black community will try to convince you that Black women are genetically predisposed to carry more fat and we should embrace it. They will also try to convince you that you will fail if you try to lose weight because your body wants to be fat. Ask them this, if an obese Black woman was locked up and only given 1000 calories of food per day would she not lose weight? She would lose weight. It's calories in calories out plain and simple and the problem is that there is too much food and too many unhealthy options available to sedentary people. Stop 'othering' yourself by accepting unhealthy high weight norms (available on medical weight charts and recommended by doctors) when compared to women who are not Black.

Not keeping it real also means avoiding media and research that encourages or applauds Black women for being more independent (e.g., feminist arguments that we don't need men or marriage), stronger, or aggressive (e.g., article saying Black women are allowed to be more aggressive in the workplace) than other women. We must also avoid messages and people who encourage us to be masculine and less feminine than other women. For example people who accuse us of "acting White" if we have good manners and wear very feminine clothing. Educated women need to avoid people who accuse them of "acting White" because they speak well, go to school, read books, and refuse to use urban slang. Don't act uneducated when you are! Stop 'othering' yourself by acting like the opposite of the feminine norm accepted by non-Black people. You may not look like other women but you can still behave the way they do.

We are no longer slaves! Remember the determination and hardships your ancestors overcame but living as though you were just freed from slavery will only make you angry, suspicious, and disengaged from society. Acting as though you are a victim will actually keep you oppressed! I wrote about this in my post about victim mentality. The reality of life is that friendships end or fade and if a friend's behaviour is threatening to your progress as an individual then you may have to leave them behind. People outgrow their friends and if you do that does not make you a bad person. Friends should add to your life and not sabotage it. Entertainment should add pleasure to your life not brainwash you into ruining your progress. Treat everyone from respect because you were once in their place but you do not owe it to ANYONE to risk going back to that place.

It's time to stop looking only to Black people for role models and advice. Look for good advice and role models wherever you can find them based on what will be BENEFICIAL TO YOU not based on race. Health is health, good relationships are good relationships, femininity is femininity, intelligence is intelligence, and success is success no matter the race. Look to experts on health, success, relationships, femininity, education and every other important thing in your life regardless of race because these people are likely to know what they are talking about and can help you to achieve your goals better than someone who has no positive experiences with any of those things. It's time to broaden our minds and use the resources that are available to us no matter who they come from.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Imagine if Black Women Wore Sarees!!!

I LOVE SAREES! I saw some women in the mall yesterday wearing them. They are the ultimate feminine dress and they look so beautiful with their elegant designs, vibrant colours, jeweled accents, and delicately draping fabrics. They scream I AM WOMAN! When looking at a woman in a saree, depending on the style, she looks delicate and you don't want to do anything to mess up the beautiful garment. Sometimes the women have to hold the saree making it incompatible with carrying things, physically active tasks, or doing anything but standing or sitting pretty lol. This is what makes them so feminine because they are fit for someone sitting on a pedestal! They look like princesses! They are walking works of art similar to Geisha in kimonos.

These images were made using saree doll makers.
Just imagine, what if Black women had always worn sarees or started wearing them? Wouldn't we instantly look more feminine, delicate, and princess-like? Would we look more respectable? Would we be treated more like delicate feminine creatures who should be cherished and protected from harm? (please take a look at Michelle Obama in sarees!!!). I'm just daydreaming with this blog and I'm not actually suggesting you go out and buy a saree. People will look at you like your're crazy and Indian women will complain about cultural appropriation. Do we have traditional African or Caribbean clothing and would they actually look good on women today (*sigh*)? But honestly, we just need one high profile Black celebrity to start doing this and it could actually happen :)

I'm sure that in other countries women in sarees are probably disrespected sometimes but I'm just focusing on Black women in Western countries. Should Black women adopt a standard feminine garb? I think they would if it said Gucci lol! Wouldn't it be wonderful if Black women started wearing sarees all the time! I would be so happy!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Victim Mentality may be Limiting Your Potentential

VERY CONTROVERSIAL POST! Please read some or all of these articles before you read this post so that you don't get unnecessarily upset. Thank you. 
Victim mentality (great!)
The victim mentality (great!)
How to break out of the victim mentality: 7 powerful steps
Victim mentality (very good)
Victim mentality
Overcome victim mentality
Avoiding victim mentality (harsh but true)
Racism and the Myth of Victim Mentality by Tim Wise. While I agree with some of it I also disagree with some of it probably because the examples were so simplified. Of course it is necessary to talk to Black people about racism and warn them about it. But it can be harmful for a person to look at photos of lynchings, read hate literature, or read detailed descriptions of slaves being tortured and raped. Those things can permanently change the way a person views the world. Constant exposure to such things can be taxing and depressing. So I believe some discussion of racism is fine and necessary like Tim Wise but I also agree with the conservatives that too much can cause victim mentality in Black people. He also ignores the scientific research behind the concept.

“If it’s never our fault, we can’t take responsibility for it. If we can’t take responsibility for it, we’ll always be its victim.”
Richard Bach

“Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the nonpharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.”
John W. Gardner

About five years ago I bought the book "Roots" by Alex Haley at a thrift shop and I read it. It was the first Black history book I had ever read. I feel that reading it was traumatic! The detail of the horrible tortures of Kunta Kinte, his daughter Kizzie, and all of the other slaves was so awful. It was hard to imagine that anyone could be so brutal and think that they were good people at the same time. It was horrifying and I cried A LOT! It changed me and it was almost like something inside me died for about three years. After that I started reading other Black history books and became more and more angry and hopeless about the plight of Black people. I decided to stop relaxing my hair and I stopped listening to music from White musicians. I started reading Black blogs exclusively and decided I should no longer be attracted to White men and that I would only date Black men. I joined an online Black activism group where everyone constantly talked about racism and fighting "the evil White man". In school I wrote papers about racism and constantly talked about Black history and racism. I was suspicious and possibly hostile to some White people. This was because I was so angry about the injustice and I wanted someone to pay for it. When things did not go well for me in school I wondered if it was because of racism. I thought retrospectively about my life and wondered if other negative things in my life happened because of racism and just because I was Black. I thought my future goals would never actually happen because some racist would stand in my way.

Now, five years later I realize that I took on a victim mentality and this was welcomed by other people with the same mentality online. A person with a victim mentality believes that the bad things in their life happened because of other people or forces over which they have no control. They do not feel responsible for things that happen in their lives because someone else is to blame. Due to this mentality they don't feel the need to change anything about themselves or do anything different other than focusing on the person who victimized them. Prior to this unhappy time I wasn't very happy and I did have some victimization beliefs but at the same time I was high achieving and I worked hard for what I wanted. So I had internal motivation, the external motivation of my parents, and some beliefs that I was "cursed" and that life was just harder for me. My Black history immersion, constant reading of Black activism blogs, and frequent online interactions with other people with victim mentalities threw me over the edge. It was fortunate for me that I didn't totally sabotage myself by ruining relationships with all the White people I knew by starting arguments or accusing people of racism when there was none. I'm glad I didn't decide to quit "the White man's education system", remove myself from mainstream society, and join some all-Black activist group. I left that mindset behind and I no longer feel like a victim (most of the time, I still have to watch out for it).

I think that many Black people may be sabotaging themselves because they spend so much time and energy hating White people and expecting an apology for things they are not directly responsible for. They are also too wrapped up in hopes that Black people will somehow take over and come into power the way they were in ancient Africa and somehow that will rectify past injustices. When anyone suggests things these people can do to improve their lives they say (emphatically) that "Black people have no power", "I don't have to change anything because White people caused the problem", or "our lives won't improve until White people stop being racist". This is so frustrating! Although my victim mentality was high, I still had a lot of personal agency, I made plans, worked hard, accepted setbacks, and tried again. I'm sure that these people must have some personal agency in their lives but maybe they just don't see it or want to admit it. What I want to know is if White people apologize for racism what happens then? Even if they were to give all Black Americans $1000 in reparations, what happens after that? What are you going to do then to make your life better? This blog is my way to cope with that question. White people don't have to apologize, give me reparations, or do anything before I can use my power to shape my life and live the best life I can.

Acknowledgement: I readily admit that I may be too middle class and educated/intellectual to really understand how many people are feeling about this issue. I might be "out of touch" but these are my opinions nonetheless. It may actually be helpful for others to hear how someone like me sincerely thinks and that Black people actually differ in opinion. I'm finding that I'm actually agreeing with a lot of what conservatives are saying about this issue and the progressives are looking illogical to me. I guess I have to face the sobering fact that I have always had some conservative values and although I consider myself to be a liberal, I'm becoming more conservative the older I get (*sigh*). I guess when crimes happen I don't focus on them because that's the job of the police and the courts so I don't concern myself with who did what etc. because what's the post of speculating on events that I did not witness? Instead I focus on something I find intriguing about people's behaviour (and their choices) and my reaction to that behaviour; something I can actually examine and potentially change. So here it is... I think that the public reaction to the Trayvon Martin case is maybe the largest, international instance of victim mentality I have ever witnessed! Not only are people dressing like the victim and purchasing his preferred drink and candy but they are actually saying "I am Trayvon"!!! They feel like their sons, brothers, husbands, and even themselves have been murdered or they are at risk for being murdered! Every Black man who has ever been harassed by police or treated poorly by White people is immersed in victim mentality right now. They feel as though they have been assaulted and that they are next to die! They sound very afraid, sad, worried, and helpless about protecting themselves from outside forces.

If someone suggests that these men are more likely to be shot by a Black person than a White person so why worry about White people they call that trying to ignore or excuse racism (I GUARANTEE they will say this). If you suggest maybe they should not dress like gangsters because it scares people they insist the scared people are racist and need to stop being scared. If you suggest anything that involves improving themselves they resist and insist that White people and society needs to change first. Don't even try to ask why they only get outraged after the rare instance when a White person kills a Black person and why they don't try to improve black communities to prevent Black-on-Black crime. Or that rap music has made people afraid of Black men and it makes black men look like aggressive criminals. They won't listen. Fighting racism (if that's even possible. Maybe it can be prevented in children but a true racist won't change just because their hated group tells them it's wrong) is a long-term thing but what are they going to do in the meantime? I think the answer is that they won't be doing anything different.

People are also saying that asking Black men to not dress like gangsters to avoid looking suspicious is the same as asking women to not wear short skirts to avoid getting raped. Well, part of victim mentality is feeling powerless and never looking at your own behaviour in a situation so I guess they are right. Taking on the victim role has it's advantages for people so they don't feel bad after they are victimized but unfortunately there is no place for personal responsibility or taking safety measures with this mindset. Feeling empowered that you control your life, that your power can help you overcome any bad thing that happens to you, and that you can have control of your life again also feels really good too! You have to choose whether you see yourself as having power or not and accept the consequences that choice may have for you mentally. If you want to change your victim mentality you can seek help from a professional or read articles like the ones posted above. I hope you can break out of this mindset.

Alternative views on Trayvon Martin case:
Why Geraldo was wrong for the right reasons (this what what I thought about Geraldo's comments)
Call it 'profiling' but people act on their assumptions
Geraldo and hoodies
Dissecting Geraldo Rivera's hoodie comment
How to talk to young Black boys about Trayvon Martin
Criminals give hoodies a bad rap
The hoodie: Fashion trend, criminal uniform, now symbol of social injustice
LAPD: In stores, keep hoodie on, but lower the hood

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Is There a Black Standard of Beauty?

I keep reading about criticism that Black and Asian women need to stop trying to live up to the Western European (WE) standard of beauty. We all know the WE standard of beauty: long, straight, light coloured, silky hair; light eyes; light skin (now tanned seems to be preferred); slim or thin body; small behind; and large breasts. Many Black women do not have these characteristics. When Black women relax their hair or wear straight, silky, or light coloured weaves, try to lose weight, or bleach their skin they are accused of trying to live up to these WE standards of beauty. But what is the alternative? Is there a Black standard of beauty?

Let's start with the dictionary definition of beauty. Beauty is:
  1. the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).
  2. a beautiful  person, especially a woman.
  3. a beautiful  thing, as a work of art or a building.
  4. Often, beauties. something that is beautiful  in nature or in some natural or artificial environment.
  5. an individually pleasing or beautiful  quality; grace; charm: a vivid blue area that is the one real beauty of the painting.

It seems from the definition that a woman is beautiful if she gives others intense pleasure or satisfaction when they see her. Many times this will be subjective but at other times most people will agree that a woman is beautiful but disagree about 'how beautiful' she is when compared to other women. Scientists have tried to determine what makes a person physically beautiful but of course their studies are biased by the overwhelming popularity of the WE standard of beauty. However these studies tend to mention things like facial symmetry, clear and even skin, health, and youth as important characteristics. So keep these things in mind as you read on and remember it's just as insulting to call someone ugly because they have light skin as it is to call someone ugly for having dark skin. Praising "traditional African features" leaves out all the Black and African women who were BORN with features similar to European women.

There are some characteristics of many Black women that are very different from the traits in the WE standard of beauty. For instance many of us have: short, kinky/coily, dry hair; dark eyes; dark skin (darker than White women's skin); slim to overweight bodies; and large behinds (many have large breasts though). It would be nice to say that all of these traits should become the Black standard of beauty but then everyone would automatically be beautiful, no one would try to improve or keep up their looks, and the standard would be useless! Plus it would be dishonest because we all know that some women are more pleasing to look at than others. In terms of my preferences, I think dark skin and coily/kinky hair can be beautiful and light skin and straight hair can be beautiful. But in terms of personal preference I find some facial features to be more attractive than others and it's the facial features that determine beauty to me and the actual skin colour is almost irrelevant. That's why the whole "light skin versus dark skin" thing is strange to me because someone can have light skin with unattractive facial features while someone with dark skin can have amazingly beautiful facial features. I also have a preference now for natural hair, I like some natural hair more than others (mainly if it's big I love it), and I can find some straight hair attractive if it's long (short, thin, limp straight hair isn't attractive to me).

There are many women who have low self-esteem and understandably try to make everyone accept the status quo as the standard of beauty so that they can feel beautiful and not have to change anything. This is unhelpful too and sometimes unhealthy especially when talking about body weight and hair so damaged it can't grow past chin length. This doesn't mean you are not a good person, unworthy of love, or that someone won't think you are the most beautiful woman in the world! It would also be useless to accept standards that are unattainable to even the most attractive Black women without taking potentially dangerous measures (e.g., skin bleaching, surgery). I also don't think it is useful to use African women (living in Africa) as the standard because that does not help Black people who live in Western countries who look very different and may not actually be attracted to the African beauty standard, just as many Africans may not be attracted to the WE beauty standard.

If we think about Black women who are considered beautiful, they seem to conform to many of the WE standard beauty traits because they have: long, straight (or curly but not kinky), silky hair; light eyes (sometimes); lighter skin (but still 'ethnic looking'); slim or thin body; and large breasts. For some in the Black community, Black women are considered to be more attractive if they have a bit more weight than White women and especially if they have larger backsides and thighs. These are the women that most people of any race would call beautiful. This begs the question, can Black women who don't fit the WE standard of beauty ever be beautiful? I think we can!

These are examples of women who I think are beautiful. They have various skin shades, eye colours, and hair textures. They are all thin (probably underweight) because they are celebrities. Almost all have long hair. They appear to have flawless skin because of airbrushing but they all wear make-up to enhance their looks. They dress in styles that are flattering. They are all beautiful but people may vary in how beautiful they think each woman is compared to their favorite celebs or women in their own lives. Anyone who says these women are ugly is blind, racist, or only inclined to see White, Asian or some other women as beautiful. There is no point worrying about such people and you should only focus on those who have the potential to find you attractive. I'm not going to argue about who is "really Black" or biracial because there are non-biracial women who are light, biracial women who are dark, and a lot of variety among Black women. They can all be beautiful. Someone might say that these women have some European facial features, for example their noses are not the widest or their faces are not very round (?). Well, they can't help their facial features now can they? Many Black women have the same features anyway but I guess those without these features are not as popular or I just couldn't find them. You and I may not look exactly like any of these women but we all have some features that are undeniably beautiful! Below are the Black beauty standard that we can all strive for and many of these items will be attainable to most women:
  1. A beautiful faceEveryone is not born with a beautiful face so this will be impossible for some people. But if you are willing to make an effort you can use makeup to give yourself a more attractive but naturally-enhanced look. Moisturize, lighten dark spots to achieve an even tone, take measures to reduce blemishes (use acne products and cleanse your face regularly), wear sunscreen and don't let your skin burn in the sun.  Don't forget to moisturize those gorgeous lips too! Enhance your natural beauty the way most other women do (especially the ones who fit the EW standards of beauty).  
  2. Bronzed/brown even-toned, shiny skin. Let's forget about trying to have light skin. If you have light skin great but if you don't you can still be beautiful without bleaching your skin. Just try to keep your skin even (lighten dark spots if necessary), free of blemishes, moisturized, and soft. You can also play up the beauty of dark skin by wearing lotions that add shine (White skin doesn't shine). Bronzed or brown, even, shiny skin is beautiful and will make you look like a bronze or ebony sculpture!
  3. Long or big healthy hair. People find natural hair to be more beautiful than synthetic hair (in general, not including anti-Black people). I think what makes women attractive is that they have MORE hair than men and the more beautiful hair the better. Natural Black hair is big and full and that is beautiful! Grow your hair out, keep it moisturized, have it cut into a flattering style, and keep it neat. Learn how to care for your natural hair so that it has some sheen, softness, and movement. Define your curls if you can and use products or setting techniques (e.g., braid- and twistouts) to add sheen and definition. Lion manes are just as beautiful as horse manes so long natural afto-textured hair can be gorgeous too.
  4. An amazing smile. A beautiful smile is always pleasing to the eye. Smile more often and try to have a pleasant look on your face instead of frowning and looking angry all the time. Take care of your teeth, visit your dentist, and look into getting some dental enhancements if necessary (I whiten my teeth and people notice). Fixing your smile is not trying to look White.
  5. A slim and healthy body. Being overweight is bad for your health and so is being underweight. Look at healthy weight charts, buy a scale that assesses your weight and body fat composition, and use them regularly. Try to stay within the healthy weight, body fat %, BMI, and waist circumference ranges. Visit your doctor regularly too and keep track of your health status. Consider consulting a dietitian or starting a healthy lifestyle or weight-loss program. Exercise regularly to maintain your health, lose fat, and tone your body. Black women can be slim and healthy and don't listen to anyone who says it isn't possible. Your health is more important than having a large behind!
  6. A beautiful character and persona. A beautiful woman becomes less attractive if she has a horrible personality and if she is hard and mean. Beauty if not just a physical thing. If you are beautiful on the inside, people will find you more attractive on the outside. The way you act and think about the world is something that you can actually change. 
  7. A beautiful wardrobe. I think that a beautiful woman's wardrobe should add to her beauty not detract from it. Dressing in a way that is appealing to most people can make a woman appear more beautiful. This does not mean spending a fortune on designer clothes and following every fashion trend. In my opinion, feminine, pretty clothing that enhances our natural curves is beautiful to most people. The quality and beauty of the clothing is more important than the price, label, or whether it is "on trend" at the moment.
These are traits that Black women can have or achieve that will make them appear beautiful to most people. As with all things in life, all of us can make the choice about whether to strive for these standards, choose another set of standards, or choose to remain the same. You don't have to try to be beautiful if you don't want to. I want to!

Related Articles:
Is biracial the new beauty ideal?
Nicki Minaj and Marylin Monroe: Is she perpetuating the white female beauty standard?
Is the Black standard of beauty giving you low self-esteem?
Is the Black standard of beauty actually White beauty?
Black girl's guide to weight loss (several articles here)
Black vs. White new age standards of beauty (article is quite angry)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Remember when Being Feminine and Girly was a Black Thing?

When exactly did Black women start embracing the "strong, hard, independent Black woman" instead of the "feminine, delicate, elegant Black woman"? I know that during slavery Black women could not afford the same clothing as White women and they had to do hard labor, so let's just focus on after slavery. During those times there were surely poor Black women and those who were "better off" in their communities. Again let's focus on the women who were "better off" and could actually afford to choose their clothing (even if it was of lesser quality than the clothing White women could afford). Many of these women may have actually sewn their own clothes but they would have had to purchase the fabric. These women dressed very similar to White women at the time. I don't know for sure, but they may have added their own unique flare to the styles, but they were very feminine, elegant, and beautiful. I do also notice that they attempted to style their hair like White women which is unfortunate, but they probably needed to in order to work and fit in at the time.

So there was a time when Black women and White women followed the same fashion trends and dressed in a similar manner! When did this stop? Was it in the 60s when Black women started wearing afros? During the 60s and the civil rights and feminist movements Black and White women wore pants more often and embraced the sloppy hippie look. Both looks could be feminine or masculine at times. Was it the 70s? I think the Black disco queens were quite feminine. I don't think it was most of the 80s either because there were many Black female celebrities (e.g., the Pointer Sisters) who dressed in a feminine manner that was quite similar to the style of White celebrities.

There have always been subcultures who had their unique styles but I'm talking about mainstream fashion that was worn by the masses and then promoted by fashion designers and brands. Often times a musician would have a style, fans would copy the style and attitude of the musician, and eventually the mainstream would embrace the music, style, and attitude (or an actress would star in a big movie and fans would copy her style seen in the movie and in public). I think that the point where Black women embraced hard, edgy, defiant, masculine styles and mannerisms was the 1990s (because they liked them, not because they had to)! Prior to the 90s there was not much of a difference between Black and White female fashions, at least one did not seem more masculine than the other.  The 90s saw hip hop culture become mainstream and "urban fashion" was born. Urban female fashion was hard, edgy, overly sexy, or a female version of MEN'S fashion (in fact, when I was a girl I just wore my brother's old clothes). The sexy part was similar to White women's fashion but the hard, masculine part was unique to urban fashion (well actually White women had punk fashion that was hard and masculine but all White women were never pressured to dress punk. White people had many other styles that they chose from so they did not limit themselves to one style). By the 90s many Black women had also accepted feminism and along with that many rejected anything that was traditionally feminine (e.g., learning how to cook, sew, knit, and act like a lady etc.).

Celebrities who embraced urban fashion included Mary J. Blige, TLC, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Salt & Pepa, Aalyiah, Brandy, Monica, SWV, Xscape, and many others. When you think of these women, when they were most popular they tended to wear over-sized clothing that often looked like men's clothes and in their videos they rarely smiled and often looked unhappy. These were the women that Black women everywhere emulated! Some celebrities like En Vogue dressed in a feminine manner but they also had a hard edge sometimes. Fortunately, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey appeared "nice" in their videos as did some other pop and R & B singers (both women were accused of acting "too White"). This was the time when hardness and attitude crept into the professional personas of Black musicians and it was rare to see a Black musician who appeared sweet, soft, or down to earth without a chip on her shoulder. This was also echoed on television shows where elegant women like Claire Huxtable were replaced with loud, obnoxious caricatures like Gina on the Martin show, and numerous characters on In Living Color and Saturday Night Live (remember Ellen Cleghorn and her character threatening to cut everyone?).

Some may argue that the world always thought that Black women were unfeminine compared to other women and the change in fashion would not have made a difference. I just don't believe that! I think that if Black women had continued to choose mainstream fashions (and attitudes) instead of urban fashion then we would look no different from White or Asian women and perhaps today we would be regarded in the same manner. Look at how people react to Michelle Obama. Some still hold racist views and claim that she is angry and militant but sensible people can see she is very feminine, a caring mother, and a devoted wife, and that she dresses the same way they do (or the way they aspire to dress). Many Black women CHOSE to appear different and rejected anything that was overly feminine by calling it "White" and embraced masculine, oversized clothing as being "Black". We also did the same thing by calling good manners, speaking softly, becoming educated, reading etc. "acting White" even though these things were once cherished in the Black community! Instead we chose to follow the uneducated, criminal rappers and their hard, defiant, hyper-masculine attitudes. We followed these men in an attempt to "keep it real" and show our loyalty when we would have been better off following the fashion aimed at women in general! Part of this may have been an angry rejection of anything associated with White culture but I don't think it has helped us and it has only marginalized us further. It didn't work so what's the point holding on to it (the same goes for Black men acting hard because it has backfired)? Black women today need to realize that Black women were not always hard! Even in the face of blatant racism during Jim Crowe many women still carried themselves with more dignity and appeared more feminine and gentle than women today! I really think it's time that we went back to the old ways and rejected urban fashion/attitudes/mannerisms in favor of feminine, mainstream women's fashion/attitudes/mannerisms. That's exactly what I am doing!

Fantastic links to Vintage Black Women (you must visit these links and be amazed by the way Black women were once portrayed!):
Vintage Black women on Flickr
Vintage Black glamour on Tumblr
Vintage Black2 on Tumblr
16 Stone Vintage (great blog WOW!)