All Articles Tagged "beauty standards"

Are Before And After Weight-Loss Pictures “Dehumanizing”?

July 8th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

When I started sharing pictures of my weight loss last year, I did so because I was overjoyed about the progress I had made in my journey. Progress I at one point didn’t believe I could ever make. I had worked hard and wanted to make it known, kind of in the same way people post pictures of themselves graduating, with their first child, at their new job, or in their new home. All attempts to not only keep people updated on what’s going on in your life, but to also showcase the things you’re proud of.

Okay, if I’m being honest, I was also looking forward to the encouragement and positive comments. Sue me.

But the last thing I intended for such images to be was something that would push other people to feel crappy about themselves. And yet, according to writer Chi-Chi Okonkwo over at XoJane, who wrote the piece “I’m Glad You Hit Your Weight Loss Goals, But Your Persistent Health Posts on Social Media Are Triggering,” those kinds of pictures can be “dehumanizing.”

My eating disorder history is possibly the most traumatic event in my life, seconded only by abuse I’ve suffered. Until very, very recently, I was still tempted to purge, to starve, and to deprive myself of daily sustenance as a means of molding my body to a standard. Weight loss images bring me back to the point in my life when I felt most psychologically damaged by unattainable standards of beauty. In those moments, I hate myself the most. I become aggressively angry and depressed, which then culminates into a prolonged period of dieting.

Personally, I don’t care about the effort someone placed in their weight loss: That information is insignificant compared to the fact that before-and-after photos are extremely destructive. Pseudo-health — or genuinely healthy — journeys should be private because the imagery coming out of the industry re-emphasizes the damaging health narrative that attributes worth and success with body image. These pictures serve no purpose whatsoever other than as tools for voyeuristic consumption.

Women are already bombarded with enough dehumanizing body image symbolism without adding weight loss pictures to the mix. This symbolism is even more destructive to either racialized bodies, those struggling financially, or both. For example, think of the mythology of the fat Black woman. Think about just how much more dehumanizing these images are for POC.

My initial thought was all sorts of confusion and irritation. How could someone making progress in reaching a goal for themselves, a goal that could better their health (in contrast to trying to reach certain beauty standard goals that don’t mean sh-t and aren’t truly beneficial), make someone else feel terrible or even comprise their health?

But after some thought, I could somewhat understand where she was coming from. For those who’ve struggled with their weight and eating disorders for years, consistent yo-yoing in size can be incredibly disappointing. Looking on social media and seeing other people and their weight-loss success can turn that disappointment into depression for some. And for everyday people who aren’t fully confident or comfortable with their bodies, seeing images of stacked, slim and uber-confident celebrities who have access to trainers and chefs who can cook them healthy food and help them maintain can make folks feel like crap.

However, I also think these images can be inspirational. Honestly, I was initially pushed by the women I see killing it in the gym on social media: friends, fitness enthusiasts, and stars. I wasn’t and I’m still not comparing myself to them and hating on my own body, but rather, they motivate me to move forward with my own goals to tone up. That goal is one I created for myself because I love the way a firm, muscular frame looks. Not because I want to say I worked hard enough to fit into a certain standard or because my happiness is attached to my weight. I was happy before, but I’m more comfortable now. Blame it on taking certain foods out of my diet and relieving stress through fitness.

And if you really think about it, anything can be a trigger. And such are the consequences of exposing yourself to social media. A person posting photos of their children could be a trigger for the person who feels that their life is missing that. A person’s home and car could be a trigger to the person who lives with a roommate in a cramped apartment and walks everywhere (probably a New Yorker). A person’s success at their new job could be a trigger to the person who feels stuck not only in their own job, but in their career, in general. When that happens, it’s personal — not something to lash out at the poster about or always a sign of a major societal issue (unless they’re taunting those without — in that case, f–k them). In moments like that, which I’m sure many of us have had if we’re honest, that’s when you need to step back from social media. That’s when you reevaluate why you feel the way you do, and do the work to improve the way you feel — whether that includes unfollowing certain individuals or taking a break from social media altogether.

So while I’m compassionate to this woman and what she’s gone through, many of the people posting before and after photos have been through a lot, too. And no, I’m not talking about the folks who wanted to “get summertime fine” just for the sake of sharing before and after bikini pics. In many cases, there hope is to help and inspire other people who believe they can’t achieve their own health and wellness goals. It’s very true that you’re more than your body, but the health of it is critical. Call me naïve, but I don’t see anything about these images as dehumanizing or destructive. If anything, they can be empowering.

The #NoMakeup Movement Shouldn’t Be Seen As A Slight To Women Who Love Makeup

July 6th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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I’ve noticed that when it comes to movements, there’s an assumption that to be a proponent of one aspect of it means you’re against the other. This has been the case when it comes to important things like the way mainstream society (i.e., White folks) view the Black Lives Matter movement and even something as empowering as Black Girls Rock! to things as simple as this whole #NoMakeup movement going on.

It’s gained quite a bit of traction thanks to Alicia Keys, who stated that after being paranoid about leaving the house without makeup and struggling for years with bad skin, she used makeup as a mask. Eventually, after doing a photo shoot makeup-free, she felt empowered, and made it clear that as she promotes her newest album, she’s “not covering up anymore.” She even attended the BET awards last month without makeup.

KeKe Palmer, who has been criticized when makeup-free, is a supporter. And just this past week, Sanaa Lathan said that for the summer, she’s ditching her usual weaves and makeup for a fresh, “au naturel” look.

It was in these declarations from people with influence that I noticed a number of individuals who weren’t here for the idea of encouraging women to forgo makeup. And I also saw people who were proponents for going without makeup, but made their stance clear by saying that they wished more women would stop with the makeup and weaves, claiming that those who embrace such trappings should stop “obsessing” and learn to love their natural selves. And therein lies the problem.

As I’ve already said, too many people think one has to be the antithesis of the other. But the truth is, you can respect and even love a woman’s choice to enjoy playing up her features in makeup while choosing, for yourself, to go without it. And you can be a Beauty Insider card-holding member of Sephora and still appreciate a woman’s realization that she was wearing makeup for all the wrong reasons and wants to leave it alone.

At the end of the day, it wasn’t the intention of either star to make it appear as though one way of doing things is better than the other, which it seemed some people believed was an underlying message. Instead, they used their platforms to share with fans what is best for them. And as people with influence who may have followers who feel attached to certain accouterments for the wrong reasons (because they don’t think they look right without them), they wanted it to be clear that it’s okay to go without. Of course, we’re all adults here, so the pep talk from a celebrity likely gets a side-eye from most. But let’s not act as though there aren’t young people, and grown people, who couldn’t use some encouragement. Namely, encouragement from people who are often criticized heavily if they don’t step out of the house with a full contour job going on just to run errands. They understand the struggle most.

I’ve known many women who forgo wearing makeup. Those who do, they don’t do it as a stance against anything in particular, aside from the discomfort of wearing heavy cosmetics. And I know women who love makeup. Sistahs who take classes to get better at applying it and who shop at Sephora and MAC like they shop at the grocery store. I’ve also been around the folks who are anti-makeup (including some men who say, “You don’t need all of that”), and those who wouldn’t take a picture of me until I put a lip color on (because “a girl always needs a bright pop of color on her lip” and “You never know who you will run into”).

What I’ve learned from all of them is that you have to do what’s comfortable for you. Keyword: comfortable. If wearing a lot of makeup is your thing, do it. If going barefaced is your thing, go for it. But whatever you do, do it for healthy reasons. Don’t cover yourself because you’re uncomfortable with your skin without makeup and you’re worried about how you will be received. Don’t pass up on makeup because other people you’ve never met told you that you look better without it or because a man who couldn’t tell the difference said so. Do whatever works for you and respect other people’s choice to do the same for themselves. Whatever your choice, save your debates for more pressing matters instead of arguing with fellow women and men (who rarely have to deal with the pressure to look a certain way) when none of that does anything to tear down the beauty standards that are really holding us back from feeling comfortable enough to do what the hell we want anyway.

Pop Mom: Does Saying No To Makeup Come With Age?

June 14th, 2016 - By Erickka Sy Savane
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Erickka Sy Savane

Erickka Sy Savane

There was a moment a few months ago when I was getting ready for an event, standing in the mirror with a tube of lipstick, wondering why I was about to paint my face. I’d done it a zillion times without question, but this time, I just felt silly. What I really wanted was to go completely as I am. Now, I don’t mean butt-naked, but naked-face. Is this what it means to get older? Still, I went ahead and did it, and when I got to the event and posed the question to a few friends they looked at me like I was smoking crack. Wanna clear a room? Start talking about age.

My bad.

Soooooo when Alicia Keys started popping up all over the place sans makeup I suddenly felt vindicated. I mean, Alicia is a mom, like myself, and she’s getting older, we all are, and well, now we can start talking about how we really feel about this makeup thing.

I start with one of my favorite California girls, Angie B. T.

A model back in the day, Angie never left home without a fully made up face. In fact, sometimes she wore makeup to bed. How does she feel about it today?

“I still love makeup, and lashes, and adorning myself with jewelry,” she says, “but what has changed is I don’t feel the need to wear it all the time. I appreciate my beauty without it.”

She says the change wasn’t so much an age thing, but more about the different changes in her life. She broke up with her finance, her mom and sister both passed away in the same year, and not long after she fell, fracturing both of her ankles.

“It was hard at first, not to feel sorry for myself,” she says looking back, “but being in that space where I was literally crawling to the bathroom with no makeup on for such a long period of time stripped away all the pretense I had in my life. I had to find my inner strength and what re-emerged was this beautiful woman that I am today.”

Read the full article here.

Working While Black: My Boss Told Me Not To Get Too Muscular Like Serena

February 18th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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working while black


As told to Veronica Wells

As a child I was always confused about the way different cultures interpreted physical features, especially on women. It’s not like it is now, with women of various ethnic backgrounds running out to plastic surgeons to get what many Black women are born with naturally. I remember watching “The Nanny” and there were disparaging jokes about a woman’s behind being too big.


In my community, the Black community, the bigger the booty, the better. As I got older, I would come to learn our beauty standards don’t always apply to the mainstream.

Fast forward 20 years. Now that I’m in my early thirties, I work for a small interior design firm. When I say small I mean, I’m one of 5 employees and three of them are part time. Needless to say, my boss and I spend a lot of time together. And as a result, we just happen to share bits and pieces of our lives with one another.

My boss is about 30 years older than me but we’re both women so there are some things that stay the same regardless of age. She told me she was thinking about dying her hair. And I told her I was working on losing a few pounds.

When I said a few I meant it. I’m a thick girl. Plenty of skin over my bones but I’m not fat. I’m just, as a few men have told me, solid. But there were a few areas I wanted to tighten and tone. I hit the gym, to work on strengthening my arms. And I practically walked around in squat position, determined to lift my booty.

As the weeks and months passed, I guess my boss got the impression that she was a part of my fitness journey. Simply because we had that initial conversation and she would see me change into my workout clothes at the end of the day. I didn’t mind. At first, I thought she would be a supporter. And at first, she was.

But as the changes in my body became more and more apparent, she became less and less able to hold her tongue.

One day, as I was on my way to the gym, having just changed into my work clothes, I got the sense that she was looking at me, staring really.

Thinking, she was going to compliment my progress, I turned to her and smiled.

I could see her thinking for a second before she opened her mouth.

“You know, Marcia, maybe you want to only focus on cardio now. You don’t want to put on too much muscle and end up looking like that tennis player…what’s her name?”

I thought to myself, “B*tch, you know her name.”  I couldn’t say that though. I need the job but I’m also not one to let stuff slide either.

So once I’d composed myself, I said, “You mean Serena? I actually happen to think her body is beautiful. Actually, she’s been my fitspiration. You know, all body types aren’t the same and beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

I punctuated my sentence by looking her up and down, deciding to keep my thoughts on her shape to myself. Judging by her pathetic attempt to rationalize her comments, I think she got the message.

As she was stumbling over her words, I held up my hand and shook my head, to signify that there was no need. Then I smiled politely and wished her a pleasant goodnight.

Does Your Man Prefer You Without Makeup?

December 15th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Does Your Man Prefer You Without Makeup?


I can remember how pretty I felt the first time my mother tweezed my eyebrows. It hurt like hell but the way it just brightened up my whole face, was completely worth it. And I got used to the pain. Once my eyes stopped watering and I stopped blinking compulsively, I loved the way mascara elongated my lashes and made my face look more feminine. And Lord…when I started using blush, just a few years ago really, you couldn’t tell me nothing.

Every morning when I applied it, I’d recite a line from Bebe’s Kids: “Make ‘em look like targets.” I know I wasn’t following anyone’s guidelines, tips or tricks but I thought I looked good. And even though my mother, sister and a few other people told me I was doing too much with the blush, it didn’t matter. I loved my rosy cheeks.

It wasn’t until my boyfriend, after leaving several nicer, more subtle hints, told me that I reminded him of Pikachu, that I realized it was time to lighten up.

I almost never wear foundation so I thought I was doing my “nuts and berries” type of dude a favor. But he wasn’t here for the blush either.

He swears that I look better without makeup. And while it’s nice to know that he appreciates my natural beauty, it’s also a little irritating to put effort into your appearance only to hear that it’s not as well-received.

Just to be clear, this is not a complaint. There’s a certain comfort in knowing I can roll out of bed, wash my face and he’ll think I’m ready to go on a date. I just find it a bit strange. Particularly when most of the women men see in media and even on the street, are wearing some type of makeup.

If you ask your man to identify his celebrity crush, chances are he hasn’t seen her without makeup. (It’s women who are googling what such and such a celebrity looks like without makeup, not men.)

The thing is, the more I looked around, I realized maybe he wasn’t the only one.

Today,  likely trying to prove his point, my boyfriend sent me snippets of a conversation between him and his friends where they went to so far as to say that women looked worse when they wore makeup. One said he became more and more irritated as he watched his girlfriend apply enhancements before they went out.

They specifically mentioned the amount of makeup worn at weddings.

Yes, weddings. If they find themselves dating and marrying the average woman, they might be disappointed on their special days. I can’t think of a single woman who could or would go completely without makeup knowing all the pictures that will be taken that day and how she’ll have to look at them for the rest of her life.

I wish I could dismiss this type of thinking to my boyfriend and his like-minded friends but that’s just not the case.

Gospel artist Erica Campbell often talks about her husband Warryn, who is more of the “colorful-suit-wearing, producer/pastor extraordinaire” than the “nuts and berries” type, occasionally asking that she not wear any makeup when they go out. And she’s a public figure.

I asked my coworker/friends what their significant others think about makeup and they too have had moments where their men told them they preferred less eyeshadow, a not so bold lip or no foundation, especially if she was going to be laying all up on him.

In my life, it’s been my experience that most men don’t know the first thing about makeup. My sister had an ex boyfriend who told her he liked that she had that black line on her lower eyelid, completely oblivious to the fact that it was makeup.

If men really didn’t like makeup, it wouldn’t be featured in almost every ad campaign, movie, television show etc. I think what happens is, men probably don’t really notice makeup until it’s too much and then they have a problem with it blocking the natural beauty.

Who knows.

What I’ve told my boyfriend and anyone else who will listen (or pretend to listen) is that, most women are wearing makeup for themselves. We do what makes us feel pretty, not for the attention of other men, though that is a possible side effect. Truth be told, it’s not hard to get the attention of a man. Most of us can pull just a many dudes with a fresh face as we can when we’re beat for the gods.

But what Ive learned and what I keep learning is that living your life for the whims and inconsistencies of men is an exercise in futility. They all want something different and many of them will end up with the opposite of what they said they wanted. Hence the nuts and berries dude with the girl who loves her blush.

The solution? Compromise, if you must, for the ones you love but always live your life for you, otherwise you’re drive yourself crazy.

So ladies, tell me does your man say that he prefers you with little to know makeup? Do you find it endearing or a bit irritating?

Why I Am Tired of Insecurity Traps

December 2nd, 2015 - By Charing Ball
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Source: Daily Mail

Source: Daily Mail

A while ago, a Facebook friend was the first to warn me about engaging in articles, which directly or indirectly call for you to comment on the attractiveness of a woman.

You know the type of pieces I am talking about. The ones with headlines that read, “this woman thinks she was fired for being too hot” or “This woman thinks she can’t keep a man because she is too beautiful.”

Or even this archived article by the Daily Mail UK, which told us that a White woman with blonde hair and blue eyes named Florence Colgate is the most beautiful face in Britain, because of science.

More specifically, the paper reports:

“A woman’s face is said to be most attractive when the space between her pupils is just under half the width of her face from ear to ear. Florence scores a 44 per cent ratio. Experts also believe the relative distance between eyes and mouth should be just over a third of the measurement from hairline to chin. Florence’s ratio is 32.8 per cent.

Singer Shania Twain and actresses Liz Hurley and Jessica Alba are ranked among perfectly formed celebrities. Samantha Brick, who caused an international debate after proclaiming women hate her because she is beautiful, is not.”

According to the paper, the findings are based on the proportional beauty theory, which suggest that a woman is at her most beautiful when almost perfectly symmetrical.


Carmen Lefèvre’s, from the University of St Andrews perception laboratory in the School of Psychology, said beauty is strongly linked to symmetry. ‘Florence has all the classic signs of beauty,’ she added. ‘She has large eyes, high cheekbones, full lips and a fair complexion. Symmetry appears to be a very important cue to attractiveness.”

So there take that, ugly wenches.

The article itself is from three years ago. However it is making the rounds again on social media for some undisclosed reason.

But even though it is ancient news now, these type of articles are a pretty common occurrence in our news cycle. And the debate always centers around the same question: is she really that pretty or nah?

Of course the “nah” here is pretty complex.

In addition to the long and brutal debate over the validity of the proportional beauty theory, which will likely center around pointing out all of the poor girl’s alleged flaws as proof that she ain’t all that, there will also be the debate pointing out the obvious racism of it all.

As the scientist reminds us, even if any of our brown faces scored a solid 33 percent ratio on this chart that measures the distance between the mouth and the chin, we of the melanin tribes will scientifically never be able to measure up to the definition of “classic beauty” because we lack a fair complexion.

So there, take that again you ugly wenches.

I am not going to sit here and attempt to dissect everything which is wrong with this theory and article. For every scientific study that argues beauty is a product of symmetry and fair complexions, there will be another study that tells us that beauty is more centered around confidence and how a person carries him or herself. 

But what I want to point out that however way we choose to engage this particular article or the other ones just like it, the end results will be the same: to make us feel inferior and competitive.

You heard of thirst traps, well these articles are like insecurity traps. We will not only tear ourselves down for not measuring up in these traps, but we will tear the object of insecurity down for being so damn perfect and unattainable.

And most times it will be done for someone else’s agenda. And most times, that agenda centers around profit.

Because really what is the value in doing a story about a White woman being declared by science as the most beautiful woman in all of the land? Other than generating ad revenue from click-bait?


Can A Black-Owned Business Market To All People?

October 23rd, 2015 - By Charing Ball
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Source: Black Opal

Source: Black Opal

Is a Black business obligated to always cater and market to a Black clientele?

It’s an provocative question considering the current dustup over global cosmetic company Black Opal’s new marketing campaign.

Let’s just say that it is pretty…ahem…diverse.

As reported by Black Girl Long Hair:

Black Opal, a well-established cosmetic line, found themselves in hot water yesterday when they responded to a series of Facebook comments regarding ads which seemed to distance them from their overwhelmingly black customer base.

When Black Opal’s Twitter and Facebook followers saw the ads, they asked some valid questions. Most were black women who were under the impression that Black Opal was a brand geared toward black women or brown-skinned women in general.

You can read the exchange between Black Opal and its customers here. The company does assert emphatically that “our leadership has never issued a ‘non-inclusive’ statements” about its product offerings or sales objectives.

Also, on its Facebook page, the cosmetic company posted an archived New York Post profile from 1995 of the company with the caption:

Here’s a little history on Black Opal. Black Opal has never been sold or acquired since it was founded in 1994.

An opal is a precious gemstone that can take on many variations of colors. The black opal is the most rare and most valuable.

Skin of color, like the Opal, is varied, unique and precious. It comes in many diverse hues and tones and demands specific skin care products to address its special needs. Black Opal was born out of that need to treat the rare jewel that is skin of color.

Today we are are a brand for every shade of beauty and as our founder, Carol Mouyiaris stated in the 1995 article below “We are not exclusive.”

And the company also issued a statement to us about what exactly they represent:

Black Opal is a cosmetics brand for every shade of beauty. Black Opal was founded in 1994 by Carol Mouyiaris, a woman of Jamaican decent, and Dr. Cheryl Burgess, an African American board certified dermatologist, to address the skin concerns of women of color. Black Opal has never been sold or acquired, and we continue to support the original brand mission today, by bringing to market products that address the needs of all women of color. As the global environment continues to blend ethnically and culturally, Black Opal is working to ensure we are developing beauty solutions for the wide array of ethnicities, cultures and multihued skin represented in today’s women of color.

Although it claims that it was never exclusive to Black customers, the company does admit that it was founded to “address skin issues for African Americans,” which sounds exactly the same to me. But I’m not a lawyer…

Still, even without the acknowledgment, I think the cosmetic company will have a hard time explaining then why its marketing for the better part of its existence was aimed at Black people, particularly women?

Honestly, I really don’t see why it can’t just be forthright with the people and say, “look, we are trying to grow our market and stay competitive. So while we will continue making products for Black folks, we also, for the sake of survival, have to say All Skin Matters…”

Maybe I am being idealistic here, but I really don’t see folks not being able to understand that. I certainly think it would have been a much more respectful response worthy of a customer base, which has held the company down since its inception.

And in many ways this escape clause Black Opal is using with its consumers is very reminiscent of how we are often treated by mainstream businesses, particularly in the entertainment field, which builds bottom lines using Black dollars, only to dispose of us completely when more White and affluent audiences/customers begin to notice.

It also doesn’t help that this renewed commitment to all diversity follows a growing number of Black-owned businesses that have allegedly “sold out” to either White investors or White clientele. Like last month’s announcement that the makers of Shea Moisture and Nubian Heritage partnered with Bain Capital, making Bain minority stakeholders. In lots of ways, Black Opal’s newest ad campaign speaks to deeper fears and concerns we have as a community about the inability to build and sustain not only wealth, but a cultural identity (i.e. a beauty standard) in this country and beyond.

Still, the cosmetic company’s new focus also highlights the tough position in which many Black businesses find themselves. What I mean is that in addition to competing for sales within an already niche market, Black Opal also have to compete with major international cosmetic conglomerates who nowadays are now more willing to actually market to customers outside of the European beauty standard.

So, in spite of our desire to want the products and services we created to always remain For Us, By Us, the reality is that the structure to keep our businesses within the community is just not in place.

And who is to say, that if it were possible, Black businesses should only cater to a Black clientele? As Sundial’s founder and CEO Richelieu Dennis previously told MadameNoire in response to some of its customers’ fears that it was selling out:

“Black companies, like every other company, have to grow and broaden its customer base. If Black businesses don’t do this this, they die on the vine.”

I don’t know about anyone else, but I do believe that it is possible to be a Black-owned business that does not exclusively market or target Black people. And although I’m not co-signing how Black Opal went about explaining this to its customer base, I do believe that it does make sense, from a survival standpoint, to broaden their reach.

After all, who better than to represent the standards of beauty for people of color within the cosmetic realm than a company that was originally founded with the formulaic needs of Black women in mind?

Now, what we should be concerned about is whether or not any of these Black-owned businesses are not only taking Black dollars but helping to generate them, by hiring Black people.


Serious Question: Should This Intern Straighten Her Hair For Work?

September 17th, 2015 - By Charing Ball
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Madison, WNCT Angela Green's Facebook Page

,Madison, WNCT Angela Green’s Facebook Page

The natural hair topic has long run its course. But, nevertheless, I’m going to ask this question: Should a woman be forced to straighten her natural hair to appease her bosses?

The inspiration for this question comes by way of Angela Green, weeknight anchor for WNCT in Greenville, N.C., who recently posed the same question in a video post on her Facebook page. For those with Facebook, you can watch it here.

For those without an account, here is my best early-morning transcription of Greene’s statements:

The topic is natural hair in the workplace. Very sensitive to a lot of people. I’m natural. As many of you may or may not know, I’m biracial. My mother is from Thailand and my father is Black. See my hair? Straight. Y’all comment about it all the time. But if I were to go natural, my hair would be curly. But for right now, we’re not going to do curly hair because my bosses like it that way, so that is what we are going to go with.

Okay, let me pause this transcription to point out how Green declares herself both natural and not natural at the same time. While it sounds like an oxymoron, it is also an important detail to note in the context of the question posed below. She continues:

Green: Let me let you meet Madison. Madison is a…what year are you?

Madison: I’m a sophomore. 19.

Green: 19 years old. This is the style right now for everybody, rocking natural hair every day. Well, she is about to do a production for work. She is in TV and broadcasting and the topic of her hair came up. She was told that it was what?

Madison: Too big and I needed to straighten it. Straighten it out. It would be distracting.

Green: Distracting, well that is a very interesting word. But in the world of TV we see it all. It just depends in what market, what audience you’re looking for right now. And really, your bosses and what they allow you to do. My advice is straighten for the sake of the school project. Depending on what market you get in, when you’re older, that is something that you have to deal with. But in the workplace, just for this one, my suggestion was to just straighten it out just to please everybody. But everybody won’t roll with that answer. What would your suggestion be to Madison and other young professionals rocking their natural hair?

Well, I am glad she asked.

Again, what is interesting is how Green defines “natural hair.” In this context, she uses it to describe her own hair, which is naturally curly, but has been pressed straight. Granted, she may define natural as being free from chemicals, which is a commonly held belief among Black women. But it also clear that she sees natural hair as more of a style than an actual state. This is evident when she points to Madison’s head of natural curls and says, “This is the style right now for everybody, rocking natural hair every day.”

In essence, her question is less about if Madison should be natural, but rather, how she should be natural.

And her question does have some relevancy. Be it wash and go or Freddie Brooks on fleek, big and bountiful curls do appear to be the most sought-after hairstyle choice among natural women. Even as some folks’ hair doesn’t naturally curl that way and even though there are more natural hair styling choices out there, including a press and curl.

And while Madison’s hair does naturally hold that curl pattern, there are more reserved ways she could maintain her natural, which does not comprise hair principles, health, style choice or job standing. For instance, a nice bun or classic updo.

Plus, it is not like European women in media aren’t asked to tame their tresses – and other “distractions” too. I don’t ever recall seeing a White anchorwoman with big, bountiful curls. Sadly, Green’s advice is the cold, hard truth of what it is like to work in television news, where the image of the person reporting the news counts just as much as the news itself.

Still, I find it quite disheartening that we are encouraging young women to accept the status quo, particularly as it pertains to beauty ideals and standards, instead of pushing them to break down those barriers. While it is true that image has always counted, it does not mean that we have to continue to breed new generations of women who continue to make image a priority just because that’s how it has always been.

Somebody has to be brave enough to say no. Somebody has to have the courage to walk into human resources and say, “Listen here you cogs of White supremacy, I’ll do a bun, but I am not straightening my hair. People will get used to to it. Anything else is discrimination.”

That’s how things change.

What I find most odd about this entire question about the appropriateness of Black/biracial women and natural hair – no matter how you define it – is how in one breath, society is encouraging us to accept White women, specifically with cornrows and faux-ethnic hair, while still telling women of color that their natural hair is too distracting.

But that’s how I feel about it. What are your thoughts? Is natural hair just a style or an actual state? Should Madison straighten her hair to appease her bosses and advance her career (i.e. earn a paycheck) or should she stick to her hair principles?

If You Want To See Plus-Size Bodies Of Color Celebrated, theCurvyCon Is Where It’s At

June 24th, 2015 - By Brande Victorian
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Cece Olisa, Gabi Gregg and Chastity Garner

It’s no secret — or surprise — that by and large the entertainment and fashion industries aren’t checking for fuller figures, and even when they are it’s rare that those plus-size bodies are round and brown. That reality has hardly been a deterrent for curvy fatshionistas who proudly flaunt their colored curves on social media and popular websites, and this past Saturday that community came together in New York City to celebrate that curvy confidence at the first annual CurvyCon.

theCurvyCon, brainchild of bloggers Chastity Garner and CeCe Olisa, was created to celebrate plus-size fashion, beauty, lifestyle and wellness with a day-long event featuring speakers from Kierra Sheard and Amber Riley to Gabi Gregg, Nadia Aboulhosn, and more tackling subjects like confidence, dating at any size, and plus-size health and fitness.

On site for the festivities, we couldn’t help but notice the influx of Black and Brown beauties, spanning ethnicities from African American and Caribbean to Latina and Middle Eastern, so we chatted with a few notable attendees about the state of full-figured minority acceptance and whether we’re still at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to European beauty standards or progress is actually being made.

Style Blogger Gabbi Gregg of said she completely understands the frustration of mainstream brands and media not focusing on or featuring women of color, especially Black women. “It’s hard,” she told us on the red carpet.”There’s the colorism issue and the racism issue so it kind of trickles down into every aspect of the industry. Unfortunately, we’re included in that so we’re fighting an uphill battle, having to fight the fashion industry, both because of our size and color. But that’s not to say there’s not progress because I do see more and more people being featured and included.”

One such woman being included is Chanté Burkett of who was recently featured in a very special “Target Loves Every Body” campaign, aimed at proving swimsuits can flatter body types of all kinds,  including those that are full figured. “For someone like me to be featured on that level was amazing,” Burkett told us at the CurvyCon. “To showcase an obviously brown person in a campaign that big just goes to show we need more of us in that light. It’s always a struggle and it’s hard, but we keep on fighting. Eventually we’ll take over.”

CurvyCon is certainly a great start, particularly because the idea behind the conference isn’t exactly novel – at least among minority women. As conference co-creator Chastity Garner of GarnerStyle told us, “As women of color, it’s almost natural that we started something like this. We’ve always embraced our bodies; we’re just bringing along more people for the ride.”

Conference co-creator CeCe Olisa of echoed that sentiment, saying “The ethnic communities kind of gravitate towards a little more curvier figures and we’re kind of leading the way and embracing that. Now we’re just letting everyone else in on our secret.”

Hopefully Hollywood and the fashion industries don’t sleep on that well-known fact for too much longer. But if they do, oh well. There’s always next year’s CurvyCon.

#NoShaveNoShade: New Trend Lets Armpit Hair Hang All Out

June 16th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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If you’re a hairy woman, like myself, you know that shaving is often frequent and requires a lot of effort. Between your legs, bikini/mons area, your armpits and even some of your upper lips, hair removal is a chore.

But the game might be changing ladies. All on social media websites, most prominently Tumblr, there are #NoShave and #NoShaveNoShade hashtags which seek to promote and encourage women to forgo shaving the hair that grows naturally on our bodies. There are tons of young women who are refusing to wax, shave or laser of the hair, particularly under their arms, in celebration of what adult female bodies really look like.

And unlike the #Movember movement, where men stop shaving their beards to raise awareness about prostate cancer, this is more of a lifestyle change.

One Tumblr user, Uselessblogga wrote:


I decided a little while back that I was going to stop shaving.

This is the first time I wear a tank out and about and EVERYONE will see zomg!!

The only reason I ever did it was because it was taught. Shaving in general has never come natural to me, I always forget and I end up feeling self conscious when we randomly decide to go swim or something.

So why should I do something, that I don’t even like doing, only to please complete strangers or to feel “normal”

Nah man, fuck that.

I like this. This is normal.



Another user remembered how, in the fourth grade, hearing one of classmates call another “monkey legs” scared her into shaving.

I’m sure many of us have a similar story. But shaving hasn’t always been a mandatory thing. And I’m not talking about in Europe. In middle and high school, I played volleyball and we had to wear shorts well into the fall for our games. One day, after practice, I was loudly lamenting about needing to shave my legs soon. That’s when one of our volleyball mothers proudly showed me her legs, which, as I was noticing for the first time, were very hairy. She said, “Back in the day hairy legs used to be considered sexy.” I looked at her in disbelief but my mother, who is naturally virtually hairless, offered a reputable cosign.

In middle school, I wasn’t trying to hear that. But now that the summer is here and my legs are seeing the light of day again, I’m reminded of how tedious and annoying shaving every 3-5 days can be.

I like the smooth, clean look and feel but I’m also lazy and am not particularly fond of the nicks I often give myself when I’m rushing to shave just so I can wear some leg-revealing outfit.

And while I could possibly be swayed when it comes to letting my leg hair grow in the summer like it does in the winter, I’m definitely not so sure about the armpit part. We all know that hair holds odor and if you sweat a lot, or at all, as most of us do in the summer, you might find yourself a little musty. And that’s no bueno. But the ladies participating in this new trend are not only letting their armpit hair flourish, they’re dying it and sharing it on social media.

In the words of Outkast, “Whatever floats your boat or finds your lost remote…”

What do you think about this no shave trend ladies? Is it something you could see yourself doing? Is it something you’ve been doing for years? Or will you leave this one to the ladies on Tumblr?