All Articles Tagged "confidence"
Our black is beautiful – hair, skin, and all. We shower our girls with praise by complimenting the richness of their cocoa, caramel, or vanilla colored skin. We massage their scalp and nurture their baby curls – from kinky to super wavy. We want our girls to respect and love themselves. We constantly fight the barrage of criticisms our girls may be exposed to, including negative attention swarming around their hair and skin tone. Our girls need their self-esteem lifted. What better way to celebrate the love of our culture and promote self love with our girls than through a book that our girls can relate to. Whether your little girl has a growing bookshelf or e-reader, she will want to add these must-reads to her collection.
If there was ever a study about black women that I’m inclined to believe, it’s the one about us being more confident in our appearance than other groups of women. Last month, Kate Fridkis, wrote a piece called “Why can’t women think they’re pretty?” I read the title and thought oh, that’s tragic. Let me read. And while Fridkis brought up some salient points about how women often downplay and apologize for highlighting their flattering physical features; by the end of the article I thought to myself, thank God I don’t have this problem. You can call me vain or incorrect if you want, but I’ve always thought I was pretty. And even said it, out loud, in front of people a couple of times. Now, I don’t know if it’s because I’ve consistently heard this from others, because my parents promoted self confidence or because I’m just vain. I’m sure it’s a combination of all of these things; but whatever the reason(s), I’m grateful for this ability to be content, and dare I say very pleased, with what I see in the mirror.
I knew I was good- so I started thinking about other women in my circle. I had to start with the source. My mom. My mother, who I and others regard as beautiful, doesn’t meet European or mainstream beauty standards. She’s short, overweight, has dark skin and natural hair. But I’ve never heard her speak ill of her beauty. She might have talked about wanting to lose weight or wear her hair a different way; but when it came to her natural, physical beauty, there have been times when she’s been downright cocky. The same is true for my aunts, cousins and sister on both sides of the family. Hell, even the men talk about knowing they look good. I realize it may sound like we’re a bunch of self-obsessed jerks, but we’ll just have to be that. After all, in a world where people are constantly insulting folks based on their appearance I’d prefer we be overly confident in our looks, so we can shoulder that criticism than underestimate our beauty and let the naysayers break us down.
But I want to be careful not to dismiss anyone’s experience. I know I’ve had friends on both sides of the spectrum. I’ve had the “can’t tell me nothin’” friends and the friends who would say outright, to my shock and surprise, that they didn’t think they were pretty. I get how one could come to feel this way; but really I don’t understand it. (If that makes sense.) If beauty is subjective and increased exposure increases attractiveness how could you not at least be good with the face you’ve been living with all your life?
Maybe people have just had too many critics. Maybe they’ve internalized too many beauty standards that didn’t match their own. Maybe insecurity is stronger than we could ever imagine. I can’t call it. I’m just always surprised when I hear this type of talk from black women. Unfortunately, I’ve seen and heard far too many white women say they want Jennifer Anniston’s hair, Charlize Theron’s body and Pipa Middleton’s booty. All the while completely trashing their own, perfectly attractive beauty. If there was anything positive to come from a lack of minority representation in media, it’s that black women were less likely to compare ourselves to shapes and figures we could never achieve…naturally. Maybe white women, who’ve been watching their likeness on tv, seeing it plastered on billboards and magazine spreads have come to think that these are the only examples of hotness. While black women who didn’t see themselves represented at all but had the love, affection and attention of men, black and otherwise, knew that the media couldn’t be telling the whole story and decided to be good with themselves anyway.
Again, I can’t call it. What I do know is that every woman, every person really, regardless of what others may say about him or her, should strive to be able to look in the mirror and like what they see. None of us will ever be beautiful to everyone but the least we should try to do is be drop dead gorgeous to ourselves.
Do you think you’re pretty? Do you have problems claiming this either to yourself or others?
When you’re going out for a first date with someone, it’s easy to feel a bit nervous. Wondering if he’ll like you, if your chemistrys will mesh, if your breath stinks and if you’re wearing the right outfit etc. It can be a bit rough on the ego. So, when you’re getting ready to step out with a new man for the first time, you might need some auditory courage. The following songs should do the trick.
I think I’m ready
Been locked up in the house way too long,
It’s time to get it…
Freakum Dress- Beyonce
Honestly, this whole list could have been compromised of Beyonce anthems; but variety is the spice of life, so we’ll shake it up a bit. But even Bey’s biggest haters would find it hard to deny that she will get you right on the confidence tip. When you’re trying to determine what to wear for your night out, you might not want to go as far as the freakum dress but you certainly want to make sure it’s an outfit, preferably a dress or skirt, that doesn’t show the whole movie but gives him a bit of a preview.
An Open Letter To My Left Boob, Which Is Much Bigger Than My Right: We Don’t Always Get Along, But I Love You Anyway
I can remember the day I realized that you were dramatically larger than your twin.
While working at Victoria’s Secret waaaaay back in the day, I was asked to try on the new Incredible bra, and whichever ones, in whatever color fit, I could take them home for Free.99 to add to my collection. I was like a kid in a candy store.
I entered the dressing room, you know the ones with the mirrors that can move and give like every angle possible? Yeah, those were the ones I faced when I got undressed that evening. And in that room, as I stood, and as I pulled my bra off, there you sat, looking completely different than my cheap full body college mirror ever let on before.
‘What in the hell!?’
I stood there, shocked and a little sad at what I could somewhat feel for years, but honestly had never seen in this light, in this way. To have an imperfection amplified and seen even if just by myself at every turn, was a bit much. Let’s just say that the rest of the day didn’t go very well emotionally.
But who am I fooling? I could tell something was different about you for years. You made bra shopping the ultimate hassle. While my right boob was down to cooperate and sit comfy in my cups, there you were, being an a**hole again, down to clown. Instead of sitting snug, when I would bend over you would slowly but surely try to peek out of your cup, begging me to go up another cup or to tighten my straps up or adjust my band to contain you. Your behavior is what led me to leave the alluring demi bras and strapless joints behind and go full-on granny with my lingerie, opting for full coverage just to keep you in check. You were annoying, but I never thought you were THAT bad. But it was that particular day in that dressing room that I realized why you had always been a struggle–you had outgrown my right boob at a drastic level, and for me, visually, it was way too much. What was something I was initially aware of and a little shy about became something I wound up being embarrassed by, even if no one else could immediately notice or said anything about it.
And for so long, I was paranoid. I would try and dress uncomfortably in tight stalls at the gym because I wasn’t as confident as some of the women around me who wanted to go commando at the drop of a drawl to show everybody what they were working with. They could do that because their chests were symmetrically on point. And if they weren’t…well, if you’re walking around a room full of women undressed, washing your workout clothes in the sink like folks do at my raggedy gym, you don’t care whose looking at your lumps and bumps anyway. Trying to buy swimwear for my chest became a nightmare, and even when I went to visit the gynecologist, I was literally in a state of extreme discomfort. And once I became sexually active, I was very much worried about you and how the man in my life might react to your appearance.
But to my surprise, he didn’t notice. At all. If he did, he sure didn’t say anything to me. In fact, he often speaks on how he loves my body and the confidence he seems to think I have about it. I think he had me confused with someone else, but I appreciated his kind words. His support of my body image, and you, my lopsided tit, have been encouraging, but honestly, it was my own reality check to myself that made me more confident in you and my body as a whole.
What was I going to do about you? Was I going to get surgery? Was I going to hide in a stanky a** stall every time I needed to change to get my work out on because I thought someone would be looking at me? Was I going to continuously be sad about something I didn’t cause and couldn’t change? The answer to all these things was no. While I would love my chest to sit perfectly, it doesn’t and that’s fine, because I know it’s not the end of the world, and better yet, I’m not alone in the lopsided committee. And if the doctor continues to say that there’s nothing wrong with you, I’m not going to treat you like there is. I might stick with the full coverage bras for simple convenience (aye…they’ve been MAD supportive too), but you’re not going to have me doubting myself any longer.
So yes left boob, we haven’t always had the best relationship, and you’re not perfect, but hey–you’re mine. You, in all your oversized glory, were given to me by God to carry around with confidence, and for that reason, I’ll continue to try my best to do that. We’ve been at odds since you first started growing back when I was still messing with Barbies, but now that we’re older, let’s call a truce and keep it peaceful and perky. Aight?
Has anyone else noticed that your eyebrows have the ability to make or break your look? I know the Bible says a woman’s hair is her crowning glory; but if you gave me a choice, I’d take my eyebrows being properly coiffed over my hair being “done” any day. In all fairness though, since I have locks my hair is never “not done.”
Anyway, I come from a long line of expert brow shapers. My maternal grandmother who completely devoted her life to raising her children and later grandchildren, still always made time to make sure her brows were right. For decades, she was the go-to woman when it came to shaping and sculpting. And she shared that vital information with her sisters and passed it down to her nieces and eventually her daughter, my mother.
I’ll never forget the day my mother looked at me and decided it was time for my first plucking session. I was a freshman in high school and had just come home from the summer school gym class I was taking. Needles too say I looked a bit rough and my thick, unruly eyebrows weren’t helping the situation. I showered and my mom had me lie down on her bed as she sat over me, plucking away.
In retrospect I should have been more afraid of this process. The whole thing was pretty agonizing. My stomach was knotting and unknotting as I felt her rip each individual hair from my face with precision. I felt trapped, like a form of torture.
But once I was released and I looked at myself in the mirror, I realized what wonders the plucking had done for my face. My eyes looked brighter. My face looked softer and more feminine. I looked less like a little girl and more like the woman I would become. For the next couple of days, I couldn’t walk past a mirror without doubling back to take a peak at my new eyebrows. You couldn’t tell me nothin’. I had arrived.
From that moment on, if my eyebrows weren’t done, I just didn’t feel right. I could have on the flyest outfit, my hair could be styled to perfection and my face could be beat for the gods; but if my eyebrows were bushy or too overgrown, it was all for nothing. Try as I might to hide the stubbly hairs growing in, eye shadow and even foundation did little to hide the coarse black spikes that were coming in. It was time to shape again. The look of having my eyebrows properly shaped is virtually magical. There have been times where my face looked like I’d applied some makeup, simply because my eyebrows were right. It’s important that they be done promptly and properly.
As the years progressed, I would put the tweezers down in favor of waxing. And just a few months ago, I stepped into the threading world for the first time. (I’m still not convinced that it’s the better option.)
Sitting Around Waiting For The Man Of Your Dreams? Girl, There Are Tons Of Things To Do In The Meantime!
It always baffles me when beautiful women consume all of their energy worrying about a man. Why he hasn’t called me? Why doesn’t e like me? I wonder what he’s doing. As Tionna Tee Smalls says, “Girl, Get Your Mind Right!” There are other things you can work on other than being preocuppied with a man who may or may not even be thinking about you. Here’s a list of things you can do to keep busy
While watching an episode of my addiction, Girls, a change in the story line reminded me of a time in my own life that to this day, I regret.
The character of Hannah, played so effortlessly well by Lena Dunham, is an aspiring author with a ton of ideas for a book, but no direction to figure out where to start. When she reunites with an old writing professor, she’s coaxed into attending a creative writing reading, where she will share a story of her choice to a room full of strangers. Going into the reading, Hannah is very sure and very confident about the topic she wants to discuss: a college boyfriend who was a hoarder and her experience sleeping on a stack of empty Chinese food boxes in the attempt to relate to him. To you and I, I’m sure that sounds crazy as hell, but it could have made for a very interesting story to share–had she gone through with it. However, her boss got to her first. Said boss, the comical character Ray, wasn’t feeling it. She told him about her idea and he told her that it pretty much lacked all depth. Instead, he encouraged her (note: he doesn’t write himself) to write about something real, his recommendations included racial profiling, acid rain or death.
Feeling discouraged, Hannah completely changed her story on the train on the way to the reading, and made up one about an Internet boyfriend who died for shock value (a parody of a story by an old classmate whose recent published book about a real-life boyfriend who killed himself sent Hannah into a quarter-life crisis). No one liked it, and she wound up doubting herself and her capabilities even more. When her former professor asked her why she didn’t stick to her original hilarious story idea, she said she bailed on it because it didn’t have depth…her reasoning clearly influenced by the opinion of her boss at the coffee shop. Taking his advice and doubting herself had wound up making Hannah look like a complete a** in front of a room full of strangers.
As random as that story sounds, I’ve been in a similar situation. A situation where I let other people put doubts about my abilities in my head, enough to make me leave behind a past dream of mine. At the age of 12, while vacationing with family in Nigeria, I was spending a hot day in the house drawing. Doing illustrations and sketches as a teen was my passion, or so I thought it was at that time. But on that same day, while minding my business and letting my surroundings inspire me, the man doing laundry for my father, who I wasn’t too fond of, saw what I was doodling and asked me what it was. When I told him, he said my sketch didn’t look good, and proceeded to draw a picture of me that he lauded as much better than my own. Feeling like an absolute failure, and being that I was only 12 at the time, an impressionable age, I put my pencil and my drawing pad down–and literally never picked it up again.
I can now admit that honestly, drawing wasn’t what I was meant to do for a living. However, at 12, I had years and years ahead of me to get better, to train, to improve and to grow. But because I was young and embarrassed at that moment, I let someone else make me feel like I would never be a good enough artist, and I didn’t even allow myself the opportunity to get better, so I just gave up. This dude, when I think back on it, was washing my dad’s drawls for a living and I gave him the power to judge my work. He was clearly no trained artist his damn self. It’s something that I definitely wish I hadn’t let happen, but at 12, I wasn’t too good at defending myself or my dreams just yet.
As a grown woman I can now see the error in my thinking, and I encourage you, on this day and moving forward to never let people push you away from your dreams because they want to be negative. With every great dream, there will often be a hopeful dream killer looking to stop you dead in your tracks. And every once in a while you might realize that a path you were enthusiastic about is not necessarily the route you want to go in the end, but make that decision on your own. Please don’t let ambition-less people with too much time on their hands and shade to pass out who don’t want to see you succeed talk you out of your destiny. Because when you do, you walk around with a boatload of shouldas, couldas and wouldas to sulk about when you give up on yourself. Don’t give your haters that much power over your life. You have more talent and greatness to offer the world than people give you credit for, and as long as you know this, remember this greatness, and are confident in it, BABY, you can’t be stopped.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or so they say. I say that beauty is embodied by those who refuse to believe they are anything less–regardless of a beholder. The body positive movement (more so a philosophy than an active crusade) agrees with me, and it is the belief that the present standard of beauty is bogus, and dominated by unattainable and unhealthy goals set by self-loathing women and imperfect men. The world is obsessed with women and their bodies, but only in a dissecting way. Women are mourning their bodies, not celebrating them because the media would have us believe that there is something wrong with our bodies. After all, companies and organizations gain greatly when women waste millions on diet fads and untouched gym memberships, when those women could save hundreds by being comfortable in their own skin. The body positivity movement is about health, identity and self-respect. Women of any weight, age, race, measurement or proportion can be/are beautiful.
The appreciation of curves and physical diversity reduces fat-shaming, bulimia, anorexia, depression and bullying among women everywhere, based on the fact that it’s about acceptance. The body positive movement sets the challenge of getting women to accept themselves and other women on a fundamental level, in spite of “flaws” and “imperfections,” so that we may embrace and adore those oddities. A great way to talk about what body positivity is, is to talk about what it isn’t. It isn’t about eroticizing or sexualizing, nor is it about tolerance–it’s about softening the frown of superficiality, and revisiting points in history where women were praised for curvaceousness outside of a subgroup.
Body positive ideals borrow greatly from the “fat positive” movement (also known as fat feminism), which indicates that anyone can be happy and healthy at any size–weight not being a clear indicator of how well one eats or how often one exercises. The fat positive movement wants to weaken the effects of size discrimination, and to eliminate an innate desire to apologize for our fat. ‘Body positive’ expands on that idea by being accepting of all sizes under the doctrine that beauty is about confidence, presentation and self-awareness. It gives women the permission to love themselves and celebrate femininity in terms of shapeliness. This mission makes it possible for both women who are shaped like Zoe Saldana and Mo’Nique, or Keira Knightley and Christina Hendricks, to compete in the same mainstream arena without criticism on either side of the weight spectrum.
Steps toward being body positive in your own life can unhinge mainstream media’s body-shame ambitions. This can be done by not focusing on body image issues when having a conversation with co-workers and friends OR working on praising other women for their physical attributes, as opposed to tearing them down. Also, it’s fine to eat comfort foods, but also eat heart healthy foods, and walk an extra few blocks to burn calories if you think you’d benefit from it. And, be open to trying new foods in general. Wear clothes that are both flattering and comfortable, and always take an extra moment to give yourself a small bit of praise before you leave your home every morning.
If you’ve ever struggled with a ferocious furry unibrow, you know the struggle to get rid of it or to at least hold it at bay is real. I had a friend in high school who had a mean unibrow with a side of Groucho Marx, and she was still getting dudes! It wasn’t until we started going to Homecoming dances and other events as teens that she actually did something about the unibrow, turning it into some FIERCE, clean, arched brows. But if you ask former Teen Mom star Farrah Abraham, now 21, the mother of the adorable 3-year-old Sophia, a unibrow needs to be rid of as soon as possible.
When she noticed that Sophia was growing a unibrow that wouldn’t “go away,” Farrah took action and decided to try and wax it to save her daughter the embarrassment of having to walk around with a full furry brow at three years old. She looked at it in the same vein as clipping nails that are growing too long, or hair that is growing at a crazy pace, even though the process to get rid of Sophia’s unibrow was a messy and complicated one. After explaining why she did it and how she felt it benefited Sophia in the long run, she was surprised to see that people were a lot less understanding than she expected. Here’s what she had to say about why she did it, which included because “she felt bad for her”:
Sophia’s UNI-BROW , when is it time? (More #SULIA)
SOOOOOooooo, this is a touchy subject the Unibrow thing.
But recently I could not ignore it, like I know I’ve seen madonna’s duaghter have a stand out uni brow, I remember when I was little I had a unibrow, but I couldn’t remember if there was an age limit, a rule!
So here I am faced with a standout historical moment in motherhood when I can confirm to myself that my little, adorable,most cuddle-able cutie, baby girl has a Unibrow , I felt bad for her, and I started asking friends…. is this hair just going to fall out… is it just hormones at this age?, well the hair didn’t go away and others started saying it was here to stay.
So I told sophia (my daughter who is a late 3 years old) of the little issue on her brow, and I showed her how I waxed mine off, so I tryed to wax her, the second a dab hit the Uni, she touch it with the towel she had in her hand,
UHHH so now, wax was in the towel, and I yanked it back ASAP, but fuzz was not stuck to the wax stuck to her Uni, OMG moment, So now sophia was freaking out, so I had to act like it was a cool science project to get the wax off.
PLOT TO END THIS: Sophia feel a sleep, I got my tweezers and Pluck-pluck-pluck……soph was now saying ouch or anything and still was asleep, I got most of it off and then finally she woke up..I went to sleep .
The next morning I showed her and told her how well she did and she didn’t even know, She was more intrigued now to be ok with upkeeping her non-unibrow. I could tell she was proud.
Ah I feel like a good mom:) other moms tell me your ideas!
Who knew the unibrow was that touchy of a subject? While I’m all for teaching children the importance of personal grooming as they grow, I don’t think waxing was the way to go. I mean, she’s three year’s old, she’s just becoming more aware of herself, so I doubt Sophia’s little self was standing in the mirror agonizing over her eyebrows. And I don’t know why she felt bad for a 3-year-old. Who does she need to impress at this early stage in her life? But hey, as a new mom (especially a young one), you live and you learn, right?
But what do you think? Should she have waited to groom Sophia’s eyebrows? Or is it not really not that big of a deal?
When Your Prince Turns Into A Punk: Could You Continue To Date A Man If He’s Proven Himself To Be A Coward?
Could you continue to date a man once he has been discovered to be a coward?
I ask this question after a lazy, uninspired New Years Day in which I spent the day underneath a heavy blanket, watching a film – or three – via Netflix. One of the movies I took in was this complete yawn about a young white engaged couple and their guide traveling across the Caucasus Mountains in central Europe. I’m not going to tell you the name of the movie, because I’m about to give a major spoiler about the film, which basically centered around watching white people hike and talk about boring things for 90-minutes. Seriously, I would only recommend watching this one only if you have trouble sleeping. Anyway, midway through their trek, the couple was approached by three men with a gun. As their guide and the gunmen exchange words in their native tongue, the boyfriend/fiancé, for whatever reason, decides to interject himself in their conversation and ends up with a face full of gun. Being the fast-action hero, the fiancé instinctively hides behind his lady. But then quickly recoups his balls and moves in front of her.
Needless to say, the boyfriend’s instinctive act of self-preservation, albeit only a few seconds, created some awkwardness between the two, with the girlfriend giving her fiancé a well-earned wall of silence. I imagine that if she could, she would have cursed him out and stomped away. But she was in the mountains, literally in the middle of nowhere, so she had to see this trip out with him. I won’t ruin the rest of the film for you, but let’s just say it involves more walking and boring talking. While the film itself left lots more to be desired, I will say that I’ve been thinking about that particular scene since viewing it. I don’t know if presented with the same situation of being shoved in front of a gun by my boyfriend, if I would have had a reaction much different than the female character. How could you not feel betrayed?
A couple of years ago, I was hanging out, having drinks with a male friend of mine at one of the local bars/lounges. We were talking and sort of flirting (not too much though because he had a girlfriend at the time), when I must have said something he took as being offensive (whereas I’m just speaking my true mind). He smirked, shook his head and confessed, “You are real controversial, you know that? See, that’s why I couldn’t date you because I can see me having to get into lots of fights. And I’m a bit of a coward…”
First off, how this conversation deviated into him playing out a hypothetical relationship between him and I is beyond me. I mean, I thought about it once too, and like him, I have tons of reasons why I rejected the idea in my mind as well. I didn’t feel the need to tell him that. But more to the point, there is nothing attractive about a man admitting to being a coward. And now I have another reason why I couldn’t date my male friend.
I make no apologies for placing high value on my partner’s ability to make me feel safe and protected. He doesn’t have to be Michael Jai White; shirtless, greased-up and karate kicking dudes up and down the block. I mean, that might be nice, but a sista isn’t going to hold you to that. I just need to know you will have my back. Like an ex-boyfriend of mine, who appeared really close to getting his butt kicked after trying to defend my honor from some disrespectful and foul-mouthed brute. His confidence was shook and in the car ride home he asked me, point blank, if I thought he was a punk. I told him no, but I will admit that inside, I felt a little differently about him. Different as in, if I’m ever in trouble, I should call 911 instead of him. But I got over it quickly and actually appreciated him more for at least attempting to put a disrespectful someone in their place. To me, that’s a sign of a true gentleman.
I get it; fight or flight is a well-documented part of human life. And that means that everybody has punked out at something during some point in their lives. But you can’t be dropping babies and hopping over balconies, leaving your family behind during movie theater shootings, a la this father of the year in 2012, or in the case of this film, having your natural instinct mean pushing me in front of the barrel a gun. I think a guy who even subconsciously puts you in the line of danger deserves to be banned from seeing your ladybits for the rest of his life.