Category Archives: Looking for answers

Shea moisture: When ‘buying black’ goes wrong

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Hey, how about that Shea Moisture commercial that is bound to become a teachable moment in how NOT to properly court a new consumer market without angering your old market.

A lot of the anger is coming from a contingent of consumers who believe in the black centric principle of buying black.

Here’s four teachable lessons for consumers who want to practice the principle of buying black without being burned in the future.

 

  1. “Buying Black ensures that more Black people are employed,” is one of the reasons stated for why it’s important to support Black businesses.
    1. BUYER BEWARE: Do your homework and research the company’s hiring practices.
  2. Black owners may not share your values. (I.E. Blacks are REALLY not a monolith)
    1. BUYER BEWARE: You, dear consumer, may believe in black empowerment, collectivism, etc, but that does not mean that the business owner you are purchasing from believes in reinvestment in the community, hiring more people from the community, etc. As a “woke” consumer, it is your duty to do due diligence to discover where your dollars are likely to be used.

Blast from the Past: Criticizing Today’s Sexuality

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The hoopla over Nikki Minaj’s backside brought out the by now well worn criticisms of “over sexualized women artists,” “for the sake of the children, cover up,” and “in my day, our artists didn’t resort to such tactics to sell their music.”

It was that last comment “in my day….tactics….sell” that reminded me of the criticism TLC lobbed at Rihanna a couple of days.

TLC’s quote included “We became the biggest selling girl group with our clothes on, and that says a lot. It’s easy to sell sex. We could go around with booby cakes all day long.”

[I was looking to collect a collage of 90s fashion, but there’s actually a whole website dedicated to it, so….here ya go the great 90s]

TLC rose to prominence in this environment. Taking a look at them, their style, personalities and even their music…they fit right in with the cultural environment.
It was a time of looser fashion, (slightly) more musical choices, super models who were larger in size and with personalities, their seemed to be larger body variety shown period, and and and… my point is that TLC weren’t renegades who were going against the grain of what was popular – they were able to take what was popular, wear it in a genuine fashion and make it work for them.

The argument of “in my day….” tends to give the individual speaker too much credit for how they behaved.

But delving into why a culture as a whole endorses certain values is a difficult beast that seems well-nigh unbeatable. Instead, individuals are “appealed to” (this is often in the form of attempting to shame another person), in the hopes of trying to shame them/daring them to behave in the way that the speaker believes is more appropriate.

Judging and accepting the fact that you are being judged

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Citing a quote by Clinton Kelly about how ubiquitous the characteristic of judgment is and how you can channel the inevitable fact that you, human being, will have an opinion (judgment) about everything.

Like it or not, we human beings are judge-y. Judging others is written into our DNA. Some of us wouldn’t be here today, watching TV, if our ancestors were unable to discern a good guy from a bad guy. You know, let a bad guy into your cave at night, you might not wake up in the morning. We’re still an “us vs. them” bunch. Just open the newspaper and it’s all tribal-based finger-pointing.

Can you consciously decide not to judge others based on their appearance? Of course. But it’s not easy. When you’re drooling over Jon Hamm in a well-cut suit, you’re judging. (Guilty.) When you’re fantasizing about having a sleepover with Jennifer Lawrence, you’re judging. (Guilty.)

Based on a stranger’s appearance, we know almost immediately whether we want to get closer to him or her or farther away. You’re judging people all day without realizing it: Is that a good guy or a bad guy? Would I ever in a million years consider dating that person? So, the game is on. You have the choice to play it on your own terms, on society’s terms, or to opt out all together. – See more at: http://damemagazine.com/2014/04/17/dont-hate-clinton-kelly-because-youre-beautiful#sthash.IZPsvWkT.dpuf

*I’ve always disliked when people cite Matthew 7:1-3 – “Judge not that ye be not judged” only in order to shut down or shame someone else for having a negative opinion about whatever is under discussion, but not to spark a conversation with true analysis.  And I’ve always wished that more times people would stop and consider what they think is praise worthy (another form of judgment) as well.  

Origins of Taboos: Part II

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H/T to Black Girl wit Short Hair for photo.

I haven’t been able to find the origins of the taboo of how never the two components of dark skin and bright colors should meet.

BUT I do think I have interesting insight into why this ‘rule’ exists. I read the novel ‘Plum Bun: A Novel Without a Moral’ by Jesse Fauset. Published in 1928, the book follows the life of a young Black women whose light skin affords her the opportunity to pass for white. End synopsis. I brought up this novel that I read years ago, because while the story itself has faded – greatly – in my memory, I do still recall the description of one scene, where the protagonist explained that dark and or darker skinned teachers?/students? were encouraged not to wear white shirts. Instead it was recommended that they wear shirts with darker hues – black, navy blue, etc. The reason? The darker colors were meant to blend into or rather complement the dark skin of the clothes’ wearer. According to this line of thinking, darker skin was not meant to be set off or featured, instead such skin should be hidden, or the next best thing was to “help” such skin be overlooked.

AND THIS line of thinking, is partly why brightly colored lipsticks are not recommended – and even vehemently argued against – for dark skinned make up wearers.

However, I am still stumped as to why this ‘ruling’ has lasted in regards for make up but not clothes. Seriously, I never hear such warnings against dark skinned people shouldn’t wear brightly colored clothes. May be because make up is still considered such a feminine accoutrement and females have always been held to a more constricting beauty standard?

If anyone who happens to wander by this blog has a theory, please feel free to share your opinion. Thanks!

Looking for answers: origins of the taboo of red lips and dark skin

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Lately, I’ve been more aware of the warnings and the subsequent push back about black women – specifically dark black women should avoid/can’t wear red lipstick.  I’ve heard this or a variation of this warning for several years now, but it was only just now how oddly specific I found it.

No doubt there is colorism with its preferences and positive associations with lighter skin at work and well, even the origin for this “advice,” but I’ve been wondering why exactly are darker women warned to stay away from red lips specifically?

Was it just that in mainstream American culture when it became respectable for women to wear obvious lipstick, red lips were/and remain associated as looking only appropriate on paler skinned women?

Or is it – this warning, that continues to be passed down to many men and women of color – an aesthetic choice? As in darker skinned should not be placed next to a color so vivid, so bright.  But if that was the case, then why isn’t there a general rule – say an advisement to stay away from all bright colors including pink lips, orange lips, purple lips – or heck, don’t bother putting on any colored make up/up to and beyond lipstick?

No, there is something about the color red itself I think. Will check it out and see.

This video isn’t totally on topic, but I love her story of growing into self acceptance, plus all the new (to me) lip colors I want to try.