Category Archives: Health and Well Being

M’s-BODY-MEANT

While in the chair at my threading appointment, my esthetician mentioned that my skin hqdefaultwas dry, which is pretty rare for my face. As she was threading, dry skin was coming off with my hair. She then suggested a facial because I have some areas with blackheads. While listening to her, I realized something – I haven’t been treating myself well.

I always drink water, but I hadn’t been drinking enough, which is why my skin was dry. My lips have been chapped off and on for a few weeks and that is also because I wasn’t drinking enough water. I’ve been dozing off uncontrollably at work almost every day for the past month – because I hadn’t been taking my iron or my vitamin D. My purse gave up   the ghost two months ago, my sister emptied the contents into a really cute canvas bag then threw my purse into a dumpster and I didn’t bother to buy myself a new one. My hair hadn’t been colored in MONTHS, and I just kept looking in the mirror wondering why I wasn’t feeling myself while failing to pick up some color to address the situation. I’ve experienced weight gain over the past year, so my clothing situation is sparse, to say the least. I like to dress well, but I just kept covering up with plain clothes all the time and wearing my black Chucks with a frayed lace on the right shoe.

In that chair, I quietly cried because I realized I was punishing myself for the weight gain. I was depriving myself because weight gain had me thinking I didn’t deserve anything – not moisturized skin, not a decent purse, no the ability to stay awake at my desk, and not even some damn new laces or a new pair of Chucks. My esthetician thought it was the threading making my eyes water, but it was really me feeling ashamed for treating myself so poorly. How had I fallen so far without even noticing?

The next morning, I got up, drank plenty of water, took my iron pills, put on my good sweats (because baby steps), put on some makeup, did my hair, and took myself shopping. A purse was the first thing on the list. I followed that up with a couple pairs of casual shoes without lace issues, some tops, and a pair of jeans in my current size that 71p6NUSJpLL__SL1500_look good on all these curves – even the extra ones I recently accumulated. The day after that, I got up early and had a great workout before any Super Bowl snacks could interfere with my goals. I feel 1000% better, these lips aren’t chapped, and I can already see the difference in my skin.

I know trying to get and stay fit is hard AF sometimes and I know a setback can feel like the ultimate betrayal from one’s body. I also now know societal pressures, familial background, and the drive to achieve one’s own sense of perfection can lead to a period of self-punishment if one isn’t careful. Giving oneself grace is incredibly important during this time and so is remembering who one is while focusing on one’s strengths instead of all her weaknesses. plus-size-princessDespite the difficulties, I intend to keep plugging along with my self-care efforts and to be sure that care doesn’t stop at workouts but flows into every other aspect of ways to care for my body. I want to make my care count.

 

Praise The Pie, Saints

So, I counted myself among the fortunate last Friday night. I got together with the crew and we sat eating snacks and drinking wine like any good crew will do, but after a couple hours, PIEthings got real. A friend came in with a Patti pie and our dispositions changed immediately. Was this truly the magical pie about which folks had been raving? Was I really going to get the change to treat my palate to a forkful of “If You Asked Me To” goodness? I was beyond excited.

Before we got started, we took a moment to read the back of the box. Mostly, the verbiage just talked about making much with the little one has, taking pride in one’s life, and enjoying life’s moments. I mean, how sweet is that? You know what I didn’t see on the back of that box? I didn’t see anything about Patti claiming her pie was better than anybody else’s mama’s, meemaw, ainie (Yes, “ainie,” not aunt or auntie. If you know anything about Black folks, you know what the hell I mean.), that her pie, when eaten in copious amounts, could never cause a spike in a diabetic’s sugar levels, suggestions one lay prostrate and worship the pie as his/her savior, or that the less than four damn dollars it costs to buy one is all part of her nefarious plot to singlehandedly bleed Black folks all over America dry financially. Nope. There wasn’t any of that. It was just a nice message about being a well-adjusted human damn being. Are you surprised?PIE2

Per the instructions on the box, we heated that thing up and sliced it as much as one can slice a somewhat small pie between six salivating sistas. And boy did we play it up. We took pictures. We sang a bar or two of Patti hits, and we even did a few dances in sheer anticipation of what the future with our forks might hold. I tasted that pie and was immediately impressed. No, it didn’t make me feel like my mother came over and baked my friends and I some pie. No, I didn’t close my eyes and imagine I was in the deep South on somebody’s grandpappy’s farm where fresh sweet potatoes were picked, boiled, mashed, and seasoned to perfection while grandmammy rolled out her homemade dough. But I didn’t need to feel any of those things. I just needed the pie to be good and that is exactly what it was. It was good. It was the very best store bought dessert I have ever had and every ingredient was evident in each bite I took. I can’t say as much for any other store bought dessert I’ve had. Sure, some have been pretty decent, but none of them came close to the experience I had that Friday night.

PIE3So listen, before you try to come off as super savvy in the kitchen (you probably aren’t) or as some sort of potato pie pontiff, just understand you don’t ever have to eat a Patti Potato Pie. Not ever. You don’t have to smell one, warm one up, slice one, or put that fork to your lips and taste one. There is no Patti Potato Pie mandate. There is no requirement to eat one (or several) in the interest of maintaining one’s Black Card. You simply don’t have to indulge. However, in the interest of decency and avoidance of general douchery (yes dammit, it’s a word), shut up about it if you don’t want it. Just keep eating that Sara Lee sadness with a dollop of wack whipped cream because that is what you like and that is wholly ok – just like it’s ok for me to be over here naked – crouched down in a corner – hording Patti Potato Pie straight from the pan. Plate? I don’t need no stinking plate.

 

 

FREE REFILLS

When I was a little girl, ordering a soda at McDonald’s meant whatever was in that cup was all I had to drink. I ordered, a worker poured my soda from behind the counter and that was that. If I finished my Hi-C Orange before my burger and fries were done, because enhanced-30752-1395980139-8McDonald’s uses those huge straws that suck up everything in one gulp, it just meant my meal ended on a very dry note. Over time, I learned to savor the soda with smaller sips until one day, magic happened. McDonald’s started offering free refills. I could get my same small soda, drink all that orange goodness, and then get myself some more until I was full or suffering from brain freeze and a tummy ache. It was a magical time in my childhood fast food life. Now, the same rules apply, but not just for soft drinks in restaurants.

Lately, I have seen so many women and girls thirsty for attention, validation, love, a compliment, etc…, they hang on the words of boys and men hoping to take any verbiage and turn it into that thing they need to feel satiated. If it’s an insult, they pick it apart, reassemble it, and present it to themselves as a flimsy compliment he really meant to give. If it’s disrespect, they break it down and try to make the words form something else like a Soul Train scramble board – so they can convince themselves that isn’t really what he meant and those words were just him joking because he’s so damn funny. They are willing to create the reality they wish they had and excuse the inexcusable because that need to feel relevant to boys and men is paramount. I understand that need, but it can never be met in the midst of unkind words and backhanded compliments because it simply isn’t there.

In the same way I got to start getting my own soda, girls and women have to start quenching their own thirst to be loved and respected. Feeling frumpy and looking for polls_phil_0041_631151_answer_8_xlargesomeone to boost your ego? Get in that mirror and tell yourself you look good. Feeling unloved and/or unwanted? Have a talk with yourself about how great you are, how smart you are, what a good friend you are, how hard you work, how you excel in areas, and you are worthy of love. Never be so thirsty, you will accept any old words as the validation you need – particularly not when you can fill up your own cup.

Like anyone, I love a good compliment. I like to feel wanted, relevant, and even vital. I thrive off positive attention and engagement with folks I know love and care for me, but when no one is around and I need a feel good moment, I get myself an extra-large cup and fill it to the rim because refills are free. ©

I’M TIRED, BOSS

I’ve spent the last week or so trying to process my anger and channel it into some sort of creative avenue to keep from cussing random folks out or slapping strangers, but so far, it hasn’t really subsided. Black Rage is real and at certain times recently, mine has given out to Black Exhaustion. I don’t really know if that’s a thing, but if it wasn’t before a sentence ago, it is now. I see Black Exhaustion as that level that kicks in after one is reminded for the umpteenth time about the world she lives in, sees an atrocity acted out against folks who look like her, rails about said atrocity via all the ways she can think of, then sits quietly seething but too tired to say much else. That last part? That’s the exhaustion. That’s when I’ve fussed, cussed, pondered, pontificated, and ended up pooped because it’s all just too damn much to process or work toward fixing in the moment.

Black-woman-sleep-at-workThese days, my anger is multi-layered. I’m angry at institutionalized racism and all its offshoots like police brutality against black and brown folks that too often ends with us on cold slabs in coroner drawers. I’m pissed off at a white racist with beliefs in extremist ideals who walked into a church and killed a group of folks who just wanted to spend an evening praying in what I imagine was the safest place they thought they could be outside their own homes. I’m annoyed about a white woman spending several years pretending to be a black woman like me, complete with my same struggles, my same obstacles, my same knowledge base, my same reality – sans the inconvenient disadvantages being a black woman REALLY has. I’m incensed by folks trying to tell me I should live some sort of color blind/post-racial reality where my people, my culture, my beliefs, our struggle, our pain, our history is erased all in the interest of making everyone more comfortable by not having to have the “race conversation.” I’m disgusted with black folks who cry “construct” regarding race but don’t do the same regarding “black on black crime” when they go into their rants about how black folks shouldn’t be mad about the Charleston church murders because black people kill black people every single day and nobody cares. I probably hate those people the most. All this anger leads to me wanting to just run away and rest, but how does one rest from a reality that will be there just as foreboding as it was before I buried my head in the sand?

black-woman-stressedI often scroll through news sites, the preview guide on my television, and my social media newsfeeds reading headlines and quietly saying, “Nope,” as I scroll on by high level f*ckery with which I am not prepared to deal. It isn’t an aversion to the truth for me. It’s just that exhaustion creeping in. That exhaustion I get from all the gibberish, the backlash, the innate duty I think I have to clue in the clueless, the mandate to fight against the ultimate disrespect to my people, the drive to trail blaze as a black person, a woman, and one who believes in decency among humanity. And in all this I wonder – is there a no doze for Black Exhaustion? Is there some sort of vitamin, energy drink, or exercise regimen for those of us who fuss and fight all in the name of the advancement and equal treatment of our folks? If there is, can I PLEASE get a prescription?pills

Much like I do when it is time to get up and go to work, I’ll keep driving. I will keep running my mouth, challenging untruths, tackling tomfoolery, and raging against all manner of balderdash, hoodwinkery, and poppycock passed off as righteousness. I just have to make sure I catch a few cat naps in between to stay fresh for that fight. ©

 

 

SAY YES TO THE SUMMER DRESS

I spent the greater part of my morning fiddling with my skirt and trying to think of new ways to make my stomach disappear without control top panties, a corset, or some quick pre-workday surgery. Unfortunately, none of those options were really viable or appealing, so I had to come to a realization or two – I look good as I am, even as I’m working on my body, and I need  to stop comparing myself to someone else’s body reality and remember to love and live in my own. 2f07044280693a5140b08330507333d1

The whole concept of body image and feeling good about being in one’s skin is an ongoing effort for me. I hate to call it a struggle because something about viewing my body that way seems counterproductive, but figuring out how to love it as is while working to improve it is most certainly a stru…er…challenge.  On one hand, I think about what my body looked like light years ago, pun intended, and I feel like I somehow ruined everything, but on the other hand, I think about how much my body has experienced, how well I treat it, how healthy it is, even if it doesn’t look the way I want, and how it gives me a great return on my investment in it. My blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol have never been problems for me. I eat clean more often than not, and I exercise. I should pat myself on the back for that – even if the back I pat has an extra roll on it I don’t like.

As is the norm around the warm months of the year, memes about women, warm weather, and summer dresses permeate my Facebook feed. Today, I saw this one and was immediately annoyed. 11196248_823727781052664_5193530587267528661_n (1)As a woman, I deal with enough. What I don’t need are folks scoping me out to see if I have a spare tire so they can spend time judging it. Whose stomach is this anyway? I spend my days concerned about my professional progress, whether I write enough, whether I can do what I love and support myself, and  if I’m a good enough daughter, friend, sister, writer, and thinker. I obsess enough over my body and have no desire to deal with others who are more concerned about my stomach than I am.

So ladies, if this warm weather has you itching to put on a summer dress – do that shit. Don’t make apologies for your body to any other person because you don’t owe anyone any apologies for it. Just make sure you get the cutest one you can find and that your stomach feels right at home in it. ©

 

Word Up

words1

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Yes indeed, that is often one of the first little mantras one learns in life and generally chants on a playground in response to other children being mean. From the time we are small, our parents tell us what other folks say about and to us really doesn’t matter and it is really all about who we believe we are. As we grow older and get into the dating and professional games, elders and friends tell us not to listen to what folks say, but to instead focus on what they do. “Talk is cheap.” So, we go out into the world with this very definite idea about words being irrelevant, but is talk really as low budget as we like to imply it is? Are we really the “rubber” we learn about as children that makes us impervious to cruel words or are we at times forever affected by the glue of what we hear?

words3I’ve always been a thinker. I am constantly mulling over what happened during the course of my day and sometimes, the course of my life. I often think about who I spoke to, what we discussed, what I read, what I would have said to the person who got on my nerves during the course of the day had I been given the opportunity, what I should write on this blog, etc… I still remember words people said to me in childhood, good and bad. Both play in my head and can alter my mood in that moment and every now and then, the way I feel about who I am. Because of this, I have a really hard time imagining myself as that rubber repelling the glue of other folks’ ugly words. I’m just not buying into it.

I think at one point or another, everyone has been injured by words. Unlike a bruise or Words5blackened eye that will heal and disappear over time, words stick. I hear them in the moment they are said and hear them resound loudly over time. I have been called stupid, ugly, fat, stuck up, and a know-it-all, among other things. Despite knowing those adjectives don’t truly define me, how realistic is it for folks to think I can forget those words and pretend they are meaningless?

Granted, I do not condone wallowing in words and allowing them to cripple me. However, to accomplish that, I have to make a conscious effort to see past insults and look inward for the ways in which I believe myself to be awesome. That isn’t always easy when outside forces are focused on the negative, but it is imperative for my self-preservation. Once a hurtful person utters cruel words, it takes a while for me to process it, refuse to lend any validity to it, and move on from it. Regardless of the length of time, I have to take every step to assure I end up in a good place unaffected, or at least minimally affected, by other folks’ foolery.

The main way to remedy the long term hurts words can cause is to be mindful of what one says. I make it a point to think about what I say before I say it. I don’t want to be one of the voices someone carries around in his/her head becuse I said something mean I can’t take back and the other person can’t forget. I don’t want to cause the kind of pain that resonates for years. Words4

So, yeah, sticks and stones break bones, but doctors re-break and set them. Words are something else entirely. They echo and they stay. A cast, sling, or a few band aids won’t fix what words can do so building an emotional armour that reinforces everything good about oneself is paramount in this life fight. In the meantime, I continue to make sure I don’t spew glue all over anyone else’s self-image.  Words can hurt worse than any stick or stone.

 

If you would like to learn more about the weight of words, like the Words Hurt Campaign page on Facebook.

Fat-tastic?

FAT

I hate shaming. If it wasn’t against what I believe, I would spend time shaming shamers so they could see how wrong and stupid they are. I am especially incensed by the constant barrage of verbal, written, and pictoral attacks on women who dare live their lives being bigger than a size 6 as well as the patronizing perspectives that call them “brave” and “unique”, as if good looking and sexy plus sized women are a rarity.  This whole one standard of beauty thing gets beyond old and I consider myself part of the growing resistance fighting this mistaken concept. However, in all my anti-shaming rantings, I find I am conflicted when it comes to what I see as the lack of balance between loving one’s body in its current state and pushing for a healthier body that may involve a little weight loss.

In scrolling through my Facebook timeline recently, I came across a friend who was lamenting what she took as society’s attempt to force her to whittle down her full-figured body via exercise and healthy eating. She boldly stated she loves her body, including every fat roll, and would never be deterred by anyone trying to force her to change it in ANY kind of way. Honestly, I found her conviction about the matter somewhat inspiring. I believe in her love for her frame and I definitely support the idea of being self-confident about one’s body regardless of its size. However, I also had a problem with her rant, which leads to the conflict in my head; somewhere along the way, in our quest to encourage women to love their bodies, big or small, we have failed to address the health issues that can be attached to obesity.

I can never be convinced we are all meant to be thin and I know thin is certainly not an FAT2automatic implication of fitness. However, what I do believe is we are all meant to be fit. Clogged arterties, hypertension, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, diabetes, etc…are all often weight-related and no matter how much sexiness one thinks she embodies, if those fat rolls are causing long term health issues, they need to come off through healthy eating and exercise. And this is where my quandary makes an appearance. How do we strike a healthy balance between encouraging women to love their bodies no matter what but to understand the relationship between obesity and overall health enough to know better food choices and purposeful body movement on a regular basis are imperative? We certainly cannot afford to continue to be dishonest with ourselves in the name of upholding our beauty. At least, I don’t think we can do so and WIN.

The very lovely plus sized fashion blogger and vlogger, naturallyfashionable. Check her out at www.thenaturalfashionista.com
The very lovely plus sized fashion blogger and vlogger, naturallyfashionable. Check her out at www.thenaturalfashionista.com

When I read that status update on my timeline, I wanted to applaud AND shake my head at the same time. Though I didn’t think it was my place to comment on it in that space, I wondered if she understood the misleading message in her efforts to promote self-acceptance. As often as we talk about big body beauty, we should talk about health and fitness. We should talk about exercise and foods good for these beautiful big bodies. And this doesn’t mean one has to try to chisel herself down to a tiny size to make the fit team. It simply means one has to consider her health and fitness status and find a way to make her good body image meet up with that healthy lifestyle. The two can coexist.

I advocate a positive attitude about oneself and am guilty of not following my own advice in that area. In my mind, I am constantly battlilng between feeling good about my body as it is and not becoming complacent when I still have much work to do in the fitness area. I still fall prey to the prevalant standard of beauty and sometimes forget to appreciate my body in all its current “bigness.” But as I work on getting my mind right, I will also continue to work on getting my fitness on track, even if my big body doesn’t become a small one. I owe myself that much. We all do.

 

DIVERSIFYING THE RIGHT WAY

Diversity is like a super buzz word uttered by folks from all sorts of backgrounds and professions. Stockbrokers advise everyone to “diversify” his/her portfolio, workplaces like to have “diversity” workshops to teach employees to respect and interact with all sorts of people, and I live in a country known as a “melting pot”, a cutesy term for “diverse location”, which I don’t think is the best description, but I digress. Diversity is a topic that comes up regularly in all sorts of environments and most folks seem to be all about it – until it comes to a woman’s appearance. braids

In fairly recent times, I’ve read responses via social networks, heard forums made up of single men, and listened to the rantings of all sorts of self-righteous women talking about how black women don’t love themselves, don’t value their natural beauty, and have fallen prey to the white standard of beauty because they wear makeup, enjoy a false lash every now and then, and the worst of all; because they opt to straighten, color, or weave their hair.

In all fairness, I will agree there are some black women who are afflicted with a growing self-hatred that leads them to attempt to alter everything about their physical appearances. Some of them try to counteract years of systematic degradation that implies they are not beautiful through the use of health and beauty aids and a good piece of Brazilian hair. And though this is a reality for many, it is not a truth for all black women.

Though I certainly acknowledge the presence of the aforementioned women, I do not believe they are a representation of all black women at all. What folks often fail to consider are the sistas who simply want to diversify. Remember earlier when that word was positive? Yeah, it kinda loses its support when it comes to the way sistas want to look.

I absolutely love being a black woman. I love my brown skin, melanin privileges, rounded nose, full lips, kinky hair, and strong curvy body.  I also love false lashes, makeup, nail polish, and every now and then, a really cute wig. Am I ashamed of my natural appearance? Not even a tiny bit.  And I definitely don’t use any of these accessories as a way of hiding who I am. I use them to enhance my appearance and sometimes, I use them to DIVERSIFY.locs

Contrary to those who insist any type of makeup or hair change is a way to cover up those attributes one finds shameful, I actually see them as a way to take beauty and make it bigger. I am pretty sure I am not alone in this thinking. I mean, who is it that grants a certain group of folks the power to determine a woman hates herself because she dares seek out a hair color, style, texture, or length with which she was not born? Is there a committee? Do they all meet once a year for a conference?

Something about the idea of a woman seeing me with a big ol’ weave of kinky hair on top of these locs and deciding I must hate myself and the way I arrived from the womb makes me irritable. The unfair, illogical, and overly generalized ways in which we judge one another are ridiculous and need to stop. If we truly want to ride the diversity wave, we can’t stop it when it comes to makeup and hair weaves.

As it stands, weaves really aren’t my thing and I have no interest in cutting off these five year old locs, but there may come a time when I want a little something different and if and when that time comes, I will absolutely not allow anyone to question me or my level of comfort with my blackness based on some hairstyle choice. India.Arie said it, so I won’t bother repeating it, but folks really need to understand personal style diversity and self-hatred do not always go hand in hand. Wearing a weave does not mean I hate my kinky existence any more than wearing glasses means I hate my eyes for their lack of perfect vision. I do not need educating or setting straight. I just like to keep my look interesting.kinky weave

I am all about loving myself and any kind of campaign, mantra, social group, etc…that encourages a healthy dose of self love has my support, but these rushes to judgment based on how a woman wears her hair and makeup has to stop. Folks are so unfair to one another and so quick to put each other in boxes that just don’t fit. If I can diversify the way I invest my money in the interest of a better future, I should be able to diversify the hair I wear while doing it. It’s only right. ©

 

 

 

 

Mammary Matters

Boobs, boobies, tits, titties, fun bags, lunch: good or bad, there seem to be countless names for breasts. They are objectified on tv, in print ads, in books, movies, and, of course, the music we hear. They are revered in some arenas and shamed in others. Women often hate or love their own, lament about having too much or not enough, and sometimes spend thousands to change the ones they have in some way. Breasts are even the topic of ongoing arguments among the haves (women) and the have nots (men). Though many try to avoid the topic altogether, breasts are pretty damn popular. Breasts are shaken to titilate (pun sorta intended), held in to lift and separate, or, in some cases, smushed together so they runneth over, and they are also used for an entirely different purpose – feeding babies.

This brings me to my point (I always had one, but talking about breasts sometimes leads to diversions): public breastfeeding. I recently read an article about a waitress who paid for a breastfeeding mom’s pizza as a way to thank her for breastfeeding her baby and as a show of solidarity from one breastfeeding mom to another (http://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/breastfeeding-note-from-pizza-waitress-pays-it-forward-164047499.html).  I thought it was a nice story and it lead me to talk about the way we see breasts and breastfeeding and whether or not there should be some sort of public breastfeeding etiquette.

For some, breasts are strictly for sexual pleasure, for others, the breast is all about Mother Nature, sustaining a baby’s life, and being one with the universe (I know that is a little dramatic, but it speaks to some of the conversations I have had and/or read about breastfeeding in public). For others, breasts serve both purposes. However one thinks of breasts, they are hypersexualized in this country, so it stands to reason some people are not prepared to see an areola and a little nipple action over pancakes at the local IHop.

I am all about breastfeeding. I do not have children to breastfeed at this point and do not foresee one I will have to pull out a nipple for in my future, but I do believe breastfeeding is one of the absolute best ways to nurture one’s baby. It is a bonding technique, a feeding technique, and a way to improve a baby’s mental, physical, and emotional health. Plus, if I am really honest, that stuff is FREE and who doesn’t like free food? So, to me, breastfeeding is far from an issue. I suppose the actual issue for many is whether or not a woman should pull out her breast and feed her baby in public or whether she should crouch down in a dirty ass locked bathroom stall at the mall feeding her baby while sitting on a paper toilet seat cover fully clothed.

For some, being prudent rules and they insist the woman should take the dirty toilet stall option behind curtain number one. Others are a little more liberal and don’t mind a little baby suckling time at the dinner table. I sort of fall in the middle. I see my breasts as both sex objects and potential life sustaining mechanisms. Were I a breastfeeding mom, I would like to think I would not let a little thing like a room full of strangers stop me from feeding my baby. Babies get hungry and moms go to public places, so to me, it stands to reason there would be times I would have to drop everything and tend to my baby’s hunger needs. Here is where my middle part comes in; it would never occur to me to pull out one of my magnificent gifts, expose it to everyone within a mile radius (they are pretty big ;-)), and promptly plop it into my hungry baby’s mouth. There are just some things that belong to me only and my breasts are two of those.

The same breasts I use to fill out a skimpy dress or stimulate my man are the same ones I would use to feed my baby. For me, feeding my baby does not change what my breasts are to me – MINE. If I wanted to share my breasts with the world, I would be naked online charging the same strangers from the mall a fee to take a gander at my mounds. I prefer to keep my nipples inside the confines of my clothes when in public and opt to share thme with a significant other, a baby, and my gynecologist. Breastfeeding should not turn one into an exhibitionist and breasts do not stop being breasts just because a baby is attached to the nipple. And yes, I know women breastfeeding in public is not some sort of call to solicit perverts and their undesired advances or judgmental people who think a woman is horrible for not going home to feed her baby. However, I believe in keeping my goods under wraps, or in this case, under a nice blanket or other similar item. I would never want to be the cause of an uncomfortable conversation in another household just because I think the world should be ready to deal with my areolas.

Despite my take on the matter, I do not think any woman should ever be relegated to feeding her baby in secret just to appease the masses. Breastfeeding is real, it happens, and oft times, it happens in public. No judgment over here, I just cannot imagine taking the same breast that served as a catalyst for my pregnancy and showing it to Randy the mail carrier who is at the mall picking up a double latte before dropping off his second batch of letters. I don’t know Randy.

I suppose the right way to breastfeed in public will always be up for debate, but I think I will stick with keeping my lady bits hidden from public view. I prefer others do the same.

Hi There, Hair There

The adoring smile, the slight head nod, and the respectfully spoken greeting, “How you doin’, sista?” have become part of my reality. Though I would like to attribute it to an awakening among black folks leading them to be kinder to one another, I really know it’s about my hair.

I have been “natural” for over seven years. For the past four and a half of that, I have been locking. From the earliest part of my natural hair journey, I have experienced some of the most interesting, odd, and sometimes outright ridiculous reactions. From comparisons to celebrity women with natural hair (even though I don’t look like ANY of them) to the “Can I touch its” and the “Are you really going to stop straightening its”, I think I have heard it all. For some reason, I’m either insulted or revered based on my hair choice alone. My interactions with others since I’ve been wearing my hair in its natural state have lead me to take a little time to dispel many of the myths that accompany the natural hair stigma.

Yes, I Still Wash My Hair

One of the more annoying responses I get about my hair is the combination frown and point. With a twisted up mouth and an accusing finger, people ask me if I still wash my hair. I would feel a lot better if I knew they were kidding, but the looks on their faces and their eagerness to pump me on the mysteries of natural hair assure me their ignorance is very real. In all my years of living (never mind how many years it’s been), I have NEVER come across any  hair that didn’t need washing. Of course, I’ve come across many people who pretend their hair isn’t dirty and wreaking of all things stinky, but that doesn’t negate the fact all hair needs washing. My hair is no exception and I wash it regularly, locs and all. Anything less would be uncivilized.

If you have ever asked a person with natural hair if he/she still washes it, consider giving yourself an open-handed slap across the cheek, picking up a hair magazine or two, and spending some time online learning a little more about natural hair. Natural doesn’t equal nasty.

I Only Burn Incense Because it Smells Good

For some reason, some people see my hair and assume I get up before sunrise each day, light some incense, then meditate, pray, write poems, do yoga, and eat something that doesn’t have a face. Though I do love incense and prayer, I don’t do any of those things because my hair is kinky. I burn incense because it makes my house smell good. I try to eat well because I want to look hot in my clothes. I love just about anything with real PIG bacon on it, and I work out for pretty much the same reason I try to eat well. I don’t have a spiritual awakening whenever I put fire to wick. I just want to light a candle because it’s pretty. Upon knocking on my door, you will not find me sitting cross-legged with my palms facing upward and my eyes closed. Aside from the trouble I would have trying to get up once my legs have fallen asleep, I would inevitably start thinking about bacon during the meditation process. This hair doesn’t come with special abilities. Any I have were present pre-locs.

I Am Not a Singer

People always look at my hair and ask me if I can sing.  Apparently, there is a large population of people who don’t know this, but natural hair doesn’t make one artsy. I like to put pen to paper and engage in laptop lovefests, but I’m not a musician. I don’t sit around with the aforementioned candles and incense writing songs and strumming my acoustic guitar. Sure, I put in several years of piano lessons and spent some time in the church choir, but I am nobody’s aspiring songstress and it is not a requirement for natural hair. I know an E from a B, but I learned that when I had pigtails and the barrettes with the cat playing the fiddle. This hair doesn’t make me a singer anymore than a toe ring makes me a fortune telling hippy.

I would quote India Arie, but that would be a bit trite. However, I will say the woman had a point. I am pragmatic, spiritual, and creative in many ways. However, I’m also in love with makeup, fashion, super short dresses, and stilettos. Those preferences may not fit into the neatly wrapped stereotype of a woman with natural hair, but I’m really too big to fit into something gift wrapped anyway.