Category Archives: About My Body My Image

Heineken Shows Pepsi How it’s done…

After the Kendell Jenner Pepsi debacle you would think that brands would shy away from trying to make “statement” commercials but Heineken has just launched an online commercial that is truly hitting the right note. I wish that the members of the American Senate and the House should build a bridge and have a beer…ok  I won’t spoil it. Take a look and try not to cry…

Camille A. Brown’s Black Girl Spectrum Symposium: More then just a Hashtag

Like most good things the hashtag’s ubiquity has diluted its power. The first clue was when a it moved offline and into daily conversation where you cannot actually “click” on it and see who else is talking about said topic. As the power of the hashtag wizens so does urgency and poignancy of some of the subjects that follow the symbol. Many of us hashtaging popular subjects never use the mechanism to actually enter the larger conversation. Two of the most popular hashtags in the African American community are #blacklivesmatter and #blackgirlmagic. I often use the latter when highlighting something positive or incredible a black female has done or is doing. I’ll confess that I have never clicked into the larger conversation via the hashtag. I am guilty as I have charged, albeit I have witnessed black girl magic in real life, and in person have “clicked” into the larger conversation. That is what took place on June 4th at the National Black Theatre in Harlem New York, when choreographer/Activist Camille A. Brown held her first ever Black Girl Spectrum Symposium.

Brown herself is the epitome of “Black Girl Magic”, she’s built  a successful career as a performer and choreographer, and though the journey had found her voice (both as woman and artist) and is now creating a space for Black girls/women to connect with their own. She is dedicated to encouraging them to recognize the beauty and brilliance inherent and inherited in something as simple (yet complex) as the games they play, and dances they do. Brown is virtuosic performer, able to physically code switch from Modern, West African, contemporary ,and Social dance, but it is the latter that has become her focus. She can often be heard asking the rhetorical question “Why isn’t Social dance recognized and respected the way ballet, modern are? Why isn’t it taught in the same way with the history and the technique? Because it is technique” And she has a point. Elements of Social dance have a ways been present and celebrated (though not recognized as such) on Broadway stages. The acceptable translation of the term is “Theater Dance”

Over the last year she has artfully woven a tapestry from her expertise in the historic roots of Social Dance and the unrecognized beauty and joy of growing up a Black girl in America. These things intersected when she began work on BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play (BL:LP) which was an investigation of her (and her dancer’s) youth, presented though the games, (social) dance and relationships Tracing the linage from the stomping rhythms of Juba (Giouba, Haiti: Djouba), to hambone hand games and hip hop, BG:LP reveals a truth seldom addressed, the humanity of Black girls. She is working on elevating these two things to their rightful place, one of sophistication, refinement, complexity, genius, and artistry. She has carefully wrapped these treasures up and re-gifted them to little black girls and grown black women around the country. Community is Brown’s legacy, and BL:LP allowed her to spin a web of connection through all the communities the company toured. The Black Girl Spectrum Symposium is the culminating result with local organizations. 60 young ladies ranging in age from 9-16 participated in a day dedicated to fortifying their development as creative citizens and leveraging the power of dance to transform, connect and activate community. Participants were selected from the organizations that Camille A. Brown & Dancers (CAB) has partnered with in New York City through BG:LP’s  Black Girl Spectrum Curriculum (complete list below). The theme of the even was (#) Social Dance for Social Change.

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Brown opened the symposium with a Dance “lesson” entitled Social Dance Through Time which tracked the origins of some common social dances. She guided them on journey from West African shores, Caribbean Isles, through Southern plantations, past reconstruction to present day illustrating exactly how through all our adversity, we have like Beyonce made Lemonade, and the whole world is drinking it. She shows these young ladies the mutable endurance that is their cultural inheritance. By teaching them the breadth and brilliance they unwittingly carry in their bodies when they do the running man, the butterfly or even twerk, they are empowered.

The Symposium’s adroit workshop leaders included Francine E Ott (Moving Towards Awareness) Paloma McGregor (The Political is the Personal) , and Audrey Hailes (This Power Right Here). Each woman’s offering included interactions amongst the participants effectively creating three small communities within the larger. The young ladies were not only asked to use their bodies but their voices as well. McGregor opened her session with the participants  seeking the origin of their partner’s name then sharing their findings, while teaching a portion of a her native New Orleans Second Line, Ott spoke of the importance of mental health, and believing in yourself enough to “Assist in your own rescue”, while Hailes asked the ladies to select defining words of strength and power then physicalize them.

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Ott Leads Workshop: Moving Towards Awareness

Not a moment was wasted, over lunch Brown sat with the ladies and shared her story of being a Black girl, dancer,  and choreographer, not just her struggles but also the revelations about herself that prompted her to create a space such as this. When the floor was opened one young lady eloquently asked how she could combat having her voice silenced at school; How do you “win” when someone makes you feel like your voice is not important? The elders in the room emotionally took her under wing, let her know that she was not “Crazy” to “imaging” this “feeling”… While muttering to themselves, that there is no real answer to that question, that they are all still working to figure it out themselves, they shared their tools with her and she was not alone.

The interactive Keynote was delivered by Maria Bauman, Dancing on the Razor’s Edge: Black Girl Prowess. In Bauman’s opening she took great care to identify the “Black Girl Technologies” that showed up in the room, amongst them she pointed out the “having of one another’s back”, and at the “I get you” reflected in a  sisterly“ Umm hmm”. She then illustrated the “Spectrum”  with a slideshow featuring the diversity that present within our community. Movement  was once again brought to the fore when she asked all to think of three words that came to mind when you think of Black Girls, they then made corresponding poses that they brought together on the stage of the black box theater. Since the sessions ran concurrently in closing the three groups showed the combinations from their respective sessions.

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Where I am no stranger to the community connection that is integral to Brown’s work ( for full disclosure I have both been moderator for her after show talkbacks for BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play and we are admittedly friends) and I am so stranger to outreach and workshops of this kind (as a teacher I have participated in many) the thing that was most unique and touching about the day’s events was witnessing both in cause and effect of these young black girls feeling safe enough to be children. Let me clarify: Brown often speaks about how too often Black girls are not seen or treated as children, but are hyper sexualized far too early which in turn makes it necessary to harden themselves from the male gaze, the projected stereotypes, the muting of their voices in schools, as well as the often harsh surrounding of their communities. This results in a loss of vulnerability, and freedom of imagination, and the inability to just play. It is the genesis of the coarseness often  associated with Black women. In the environment  of this symposium (safe, and allowing) these girls were invited, they were assisted in the removal of that heavy, cumbersome, ill-fitting armor encasing them. Their innocence, their tenderness, their baby soft skin was  allowed to breath and catch light. There was a lilting quality to their laughter, laughing with in support and joy, not at in ridicule for protection. Their voices lacked the edge that is associated with a neck roll and snap. They were not “sassy” but smart, silly and sensitive. They were are articulate in their expression and sensitive in the support of their fellow participants, they collaborated and created together. The workshops were held in “available spaces”, there were no doors or walls to separate them but somehow they did not encroach upon one another, as the girls were not “loud”. As an observer I floated freely through the sessions,  a witness. All the while I was trying to put my finger on this feeling I had that was at concomitantly familiar and vague… then it struck me. For the first time I was seeing little Black girls whose outsides match their insides, they wore their softness, and vulnerability like beautiful robes. They were the antithesis of their stereotype, they were simply little girls dancing, playing, sharing…

As a child I was fortunate enough to have a childhood, but as an adult I have watched the eradication of it sweeping through our country like a plague. American children Black, White, rich, and poor alike are being stripped of this magical time, forced to grow up too fast and face adult realities too soon.sometimes as product of socio-political prejudice and poverty, sometimes it’s the barrage of information and marketing directed towards them. Historically, Black children in America have had to be acutely aware of themselves and the effect of their Blackness on others, and adroit at navigating the hostile space that is their country. This doesn’t leave much time for play, naiveté or faux pas. Through everyday dance, Social dance, Brown has been able to not only give these young Black girls their space, safety and the luxury of play, but she has also given them a linage, and legacy that enables them to honor the Black Girl Magic within them. This is the meaning of #SOCIALDANCEFORSOCIALCHANGE.  And while we all click “Like”, “Share”, “repost” “Retweet” and adopt the hashtag, let’s not forget to “click” into the actual community and truly join the conversation, or better yet the action.

Local Participants:
2016 Black Girl Movement Conference
Bailey’s Cafe
Brooklyn Museum Project
Black Girl Project
Brooklyn community Arts & Media HS
Devore Dance Centre
Girls Talk/guys Talk
Gotham Professional Arts Cooperative
Little Maroons Childcare Education
Ronald Edmonds Learning Center
Sadie Nash Leadership Project
Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation
The Women’s Group at THE POINT CDC
YouthStand Coney Island Leadership Program
Young Adult Literacy Project@ WestFarms Library

 

Teen Vogue, Shows “Ethnic” Beauty in its original form…

Hosted by Teenvogue.com Borrowing from other cultures has never been trendier—or more taboo. From afros to cornrows, henna to headdresses, cultural appropriation is a trending topic on the tips of tongues everywhere. (To get caught up on the conversation, look no further than Amandla Stenberg’s brilliant, critically acclaimed video Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows where she breaks it all down.) The countless call-outs, egregious offenses, and heated debates swirling on social media ignited an important dialogue within the Teen Vogue office: Where does cultural appropriation end and cultural appreciation begin? We asked seven real girls—with epic hair!—to weigh in. Here, in their own words, inspiring young women reclaim their beauty looks with an ode to the cultures they came from.

Kyemah McEntyre on her Afro:

 

 

“I am African American. The reason I wear my hair in an Afro is because I think it expresses exactly who I am, where I come from, and the people who have paved the way for me. I used to have a perm but I asked my mom to cut it off when I was in seventh grade. I’m superhuge on expression and individuality. I found it very difficult to be myself because I was comparing myself to others who had straight hair. There are a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions about black people and black hair. We shouldn’t have to question wearing our natural hair to a job interview; I wish people just understood how strong and beautiful it is. I think cultural appreciation is about understanding that you can’t just take aesthetic properties from a culture. Our hair is not an accessory. It’s literally who we are.” @mindofkye_

Daunnette Reyome on her feather:

 

“I am Native American from the Omaha tribe in Nebraska. My Indian name means ‘shooting star.’ I wish the world knew that we do still exist. And, no, we don’t all live in tepees. When I see people in headdresses or Native American accessories, I feel disrespected. They don’t know the meaning behind it, how we wear it, or what we do to earn it. This is a real eagle feather. It doesn’t just fall off an eagle and someone says, ‘Oh, here — it’s yours.’ You have to earn it in my culture. I feel powerful when I wear it, more confident, and more connected to my ethnicity. I’ve never been embarrassed about being Native American. I take pride in it. I love how spiritual we are — it’s like we’re in tune with the Earth and the universe. I know there’s no other culture out there like mine.” @daunnettethemodel

 

Check out the others it’s really powerful and inspiring:

Me ‘THINX’ Panties for women who have periods are taking over the MTA

I still find it amazing how squirmish people get about women’s periods. It’s quite silly really considered that 99.9% of women have them. I also find it fundamentally insulting that where women’s bodies can be sexualized to sell everything from men’s watches, cars and handbags when it comes to marketing a product made for a female biological norm all of the sudden there can be such a thing as showing too much skin. Well New York City’s MTA tried it and failed. The new ads for the moisture  wicking panty THINX are  innovative, artistically subtle , and were apparently too much for Outfront Media, the company which approves most of the copy and images for review before the MTA. ( click here to understand how these babies work)4d203c60-6945-0133-0b9b-0e76e5725d9d

 

Here was their response:

a64290d0-6960-0133-0c32-0e34a4cc753da206fcf0-6960-0133-0b9a-0e76e5725d9dCrazy right? Bustle.com did a great post about it:

A few weeks ago, THINX’s director of marketing, Veronica del Rosario, called her boss, crying. “I was feeling so defeated,” Del Rosario remembers. She’d been going back and forth with an ad agency on the creative for THINX — aka the “period” underwear‘s — ad for weeks, and she was finally convinced that THINX wouldn’t be able to run their ads on New York City’s subways.

Del Rosario said that an agent at Outfront Media, the company which approves most of the copy and images for review before the MTA board, already had several issues with the ads, starting with the company’s slogan.

“When we said the text would read ‘Underwear for Women With Periods,’ the agent said, ‘We won’t be able to run the copy as is,’ we could only assume that meant they didn’t want us to use the word period,” Del Rosario tells Bustle. She also said that a male agent asked her what would happen if a kid saw the ad. Del Rosario said he also took issue with the word fluid, as well as the pictures of the grapefruit (meant to symbolize the vagina) and eggs (meant to symbolize a woman’s ovum), she says. “He said they were too suggestive … as were the women in their underwear,” Del Rosario tells Bustle. His suggestion was to use white silhouettes with black underwear, she says. This, despite the fact that several of the ads depict women in turtleneck sweaters.

 

Hardly skimpy.

The agent remarked, “‘Don’t make this a women’s rights thing’ — and then he hung up on me,” Del Rosario tells Bustle. That’s when she called her boss, cofounder and CEO Miki Agrawal, crying — and they went to the press.

While the MTA and Outfront Media has commented that the concern over the word period was brought up by an Outfront representative before THINX had officially submitted the copy for the ad — and before the MTA or Outfront Media had formally had a chance to review or reject it — Del Rosario says she felt the entire process was “an uphill battle,” and one that operated under the assumption that talking about women’s periods was potentially inappropriate. According to the the MTA’s guidelines, subway ads can’t depict “sexual or excretory activities” or materials that promote a “sexually oriented business.” THINX, which markets underwear for women on their periods, was doing neither.

 

After going back and forth on the copy and images, Del Rosario says she began questioning the agent on the obvious double-standard behind his edits — especially when there are so many far more suggestive and objectifying ads on the subway, featuring both naked women and grapefruits, like this infamous one.

And this one.

 

Read the rest here

Essena O’Neill invites us to -Let’s Be Game Changers, as she exposes the “Fakeness” of Social media

It’s not a mystery that Instagram is saturated with highly edited, photoshopped and filtered photos where people present not only the “best” of themselves but sometimes altogether fictitious representations of themselves. There are people who have made careers out of their postings. The Kardashians are the best example of how lucrative perfect posting can be.(Remember the story about how Kim and Kanye spent their honeymoon editing one wedding photo)

Where Instagram is a wonderful way to share your world with others, participating in it opens you up to being judged, insulted and bashed . It is a perfect environment for the development of insecurities about your life, relationships and yes your body. When people have the capacity to present an image of their lives with all the hardship, drama, and well…reality extracted smoothed out filtered it can make you feel in adequate and less then. When you engage in it yourself you open yourself up to a level of scrutiny and judgement that can range from simply harsh, to cruel. Social media is the superhighway of cyberbullies.

Well Essena O’Neil for whom social media is her industry, has had enough and deleted her social media pages, and officially re-named her IG account “Social Media Is Not Real Life”

 

In this Youtube rant sh explains why she has made the shift:

then retaliated by starting a site that exposed how those perfectly lit Instagram pics are made, Let’s Be Game Changers. I think its a wonderful idea, though it takes a while to stop a train that is going 300mph every little pump of the breaks helps. I think it is a witty and intelligent way to expose that we already know but often forget to take into consideration. If something like this can remind us that those images that we are coveting have a less then authentic back story perhaps they won’t have such an effect on the way we feel about ourselves, o r at the very least we can giggle at her captions…

NYT Editor Jazmine Hughes shares how dressing like Empire’s Cookie Lyons for a week shifted her self image…

I Dressed Like Cookie for a Week to Get Over My Imposter Syndrome

Six months ago, I was hired to work for the New York Times. Ever since then, I’ve struggled to feel like I really deserved the job. Would dressing like I was the most formidable character on Empire help?

Like all good things, it started at brunch. It was a bitter January, before Empire even premiered and the idea that I would ever wear a leopard-print fedora was even a possibility. I was sitting in a restaurant, sipping my tea and absentmindedly checking my email, patting myself on the back for the biggest accomplishment of my life so far — going to two brunches on the same hungover Sunday morning — when a hiring editor at the New York Times magazine emailed me about a job opening. I choked on my tea.

Several weeks of interviews and edit tests followed, but through it all, I kept thinking: There’s no way I’m going to get this job. Most of this anxiety was rooted in not looking and feeling the part: For one, I’m not a white dude. My career is relatively inchoate; my editing experience meager. I don’t speak any other languages. I didn’t go to an Ivy League … I can barely spell the word “February.” It seemed totally unlikely, so I forged ahead, practically insouciant, convinced I had nothing to lose because I didn’t have much to offer.

Then, one afternoon in March, the editor-in-chief called me and offered me the job. He paused a little for dramatic effect; waiting for Ashton Kutcher to pop out, I did too. I finally gurgled some approximation of “thanks” in response, but what I really wanted to say was: “How dare you make me make such a life-altering decision on the day of the season finale of Empire?

Empire is not a particularly good show — it’s highly implausible, cloying, sometimes preachy — but it’s an absolutely perfect one. I started in the middle of the first season, gobbling up each episode like the decadent treats they are until I was finally all caught up. I found at the center of the show, sweetest of all, there is — and forgive me for this — a pretty tough Cookie.

Taraji P. Henson’s portrayal of Cookie is rich and luxurious, both out-of-this-world fabulous (she left jail in a cheetah dress and a fur, exactly what I want to be buried in) and around-the-corner familiar (every black person has a cousin called Cookie, for reasons we will never explain). Ever confident, Cookie’s primary goal is to reclaim her space; her mission, known from the first episode, is “I’m here to get what’s mine.”

I’m now six months into working at the Times — markedly less full of anxiety and ineptitude since day one, but despite working with the kindest and most attractive people in journalism, I’m still pretty uncomfortable. I love my job, but there are still days where I’m convinced I don’t belong, racked by the fear that someone is going to find me out and show me the door. This is called impostor syndrome, which I know a lot about (I’ve even written about it): a state in which a person isn’t able to accept their accomplishments, chalking it up to luck or a mistake. But what I like to think I have is an enhanced impostor syndrome: a state in which a person goes, “No, I know about impostor syndrome, I’ve actually read the entire Wikipedia page, but this definitely isn’t it, I actually am completely incompetent.” (But that’s just … impostor syndrome.) Either way, I figured: Hey, if Cookie can regain the space she’d lost, then maybe I can carve some space out for myself.

Dressing in Cookie’s finest was a departure from my usual garb, what I like to call “background actress in a nonspecific media setting” — Warby Parkers, a blazer, T-shirt, skinny jeans, Converse. I brought a pile of clothes home from Cosmopolitan.com HQ on a Friday night after warning my desk mate about my imminent new look. I began my Monday commute in piles of jewelry, a leopard print skirt, and leather shirt. People were mostly unimpressed by me on the train, but I was impressed by every woman who’s ever gotten through an entire day in giant heels. My entire life flashed by, sad and pimply, through my 40 bar-holding minutes standing in platforms.

 FOX/Kathleen Kamphausen
This is possibly the best photo ever taken of me in my life. I don’t know how Kanye West wears a leather shirt every day. I’m schvitzing.

 

I stumbled to my desk. My coworkers noticed my new look immediately: tuts of approval, questions about where I bought everything. But on the second day, when I arrived in the leopard-print dress, bag, and precariously cocked hat, I had to come clean: I was doing this for an article. None of the clothes were mine. Yes, the shoes really fucking hurt.

 FOX/Kathleen Kamphausen
Continue the Article here

Demi Lovato Bare- Vanity Fair shoot gives her the chance to show her healing

For those who have followed Demi Lovato’s career you are well aware that in her young life she has achieved and endured much. The former Disney star has enjoyed success both in television and on the pop charts but the pressures connected with life in the entertainment business also lead to an all too common stint in rehab, and an eating disorder. It seems that now Lovato is on the back end of those troubles and her new strength of self as allowed her not only to go bare faced for her new Vanity Fair shoot, but bare bodied as well. When Lovato reemerged onto the scene after being treated for her eating disorder, she was healthier inside and out which of course sparked some not so pleasant or supportive conversations about how her body had changed, (which was exactly want a recovering person DOESN’T need). She weathered the storm and has become a wonderful success story for all those girls and women out there who are having body image insecurities, or suffering with eating disorders, you CAN overcome and as Lovato says “Love the skin you’re in”

“In the past, I suffered from eating disorders and I basically went from hating every single inch of my body to working on myself and trying to figure out ways to love myself, love the skin that I’m in. I learned, after working very hard on my spirituality and my soul and my body, that you can get to a place where you love the skin you’re in. And I’m excited to share that with the world.”

Mindy Kaling on Body Image…If we could all get to this place….

You know Mindy Kaling the chubby Indian girl from the office, and from her own show the Mindy Project?… Oh It’s totally fine that I called her chubby, she’s cool with it, just don’t call her stupid!!!

poses in the press room during the PEOPLE Magazine Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on December 18, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California.
poses in the press room during the PEOPLE Magazine Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on December 18, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California.

“You know what’s funny? If I call myself a cute, chubby girl, the natural kind woman’s response is, ‘You’re not chubby! You’re beautiful! And thin!’ And I always want to hug the person and say, ‘It’s OK, I identify as someone who is cute and chubby – that doesn’t mean I’m not worthy of love and attention and intimacy.’ And also, my priorities are not such that I’m mortally offended by someone thinking that.”

 

“Insults about the way I look can’t be the thing that harms me and my heart the most. It has to harm me the least. If I have a daughter, I’m going to tell her that. Far too many women are much more hurt by being called fat or ugly than they are by being called not smart, or not a leader. If someone told me that I was stupid or that I wasn’t a leader, or that I wasn’t witty or quick or perceptive, I’d be devastated. If someone told me that I had a gross body, I’d say, ‘Well, it’s bringing me a lot of happiness.’ Like, I’m having a fine time of it. Having my priorities aligned like that has helped me have a happier life, I think.”

Her new book  Why not Me? comes out in a few weeks check it out

What The ‘Ideal’ Woman’s Body Looks Like In 18 Countries

I have very conflicting feelings about this…

I think this is an experiment with good intentions, but I think that the perspective of its originator is highly evident given the way it was undertaken. They took a photo of a woman, this woman:And gave it to photoshop experts around the world to make her into the ideal woman in their country…  The first question I have is “Why do we need to work with a specific template?”  Where I am pleased that she is on the “larger” side (I guess they had to have something to take away…) why are we using the image of one white woman in a multi-cultured experiment?

Why not just ask the photoshoppers to use a picture of a woman FROM their country and then doctor that? This way  Egypt would not have to darken her skin, and China would not have to blacken the hair and change the eyes, and we could get a real sense of what their ideal is. The act of photoshopping already creates an uncomfortable distortion, and the changes to make this image somewhat culturally represent their nation makes the images even creepier…

The other thing that irked me is the once again there are no BLACK – or Brown nations represented yes there is South Africa but they went with the “White” South African aesthetic….Surprise Surprise. Where is Kenya, Nigeria, India, the West Indies? Once again the Black or African ideal of beauty is nowhere to be found, we don’t even rank…Wonder why I write a blog about body image? Anyway check this out:
Hosted by: HuffingtonPost.com

What does a “perfect body” look like? It depends who you ask — and where they are.

UK online pharmacy Superdrug Online Doctors recently created a project called “Perceptions Of Perfection” that features 18 photoshopped images of the same woman. The company hired designers from countries around the world to photoshop a stock image via Shutterstock to reflect the beauty standards of their specific countries.

“Widely held perceptions of beauty and perfection can have a deep and lasting cultural impact on both women and men,” a Superdrug press release reads. “The goal of this project is to better understand potentially unrealistic standards of beauty and to see how such pressures vary around the world.”

The company asked 18 designers from 18 countries spanning five continents to photoshop an image of a woman to fit their perception of the culture’s beauty standards. Below is the original image before the designers photoshopped it:

Click to see the rest :

What The ‘Ideal’ Woman’s Body Looks Like In 18 Countries