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3 Pearls- Steps to Recovering Your Sense of Self


When I started this forum there were certain things I was clear about and aware of in relative to the subject of body image because I had made a study of mine in particular. I have always been infinitely interested, it matters little the subject I just have to know. By nature I am a highly introspective person, and have always sought to understand the deeper meanings of things whether personal or worldly. I have never been one to simply “take things at face value” instead I prefer to take a concept, idea, or belief, hold it up to the light slowly rotating, and analyzing it until all sides have been scrutinized and all angles revealed. When I started My Body My Image it’s fair to say that I had done my personal “due diligence” in terms of my own issues, I had identified them, uncovered their roots and tributaries, I had mapped my emotional, psychological and experiential terrain thus I felt comfortable enough to share my findings openly, and honestly with whomever stumbled upon the site. The most delicious thing about this process is that I almost everyday I learn something new, either about the subject, myself, or about how others in this struggle come to a better understanding and harmony with themselves.

Throughout the years I have managed to craft a workable philosophy that has been one of the keys to creating a sense of balance for me in a world (and my mind) that is in constant flux. Through trial and error and the “working” of it in my daily life, personally I know it to be effective. After years of suffering internally with feelings of inadequacy on many levels, (achievement, body image, relationships) and struggling to make some sense of it all, trying desperately to survive it, I arrived at these, my coping tools: Acceptance, Appreciation, and Respect, these were the elements I strung together like raw pearls on silk twine, and wore them around my neck for protection. In times of uncertainty or pondering, I could touch them lightly or roll them between my fingertips and remind myself that there was something larger. That for whatever was going through my head or heart there was a more substantial idea, something real though unseen that had the weight to anchor me into myself. These three concepts reinforced my sense of worth, and validation by reminding me that the simple act of being meant that I was enough, perhaps not perfect but enough.

When I touch the pearl of Acceptance I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes by the indomitable Eleanore Roosevelt “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” When I start to feel not good enough, unworthy, or small, I finger that pearl and ask myself: Is it the situation, the circumstance, or the person making me feel this way? or is it a feeling I already harbor about myself that has somehow been agitated? Does that sense of inadequacy sit at the bottom of my spirit like a finely ground power, benign and stable so long as it stays dry, cool and tucked away in the darkness, but add water, just a drop- in the way of a side glance from a woman, or a trigger word from a parent or friend, and it begins to bubble up into a corrosive, caustic brew that quickly and silently eats through the self esteem and empowerment that just moments before was the solid foundation upon which I stood? The question is, which is the active ingredient the water or those things that lie beneath? Water is just water, as human beings it is 80 percent of our biological make-up, my money is on that powdery substance of insecurity and doubt that like pollen in the springtime gently settles upon us as we go through life until one day it makes us sneeze.

Throughout our lives we tend to collect things without thinking, thoughts, ideas, and beliefs. Periodically we need to purge. I have learned the importance and the necessity of “Spring Cleaning”. I have to go into the recesses of myself and assess what works and what doesn’t, what fits, and what I have outgrown, this includes everything from behaviors to friends. I must clear out the baggage; discard the issues that I had unwittingly subscribed to. Month after month kept arriving, and I like a mindless snacker kept consuming without question. I had to dust! Recently I committed to taking better care of the antique furniture that I inherited from my Great Grandmother Ruth. I went to the hardware store and bought some old school Liquid Gold Wood Polish. Not the spray kind but the type you have to pour out and get a rag to spread, the kind that makes your furniture gleam. Upon opening the canister the scent wafted out and I was instantly thrown back in time to when I was little girl. I was the baby of nine and on chore day it was my job to “Do down the stairs” with a dustpan and brush, and to dust. I hated dusting! First of all it took too long and secondly everything in our three-story house was made of wood! When the aroma hit my nostrils I was 8 years old again, and there was a rush of innocence and weightlessness that came over me. That is what happens when you dust…

It is through this pearl of Acceptance that I realized that, before I begin to judge myself I need to first know who and what I really am. Maybe its not so bad .We tend to spend so much time looking at other people either in the act of coveting or judging we lose sight of ourselves. It reminds me of the title of Erma Bombeck’s book from 1976 “The Grass is always Greener over the Septic Tank” If we stop straining our eyes and necks trying to see what some else has we might realize that we already have all that we need. Once you know who you are, you can then decide who you want to be, and make choices going forward that support that. Through Acceptance I understand that I control not only the way that I feel emotionally, but also the way I feel about my Self. This understanding creates my reaction and relationship to how others feel about me. If you don’t know–if you don’t decide who you are, then anyone can make you believe anything about yourself, good bad, or unimportant. Eleanor Roosevelt also said, “Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.”

Acceptance, is not just about accepting yourself but also about accepting the responsibility you have for and to yourself. If you want to take the credit for the success, then you have to be willing to take the blame for the faux pas and failures and know that either way it’s all right. We also have to accept that we are human, and that is a messy and imperfect state of being. When we cultivate an acceptance for ourselves we instantly begin to have an acceptance and allowance towards others, enter compassion…

Sometimes in fragile moments my finger finds the second pearl on the string, that of Appreciation. This is one that I have mostly experienced through the feeling of guilt “You never miss a good thing until it’s gone”. Whether it’s people, things, situations, eras, or health, this adage is so true. As I mentioned before I am the baby of nine, and one day a group of us were hanging out in the kitchen. Somehow we landed on the fact that our mother had nine of us one at a time. There are no twins in our clan. So someone calculated that our mother had spent 5 1/2 years of her life pregnant. We all looked at her astonished! A bit self-conscious My mother replied “Well when you put it like that it does sound horrible, it didn’t feel like that” It started a whole discussion about would you rather be pregnant for five years straight and be done with it or do it normally. My mother said if she had to do the time straight, she wouldn’t have. When you think about it like that, all strung together it’s seems impossible to fathom, but it’s odd how thinking about something slightly differently can change the perspective of that thing. If I linked all the times I have sat and complained about my body, either as a dancer or as a woman I probably would end up with a number that was double to that of my mother’s collective pregnant years. I feel like most of my life has been spent obsessing or bemoaning what I had didn’t have, or wanted, in regards to my body. Conversely if I strung together to times I loved what I looked like, saluted myself, or acknowledged that I was good (as a dancer) or beautiful, lovely, gorgeous, or even not so bad, that timeline would be of no comparison at all. It is not until you lose something that you comprehend its value. As a dancer when you are injured, or age sets in and one’s facility is not as facile, when your health is compromised, or when some one you love is ill or dies, it is only then that you realize that even in your seemingly imperfect state, you are ultimately still blessed. Blessed simply because you are, and really as horrible as it sounds— as long as you are alive it can almost always be worse.

I was 26 when my father died. Though it sounds a bit trite, he was my best friend. More specifically he was a friend to my mind, he understood not only me, and the way I thought, but also the world I lived in and my particular point of entry, therefore he had the ability to council me with a depth of comprehension, compassion and always with utter honesty. I recall the bittersweet moment when he told me that the man I loved did not love me, “At least the way you ought to be loved” he added to soften the blow of reality. He told me when I was getting “chunky” and I needed to watch it. He told me that I tended to see the world differently then most people (including my family members) and that might always to have me standing on the outside but he assured me that it was okay, contrast creates context. After all, the only thing that makes the inside the inside, is the fact that here is and outside. My father was a ballet father and would drag me to the theater, or make me watch the PBS dance specials when I preferred to watch Three’s Company, he often wore me down with discussion and debate, and his is corny jokes, he was exhausting!!! As his illness began to claim his body, and a disturbing frailty replaced what had always been sinewy strength, I was confronted with the reality that the body, though extremely resilient, has its own vulnerability and was subject to breakdown. Weakness has always been more disturbing to me then the idea of death. Death I had experienced early on in my life weakness never. At the age of eight I had been introduced to death when my brother of twelve passed away. It was then that I learned that not only old people die. When I watched my father draw his last breath and I witnessed the peace that came over him upon his soul’s release, it was then that I fully appreciated how full of life he had been, and how much passion for parenting he had possessed.

Since that time, there have been other instances, other losses that have acted as reminders that one should always live with a certain level of appreciation for one’s body, one’s life, in whatever form it takes. Through this forum I have learned to extend that concept to the appreciation of one’s body regardless of its form, weight or size. There is no such thing as perfect, and we may never be what we want, but if what we have works, it more than good enough. I always say that I practice Bikram yoga begrudgingly and it is true, there is a part of me that hates it. I do it not so much because I love it, but more because it works. I get annoyed when I think, “Damn and I going to have to do this for the rest of my life if I want to hold on to what I have left, and prevent losing more?” I am pissed to have to get up, pull myself together, get all sweaty and overheated just so that I can walk with a bit of comfort from my hip, so I can teach class and manage to demonstrate, and so that I can look somewhat the way that I want to physically. But then I take a breath as I trudge up that hateful hill to the studio, and I work towards appreciation by changing my “have tos” into “get tos” I get to do this and I am blessed that I can! I get to do Bikram as much as I’d like (or require) and I can afford it, I have to appreciate that. I get to practice, and I am physically able to and at this point it’s pretty much a breeze (if you have ever taken Bikram you will appreciate the irony of the word breeze in various respects) I have to appreciate that. I get to experience the results! I have to appreciate that I found something that works, some people aren’t that lucky. If I look at my Bikram practice the way we figured my mother’s years of pregnancy, basically I have to endure Bikram for about 7 hours a week. That’s 28 hours a month, which amounts to a little over one day. That’s not so bad.

There is a line in the classic movie Marjorie Morningstar (Natalie Wood and Gene Kelly), someone asks Marjorie’s Uncle Sampson how he’s doing and he replies “I have my health, the rest is mud” that’s kinda my how I feel about it sometimes. If the best or the worst you can say is that you have your health you’re doing all right. Can you imagine being broke or homeless (two conditions that are bad) while you were ill? I have seen people who lead lives of plenty and for all their money they could still not buy their health. In the end even though they could afford the best medical care (which is really important) it still wasn’t enough. If you have your health you have to learn to appreciate the importance of that, because the rest…is mud!

Which brings me to the last pearl on the strand Respect. Respect is so complex and layered; it is a complicated matrix of reasons why we respect something or someone, and why we require it ourselves. Respect is the thing that gives us a sense of validation, acknowledgement and value. It not only implies that you have been seen but that you have been accepted and are held in high regard. It holds within its definition an idea of power, and prestige. Even though on one hand we talk about how no one else’s opinion should matter, in truth we don’t live in a vacuum, humans thrive and rely on one another for physical and emotional interaction, and ones standing within the “tribe” is of paramount importance. However we should not place or replace the opinion of others before or above that of our own. When it comes to respect for our selves, and our bodies it is about creating an intimate relationship with ourselves (mentally emotionally, spiritually and physically) that cultivates an understanding of our functionality and how optimum functionality is arrived at for us. Self-respect if about doing what is best for one’s self and making the best choices possible, be that in people or food. It is learning to take care of ourselves, inside and out. We often expect others to treat us well and yet we abuse ourselves in a myriad of ways daily, from negative speak, to eating badly, not exercising, or getting involved with people who don’t have the best intentions towards us. Respect really does start at home by drawing boundaries that define what is acceptable and what isn’t, and demanding it from ourselves; then we can demand that other tow that same line. When we honor our own beliefs, our values, our philosophies, we begin to stand in our power. When we begin to see our bodies as the vessel that houses the essence of our being and more then a reflection of the ego, or something that is used to attract, perhaps then we would begin to see others in another light as well.

When you respect something you take care of it. I am finding that with age conscientiousness towards one’s body begins to develop. When my father was sick someone once told me,” Well if you keep something for 60 years something is bound to go wrong” and it true. I am beginning to understand why whenever you talk to older people they are always coming from the doctors, going to the doctors or making a appointment, that’s because the older you get he more frequently you have to get things checked out. I have reached a point where I am (in respect for my body and fear of cancer) starting to be more diligent about going to the doctors, the dentist, the gynecologist and ophthalmologist. The irony is I think about how I am happy to get a facial, laser hair removal and will spend copious amounts of money on creams and make-up but when it comes to going to the doctors I have to push myself. T’ruth be told, part of that is I am always afraid that I am dying of something. Respect is a pearl that is a bit heavier than it’s sisters as the other two (appreciation and acceptance) are housed within it. With respect for ones self comes a sort of facing of reality, if we are so lucky, we do get older and things change, we don’t look the way we once did, and we might have to work a little harder at it. We have to appreciate that we are living to see the history of our lives etched into our foreheads, that every moment of laughter now parenthetically frames our mouths, and that though we move a bit slower we still get there…But then the words of Uncle Samson echo in the back of my head “I have my health, the rest is mud”

These three pearls as I like to refer to them as are the foundation of my philosophy and the tenants that My Body My Image is based on: Acceptance, Appreciation and Respect for one’s self, for one’s body. They are not easily arrived at, they are by-products of constant work, and personal housekeeping- dusting, and polishing if you will. We as a society have an addiction of sorts to the body and its image, the commercialization of which perpetuates the issue. We cannot seem to create a relationship to and with it that is healthy and balanced. We share the same sort of relationship with food; it’s either too much, too little, good for you or bad. We obsess about it; it shadows almost every area of our lives. These pearls I have discovered help quiet the chatter, create balance and help me stay somewhat centered. They are to me what the 12 steps are to addicts, they are my steps towards recovery. Like an addict I works the steps, and take it one moment, one day at a time. I encourage you to “Wear your Pearls!!” They are classic and go with almost everything.

Why Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Beauty Campaign Matters

It was announced today that celebrated author, feminist, and aesthete Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the face of British brand Boots’ new beauty campaign. The campaign launches today, and according to Huffington Post UK it will include print, digital, and TV components. But it is much more than that.

Adichie’s new gig is a statement that real women, serious women—the kind who write critically acclaimed novels and give TED Talks with outsize effects on politics and pop culture—also care about beauty and fashion. And Adichie is as serious as a woman can get. She is a MacArthur “genius grant” recipient, the author of the critically acclaimed novels Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun. Her seminal meditation on feminism, “We Should All Be Feminists,” was not only sampled by Beyoncé, but is now required reading for every 16-year-old boy in Sweden.

It’s empowering to see Adichie dismantle the double standards that deny the complexity (which is to say, the humanity) of womanhood.

As a woman who writes about white supremacy and police brutality as well as summer fur and beauty products, it’s empowering to see Adichie dismantle the double standards that deny the complexity (which is to say, the humanity) of womanhood. I need to see that a woman, a Black woman, can shift global political thinking and sit front-row at Dior as both a guest and muse, as she did a few weeks ago in Paris.

Still, a writer? The star of a beauty campaign? Writers can be egregious offenders of glamour. After all, we are known to spend days on end in sweats, tapping away at a keyboard, and surviving on Special K. No one says it, but it’s understood that if you are a woman who wants to write about Serious Things and Be Taken Seriously, you should not look like you take yourself too seriously. In a 2014 essay for ELLE, Adichie, who grew up in Nigeria, makes the following observation about studying at an American university: “For serious women writers in particular, it was better not to dress well at all…if you spoke of fashion, it had to be either with apology or with the slightest of sneers.”

Serious male writers are given permission to love comic books and video games. Hell, some of them even make second careers doing it. So to watch Adichie publicly take pleasure in aesthetics and to be celebrated for it is a hopeful shift.

It’s political, radical even, that one of the biggest British brands has tapped a dark-skinned Black woman writer to represent them.

Beauty is political. As the photographer Joel-Peter Witkin wrote, “Beauty is each culture’s peculiar fiction.” The dangerous fiction that our culture peddles is that dark women, largely, can’t be seen as beautiful. What our culture upholds as beautiful, if we’re to judge by looking at the runway, mainstream media, and advertising, is predominantly white, thin, and young. So it’s political that one of the biggest British brands has tapped a dark-skinned Black woman writer who writes about feminism, colonialism, and Nigeria to represent them. Colorism often excludes Black women who aren’t mixed-race or mixed-race-passing from being considered as beautiful.

In recent years, against the backdrop of the galvanizing spirit of Black Lives Matter, we have seen the world rushing to diversify and be more inclusive. But to see the identities and politics that Adichie represents celebrated in mainstream ways is still going to be peculiar, to use Pitkin’s word, for most people.

But this “novelty”―that serious Black women writers can’t indulge in or write about fashion and beauty―must be normalized. In her essay “We Should All Be Feminists,” Adichie writes: “I like politics and history and am happiest when having a good argument about ideas. I am girly. I am happily girly. I like high heels and trying on lipsticks…. I wear them because I like them and because I feel good in them.”

Me too, girl. And I’m done having to choose.

And Adichie’s current Glow Up in no way takes appreciation away from her sartorially savvy fellow writer, Zadie Smith. The writer, who has been known to stun in Altuzarra, Proenza Schouler, and head wraps that will one day singularly inspire a runway collection, is also deeply passionate about fashion. She, too, is a cover girl; Smith can be found on one of seven of T magazine’s “The Greats” issues.

So often, when we are trying to find language around a new idea, we do the very thing that we are trying to escape. We pit women against each other. Instead of expanding what womanhood looks like, we unwittingly replace one standard with another. In the quest for fullness, we constrict women. We fail to remember that we are fighting for representation of all forms of womanhood, not just those versions that have been allowed. We cower to old habits instead of rising to imagination.

To write this piece, I felt it was only right to slip out of my sweats and into something befitting not only of Adichie’s style, but also of my own. I wrote this essay in a starched white Oxford, a pair of my grandmother’s Chanel earrings, and lips coated in my favorite brick color.

I see Adichie’s refusal to succumb to sloppiness or other people’s expectations as weaponized glamour—using beauty and style in direct, political ways that subvert dehumanizing expectations. It’s a form of protection. There is a tremendous confidence in facing a hostile world with a good outfit.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Mirrors are tricky things. When you look into them they don’t always show you what you want to see, like when the Witch in Snow White asked that fateful question “Who’s the fairest of them all?” she got her feelings hurt. In real life these inanimate reflective surfaces hold so much power, and sway that we literally become slaves to them, and when they do not show us what we want to see horrible things can happen. Things much worse then poisoned apples, living with a few dwarfs or sleeping in a glass coffin for a while. A bad turn in front of one can result in debasing words, to surgical augmentation, to starving ourselves in order to get the right “answer” from our mirrors. Most of us don’t have fun house mirrors in our homes, although you have to admit that those dressing room mirrors come close. But Seriously if a mirror starts talking back to you perhaps you’ve been watching to much Harry Potter and should get out more!   The truth is that it’s not the mirrors that are distorted it’s what we hold in our heads. We are the voice in the mirror, but where does our voice get its information? The messages of beauty are inescapable, from the moment you wake up, sit in front of the computer, turn on the television (that’s even  before you step out of your home) we are in undated with images, and suggestions as to what “beautiful” is and directed towards the products and tools to help us become that because—clearly we all aspire to be that vision of beautiful….

 

 

Due to my training and career as a professional dancer there has scarcely been a day in my life since I was 3 years old that I have not been in front a mirror for at least an hour a day. Those inescapable reflective surfaces have been a necessary tool to aid the mastery of my ballet technique, I looked to the mirror to ensure that my leg was behind me in Arabesque, or that my arms were perfectly curved and sloping gently downward from shoulder to finger tips. Mirrors have helped my check my spacing between dancers and they have even helped me cheat when I didn’t know the combination. I have seen myself execute beautiful developpès, petite allegros, and grande waltz combinations across the floor. There were times when it confirmed that I indeed had what it took to be a dancer, that the lines I had worked so diligently to achieve had been arrived at and that I did possess a bit more then mere potential. Conversely those very same mirrors also reflected how I was inadequate in almost every way. Starting with the chestnut hue of my skin,which in no way matched my ballet pink tights and slippers. (It wasn’t until I trained with Dance Theatre of Harlem for a summer session that I was introduced to the brown tights and matching slippers that all of the sudden made be feel like I belonged at a ballet barre.) Then there was the image of my non-bun. For the longest time the two fuzzy ponytails that I pinned criss-crossed behind my head stood as reminder that I was not like the others. As my ballet classes were always at the end of the day, my once smoothed hairline or “edges” as they are know to Black folks were always sweated out and created a fine kinky halo around my face, wrong again. There was nothing more that I wanted then to look smooth and polished like my classmates. Then there was the roundness of my backside, that had many a teacher tell me to put my “po po” in.

As I matured as a dancer I learned to avoid the mirrors, an epic but achievable feat in a dance studio. I would chose a barre that was out of range of the mirror, in center I would opt for the back line, being taller than most of the females in class (another issue the mirror pointed out) my strategic placement just looked like courtesy. When confronted with my image in class I learned to look past myself as not to see. Though a sophisticated technique of avoidance, it did teach me how to create depth and distance in a small space, quite useful in studio showing and when I finally got on stage. However it did not help me get past those often debilitating feelings of inadequacy and being nothing at all what I most wanted to be.

Outside of the studio my passive aggressive relationship with mirrors continued as an extension of what I experienced in the dance world. Having spent so much time trying to be a sylph, (white and lithe) that I had unwittingly adopted a very Eurocentric concept of beauty. Of course I had help, everywhere I turned there was an array of beautiful white women selling me (and everyone else) something, clothing, make-up, cars  a life style you name it. My favorite models at the time were plastered all over my walls. There was a raven haired, full-mouthed model that longed to look like. As it turns out it was Janice Dickenson.

 

 

 

I can remember finding the first photo of Beverly Johnson

, angels sang, and then came Iman.

Thank goodness for Essence Magazine! I began to scour magazines trying to find photos of the two to place on my wall. Almost subconsciously I place these women of color over my bed and slowly Janice was exiled to the far wall, I still adored her but there was no way I was ever going

 

to be able to look like her. By pushing her away and keeping my brown icons near, I was willing myself to keep my dreams, my desires realistic.

 

But when I looked in the mirror there was still a problem. Where I certainly didn’t look like Janice Dickenson, I didn’t look like Beverly Johnson or Iman either. Both had “classic” beauty but shaded brown. Though they were images that seemed in some way closer to me, or achievable in a sense, they were just as unobtainable as the Janice Dickenson image just in a darker shade. It just was not me; and would never be. This reality reflected was more painful then the image of myself as a dancer. When you don’t see people like yourself somewhere, subconsciously it says that you are not supposed to be there. Since I had never really seen a black ballerina, it said to me that in a sense I was not supposed to be there, or want that for myself. The fact that I danced was an anomaly not a natural occurrence. That feeling was compounded by the fact that in addition to taking ballet and being one of the only black students in the school, from first to sixth grade I went to Baldwin Academy for Girls in Bryn Mawr Pennsylvania where for 3 years I was the only black student from K-9th grade. From an early age I was very used to being the “Other” and exception, but when I look at images that were supposed to “represent” me and not see myself there it  planted another strain of inadequacy and insecurity.

It has been scientifically proven that beauty is about symmetry, but it’s also about structural alchemy in a sense. It’s about the balance of your facial features and how they blend and play off of one another. Like the face the body is about proportions and shape. For instance through the eras the preferred female body type regardless of size had a .7 hip to waist ratio. Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn both had the ratio.  When I look in the mirror the truth is that I where I do see elements of what society considers to be attractive, it is just not in the right balance to make me beautiful. I am attractive but not beautiful, those are different things. I have never seen a woman in a magazine that resembles me either facially or physically. People always tell me I look like Whoopi Goldberg, who I think she is stunning, however society does not how to “classify” her. She is not classically beautiful, she surpasses “Exotic” and though black people are familiar with her “look” may have and aunt or cousin who looks like her, the narrow perspective of beauty determined by the Eurocentric standard does not recognize it. What to do? What to do?

As I have matured I have learned to deal with some of the feelings of inadequacy that I have cultivated from the societal standard of beauty and fitting nowhere into it. I stop looking. Not at myself, but at fashion magazines, I stopped listening to what the fashion and beauty experts said on television shows. I stopped exposing myself to the things that made me feel bad about myself, that were toxic to my head and heart. I started to question the edicts that we readily conform  and subscribe to without thought. I started to shape a new more elastic idea of beauty, one that could include myself in a way that I had never been before. I started to create tools that would work to balance my head and soothe my heart, different ones for different situations tucked away in my toolbox.  2 years ago I began to practice Bikram Yoga, the “hot” yoga that insists that you look yourself in the eyes for 90 minutes. I prefer to look at my navel, I like my stomach, I take pride its flatness and the six pack in a way that I have never my face. I have never liked my face so looking into my eyes for 90 minutes is hard, not because of what I see into myself but because I don’t want to look at my face. It has gotten better. I have used my yoga time to look and see myself and find things in my face that I like, and to try not to be so critical. It’s step by step, well in yoga more like pose by pose.

So the next time you find yourself in front of a mirror and you ask that fateful question: “Mirror Mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” just remember that you are the voice in the Mirror and if it still wants to talk trash reply “Shut your trap or down you’ll fall.”


 

MBMI Summer Dance Intensive Cheat Sheet

Hello My Lovelies so here is the deal.

I have compiled some of the post that I think are helpful and inspirational but I want you to surf through the DANCE STUDIO and see what else might be there for you. If you find something feel free to copy the link and post it on the Fan Page letting the others know they should check it out. Good LUCK!
Here is a series that explains the importance od proper pelvic placement and a demonstration of how including exercises!!




HOW TO CORRECT HYPER-EXTENSION
Here are some simple concepts that will help you change the way you “think” about “how” you straighten the leg, and some exercises to help you first find the proper muscles to lift the knee cap up- (not back) and then strengthen the muscles above the knee then so that the leg with be strong and secure. I find that it’s best to try to find and connect with these new muscles outside of class where you can really focus solely on isolating the area. In class there is too much to worry about (the combination, the counts, the arms, moving across the floor, trying to turn and jump). These are simple exercises that can be done on the bus stop, while waiting for the train, (and you won’t look crazy!) or when you are just standing around. This way you can put the muscular information into your body when you can concentrate and feel what you are doing. The body will remember and when you do get into class you fill find that the muscles will start to fire almost without thought. It’s also a good idea to add these exercised to your warm up so that you can set up your legs before class to set. Don’t get discouraged, it’s new and seems daunting but the body learns and responds quickly. Stick with it

Hear Erika explain what she felt when she employed the concepts we talked about…

Dancer Madeline Crawford – Her Body Story- (her secret to success- her Dance Journal)
Here is the second installment of the Physical Therapy Tips (search physical therapy- or scroll the dance studio for the first) There is a new one about every 3 weeks!
Dance has no Shortcuts:There is no App for that!

The WORK WORKS (when it comes to changing you body!)

Check out what Dancer/Choreographer Camille Brown has to say, her Body Story is amazing!


search “Camille A Brown” for the 2 other segments

Here is Alvin Ailey’s Linda Celeste Sims talking about Body Maintenance:


Dance has no “Short Cuts”-There’s no APP for That!
The Original GPS, the problem is not your body but your mind!
Get the most out of your training: 5 things young dancers should do to
An Open Letter to My Body
Here are the instructional Videos on how to correct Hyper Extended legs (Harmony!!!)

Why representation is so important: Our U.S. Female Justices are protecting our reproductive rights in Texas

If was are not at the table we can not participate in the conversation, nor can you effect change. These women have a seat at the table and are putting to the screws to Texas’s solicitor general, Scott Keller  in the case of Texas’s HB2, a wide-ranging bill whose purpose is largely to regulate abortion providers into non-existence.  Jezebel.com posted this great article about the hearings, and I have to say reading the proceeding, and hearing these women systematically pick apart the  prejudicious arguments for regulating clinics that provide abortions is heartening. You have to read this!!!

The Supreme Court’s Three Female Justices Are Fighting Tooth and Nail for Reproductive Rights 

Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt, a challenge to Texas’s HB2, a wide-ranging bill whose purpose is largely to regulate abortion providers into non-existence. From requiring clinics to abide by the same building codes as a surgical center, to requiring physicians to have admitting privileges in nearby hospitals, the TRAP laws have been successful with its intended goals; before HB2 went into effect Texas had 41 clinics, it now has 18. At stake yesterday was whether or not HB2 went too far, placing an “undue” burden on the women of Texas, many of whom drive hundreds of miles and take days off of work because the state’s mandatory waiting period.

And, to be clear, the stakes are high. If HB2 is allowed to stay in place, more clinics will close and more states will pass similar laws (Florida is slated to pass an omnibus bill similar to Texas’s). But as Dahlia Lithwick at Slate points out, there was one primary difference between yesterday’s arguments and 1992’s arguments in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey (the case that gave states the right to regulate abortion providers): namely, there are more women on the court.

During Casey, Sandra Day O’Connor was the lone woman on the court. Yesterday, Elana Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor relentlessly challenged the oft-repeated language that TRAP laws “protect women,” and that regulating abortion providers into the ground is the beneficence of the state.

Lithwick writes:

It felt as if, for the first time in history, the gender playing field at the high court was finally leveled, and as a consequence the court’s female justices were emboldened to just ignore the rules. Time limits were flouted to such a degree that Chief Justice John Roberts pretty much gave up enforcing them. I counted two instances in which Roberts tried to get advocates to wrap up as Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor simply blew past him with more questions. There was something wonderful and symbolic about Roberts losing almost complete control over the court’s indignant women, who are just not inclined to play nice anymore.

Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor relentlessly challenged Texas’s argument, probing the state’s reasoning that regulating abortion providers was done solely out of concern for the well-being of women. Kagan pointed out that liposuction was more dangerous than abortion, and Sotomayor said to Scott Keller, Texas’s solicitor general, “According to you, the slightest health improvement … is enough to burden the lives of a million women.”

Sotomayor and Kagan volleyed back and forth, slowly unraveling the thinly-veiled argument that HB2 is really invested in the medical safety and protection of women. Lithwick writes:

[…] Calmly, poker-faced, [Kagan] asks Keller: “You said that as the law is now … Texas is allowed to set much, much higher medical standards, whether it has to do with the personnel or procedures or the facilities themselves, higher medical standards … for abortion facilities than for facilities that do any other kind of medical work, even much more risky medical work? Am I right?”

Keller agrees. Then Kagan asks: “And I guess I just want to know, why would Texas do that?” The room erupts. Keller says complications. Kagan says that liposuction actually has greater complications. Keller says Kermit Gosnell. Kagan says nothing that happened in the Gosnell case could have occurred under Texas’ pre-existing regulations. Sotomayor says colonoscopies have more complications. Finally, Keller says, “But legislatures react to topics that are of public concern.” And that is what matters. Not women’s health. Politics.

Jump to Jezebel to read the rest

Dance/USA Conference MIAMI

On June 18th, 2015, I was very honored to be a speaker at the Dance/USA conference in Miami Florida at the Adrianne Arsht Center as a part of Race and Dance Townhall: REAL TALK Part 1. I was invited by Michelle Ramos Burkhart who was curating several sessions for the conference as a part of Dance/USA’s attempt to address the topic of race and diversity. She had read my article ‘The Misty-rious Case of the Ballerinas of Color: Where have they gone?’ and was interested in having me speak about it. I have to admit, although I was honored that the piece was gaining traction, I was apprehensive about the idea of attending, let alone being on a panel discussing the issue, at a ”conference”. Let me explain. I am a cynic, and in my experience, that cynicism I speak of is well placed, as almost every “talk”, “town meeting”, or “panel discussion” I have attended has always left me feeling like I had just witnessed a circle jerk (it is a crude reference, but it’s on point). If you have ever attended one, then you know exactly what I mean. Let me introduce the cast of characters:

The Moderator – who moderates either too little or way too much.

The Academics – who are talking to themselves, they come off as superciliously wanting to alienate those not of their intellectual ilk or of the “Academy”. Where they bring great points, their presentation seldom moves the conversation forward as much as around in circles (that generally revolve around them).

The Historians – who are not so much enamored with themselves (as are the Academics) but with their information, they often have trouble effectively tying that information into the conversation.

The Droner – someone either on the panel or in the audience who goes on and on. You pray that the moderator will cut them off, but they never do, and people start to get uncomfortable, shift in their seats, kick the person next to them, smirk, or sigh under their breath.

*This is only my exaggerated perception of these events, this is how they come off to me I told I am a cynic..

Another issue I have with these scenarios is that they are seldom honest, organic conversations, but more D@$k swinging contests where nothing revelatory happens, just a regurgitation of the obvious. In the end, I felt like I was at the Nickelodeon Kids Choice awards…slimmed.

I did not want to be an active part of that motley crew.

Another reason I was a bit apprehensive about participating was because of my reputation for being brutally honest, albeit with a great deal of wit and humor (a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, but even still). I have the ability to lance the chest and spear the heart with my honest observations. It took a great deal of thought to find the right tone for my article, ‘The Misty-rious Case of the Ballerinas of Color: Where have they gone?”. Finding the best way to express sentiments about the Misty Copeland narrative that were rumbling in the community for a *long time and not have it read like an attack was an exercise, both as a person and a writer. When I clicked “Publish”, I thought that I would have to enroll in the witness protection program. To have received no backlash from it  has left me slightly incredulous. Where I have confidence that I can be that judicious and diplomatic in the privacy of my writing space in a live conversation? I’m not so sure. When impassioned, there is no telling what might be propelled off of my tongue. I was not certain that I had reached that level of buddhistic mastery in this area, so the idea of participating on this panel gave me pause.

Denise Saunders Thompson (Chairperson/Executive Director of International Association of Blacks in Dance) and I became acquainted through an anointed faux pas. She arranged an “invitation conference” call with Burkhart so the three of us could flesh out what these sessions would really address. I voiced my concerns, the largest being that every time you have a gathering to talk about race, diversity, or lack of fair representation, the people who are in control of, and who perpetuate the issues are NEVER present. They never have to be accountable, or bear responsibility for their actions or non actions. We, the congregation end up singing an old hymn to the same choir…and we all know the words. This scenario is as classic as ballet itself, as traditional as the corps de ballet being various shades of pink: I have always found their unwillingness to engage the subject with the “subjects” dismissive, reductive, and a clear indication that they just don’t give a damn. I operate under a simple premise that has been illustrated through time: people show up for what matters in their lives – people make time for what matters to them, and they don’t when it doesn’t. #hesjustnotthatintoyou. What usually results in these gathering is a room full of people who are afraid to call out those in power and tell it like it is (in public). It’s like a verbal version of that game “Mad Libs” where the lengthened pause means “insert proper noun here”.

 

My other issue (as I write, I see that I have a lifetime subscription) was that often you can gauge just how useless a session is going to be by the racial composition of the room. Generally, there is a room full of brown people with sprinkles of well-intentioned white people who are either brave enough to be present, or who think that their ability to be in a room full of soon-to-be-heated Black people talking about very charged and painful things “says” something about who they are, how “liberal” or “down with the cause” they may be (raise fist here). And where this might be, most of the time it’s all for naught because everyone in attendance already agrees. There *is no real “debate”, just head nodding and an occasional “amen”. The wrap up generally consists of the questions, “So what do we do now? Where do we go from here?”, and since the people who have the power to make the changes are nowhere to be found, the  answers are the same: nothing and nowhere! Once again, the proverbial tree of issues has fallen in the forest, and the only people to hear it are those who chopped it down. I knew that this was an important invitation, and it would put my work on the “national” stage, but I was not so sure that I wanted to play to that particular house.

After hearing my concerns, I was told that last year the composition of attendees was quite diverse, and that a great effort would be made to have some of the people with the power in the room. Once I was on board, there were several conference calls with Amy Fitterer (Executive Director of Dance/USA), Burkhart, Thompson and my fellow panelists, Kaisha Johnson (Women of Color in the Arts WOCA) and Tanya Wideman David (Assistant Professor at University of South Carolina and Co-Artistic Director of Wideman/Davis Dance, also former DTHer). We worked to clarify what we wanted these sessions to address and important points. The second session, which was to address the funding of diversity initiatives, presented some problems. I was clear that I wanted to talk about the efficacy and sustainability of programs like ABT’s Project Plié and the New York City Ballet diversity initiative that the organization is actively seeking Black representatives for. (To do what exactly? To date, no one, not even the people who have been contacted, and who have agreed to participate, seem to know…you see, this was my point). There was talk about a number of diversity/funding issues surrounding choreographers and companies of color. In the end, after coming back from the Grantmakers in the Arts conference Fitterer found a different direction for the second half to follow. Therefore, I will only talk about the first session that I personally actively participated in.

I was nervous going in. It was my first foray into these waters and it was primed for missteps. However, I have to say that having some friendly faces there was a comfort. I was thrilled and surprised to see that Tina Williams, former Ailey dancer is now the Director of Facility Rentals at the Arsht center. Seeing her face made me feel bit at home upon entering the Arsht center in the morning. As I made my way to our conference room, I was soothed to see Lane Harwell from Dance/NYC (who I know from another life) and Jenny Stahl (Editor in Chief of Dance magazine who I met when she had just graduated from NYU and started working at DanceMedia) were attending. Then there was also Anjali Austin (a former DTHer and Associate Professor of Dance School of Dance Florida State University), Michelle Ramos Berkhart’s daughter, Ellenore Scott (a former Ailey student of mine turned company director, ELSCO) and of course Denise Saunders Thompson. Their presence helped me navigate these uncharted waters as they sat in the audience. If it makes any sense at all, where I did not feel ready, I did feel prepared because there were elements of my past, present, and no doubt my future, in those seats.

Burkhart opened and asked me to give a brief synopsis of the article, why I wrote it, and the response to it. However, before I got into that, I had to ask the audience a very important question and offer the participants in the room the opportunity for us to enter into an agreement together. I told the audience that I believed that the United States is in this racial maelstrom today because we as a society are unwilling to have an honest conversation about race. A conversation that is messy, and scary and full of anger, resentment, blame, frustration, rage, ugly truths, and guilt which are the by-products of a culture created and rooted in systematic racism. I told the White people in the room, “I know that your first response when you hear certain things is to deflect, or become defensive, but I ask that, on this day will you/ we commit to working to stay open, to listening and letting it land. Hear it, don’t push it away, or make rationalizations. Take it as a truth that you never knew, could not know existed because you are White. Take what is being said as authentic feelings based in a reality that you cannot, will not  “understand”. Where it will feel personal, try not to take it personally. And as Black people, it feels personal and we are going to try to move past that feeling to get to the greater possibility. I ask that we collectively try to have this courageous conversation, and authentically look at the reality as difficult as it might be, and if we could not, then we should all just go to the pool now and have a cocktail”. We all agreed…

What transpired in the next 90 mins was interesting. Quite honestly, I can’t comment on whether or not people in the audience had the feeling that I get when in their position, but I will say this, it seemed as if something had opened up when we finished. We started with my article, and Tanya Wideman Davis brought in the reality of the trope of the ballerina, the aesthetic, and the mythology of her (pure, chaste, ideal beauty) and the idea that Black women, and our bodies historically (and presently) have never been allowed to be perceived that way – the black female body has always been portrayed as “deviant” and “sexualized”. I brought up how stressful it is to be Black in America, living knowing that you are enemy #1 and constantly having to *prove that you are not the “stereotype” of your race. I added the fact that as a little brown girl (or boy) stepping into the extremely white world of ballet, you not only bear the responsibility of becoming proficient in the technique, but you must do so while carrying the weight of your race on your back. Little white girls don’t have to struggle under that burden. I added, we [Black people] know that we are not supposed to be there because we do not see ourselves there — not as teachers, administrators, not even as receptionists. We talked about the “D word”, diversity…I charged them, “If you want to know how you are doing in terms of diversity, just look at your life, look at your friends, your office, your school, programs, organizations and companies…Diversity is not hard”. I said, “You don’t have to have a lot of money, or an initiative to create diversity…all you have to do is open the door and welcome people in”. Several audience members added their thoughts, including a woman who is the sole African American booking agent in the state (yes, the state) of Florida, who finds herself being what I call the “Negroscope” for companies, presenters, and theaters alike when they are trying to “diversify”. Another women (white) spoke about not realizing the realities of the stress of being black, and how she longed to ask questions but friends always tell her “You can’t ask that!”. I (along with others in the room) poo pooed that notion. I encouraged her that any question asked authentically and with good intentions is usually fine. Denise Saunders Thompson, broke it down to money and vision–when she said that it really boils down to “ Look who gets, the funding…the way the Artistic directors of companies see things, because it’s their vision that we are seeing – until that changes, none of this will change.”

Toni Pierce (former Ailey dancer and Co-Founder and Artistic Director of TU Dance) mentioned the number of Black ballet dancers in Modern companies and the idea that there were some who never wanted to be ballet dancer, which spoke to the elitism of the world of Ballet as better.. Davis also talked about the validation that Black ballet dancers seek from White companies…it got deep, it was a rich and vibrant discussion from where I sat, but hell, I was already over stimulated…

 

As we wrapped up the session, I announced the launch of museumofblacksinballet.org, a digital archive of Black Ballet dancers I am creating, and I took the opportunity to do our first “flash MoBB” where I asked everyone to connect to the site at once. The Museum of Blacks in Ballet project is in direct response to what I wrote about in my article. One reason the erasure of a legacy of black ballerinas can occur is because of the inefficient and inaccessible archiving and documentation of that history (we’ll deal with the idea that the contributions of Black people to history across the board is often diminished or overlooked later). I, along with my partner Phil Chan, have decided to try our best to contribute to the solution. Please check it out, we are still in the building stages, but take moment to scroll the Roll Call, in itself is a moving tribute. There will be more to come as we build out the site, so please keep checking in and if you are so moved, become a member and donate!!!

For me, those were the highlights, and I have to say that the room was charged and full of optimism…not to sound crass, but it always is, it’s like post coital endorphins are released…I was very pleased to know that the following people were all in attendance:

Glenn McCoy, Executive Director, San Francisco Ballet

Ellen Walker, Executive Director, Pacific Northwest Ballet

Kathy Brown, Executive Director, New York City Ballet

Doug Singleton, Executive Director, Charlotte Ballet

C.C. Conner, Managing Director Emeritus, Houston Ballet

Afterwards, I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. McCoy, Ms. Walker, and I believe Mr. Conner. We all agreed that we should continue the conversation and that Ballet companies can benefit greatly by engaging in a dialogue with the Black dance community. I look forward to the possibilities.

I have to say that over all I had a surprisingly wonderful experience; I reconnected with some people who I have not seen in years (decades) and I had a great communion with Kaisha and the WOCA women who are powerful, inspiring and hella entertaining…sisters in all forms of the word…

It has been a few weeks since the conference, and I have checked in with a few fellow speakers and attendees and we all have the same question: “Do you think anything is going to happen? Do you think anything is going to change?”. I can say that only time will tell, but I will also say that I will be holding folks accountable. We have reached critical mass, and as a people, we are sick of being a faddish initiative, or a charity case. If you say you want diversity, then you have to work for it. It’s not going to happen “organically”; the world we live in is socially “organic” and you see how that’s working for us. So if you want it (and all the funding money that comes with it) then roll up your sleeves, pull your waders on, and let’s get to work. This, [racism, lack of diversity] in this country is not Black people problem (we did not create it, we do not sustain it, though we live under it)  this is a White people problem and only White folks can solve it*. Talk is cheap, let’s get to action, movement, and since as dancers that’s what we do, it shouldn’t take long for us to get the combo…so 5,6,7,8, ready on the 1.

* I’m not saying that Black people don’t have to contribute to the solution but the larger work, or inclusion, sharing or resources, equality of opportunity are for White people to do their work within themselves to solve, then we can really get somewhere….

Check me out- I’m a Vivey lifesylist!!!

I am so  honored, pleased and proud to be a Vivey Lifestylist.

One of the things that I love about life, well my life is that I have been so fortunate to have students turn into friends and fabulous designers!! Celia Arias is one of those people. We met #$% years ago when she was a student at Hollins (then College) University and I was her ballet teacher, an artist in residence. I moved on she graduated  moved back Argentina, and then back to NYC and when she returned she was pregnant. Well not literally but creatively. In a way she asked me to be a Godmother of sorts, and finally the day arrived. Viveylife is here! I have garments named after me, how cool is that!?

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About the brand

Vivey® was created to bring a dancer’s effortless grace to every woman. Our mission is to bring our knowledge of the human body, every strength, limitation and curve, to the clothing we make. We create more than a look that matches your day — we create a feel that matches how you flow from moment to moment. Designed by combining the intuition of a professional dancer with that of a designer, Vivey® is more than activewear, more than dancewear.

From work to workout to out for the night, Vivey® is the way we dress, the way we create, the way we live. Ours is a curated collection to match your femininity with the possibility that each moment holds. We are dancers, dreamers, and doers. We make every move count.  Forget grace under fire. Our motto is:  ‘Bringing Grace back into Power’

Check out Viveylife you are going to love the style, functionality, the MESH SHIRT!!!  if you order use the promocode theresa20 and get 20% of of you purchase!!!

5 day Mesh Skirt Challenge!! Celi gave us the challenge of wearing the skirt 5 days in a row 5 different ways, here are some of the looks.

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#KylieJennerLipChallenge = #Stupid with a capital U

 

This is the most asinine thing that I have ever heard and seen. So Kylie Jenner the 17year old unsupervised, high school drop out, who has been rumored to be dating a 26year old rapper Tyga, this young lady (I stress young, I stretch lady) ceaselessly posts provocative pictures of her body, which appears to have been surgically augmented, breast, buttocks, and lips which brings us to this idiotic “challenge”. Ok so apparently Jenner says that she has not had lip injections and her brother in (common) law says that it take her 40 mins to plump her lips every morning…. Thus people in the internet created #KylieJennerLipChallenge  where they try to emulate the temporary augmentation that Jenner subscribes to DAILY (to perfection and with scary consistency) by placing a bottle or glass over their mouths and creating suction. This draws the blood to the lips, but if over done (like once too hard) it can have horrific results…

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I know I shouldn’t judge, but how exactly do you spell DUMB ASS?

There is so very much wrong with this. First of all  here is some life advice: if you are going to cheat on a test, never cheat of of the stupidest person in the room!!

That’s  harsh, I know It’s my frustration, but it is not truly meant for Kylie because she is a child and thus a victim of the values of her mother/manager ( and subsequently her family) and their twisted sense of values. Their influence on pop culture, and our willingness to engage, support and exalt all of their vapid, materialistic, superficial, narcissistic ways are ubiquitous .  This little girl had no choice in what she has become, she was never parented she was managed and marketed since she was 8 or 9 years old. She is only following through on what she has been shown and taught her value was determined by her sexualization,  “followers”, ‘ hits” how much press you get, and how many people want you to hawk their wares. She was reared to be  an indefatigable attention seeker. She has grown up in a family where the augmentation of the body is a rite of passage. * note I have nothing against plastic surgery I DO take issue with minors having extensive work done.  I take issues with DOCTORS who would operate on a minor implanting breasts or butt implants. I have no works for a mother or father who supports such desires that may well border on body dysmorphic disorder. The doctor THAT child needs to see is a therapist.

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What really gets my goat, is that if ANY ONE OF US, We 99%ers , allowed our child to drop out of school, run around the world unsupervised, allowed them to alter there bodies,or engage in statutory rape, we would be in jail, our child would be taken away and placed in foster care and we would have to go through hell, high water and a social worker to get them back. There have been parents arrested for allowing their children to get tattoos and drinking!!!  yet both Kylie and Kendall have been seen partying with impunity in clubs when they were 15 and 16 years old. It’s really not her fault that she is misguided, unguided rather and I /we should have compassion for her, pity her in a way because it sad. It’s sad that she doesn’t think that she is enough- that someone never told her that she was perfect and beautiful just the way she is. No one ever gave her the chance to test her intellect by doing well in school.

Sure some will argue “But she’s rich and famous and living a fabulous life don’t hate”… yeah money fame and fabulous don’t make you like yourself, they don’t necessarily make you happy, or a decent person. But then again those are my values… And I’m not trying to hate I’m trying to educate.  If our youth need someone to emulate, or take up a challenge to be like try  Disney star Zendaya who exhibited such class and grace when her image was attacked by Fashion Police’s Guliana Rancic, or The Hunger Game’s 16-year-old Amandla Stenberg who’s video schooling people on the appropriation of black culture is on point, insightful, intelligent and epic. (It also would be apropos as the Kardashian/Jenner clan have built their empire on the appropriation of black culture…Just a thought

 

 

 

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Dove’s Newest Installment of the Real Beauty Campaign : Choose Beautiful …

Well they have done it again! Dove has created a context that  reveals the depth of the Body/Beauty image issues that plague women. Dove is a company that has launched a full on assault on marketing  that feeds on, and creates the feelings of inadequacy that women harbor throughout our lives. Dove was one of the first companies to realize and address the damage that the beauty (and fashion) industry inflicts on their consumers in order to make a buck. Their success has prompted other companies like Aerie to follow suit, ditching photoshopping and telling women to “Love their real selfie”.

The Real Beauty campaign has always been well thought out and well crafted, beautifully shot, and always tugs at your heart strings. Honestly I can’t get through one clip without crying. There are several reasons I get emotional, the first is because of the subject, how can a women, any woman, (or man for that matter) not be moved by a human being’s deepest vulnerabilities, the bravery it takes to publicly express them, and then see them sublimated and transformed? It’s a tear jerker for sure. But I always have the Chicken or the Egg dilemma, am brought to emotion because I relate, or because it is crafted in such a way that it psychologically pulls me their, kind of like how Disney kills a poor creature off then there is some sort of redemption…I can never tell, THAT is the art of good marketing you don’t know where your thoughts or emotions start and their campaign begins…

There are some who are questioning the campaign, well not it it’s sentiment but let’s say  it’s limitations. The idea that though Dove is asking, and challenging women to confront their perception of themselves, and their images, (all good) HOWEVER, there those who see the scope of “beauty” being defined solely in the physical manifestation as being too limited and ultimately sexist. The reason? Because the idea that being “beautiful” is still one of the most important things to women because the world has given it the highest value for a woman. Beauty has cache, it opens doors, creates greater possibilities for women, even more then being brilliant. the idea that a women can earn more on a stripper pole than she can with a PhD is a reality, one that men are not beholden to. The value of a man is not measure by the smoothness of his skin, the firmness or roundness of his buttocks, or the fullness of his lips or breast. It is not even measured by the hardness of his abs or the size of his penis but by his accomplishment and what and how he contributes to the world.

‘s commentary on Fortune speaks to this point:

Kat Gordon, founder of the 3% Conference, which advocates more female leadership in advertising, called the “Choose Beautiful” campaign, released last week, “heavy-handed and manipulative,” while Jean Kilborne, the filmmaker behind Killing Us Softly: Advertising’s Image of Women, termed it “very patronizing.” Dove, The Guardian says, “has mastered the art of passing off somewhat passive-aggressive and patronising advertising as super-empowering, ultra PR-able social commentary.”

The article goes on:

Put aside the cinematics and girl-power uplift, and there are questions: What exactly made the women switch doors? Might it feel a bit immodest to tell the world, “I think I’m beautiful”? Why only beautiful or average—how about fetching or charming or magnetic? How is a beauty bar or body wash empowering? And what about men? Don’t they get a door?

Over on Buzzfeed  an article by staffer was momentarily taken down then reposted (The site posted, then removed, and then reposted a piece about the campaign though not, the editor says, because Dove or other Unilever brands have advertised on his site.)

Sicardi made the salient point:

Dove is at it again with a viral beauty video meant to have women question the way they see themselves: beautiful or average.

Dove Has Women Walk Through Doors Labeled "Beautiful" Or "Average" In Latest Campaign
Dove / Via Youtube.com

Because life is apparently defined by these two labels and nothing else.

Needless to say, women don’t expect to be confronted with such a scary, vague, and superficial question on their way to Starbucks.

Dove Has Women Walk Through Doors Labeled "Beautiful" Or "Average" In Latest Campaign
Dove / Via YouTube.com

She came here to have some fun and is honestly feeling so attacked right now.

The video is based on a statistic from Dove that 96% of women wouldn’t describe themselves as beautiful.

Dove Has Women Walk Through Doors Labeled "Beautiful" Or "Average" In Latest Campaign
Dove / Via YouTube.com

You know, maybe those women described themselves as smart, funny, generous, kind, but we’ll never know, because the soap manufacturer wants to tell us how we feel about ourselves. And then fix it for us. With soap.

The ad as already spawned parodies, a male version where the men are asked to choose which door represents them–and their penis size, “average” or “big”. When you see the “experiment” in this context it does change the way you see Dove’s commercial. It makes the very question seem…manipulative and limited to who these women are. check it out:

What do you think?

Sound Off: Why Black people are not being “Sensitive” when we are pissed about Cosmo, Kylie Jenner’s “Black Face and the like.

This weekend there was a slight dust up about Cosmopolitan magazine’s “Beauty Trends That Need To Die” list. Out of 21 beauty trends featured, about a fifth of the old “RIP” beauty trends feature models and celebrities of color. The “gorgeous” models all look very similar–White…. People saw this as a subtly racist message, the woman of color representing the “out trend” had a “RIP”  on the forehead, the on trend face of the white model said “Hello Gorgeous”. Perhaps it had more to do with the lack of diversity on the “Hello Gorgeous” list. Some find it so distasteful that there has been talk of boycotting the magazine that has not featured a Black woman in its cover since 2011. CBhwe8VVIAA2QjZ

Then there is the Kylie Jenner “Black Face” fashion pics that went up this weekend. Some were clearly outraged, others didn’t see the “Black” of the face. Granted, the images resemble more of a darkened sparkling alien then the traditional “Al Jolson” Swanee River, minstrel Black Face,but I would say it would fall under the realm of Black Face “light”, a new millennium Black Face if you will. As a perused the comment sections of various blogs trying to decided if I wanted in on these hot button stories, I noticed that the on trend response was, “What’s the big deal?”,  “Why are you always pulling the race card?”. Right before I got offended, I sat back and thought, if I step out of myself, my Black, female self, if I eradicate my point of entry I can see where these two instances, and the Zendaya /Guliania Rancic dreadlock comment, and Italian designer Claudio Cutugno sending models down the runway in Black Face this fall during Milan’s fashion week might seem like “No big deal”, perhaps I could be like Taylor Swift in some high waisted shorts and a pair of Keds and shake it off, but I am not, and I cannot.kylie-jenner-neon-light-photo-shoot-controversy-instagram-2__oPt

I am a woman of color, a Black woman and I live in a society a culture where systematically my image, my likeness has been striped down to nothing. My body has been grotesquely sexualized, demonized and bastardized, it has been beaten, abused, raped, murdered and left for dead both figuratively and literally. It is My body, that nursed, cared for, raised and nurtured my suppressor and his children, as well as my own kin. My Image ,though shamed and shunned has been appropriated and commercialized, made money for all but me while I have been forced to live in the narrow shadow of my true self,existing only a sliver enough for the Mamie, Jezebel, Neck swiveling, finger wagging eye-popping, booty clapping version of my image to survive, thrive. I am force feed the high fructose, fatty images of what they have created as my image until it seeps from my pores and bleeds salty from my eyes…until when I look in the mirror I do not, can not see, nor recognize what or who I am…

So when I see things like the Cosmopolitan beauty trends list, or Kylie Jenner (the seventeen year old who comes from a family who career dates men of color, and are lauded black girl asses, Jenner who is rumored to be dating a 25 year old Black rap producer, who’s child’s mother is a Black stripper with the body of a modern day hottentot, who goes back and forth through social media about this man…)Blac-Chyna-Dimeiece-psd81995

who presents images of herself looking “colored” and captions it with “I wish I looked like this all the time” I, as they say down south “Catch feelings” about that. When your face, and your body are all but systematically negated from the cannon of beauty, and when the physical characteristic traits of your race (lips, our behinds, our complexion even our hair) are ghettoized fodder for mocker when in your possession, but regaled when grafted onto the fairest of them all…. When we see Lips and hatches show up on Goldilocks, we tend to get a little sensitive, it feels like we are strange fruit with bits of our bodies being plucked off.  A gruesome picture huh? Well imagine what it feels like to be us watching it happen. Watching as your body, your vocal cadence and verbiage, your hair styles and what we call “swagger” gets bootlegged and though they are the things that you are told to eradicate in your being so that you can get ahead, those very things can make the fair a superstar, a fashion icon, it can make them beautiful, edgy..It just makes us ghetto. The things that we organically create have not value until they are co-oped and taken out of our ownership such that when we try to sing like we do, we, the original is…to ordinary but Blue Eyed soul…now you’re on your way. When faced with this double standard of beauty I tend to feel a pain and a rage and a sickening feeling so deep that connects with the emotional DNA that arrived here in the hull of a slave ship.

I know it seems far more emotional, and sensitive then these previously cited instances should evoke, but THAT IS WHAT I AM TRYING TO CONVEY…things like this land in this very tender place for a great deal of Black women AND men. It is the constant disrespect, negation, bastardization, sexualization, ghettoization, dehumanization of our bodies, our images of our selves that wears us down…. And when we do speak up (albeit in a very eloquent and educated manner), and make noise, and say no more,* then we are being sensitive, paranoid,” imagining” it, we did not imagine the video of The University of Oklahoma Sigma Alpha Epsilon Frat boys singing a no doubt long sung racist chant, that was real. Nor do we imagine unarmed dead men in the street…

These may feel like stretches to you, how is Cosmo’s beauty trend list connected to Mike Brown or Trayvon Martin- it ‘s all about the perceived worth of a human being. If you cannot see my beauty, or even acknowledge the possibility of it , then you do not see my value as a human being. If you do not respect my body, its shape, form and function you cannot imagine that it feels, hurts, bleeds. If you can see me as equal, the same  – as human than you cannot see my as you Mother, Sister, Brother Father, Child you cannot see me as you. It’s called empathy.

We get tired of having to be better than those who hate and are hateful or exhibit bigotry towards us, but if we rise up we are “Angry Black Women/Men” we can’t win for losing. When we demand respect, people feel threatened enough to “stand their ground” so we can’t even fully have our rightful anger for fear of resembling the “boogie man” that society has made us. And I will say that we as Black people have played into it we have contributed to the perpetuation and the reality of the situation. Yes we do drink, drug, rob, cheat, kill, fight, cuss and more (just like everybody) else but the cards have definitely been marked and stacked against in many ways, albeit that is not my point. I just wanted to have my say about why We as Black people, and I will open it up to “people of color in America”, (because there is a sliding scale of prejudice and bigotry) feel a certain way when these types of things happen.

 

This is what LEAD SCIENTIST have to say about :What makes us beautifully scientifically….