On Wednesday night my manager/friend/sister Nikki and I did the most New York thing ever. We attended a fencing match between Victoria’s Secret supermodel Adriana Lima and world champion fencer Miles Chamley-Watson that took place in a warehouse where Questlove was the DJ.
Jourdan Dunn’s wigs always stress me out a little, but when she gets it right, the girl gets it right. The designer of this look worn at the British Fashion Awards, Brandon Maxwell, is one of my favorite designers. He strikes the perfect balance between minimalism and glam.
It has been a great season for black television, and I don’t mean BET. I mean black creatives in television are showing out and giving us amazing content we didn’t even know we were missing. I have already sung the praises of Atlanta, but now that Insecure has concluded its first season on HBO (and has been renewed for a second) I have to show major love. Insecure takes place in L.A. with the show’s protagonist Issa (played by the show’s Creator Issa Rae) going back and forth between the guy she’s with, and the guy she’s most attracted to (you know that one trash ass ex who reappears right when you’re happy) while also figuring out how to perform well at a job she’s not sure she should be doing. Her boyfriend Lawrence (played by the ever lovable Jay Ellis) is down on his luck and trying desperately to get it together, which puts an even greater strain on an already lackluster relationship that has kind of plateaued. Meanwhile, Issa’s best friend Molly (played by Yvonne Orji) is a successful lawyer with an amazing wardrobe who is climbing the legal (?) ladder, but whose love life looks like one long, endless Drake song. She has taken L after L in the relationship department, and discovers (through some tough love via Issa that she is actually the problem).
A few things I loved:
Moonlight is by far one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. Not just in the realm of black movies, but period. There was so much care taken to tell the layered story of a young black boy growing up in Miami, trying to understand his sexuality and survive, but without the exploitative factor. The movie stars Naomi Harris, (whose red carpet game is beyond notable) Trevante Rhodes, (one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever seen) and Mahershala Ali (one of my favorite actors). For once, the young black kid is not saved by a well-meaning white woman, in fact, there aren’t any visible white people in the entire film. There are no shoot outs, or gang violence, or hyper sexualized black bodies. There are moments of high emotional intensity, endearing characters, and a true, but careful exploration of a very specific, yet often occurring black experience. At its core, it is a love story. It is not the usual love story that comes with most movies, black or otherwise. Moonlight is the story of how all of the love we receive or don’t receive shapes who we really are.
Set in Miami, Moonlight is broken into three parts of the main character’s life: Little, Chiron, and Black. At each phase, he is trying to find himself and where he belongs in the world, in his world. We see the effects of the crack epidemic on black families, the fallout of the fragility of the black male ego and how it impacts their expressions of their sexuality, and the impact of kindness and mentor-ship. We see that every hero in a child’s life is not a perfect being, nor do they have to be to make a difference in that child’s life. We see that when boys are not allowed to cry, to explore, and/or express their feelings that, that suppression manifests itself in painful ways. There was so much care taken with this story to make sure the focus was where it should be, and that’s what gave it such depth.
Initially I was very taken aback by the fact that the theater in which I saw this film was filled with white people. I felt that weird embarrassment that some of us feel when the word nigga is used in mixed company. But the thing is, that’s who needs to see these stories the most. Our spirits are fed by seeing authentic depictions of black life, but their minds are. We are so often just preaching to the choir when we discuss the black experience amongst ourselves. Those conversations are necessary and beneficial within our circles, but for positive change to happen, it’s important for those outside of our community to see films like Moonlight, and to learn about what it means to be black in America. It’s important for others to see the world through our eyes, from our perspective, with our voice, without the unnecessary displays of black pain. Please go support this movie, and learn something about an experience that may differ from yours.
View the trailer below.
This week I came across two stories on two very different people, from two different industries who shared a huge commonality in their success stories. One that I’m sure most successful people can attest to: greatness in your career is determined by the things you do behind the scenes when no one is watching.
The first piece was Letter to My Younger Self written by former NBA star (and my crush when I was little) Ray Allen. The second piece was a feature at the Business of Fashion discussing Miroslava Duma’s career in fashion media. I had been following her street style photos for months not knowing who the petite Russian fashion enthusiast actually was, only to learn shortly thereafter that she’s a freakin’ boss.
Self care is one of those buzz words that just won’t go away, and for good reason. Most of us don’t do enough self care, because we’ve all mindlessly submitted to the belief that if you aren’t constantly tired, you’re not working hard enough. It’s like you feel guilty for spending all Saturday in your underwear watching Netflix and ordering takeout. Unlike most people, I will never see getting my nails done as a form of self care. Nail shops are a mind phuck resulting in anxiety and constant questioning of social norms. I don’t look forward to the process of getting my nails done at all. I almost equate it to getting a Pap smear in that it’s terribly uncomfortable, the person performing the task is talking at an awkward time, and I just want it to be over. Here’s a list of things I hate that nail shop.
- Choosing a nail color. This shouldn’t be that hard, yet I feel like it’s a race against time to choose a color I’ll be okay with for two whole ass weeks. As soon as you walk in the nail tech tells you to choose a color, and if you take too long they judge you. BUT, if you choose a color you don’t like and ask them to change it, they judge you. I always want to say, “Hey I have commitment issues, so can I have some time and space to really get to know this color?”
- The up charge math. Moment of honesty, I suck at math. I am convinced the nail tech knows this, and lures me into all of these up-charges that she knows I’m going to lose track of. One minute I’m at a total of $25 for a fill in, and by the time I leave I need to take out a small loan, because they’ve charged me to take off my old polish, cut down my nails, add a quick dry top coat, and somehow a massage got thrown in there. In your mind you’re thinking it’s only an extra $3, then an extra $6, and next thing you know you’re washing towels in the back to cover your debt.
- The stare down. Have you ever gotten stared down by the other nail techs in the salon who aren’t doing anyone’s nails? They stare at your nails during the entire process, and you don’t know if you should be flattered or concerned. Then other techs start coming out the back to gawk at you too. What the hell is happening here?
- Cuticle cutting. I cannot look while they cut my cuticles. I just don’t understand how they know where to stop, and I am terrified they are going to strike blood. It literally makes my palms sweat to watch that, so I casually look away.
- The tip Nazis. Until I moved to New York, I had never been shamed into tipping. These salon owners play no games. They will tell you, you didn’t tip enough, to which I say bull shit! I always over tip, because I know they expect for me not to tip at all. A friend of mine was literally told she couldn’t leave a salon until she tipped more. Crazy right?!
- Angry patrons. I hate it when hood and/or entitled people show out in the nail shop. It’s so embarrassing. Maybe it shouldn’t be, but it really is. You sit there and cringe while they curse the nail tech out for reasons no one understands, and then you end up over tipping and being overly nice to compensate for the actions of the women you don’t even know.
- The emergency shop. Going to a new salon, because you can’t get to your regular place, and realizing shortly thereafter that you’ve made a terrible mistake is one of the worst experiences in womanhood. You realize really quickly that this place is not up to par, but you’re in too deep to tell them to stop, and really you just want to run out of there screaming like a busty white chick in a horror film.
- The Questionnaire. I have left the nail shop before in a state of existential crisis, because my nail tech has started asking me questions about life that I can’t answer. It starts off so harmless.
Nail Tech: You’re not married?
Nail Tech: Why not? You’re such a pretty girl. Do you have a boyfriend?
Me: Who sent you? Did my mom put you up to this? I DON’T KNOW WHY I’M SINGLE!!! *Flips table and knocks everything off shelves, then turns into She Hulk and renders entire city destitute.
The love I bear for my hometown knows no bounds; hence, I cannot begin to express to you the excitement I felt watching a show that so closely depicts what I consider to be the real Atlanta, but I’ll try. I was first introduced to Atlanta’s creator and protagonist Donald Glover as a stand up comedian, and actor (I will admit I have never listened to his music) but I feel a certain amount of pride seeing someone who came from such a mainstream sitcom (Community) go on to create a comedy that’s so true to my experience as a black person from Atlanta. The authenticity of the accents, the jargon, the references, even the J.R. Crickets scene…my soul cried out hallelujah.
Earnest “Earn” Marks (played by Donald Glover) is struggling to get through life and maintain a relationship with the mother of his child, and comes up with the idea to manage his cousin Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles’ burgeoning rap career. Growing up in Atlanta, we have all witnessed (and continue to witness) the struggle rapper life. Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles (played by Morehouse and Yale graduate Brian Tyree Henry) has to cope with unexpected fame, and unwanted attention. Meanwhile, Earn has to figure out how to adult (supes relate-able because hello I still haven’t figured it out). I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Paper Boi’s roommate Darius (played by Keith Stanfield). He is the lovable weed head who randomly drops gems of knowledge. Hi-jinks ensue with perfectly timed, and well written comedy. The show also touches on so many relevant issues, but without being “preachy.” People like to be tricked into assessing real life issues especially those we consider to be uniquely black for some reason, and Atlanta slides those right on into your psyche. Issues like the treatment of prisoners with mental disabilities, gun violence and its impact on kids in underprivileged communities, relationships, familial obligations, the fragility of black male sexuality, and finding your way as a 20 something are all explored…in just the first two episodes.
The ever-conflicting ideals of Martin and Malcolm, Du Bois and Washington, Buckhead and Bankhead are the underlying themes I find most intriguing here. I attribute the non existent division of wealth in black communities in Atlanta to what made my friends and I such well rounded people. We have ninja-like code switching skills, because those of us who had were brought up right alongside those of us who didn’t. By the time we reached adulthood, most of us developed a very healthy blend of the totality of the black spectrum. I’m really excited to see Atlanta explore that. Lastly, I have a new life goal: lemon pepper wet wings.
Not Attending: Lena Dunham’s Pity Party
I’ve always felt very indifferent towards Lena Dunham, especially after I realized what her game is. She’s made a career of being self deprecating under the guise of body positivism (but only when it’s convenient) and everyone praises her for her “bravery” and labels her a feminist hero. White women being praised for mediocrity isn’t new, so that in and of itself doesn’t bother me; however, her latest stunt involving the beautiful specimen that is Odell Beckham Jr. takes her from irrelevant to intolerable. Dunham interviewed her friend Amy Schumer (another draining story for another day) in her newsletter Lenny Letter. Dunham is recalling her experience at the Met Gala (which hello, she was invited and I wasn’t? Maybe I’m just bitter) and unleashed a fury of assumptions and insecurities with the following excerpt:
“I was sitting next to Odell Beckham Jr., and it was so amazing because it was like he looked at me and he determined I was not the shape of a woman by his standards. He was like, ‘That’s a marshmallow. That’s a child. That’s a dog.’ It wasn’t mean — he just seemed confused. The vibe was very much like, ‘Do I want to f— it? Is it wearing a … yep, it’s wearing a tuxedo. I’m going to go back to my cell phone.’ It was like we were forced to be together, and he literally was scrolling Instagram rather than have to look at a woman in a bow tie. I was like, ‘This should be called the Metropolitan Museum of Getting Rejected by Athletes.’”
Deep sigh. She reminds me of that girl in high school who would criticize herself openly in hopes that someone would validate her with a compliment, only with Lena, when that validation doesn’t come, then it’s an issue. As someone who speaks openly about how problematic the objectification of women is, Dunhman seemed awfully troubled that Beckham didn’t objectify her in that moment. The most annoying thing about this was her “apology” once the internet ripped her a new one for being draining.
I owe Odell Beckham Jr an apology. Despite my moments of bravado, I struggle at industry events (and in life) with the sense that I don’t rep a certain standard of beauty and so when I show up to the Met Ball surrounded by models and swan-like actresses it’s hard not to feel like a sack of flaming garbage. This felt especially intense with a handsome athlete as my dinner companion and a bunch of women I was sure he’d rather be seated with. But I went ahead and projected these insecurities and made totally narcissistic assumptions about what he was thinking, then presented those assumptions as facts. I feel terrible about it. Because after listening to lots of valid criticism, I see how unfair it is to ascribe misogynistic thoughts to someone I don’t know AT ALL. Like, we have never met, I have no idea the kind of day he’s having or what his truth is. But most importantly, I would never intentionally contribute to a long and often violent history of the over-sexualization of black male bodies- as well as false accusations by white women towards black men. I’m so sorry, particularly to OBJ, who has every right to be on his cell phone. The fact is I don’t know about his state of mind (I don’t know a lot of things) and I shouldn’t have acted like I did. Much love and thanks, Lena
A photo posted by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on
Girl, we don’t care, and we are not attending your “I’m ‘fat’ and unattractive by the world’s standards so please accept, praise, and compliment me for being regular as hell” pity party. Leave us alone.
Whlep. Shonda Rhimes and the writers for Scandal have done it again. They use the hell out of their platform to communicate realistic issues, but they take it a step further with monologues that seem to sum up an entire issue in 30 seconds. The theme of tonight’s episode was feminism and women’s empowerment. If you are not familiar with Scandal and the cast, then stop reading, get a Netflix account, catch up, and then come back.
Now that that’s out of the way. I have to talk about the two monologues that stood out on tonight’s episode. One monologue was spoken by Abby. She talks about how a woman is defined and identified with her male counterpart, and how our physical appearance is dissected regardless of what our actual purpose is. Abby acts as the press secretary, and although she does her job well that is often eclipsed by her relationship and her appearance. This is something that we see often in real life. It seems to me that a woman’s worth is very closely tied whether or not there is a man in her life. Additionally, we have observed that women are questioned about their vanity on red carpets and in interviews, whereas men are mostly interviewed about things of substance like their work. This was additionally visible in the #AskHerMore campaign this past awards season. I wholeheartedly agreed with Abby’s viewpoint, because it is one that I live and identify with.
The second monologue that stood out to me was from Sue, a character played by Lena Dunham who is very well known as a feminist. Sue penned a tell all book about her sexual exploits with various men in the political arena, and set out to extort money from those men in exchange for her silence about their sexual proclivities. I was left with so very many questions following her rant about how she should be able to be as openly freaky as she wants to be without being judged. This really struck a chord with me, because this past week in pop culture Amber Rose has been promoting her Slut Walk movement, and again I just have questions.
If you are a woman who genuinely enjoys having sex with lots of men, then hey that’s your business. But why exactly do you feel the need to broadcast it as if to show that you are proud to be promiscuous? By no means am I saying that you should be ashamed, or that you should be more harshly judged than a man who does the same, but I’m trying to understand why your sex life is a source of pride for you? I think that there is a stark difference between being ashamed and being private. Why can’t your sex life just be your private business? What purpose does it serve to expose such a personal part of your life? I suppose you can make the argument that this somehow helps to defeat double standards about men and women and sex. However, I just don’t think this is the way to go about it. Far be it from me to tell another woman what should make her feel empowered, but I genuinely do not understand how this movement helps to end double standards. It honestly seems to me that these women are looking for validation for their sex lives. In my experience if you are comfortable with your decisions, then you don’t need anyone to rally behind or alongside you to say “hey what you’re doing is ok.” So I question who you’re trying to convince here. And I ask these questions in the least judgmental way possible, because I really want to understand the logic and the plan behind exposing your sex life to the world.
The red carpet for the 2015 Academy Awards AKA the Oscars did not disappoint. Let me go on record as saying that I am not one of those people that lives for a fashion moment that comes as a result of a fashion troll. I look to the red carpet for high glamour, pretty things, and sexy men. Me likes a man in well tailored suit. With that being said here are some of my favorites.
These three were reaping for the Versace gang and looked damn good while doing so. If you don’t know by now, I love blush and nude colors.
Zoe Saldana looks great with her post baby weight. Scarlett Johansson’s slicked back hair paired with this stunning necklace in emerald green were a major win. I will always be here for Jennifer Aniston. The years have been very kind to her, and I will secretly always feel a way towards Brad Pitt for her idc idc idc.
Auntie Oprah showed out for the curvy girls. The ruching and draping of this silk tulle gown paired with a cinched waist was a winning combination.
Red was definitely having a moment. Solange can literally wear any color and look amazing in it. My makeup artist/hairstylist cousin informed me that the key to pulling this off is dark hair and neutral makeup. While this is a tad casual for the event, the fabric makes it more formal. Rosamund Pike is serving in this red on red on red in Givenchy. I live for slicked back hair, and hers really allowed the dress to shine. David Oyelowo’s waistcoat was up for debate on my Instagram, but I think he looks dapper in this Dolce and Gabbana tux.
I could not wait to see these Zuhair Murad gowns on the red carpet. They all did them justice.
Elie Saab just gets it. Emma Stone and J. Lo AKA SlayLo are red carpet favorites and you can see why.
The less is more gang featuring Reese Witherspoon and Gwyneth Paltrow in Tom Ford and Ralph & Russo respectively. I for sure thought Reese was wearing white, but that is actually ice blue. Loved both of these looks.
Lupita Nyongo was a vision in this pearl gown by Calvin Klein collection. While her gowns are never overtly sexy, the confidence with which she wears them makes her so alluring. She has this whole I know I’m the whiz but I’m also very approachable thing going.
So, a few things about Rita Ora. I genuinely don’t know any of her music, and she is so hit or miss with me with her fashion choices, but she has been bringing it lately. I am simply obsessed with her hair and this Marchesa gown is such a work of art.
I know that everyone is into the “Lob” but I could have gone with another hairstyle on Renee Russo. The waves are competing with the ruffles and the accessories are a bit harsh for the occasion. However, I cannot go without acknowledging this beautiful J.Mendel gown.
I think it is safe to say that the internet is saturated with fashion blogs. Many have declared that the age of the fashion blog is over, and I’m obviously biased but I don’t agree with that sentiment at all. However, I think that readers are becoming more discerning about their tastes with regard to blogging. Many feel inundated and that a lot of fashion blogs lack actual substance. I can’t argue with readers on this. I come across a number of things that leave me underwhelmed. Ideally blogging should combine a passion for both fashion and writing, otherwise a blog cannot thrive. People are under the impression that because they have style, they can automatically succeed at blogging. It takes much more than a great sense of style to create compelling content for an audience. Much like it takes more than style to be a great fashion designer or stylist. You have to be able to think outside of yourself in order to satisfy an audience, consumers, or clients. Your vision has to be greater than you and your talent has to exceed that of merely putting together a good look for yourself. Not to crush anyone’s dreams here, but there are other talents that you have to develop outside of dressing yourself well in order to have a successful career in fashion on any level. It’s a real industry, and you have to have the talent to make it. I know this because I am on a constant path to do so myself.
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