“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” Harriet Tubman

Monday, July 25, 2011

Be True to Yourself Tag

What’s your middle name? Lynn
How big is your bed? It’s a Queen
What are you listening to right now? Common’s “Go”
What are the last 4 digits in your cellphone number? I’ll keep that to myself
What was the last thing you ate? Spaghetti
Last person you hugged? Scott
How is the weather right now? It’s cool right now, thankfully
Who was the last person you talked to on the phone? My mom 
What is the first thing you notice in the opposite sex? Height, build                            
Favorite type of food? Salmon, rice, and veggies
Do you want children? Yes
Do you drink? Socially
Ever get so drunk you don’t remember the entire night? Nope
Hair color? Dark Brown 
Eye color? Brown
Do you wear contacts/glasses? Not anymore! Lasik baby!
Favorite holiday? Christmas and Easter. The Birth and the Rebirth!
Favorite season? Fall, because I’m a fall baby!
Have you ever cried over a girl/boy? Yes
Last movie you watched? “Gravedancers”
What books are you reading? Nothing at the moment
Piercings? Ears, belly button, nose 
Favorite movie? Confessions of a Shopaholic
Favorite college football team? Pitt
What were you doing before filling this out? On the phone 
Any pets? Yes, my cat Sasha
Dogs or cats? Both  
Favorite flower?  Orange and Pink Roses
Have you ever loved someone? Yes. 
Who would you like to see right now? Richard (my brother) 
Have you ever fired a gun? Not yet
Do you like to travel by plane? Yes
Right-handed or Left-handed? Right-handed. 
If you could go to any place right now where would you go? New Zealand or Paris 
Are you missing someone? My Mom 
Do you have a tattoo? Yes, two. 
Do you still watch cartoons on Saturday mornings? Yep 
Are you hiding something from someone? No
Are you 18? HA! No. I’ll never see 18 again
What do you do before you go to bed? Brush my teeth, shower, skin care, talk to mom, watch television, and play with Sasha, pray

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

a deep pain...

"You must use the DARK skin slaves vs. the LIGHT skin slaves, and the LIGHT skin slaves vs. the DARK skin slaves."
- from "The Making of a Slave" by Willie Lynch

I wasn't going to write another blog today but I just got finished watching a few very disturbing videos on YouTube and I just feel compelled to write. I've been watching videos on the skin bleaching epidemic that is going on within the Black community. Maybe epidemic isn't a good way to describe it, I haven't read any statistics on the matter so I don't know if there is an overwhelming number of Black women doing this, but one is too many. One particular video that I was watching was an old episode of the Tyra show where she had on Black women who bleach their skin and were proud of it. Watching this made me want to cry...as a matter of fact, I did cry.

As Black woman it hurts so, so much to see my sisters destroying themselves, the inside as well as the outside, because they have been brainwashed by society to think that lighter skin is better. It's mind blowing. I wanted to jump through the computer and shake every single one of them and then give them a hug because obviously these women need a hug badly. As you can see from my pictures, I am a brown skinned Black woman, a lot of people consider me light skinned but I don't think I am. I am very happy with my complexion. I would never bleach my skin. The idea has never crossed my mind. The closest I have ever come to a skin lightener is using the Ambi fade cream to turn my elbows and knees from three shades darker than me, to match the rest of my brown body.

Growing up, my mother always gave my sister and I so much love. She complimented us all the time telling us how smart and beautiful we were. My mom is a very light Black woman who could probably pass and she has never once made us feel like she was prettier or we weren't good enough because we weren't as light as her. She has always been proud of her beautiful brown babies. I honestly think we never even noticed that our mother was different than us, as far as complexion.

I feel like I'm rambling now, but I am just so sad. I really really want to just cry. How far have we fallen as a people when we get to the point where we want to use potentially life-threatening chemicals to change the color of our skin? What happened to the Black pride and the Black power of the 60s and 70s when we said "Say it loud, I'm Black and I'm proud"? What happened to "Black is Beautiful" and "The Blacker the Berry the Sweeter the Juice"? We are going backwards not forwards. We're going back to the days of the brown-paper bag test and field nigger -house nigger. Its sad. Its overwhelming. Malcolm and Marcus Garvey are probably rolling in their graves! Bleaching your skin?! God help us.

However, honestly I can see why some women do get so brainwashed to believe that the dark skin is ugly. Everywhere you look you see light women being put on a pedestal. Magazines, music videos, commercials, movies, television...it is very rare to see a dark Black woman put in the stars. Idolized. Loved. There's Naomi Campbell but she is a rare exception. Whats one Naomi when you have Halle, Beyonce, Rihanna, and a host of light, exotic-looking video girls being thrown in your face as what the standard of Black beauty should be. Now, you even have Kim Kardashian who isn't even Black but for some reason her appearance is becoming a standard of beauty in the Black community! So for an already damaged woman, someone who may have grown up without a loving adult in their life to help build their self-esteem, when you have these sorts of images thrown in your face ALL of the time and you see these women getting the man, getting the fame, whatever it is; you probably are going to want to be like them. And if the common factor is that they're all light, that's what you're going to want to be too.

And as crazy as this sounds, the problem isn't just affecting Black women. There are some Black men who participate in this foolishness. The popular Jamaican dancehall artist Vybz Kartel bleaches his skin. He's even mentioned it in his songs. He's calls the stuff he uses, cake soap. He went from looking like a normal Black man to looking like something from "Night of the Living Dead." The cake soap turned him grey! But from interviews I've read of him, he doesn't find anything wrong with this. He basically summed it up to saying that when women stop wearing weaves and getting breast implants and white women stop tanning then he'll stop using cake soap. Even baseball great (we won't talk steroid allegations) Sammy Sosa decided that his brown skin wasn't good enough and went out and got himself bleached. He went from being a very handsome Black Dominican man to looking like Count Chocula. Its amazing because myself and mostly all of my girlfriends find dark, dark men very attractive. I don't know too many Black women (and my white BFF) who don't love a deep chocolate brotha (or any shade of brotha for that matter).

The worse part of all of this and something very disturbing to me is that some mothers are taking it upon themselves to bleach their children's skin! Why on earth would you want to do that to your precious child? Not only are you harming them physically but you're harming them psychologically. By putting skin bleaching cream on your child you are basically telling them that they are ugly, that they aren't good enough. You're telling them in order to be loved and special they need to be light. One of the women in the YouTube video of the Tyra show said that she bleached her three sons every morning before school. She said it would make them look more "presentable." Another sister who obviously had A LOT of self-hate said that she purposely had a child with an Asian man so that her child would turn out light. She said that she would never want to have a dark baby on her hip because basically it wouldn't be a good look. Willie Lynch is still alive and well i see.

I worry about the future of my Black brothers and sisters when I see foolishness like this going on. Yes, there are a lot of things that most see as worse than skin bleaching going on in our communities such as drugs, violence, poverty and horrible educational systems, but in my opinion skin bleaching goes right up there on the list along with those. When a Black person bleaches their skin to become lighter it is a matter of self hate and very low self worth. How can we love our communities and work to make them better if we don't even love ourselves? How can we teach our children to value life, value education and value themselves if we hate what we see in the mirror? Its scary. It is very scary that this is how we're thinking. I get scared when I think about my beautiful niece who will be ten in four days. She is a beautiful shade of Viola Davis chocolate and I worry that no matter how much her parents love her and tell her she is beautiful, that she will be blinded and bamboozled by the images the world presents and she will grow up to hate her color. I worry that she will believe some smart-mouth kid on the playground who calls her "blackie" or "ugly" more than she will believe me who calls her "princess" and "black & beautiful." It is so scary.

My mind is still so blown... its going to take me a few days to really get this off of my heart. It feels heavy. I feel sad and hurt. So, any thoughts, comments, whatever, please share.


Weapons of Mass Beauty

I am just super excited about the events that have taken place in my life in recent days. Last Thursday I took my very first trip to the dermatologist (in my adult life). I decided to finally make an appointment and go because my skin has been giving me strange problems for awhile now. On my face I would break out on my forehead and on my cheeks. I never messed with the pimples because I know that you're not supposed to or you can risk scaring and dark marks, but for some reason I still ended up with dark marks. And the dullness was just impossible! My skin didn't seem as bright and alive as it should be. It looked like the skin of a smoker or heavy drinker.  It was driving me crazy, so I decided to do something about it.

So, I got to the dermatologist expecting her to think I was a little crazy for what I was thinking...one of my girlfriends looked at me like I had two heads when I told her that I wasn't happy with my skin. Apparently there are some who think I have nice, pretty skin, to which I disagree. Anywho, the dermatologist was really nice and understanding about my concerns. She told me that she could see what I was talking about and she prescribed a few things to help with my skin issues.

The first thing is Retin-A or Tretinoin, as its also known. According to http://www.yourplasticsurgeryguide.com/, "the primary purpose of Retin-A is to provide a light chemical peel that speeds the natural exfoliation process and enhances collagen production." "It's typically prescribed for acne, hyperpigmentation, poor skin texture, and preparation for other procedures such as facial surgery and laser resurfacing." I definitely have hyperpigmentation and poor skin texture. I really don't have acne except for the occasional breakout, which I mentioned above. This, I have been using at bedtime only at the recommendation of my doctor because it will make the skin very flaky and peel.

The skin around my mouth and nose has been peeling so much. I look like Ashy Larry or something...like I don't believe in moisturizer. And it's strange because the skin on my forehead where I have the dark spots hasn't been peeling. I think I'd feel a lot better if it did start to peel because I'm assuming that would be helping with the dark spots fading. But I'm not sure. This lack of peeling could be a good thing. At least my entire face doesn't look like Ashy  Larry. But anywho, when I use this at bedtime I don't apply any moisturizer over it. I don't want anything to interfere with what this Retin-A is supposed to do. The only other thing I use is tea tree oil on my nose piercing (to help it heal) and Clinique's All About Eyes eye cream. I put that under my eyes and I don't use the Retin-A in that area. FYI, the Clinique eye cream is actually okay. I've been using it since March and its been working great. The results haven't been super dramatic but it has definitely helped to get rid of the dark circles under my eyes.

The second thing my dermatologist prescribed is a special wash called Sodium Sulfacetamide 10% and Sulfur 5%. This is supposed to do away with all of the bacteria and other yucky stuff that can inhabit your face. Let me tell you how much I love this. I've only been using this a few days now but I can see a slight difference. I use it twice a day, morning and night. At night I make sure that I take all of my makeup off first with my Clinique Take the Day Away makeup remover and then I wash my face with this. I'm a wash-rag girl...I never wash my face without one, but with this new wash I don't have to. I just wet my face and apply a quarter-size amount in my hands, massage it all over my face, let it sit for 2 minutes and the rinse. My skin feels great afterwards. The smell is a little funky but it's nothing that will stick with you as you go about your day. I am in love with this already. Before I got this from the doctor I'd been using Ambi's Clear Complexion Cleansing bar. That is actually pretty okay too but not as good as this new stuff. So since I have a lot of those left, I'll be using those for my body.

The third item the doctor prescribed is a lotion that I use specifically for my elbows, knees and toes. Like a lot of Black women I've found myself with knees and elbows that are darker and rougher than the skin anywhere else on my body. This is no bueno for me. I like to match all around :) And I do not like rough skin, so hopefully this will work for me. I actually do not remember the name of it (sorry, I will check once I'm home and list it) but I know it was a very "scientific" name and started with an 'A.' In addition to that she also recommended that I use the Ambi fading cream to help clear up the dark patches of skin, so I'm heading out on my lunch break to pick some up.

In conclusion, I am feeling very confident about the new "weapons of mass beauty" that I have. I feel like I'm on my way to clear, healthy, pretty skin. But the most important thing I have to remember is that all of the creams and lotions in the world will not take the place of simply "taking care" of yourself. Drinking plenty of water, eating well, exercise, staying away from tobacco and excessive drinking. And a good multi-vitamin never hurt anyone. I will report back in a few more weeks with an update of how my skin is doing.


p.s. If you go to http://www.ambiflawlessskin.com/, you can sign up for a $3 off coupon to use towards any of their products (except the soaps because they're only $1 - $2).

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday Afternoon Adventure!

Today was such a great day! It was very hot here in the Steel City and I loved it! Purrfect weather for me. So, the day started off with breakfast at Eating Park, which I did not enjoy because after requesting that my sausage be "super super well-done" it came out looking grey with some burnt edges. It wasn't pink inside, but the looks of it freaked me out so I didn't touch it. The french toast however was edible. LOL. The real issue is that I really just need to stop eating pork all-together. It's no bueno. But thats a blog for another time.

Anyway, after that came back home, relaxed a bit and then went out with my friend. We went to what I believe is the highest point in the city and just took in the sights (which I've seen a thousand times) and had pizza and icecream. It was a lovely day and it really helped me to forget about the things that have been bugging me, if just for a little while. It was so hot, my icecream cone had no chance of survival and almost immediately began to melt. I had vanilla icecream and rainbow sprinkles running down my hands, my legs and going into my tennis shoes. It was so sticky and gross but it was fun. I felt like a kid again.

So, overall it was a great day and I am so glad to be home relaxing. I just don't want to get up in the morning :( But a girl has to make that $$$$ :) Below are some of the pictures from my Sunday Afternoon Adventure.

(On the road. Pink Shades & Hello Kitty Fitted Cap)

(Steeltown! This should be a postcard)

(The great Heinz Field in the back)

(My OOTD : SUPER Simple...Tank top, shorts, pink Guess handbag, and Hello Kitty Fitted Cap)

Until next time!!!!
xoxoxo ~ Kitten

Saturday, July 9, 2011

My Hair

So, it has been about a month and 5 days since I did my "big chop" and got all of my relaxed hair cut off. I didn't really know how I was going to end up liking this. I was a little afraid at first and thought that I'd like it for a week and then freak out, realizing that I no longer had my shoulder-length hair. But none of the bad stuff I was thinking has happened. I feel great! Never in my adult life have I felt more beautiful and more confident than I do now. I feel more "real." I feel more connected to my roots and to my ancestors. I am back to having the hair that God blessed me with. Its mine. And when I meet people for the first time, they're meeting the real me. Not a bad replica. And I can look at them and say, this is my hair...its kinky, curly, and its me. No more hiding behind dangerous chemicals and wigs.
Now, on that note, let me say that I'm not knocking any woman who wears wigs or weaves or get relaxers. That is her decision. I'm just saying that those things were not really for me.

(My hair as a toddler)

Another great thing about the decision to cut all my hair off was that I am saving SO much time at everything. Getting ready for work in the morning is so quick and such a snap! I wish I realized in college that this was the way because there are so many classes that I would've never been late to or actually gone to. When I think about the person I was, I get a little sad because I was so vain and so immature. I would be 15 minutes late to class sometimes or just not go because my hair was "messed up" or I couldn't "do anything to it." I let my education suffer because of my hair. Not to mention after college at my first real job, ending up late because of messing with my hair or being so nervous that someone was talking about my hair. Hating my hair was the cause of a lot of the extreme shyness and anxiety that I went through in my college and early 20s. And its so ironic because that was the "relaxed" hair causing me that trouble. It was the "straight" and "good" hair that was giving me issues.

(Junior year in college : Relaxer w/ Drawstring Ponytail)

I thank God that I grew up and got mature and finally began to realize the things that matter in life. My hair is important to me, but it doesn't make me. I realize that it doesn't make me the person that I am and I need to love myself for who I truely am. Not what anyone wants me to be. So after months of thinking about it and scaring myself out of it, all these years later I got the big chop. I still have my hair inside of an envelope that the barber gave me. I figured I'd keep it to remember the days when my hair literally drove me crazy and then I'll look back and laugh at how silly I was. Yes, I was so silly. I was such a little girl. I feel like a woman now because I listened to myself and no one else when it came to this matter. The decision was mine and mine alone. Even when my mom said "hmmmm, I don't know." I told her that I loved her but I was doing it with or without her approval or blessing. After seeing how I look she loves it and tells me everyday how beautiful I am.

(My real hair down...It looks healthy but it wasn't)

Guys, you just don't understand how wonderful I feel. This is almost spiritual. I feel so strong because in the Black community most ladies go for longer, straighter hair. Short and kinky isn't usually the deal (there are however A LOT of sistas who choose to go natural) and I remember some of my peers being teased as children for having "nappy" hair. I hate to say that I probably said a nasty remark like that to someone before as a child or teenager. And when I think about how stupid and blind and childish I was, it hurts. There is nothing wrong with "nappy" kinky" or curly hair. Black hair is beautiful. I'm so glad that the fog blocking that realization was lifted from me.

(Me...June 2011...Happier Than Ever!!)