Changing your lens

images (1)It is with the confidence of someone sliding into a random’s DM that I’m just gonna slide right back and continue as though there hasn’t been a post for 17 months.

Shit happens. Shit is still happening, but I’ll eventually get to writing about that when I can put my thoughts into a cohesive order.

So today is national (in the USA) watermelon day. I know this completely random fact how? My branding site, Tailor Brands has this really cool feature which generates seasonal logos, except those, are not my seasons. Nonetheless, it’s pretty interesting what other countries and cultures celebrate. Added to the juxtaposition of the reality of current affairs with the seemingly inane. My motherland Zimbabwe is burning, our futures uncertain, and watermelons have that same day dedicated to them.

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Anyway, when I saw the logo, I did a double take because the immediate thing that came to mind was the Jim Crow Watermelon. It’s been so well documented, that I’m not even gonna go into it (or put a picture). If you don’t know about it and are remotely curious about Juneteenth and how a fruit moved from being a symbol of black self-efficacy and freedom to one of uncleanliness, laziness, childishness, and unwanted public presence, click here and here. Watermelon symbolism strikes a peculiar chord with me as a black person of African heritage and descent, who has always lived in Africa but is aware of American influences. It’s made me rather confused because racial symbolism generally transcends continents and cultures, but Jim Crow imagery, in particular, doesn’t strike as emotional a cord with me as other racist imagery. I personally don’t fancy watermelon (or papaya and its cousins) as a fruit, maybe that’s why.

doc-5.jpgSo I googled it and discovered that what was being celebrated was the Millennial Watermelon. You know the one – it’s in salads, gin and vodka infusions, and summer drinks. There’s actually a non-profit for watermelons or rather 1500 watermelon growers. Oh, and here’s a random watermelon trick that I want to try at some point in my lifetime called melon moulding. I saw it on Instagram a while back and was so fascinated by it. I can’t be blamed for my child-like wonder for the random and absurd. Heart-shaped watermelon (yay!).

As I continued to ponder at the back of my mind about the changing lens on the meaning of watermelon and the cord strikes with me, I randomly remembered the Beyoncé Watermelon. The one she was drinking. I’m for that kinda watermelon. In fact, cue the music…

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Witness Me

There are three things that I know for sure.

  1. Humans have no boundaries.
  2. Social media has created keyboard warriors.
  3. The combination of the two pisses me off.

When something of significance happens in someone’s life, and they want to speak about it, how is it that random Joe Soaps feel it appropriate to decide when it’s enough? What, because you are on my social media, suddenly you are my puppet master? Social media has made us so bold that individual boundaries have disappeared. Arguably, by posting things in a public forum people are inviting commentary of some sort. But would you walk up to me and say that to my face?

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As someone who has gone through some life changing experiences, it miffs me to no end to stumble across comments like “why are we still talking about this”, “if she is so happy then why is she still speaking about it”, “that happened last year, move on” etc. My question is why does it hurt you so much? Firstly, you opted into my social media, you can just as easily opt out. Second, and most importantly, talking about the events that shaped my life gives them no power over me. When you shine a light on something, guess what? It’s no longer in the dark, it’s not a secret, and there is no shame. Or do you want to whip out my stories at your discretion and lord over me with them? I’m sure that would suit you better…if only it was about you.

Most often with a life-changing event, they only become so with hindsight and introspection. When the events are happening and you are ‘during’ the experience, we are so consumed by our emotions – questioning why this is happening to you, why your life is being upended unceremoniously. It is with time and maturity that the significance of the events become clear. When, for the most part, you are in a better place can you genuinely look back thankful that you came out stronger at the other end, because no pressure, no diamond.

It is only by owning their truth that one can take back their power. If the courage of others makes you so uncomfortable that you would have them hide their truth when it’s inconvenient for you, what does that say about you? Think about it.

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The typical brush off ‘haters gonna hate’ does not cover it when my power has you outchea acting like demonic swine in contact with holy water. What’s wrong? Is my truth too much for you? Does my strength intimidate you? Did you think I would be so easily broken? That I would not rise? You’ve exposed yourself. Only the weak try to break and stifle others. If it bothers you to hear my truth, walk on by. You’re just hearing about it – I had to live through it. Not all messages are for you. Powerful stories give others courage and strength to rise, so excuse me as I continue to inspire others (who are not you) without getting tired of talking about it.

Witness me as I proceed with my total badassery

No approval required.

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Put some respek on my hair

What is it about black people’s hair? I’m not referring to our age-old obsession with ‘taming’ it, but rather the lack of boundaries when it comes to other peoples?

Without taking a seat at her table, Solange and many before her, have a point about hair and the general tendency of people to touch it. Hers is a narrative about hair and its link to racial microaggression masqueraded as a compliment whilst denying black women respect, which is valid. But at the basis of this, which is my point of departure are simply boundaries.

I do my hair at the gym. I consider it ‘me time’ and will spend anything between 2-3 hours in the locker room having the time of my life. I will sit in the steam room, wash, condition, sit in the steam room again, rinse then do chunky twist outs. When I do my hair at home, it takes all of 45 minutes but then again I don’t have a steam room to procrastinate in. I’ve been doing the gym-hair thing for years now, and there are just some things that keep happening that get me so annoyed at people. People walking around outchea without an inkling of boundary knowledge and respect, so let me help y’all. Here are six things you really ought to remember about hair and boundaries.

1.Hands off!

It’s not ok to just stick your hands in anyone’s hair to determine its density and length. It’s the less creepy equivalent of “grabbing them by the pussy”. Firstly, it’s not polite. Even if you ask, it’s still not ok (please note that asking in the midst of touching does not count). It’s a violation of personal space, period. Is it ok to walk around giving stranger’s boobs a quick squeeze to determine their buoyancy? So why do you want to do that with my hair?

2. This isn’t real life Barbie

I’m not a doll, so what is this random combing thing? Bunny does it, but she’s 6 and still plays with Barbie’s.  Unless I explicitly ask you to comb my hair, you do not have an invitation to comb my hair. “Please check if my parting is straight?” does not mean comb my hair. FYI, you cannot just root-to-tip comb natural hair. It is dense, it hurts and WILL put me in a state of shock. Don’t do it B. Stay in your lane.

3. White people, this is for you – ask a friend, or ask google

Seriously. Then you won’t come across as racist and/or ignorant person by asking complete strangers what happens when you use a flat iron on an afro, how often you wash hair, if it’s ok to put oily products in it, how we know if it’s dirty… the list goes on and on.

4. My hair, my choice

I would like to think we’ve evolved as humans, but some still reckon it’s ok to dictate, or rather impose their hair choices on others. Chemically straightened, weaves, dreadlocks, braids or natural the choice remains yours. I can’t walk through town anymore on account of the many ‘helpful’ people accosting me every two steps (literally) brandishing a comb with an offer to make my hair ‘nice’. I woke up like this. I have a mirror. I know what I look like. I chose this. In the same way, I hate being told how to treat my hair. Everyone has opinions about how to manage hair, and I’m sure each one holds some merit. You do what works for you, and I’ll do what works for me. You may mean well, but leave me be already!

5. It’s rude to stare – again, white people this is for you

Can I just take a moment to lol at all those who think they can low-key stare from the corner of their eyes? I see you boo. Here’s the thing, when you apply heat onto an oily surface, it smokes up. My hair is not on fire; else I would not be standing there ever so calmly looking at my reflection in the mirror. I see the tendrils smoke, and I see you. Likewise, when my fro is all fluffed and in its glory, don’t be that person. It’s my hair, not a peacock crown. This can’t be the first afro you’ve seen. Walk on by.

6. I’m human, not a robot

“Hi, what do you put in your hair?”. Just like that. No preamble, no foreplay. Look, this hair is attached to someone. The same someone who you expect to respond to your question, so how about you engage with said someone before interrogating hair routines? Healthy hair does not grow itself. If you want a comprehensible response, you are more likely to get one if you engage me rather than just coming at me like I owe you answers.

7. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the goose

Guys, don’t just touch my stuff. Am I ruffling through your toiletry bag looking at what products you use on your face? Then why is it fine for you to just invite yourself into my hair bag? That’s just rude. And because you lack manners, I’ll answer only what you ask (and only that) as succinctly as possible. Just because I use it, doesn’t mean it will work for you. I know that, but you don’t. I’ve walked a 6-year hair journey and changed products along the way as my hair has grown and as seasons have changed. I also have products that I keep at home and some that I mix on my own. So, if you barge into my space uninvited, you get what you get.

Are you also with Solange on the hair thing? Let me know in the comments section

Judas, that you?

Act like you know!

#YourBeautiful Series: My Strength is Beauty

Originally posted on AWellHeeledWoman:

IMG_0111I thought this was going to be an easy write, and all I had to do was consult my bathroom and make-up kit. But as I started to think about what beauty is to me, I came to some interesting conclusions. As a former ugly duckling – emerging swan, I’ve never had the typical pretty girl experience in my younger years. I could point fingers at a society which makes dark skinned or women with natural hair feel unpretty. But the reality of it was that I had to get my mind there on my own.

High school was hellish. I could hardly catch a break in the pretty department. I was glad when it was over. Really. Varsity was a significant improvement, not because I had some radical facelift, but because I was able to start from a clean slate. I walked into an environment where very few people knew me, and at a time in my life where I was conscious enough to be able to speak and act in a way that yielded the results I wanted. I still looked the same, but I had the confidence boost of anonymity. Because I felt better about myself, I started to slowly embrace my inner beauty, which is based on my character as an individual. It was a slow journey, but the process of self-discovery and self-actualisation was life changing. It’s almost like my DNA was altered, such that no matter how much society tries to sell its idea of beauty, I’m completely unmoved in my resolve.

What I know for sure is this: beauty for me is an inside-out thing. Pretty fades. Fast. I’ve never given too much thought to my ‘pretty’ because I never thought I was. I have a fantastic character, and statistically perfect body proportions, but comparatively, not much of a face. I play to my strengths, and outside of my character, it’s my body. Strong is the new sexy, and I do strong in spades. When I feel strong, I feel beautiful. So, here’s what’s in my beauty bag:IMG_7807

  • Nike Air Zoom Structure 18 stability running shoes, for over pronators.
  • Nike dri-fit running gear (I have thermal winter and summer gear), Nike dri-fit socks (conveniently labelled R & L), a Nike dri-fit victory compression bra, and a Nike armband for my iPhone which contains my Nike+ running app and my cardio and power playlists.
  • PowerBeats Wireless

I’m an unrepentant Nike lover. In truth, you are likely to see me in #AllNikeEverything than with a full face of makeup. Because I’m active daily, the less makeup I wear, the less I have to take off when I work out in the evening.

My beauty comes from my confidence in my body’s ability to perform as it has been conditioned. The effect is domino like, from my energy and confidence levels, to the clarity and glow of my skin.

Beauty enhancing products and I have never made friends. I’ve recently found a good balance which honours my fuss-free nature and panders to the girly side of my personality. Thing is, you sweat and hydrate as you work out, which results in the most gorgeous glow that cannot be replicated. It also makes applying makeup in the morning a nightmare because my glow is more flawless than my foundations. I usually apply a light coat of mascara – I use whatever I get as a free sample >oh, the shame! <, and Clinique Eye Quick Liner for Eyes Intense. I’m big on lips. I can forgo all the other face stuff, as long as my lips have some red. I use Kat Von D Everlasting Lip Liquid in Vampira every day. I occasionally use NYC soft matte lip cream in Monte Carlo, Black Up JUM10 and Bite Beauty Lip Liner in Truffle to add some dimension to Vampira. Because all my lip colours are matte (I have big lips, and don’t want to look bee stung due to glossy lips), I carry Bepanthen bum cream. It’s non-greasy, and does WONDERS for keeping lips supple and moisturised, and it sorts out cracks. It now comes in a convenient 3.5g tube which doesn’t break in half like the 30g tube. It’s also one of the best kept mum’s secrets. You’re welcome.

When I do use makeup, the products are non-comedogenic so that my pores can breathe. I am disciplined about my monthly Ultra Calming facials at Sorbet Brooklyn. My girl Mpho also does my Gelish nails – only neutral colours on hands, pedi’s and waxes. What makeup I have consists of Clinique Anti-Blemish and Stay Matte foundations, and a random assortment of MAC eye shadows which hardly see the light of day

image1I have a good morning and evening routine. My toiletry bag has Sebamed anti-bacterial cleansing foam, an assortment of Neutrogena products which I use depending on the mood of my skin, raw shea butter, Body & Bath Works Japanese Cherry Blossom body butter (because it smells so good), Dermalogica C12 for pigmentation, and Bioderma Photoderm Max SPF 50+ dry touch sunscreen. My must haves are a good night-time moisturiser and SPF 50 sunscreen.

My handbag has Vampira, Body Shop candied Ginger Lip Balm, Sally Henson cuticle oil, and Body & Bath Works Japanese Cherry Blossom hand cream.

Here’s my advice to other women: work on what’s inside first. Be beautiful inside, and that will naturally project outwards. Also, find a low maintenance routine that makes you feel good. For some, it’s a light coat of makeup, for me and my good friends, it’s the feel-good endorphins from a rigorous workout. I do a lot of body work in the background, and I take my Sorbet appointments very seriously. I use minimal products to enhance the work I do on my body, and as a result, I spend less time ‘fixing up’ my face daily. Works for me, and means my 5 year old doesn’t get to mar her prefect skin with products when she plays dress up. Win win!

Read more of the series on #YourBeautiful on AWellHeeledWoman

Leave a Lasting Impression

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I’m just a young girl from somewhere in Africa with a dream…

It takes 4 seconds to assess a person; it takes up to 10 to react to them. Statistically speaking, within the first four to ten seconds of interacting with another person, decisions are made about their economic level, education level, trustworthiness, social position, and level of sophistication, economic heritage, social heritage, educational heritage, success, and moral character.

Studies of workplaces found that conclusions were drawn based on impressions of individuals, extending as far as determining the individual’s career advancement expectations and level of professionalism

In my industry, at least, the manner in which you dress ultimately has an impact on the way you are perceived and the impression you make, and sometimes has a bearing on the rewards received. Professional dress here refers to dressing in such a manner as to enhance your authority, promote your respect, aid your promotion, and promote your advancement opportunities in the workplace. By understanding the importance, expression and significance of the power image, you will appreciate the wider impact of the daily choice of apparel on career progression, self-esteem and perceptions.

You need to be aware of what your clothes say about you, because within the FIRST FOUR SECONDS of interaction with another person, they immediately make a decision about you based on their first impression, and this decision is rarely changed. Because individuals are judged on their appearance and behaviour, in addition to their performance, the significance of a professional image cannot be overlooked. If you want the job, you have to look the part. If you want the promotion, you have to look promotable. If you want respect, you have to dress as well as or better than your industry standards.

If you feel this isn’t fair – that a person should be judged, not by what they wear but by what they have done with their life, remember this: Life listens only to winners, and nothing exceeds success in the business world like the appearance of success.

The first four seconds, huh? Challenge accepted!

WINNING

Slut-shamers, sit down, it’s not your vagina

 Hey, you!

Yes, you.

Stop slut shaming. 


I recently read about the “top 50 Harare naughty girls” list while catching up on what was then the hot internet gossip about one Geraldine Baye that’s doing the rounds. Geraldine was one of the supposedly “naughty girls” on that list. I don’t know any of the women listed and the story wasn’t much of a read, but the fact that such a list exists bothers me.

In the mid-90s when I was in high school, femmes couldn’t walk in downtown Harare wearing spaghetti straps. To do that was to guarantee being stripped and traumatised. Copacabana was well-known for this. Never mind that spaghetti straps are only practical considering the heat in Zimbabwe! While not all pockets of Zimbabwean society embrace women wearing what they want yet, thankfully, we’re slowly evolving from that.

In the 90s, you also couldn’t buy condoms as a…

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