Wednesday, May 31, 2017

EYL: Stop Putting Eurocentric Beauty Standards on Black Girls

Earl and I had a fight on Sunday.

Well, it wasn't a fight per se; maybe more of a lively disagreement. You see, when Earl met me, I had straight (and pretty short hair). And in an effort to seriously grow it back, I decided to avoid using heat at all cost, thus forming the very frowy fro I now don. It is now both longer and healthier than it has ever been, and for a girl who has fought with her hair literally all her life, this is a miracle for me. Earl, on the other hand likes straight hair, and frequently encourages me to straighten it. He doesn't particularly care for many (read ANY) of the natural styles I do.

While he insisted that he likes natural hair, to me, it feels like he doesn't, or at least my texture of it. And saying that he doesn't like my natural texture, he might as well have told me he loves blue eyes or fairer skin, things that aren't impossible for me to have, but would be unnatural on me. Him pushing unnatural looks on me says very clearly (to me) that he does not accepting my natural looks.

While he strongly denies this, saying this whole debate was merely about hair, I tried (and probably failed) to explain is this:

For women of the African Diaspora, it always goes deeper than hair. It is about self acceptance.

I am exhausted by our culture's ridiculous standards of beauty in general, but I guess the thing that really gets me is that we, as Black women, and as Black people, are notorious for looking at ourselves as less than, unless we have colored eyes, fairer skin, smaller noses, etc. Even in our natural hair standards, we chase after looser curls and coils, ignoring what our own birth given textures are telling us. That is just as bad as hiding all together.

We exalt lighter skin tones over darker ones, a thing that I probably have benefitted from more than I realize and unknown to those who would accuse me of it, I hate it, knowing that the real reason my skin and the skin of most of my family members is fair is because of the brutal repeated rape of a not too distant relative by her white employer, a fact that will follow me for my whole life. Colorism really is the devil.

In essence, we look at our own features and rather they look like someone we are not. More than that, we pass down beliefs about our own worth, value, and beauty that were literally beaten into us during times of slavery. And that has to stop.

Let's edit:

For Us in the Diaspora- Stop chasing European, Asian, or Latinx beauty and embrace your own:

Accepting my natural features was the best thing I could have done. I like my wide set nose and naturally wide hips. I love the glowy bronze that takes over my skin in the warmer months. I love my big brown eyes and my full lips.

Speaking of mainly hair, embracing my kinky, at times unruly hair was one of the best ways I could embrace me. At times I am unruly, unmanageable, and I do what I want, like my hair. In a sea of fried, dyed, and laid to the side, I, with my own halo of coils and spirals, instantly stand out, just like my fro. Not that it is the attention I chase. But it is me showing that, in a time when every woman, regardless of ethnicity, age, or economic status, is bombarded with messages daily that say that she is not good enough, maybe my embracing who I am, who I was naturally born as will not only show my sisters that humble and sober self love, a rebelliously powerful act in these times, is possible and very attainable.

Now, if your hair is naturally straight, then good for you. Embrace that. That is you, and you should be proud.

But if you're hiding your natural hair, or you feel ashamed of your darker skin, or you're contouring the life out of your nose, or whatever, STOP. Black is beautiful. Black has always been and will always be beautiful. And your own true beauty will only come the moment you accept your beauty. You don't have to have that Malaysian bundle or Kylie's any kit to have true beauty.

For Us, and everyone else- Stop telling Brown women they are "Pretty for Black Girls":

And we usually say this to Black girls who "don't look" Black. Or mixed girls. As if the only way Black people could make beautiful children is through interracial relationships. Well, I have news for you brainwashed folks: Mixed girls aren't the only pretty girls in the Black culture, nor do they hold the market on beauty within the culture. Black girls who aren't mixed are just as lovely, just as pretty, just as gorgeous as Mixed ones. We are all pretty.

Or how about exotic looking. Like we are some sort of wild animal and not a human being. Like, what in the flaming bowels of hell does that mean anyway? As if being a Brown girl instantly makes you ugly? That may not be what you mean but that is what you in essence say.

Now its awful when someone not in the culture says it, but its even worse when someone who is says it. That shows how deep the disrespect for our own beauty within us goes. The fact that, for the first few years of her life, the first child of Beyoncé and Sean Carter, Blue Ivy, was berated by grown Black women across social media who called her ugly because of her abundant coils hair and nose like her father was one of the biggest examples of that. Like, she was a toddler. And grown women were calling her ugly. I guarantee at some point, somewhere, someone called each of them ugly for those same features, back generations.

So stop that.

There is no one way to be beautiful. There is no one culture that dominates beauty. Period.

Back here, I am definitely keeping my fro. It's beautiful and I love it. If Earl doesn't like it, I have a whole lot of other beautiful attributes he can look at instead.

Reclaimed Readables, May 31st

Happy Humpday beautiful people! Today's Readables feature top tips on staying healthy on those summer trips, over 20 lipstick facts you ought to know, heatless do's for natural girls, how to create the summer closet of your dreams using your own closet, the top beauty trends for the next 3 months, and the lazy girl's guide on keeping a twist out.

Refinery29: Summer closet organization tips, summer beauty trends, natural hair sleep styles
Coveteur: Heatless do's for natural hair
BuzzFeed: 26 Lipstick facts
Well+Good: How to stay healthy as a traveler

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Trend Alert: Jelly Sandals Under $50

Yes. Jelly shoes are so back, and not just for little kids either.

With sophisticated silhouettes and more airy cuts, these blasts from the past have made a modern return in a very 2010's way.

Here are my top picks for jelly sandals perfect for the pool, the beach, and definitely the street, all under $50.

Trend Alert: Jelly Sandals Under $50

Reclaimed Readables: May 30th

Happy ShoesDay, beauts!
This week's Readables feature the chicest sandals for work, the $55 sneaker that is popular in every state, the throwback slide thats perfect for the pool, the top shoe styles for the summer, Sarah Jessica Parker's new "sneaker", and minimalist sandals that will work with almost any outfit.

Work appropriate sandals
The most popular sneaker in all 50 states
Jelly Sandals are back
Top shoes for summer
SJP's new "sneaker"
Practical minimalist sandals

Saturday, May 27, 2017


Melanin Mamis
Black Twitter has often been a gift to us that we have not deserved. From public dragging of people and their tone deaf comments and actions to presents like the #bowwowchallenge, the intelligence, wit, with a combo of GIFs, memes, and an undercurrent of woke-ness makes Black Twitter one of the perfect giants that keeps Twitter interesting.

Last night while on a casual scroll through Twitter, I happened upon the hashtag #BlackHairChallenge. The Challenge, started by the community, MelaninMamis, was intended to celebrate the diverse range of Black Hair styles and, ultimately, Black Beauty in general. What ensued was a FLOOD of gorgeous locs, coils, kinks, braids, twists, from, and tresses from Black women across Twitter.


Even those who didn't participate in the challenge had to get in on all of its positivity.

I even joined in, dropping four selfies of my own. It was a beautiful time. Just a bunch of Black women affirming their own beauty and the beauty of each other.

But of course, whenever you try to do something to honor Black people, you know who always has to show up to the party: fragile White people (very different from the Woke White Baes who encourage everyone to love themselves and their individual cultures without feeling threatened or diminished by it, you know, like good humans.) Like spoiled kids throwing a temper tantrum at someone else's birthday party because they didn't get any gifts, these fragile White people went at it, saying everything from this:
To even this:
Racist? How (sway)?

To answer the asinine Twitter tears of the poor fragility of the white people who dared suggest that this tag was racist

So I tweeted the tweet below

And this one too
To which, no one who had objected to the tag has yet to respond, in an intelligent manor or otherwise. I don't get it. And I probably never will, which in itself is a blessing, I guess. After all, if another culture wanted to affirm their own traits and beauty without diminishing anyone else, I wouldn't think it's a problem. In fact, probably would be here for it.

People are allowed to love themselves and their cultures without lowering anyone else to do so. But when you have a culture that was built on nothing but the constant subjugation and appropriation of other cultures, that dominant (and most likely immature) culture sees those other cultures loving themselves as a threat. To which, they feel compelled to respond as above.

But what did we do? The same thing's we always do: keep on being beautiful, versatile, creative and progressive (and secretly reporting their tweets in the process.)

No one should have to justify their own self love. And we won't. This was for us, by us, and no amount of white fragility will rain on this beautiful Black Women's Affirmation Parade.

Like Solange says on her song FUBU "Some shit is for us. Some shit, y'all can't touch."

Friday, May 26, 2017

Reclaimed Readables, May 25th

Happy Friday, readers and friends.

Today's Readables feature 5 ways to do denim on denim, how one writer finally organized her tiny apartment, how yo build a summer capsule wardrobe at every price point, the perfect bikini anyone can wear according to fashion editors, why its time to stop hair policing kids of color, and over 40 hilariously awkward things that happen to women in the summer.

Closet Heroes: 5 Rules of Denim on Denim
Man Repeller: Apartment organization tips
WhoWhatWear: Summer capsule wardrobe
Racked: High waisted bikinis, stop hair policing kids of color
BuzzFeed: 44 pretty awkward things girls experience in summer

Thursday, May 25, 2017

TBT: My Very First Blog Post and The Archives Section

Almost four years ago, I was encouraged by a dear friend, to start writing a blog. At this point, I was having a blast on my Tumblr, but had had 2 failed attempts at blogging. But, after some thought and prayer, I decided to go for it. And almost four years later, here we are!

And what began as a hobby to share at that time was my favorite hobby, thrift shopping, grew into a way I now work for myself. This blog has been more than just a fun place to share affordable beauty or thrifting stories, it has been my therapy in certain ways. It has been my accountability in other ways. I have shared deep and intimate stories here, I have shared my grief, my joy, my fears, and my growth here. I have found safety and sanctuary here.

And from some of the emails, DM's, and comments I have received from some of you, it has become some of that for you too.

Earl suggested that I install an archive section, and I am so grateful that I did. That's how I came upon  my very 1st Reclaimed post from all of those years ago. I can see the totality of this little site and my not so little growth, from blogging from an app on my iPhone, to creating a site on my iPad, to now working for myself from my own home office. And all the while, through dark photography, misspellings, how many iterations of layouts, and over 2000 posts, you have been right along for the ride.

Thank you for being with me on my journey. Here's to many more good reads and much more growth together.

The Archives are located on the Web Version and will be on the bottom right side of the column. Feel free to explore. Enjoy.

Reclaimed Readables, May 25th

Happy Thursday beautiful people!

Today's finance friendly Readables feature simple ways to repair iffy credit, 5 things you can do every month to move you net worth needle, how to score big in the beauty section of TJMAXX, the affordable swimwear line that deceivers designer quality on the cheap, how to manage your money when you're just starting out, and 20 cheap and easy beauty DIYs beauty fans will love.

Apartment Therapy: Repairing iffy credit, 5 things to move your net worth needle
Into The Gloss: Navigating the TJMaxx beauty section
Refinery29: Summersalt swimwear, managing your money when you don't have any
BuzzFeed: 20 cheap and easy beauty DIYs

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

How mansplaining made me appreciate my boyfriend more

I love my boyfriend, Earl.

I really do. Anyone who follows me on Instagram knows that at any given point,  most likely on Mondays (ManCrushMondays) that you will see some photo or dedication to this crazy, hilarious human who came into my life and made it better. He's incredibly handsome, smart, focused, driven, trustworthy, loves Jesus, loves his mama, probably the best griller I know, and has a sarcasm that matches mine which often has us embroiled in word bouts that result in the both of us keeling over with laughter.

It's the little things...

That all being said, he is definitely got some pretty glaring flaws. He doesn't like pets (I know! Right?!) He drinks more fruit juice than any person I have ever known. His resting face is frightening (in the words of my own mama). I could go on, but that isn't the point of this little post.

But what is NOT one praise the Lord, is that he has never, not once, tried to mansplain anything to me. Ever.

Mansplaining is defined as "what occurs when a man talks condescendingly to someone (especially a woman) about something he has incomplete knowledge of, with the mistaken assumption that he knows more about it than the person he's talking to does." After reading though some of the experiences (posted in this morning's Readables), a few of my more recent incidents came to mind where some man tried to explain something to me that he had no grasp over.

Earl may have a lot of flaws, but this is one he has never been guilty of. But that doesn't mean I haven't experienced it. On the contrary, as recent as a few weeks ago, I ended a budding friendship over frequent mansplaining.

I have come to view the people who enter my life as teachers who come along with the gift of some particular lesson that I must learn, listening intently for what they have to say and seeing how I can apply it to my life. Whether it's "patience", or " never read a book by it's cover" or in the case of this person, it was "trust your gut because it told you to never give this person the time of day", people who come in and out of our lives are there for a reason. 

In my defense, it started out harmless enough. He had seen me around the neighborhood, and noticed I was always furiously typing away at my laptop keys and asked what I did. I told him I was a writer and social media consultant and handed him one of my cards and offered my services. And so it began, we would meet up in the mornings to supposedly talk business, business turned into life, and life opened debates. I soon discovered this particular person was so stuck in his own ways of thinking, that he had no real desire to hear or even attempt to listen to anything I had to say. 
He had an opinion about EVERYTHING. His favorite target was my faith, frequently criticizing Christians and Christianity for things for which he had no basis in fact, just his own opinion. A little bit about me; I have been actively studying my faith for over half a decade. I am the lead on a dynamic teaching team and I have completed a ministerial study program. So, let's just say I have a good foundation for my faith. 

He would go on these exhaustive tangents about how Christians were the worst and how the church is failing. Meanwhile, I would sit across from him, sipping my iced coffee, a living contradictory example to everything he believed about Christians. When he would say Christians were stingy and greedy, I would quickly discuss the ongoing giving efforts my church and I were doing in the community. He would say that Christians didn't care about youth, I would immediately point to the different programs and mentorship my church and I were actively doing. For every ridiculous assumption or judgement he would cast, I would combat it with my own experience, facts and my faith. To which, he would quickly write off "Well, you're not really a Christian." and then would point to some long since antiquated faith system, doubting both my beliefs and experiences. Insert eye roll.


These conversations started out pleasantly enough, but over time, I felt myself growing incredibly weary of them. Despite my requests to stop attacking my beliefs, he persisted, as if some point to prove or in an attempt to crack what he believed to be a facade in me. 

It came to a head one rainy day, in an unfortunately public way, when, in Starbucks, he sat across from me, ramping up on his accusatory rant that I, quite frankly had had enough of hearing. After about 10 minutes of silence, I finally, and very declaratively, told him what his problem was, that he was so blinded and so comfortable by what some person had done to him that neither fact nor truth nor experience, even a living, breathing contradiction to his asinine arguments would make any difference. 

He pointed at me, and accused me of being the same as all of those who he had been talking about. He accused me of naiveté, of seeing the world with rose colored glasses, and being as selfish, greedy, and otherwise deplorably judgmental as those he berated me about for weeks. Refusing to let him try to tell me who I was, I snatched my laptop and my backpack and walked out.
Not my most shining moment. But I wasn't about to sit there and let some small man make me feel small. I know who I am. I know what I believe. I know in Whom I have believed, and no one, especially not some miserable man who has doomed himself to loneliness in exchange for the justification of his pain, can tell me otherwise.

I learned a lot from those weeks:
-You (meaning me) cannot save everyone. Some people like their prisons. No amount of handing them the keys will make any difference.
-Misery really does love company. Doesn't mean you have to be it's company.
-Some people are so comfortable in their own pain, doesn't mean you have to get comfortable with them.
-There will be attacks on what you believe and even who you are daily. You have to know, without any doubt, who you are and not allow anyone tell you. 
-Never generalize. Let individuals be who they are without punishing the group.
-Trust your gut and call BS at the door.
-Don't count losses, count lessons.
-Most importantly, shine your light. Some will be repelled by your light, some will draw towards your light, but none of that matters. You just keep shining. 

That night, I met up with my Earl, my fruit juice destroying, mean faced, warm hearted, crazy Earl. I shared with him these experiences to which he nodded as he poured yet another cup of apple juice and affirmed me, saying is his sweetly twangy baritone, "You know who you are and you stood up for yourself. And I'm proud of you." I was swept with overwhelming gratitude that he is my partner and that he, like me, chooses to keep his mind open for growth and his heart open for lessons. I couldn't ask for anything else.  

Now, if only I can get him to smile more.  

Reclaimed Readables, May 24th

Happy Hump Day beautifuls!

Today's Readables feature how you can do Cannes like an A Lister (without going broke), your favorite former White House occupants killing it in Italy, 17 women on their most ridiculous mansplaining experiences, 19 funny but true posts only Millennials will appreciate, 6 incredibly flattering pieces as selected by a stylist, and affordable concealers that rival the expensive ones.

Byrdie: Affordable concealers
WhoWhatWear: 6 really flattering pieces
BuzzFeed: 19 posts only millennials will understand, 17 mansplaining posts
Huff Post: Obamas in Italy
My Domaine: How to do Cannes like an A-lister without spending like one

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Trend Alert: Cheap and Chic Pool Slides

The shoe of the summer is the pool slide, hands down. From celebs to fashionistas across the board, the comfort of this flat sandal and its amazing versatility make it perfect to wear whenever.

And no longer are they restrictive to the pool or the shower. Beach ready slip ons are ready to hit the streets, whether paired with denim cut offs, your favorite skinny jeans, or your summery dresses.

Here are 13 different pairs that are ready for the pool, the beach, or, more importantly, the street.

Trend Alert: Cheap and Chic Pool Slides

Adidas slide sandals

NIKE sports shoes

Steve Madden slip on shoes

Adidas red sandals
$48 -

NIKE black sandals

Slip on shoes

Urban Outfitters Jeffrey campbell

Urban Outfitters jelly shoes

Urban Outfitters summer sandals

Floral shoes

Reclaimed Readables, May 23rd

Happy Tuesday loves!

This week shoetacular Readables feature the throwback sneaker the fashion girls are falling for, fancy flat sandals perfect for wedding season (you're welcome), actually comfortable heels, the 90's are back with these shoe trends, and the casual slip on sandal that is at everyone's price point.

The throwback sneaker anyone can wear
Fancy flat sandals
Actually comfortable heels
90's shoe trends that are back
Casual slip on sandals at every price point

Monday, May 22, 2017

No Rompers Allowed: The Deeper Issues at play behind feminine fashion for Black Males
Call me old fashion, but I want my man to dress like a man.

That may sound "gendered" or antiquated, but its just my opinion. In modern society, saying what I just said can get me borderline crucified, called every name under the sun from conservative and right wing (which a cursory read over the blog will tell you I am not) to even homophobic. However, it is very interesting to me that those who would call me these things, the "dress how you want" camp, by doing so, would automatically be guilty of the same biases as those who stick to stricter gender norms.

Where am I going with this?

A recent convo with some gal pals over the whole man romper situation that caused a social media firestorm lead us to an interesting discussion; why does it feel like Black Men, specifically, are the ones being targeted for emasculation through fashion? Why the skinny jeans and the crop tops and, now, the rompers? It was interesting what was revealed through this conversation.

For me, the best example of this goes back to last year's  Louis Vuitton campaign with Jaden Smith where Jaden models one of their skirts in this ad. (There may have been earlier examples of this, but, for me, this was one of the more glaring).

You have my hometown hero, Will Smith, who has played almost every type of typical "manly" roles in is ever growing resume of films. He's a West Philly boy, and being from that hood,  and having survived it during one of the roughest and most violet times in Philadelphia's history, there is a certain swagger Will possesses, even to this day that is undeniably manly. Yet, here is one of his son's, Jaden, who, yes, has been very experimental with his look and his life (as all children should be allowed to during their journeys  in self discovery) being not just photographed while out wearing a skirt (which, respectfully is his decision) but being commissioned by an iconic brand in the history of modern fashion to do so.

Why does this cause such a stir? Well, we have to broaden our perspectives a bit to include historical views of Black Men. Considering the fact that the Black Man has (for whatever reason, intrinsic or not) been viewed as threatening by popular culture (as seen by the sheer quantity of films, tv shows, and the like where they are frequently portrayed as the villain, the rapist, the robber, etc). This history has gone back even to before times of chattel slavery, but was further emphasized during that period. Any effort to demascluinize Black Men by their oppressors was definitely taken, as can be witnessed by a mere view of American History, and still continues to this day.
To say that a Black Man wearing a skirt or the man romper is just a man wearing merely pieces of clothing misses the entire historical undercurrent of Black masculinity being frequently attacked and demonized. To not have these historical references to reach back to, it is easy to miss the overall messages here, that is both an insult to Black Men as well as Women in general: a demascluinized Black Man, who wears women's clothing is of no threat. This belief holds two sickening understandings: that Black Men are indeed a threat unless they look and act more like women AND that women are weak and defenseless beings, ergo the perfect beings to model men that are deemed to be threatening, the Black Man.

This isn't about freedom of aesthetics. This is about more than the liberty to wear what you want. A man wearing a dress, skirt, or even a romper is not the same as a woman wearing a tuxedo or jean. There are deeper prejudices and historical biases at work here. Hence the overwhelmingly negative view many of us have about our men wearing such pieces. It has nothing to do with sexuality. As you notice, there has been ZERO discussion of sexual orientation here. No, its not homophobic to say that I don't want my teenage brother in a romper. No, It does not make me a gay-basher to say I don't want my future son wearing a tutu. For me, and for many of the people I have spoken to, the "crime" of the man romper and pieces like it is playing right into the biases mentioned above.

It is a complicated and confusing dialogue, but with understandings of the past and accurate views of the present, the dialogue certainly does become better informed.

So what do you think? LET'S TALK! I want to hear your opinion. Drop a comment and let's chat.

Reclaimed Readables, May 22nd

Happy Monday good people!

This week's #ManCrushMonday features iconic menswear staples and the men who made them famous, how to pull off jewelry, 10 tees to make you reconsider this groovy print, 5 alternatives for your favorite leg workout, cool home buys for the dapper man's pad, and celebrity loved skin care.

Refinery29: Celeb loved skin products
Dappered: Cool home pieces
GQ: Alternatives for the leg press, 10 tie dye shirts
Menswear Style: Pulling off jewelry, iconic pieces and the men who made them famous

Friday, May 19, 2017

Trend Alert: Banana Leaf Pieces Under $50
Florals aren't the only pattern to fall for as the weather gets warm.

A fun, but often times forgotten pattern is the leaf pattern, particularly the banana leaf pattern. This broad leaf is a perfect way of welcoming warmer days in a tropical boho way.

Here are my picks of this pattern for under $50. Happy Friday loves!

Trend Alert: Banana Leaf Pieces Under $50

CHRLDR crew neck pullover

Patterned top

Forever 21 v neck top

Halter neck top

Swimming costume

Beach romper
$23 -

Racerback swim top

Lilly pulitzer jewelry