I stumbled upon a REALLY interesting article as I was perusing the webs this evening about American Apparel and their mannequins. To put it bluntly, they had their mannequins showcasing themselves in their natural state. Meaning, they were baring their pubic hair all out for the public to see.
As you can imagine there was a tremendous amount of controversy, (which I’m sure AA was going for because this isn’t the first time that they have done something controversial). There was a lot of backlash mainly against the unkempt and wild looking nature of the mannequins. They were dubbed as unsightly. Does that mean that any woman who decides to go natural is unsightly and unkempt? I wanted to get a second opinion so I decided to question my roommates on this issue. Immediately I showed them the photo of the mannequins.
They screamed. I laughed. Their argument was that since mannequins are meant to showcase clothing, then the only function that they have is to be bare and presentable for the public. They too agreed that the mannequins looked unsightly and “gross”. I asked if there was a mannequin that had a muffin top or dimples in their thighs as well, would that be unsightly as well? While I agree that the photos are pretty gnarly, I don’t think American Apparel is really concerned with the pubic hair stuffed in the mannequin, I think they’re concerned with the societal perception of beauty and seek to challenge that.
Let’s run it back to the history of hair removal. It originated around the early 1900’s when sleeveless dresses became a new fad for women. The early Harper’s Bazaar made a note of removing the “objectionable hair” if choosing to get into a sleeveless dress. It was a fashion statement that ended up taking storm and with the clothing that became skimpier and skimpier over time the hair removal became more frequent. Everything on your body became “objectionable”. Now a century later we are here and going towards greater extremes of hair removal in order to keep up with standard of beauty. In my opinion, choosing to be a woman that keeps her natural hair growth is admirable to me. I believe that anyone’s personal stance on not shaving has a strong sense of comfortability and confidence in their own body (this is not to say that shaving women don’t have the same confidence). Myths about shaving point towards smelliness and dirtiness. But history shows that it wasn’t about being smelly or being a dirty person. It was about aesthetics. It was turned into an aesthetic.
Two semesters ago, I had a class with a really interesting girl who didn’t believe in bras, underwear, or shaving. One hot day she decided to put on a maxi dress and let me tell you, nothing was left up to the imagination. Although I was slightly creeped out by this, watching the way she spoke and carried herself throughout the semester made me think that this wasn’t just a girl who is lazy and untidy. She actually proved to me that she was quite the opposite. I personally can acknowledge that I have been driven by the media and people to believe that not shaving, or having that “au natural” look is something that is to be frowned upon.
I think the reactions that American Apparel got from onlookers just goes to show the way we think nowadays. I had to take a moment to pause. If this is one of the things that make me and other people reel, then what other “truths” or “standards” have I taken upon myself in order to keep up with the Joneses? Sidenote: I personally do not exercise the practice of not shaving. I can’t handle the ramifications of that especially on a college campus, but I sometimes wonder if one day I will be able to shrug it off and just do whatever I feel.
Tell me what you think in the comments below!
Lupita Nyong’o. I love her. She is so refined. So graceful. The classic African Beauty that my home continent always sings about. I don’t know what excites me more. Seeing a woman of color succeed in Hollywood or seeing an African rooted woman of color succeed (shout out to my heritage!). She has captured the hearts of thousands because of her exotic background and beauty and it makes me excited because slowly people like her are becoming more accepted by the public HOWEVER, while Vanity Fair saw fit to have her grace the February issue of their magazine, it’s speculated that the photo was altered in order for Nyong’o’s skin to appear lighter.
Lighting or pure photoshop?
This isn’t the first time that Vanity Fair has had questionable activity that has made readers and even other actresses wonder about the motives and messages of the magazine.
In 2010, Gabourey Sidibe who played the main role of Precious in the film ‘Precious’ was interviewed at Vanity Fair for their March Issue on “The Fresh Faces of 2010.” These faces included breakout stars of the year, Carey Mulligan, Emma Stone, and Amanda Seyfried who were all granted a spot in the fold out cover. Of course, Sidibe was excluded from this group (read the story here). While the actress was able to brush the snub off quickly, it didn’t negate the fact that Vanity Fair had possibly been involved with making an executive decision to leave Sidibe off the cover. Perhaps she wasn’t thin enough? Perhaps in the same way, Nyong’o wasn’t light enough? You decide.
Spent the day at the Griffith Observatory. It was my final day to have fun in LA without worrying about schoolwork so I decided to drive up there with a friend and practice my photography skills along with clear my mind. I had an interview with a fashion magazine on Friday and had so much unpacking to do in between, so my mind was a bit on the jumbled side. Driving up above all the Los Angeles smog helped clear my brain a bit (the hazy photos are not because of photoshop. That’s smog. eek). Enjoy the photos! 🙂
A couple weeks ago I found Tracee Ellis Ross’s Youtube channel, (yes the daughter of Diana Ross) and was browsing through her uploads. I immediately stopped on her Hair Love video. (click link here to view it).
If you know anything about Diana or Tracee, the first thing that you and the public know is that they are both known for their mane! While Diana’s hair was often a weave installed for the stage, Tracee’s natural hair was wild, thick, voluminous, and pretty much what every young black girl lusted after while watching her on TV. Back in the day when Girlfriends was a show on UPN13 (geez I’m old), I remember seeing the different styles and updo’s she would put her hair in for each episode and recalled feeling a twinge of jealousy mixed with adoration.
Now years later, she has her own Youtube Channel and is now speaking personally about the one thing everyone always wanted to know about: her hair. She begins the video with a meme picturing a girl crying and the caption reads, “That moment when you realize that you don’t have Tracee Ellis Ross’s hair”. While laughing at the meme, she then thanked her viewers for complimenting and loving so much on her hair because while we all love it, there was a time when she absolutely hated it. According to her, it was unmanageable, wild, and just downright hard to maintain. She shed a lot of tears because of her hair and to now see the love she’s receiving for it touches her. That resonated strongly with me as I too have had a very similar love/hate history with my own hair. Now in my 20s, I fortunately have a very profound appreciation of it.
However, she didn’t want the video to just be about how much we love her hair. She titled the video Hair Love, because she wanted everyone, from every background, ethnicity, and race to share in the comments why they loved their own hair and what makes their hair unique. Way to go Tracee! Way to be interactive with the public. While her Hair Love series was only a couple of videos, I believe that it could have gone as far as a full blown Hair Love Campaign. The media already gives too many ideas and suggestions on how women should change themselves, so having something like this can help to bolster the idea of natural beauty and self love. I’m all for it. So let’s start.
I love that my hair is so versatile. I can wear it in twists one day and other days I can wear it in a full blown afro.
What do you love about your hair/What makes it unique? Comment below!
Youtube is my new TV. All I do is wait for my beloved vloggers to upload a new video and I’m in heaven for 5-10 minutes. I don’t know when it started happening but I started to watch vloggers so regularly it was almost like I was tuning into reality TV every other day–only except it really is reality. However, you won’t catch me watching just any vlogger. This past year I’ve been into watching a lot of Youtubers but there are only 3 that I have completely dedicated my routine to watching. These 3 women not only have AMAZING beauty/style tips and inspiration pieces, but they offer so much wisdom and strength for women and girls who watch their videos.
Because I have watched their videos, a lot of the way I view myself and the way I look at makeup and clothing is different. They seriously have been my inspiration and role models for the things that I want to pursue in my life, and how to love myself fully.
I remember finding her channel for the first time last year because I had clicked on a video with her and her (now husband) Mike. It was a boyfriend tag and somehow I got sucked into the madness of her OOTD, DIY’s and vlogs. Since then, I have never stopped watching any of her videos. I just find her so inspiring and relatable (because she’s Nigerian, WOOP! WOOP!) because I got to see her when she was younger and living with her parents to moving out and getting married, to now being more established and even getting recognized by social media, magazines, etc etc. It’s literally one of those “started from the bottom now we’re here” stories. IMO. I’ve seen some of what she’s been through, and how’s she has managed to cope and get through it, and I know that I can apply the same thing for myself. I really to hope to have a story similar to hers one day.
(she just added a wordpress blog so go and check it out!)
I found her channel a little bit later in the year but nonetheless I was hooked!! The main thing I love about her is her positivity. When I would go through her videos there would be videos on her talking about loving yourself and how to live a happy lifestyle. Even though Youtube is only 5 percent (or even less) of her life you can tell that she truly is a happy spirit. It comes out in her clothing, that is always refined, fun, and light. She is another one of my Nigerian sistahs, so obviously that’s a plus! This year, she really inspired me to adopt that positive and joyous mindset of hers and so that is how this blog ended up coming about, along with Positive Message Monday. (this is her blog)
3. BeautyCrush aka Sammi Maria
She’s amazing. Her sense of style is AMAZING. In fact, out of the two other women, her style suits mine the most. Every time I see her lookbook, her outfit is something that I’ve already worn or I would totally wear. During the times when I was running out of ideas and inspiration for clothing, I would click her page really quick and immediately find something to throw on for the day. She makes the simplest outfits look so chic. That to me is an artist. I really enjoy watching her videos because you can tell she’s very unique. She has a unique background and unique quirks about her that actually remind me of myself. And while she doesnt reveal everything about herself and her struggles in her videos, you can tell that she’s strong enough to not drop off the face of the earth and stop making videos when the going gets rough. She wipes herself off and tries again.
Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous everyday women. Key word: everyday women. They aren’t Angelina Jolie’s or Halle Berry’s. They are women that picked up a camera and bravely decided to share their lives and style with their viewers. It just goes to show that if they can do it, I can do it too, and so can you.