Essays

2017 Met Gala: The Good & The Bad

This year’s Met Gala carpet was a disappointment to the fashion world.

This year, The Metropolitan Museum of Art chose Rei Kawakubo to build their annual fashion exhibit around, due to her authentic and eccentric take on art and fashion. Costume Institute’s curator Andrew Bolton praised Rei Kawakubo as “one of the most important and influential designers of the past forty years.” Such a distinct design sense is the entire reason she is only the second living designer to have a Met exhibit. Kawabuko studied the history of aesthetics at Keio University in Tokyo and later on, became a stylist. She then went on lead design her own clothes and founded the iconic brand, Comme des Garçons. Some of Kawakubo’s trademark styles includes abstract shapes, bold colors, ruffles, and bridging the modern with the past.

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(Photos via the NYT and People)

It seems every year more and more A-list superstars decide to part away from the theme, in favor of what social media audiences claimed was more of prom dress code. This year, the Met’s blue and white carpet was met with mediocre outfits at best, with only a dash of spectacular outfits which nailed the theme. Only a few demonstrated the avant-garde design/Comme des Garçons authenticity fashion lovers were looking for. Celebrities such as Rihanna, Solange Knowles, and Katy Perry took the theme and dress code to heart to showcase what the Met Gala is all about: the art of fashion.

All too often, the theme gets lost in the prestigious fundraising event when it is supposed to be the main focus when celebrities are walking up the long carpeted stairs with intricate outfits to the venue. Such is the case with celebrities and models alike who barely followed the theme that honors the creativeness and innovation of Rei Kawakubo. Other celebrities such as Selena Gomez, prominent Victoria’s Secret Models (well besides Lily Aldridge), Gwyneth Paltrow and more decided to go simple as though they were attending an awards show instead of fashion’s most distinguished carpet.

Here are my Top Ten Best at the Met: Helen Lasichanh, Cynthia Erivo, Rihanna, Kerry Washington, Katy Perry, Janelle Monáe, Lilly Collins, Haley Bennett, Michéle Lamy and Sean Combs (Diddy).

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Least favorites at the Met: Gisele Bündchen, Kendall Jenner, Adriana Lima, Sofia Richie, Bee Shaffer, Jennifer Lopez, Donatella Versace, Joan Smalls, Laura Dern, and Alexa Chung.

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Fleurish Five

Fleurish Five 4.28

Dream

Don’t Play | Louis York

I’ve been somewhat of a recluse lately. There are various reasons why but in the interest of saving time, I’ll spare you. However, during my little hermit time, I was listening/watching BET Soul (which I’m convinced used to be VH1 Soul but feel free to correct me) when this little jam played. It was so enchanting to me, at the time, I even waited four more hours to catch the name. I can’t tell if it’s the lyrics, the piano or the beat which have infatuated me but overall, it feels like it was made to dance on a club couch. It single-handedly made me want to get up, do up my hair and my Rooch lipstick from Karreuche’s ColourPop collection and put on my sequin skirt to dance the night away. I’ve already come up with video treatments in my head for the IG slide thing to this song! P.S. Karreuche’s ColourPop collab is back– I personally recommend Rooch and Glo Up but I hear Saigon is really pretty on darker skin tones as well.

Nail Art

(Images not ours– click through to source)

Growing up, I had a camp counselor whose nails of the week were downright… incredible. They were longer than anyone really had use for, some would be twisted into loops and they were decked out in Swarovski crystals and dollar bills. It was gaudy but nails ARE a well known artistic expression in the hood. It’s my personal opinion nail art is one of the purest forms of femme artistic expression. While I admired my camp counselor for her boldness in nail design, I could never do the same because my life is spent at a computer. But these contemporary nail artists are far more accommodating to my style and nail length. Now, I don’t have acrylic nails and I would hate to ruin my beautiful nail beds by getting some but I wouldn’t mind some decorated press ons. Artists shown here: KitOffKilter, NinaNailedIt, Madeline Poole, Primping Ain’t Easy Continue reading

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Essays

Dark Skinned Girls Don’t Get Married

(Photo via Pinterest)

Like every other little girl, I used to dream about getting married. And when I dream, I dream big. I’m talking 3.5, vs1, pear shaped, near colourless brilliant cut diamond on a 14K white gold band married. Cupcakes with initials married. Three tier cake, flower canopy, a peonies, calla lilies & roses bouquet with a dessert bar and me in a long, dramatic white dress with a train and a cathedral veil in front of all my friends and family with candles and fireworks married. My husband– who in my head looks like something like Trevante Rhodes– in a white tuxedo and a calla lily boutonniere bawling from my beauty married. I have dreamt about being married. (OK, I didn’t dream all that– Pinterest filled in some details.)

And it would be lit, a dream, truly. But the reality is… I’m too dark skinned to get married.

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Resources

Women of Color and Mental Health: A Masterpost

The APA has stated for years that women of color are more likely to have a number of socioeconomic risk factors for depression. These include racial/ethnic discrimination, lower educational and income levels, unemployment, and single parenthood. According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population. The rates of suicidal ideation/attempts among Native American and Hispanic adolescent females are alarming.

These are just a few disparities surrounding mental health in communities of color. Coupled with these statistics is the fact that women of color are less likely to seek treatment for mental illness compared to their white counterparts. Factors that prevent women of color from receiving mental health services include stigma in their communities, socioeconomic status, and previous adverse experiences with mental health services. In order to spread awareness about mental health, race, and risk factors, I have compiled a masterpost of educational links and texts relating to these topics, as well as mental health services and resources. The first step to addressing mental health concerns is the ability to talk openly and honestly about it. Many of the links below are about removing the stigma from mental illness. Feel free to suggest relevant texts and content warnings to keep the list updated.

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Interviews

Love: The Pathway of the Heart – an interview with Julius D. High

Just in time for the calendar day of love, we have an interview with the lovely Julius D. High about his social project Love: The Pathway of the Heart. In 2016, High set out with an Instax Mini camera to photograph people and ask what their interpretation of love is. Since beginning the project, he has garnered the perspectives of folks in Atlanta, New York, and Los Angeles and Love… was also featured in Dazed. I was already familiar with High and this project after we took a class together (coincidentally, we have the same major and minor). After being introduced by a mutual friend, I was even photographed for Love… and appreciate what the project represents. So, without further ado, here is a peek into the pathway of the heart.

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The artist himself

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Fleurish Five

Fleurish Five 2.10.17

Shanté

1. Still Processing

This podcast is one of my favorite things right now and I’m glad I finally gave it a chance. When it first came out, I was interested because I follow one of the hosts, Jenna Wortham, on Instagram. With podcasts, however, I have to be able to access it easily on my phone for me to stay involved and I don’t believe it was on Google Play initially (I could be wrong). Something told me to check again last month and there it was! Since then, I have been binge listening and Still Processing is everything I needed in a podcast. Wortham and her co-host Wesley Morris are both writers for the New York Times and the podcast finds them dissecting and discussing various topics – music, art, politics, technology, you name it! What I really love is the fact that it’s two black LGBTQ folks keeping it real and I can totally relate. Some of my favorite episodes are as follows:
– the one about Kanye
– the episode where they visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture aka “Blacksonian
– the one where they put Moonlight and A Seat at the Table in conversation with one another

…honestly all of the segments are worth a listen just to hear the banter and shared admiration between Wortham and Morris.

2. Black History/Futures Month

I love that, in recent years, (and this may just be because I seek out diverse content) there has been more of a focus on the hidden figures of Black history during February. We’ve heard almost all there is to know about Martin. A decent amount about Malcolm – but he was too radical for the public school set. There’s widespread info about Rosa and a few other palatable Black icons. Yet, for those of us who went to public school, we have had to learn the truth about our history once we reach higher education. I have yet to see Hidden Figures but I am so on board with rejecting the whitewashing of history. I also enjoy the concept of Black Futures Month – basically bringing to the forefront the Black people who are doing amazing things today or in more recent history. I think that solely focusing on the Civil Rights era in terms of Black greatness serves a post-racial mentality…one that does not reflect our reality.

Also for me, every month is Black History Month *raises fist*.

3. Charlotte Dos Santos

As I’ve probably mentioned before, I co-host a radio show on my school’s station that features R&B, Neo-soul, and everything in between. One artist I stumbled upon while looking for new music is Brazilian/Norwegian artist Charlotte Dos Santos. I just think she’s doing something so important musically – it’s retro but also very fresh. Her voice is soulful, smooth, and very easy to listen to. She was recently featured on Black Girl Magik, which made me happy; not only for the sake of me knowing more about her but just to know that she is getting some recognition. Below is the video for one of her songs that I can’t get enough of. The video was simultaneously not what I expected but everything I needed.

Dream

4. Jarry The Worst

Make up gurus on YouTube can be a bit annoying, particularly when they all do the same looks over and over and over. But along came Jarry. Jarry, a college student from the Baltimore does these over the top looks and she does it well. It may be more adventurous than my normal eyeliner-highlighter duo but hey, I admire her skills! Her YouTube channel is here.

5. The Cuba Libre story

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So boom. I hate binge watching and I really have to be sitting down with nothing else to do in order to do it. But Fidel Castro’s recent death left me feeling sort of ambivalent and I was twisting up my hair with nothing else to do so I perused Netflix for a pick that wouldn’t leave me too annoyed. Cuba Libre to the rescue. This docu-series really breaks down Cuba’s liberation from multiple perspectives, which gives a fuller picture of how modern day Cuba came to be. Like I said, I don’t binge watch but it did leave me entertained and more informed with nicely twisted hair by the end of the two episodes.

(photos not our own)

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Essays

The Beauty of Aging

It’s popular to say that “black don’t crack,” which, if you’re unfamiliar, refers to how it is often hard to tell a black woman’s age because of visible youth. This is often true and it has been for my family. I dare not reveal my mom and grandma’s ages without their approval, but they are usually not perceived to be the ages that they are. However, this does not remove women of color from experiencing ageism. This is a form of discrimination that can affect both the young and old, but really gets discussed more in terms of obstacles faced by older people. Aging in this society is seen as something that we should not want to do, even though it’s a natural part of life. Why as a society are we ashamed to embrace aging when, one, it’s an opportunity not afforded to everyone and two, with age comes wisdom (for most)? In reflecting on this, I wanted to counter this narrative by showing examples of the beauty of aging.

Style Like U x Allure – Dispelling Beauty Myths

One of my favorite resources for style inspiration and good vibes, Style Like U, recently partnered with Allure for a series titled “Dispelling Beauty Myths.” In this version, the team speaks to Norma Kamali, Michaela Angela Davis, and Joani Johnson – all women of varying ages and backgrounds that provide a positive perspective on aging. Kamali mentions how in her younger age, during the time when society would have deemed her most beautiful/worthy, she was riddled with insecurities. Now, at 71, she feels the most beautiful and she is still very active despite what naysayers would believe about someone her age. Davis, who is in her early fifties, has finally found peace of mind (she calls this sexy!). And can we just talk about Johnson’s fabulous grey hair? Based on the gems provided in this video, I’m curious what wealth of knowledge would come out of a longer conversation with these ladies.

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Essays

Cardi B. : A Bronx Shero

Photo via FashionBombDaily

It’s strange who we, as women, are told to idolize. While we have the ability to discern, we almost always sold women who are unlike most women. They are perfect, in each and every way and thus, impossible to replicate. Whether they are bombshells or bookworms, we as women are expected to choose our empowerment from what seems like two piles. If we do get a woman that is more complex with a more checkered past, there is often a scrubbing of that past in an attempt to further remove her from the everyday woman. That is until recently. The ubiquity and easy access of internet made it possible to find facts and allowed women (past and present) to be more open about their lives. Legends and newcomers alike were open to show the reality of what being a woman meant. It expanded horizons and allowed women to be more openly multidimensional. Our heros or sheros were more… like us… But even now there is a stigma around who women herald.

When you think shero, who do you think of? Femmes who defy the odds? Activists? Businesswomen, perhaps? Well, I want to nominate someone for consideration. She’s funny, intelligent, resilient and probably already clawed her way into your heart. People on Tumblr have already given her title of a great sociologist, able to see and assess the world accurately and concisely. Only 24, she’s already staked her claim and gone after it. That’s right, I’m talking about Belicalis Almanzar of the Bronx, NY, AKA, the one and only Cardi B. My shero.

Here’s a disclaimer before we continue. I am not saying Cardi is perfect, far from. In fact, I think she has a lot to unlearn, in the same way I did. But I can critique and admire her at the same time.

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