Representation Matters

So I’m watching the Oscars red carpet show – y’know, the show on ABC that precedes the actual Oscars awards show.

I’m not a particularly movie-savvy person. My boyfriend and I JUST saw Hidden Figures. It was fantastic, empowering, and depressing all at the same time. Fantastic because YAAASSSS black girl magic. Empowering because it served as a reminder that black girls are smart, valuable, and can do anything. Depressing because these women had to jump through ridiculous hoops to be recognized. They were all brilliant and diligent. Despite their hard work at NASA they faced all sorts of unnecessary challenges because of their sex and skin color – two things that literally have nothing to do with their intellect or ability.

These challenges still persist today. Many images we see and hear of black people in the media are caricatures and stereotypes. Black men are often depicted as violent and dangerous. Black women are often depicted as loud, bossy, and purely [exoticized] sexual objects (which is not specific to just black women, but nearly all women [of color]). Black men and women are typically depicted as genearlly inferior: less smart, less prosperous, less capable of attaining more respectable roles and privileges in today’s society.

In the age of Oprah and Obama they are still not the “rule,” they are the exception. It sucks. Racism is as alive and well today as it was 40 years ago. Institutional racism exists. Intersectionality matters. Issues of access and equity that have existed since the inception of the United States continue to affect the same marginalized groups, and, therefore, still matter.

Now I could pull out some scholarly articles to serve as “proof” for my rant in this blog post. I can dig through my notes from Black Women in America, Health and Human Rights, Sex and Gender in Society, Justice in Public Policy, etc. If you’re seeking hard evidence for the reality of my existence, and the existence of anyone who is part of a marginalized group then you’re missing the point of this blog post.

The Oscars have officially started, and I’d like to pay attention to this awards show, so I’ll wrap this up shortly.

Today I am still a minority in any place of privilege. I have been very lucky and blessed to have had relatively easy access to healthy food, shelter, and a decent public education in both grade school and college. I work a full-time job that pays a salary with benefits. I am now my own means (via my company) of health, vision, and dental insurance; a 401k to save for my retirement, sick days, and actual paid time off. These things are not entitlements, they are blessings. These blessings grant me a great deal of mobility inaccessible to a lot of others who work harder than I do to earn less money because perhaps the work they do is inaccurately regarded as lesser.

I am one of 3 black women in my office. I’m tired of being the token black girl. In the future I want the Janelle Monaes, the Taraji P. Hensons, the Viola Davises, the Mahershala Alis, the Barack Obamas, the Michelle Obamas, and all of the incredibly noteworthy people of color I’ve neglected to name to be the norm, and not the exception. I want honorable and prestigious roles and awards to feel possible to both my peers and my [future] babies.

And it would just be really freaking great for there to be a bunch more black women and women of color in an office space that hang out with an equally diverse group of men and it NOT be such a strange, rare occurrence.

I’m super happy and grateful for all the people who have helped paved the way for my peers, my family, and myself. In the future I’d like for all my peers to be equally considered and praised, not patronized or overlooked because of characteristics that do not define our intellect, ability, or creativity.

The Oscars is about halfway over, and I’ve been profoundly distracted throughout the course of this blog post. I believe I’m going to call this one quits for the night.

Until next time folks.

-J

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Great for all hair types: a lie and some personal woes.

I’ve watched a plethora of make up/beauty-related videos on YouTube over the last month. And since my last post was blatantly a political post I decided to go for a more “friendly” topic for this week’s blog post.

Let’s get started!

Products that indicate that they’re great for all hair types. It’s a lie. It’s always a lie. I really think sometimes that certain products will be well-suited for my type 3C black girl magical curls, but alas! I am mistaken.

And since I’m in the early stages of my blog, and (as of today) I haven’t quite made it public yet I’m not going to shy away from putting any particular lines or products on blast.

Here we go!

For starters, I have what I think would be classified as type 3C s-shaped curls. I’m actually quite proud of my curl pattern, and wish I would have gone natural much earlier in my life. Transitioning to natural made me so much more in tune and proud of my blackness.

As a half-black, half-filipino self-proclaimed (wow lots of hyphens) awkward black girl my racial identity has been a pain point for much of my life (and sometimes continues to be a pain point now). I grew up in a not-so-diverse small-ish town in North Carolina, where I was not only a minority generally speaking, but also a minority within a minority. I listened to indie rock and watched anime, and hung out with the nerdy kids in middle and high school. I figured that since I felt like I couldn’t fit in anywhere I’d kind of sort of fit in with the misfit/outcast crew. Other black girls were sometimes unfriendly, and the vast majority of white kids didn’t consider me black given that I didn’t fit the stereotype of what they would consider your typical black person to look/act/sound like. As a result they’d sometimes demonstrate what I now recognize as racist jokes and commentary assuming that I’d be “cool” with it since I’m not “really” black. Eye roll.

I could write an entire scholarly article about racial identity issues, but the *point* of this specific post is to discuss inclusivity (or lack thereof) in the beauty world. Also – #shoutout to YouTuber Jackie Aina who regularly addresses the lack of inclusivity in the beauty industry, makes some bomb tutorials, and is just really funny and entertaining to watch. I’m waving at you as a fan girl from afar.

For months and months and months and MONTHS I was using a widely available drugstore knockoff of the Wen cleansing conditioner – RenPure cleansing conditioner. Now I really really really REALLY liked the rosemary mint scent – it was really refreshing and helped my scalp actually feel clean. The conditioner itself did have some decent slip. This conditioner (and possibly the remainder of this line) advertises that it’s great for ALL hair types. Now perhaps some products would work better for me than the cleansing conditioner claims to have worked, but I can’t speak for any additional products in the RenPure line since I haven’t tried them personally.

About a month ago I was running low on this product, and was having a harder time than usual finding it at my local Targets, so I chatted with one of my Zumba friends about the As I Am coconut co-wash product.

As I Am is a line of products intentionally made for people with curly hair, and advertises heavily towards people of color. She said that she really likes it (and her hair smells really awesome when she co-washes before class) so I decided to try it. The next morning I co-wash my hair in the LEAST optimal state possible – bent over at the side of my tub (since I had actually taken a shower the previous day but didn’t co-wash since I was about to go to sleep – more on that later). This product was super rich and creamy, and had incredible slip. It was noticeably MUCH easier to detangle my hair (which is a HUGE time saver in the shower), and left my hair super bouncy and more moisturized throughout the day. I’ve been using the coconut co-wash for about a month now, and I feel like my hair is in better shape. My ends are less gross, and Jannine is more happy 🙂

I do want to follow up on a point I put in parentheses in the previous paragraph – co-washing my hair at the edge of my bath tub instead of taking a conventional shower.

Wash day. Let me tell y’all about wash day. Jesus help me. A full wash day for me looks like this:

In the shower:
-clean my body
-shampoo my hair
-apply deep conditioner and de-tangle my hair

Outside of the shower:
-sit under my portable table-top dryer for 20+ minutes with a conditioning cap over my soaking wet head.
-rinse out the remaining conditioner at the edge of my bath tub
-style my hair with leave-in conditioner and my trusty Curls goddess curls botanical gelle

Additional (not hair related):
-moisturize
-apply face moisturizer and topical acne medication
-put my WHOLE FACE ON (a.k.a. apply make-up)
-put clothes on

The entire process I’ve outlined above takes hours. Literally, hours. As a result I haven’t gone through a formal wash day in about a month. This is actually pretty bad. Oops. :/

Despite the unseasonably warm 70 degree weather here in Raleigh for today and the next several days (climate change is real y’all), it’s still TECHNICALLY the winter. So TECHNICALLY a diligent naturalista (which I strive to be) would deep condition as part of a formal wash day on a weekly basis. But your girl J over here…not exactly about that life.

Sometimes I have stuff to do on a Saturday, like go to a march or a Korean festival. Shrug. And then on Sundays I volunteer in the nursery at my church, and then go to worship, so I’m not super inclined to get up as early as I do for work on a Sunday just to accomplish wash day. Also – Sundays are traditionally the sabbath, so OBVIOUSLY wash day can’t occur on a Sunday 🙂

I feel like this post has been long. I’ve been working on this on-and-off for the past couple of hours due to various distractions. I’m gonna go ahead and wrap this up here. Kudos to you if you came across my blog, and actually decided to stick around for the entirety of this post.

Until next time, folks.

-J