Black Girl Problems

The ups and downs of being a young black me

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Dark skinned girls have blemishes too

So as I was trying to find people or companies to circle today on my google + account one very important company was missing, M.A.C. Cosmetics. Seeing as I use their products at least 3 times a week and I know people who worship them I was quite surprised. 

Then my mind started to wander and it went back to an incident during my freshman year of college. I had a healing scar on my stomach that I wanted to cover so one of my girlfriends offered me her makeup as a coverup. I gave her a strange face as if to say “girl, you are at least 5 shades darker what are you talking about.” Then I tried the coverup on and it was the perfect shade for covering up the blemish I had. This gave me pause. I asked my friend what made her buy this shade of makeup as her makeup should never work for me unless it’s an eyeliner or mascara. She then told me that it was the darkest one the store had. It’s as if cosmetic companies were telling her don’t worry about your skin or making yourself feel more beautiful you don’t need that luxury as nobody’s going to be looking all that closely at your face anyways.

In my own experiences I’ve found that M.A.C. one of the leading competitors in the cosmetic industry doesn’t quite get that women of color are not easily broken into three selections of pigments. When I left the sunshine state my permanent tan faded and I got back to my paler complexion that is always short lived (thank god) because of how sensitive I am to the elements. Give me 5 minutes in a windstorm or five minutes walking in the sun and I will burn. Some of my friends in college dubbed me Mickey two-tone because during a five minute conversation with my laptop on my….lap my bare legs had turned so much darker than the covered parts that I had to devote the next 10 minutes to trying to even myself out. I digress. When picking a foundation at M.A.C. I always make them put it on my face because I don’t believe their eyes when they bring me the paler shade meant for women of color because although I am a lighter complexion I am not Beyonce or Tamar pale.

When deciding on which shade to purchase I always end up buying the paler shade and using a bronzing powder on top of it because I look ghastly. On the same token the darker shade makes me look like I’m walking around with a well hydrated mud mask or a modern more pc version of black face. All of these things combined make me think why do women of color have to settle when it comes to their makeup choices? You would think M.A.C. a company used by many a black celebrity and promoted by many a black pop star (Nicki Minaj has her own line of makeup) who even has a black make-up artist in their video applying makeup (albeit to a white woman) in their what’s your foundation video would be a little better about making shades for women of all shades. Do not get me wrong it is not only M.A.C. that has this problem there are many other lines that stop a few shades short. However, as a loyal M.A.C. customer I expect more from my brand of choice and I hope that one day soon I won’t be forced to wear sparkly bronzer that makes me look like the long lost twilight character.

Filed under cosmetics make-up beauty black african-american M.A.C. women

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My hair is my own

About a week and a half ago I went to my fancy pants salon to shell out $150 for a relaxer and a haircut.  I had a weave in my head that had been there since halloween and although the headbands were making it stretch I knew it was long overdue for coming out. I love and frequent my hair stylist because unlike some who like to take creative license with the hair of their clients she usually listens. 

As I sit in her chair and she preps me we catch up on recent happenings in our life and my hair. I tell her that I just took a sew-in out and that I need a relaxer in the worst way because my hair was nearly natural at the time. She bastes my scalp and starts to apply the relaxer to my hair. She then takes me to the basin and washes and deep conditions my hair. I breathe an ahhh of relief as I take my place in her styling chair. As I look in the mirror I notice that my roots are a bit on the curly side for my liking. I frown up a bit but mentally cut her some slack as I assume that the presence of the slight ringlet pattern at the root of my hair is present because of the extremely long gap between then and the last time I had a proper relaxer. Then to my chagrin and surprise my stylist says oh do you like it I only put a light texturiser on so that you could wear it naturally in the summer if you like.  

If it weren’t for the fact that she was about to take scissors to my hair I would have probably raised bloody hell in that chair. My stylist is natural and makes a push for every woman of color I’ve seen in her chair to do the same with their hair. Wanting to just get out of there I said sure and quietly let her tend to my tresses. As I got home I told my mom what my stylist did hoping for some sort of empathy or at least an “on no she didn’t.” Upon hearing my dismay with the final result of my hair my mom replied “that’s good you have such pretty thick hair.” Not getting the answer I wanted I went to my room to brood on the subject of hair and how everybody seems to have an opinion on how you wear yours.

Since before the days of Madame CJ Walker when black women would even resort to laying their heads on ironing boards to straighten their hair everybody’s had something to say about the way a black woman should or shouldn’t wear their hair. I LOVE LOVE LOVE natural hair and I am extremely jealous of all my friends whose parent(s) allowed them to keep their hair just the way it was when they were born. I believe their hair to have flexibility and versatility that I wish my hair could have. In efforts to obtain this same flexibility and versatility I’ve attempted going natural twice. I’ve been told that when I was a child I had a “good curl pattern” and frequently when we walk down the street my mother tells me that my hair would look like some of the other black womens’ hair that we pass.

My efforts with natural hair came to an end for a myriad of reasons. However, there are a few in particular that come to mind as the main reasons why I was unable to keep up with my chemical-less hairs. The biggest one was that I was killing my hair trying to come up with styles I was comfortable wearing out in public. My natural hair is always kept in an in-between state intentionally. By in between I mean not quite short and not quite long. That’s the way I like it and I find it highly likely that will change. I like weaves because it’s long hair that I only have to deal with for a short amount of time and I’m truly a ponytail and go type of girl. I don’t mind getting up early in the morning in the slightest. However, there is one thing that doesn’t change whether I wake up in the early afternoon or before the sun comes up. I don’t like my weekday morning routine (including showering, brushing my teeth, deciding on applying makeup, and picking out clothes) to take more than 30 minutes tops. That’s not what the weekdays are about for me and I don’t want that to change. The weekend is a whole other question. 

Since my hair is always in that in between stage and I had just snipped the last bit of relaxer out of it, it was difficult to manage to say the least. What a lot of people don’t know is that even after I snip that last piece of relaxed end my hair isn’t fully back to where it once was and it will take lots of tender love and care and probably about a year of not relaxing it for it to stop looking so funky. Time love and care that I don’t have. 

Everyone who is opposed to black women relaxing their hair balk at the need for silky smooth hair and the subscription to European notions of beauty. However, thats not why a lot of women do it. They relax their hair because that’s the only texture they’ve known or possibly because their natural curls require too much maintenance for them in relation to their hectic lifestyles or heck because they swim on a daily basis and they don’t want to burn their hair out knowing that they just want it to be straight at the end of the day. 

Whatever the reason for a black or otherwise oriented woman has for wanting to alter their hair just let them do it. Save them your hair politics because they want it their way and you want yours your way and if they’re the same fine, if they’re as different as different can be that’s fine. I love my hair relaxed and I love your hair how you want yours but my hair is my own and that’s how it will stay.

Filed under hair relaxer natural hair women beauty black african-american

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Even though I’m the biggest abuser of my hair I am also it’s biggest fan. I love it’s versatility and it’s thickness/fullness and the fact that a lot of people think it’s a wig because of how much there is. Sorry guys I haven’t ventured into that part of the territory yet. Although I am a self-admitted weave head. 

I begrudge my white friends but one thing in this category the fact that the majority of hair salons are made for them and to cater to their needs. I have but one racially charged rule in this category. I DON’T LET WHITE PEOPLE CUT MY HAIR.

I’ve had a relaxer since I was probably 5 so it’s needless to say that despite the fact that i’ve gone natural albeit it very temporarily I AM ADDICTED TO THE CREAMY CRACK. Although my hair is straight and wets and dies straight it seems as if many white and some black stylists don’t understand the complexity of and the versatility of my hair and they don’t get that you don’t have to burn the crap out of my hair to get it to lay flat and straight. Some white stylists have excelled in this arena but none have made me comfortable enough to let them ANYWHERE near me with their shears. They are allowed to clip my ends and that is it.

I always lift my hair to show the layers and tell them follow the pattern your predecesor left you. Don’t get fancy or creative and no I don’t want a new style I know that would look great with my bone structure just connect the dots and color in the lines please and thank you. I can be somewhat timid when it comes to my nails or other things because I don’t care about them enough but don’t you dare go for length if I told you end trimming. I only let black men with a track record or black women with hair I could see on my head CUT my hair and that’s just the way it’s going to be and I see not a thing wrong with it even though it does cause me some inconveniences. 

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Music

I’ll be honest here there are some times where I worry about my audience when I make playlists for gatherings, shindigs, get togethers, etc. Why? Because although I’m a young black girl with parents and grandparents who have given me strong roots in music from Motown to Rakim and Eric B. I have grown an appreciation for music from all sorts of genres.

I grew up and went to school in predominantly white neighborhoods and as such most of my peers and friends have always been white. Because of my upbringing and the overwhelming statistics on Black America I would argue for nurture over nature.  So when people expect me to want to hear or play “black music.” I want to look at them and say surely you jest. I’m sorry sirs and madams but although I’ve had plenty of roots in what most would consider “black music” I was also a child of the nineties and a girl so nsync and backstreet boys and spice girls are a part of my repertoire as much as soul for real and Bel Biv Devoe. 

So yeah, I digressed a bit there.  When I have get togethers with what will usually be my mostly white friend group I usually pause a bit when making a playlist because I want everybody to feel comfortable and enjoy the entertainment that I’ve put together for us but I also want to be true to me and what I’m feeling at that moment. There are many times when that will include everything that Beyonce has ever done in her career along with some Robin Thicke and Mercedes’ and Santana’s duet’s from glee. However, there are other times when that’s going to be Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead, Nirvana, and Garbage. 

Although there are moments when my music choice for the masses gives me pause I’ve learned in my young old age that I don’t give a crap and that I am a one person party and unless the sandman is coming out with that stick to shoo me away from the iTunes playlist I will be doing me all over my airwaves. 

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Me

Sooooo. Who am I and what’s this all about? I’m Milan, a 23 year old single black female from all over the Chicagoland area and one of it’s suburbs. I’m tall and thin and refuse to be anything but. I’m usually pretty well put together and fairly full of energy. I believe in the gospel of beyonce and have a hard time with all things religious.

Soo enough about me. What’s this blog all about? This is about me and my struggles and my triumphs as a young black female. No this is not a woah as me feel sorry because my pigment affects my life. I’m not that person. My blackness is and always will be a huge part of me. However, other people’s hang-ups on my skin color get nothing more than the span of a passing glance from me. I’ve finally gotten to the point where I am putting into action the advice that one of my favorite college professors gave me. “Don’t give your emotions to somebody that won’t do anything with them”

In closing I hope this can be a cathartic endeavor for me and that it can help people (friends or strangers) with understanding a little bit more about the black girls in their life.