2013 was amazing. cliche, i know, but i can’t think of a time in my life when i’ve been happier. between a new job, living in a great city, an amazing family and friends and falling in (and out) of love, i’ve grown more during the past 12 months than the past few years combined. thank you to my readers, especially those who have followed since 2011 — your support keeps me motivated to share my random thoughts on life. here’s a review of 2013 captured by politics and fashion:
1. thanks to michael idiokitas for his bomb photography skills and asking me to pose for his forthcoming streetstyle book.
a few months ago, i told a group of friends that i refused to listen to any more of kanye west’s music. after his album graduation, things just got weird. his mainstream success seemed to have bred a pretty rank materialism, and i couldn’t relate anymore. in light of all the media hoopla as of late — a baby named north who is part kardashian, constant fights with paparazzi and a new album titled yeezus (rhymes with jesus) — i thought i was safe to give a side eye whenever someone mentioned his name. imagine my surprise when i watched kanye’s full BBC interview and began to actually relate.
after experiencing laughter, anger, empathy and confusion, i’m pretty clear that kanye is an artistic genius who will tantrum his way into recognition. while i still find some of his struggles unrelatable (he complained about fendi not accepting his designs, including the “omnipresent” leather jogging pant), i also bang really hard with his socio-political analysis regarding race and class.
here are my thoughts on 10 gems from kanye’s historical interview:
“people are slowed down by their perceptions of themselves. i was taught that i can do anything, and i’m kanye west at age 36. just watch the next 10 years.” possess an undying love and appreciation for yourself — it’s your job to be your biggest fan.
“go listen to all my music. it’s the codes of self-esteem. it’s the codes of who you are. if you’re a kanye west fan, you’re not a fan of me, you’re a fan of yourself.” not only should we posses an undying love and appreciation for ourselves, but it’s also necessary to be keenly aware of how we bless others.
“you will win with me.” we have the power to change our karma and win in these streets. it’s all about unlocking our unlimited potential.
“dopeness is what i like the most.” why settle for mediocrity when dopeness is at your fingertips?
“when i say i am a God people say who does he think he is? i just told you, a God.” granted, i’ve never walked on water or fed thousands with two fish and a loaf of bread, but i do recognize that we’ve been created in the creator’s image. that makes us all a reflection of greatness and power.
while i only have 1.5 inches of hair, it takes up a lot of my time and attention. in light of my slight hair obsession, it was no surprise when i fell in love with sheena’s hair while watching the dc-based web series skye’s the limit. her curly mohawk with a splash of color is sick, and it immediately inspired me to create a blog post featuring her and other women, like natural belle, with mohawks or high top fades.
when i reached out to sheena about featuring her in the post, she mentioned something interesting; the perception people have that her natural hair journey was “easy” because her hair is curly. this made me think about my hair obsession and how it relates to texture. even those of us who chose to go natural to embrace our african heritage often retain this idea that “curly” equals “prettier” and, in sheena’s case, easier to transition. as evidence of this theory, think about the amount of time black women spend examining and diagnosing our strands of hair like they’re cells in a petri dish. 1a, 2b, 3c, 4x — the categories are as confusing as the damn periodic table, and most importantly, they undercut our uniqueness. there aren’t two strands of hair on our heads that are the same, let alone millions of people whose hair can be placed in the same categories.
the smith family attended the premiere of after earth, will and jaden’s new movie, and the ENTIRE family was swagged out. after watching the video of jaden and will rapping earlier this week, i’m determined to take a lesson from will and jada’s parenting — their kids appear to be more well-adjusted and self-assured than most adults. thanks to willow, i’m still whipping my hair back and forth. to quote an observant facebook friend: “the smiths are our cosbys.”
jada pinkett smith is rightfully fed-up with the hair nazis who constantly criticize her daughter, willow smith’s, hairstyles. before i jump into my redundant tirade about how hair is a political statement for black women, let me say that willow smith is the most self-assured teenager in hollywood. i’ve watched and read countless interviews with the pre-teen and was mesmerized by her fearless spirit that is both mature and confident. if she was my child, i wouldn’t care if her hair was blue, red, purple, AND orange. she appears to be more grounded than the vast majority of her (and my) peers.
it’s no surprise that many black folks would have a problem with willow’s cropped, natural hair. as i explained in my post about gabby douglas, black women are taught that our hair is our primary source of beauty. the longer and curlier it is, the better. allowing a young girl to cut and color her hair is unheard of in most african-american families; after all, we train our girls to spend hours in beauty salons by the age of five. the whole idea that only long hair is beautiful is indicative of the mental conditioning we endured during slavery and this country’s racial apartheid. we indoctrinate our girls with a european standard of beauty because we were indoctrinated. we were indoctrinated because our parents were indoctrinated. our parents were indoctrinated because our grandparents were indoctrinated…you get my drift. unlike many black women, willow smith has gone beyond sexist imagery and realized that her self-esteem should not be tied to the length of her hair.
jada pinkett smith took to her facebook fan page to state the realest commentary that i’ve heard about black women’s body image in a very long time:
This subject is old but I have never answered it in its entirety. And even with this post it will remain incomplete. The question why I would LET Willow cut her hair. First the LET must be challenged. This is a world where women, girls are constantly reminded that they don’t belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power or self determination. I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit and her mind are HER domain. Willow cut her hair because her beauty, her value, her worth is not measured by the length of her hair. It’s also a statement that claims that even little girls have the RIGHT to own themselves and should not be a slave to even their mother’s deepest insecurities, hopes and desires. Even little girls should not be a slave to the preconceived ideas of what a culture believes a little girl should be. More to come. Another day.