Michelle Lapidos, a white Jewish woman with long blonde hair, has started a blog chronicling her experience wearing an afro wig, “Before and Afro.” Joni first wore the wig for a Studio 54-themed costume party and over time, it evolved to become a tool of self-discovery.
In her words:
The afro is also a hairstyle that I’ve recently rendered part of my personal style repertoire. I originally got my fro for a Studio 54-themed costume party for AHAlife (where I handle the social media), and let’s just say the party has not ended. The afro changed my perspective; it made me think, walk, see and experience life differently. I wear it often. It’s not about feeling black… what I actually feel like is ME, understood more clearly. It’s not an alter ego. It’s an amplified ego.
People have spoken out in criticism of Lapidos’ exercise, saying it is rooted in an ignorant and elitist perspective on black culture, and it fetishizes how hair naturally grows out of our scalps. Lapidos counters by saying:
I’d like to think of the hair game as equal: If Black people can choose to get a weave to be more like “what society encourages,” why can I not choose a style that is far too often concealed because of society, but that I happen to think makes me look great?
What’s troubling for many is the idea that Lapidos feels “enlightened” and “more tolerant” because she chooses to eschew her own straight, blonde texture for a big, costume afro. Some feel she is mimicking black hair and feeding into the idea that our texture is less desirable than hers, as evidenced by her writing. For example, Lapidos says “I know that women of color do not have the option of taking off their fro at night to have long, soft, blonde hair.”
Many feel Lapidos’ blog is an exercise in white privilege, cultural appropriation and conscious ignorance.What are your thoughts on Joni’s afro experiment, Clutchettes?
Disney revealed its first Latina heroine this week.; Princess Sofia will make her debut in the TV film Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess in mid-November and will be the star of a 2013 series to air on both Disney Channel and Disney Junior. Unlike other members of the iconic brand’s band of princesses, Sofia is young and her target audience is children aged 2-7.
And now the inevitable downside: Sofia looks kind of like, well…Beauty and the Beast’s Belle as a tiny little child: medium-colored brown hair, fair skin and blue eyes. Adorable, but not identifiably Latina by any stretch of the imagination.
Before anyone hops up and reminds us that Hispanic people come in all shades and colors, well, duh. However, when the first Latina Disney princess looks like the White women who make up the majority of the Disney kingdom, there’s some serious room for disappointment.
It seems that there will be some color diversity in the show; Sofia’s mother Miranda, queen of the mythical Enchacia, is darker than the other characters according to Entertainment Weekly (the picture on the site makes it seem that she is only slightly browner, for the record.) It seems safe to say that Miranda is not a villain, which is a relief–you know how the unsavory ethnic character is often depicted as darker than the But one can help but to wonder: why not give Sofia a little color, too? And why did she have to have blue eyes?
Inevitably, many will complain that those of us who demand diversity and then dare to be critical of it when it comes are simply incapable of being satisfied. DAMN THEY GAVE US A LATINA PRINCESS, WHAT DO YOU WANT NOW?
Last night’s speech delivered by First Lady Michelle Obama was a true testament to the tenacity and perseverance of black women.
After being dissected by the media and critics for the last four years: as being an angry black woman, a militant black woman, and most recently reduced to a modern day slave.
The minute Michelle Obama sashayed onto the stage last night. I automatically thought of the opening stanza to Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise”:
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Michelle Obama did what black women do best. She rose to the occasion.
Even if your TV was on mute during Michelle Obama’s speech, her aura spoke volumes.
Confident, graceful, genuine, and the ultimate defining symbol of a black woman’s aura.
An aura that has historically been mistaken (or manipulated) to be sultry, seductive, promiscuous, aggressive, head-twirling, finger-snapping, loud-mouthed, less-of-a-woman.
Luckily these are nothing more than stereotypes. Yet the negative generalizations that surround black women seem to create a feeding frenzy for modern day reality TV and opens the wound of black women’s beauty being perceived as secondary or non-existent.
You know the same wound that prevents you from the mere thought of showing your natural hair (because it’s “nappy”), the same wound that caused little dark-skin girls (and grown women) to secretly wish they were a tone or two lighter, the same wound that identifies Beyonce as the black standard of beauty.
That wound. That ugly little wound, that can now seek refuge in the era of Michelle Obama.
Recently, my significant other dropped by to share a revelation. He was out with his homie, a woman, and then her girls showed up. They get to chatting, seemingly forgetting that he is present, or maybe the margaritas made them not care. Anyway, one of them says: “I’m good on all-night long stroking. My man can give me five great minutes, and as long as I cum, I’m fine.”
He, my man, stops talking, and I stare at him silently, waiting for him to get to the good part. But, then I realize that all women not wanting marathon sex every time is supposed to be it. Oh. You know, between this and Congressman Akin, I should really learn not to be surprised at the things men don’t know about women when it comes to sex or sexual anatomy. But I am.
And I guess they’re equally surprised at the things we don’t know too. Like say, you know, that one time when you and your late twenty-something/ early thirty-something boo who is supposed to be in his sexual prime went on that amazing weekend getaway, when he did that thing you like all night, then again the next day, and when you asked him to do it again, just one more time before you left, and he complied, with no problem? Yeah … he was probably on Viagra.
Natural hair is arguably more prevalent in our social imagination than it’s ever been but not everyone subscribes to the meme that kinky textures are beautiful. In some corners, ‘nappy’ hair is still considered ugly, inferior and shameful.
Such was the case on VH1′s “Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta” when on the reunion episode, Rasheeda told K. Michelle (above) to “do something with [her] nappy ass hair.”
Though negative behavior is a staple on the show and both ladies were trading insults, Rasheeda’s words stung a bit deeper. They carry with them the belief that straight, looser textures are better and nappy hair is to be ridiculed and made fun of.