Have You Accepted Your Body?

(Throughout the month, I’m blogging 20 questions from this month’s feature article in O magazine.)
 QUESTION 13- Have I Accepted My Body?

 

Although this O article is geared to women, today’s question is the first one that I think is really meant to be applied to just women–men care about their looks, but in this society, us ladies are all too vocal about our hangups with our physicality.

 

Last weekend, I attended two book signings, and at one of them, I was introduced to read a section of the author’s book. I read an excerpt that I first published on this blog five years ago about how I tried to emulate the hairstyles and looks of stars in music videos.

 

Over the years, I’ve made peace with my body size and shape. I’m a “pear” and I like it.  Been wanting to do a tummy tuck for a long time (it’s been 11 years since I was pregnant) but everything else is pretty good. Aesthetically, my favorite body part is my lips. Their shape and size are perfect, and are closely related to my speaking talent.

 

If you dislike something about your body, there’s no point in rehashing it or uttering it to yourself or around others. Remember–it may a flaw to you, but to someone else you it might be an asset they wish for.

Do You Care Too Much About What People Think?

Throughout the month, I’m blogging 20 questions from this month’s feature article on O magazine. 
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Question 2: Do I Care Too Much About What People Think?

No. I am not a people-pleaser, and I don’t suffer from low self-esteem or approval addiction.

“What people think of you is really none of your business.” – Martha Graham

Being true to you is an overarching theme of my first book. In it, I describe situations where I dumbed down in hopes of being accepted by my peers. And as an adult, I’ve had conversations with men who tell me that because of my strong, low voice and confidence in how I carry myself, men are somewhat intimidated to approach me.

But I’m not going to change the way I talk to impress anyone.

“Too Much”

Now if you remove the words “Too Much” from this question, my answer would be “Yes,” on condition. I value the opinions of a small circle of people who are close to me, love and respect me, and only want the best for me. At the same time, I’m the only one who can live my life–they can’t live it for me. So when I make decisions, my top considerations are how it will affect me and my daughter, and whether God is for it. (Sometimes in that order, to be honest.)

Your turn–do you care TOO MUCH about what others think of you?

I Had Them at Hello, But I Didn’t Back It Up

My last three speeches were all in the same week. One was at a local book festival, and two were at conferences for audiences that I have not spoken to before. My former speech coach and mentor encouraged me and recommended that I submit proposals to these conferences that she has been a part of in the past. She is a survivor of domestic violence, social worker, and all-around advocate for better self-esteem and life choices.

They Really Liked Me!

The 25th Daniel Memorial National Independent Living Conference Growing Pains 2012 was geared to youth service professionals, independent living professionals, and youth aged 15 and up. Many of the youth I spoke with were in group homes of some sort, or working with youth in foster care and similar living environments. Adding to the pressure was the fact that A) I knew I would not have a projector to show slides during my presentation, and B) my love had just sworn me off literally the night before.

My talk was slated for 1:00 on the first day of the conference, right after lunch. As I looked around the grand ballroom at lunchtime, I thought to myself, “Will they care what I have to say? Can I relate to their struggles? Will I get through to them?” You just never know, and it looked like I might have a tough crowd. Not to mention, although my program description was accurate, I wasn’t sure if young people really sought help for their low self-esteem (as applicable) or cared to dig into media literacy (LINK).  But I know better than to doubt myself, and I was as prepared as one could be. I just prayed everything would turn out alright and the afternoon wouldn’t be a total waste of time. Continue reading “I Had Them at Hello, But I Didn’t Back It Up”

Being Media Savvy Does Not Mean You’re Media-Literate

Credit: Strauss/Curtis

Why is digital media and media literacy so important?  The songs young people listen to, their style of dress, and the way they interact with and treat each other (including bullying), their sexual activity or lack of, drug and alcohol abuse, teen dating violence. Self-esteem is a fundamental, root factor that affects these issues that plague teenagers. Digital media interests them (online access to music, video, and social media) and their level of media literacy affects the way they learn.

Most teen and pre-teen students are media-savvy, but most are not media literate. Media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and create media in a variety of forms.  Media literacy raises students’ awareness and teaches them critical thinking so they can be more proactive in understanding and interpreting the media messages they receive.media-savvy-not-literate

Several factors* comprise media literacy, including:

  • an awareness of personal media habits
  • an understanding of how the media work
  • an appreciation of media’s power/influence
  • the ability to discern, critically question
  • an understanding of how meaning is created in media texts
  • the ability to create and produce media

* Baker, F. Media Literacy in the K-12 Classroom (ISTE, 2012)

Listen to Daree’s J.A.M. Programhttps://dareeallen.leadpages.co/leadbox-942.js

You’re Not “Eliminated”… You’re Moving On

youre-moving-onCelebrity choreographer Laurieann Gibson was on The Mo’ Nique Show recently, talking about her latest reality dance show, Born to Dance, where 20 young women compete for $50K and a strong start to a professional dance career. Y’all know how I love to dance.  I was surprisedly inspired by her profound statement regarding female self-image and the negativity that comes with the competitive, “cast-off”-types of reality shows:

“We collectively decided that I would not use the word “elimination,” because when you say, “you’re eliminated,”… I didn’t wanna speak that into their spirit–into their purpose. Eliminated means to cease not to exist, to go away. Eliminate, eliminate, eliminate…. When you’re young and you’re pure, that gift that purity… you know it’s like if that little doorway opens up with such a word as “elimination…,” “you’re eliminated…,” it begins to chop away at your gift, at your desire, and it starts to attach negativity onto your purpose. So we don’t say “eliminated” on this show. We say “you’re moving on,” and in moving on, God continues to cover you and prepare a way. Yes it’s only that this situation will only allow me to give one girl the money and the opportunity, but in moving on, you’re moving on fulfilling your dream and when you leave, you’re moving on with lessons, with information, with a sense of self, with the idea that there is no shortcut. And you must never sacrifice your self-worth as a young woman for any man or any career or any opportunity.”

I agree that it can be very discouraging to get so close to a dream and then be… eliminated. We have to be careful of the things we speak into someone’s life, and to choose our words carefully.

The Pursuit of Nappyness: Oh My Nappy Hair!

I’m starting what I hope to be a series entitled “The Pursuit of Nappyness,” where I profile people that will enlighten you about natural hair salons, events, and just all-around fly people to watch in the natural hair community. This is my first “natural hair interview,” courtesy of Elaine M. Truesdale, VP of Business Development for Atlanta Natural Hair Care in Atlanta, GA. I have not written many posts about natural hair, but being new to Atlanta and new to the natural hair world (I big chopped last summer), I felt this interview was a great opportunity to learn more about the subject, as well as explore a different part of town!

I talked with Erica Blevins, who manages one of three “Oh My Nappy Hair” (OMNH) salons (they’re in L.A., Oakland, and Atlanta) and founder, Rosario Schuler (her mom). They’ve been in business for 22 years–the first exclusively-natural hair salon on the West Coast! Erica has styled celebrities such as Stevie Wonder and Halle Berry, and took some time from her management duties (and her June wedding planning!) to talk with me about:

  • How the business got started, and feelings about the word “nappy”
  • Why she wears her hair natural
  • The lack of natural hair curriculum in beauty schools
  • Fear of natural hair acceptance from others
  • Natural hair “nazis”

Continue reading “The Pursuit of Nappyness: Oh My Nappy Hair!”

Mary Mary: Be U

Tina and Erica Campbell (Mary Mary)

I am a fan of Mary Mary (Erica and Tina Campbell). I saw them perform in Washington D.C. upon the release of their first album, and have always admired their fearless, classy portrayal of the God in them. I knew this book was geared for young people, but I am writing a book for teen girls so I decided to check out Be U to see if there was anything that prompted me to write on another subject, or see if there was anything I left out of my work. Although I enjoyed the book overall, as it contained a lot of spiritual reminders, unfortunately, I also discovered some things that I thought the Campbell sisters left out.

First, let me say that this book is very easy to read for all ages.  It has the format of a devotional, with a page of scripture, a page and half that is a message from one of the sisters, and then 3-4 pages of questions and space for answers (like a journal). The sisters cleverly use their song titles for their chapter themes. The messages don’t go into a lot of depth—they are brief enough to read quickly, but get the point across.

The most touching and powerful anecdotes were those of Erica’s husband overcoming cancer, and Tina dealing with having to leave her preemie daughter in the hospital for almost a month until she could come home (that had to seem like forever!). However, I don’t know if young people can really relate to such stories. I thought some “youth-friendly” stories were missing, and I’m sure Erica & Tina had some, as they come from a big family.

I saw Tina on The Mo’Nique Show to promote this book, and have heard both sisters on radio interviews too—they are always on point. But I wish the Q&A chapter had more questions about practical, youth-friendly issues.  From an editorial standpoint, I noticed a few typos in this chapter as well (not to be picky, but I’m a technical writer–I can’t help but notice these things).

Something else that is very important is missing from this book—how to invite Jesus to become your personal Lord and Savior. I think this book assumes that every young person who picks it up is “churched” and understands terms like “grace” and so on. Be U is a nice overview for youth who want to or need to begin developing a personal quiet time of devotion with God. I hope this book plants a seed that will make them want to stay connected to God and commit to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Ladies, Put On Your Crown and Shine

Oscar-nominated, Grammy-award-winning actress and hip hop royalty Queen Latifah just released her second self-help book, Put On Your Crown: Life-Changing Moments on the Path to Queendom, last month (Ladies First was her first book, with Karen Hunter). In it, the first hip hop artist on the Walk of Fame takes just under 200 pages to discuss her career strides and life lessons as “a series of moments.”  I’ll highlight just a few here, but I have indicated a few spoiler alerts along the way.  If you don’t want to know too much detail, skip the rest of those paragraphs where noted and go to the next.

Latifah has been rhyming about empowerment since she was a teenager (“Ladies First”) and one of my favorite anthems from her is 1993’s “U.N.I.T.Y.”  She even starred in and sung the theme song to the TV show Living Single (a precursor to NBC’s Friends).  She released a new album this year called Persona, but the only song I’ve heard from it is the one she performed on The Mo’Nique Show recently—I’m not hearing the urban stations showing it any love. But I’ve always liked her and respected her for her classy,  positive image. If you follow this blog, you also know that I love her perfume, too!

But I digress—back to the book.

I read Put On Your Crown in a few hours, and enjoyed its conversational tone and simplistic chapter titles (e.g., “Beauty,” “Money,” “ Joy”). Latifah covers several topics, such as paying attention to your finances (SPOILER ALERT #1) Latifah went broke 10 years ago because she didn’t pay attention to bookkeeping). This story reminded me of when MC Hammer went bankrupt for “helping” so many people at the height of his “You Can’t Touch This”-ness (I think was coming from a good place, and Latifah echoed similar feelings about putting her crew on and supporting more people than she should have.)

Another year, after her parents separated, her family downsized and temporarily moved to the projects. (SPOILER ALERT #2) It was disheartening to read how her family’s things—everything—was stolen in broad daylight. And on Christmas Eve of that same year, all the presents that her mother worked 3 jobs to pay for were stolen from the trunk of her car. And unfortunately, material possessions and coping as a child of divorce were not the only losses she had to deal with.

Continue reading “Ladies, Put On Your Crown and Shine”

Exactly As I Am

“True self-esteem is realizing that you were valuable because you were born. No matter where you come from, what color your skin is, what people say about your family or what mean things people may have done to you, because you were born you are important and you matter.” – Oprah Winfrey

When I heard Shaun Robinson utter just the first sentence of Oprah’s quote on the Steve Harvey Morning Show in June, I knew I had to get my hands on her book, “Exactly As I Am.” As a grown woman, I see how the issues of self-esteem, self-acceptance, the pressure to have sex, and questions about my identity still play out from time to time. It was no different for me back in the day, growing up in the 80’s and 90’s. Robinson’s book is written for today’s girls and young women, but it would have been just as relevant to me in 1989 as it is now in 2009.

Continue reading “Exactly As I Am”