Sunday, October 17, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

146. Black Girl Drama, Part 2

Sesame Street understands where I'm coming from =):

How cool is that?

Some undergrad with too much time on their hands should go ahead and mash this up with Willow Smith's "Whip My Hair". I'd bang that joint.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

145. Ignorance and Bliss

As I was winding the day down and thinking of treating myself to some McDonald's french fries (we'll pretend they're not cooked in beef fat), I had the misfortune of coming across this. One of the homies shared an article on Facebook about an artist who's been photographing a McDonald's Happy Meal, waiting for it to decompose.  Six months and still nothing.

I knew McDonald's was no good for my insides, but I didn't really  need photographic proof.  What kind of potato never decomposes?  I mean seriously.  I watched a series on PBS about healthy eating where the lecturer said that you should never eat anything that won't eventually rot.  If it doesn't break down on the shelf, it won't break down properly in your body (so the thinking went).  Makes sense to me.  I've been gradually cutting out preservatives and partially hydrogenated otherness from my food for a while now.

But dang it!  Why'd they have to go and ruin McDonald's fries for me?  Stupid internet =(.

Monday, October 11, 2010

144. Abort This.

I was getting ready to do a post on my new veggie lifestyle when I decided to peruse my blogroll before I started writing.  I was two-thirds of the way through when I came across a Slate post on feminism.  The teaser said "Nora Ephron Defines Feminism in a Single Sentence."  How could I not click on that?  And so I did.  The piece actually includes short essays from five different women.  I never got past the second one.
From Ms. Ephron:

I know that I'm supposed to write 500 words on this subject, but it seems much simpler: You can't call yourself a feminist if you don't believe in the right to abortion.

And that was the end of my veggie post. 

My problem with this statement isn't that it defines me out of feminism (which it does).  It's that it purports to have the single best interest of women at heart and to have exclusive access to the right principle by which one determines that interest.  By this logic, if I understand it, the way to get to women's best interests is to start by securing their right to abortion.  That's the entryway.  As if abortion is the Jesus-figure of women's rights, and you can't get to the Promised Land without it.

That's wrong for the same reason that an immoderate belief in a "right" to abortion is wrong  It is not a rationally defensible argument.  Define feminism however you want.  But don't tie it to a person's position on an issue on which perfectly reasonable and compassionate people can have opposing opinions.  If the only arguments against abortion were religious ones, then okay.  Non-religious people might think the rest of us were ridiculous.  But there are other, perfectly secular reasons to reject the pro-choice argument.  Here are three:

One. The argument that it's a woman's body, and that she can do whatever she wants with it, is just factually inaccurate.  It's not her body.  It's someone else's body, inside of her body.  It's not her brain, it's not her heart, it's not her kidney's that will either be allowed to develop, or sucked out and thrown away.  We're not talking about a woman's right to cut off her own hand, or shred her own appendix.  And if we were talking about that, how many women would be as quick to do to their own limbs and organs whatever is done to a fetus when it is aborted?  Let us please distinguish between a woman's own body and the body of a child whose pain she may or may not feel.  There is a difference.

Two. Just because it's inside you doesn't mean you can do whatever you want with it.  Even if we concede that the unborn child is a physical being distinct from it's mother, there's still the argument that a woman has a right to decide what takes place inside her own body.  This is also (mostly) false for the same reason that we don't have an unlimited right to do what we want to people in our own homes.

For instance, you couldn't legally send out an open invite to a party, have someone you hadn't expected show up, and then panic and shoot them in the head. They broke no law, they weren't trespassing, they didn't force their way in.  You invited them, the way a person who has consensual sex without birth control invites a kid to be conceived.  Whether or not you desired for them to come is beside the point; you put out the invite and opened the door.  Their presence is your own doing.  You ought not be able to extinguish their existence for your own convenience.

Three. An unborn child is alive.  We can argue about what it means that it can't live on it's own outside the womb.  But at least we can all agree that the little thing taking up food, space, and oxygen in it's mother's womb is alive.  And reasonable people get to disagree on whether or not it's okay to kill living things.  Honestly, if rational, compassionate people can be vegetarians, it has to be okay for them to be anti-abortion.  It doesn't mean that they're putting the interests of the child above those of the mother.  It just means that they think the child's life deserves some consideration, that it has some value, whatever that may be.

Does all of this mean that abortion should be illegal?  From a religious standpoint, the answer is obviously Yes.  From a political one, not so much.  I don't have the heart or the religious conviction to tell rape and incest victims that they have to carry their abusers' children to term.  I also know that curious 14 year-olds make stupid mistakes and that it might be easier if they had a way out of them.  However, none of this means that abortion is a "right."  It only means that sometimes there are compelling reasons to do things we wish we never had to do. 

For those of us who don't fall into either of those groups, those of us who just thought it felt better without a condom, there really isn't a great grown-up defense for abortion.  We know where babies come from.  We know how not to get pregnant when we don't want to be pregnant.  But we're human, and sometimes we cross our fingers and try to get away with things.  When we get caught, we ought to be mature enough to acknowledge that our circumstances, inconvenient as they are, are of our own making.  We ought to be able to admit that it's not necessarily all about us anymore.  And if we decide to have an abortion, we ought at least to be willing to contend with the reality and the value of the life that we're ending, and not imagine and insist that it was nothing.

This is not a backward argument for a woman to make.  It is a perfectly reasonable argument for a woman who loves and respects and believes in women to make.  It is the argument of a woman who believes in the fierce intelligence and integrity of women, and who trusts them to exercise their sexual responsibilities as readily as they exercise their sexual rights.  It is a feminist argument.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

143. The Basics: Flats

I don't have all the details yet, but there's been some serious deal-making going on in the world of women's shoes.  As best as I can tell, at some point in the last 2-3 years a meeting was held.  A bunch of women got together with American shoemakers and they all agreed that women under 40 would wear boots, and only boots, from fall thru spring for the foreseeable future.

I'll skip the part about me not being invited to the meeting.  That's beside the point.  The point is, WTF?  I was in DSW the other day looking for a pair of jazzy black flats, and what I found was 4 entire rows (which I'm estimating were roughly 120 pairs) of black and brown, leather and vinyl, ankle, calf, and knee-length women's boots.  Who needs that many effing boots?!

Can I get some oxfords?  Or maybe a pointy-toe leather flat?  Anything that's not a ballet flat or a boot?  (Sad face.)  Not all of us are rocking the skinny jeans and boots look.  Some of us still wanna wear our regular pants.  And we'd like to have shoes to go with them.  Cute, comfortable (enough), affordable fall shoes to wear with our extensive collections of unskinny jeans and fabulous wool trousers, which by the way do not go with leather boots. 

Boooooo to you all.

Friday, October 8, 2010

142. Mix-n-Match

 This is another element of style I really struggle with.  First of all, this chic is fabulous.  You may disagree, and I wouldn't argue with you.  But for yours truly, she is the epitome of casual, comfortable, I-Could-Get-Dressed-In-The-Dark-And-Somehow-I-Would-Still-Be-Fly style. 

Maybe she just came from yoga class.  Or maybe she's headed to lunch with one of her equally and effortlessly fabulous friends.  The look works either way.  Right down the fully functional bag, handmade scarf (you can see the little tails on the ends), and semi-messy, pulled-back curly hair.

But those aren't the hard parts.  The "hard" part is the jacket.  She's wearing a brown jacket over black pants and a cream top.  With a black bag and a grey scarf.  I would never have done that.  Because in my world the jacket, bag, belt, and shoes should all be the same color.  Black and brown do not co-mingle.  But they obviously should.

(Photograph copyright The Sartorialist 2010)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

141. Black Girl Drama

 If there's a more integral and stressful part of a little black girl's identity than her hair, I don't know what it is. Hair care should be added to the list of lessons black girls get when they hit puberty.  By third grade I was wishing my mother would let me do my own hair. I was out of college before I actually figured out how.

For the first ten years of my life, my mother would wash my hair in the large sink in the basement. Then we'd spend the next hour combing it out and blow-drying it. Back then my hair was probably 24 inches long and I was tender-headed as all hell, so this was not my favorite process.  When it was over I was left with what my uncles called my "lion's mane."  I don't remember that I hated having it done, but I certainly never liked it.

In 6th grade my friend's mother told my mother that she got her hair pressed and that it made it much easier to manage. For the next 3 years I was faithful to the hot comb. Changed my life.  My mom would drop me off at the beauty shop on Saturday mornings and I'd wait my turn to press&curled up.  Strangely, I don't actually remember wearing my hair straight at the time, but I was definitely getting it done.

By the time I went to high school I had up/downgraded from a press to a relaxer. Again, life changing. The smell, the process, the time, the cost, the scabs, it's all some stuff you gotta experience for yourself to fully get it. But I was fond of my relaxer.  It made it possible for me to effectively do my own hair, really for the first time in my life.  I could wash it and blowdry it myself without reverting to the lion's mane.  So I was happy.

The first time I cut my hair, I was in tenth or eleventh grade. I had had the relaxer for a few years and I was used to having long, straight hair.I decided to cut the front into a bob and kept the back long. It was a huge deal.  At the time I couldn't conceive of cutting all of my hair short. This was a baby step. By 12th grade I had grown it all back.  I kept it long for the next 5 years.

My senior year of college, I decided to grow out my relaxer and go natural. After about six months of growth I cut off most of my hair. It was about 6 inches long. The first few months after the cut were the most baffling hair months of my life.  I had no clue.

I knew I had curly hair, but I had no idea how to get it to actually be curly. I mean it kinda was.  But I had a bit of a limp, curly 'fro going on.  Not cute. I still frown at myself a little bit whenever I look at my graduation pictures. Those were The Lost Days, as far as my hair is concerned.

Nowadays I think I have a handle on my hair in all its incarnations. I can rock the curls long or short; I can flat-iron it out and wear the bob when it's not too hot (can't handle the humidity without a relaxer); I've even figured out what to do with my hair when my curls have been flat-ironed to death and have to be re-grown from scratch, something I've done 2 or 3 times.  And of course there's an entire team of favorite shampoos, conditioners, and the all-important leave-ins that help maintain my hair in its various forms of flyness.  (Thanks to you all.) 

I say all this to say... It's happy hair times in my world... which I think is a special thing to be able to say as a black girl.