achievements, black women, Fashion, feminism, movies, theater, women

Trends: Are Black women back from the dead?

I’m not big into rap or hip-hop, so the last few years seemed like an entertainment and inspiration desert when it comes to seeing empowered black women just being excellent and special without screaming curse-words or whatever. That annoys me.

It alsofelt like there was a lot of negativity surrounding those of us with darker skin, and I was starting to think that people just couldn’t give up on the idea that being dare with full lips and natural hair was an actual state of being that didn’t require apology.

Then the waters started parting…5 serenaSerena Williams was a badass April cover girl and that just seemed to inspire her and she went on to win a bunch of tournaments. You know, like Wimbledon and whatnot. After she was rested up from that she was just everywhere, including the Harper’s Bazaar Women Who Dare  issue and the upcoming Pirelli calendar.

I really should have taken tennis more seriously in high school…

1 nina simoneIn June one of the most revolutionary black entertainers in the world was honored with a documentary. What Happened Miss Simone? came out and her name was on everyone’s lips again. Sad, because after a revival in the 90s her incredible voice had sunk into obscurity.

2 grace at afropunkI thought that I would have to content myself with that, but then Grace Jones played Afro Punk! I found out too late to get tickets, but whatever. She was there!!! he inspiration of so many crazy-dressing black girls was actually up to her usual tricks, being her amazing and provoking self and it was awesome to have my twitter taken over by …GRACE.

And then she put out a book, I’ll Never Write My Memoirs, and then freed the nipple at a New York book signing.

I mean, could anything else happen?
4 fashion month Just Fashion month, no biggie. While some people were moaning and whining over 20% non-white models on the runways, I was too busy cheering. I mean- Herieth Paul, Tami Williams, Grace Bol and that gorgeous big afro girl who starred in the under-reported Stella McCartney One City One Girl series. Nana Ghana wore Stella McCartney in her own individualistic way and for all those people saying there’s no diversity, I just really didn’t see a lot of people covering this.  3 ajak deng at phillipe plein One of my fave instagram models, Ajak Deng killed it to death in the Phillipe Plein show. Which brought everything back to punk, Grace and all that’s good in the world. 6 viola At this point the world was just bursting with black lady goodness but then? Viola Davis won the Emmy for leading actress in a drama. As Analiese Keating, a high-powered lawyer and law professor, Davis shows such a kaleidoscope of feeling that her just raising her eyes to stare into the camera can blow you away. The character calls for a real, raw earthy (yet touchingly elegant) performance and Viola Davis has brought it with every episode.

Then she gave this speech and everybody was like- yeah! And then she also won wearing her hair in it’s naturally textured state and her dress was gorgeous, so it was like amazing black lady heaven. 7 lupita

And then,my October Vogue came and Lupita Nyong’o was on the cover looking crazy gorgeous and at that moment you could be like, ok this was a good year to be a black woman- but then the Mert Alas & Marcus Piggot photos were just… there were so many!!!! I mean a LOT! It wasn’t just fashion, it was grace, beauty, mystery, and romance.

Then she turned out to be starring in a play written by other gorgeous black lady Danai Gurira for Walking Dead at the Public Theater. Can you be any more proactive about bringing diversity to the stage? AND THEN it’s just been announced that the play, Eclipsed, is moving to Broadway.

If anything else happens, I’m just gonna faint.

xoxo, Faith/Sassy Ethnic Bohemian

beauty, culture, hair, haircare, identity, personal style, products, shame, Style

Shame Series (part 2): I AM my hair, thank you very much, and please respect that

Once I went to one of those blogger events where they make you do some crazy thing so that you’ll sell their product on social media and I overheard a company executive telling another blogger ‘Oh, you have such pretty long hair! Would you like to come to our blah blah event next week?’.

Oh. Is THAT how it works?

After folding up my free yoga clothes and stuffing it into a bag with my free $60 jar of anti-wrinkle cream (and after stopping to wangle another jar of $60 cream, because you never know). I went on my way thinking about why my short, textured hair wasn’t deemed good enough even though the exec was a black woman with short textured hair as well. I mean…what’s really going on with this?

The hair chronicles: 

iammyhair3

This is me with dreads back in Chicago. I finally shaved them off after finding out that dreadlocs are actually high-maintenance. The day I shaved, I had just spent two hours curling and pinning them up. iammyhair2This is what happened once my hair grew back. I started getting it permed at a salon regularly. Every two weeks someone would tend to it and I would get touch ups for new un-permed hair growth. Only to end up wearing it brushed back and pinned to my head. And yeah, I woke up like photo 3 on the regular.

iammyhair4

Then I moved back to New York where you can go into an African hair braiding salon and get yourself some two strand twists. As long as you’re willing to write off the rest of the day because you’re sitting there getting your hair braided. This style worked for me, because I could wash it regularly but I hate sitting anywhere for 7 hours. So that ended. iammyhair5

I moved on to the sew-on weave, which is basically buying a wig and then having it sewn onto your cornrowed hair. This saved time and energy, it was relatively cheap and it made me look like everyone else.  iammyhair5a

There are times when you wake up like this, because you forgot to tie your weave down before bed. Also, it wasn’t exactly a summertime option. I am not one to walk around patting my head. If I can’t wash my hair (and I tried once- I ended up having to cut the mass of synthetic tangled wig off of my head), I’m not interested.

Back to basics- with reason:

iammyhair1
photo 2 by Pedro Sousa photography: http://psfotography.com/

So after trying all kinds of things and not being happy, I went back to what grows out of my head naturally. I shaved it for awhile, got tired of that and just left it alone. This is my hair and to be honest? It suits me. I could make it bigger, or change it’s color or whatever- but then I come right back to this and it feels like getting a nights sleep.

Inspiration? Lots of it:

There are more than a few people who’ve rocked an afro. And to be honest, they’ve all accomplished so much and been so influential that it’s kind of an honor to emulate them. Afro equals strong, unafraid, a fighter.

iammyhair9
type 55 image of model Michelle Skinner by Faith Bowman, Chicago 2006

In fact, one of my proudest moments as a photographer was this image of a dark-skinned model with textured hair.

iammyhair7a
photo 1: Ajak Deng, phot 2: Nina Simone

I also pay homage to the headwrap, the turban, and the head scarf. A regal style that adds inches and elegance.

iammyhair7

When I first started blogging as Sassy Ethnic Bohemian, I worked a headwrap as a trademark.

Back to black:

iammyhair8

Now, of course, my bathroom is brimming with haircare products catering to ‘kinks, coils and curls’, so I’m not exactly missing out on anything. While some people say ‘I am not my hair’ I am exactly the opposite. I AM my hair- I am resilient, strong and healthy. I’m natural, with some rough edges. I’m vibrant and full of life.

I don’t feel that I have to have ‘long, beautiful hair’. I’m good- because all that would happen is that I would put it up in a ponytail anyway. I don’t need a weave, although I am not above wearing a wig if it amuses me. I don’t HAVE to be like anyone else, I have my own hair and I like it just fine, thanks.

Even if it doesn’t get me invited to a hair product event, lol!!!

xoxo, Faith/Sassy Ethnic Bohemian