Friday, July 27, 2012

Response to The Tyranny of Stylishness Part II

Continued from Part 1...
The other point that stuck out for me was the one about conformity:
"In covering our bodies — a very personal thing — women shouldn’t have to conform, cover our eccentricities and ethnicities, and act like ladies — unless we want to. The style advanced by “WNTW” is about rules and homogeneity."
For me, my clothes are not a very personal thing. My identity and my clothing are not so tightly linked the way they are with others. Basically I choose things that I like, look good, and will make the impression I want and if none of those conditions are met I don't buy. OMG it's so clear now...unlike other people who want to appear rebellious, make a statement against the norm, and view their wardrobe as a form of protest I want to do the EXACT OPPOSITE! I want my wardrobe to say to the world to the world "I am not angry, I am happy, I am feminine like other women, I am not a trouble maker, I am upper-middle class, I try to look good, I am easy to get along with, I am educated, I am professional, you can bring me home to mom, I am not from the hood, I fit the norm! Well I guess you could say my wardrobe is a protest against looking bad and the sort of "I don't care" impression I get with androgynous, boring styles lol!

I am doing things that history and society says will earn rewards and avoid punishment from the important people with power over my happiness. If the rewards turn to punishments from the people who matter then I would have no problem changing! However for some groups (e.g., Black people) popular wardrobe choices may only bring rewards from the people they interact with (e.g., friends) and others who don't matter (e.g., criminal rappers who don't know or care about you, men you don't want) and punishment from those in power who are quick to punish (e.g., parents, teachers, police, employers who will refuse to hire you). Remember I am just talking about the way you present yourself not about speaking your mind about injustices...actually if you fit the norm then people will be more likely to listen to you and take you seriously, so you would be more effective in creating social change. 

I know some people will automatically have a problem with this because they view "conformity" as a bad word and always wrong yet they do it every day in many ways. It seems like it is promoted from AAs that Black people should always be angry and protesting and if you are not then you are part of the problem (the fallacy of false dichotomy). Isn't it so true though, people say being White is acting like the norm so acting Black must be going against the norm. In their minds following any norm (even though it brings rewards and avoids punishment and may actually be beneficial) is acting White and therefore off limits to Black people.'s the norm to follow the law so Black people should break it. It's the norm to go to school so Black people should not. It's the norm to get married then have kids so Black people should not. That's being Black and keeping it real right? Sigh...this is so insanely self-destructive it's like some Black people have chosen to screw themselves over while this so-called oppressor can sit back and laugh. Why not try to beat them at their own game instead of purposely accepting the defeated position?

I think that parents and school sent the conflicting message that conforming to peer pressure was bad (e.g., if everyone jumped off a bridge would you, don't smoke/do drugs/have sex/ just because your friends do etc.) but there is pressure to follow the rules, be good, go to school, and get along with others. There is also the encouragement of free thinking, being creative, and not being afraid to be different. But I think what was missing was talking about the benefits of conforming when it is beneficial because people do that all the time! It's common sense most of the time to do what is normal or doing what normally brings rewards and avoids punishment in society. 

That's the whole point of role models! You look at their accomplishments, learn what they did to succeed, and try the same things so that you can be successful. Most of the time they did positive and socially approved things like working hard at school and showing good character traits (e.g., determination, optimism, creativity, resourcefulness), and they chose something that tends to bring rewards in society (e.g., high status job, heroic job, star status etc.). There are also negative "role models" who are held up as cautionary tales or examples of what people shouldn't do. For example, those "stupid criminal" stories, stories about people falling from grace, and tales of people we know who ruined their lives and never lived up to their potential. The downfall of many of these people was doing something against the norm that had the risk of severe punishments (e.g., death or imprisonment not just losing money or failing). I want to be looked at as a positive role model who succeeded and did not cheat, steal, or lie to get to the top. Will you be looked at as someone who succeeded, tried their best, and did so in a respectable way or will you be a cautionary tale about wasted potential and making bad choices?

Robin Givens from the movie Boomerang. One of my
favorite movies. I wanted to be "That Woman", the one
who women want to be and men want to be with. People hate
her but she is successful, has everything she needs/wants.

You know she looks good!

Response to The Tyranny of Stylishness Part 1

I just read an interesting post on Clutch called The Tyranny of Stylishness. It was a critique of the way that the stylists on What Not To Wear pressure women into conformity as explained in this quote:
"I admit to having a love/hate relationship with “WNTW.” I appreciate tips on finding clothes that fit well or mixing and matching patterns and colors. But there is an ethos running through the show that sticks in my craw — a push toward conformity and a certain sort of upper-middle-class, WASP, feminine style and away from individuality."
I have seen the show but I am not a fan...surprised? Well I always did like a lot of what Stacey wore and probably even more now because she does dress in a feminine, upper-middle class, feminine way but no I don't associate that with being a WASP (really annoying). I have never liked Clinton's wardrobe! It's like everything makes him seem like a total snooty, snob but I think that's because of his voice and the way he says things. He does not come off as sweet, friendly, and open (pocket squares make him look so snobby but not on other men for some reason). I do think that they come off as a couple of snooty people laughing at the poor saps who can't dress because Stacy and Clinton think they are clueless, poor, don't read high fashion magazines, or low class.  This of course may not be true and I think a lot of it is because their voices are so annoying, sometimes they make jokes and laugh at the person, and I do think that they try to give the participants a similar look.

I also DESPISE the encouragement of excessive consumerism by giving people $5000 to spend only on clothes and pushing expensive items. When the prices are revealed at the end of the shows it just makes me sick because I know I could have bought so much more (especially at thrift stores). It also breaks my heart when women end up crying when all of their clothes are thrown away, when they are forced to cut their hair, or when natural hair is relaxed or made straight. I mean can't they keep some of their favorite items? Once they change their look maybe they will throw them away on their own. Why is it necessary to permanently change someone's hair so drastically? What is wrong with allowing a woman to have long hair if she likes it? I totally don't understand this "I'm making a change in my life so I'm going to hack off all of my hair too" idea...why not just change your behaviour?

Anyways, I made this post because YES I realize that some people think of my blog in the same way, pressuring women to change their style! If you watch the two videos the stylists wanted the participants to dress in a more feminine manner and I felt the same way about their clothes. But this is a blog and I don't go up to people in real life telling them they look bad or throwing away their clothes. But fashion dos and don'ts and best and worst dressed articles/shows are not new and people are always evaluating fashion. You are taking this too personally (I can understand because I have felt hurt in the same way when reading articles criticizing ultra feminine styles). Many Black women like what I like and already dress in this way even though it seems so different to you. Plus I don't have the power to make anyone do anything. People have to see the value of it and choose it for themselves. 

I actually love make-over shows but prefer it when the individual WANTS to change because they don't like the way they look, it's bringing them negative consequences, or it's not getting them what they want. These are the reasons why I have changed my style numerous times and don't miss my old looks. Some people admit they dress in a certain way to hide because they have low-self esteem or don't like their bodies, so they did not choose clothing just because they liked it. Others were tired of being criticized and since they were not that attached to their style, they did not mind changing. Then there are also others who change because they want to give off a different look that either fits with their changed status or make a more desirable impression. So maybe ask yourself "do you really like your style or are you just wearing things because you feel you have to, have limited options because of your size or finances, or just don't know what to wear to make the impression you want? Is your style giving off the impression you want at this point in your life and is it benefiting you? Why are you so attached to your style, aren't you more than your clothes? 

Read Part 2

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

We Don't Live in Bubbles and Other People Influence Us

I'd like you to HONESTLY answer these questions:

  1. When you are planning to stay home for the day do you put on your regular going-out make-up, do your hair, and put on your work, date, or going-out clothes? 
  2. If you are staying home do you dress differently if you know someone will be stopping by?
  3. Do you look different at home than when you are in public?
  4. When you go to work do you dress like the other people at your job or according to the dress code?
  5. When you go out for the evening for a date, party, or special event do you dress up more than you usually would?
  6. Do you dress in a way that is similar to your friends?
  7. Have you ever worn something or changed your clothes because your partner or friend said that outfit looked great/bad on you?
  8. If people tell you that you don't look good in something, after a while are you reluctant to wear it?
  9. Have you ever avoided wearing something because you thought other people would not like it?
  10. If people compliment something you wear are you more likely to wear it, will you keep it in your wardrobe longer, or wear it when you really want to look good?
  11. Have you ever worn something because you thought other people would like it?
  12. Have you ever seen someone wearing something and decided to buy something similar because you liked it?
  13. Have you ever started wearing something because you read about it in a magazine?
  14. Have you ever gone out to buy something because it was advertised (e.g., on sale)?
  15. Have you ever followed a fashion trend?
  16. Can you label your fashion style (e.g., casual, hipster, hip hop, boho chic, sporty, preppy etc.). 
  17. Do you only buy women's clothes and shop at women's stores?
If you answered 'yes' to even one of these questions then you, like most other people, have at some point dressed in a certain way because of other people! You are following social conventions just like everyone else. There are social conventions (unwritten rules) about what to wear in public, at work, at school, on a date, at a party, to get attention, to scare people, to appear non-conformist, to look like you don't care about fashion, to not attract attention, to be approachable, to be attractive to men, to be stylish and fashionable, to be unique, to be feminine, to be androgynous, to be sporty, to be comfortable yet acceptable, to be thrifty and so on. You may only conform to some conventions while others conform to the rest. Other people influenced your choice of what to wear and when, and what you purchased. 

You do not always dress in a certain way just because you like it and the "I only dress for me not for other people" thing is a fallacy. In this case I would say it's a false dichotomy (black or white thinking) where you assume people either dress for themselves or for others when I think that most people, at times, actually dress for others! There is nothing new under the sun and unless you make your own clothes then someone else influenced you to wear what you have chosen to wear in public. You are wearing the clothes fashion designers have decided to make and market in a given year and you are following the crowd by buying those things. If your clothes can be labeled as a certain style then you are following the fashion rules someone else created. If you look different at home compared to when you go out then you are dressing differently because other people are around (and the weather I'll admit that). If you only shop in women's stores or buy women's clothes then once again you are following a social convention and shopping and buying only what others have designated for you. If you purchased or wore anything after seeing it on someone else, in an advertisement, or after a sale was announced then someone else (e.g., the media) prompted you to do something that you may have never done otherwise. 

Yes it makes people feel good and independent to say "I wear things ONLY because I want to not because of person A, B, or C" (e.g., men) but there are so many factors that influence us in a consumer society that it is highly unlikely that other people did not influence your decision. For instance, most fashion designers are men so if you like designer clothes you are choosing to look the way these men dictate and they sometimes design clothes that are horribly uncomfortable yet appealing to men. I would say that most fashion magazines consider men's views when choosing clothes and advertisements so men are influencing these magazines. That fashion icon you emulate may dress to attract men if it wasn't your reason. Even people who have decided to not follow trends are actually following the trend of not caring about such things. Perhaps the exceptions to the rules would be hermits who don't interact with anyone and certain mentally ill people who don't think before they put something on. I am willing to admit that I answered yes to all of the questions above because I acknowledge that I don't live in a box and other people influence me, sometimes even without my knowledge. Hopefully the questions above will help you to admit the same and not be ashamed of it.
On to my next point. I have to stop being surprised whenever someone says that their identity is only based on what they think of themselves. Part of our identity is based on what others think about us! This is called the Looking Glass Self (Wikipedia) in sociology. For example, if you think you are a well mannered person but everyone tells you and others that you are rude then which one is the truth? Both are the truth! You are an individual who thinks you are well mannered but is perceived to be rude by others. Constantly being told you are rude may eventually convince you that you are a rude person. If you don't like being a rude person then you may choose to improve your manners to change that aspect of your identity and the way others perceive you. Sometimes our self-identity and other-identity match (e.g., we think we are pretty and so does everyone else) but often they don't match (we think we are boring but others find us interesting). Sometimes the positive or negative opinions of us come as a shock because they are so different from our thoughts about ourselves (e.g., I thought I was feminine but others think I'm too hard???). 

In fact, in your interactions with other people what they think about you is THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS because all they have is their perceptions and what they think can have consequences for you! It doesn't matter if you think you are gorgeous, interesting, kind, and intelligent because if others think you are unattractive, boring, mean, or dumb then they will treat you that way. Only your behaviour can change their opinions and reasoning with them will not work. When people say "what other people think of you shouldn't matter" or "your caring what other people think means you have low self-esteem" it puzzles me because I know very well it does matter and everyone cares no matter what their self-esteem is! People...convincing yourself you don't care what others think is just your way of protecting yourself (because you actually do care but can't handle the negativity or possibility you can't live up expectations) and it is being reinforced by the "feel good" culture of today. But if it makes you happy and keeps you going it's working and don't stop and there are plenty of articles online that can teach to not care (too much) about what other people think. 

It's good to protect yourself. But please don't act like I'm crazy or messed up for facing reality! You may have convinced yourself that not dressing to attract men means you are confident, independent, and laid back but it may hide the reality that you are lazy, unmotivated, ambivalent about having a man, or you have been LUCKY enough to get men without any effort (e.g., you work/go to school with them, dated male friends, were at the right place at the right time, were introduced etc.). Please consider that other women are rarely be around men so they have to make an effort to frequent places to meet men and dress in a way to attract them! If I know what bait a fish likes I will make sure to go out, purchase, and use that bait instead of using whatever I have lying around. No one is talking about wearing something you dislike, causes pain, or bankrupts you just because someone else likes it. I like clothes that look good, feel comfortable AND are attractive to men...I get more bang for my buck!  

What others think of you is part of who you are. BUT it is not helpful to be overly influenced in a negative way by self- or other-perceptions because of course that can ruin your self-esteem (beware of the self-fulfilling prophesy). For instance, other people's opinions of you may not be based on you at all and may be based on racism, sexism, jealousy, misinterpretations or just their personal issues. But we should not keep our heads in the sand about the fact that other's opinions influence us and what they think of us may have consequences. If people are influencing us in a negative way or if they have negative opinions of us then only we can try to change that by choosing a more positive path that will create a positive impression. We have to pick and choose whether it is worth it to improve based on the negative or potential consequences or if it is even possible to improve. We must also consider the consequences of changing, for example, are you willing to steal, fight, do drugs, have sex, etc. to convince yourself and others you are cool? Are you willing to inject silicone into your body, starve yourself, or spend a fortune on cosmetics to convince yourself and others that you are beautiful? I think these would be bad choices. On the other hand, you could instead improve in healthy ways or if possible change who you associate with (e.g., find friends who think you are cool the way you are and a boyfriend who thinks you are already beautiful). There are numerous articles online about how to not care (too much) about what other people think but I think it's impossible for most people to not care at all. 

I'm done...yes I was irritated when I wrote this...

Related Articles:
Attract a man, be a lady (funny but good advice)
Do women dress for men (some differing opinions)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Maybe I have a Sensitivity to Masculinity LOL!

I just wanted to mention I changed the layout of the EBW Tumblr site and it looks so much better and you can see all the photos by scrolling instead of turning pages. I LOVE it :) Eventually I'll probably switch to Pinterest though if it's more popular.

Just right!

Wait a minute, JGL kind of looks like the first I like feminine men??? Darn it those Big Bopper and Tiger Beat magazines I read (drooled on) growing up made me love pretty boys lol!!! Oh well, skinny, pretty guys need love and cuddles too :) Actually the first guy is kind of cute....I have to face it, I prefer men with a feminine side. I swear I'm straight though...seriously ;)

I think that in the past things were like this:

A. Femininity-X-----------------------------Androgyny--------------------X---------------Masculinity
          Preferred Woman                                                   Preferred Man

The preferred woman would be ultra feminine and was prevented from doing anything masculine. She was not allowed much if any independence, men ruled her life, she was their property, she was there to look pretty, have children and care for them, take care of the house, and do what men wanted. She dressed in an ultra feminine way reserved for women.

The preferred male was very masculine by not extremely so because he was a gentleman. He was intelligent, chivalrous, resourceful, and a good provider and protector for women, his family, and society. He was the leader and head of the household and everyone had to listen to him. Some of these men, especially of the upper classes, put work into their appearance and dress so that they looked good and stayed fashionable. But he dressed in a masculine way reserved for men.

Then over the past 100 years things shifted and I think in Western countries things are more like this today:

B. Femininity--------------------------------X-Androgyny-----------------------------------X-Masculinity
                                              Preferred Woman                                      Preferred Man

Basically everyone became too masculine and I think I'm allergic to that much masculinity lol! I think that in the 60s-80s women were more in the middle of the Femininity-Androgyny side and I think that was pretty good. Women worked and had rights, they still dressed in a feminine manner but not in the ultra feminine way of the past. Women wanted to be treated as equals and society began to accept and promote that. Women were still women but they were able to do more of the things men did and they did not have to look ultra feminine. But I think today it has gone so far that the preferred women in the media and to feminists would be practically androgynous. She wears women's clothing that look like men's and it's hard to tell she is a woman physically. She devalues feminine things and strives to prove she can do everything men can do and prefers what they prefer. The preferred woman is too close to androgyny and has given up all the things I love about women (e.g., softness, kindness, sweetness, dresses, skirts, bows, flowers, kittens, bunnies, smiles, cupcakes, baby ducks, and all that sissy stuff lol).

The men in the 60s-80s were still similar to the way they were in the past but they were getting used to thinking of women as equals (of course many fought against this). But then guess who came along...the tough, muscled, body builder, tough talking, rule breaking, ultra male of the film industry. This male typified by Marlon Brando, Burt Reynolds, the Marlboro Man, and eventually Arnold Swartzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and many physically dominant athletes. These were examples of masculinity on steroids (literally) and this is when bodybuilding began. At times I admit I do find these men physically attractive, but they have so many other unattractive things about them that I just don't want to have relationships with them. They are nice to look at but do they really get along with others or settle down for a quiet peaceful life? They just aren't boyfriend or husband material.

So this is what I think I like:

C. Femininity-----------X---------------------Androgyny--------------------X----------------Masculinity
        Preferred Woman                                                       Preferred Man

Yes, what I prefer is almost the same dynamic present in Example A. BUT...I want all of the gains women and men have made to remain! So I want women to keep the rights and respect they have yet still be allowed to wear dresses, bake cupcakes (if they want), and love kittens. I want men to not feel the need to be tough, ultra masculine men but instead go back to being more like chivalrous gentlemen. These gentlemen will want to have families and settle down while still having respect for women and their partners. So there will be less pressure for everyone to be masculine and masculinity will not be valued more than femininity. This level of masculinity is just enough for me :) I admit I do like some androgynous traits in men such as: long hair (lol, maybe I just like retro hair); metrosexuals in terms of personal grooming with little body hair; cute voices rather than deep ones; cute boyish faces rather than hard ultra masculine ones; guys who are younger or my age rather than older guys; thin rather than big guys; and of course guys who are sweet, nice, romantic, and sensitive. So these are things that the ultra masculine men don't have.

Many people don't have the same sensitivity I do so they are perfectly comfortable with Example B and will say anything a woman does or wears is feminine because she is a woman so basically anything goes. So they may date men who I think are way too hard or act in ways that I think are way too masculine but to others it will be perfectly "normal". I understand this. We just have a different sensitivity/preference and you may be comfortable with the status quo.

My next question would be, 'who do men prefer?' Followed by 'will the men I prefer actually prefer me?' From what I have read many men prefer very feminine women however I have just learned some (e.g., hipsters) don't seem to care and are comfortable with androgyny. I'll have to test out the second question in my real life :)

This made me think of Japanese pop stars. This is how I think things are in Japanese pop today lol!:

C. Femininity-X--------------------------------Androgyny--X----------------------------------Masculinity
               Preferred Woman                                  Preferred Man

Yes, I like my men to have a soft side but he shouldn't be wearing my make-up or looking prettier than me lol!

Not really Into Hipsters....Or am I?

According to the Urban Dictionary (I'll highlight parts that are appealing and relevant to me in pink and parts I dislike in green):

Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20's and 30's that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter. The greatest concentrations of hipsters can be found living in the Williamsburg, Wicker Park, and Mission District neighborhoods of major cosmopolitan centers such as New York, Chicago, and San Francisco respectively. Although "hipsterism" is really a state of mind, it is also often intertwined with distinct fashion sensibilities. Hipsters reject the culturally-ignorant attitudes of mainstream consumers, and are often be seen wearing vintage and thrift store inspired fashions, tight-fitting jeans, old-school sneakers, and sometimes thick rimmed glasses. Both hipster men and women sport similar androgynous hair styles that include combinations of messy shag cuts and asymmetric side-swept bangs [I only like on men]. Such styles are often associated with the work of creative stylists at urban salons, and are usually too "edgy" for the culturally-sheltered mainstream consumer. The "effortless cool" urban bohemian look of a hipster is exemplified in Urban Outfitters and American Apparel ads which cater towards the hipster demographic. Despite misconceptions based on their aesthetic tastes, hipsters tend to be well educated and often have liberal arts degrees, or degrees in maths and sciences, which also require certain creative analytical thinking abilities. Consequently many hipsters tend to have jobs in the music, art, and fashion industries. It is a myth that most hipsters are unemployed and live off of their parent's trust funds. 
Hipsters shun mainstream societal conventions that apply to dating preferences and traditional "rules" of physical attraction. It is part of the hipster central dogma not to be influenced by mainsream advertising and media, which tends to only promote ethnocentric ideals of beauty. The concepts of androgyny and feminism have influenced hipster culture, where hipster men are often as thin as the women they date. The muscular and athletic all-American male ideal is not seen as attractive by confident and culturally-empowered hipster women who instead view them as symbols of male oppression, sexism, and misogyny. Likewise, culturally-vapid sorority-type girls with fake blond hair, overly tanned skin, and "Britney Spears tube-tops" are not seen as attractive by cultured hipster males who instead see them as symbols of female insecurity, low self-esteem, and lack of cultural intelligence and independent thinking. Hipsters are also very racially open-minded, and the greatest number of interracial couples in any urban environment are typically found within the hipster subculture. 
Although hipsters are technically conformists within their own subculture, in comparison to the much larger mainstream mass, they are pioneers and leaders of the latest cultural trends and ideals. For example, the surge of jeans made to look old and worn (i.e. "distressed"), that have become prevalent at stores such as The Gap, American Eagle, Abercrombie and Fitch, and Hollister, were originally paraded by hipsters who shopped in thrift stores years before such clothing items were mass produced and sold to the mainstream consumer. The true irony here is that many of the detractors of hipster culture are in fact unknowingly following a path that hipsters have carved out years before them. This phenomena also applies to music as well, as many bands have become successful and known to mainstream audiences only because hipsters first found and listened to them as early-adopters of new culture. Once certain concepts of fashion and music have reached mainstream audiences, hipsters move on to something new and improved. 
Because of the rise of various online photo-blog and social networking sites, insights into urban hipster culture is reaching sheltered suburban audiences at an exponential rate. Cultural "norms" have been deconstructed by hipster culture as a whole. Hipsterism is often dismissed as just an image thing by some, but the culture as a whole is effecting changes in society, leading to feelings of insecurity and resentment in people who are no longer a part of the cultural ruling class. For example, a lot of anti-hipster sentiment evidently comes from culturally-clueless suburban frat boy types who feel that the more sensitive, intelligent, and culturally aware hipster ideal threatens their insecure sense of masculinity. Anti-hipster sentiment often comes from people who simply can't keep up with social change and are envious of those who can.

I said in my previous post that i might like hipsters well...After reading this description I think I would actually like them (look at all that pink!) and get along with them in terms of their thinking, non-conformity to mainstream fashion, and breaking social barriers attitudes. The definition also admits that they are actually conforming to hipster culture, I am conforming to ultra feminine images, and many are opposed to both. I have seen a lot of hipster women wearing vintage dresses that I actually like with bows, cute flats etc. and looking very girly and vintage etc.

I guess in some ways I have many things in common with this description of hipsters. I reject the mainstream image of Black women, feminism, women's fashion, and the hypersexuality of the media. I reject limitations being placed on people based on race (e.g., the way you can speak; who can be your friends, dates, marriage partners, and role models; how you can think; and what your preferences can be). I reject the mainstream telling me that I should do something and I will instead choose to do what is beneficial to me and fits with my values. I am very thrifty and frugal and prefer buying used things, vintage fashion, thrift shopping, and finding new uses for things I already have (I am pretty anti-consumerism). I reject the Eurocentric ideal of beauty and believe women of all ethnicities can be beautiful based on common things (e.g., beautiful hair no matter the texture, clear skin, beautiful smile etc. as written in my previous post). I like to interact with and learn about different cultures and ethnicities and do not limit my friendships or dating based on race. I also don't like having to define myself and want the freedom to just be me. Plus I am very educated, value education and like interacting with educated people who talk about interesting things. I would LOVE to associate with people who don't have preconceived notions of how I'm supposed to be based on my race, age, education, or profession and will just accept me as me.

It's so funny that my best friend (love you) kind of gets down on me for always buying things from thrift stores but I just find so many great things there, even from mainstream stores for such a cheap price, in great condition, sometimes not ever worn (with original labels). I started doing this as a starving student and I see no reason to stop. I HATE the pressure to buy things every season just because the fashion industry says so. I don't get on trends much and instead buy what looks feminine and good on me. Some people (online) are so vehemently against the way I dress because I am rejecting not only the mainstream fashion for women but I embrace a vintage look that rejects feminism, and a look that isn't the norm for Black women in the media. But maybe around hipsters they would actually think this is awesome!

I just looked at some photos of hipster fashion online and I like parts of them but many outfits I saw were just awful, especially on the men. I guess I think the hats are cute and the fake eyeglasses when they aren't too big, and scarves are okay in the fall and winter. I do like thrift store clothes but not when they actually look like they are from a thrift store. But I definitely and FOREVER will not like skinny jeans or when guys roll up their skinny jeans showing their ankles and wearing Oxfords or deck shoes. I guess maybe I just like that a lot of they guys are kind of skinny with floppy hair and the ones I saw on the weekend were very cute. Plus they were smiling, nice, and not intimidating. Here are some random images because I thought they were funny!

Related Articles:
How to be a hipster (wow a lot of this sounds like me!)
Hipster on Wikipedia
What is a hipster (with video)

Vintage dress heaven
Vintage dress collection (love these dresses)
Thrift store haul (this woman should be my personal shopper...seriously I love what she finds)
Top thrift store finds 2011
Professional thrift haul
How to dress modern retro (very cute)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Prestigious Males are VERY Attractive to Me

This article at Hooking Up Smart explains my preferences in men EXACTLY! It was an excellent read. I prefer prestigious males over physically dominant ones and these men often appear like beta males! I wrote about this a bit in my previous post Alpha and Beta Males and Females. I don't need a guy to have physically dominant male characteristics (e.g., being the tallest, biggest, hairy, super-muscled, low voice etc.). I prefer prestigious males with beta male characteristics. To me a prestigious male is one who has achieved a high level of education compared to others (a minimum Bachelor's degree) and has a white collar job I admire or respect for it's benefit to society, safety, security, earning potential, independence, and prestige (e.g., engineer, professor, accountant, banker, dentist, architect, government worker, computer guy etc.) instead of macho men jobs that are often dangerous, taxing on the body, or insecure (e.g., athletes, police officers, artists, criminals of course, construction workers). I just know what I'm attracted to, which is different from some other women, and some men just can't understand it.

Basically I'm attracted to guys who look like Joseph Gordon-Levitt (in terms of style, demeanor, "nice guy vibe", okay physically too who am I kidding....) with a degree and a job at an office, where he earns a salary, and doesn't come home in pain or sweaty. A guy who keeps himself looking good, thin, and cute (somewhat metrosexual, nice hair, young looking with boyish charm, not very hairy lol). This is a guy who wouldn't mind taking care of the kids sometimes, or showing affection for me in private and public, and would actually get married. I'm not into the most "macho men". I am into the high achievers who lead other men based on their intelligence, prestige, and personal achievements not due to the fear they instill in others due to physical dominance. If a guy says he has a graduate degree and wears a tie to work that is WAY more attractive to me than if he's strong, the best at a sport, or if other men think he's cool. Swagger is not attractive to me!

So in a way I actually do like competitive men because educated men with good jobs first beat the competition by getting into university, beat them again by staying in their programs, won again by graduating with a degree and letters after their name, and finally won again by obtaining the great job! Those men are the winners to me and more attractive than men who are physically dominant because the prestigious men (as the article explained) can also be very nice, nurturing, and sweet. I don't mind if they are a bit nerdy or geeky either because I'm a bit nerdy and geeky too :)

So this preference of course comes from my valuing of higher education, middle class attainment and values, and no doubt because of all the romantic movies and television shows I have consumed over the years. I do watch many action, horror, and thriller films with cops and heroes but, although they may appear attractive, I could never imagine myself in a relationship with one of them. I also think my preference stems from my years of experience knowing guys with this look (well not as good looking of course) and demeanor in school because at advanced levels the macho, jerky guys disappear. I have just found when I meet the physically dominant guys they are disrespectful when they approach me, sometimes rude, and sometimes very critical when I have barely had any interaction with them. Of course maybe I am just cold to those guys...that's definitely a factor.

When I was younger the relationships I had with the physically dominant guys ended because of EXTREME disrespect, lies, and their putting in no effort to have a relationship. On the other hand relationships with the prestigious guys ended because of a difference in opinion, inconvenience, personality differences etc. but there was always a wish that we could have worked out, unlike with the "bad guys" who I hoped dropped off the face of the earth. Anyways, there are lots of guys who fit my preferences out there and I only need things to work out with one of them, so I don't feel the need to date every guy who comes along. A funny thing I learned recently is that location definitely matters! In some parts of my city there will be tons of jerky guys who I would rarely be interested but other areas are filled with adorable betas left and right! I will definitely be frequenting the latter area. Yeah I think I like hipsters....sigh....but NOT skinny jeans, never skinny jeans...

Related Articles:
Study finds female choice key to evolutionary shift to modern family
10 reasons to date a beta male (MUST READ)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt looking 
irresistible in adorable glasses, tie, 
and a cute sweater! I turn my
head when guys like this walk
by not jocks, guys with chains,
or guys with "swagger". Nice
guys with brains finish first with
me :)

JGL from 500 Days of Summer. I just want to 
cuddle guys in sweater vests...soooo cute! Some
 would call  this beta male attire. Some guys say he's too
 thin, not macho, a wuss etc. but this is my type definitely! 
See, he doesn't sag his pants like an ex-con, doesn't
 have a neck tattoo, and doesn't look like he wants
to fight someone for no good reason lol!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Asian Women Acting Masculine, Hard, and Ghetto Part II

I found this interesting Tumblr Site about B-Gyaru (sorry about the title). I previously wrote about B-gyaru in my posts, B-Lifestyle in Japan and Asian Women Acting Hard, Masculine, and Ghetto in Music Videos. Some may think this looks cute but I don't. I think you should also know that the most popular wearers of this style are STRIPPERS! Okay, some are go-go dancers, but you can tell from the site that they sometimes wear barely any clothes, many work at clubs, and they look very over sexed. They look hard and trashy in my opinion and you know this is not a respectable way to dress. I mean it's not all horrible but....just look at it and decide for yourself. Compare that site with one for cute, feminine Gyaru gals at Site 1, Site 2, Site 3, Site 4, Site 5 (it's a very young look I know) and you'll notice the B gyaru look is harder and more sexual and vulgar!

Both looks are very extreme, way too extreme for professional women or students, and Gyaru is way too much for an adult woman. But I just wonder, if someone were to dress in one of these costumes who would be perceived as a sex object who lives a rough life, hard, and trashy versus cute, sweet, endearing, and harmless? I think in a way they are showing two extremes of femininity, the mature, sexually aggressive, and skin bearing type of femininity versus the girlish, innocent, sweet and frilly type of femininity. Its "Bad girl" versus "Good girl". You know I prefer the Good girl look and most parents of young girls would. Unfortunately I think many women, especially Black women, are forced and pressured into the Bad girl, mature, sexually aggressive, and skin bearing type of femininity or into hiding their femininity by adopting masculine styles. There needs to be more balance and until then there will be opposition to both types of femininity. If the Bad girl look was so great women would not be complaining that they are treated as sexual objects, assumed to be promiscuous, assumed to have low morals, passed over for more conservative girls, and disrespected. If the good girl look was accepted then people would not call Black women "sellouts", "traitors to women", or infantalized and immature for choosing a more ultra feminine look.

You won't believe this video. Yes, Caribbean women haven't always portrayed the best image either. Even the women in the video recognize that they are trying to portray "strong" women and their dancing is overly sexual. All Asian women don't want to be delicate flowers as you can see ;)

Lol Latinos are not immune as you can see on this Chola Gal Tumblr site ;) Seriously this is so crazy they really know how to do that look! (OMG When I was in high school I used to wear dark liner and light lipstick...I was copying Chola style!).

This just makes you think that all it is is clothes, make-up, dance/music, and an attitude that can be adopted by anyone. It isn't genetic. It's just that somehow, due to fate, some people adopted a certain style and demeanor while others chose something different. So just because you were born in a certain country or with skin of a certain colour it does not mean you MUST adopt the stereotypical/most popular style of that culture. It's not in your genes, it's just a matter of preference. You can adopt any style you want.

BUT if that style brings you nothing but grief you will have to decide if it's actually worth it since it really is just clothes, make-up, dance etc. To me, none of those things are worth my future marriage, friends, or job so it wouldn't be the end of the world to me if I had to stop doing these things or keep them behind clothed doors. They are not more important to me than my partner, family, friends, education or job. They don't make me me.

One last thing is that while some may find these sites and videos cute and use them as confirmation that your style is harmless fun, please consider who these people are and who is in the most support of these styles. Are they like you? Do they have the same goals and lead the same lifestyle you do? If your style is mostly worn by strippers, rappers, and criminals, and you want to be a banker, teacher, or doctor then you are emulating the wrong people and it could prevent you from achieving your goals. You do not know why these people have adopted these styles! For all you know it could be because their dancing job requires it, they are criminals or part of the underclass (e.g., in a gang), wacky musicians or artists who don't have to follow mainstream rules of conduct, they are rebelling against their parents or society (and will eventually grow out of it), they have no desires to achieve anything and are just surviving, or it's just something fun they do for the weekend. Many adopt the gangbanger style as a form of rebellion because they have no interest in leading a mainstream, "normal" life and don't need to be accepted by anyone (e.g., mainstream employers, teachers, family, banks, customers etc.). So choose wisely :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What's The Elephant in Your Room?

This is a very intriguing and important video that Shanda has made. She addresses the fact that sometimes there is something very wrong going on in our homes or relationships that some people, couples, and families choose to ignore. She proposes that we address these issues (in a ladylike manner) instead of letting them continue indefinitely. I think that this is a very important message.

HOWEVER, addressing an issue can only do so much. It is very difficult to change other people, especially adults, if they have power over you, or if the behaviour or situation you want them to change could actually harm them in some way. In these instances your addressing the issues may not change anything other than letting them know you are unhappy. All you can do is state what the problem is, what you want to happen, and what the consequence will be if what you want does not happen (often taught in assertiveness and conflict resolution courses [good article]).

Even if what you want does not happen at least you tried. After this lack of success then the next step falls on you...what are you going to do now that the situation has not changed? Are you going to put up with it, leave, find someone with more authority to help you, go on strike, yell, or try something different? You have to do something besides just blaming the other person/people and waiting for them to change. If you decide to live with the situation that is YOUR choice and there are others would would react differently depending on their personal circumstances, resources, and character. Because of this you are partially responsible for the situations that you allow to continue or live in. Maybe the best thing to do is try to change some of your other current circumstances, increase your resources, improve your character, try something different, or remove yourself from the situation.

I think that we often are the cause of the "Elephant in the room" because of our own negative, self-destructive, or socially suicidal behaviours! Many of us need to take a hard look in the mirror, recognize, and accept that in some areas of our lives we have made poor choices, hurt others, and hurt ourselves. Perhaps if we had not ignored our personal failings and flaws and instead had the courage to change or improve our circumstances then we would be much happier today instead of regretting our apathy, fear of change, and worries about social backlash.

I'll end this post with one of my favorite quotes:

Related Articles:
Conflict resolution from Mind Tools (Many people have no idea about conflict resolution and instead insist that one person, usually the man, makes the final doesn't have to be that way! Excellent website for self-improvement!!!)
Conflict resolution (Great!)
How and when to use I statements
I statements

Monday, July 16, 2012

Does Your Success Say Something About Your Character?

This poster is aimed at children who are just learning about character and good behaviour. They don't yet have experience with situations where being generous, loyal, patient, yielding etc. can lead to negative consequences. These are great personal qualities and everyone struggles with upholding them. These are all ways to be a "good person" who would make a good friend, coworker, or romantic partner.
Repeatedly online I have read comments from men stating women should ONLY consider a man's character when looking for a partner and not their education, job, or socioeconomic status (SES). I'm assuming by character they mean whether someone is kind, loving, nice, honest, "a good man", dependable, faithful, pleasant, supportive, fun, friendly, marriage-oriented and other good things that would him pleasant to be around. Some have gone so far as to suggest women should not care about a man's criminal background or past drug use because "everyone makes mistakes", we "shouldn't judge", and "life is hard" (but doesn't past involvement in crime indicate the man may be dishonest, uncaring, selfish, violent, undisciplined, and immoral?). These men insist that educational attainment should not be used as criteria when deciding to date a man and they love to say they are highly intelligent (with no proof), they know very intelligent uneducated people, and they know educated people who are complete morons with no common sense. They also insist that what a man is doing at the moment (even though he's over 30) should not be used as criteria because he may have some mysterious "potential" that will become activated if I love and support him!  

Some of these men seem to make the assumption that those who have struggled have better character than those who are successful and may not have strrugled at all! I do not understand where they would get such an idea. Since when does having constant stress, frequent problems, and being mistreated your whole life make you a happy, kind, responsible, and caring person? Wouldn't it be more likely that a man who grew up loved (knows what love is and how to show it), in a nurturing and supportive environment, with positive role models (who he emulates), would lead a happier life? Would he have a more positive and optimistic attitude, the means, and the ambition to seek out happiness and privileges that he can share with a family? If life wasn't easier with less stress, fewer problems, and better opportunities then why are people constantly striving for those things instead of the opposite? Of course people who are successful and privileged can be jerks and totally unpleasant to be around...but so can anyone of any level of education, success, or SES! At least they have their basic needs met and can provide that support when necessary!

I believe that your personal success can say a lot about your character and background. Based on what you have achieved in life people may make certain positive assumptions about you such as: you are hardworking, dedicated, intelligent, and ambitious because you achieved so much; you had a good upbringing, a privileged background, a good education, and experienced few difficulties growing up; you have good social skills and were able to network and gain support from influential people who helped you along the way; you have excellent stress management and coping skills; you were never involved in crime or drugs that would have led you astray and prevented you from achieving your goals; and you are probably good at making the right decisions and making better choices because you chose the path to success. Most people wish they grew up the same way.

Men who have been unsuccessful in life may be assumed (sometimes unfairly) to be of poor character or upbringing, for instance assuming: they grew up in a negative home and social environment, did not have their basic needs met, grew up disadvantaged, and did not have the opportunity to succeed; they may be poor decision makers because they chose crime over education and hard work; they may have attended a bad school, be less intelligent, chose not to strive for the best grades in school, or they were otherwise distracted or prevented from achieving in school; they may lack focus or they may have chosen an unrealistic route to success (e.g., becoming a basketball star or a rapper) instead of a white collar position requiring a university degree; they wanted fast money and to be extremely wealthy instead of middle class; they did not have the discipline to do well in school so they were not accepted to university; they spent too much time focused on chasing women or hanging out with friends instead of focusing on school or advancing at work; they may go from job to job starting at the bottom every time because they do not have specialized training.

People say that money doesn't buy happiness, but realistically, neither does love. Someone with money may be used, disrespected, stressed, and unloved but so can someone without money! A person with love can struggle to make ends meet, end up in a homeless shelter, be abused, and end up in a life of crime because they could not pay for necessities. The number one cause of divorce is finances (source 1, source 2; alternative view 1, view 2)! It is difficult to stay together as a couple of you can not afford to live together and raise a family. Financial problems can cause constant stress and arguments because basic needs are not being met so no one is satisfied. It's a lofty dream that one only needs love to survive but if we are honest, we know that is not true. Wealthy people do get divorced and they may be unhappy at times, but they don't end up homeless and they rarely need to commit crimes to make ends meet (when they do commit white collar crimes it's often because they were too greedy, made poor decisions, and didn't want to lose their high standard of living). 

No money does not buy love but it buys: food (especially healthy food), shelter in a safe neighbourhood (with a home security system), clothing (including suitable work attire), transportation (especially to work and school), books to expand one's mind and learn, internet (for education, entertainment, convenient shopping, and communication), telephones/cell phones (for socializing, work, communication), medical expenses, childcare, tutors, university tuition, vacations to relax and travel, unique experiences (e.g., unpaid internships, workshops, camps), investments to expand one's income, insurance, savings for the future or a rainy day, emergency money to help friends and family, and counselling for personal and family problems. Just looking at today's economy, stating that money is not important is ludicrous! Look at how losing a job has ruined people's lives because they lose their homes, cars, and sometimes their children just because they don't have the money to provide basic necessities!

I'll end with this point, I would rather date and marry a man with good character AND an education, a white collar job, and a medium SES than a man with good character, no secondary education, and a low-paying job. I think that the former would be better able to care for a family's basic needs and privileges and would be more pleasant to be around, especially because he would be more like me.  If you are like me then there are people out there who will automatically dislike you because of your privilege (but wish it for themselves) and call you every bad name in the book because you are not miserable and struggling. All you can do is go about your business and try to find happiness however you see fit. We can only date so many men and only marry one and who you choose is your business. It's one thing to be friendly, respect, care about, or be kind to a wide variety of people, but that doesn't mean you have to date anyone who asks! If you spend too much time dating men with problems you will miss out on the ones without those problems! In the end, if you make good choices then you will have plenty of proof that you were successful, happy, and loved and that is all that matters!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Becoming an Elegant Black Woman is Very Ambitious!

What does it mean to be ambitious?
1. Having or showing a strong desire and determination to succeed- his mother was hard-working and ambitious for her four children
 2. (of a plan or piece of work) Intended to satisfy high aspirations and therefore difficult to achieve- the scope of the book is very ambitious- an ambitious enterprise 
(Ambitiousness) Ambition is the desire for personal achievement. It provides the motivation and determination necessary to help give direction to life. Ambitious people seek to be the best at what they choose to do for attainment, power, or superiority. ...(source)
Everyone has certain ambitions and things they want to do in life. But not everyone is "ambitious". Some people are fine with their lot in life, accept things as they are, and feel that they deserve the life they currently have. Others are ambitious and strive for high personal achievement and to be the best they can be in all aspects of life. I have come to realize that I am very ambitious! This comes as somewhat of a surprise to me because I thought it was just normal to strive to be the best and most people would do so if they could (e.g., if they were not bogged down with so may problems or barriers). 

I think that wanting to become an EBW is very ambitious because as you can read in the header above, I want to improve myself so that I become a better woman of the highest quality, despite my upbringing or lineage, so that I can attract good, successful men of any race. An ambitious woman does not just "settle" for what comes her way or what people think she deserves. She works hard to achieve what she wants and to change her situation into one she desires. 

I think my ambitiousness was definitely due to my upbringing (thanks Mom and Dad). My parents always expected an A (80% or higher) on my school work and they enrolled me into a school program with high achieving students who had high GPAs when compared to other students. I worked hard because I valued education, I thought high grades were supposed to be everyone's goal, and I didn't want to be the one who didn't achieve that goal. I also believed it was the norm for people to go to university if they wanted a good life and I always thought that the only acceptable occupations for me would be a doctor, dentist, or lawyer (why not strive for the best right?). So I went to school and obtained my advanced degree. I wanted to be highly intelligent, knowledgeable, competent, professional and well respected in society.

In terms of my personal characteristics, I am ambitious because I strive to have good manners, good health, a healthy weight, an attractive body, an attractive face, beautiful hair, and an attractive wardrobe. I work to be achieve these things because they are desirable traits to me an others. I also want to achieve the relationship I want, with a man I am physically, emotionally, and mentally attracted to, who has the same attraction to me, who I get along with, has similar values, and is just as ambitious as I am. Then we can strive to achieve our "dream life" of a house, his and her cars, a picket fence (actually I prefer hedges), two kids, a dog (preferably a cat), vacations, security, and a happily ever after. Actually almost all of my self-improvement goals were for this purpose, to have this happy life of love, family, security (including financial), and happiness.

So in terms of my education and career I am on the right track and my work is paying off. However in terms of my dream life things were not going as planned. I wasn't happy with my appearance, I was single, and I was not attracting the men I wanted. So being the ambitious person that I am, I decided to do something about it!  We all know that most men like attractive women so I improved my attractiveness. I also learned that many men prefer feminine women so I learned about femininity (I'm still learning) and allowed myself to be more feminine. I sought out many ways to do so including: reading about feminine fashion, looking at clothing online, and buying a new wardrobe; reading about feminine traits, allowing myself to show them, and reducing my masculine traits; and reading about relationships, going out out on dates, and trying the new things I have learned. A lot of what I've read and heard about feminism doesn't fit with this behaviour so I had to stop blindly following feminist ideas and I have allowed myself to be critical and only accept what doesn't harm my interests. The funny thing is, being ambitious is often listed as a masculine trait! So there's some equality for you :)

Showing too many masculine traits, suppressing my femininity, and just going with the flow in my social life was not achieving my goals and I was not going to accept that. As an ambitious person I used my resources to change my odds so that I would be more likely to achieve my dream life goal. This is ambitious and goes against what many others believe. I do not believe great things will "just happen" if I am patient, hope, wish, or pray. I try to make things happen. I believe that people are constantly changing and that my personal habits are not "the real me" so I have no issues with changing some personal habits in order to achieve my goals. People change their make up and wardrobes constantly so I see no problem with changing my make-up and clothing to appear more feminine (it's not like I'm getting plastic surgery, degrading myself in trashy clothes, putting up with mistreatment, or sleeping around to win men so I am not harming myself). Also since many of us have masculine and feminine traits I see noting wrong with choosing at this point to express my femininity over my masculinity since I didn't really like the masculine side anyway. I feel happier being feminine and expressing those traits rather than feeling pressure to be strong, aggressive, and independent all the time. There are many women like myself who were unhappy with their lives and decided to change their circumstances. They want better and I have no doubt that many of the women we admire are ambitious. The only reason we know about them is because they were ambitious enough to stand out above the rest!

So are you ambitious enough to change your life, not care what others say, resist the pressure to settle for less, and strive to achieve you dream life?

Related Articles:
Ambition: Why some people are most likely to succeed (very informative!)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

What do Ultra-Feminine Black Celebrities Have in Common?

I was uploading photos to Tumblr the other day and I noticed some interesting commonalities among these women who often portray EBW traits. These women tend to appear feminine and elegant in public, television and movie roles, and in their music style. They tend to dress in a feminine way, they are in shape, poised, well-mannered, sophisticated, sweet, classy, physically attractive, and many appear on the "attractive women" lists of People and men's magazines. In film and television roles they are often portrayed as wives, girlfriends, or love interests and not as racial stereotypes. They rarely appear hard, masculine, or "hood" in real life but occasionally they do for roles (e.g., Thandie Newton). 

The women may not display EBW traits all the time but I think it is a good list but of course it is not exhaustive. Furthermore, there is also a bias because these are the celebrities I know and prefer (some may disagree and feel someone belongs on the list that I don't, for instance Halle Berry or Alisha Keys). Given the fantastic nature of the internet you can watch and read content about all of these women (and many more) at any time to be inspired! I would recommend looking at their photo shoots online (e.g., at my Tumblr site) because their photos depict them as EBWs even if some of their roles do not. Focus your entertainment consumption on these women instead of the negative and stereotypical depictions (e.g., reality TV) and take control of your own happiness. EBWs exist!

EBW Role Models

  1. Josephine Baker
  2. Tyra Banks
  3. Angela Bassett
  4. Garcelle Beauvais
  5. Naomi Campbell
  6. Diahann Carroll
  7. Pat Cleveland
  8. Angel Coulby (from Merlin)
  9. Dorothy Dandridge
  10. Viola Davis
  11. Robin Givens
  12. Lena Horne
  13. Whitney Houston 
  14. Iman
  15. Janet Jackson
  16. Beverly Johnson
  17. Saana Lathan (what man wouldn't want to date a woman like this?)
  18. Nia Long
  19. Audra McDonald
  20. Tia and Tamera Mowry
  21. Thandie Newton
  22. Michelle Obama
  23. Paula Patton
  24. Phylica Rashad
  25. Diana Ross
  26. Tracee Ellis-Ross (natural hair, feminine and fashionable wardrobe, portrayed as an educated professional...EBW gold!)
  27. Sade
  28. Zoe Saldana
  29. Naomi Sims
  30. Jordan Sparks
  31. Gina Torres
  32. Gabrielle Union
  33. Lark Voorhees (as Lisa Turtle)
  34. Kerry Washington (some of the most beautiful EBW photos I have depict this woman. She knows how to wear a red lip and look super elegant in public)
  35. Rutina Wesley
  36. Kelly Williams
  37. Vanessa Williams
So there are actually enough EBW role models out there for someone who needs one! I have collected photos of these women and others on Tumblr because it helps me to see feminine fashions, makeup, and demeanor in photos of women who look like me. By seeing Black women who appear to have the image I want my goal doesn't seem impossible or strange. Of course I do not know much about how these women behave in real life and there are some instances where their behaviour is questionable (e.g., Naomi Campbell's anger problem, Whiteny Houston's problems R.I.P.). But no one is perfect and I can just focus on their positive traits. Did you notice anything about the list? Well here's what I noticed...

Biracial 9/37 (some women may be missing from this category)

  1. Angel Coulby
  2. Lena Horne
  3. Tia and Tamera Mowry
  4. Paula Patton
  5. Tracee Ellis-Ross
  6. Sade
  7. Zoe Saldana?  (Dominican and Puerto Rican)
  8. Jordan Sparks
  9. Vanessa Williams

Not Born in the United States or not considered African American 8/37

  1. Garcelle Beauvais
  2. Naomi Campbell
  3. Angel Coulby
  4. Iman
  5. Thandie Newton
  6. Sade
  7. Zoe Saldana 
  8. Gina Torres (Cuban)

History of Interracial Dating or Marriage 21/37 (names may be missing from the list)

  1. Josephine Baker*
  2. Garcelle Beauvais
  3. Naomi Campbell
  4. Diahann Carroll*
  5. Pat Cleveland
  6. Dorothy Dandridge*
  7. Robin Givens
  8. Lena Horne*
  9. Tamera Mowry
  10. Iman
  11. Janet Jackson
  12. Audra McDonald
  13. Thandie Newton
  14. Paula Patton
  15. Diana Ross
  16. Zoe Saldana
  17. Naomi Sims
  18. Lark Voorhees
  19. Kerry Washington
  20. Rutina Wesley
  21. Kelly Williams
*very interesting given the times
History of Interracial Relationship Film/Television Roles 22/37 (names may be missing. Based on my knowledge and This List)
  1. Tyra Banks
  2. Angela Bassett
  3. Naomi Campbell
  4. Angel Coulby
  5. Dorothy Dandridge
  6. Robin Givens
  7. Lena Horne
  8. Whitney Houston
  9. Beverly Johnson
  10. Saana Lathan
  11. Nia Long
  12. Audra McDonald
  13. Thandie Newton
  14. Paula Patton
  15. Diana Ross
  16. Zoe Saldana
  17. Gina Torres
  18. Gabrielle Union
  19. Lark Voorhees
  20. Kerry Washington
  21. Rutina Wesley
  22. Vanessa Williams

Not Fitting in Any Category 3/37 (to my knowledge)
  1. Viola Davis
  2. Michelle Obama
  3. Phylica Rashad

So what does this all mean? Well I guess some people would revoke "Black cards" from 34/37 of the women on my EBW list lol!

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Great Self-Improvement Debate

You may have noticed some of the negative critiques of my blog and goal to become an EBW. You may have experienced similar negative comments if you are attempting to become more feminine or undertaking any self-improvement journey. I thought it would be useful to myself and hopefully others to present a series of arguments for and against my goals. This will not only help me fully understand and accept my reasons for doing this but it will also demonstrate that I can see the points of those who are critical. The first installment will be The Great Self-Improvement Debate!

Every individual is unique and the way they view the world and others depends on so many factors including: genetics, place of origin, early childhood and lifelong experiences, parent and community socialization (e.g., teaching how to be the ideal member of a gender or "race"), culturally-transmitted views, religion, current events, media consumption, education, intelligence, personality, mental health, career choice, socio-economic status (SES), friends, and individual preferences. I'm sure there are other factors but that is a long list of things that can result in two people reading, seeing, or hearing the same thing and having completely different reactions!

I think that the ideal woman is understanding, compassionate, caring, intelligent, patient, and a good communicator and these traits require that she accepts that all of these variables may influence her reactions and those of others. This means that given an individual's variables (e.g., place of origin, SES, parent socialization etc.) it is understandable that the person thinks the way they do. It is therefore unwise (and just mean) to label someone as stupid, wrong, part of the problem, a traitor, lost, confused, inferior and other ad hominem attacks just because they think a certain way. Given their circumstances their thinking makes sense and will appear "correct" to most people with the same circumstances!

Attacking a person's character based on their opinions or preferences is not only illogical but it makes you an unpleasant person to be around! Others will limit their communication with you if you have a bad habit of calling them names, putting them down, and using ad hominem attacks when they state their views and preferences. A more ladylike thing to do is listen, state your agreement or disagreement based on the topic of discussion, keep your composure, and refrain from insulting the person's character. You may agree or disagree with the person at the moment, but changes in your circumstances (e.g., learning a great deal, living in another country) may result in you flip-flopping and agreeing with something you were once vehemently against! That is fine because it makes no sense to continue believing the same thing after learning new information that changes the situation.

I see most things as being shades of grey not either black or white and most things are neither entirely right or absolutely wrong. Many people are VERY uncomfortable with this uncertainty and are only able to use dichotomous thinking. What's perfect in some situations is inappropriate in others, what you love today you may hate tomorrow, the best solution may be the hardest, the worst solution may be the most acceptable to others and so on. So I think that for myself and others who see the value of becoming an EBW it is important to consider that your opinions and preferences may appear logical and healthy to some but irrational and harmful to others. Therefore don't become weighed down by that possibility and instead focus on whether your opinions and preferences are beneficial to you and will make your life better. You will never please everyone with your opinions and preferences so don't even try but at least you can be pleased with yourself.

With that said I will present arguments for and against trying to improve oneself and a solution that may satisfy anyone who is for or against self-improvement. Certain important assumptions are made within the arguments (boldfaced) but the assumptions are not always true, there possible exceptions, and they are debatable themselves.

Pro: Why Attempting Self-Improvement is a Positive Thing
  1. Not seeking to improve oneself is settling for being mediocre. Many people are unhappy being mediocre and feel happier after they have improved. Improvement increases happiness.
  2. Those who constantly improve themselves by learning more, seeking higher education, networking with new people, looking for ways to earn more money, seeking promotions and career advancement, learning to cope better with their's problems and shortcomings, learning how to improve their's thinking, or learning how to improve their image tend to reap the best rewards in life
  3. If you want a good life you have to work for it. Resources are limited and there is competition (e.g., scholarships, good jobs, loans, desirable partners) so you have to be better than others in order to reap the best rewards. 
  4. Self-improvement involves deep introspection about one's personal goals, where one can improve, and learning many possible methods to improve and achieve those goals. High achievers, successful people, motivated people, and those who wish to improve their circumstances all go through these processes on a regular basis in order to maintain their position at the top or achieve a higher status. If one wants to be a high achiever or successful they should emulate people who have achieved that status.
  5. Low achievers, unsuccessful people, unmotivated people and those without means rarely go through the self-improvement process, do not understand it's value, may expect success and goals to be achieved without effort, expect other people to provide what they need, or believe that they have no power to improve their status. If you reject self-improvement you may stay or become a low achiever or unsuccessful person
  6. Individuals are opposed to the self-improvement goals of others due to personal reasons such as: beliefs the goals are unattainable; concern for others wasting their time or that the improvement will not bring happiness; fear that achieving the goal may harm the individual, the observer, or others; fears of feeling insecure or left behind if others improve; and fear that one will lose status or certain benefits if others improve. (This is an ad hominem attack so although I would not use this in a debate, one should be wary that personal reasons may be behind the opposition).
Con: Why Attempting Self-Improvement is a Negative Thing
  1. There is no need to try to improve yourself because you are your best self right now and perfect the way you are. Someone will accept you as you are so there is no need to try to change in order to fit in, make friends, or find a partner. Trying to improve or change means you think there is something wrong with you and you are not good enough. No one is better than anyone else. You may admire someone else but that individual may be very unhappy with themselves and wish to be more like you (i.e., the grass is always greener on the other side).  
  2. Once you achieve one goal you will move on to another and never stop and just enjoy yourself and your life as it is. Especially if the improvement is something superficial (e.g., appearance, speech) then you will waste time that you could be spending doing something else that is more important. Desire is the source of unhappiness. You may spend a lot of time and energy trying to improve but fail anyways because societal forces and luck determine success more than individual effort.
  3. Improving may bring on new problems (e.g., financial drain, lack of free time, negative attention) that you didn't have to deal with before. You may regret the changes you made but won't be able to go back to where you were before. 
  4. People don't really change. You are who who always will be. So trying to improve means you are trying to be someone you are not and that is being fake. Fake people are unpleasant to be around and you won't feel good about yourself. People won't really be liking you for you so your relationships will be based on a lie.
  5. The malicious influence of society makes you feel like you should change or you are not good enough. Society makes you want to conform to the majority and what those in power want, not out of concern for you, but so that the status quo remains, they maintain their power, and you spend money. It is a form of social control that is harmful to the individual. So if you try to change yourself then you are just caving in to society's pressure and allowing yourself to be unfairly manipulated and distracted from important things.
  6. People should try to be satisfied with themselves and their lives as they are now. Happiness is in the eye of the beholder and it's your thoughts that make you unhappy not your current situation. If you could learn to think more positively about your past, present, and future then you could be happier without needing to change yourself (note that learning implies change lol). 
  7. People try to improve because they have personal issues. They are unsatisfied with themselves, have self-hate and low self-esteem, think other people are better, or they are confused about who they are. They are actually feeling sad so they set self-improvement goals in the hopes of becoming happier. People with high self-esteem accept themselves and don't feel the need to change. (These are ad hominem attacks that should not be used in debates but for some people they may be true but not for others). 
My solution to this debate is a blend of considerations based on all of these arguments and I consider both sides. However, I am more partial to the Pro side probably due to personal reasons. For instance, the Pro side fits with my educational teachings, I believe more that effort and hard work can achieve things despite luck or privilege, I believe that I have power and control over my life, I have achieved a lot so I expect that I can achieve more and be successful, the people I know have improved their lives, I don't feel pressure offline in Canada not to improve, and I don't see much harm in my goals. I believe people are constantly changing, I think that people may be sure of their preferences and opinions but never fully understand why they developed them (i.e., one never really knows oneself), and we are always conforming to something, even the attitude that one should never conform. My solution or mental resolution is the following:

Accept yourself as you are now, forgive your shortcomings, and realize that there are great things about you just the way you are. Also accept that you have personal power to improve your life and there is nothing wrong with doing so. Every experience changes parts of us while others stay the same. Success may be due to luck or hard work. You may feel societal pressure to do some things, but not others, and actually not mind conforming and that is okay. Everything you do does not have to be a form of protest and sometimes what the masses do and like can be quite satisfying and beneficial (otherwise no one would accept it). The old you and the new you may be different but you can accept them both as parts of who you are. Your identity does not change so no matter what, YOU will always be YOU, so there is no need to resist trying new things or doing things differently. What you like, how you look, what you think, and how you behave may constantly change but YOU will always be YOU. No one is entirely good or bad, self-loving or self-hating, successful or unsuccessful so whatever you do, own it, accept it, and try to find happiness however you can :)

Related Articles:
What is self-help/self-improvement and it's history
Forget positive thinking, try positive action (great)
It's never too late to change your life (so appropriate)
7 Habits of unhappy people (sound familiar?)
7 Habits of highly ineffective people
How to not care too much about what other people think about you
Pick The Brain self-improvement site
Self Help Zone
Just found this post that I think is appropriate called Black Girls Do Everything. I have to post this quote from my_reply's comment:
It is definitely a class thing because middle class black people do many of the same things white people do. Upper income black people do many of the things upper income white people do. The bad thing is that since the black underclass is glorified in hip hop culture, many people see no reason to move up the social ladder. There are middle class and upper income black people emulating the black underclass. They think that they have to do so to act black. This is bad because it encourages middle class black people that we need so much to become more insular. The black underclass should be emulating the black middle class. White people make fun of low class white people and celebrate middle class white people. Black people make fun of middle class black people who don’t speak Ebonics and are productive members of society while celebrating the black underclass.