Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Save the Cheerleader, Save the World!

Hayden Panettiere and Anne Hathaway? Really? I think that is so funny, but the interesting thing is that Hayden has always vaguely reminded me of my sister's daughter.

I joked with DSTDiva about being asian, but look at me!

I picked a straight hair picture to match, just because most of my SL pics are in profile and/or have hair in my face obscuring my features.

Apparently I look most like Gabrielle Union...Which is incredibly flattering! (Although I'm reluctant to believe it.)

...and Dave Chappelle!...Which I think is absolutely hilarious, but I actually can see the resemblance, although I never would have come up with it on my own.

Who thinks I look more like Dave than anyone else up there? (I do!) Too funny!

About 10 years ago when she was in MIB II I had the biggest girl crush on Rosario Dawson! I was mesmerized every time she came on screen. I was just like: wow! She is SO beautiful. (I was about to question my sexuality.) Somewhere along the way I figured out that I am so fascinated with her because she looks a lot like my mother and a few of my aunts, and we are often attracted to people who look like family. So I think it is very interesting that she is in my Celebrity Look-a-likes!

Below is the same assortment of celebrities. I liked this layout better, but you can't see the photos of Rosario and Hayden very well and the site doesn't give the option to manipulate the order, apparently it sorts them by percentage match.

Someday I may go back and try it with a different picture and see if I get different results. It's a fun way to waste 15 minutes on the 'net, not unlike YouTube.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Just So You Know...

I'll be making some changes to the layout and content of my blog over the next couple of weeks. I am very serious about my weight loss efforts and I intend to start a separate blog to chronicle that project. I'm not quite sure if it will take.

I have a small enough following for my Sisterlocks blog, and I'm uncertain whether I will have the focus and discipline to maintain two blogs. I'm pretty sure there will be a fair amount of overlap.

I haven't yet decided whether I will post any new content on the new blog or whether I will just use it as a place to organize all of my weight-loss posts, so that they are not scattered among my hair posts. If someone wants to read them all together they will be in a central location.

Lefou I'm Afraid I've Been Thinking...

Beauty and the Beast is one of my all-time favorite movies.

I know! I'm a grown woman, but I wasn't when it played in the theaters. I watched it countless times on video when I was a child, wore out the soundtrack CD, and saw the Broadway show as an adult with two of my friends who are also die-hard fans. We knew every line of dialogue and sang along with every verse of every song.

But I said all that to say...

...that my friends and I are always participating in some crazy scheme (for entertainment purposes only). I thought I would end up blogging more about some of our silliness, but alas, no. I have either been working to finance our follies or actually out enacting them.

And one of our catch phrases for when we come up with something interesting is: Lefou, I'm afraid I've been thinking...

If any of you are Beauty-and-the-Beast-o-philes, you know that the next line of the song is, "a dangerous pastime/I know..."

This isn't actually a silly one, but most recently my best friend and I have hatched a plan to spend 2 weeks in London and Ireland over the Christmas holidays. Since I work in education and our schedule follows the academic calendar and she works for herself, we should have a good two and a half weeks available for travel. What gives it misadventure potential is the fact that we have no itinerary and no plans, and truthfully, not very much money.

At this point we have only decided that we will buy tickets and go! It should be an adventure; I'll post about it more as our plan comes together, but I am very excited at the prospect of more international travel. You know I have been slightly disappointed about not making it to Paris earlier in the summer. This trip could partially make up for that missed opportunity.

"I want adventure in the great wide somewhere. I want it more than I can tell."

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sisterlocks Freedom!

Don't you LOVE not being afraid of water and steam???

When I was pressing my hair, I wouldn't stand too close to the pot when I was steaming vegetables or pasta because my hair is so fine all it needed to do was catch a wisp of moisture and it would start to curl!

Partially straight hair meeting partially curly hair - never a good look, like socks and sandals...

Yesterday I got caught in a sudden downpour. I didn't want my clothes wet, but I didn't worry one bit about my hair. I got a little wet, but my clothes dried off and my hair was just as cute as when I left home!

Can't beat the SL freedom!

I actually WET my hair most days and sometimes I just let the steam from the shower soak into them so they get all soft and fluffy. Water is now my friend!

Aren't SLs THE BEST?!

Friday, August 24, 2007

What Did You Do to Your Hair??? Part 2

As so often happens, a long-winded comment positively took on a life of it's own. This is the promised follow-up to my post, What did you do to your hair???

In response to my post about what men think, Goodnapps said that it is not only our men who have to get used to our new hair choices, but also the rest of our friends and family and sometimes even ourselves. That is absolutely true for a lot of people, but not for me.

I have never been able to relax my hair without incident (burns, breakage, etc.), so I have alternated between being natural and relaxed literally all of my life. I did keep going back to the chemicals periodically - thinking like so many of us, "Maybe this time with this new product (or method or stylist) it will be different. (And, of course, it never was.)

I never have really told my complete hair story. I have only alluded to it here and there, so most of you wouldn't know that.

I never had that period of adjustment among my friends and family because I was natural most of the time. Even if I was pressing and curling and it appeared to be relaxed, it usually wasn't.

So, it's always been, "Oh, you're wearing it straight again." or "Oh, you're wearing it natural."

And I've always worn a variety of lengths. So it was, "Oh, you've cut it all off again." And, "Oh, you're growing it out..."

So the only time it has ever been an issue is when I was in a relationship and I started out with one look and switched in the middle.

Thankfully, I come from a family that is supremely supportive of natural hair choices. I am not now nor have I ever been the only one to wear my hair short or natural, so I didn't ever have to explain myself with other styles.

I am the first and only one in my immediate family to start locks of any kind. My brother hasn't said anything and he probably won't. I'm pretty sure he doesn't like them as well as other styles I've worn, but he likes longer hair, so I think he'll appreciate them more once they reach a certain length.

My father has been AWESOME. He has never had a negative comment about ANY STYLE I HAVE EVER WORN IN MY ENTIRE LIFE!

There are pictures I look back at and think: What???

But he never had anything bad to say.

It was always understood in my house that the woman is the one who has to style her hair and get out the door in the morning, and sleep on rollers or not, sit in the salon or not, so it is up to her to do what she wants.

I grew up with a sense that choice was not only a matter of what was perceived to be attractive by others, but knowing that it also involved maintenance and convenience and those are important factors, as was being proud of the way God made us and not feeling that we had to alter ourselves in any way to fit in to anyone else's standard of beauty.

My Dad was always like: Whatever. You and your mother are beautiful. Do what makes you happy.

The more I read about others who don't/didn't have that and the more men I have met who don't have that enlightened attitude, the more grateful I am to my father; the more I appreciate him and the way I was raised.

That's why I have had such a hard time dealing with men who don't appreciate natural styles on me and other women, and why I especially appreciated Kaya giving me another way to look at it.

Diva, I'm single now and I was single when I started my locks. I'd toyed with the idea of locking my hair on and off for almost 10 years! But always seemed SO PERMANENT. I liked switching back and forth.

On how my new look would be perceived by potential suitors: When making the decision to lock I have to say I gave it some thought for more than a hot minute.

My fiance loved locks. He liked my straight hair too, but every time I twisted it he would say, 'just don't take them out; let them lock.'

I was not familiar with SLs at the time, and I knew organic locks were not what I wanted and I knew that if I just left my twists in and let them do what came naturally, I would not have a look that pleased me. But it was nice to know that I was in a long-term relationship with a man who not only accepted locks and could get used to them if he had to, but who admired them and encouraged me to start them. I knew that whenever I was ready, he would be 100% supportive.

There was so much security in that knowledge, but I decided to start my locks several months after our relationship ended and I experienced a lot of self-doubt and uncertainty about how locks might hinder my attempts to find a new love.

I said I was single when I started my locks, which isn't entirely accurate.

I was kinda/sorta in a quasi/semi/almost relationship at the time, but it wasn't serious enough that his opinion could have swayed me. (Once I made my decision, my decision was made.) I discussed my decision with him, so he wouldn't be surprised, and because I wanted to know his thoughts, but I was going to do it! He was uncertain about how they would look, but I think he was really just mirroring my own insecurities. (Incidentally, he loved them!)

I just told him about the process, I didn't even show him pictures because I didn't know what they would look like.

I knew I looked at other women's and said: I hope mine look like hers, and it would have been disappointing if they looked totally different.

I didn't want him seeing someone else's and having the same reaction.

I didn't want him to have anything to compare it to. I just wanted him to see mine and love them.

It worked. He did.

But our very fledgling relationship was so 'not set' and barely established, I was pretty sure that it wouldn't stick. So I was pretty certain I would be truly and completely single fairly soon after my SL installation, and I would be lying if I said I didn't think about it long and hard. That is: what will men think?

Will I get less attention? Will I not attract the same type of man that I used to? What will I do if I meet someone who wants me to take them out? (OK, that was an easy one, but I thought about how that WOULD change my perception of him.)

What if an otherwise good man who would otherwise be attracted to me (with straight hair or curly hair) decided not to approach me because I had locks?

As much as I have loved my natural hair for all of these years, there was a lot of comfort in being able to wear it loose and straight or loose and curly.

It was kind of a safety clause.

I find my own attitude strange as I look back on it now. Even though I didn't want to be with anyone who didn't like me with natural hair, I guess I kind of liked having the ability to 'bait and switch.'

**My goodness!!! That sounds so devious and underhanded. I never thought of it that way at the time. **

God! That sounds awful!!

I never wore straight hair specifically to be more appealing to men. I wore straight hair because I wanted to at the time. It's another look I like. But it's true that even men who thought they wouldn't like my natural hair, and said they wouldn't have approached me with twists or a 'fro, actually did like it once I changed it back.

And all complaints always centered around length. It was never the actual style they didn't like, but y'all know...natural hair shrinks. I think it's safe to say that it is a fact that most men like longer hair, not even most AA men. MOST men.

In any case, in spite of all of my former doubts, fears, and misgivings of any sort, I have to say that I am completely happy with my decision to lock. Sisterlocks are one of the best investments I have ever made and one of the best gifts I have ever given myself.

I have absolutely no regrets!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Still in love...

As much as I am hating my body at the moment, I am still loving my locks! One week away from my five month anniversary!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I'm Fat, So What?

This post is not about loving myself and my body at whatever size and shape it happens to be at the moment.

The rest of that statement is: so what am I going to do about it?

I'll tell you what.

I've decided to train for a marathon (okay, half-marathon, but that is a huge commitment for me and my decidedly non-athletic self.)

I am not going to put the numbers out there because I am petite, so what is very over-weight for me is quite a normal range for taller people. You would say: fat? That's not really fat!

But I assure you, I am 40 lbs. overweight.

Until 2 years ago, I could wear all of the same clothes I wore in middle school. (Not that I did, of course.) I was the same height and the same weight within 7 - 10 lbs. between the ages of 13 and 27, and I was never skinny. In fact, I was always curvy and soft, not quite thick and voluptuous, but definitely not a stick figure.

My point is, that I don't have an unreasonable ideal weight in mind dictated to me by the media and the fashion industry that will always be out of reach and unattainable. My idea of what I should weigh and how I should look in my clothes comes from what I have always weighed in my adult life and how I have always looked in my clothes.

I own a scale, but I always went by how my clothes fit me. If things looked or felt a little snug, I would step on the scale and see that I had gained 5 lbs or so, and cut back on something, eat salads for a few days and return to my normal weight.

I was hit or miss with exercise. I liked to because I felt better overall, but I never was in a routine of doing it for weight-loss or weight control. I like pilates and yoga because I used to dance and the moves keep me flexible, they are also great for relaxation and de-stressing and easing muscle tension after a hard day.

I've always known about the benefits of training with light weights, but I got more serious about it around the age of 25 , because, like I said, I have always been soft and once I started on the downhill slope towards thirty, I thought it would be a good idea to get a head start on making sure the soft parts didn't start to sag.

When I was little my mother was hardcore about the health food. I mean no cow's milk, no sugar (not even hard candy and definitely no candy bars). She baked her own bread ( from wheat flour not white, of course) and made her own yogurt. I ate carob and not chocolate...I could go on...

But my point is, that while I have not always eaten health food every day of my adult life, making healthy choices was enough a part of me that I didn't crave or rely on fast food, or junk food. I don't sit in front of the tv eating chips and ice cream. (Ahem, didn't used to...)

Several things changed exactly 2 years ago, and I will not go into detail in this post, but in May of '05 I gained 10 lbs., and was unable to shake them. I was terribly upset. Ten became 15 and 15 became 20. Fortunately, I gain weight pretty evenly, so while some of my clothes didn't fit like I wanted, most things did.

Basically, I could wear everything but my slinkiest dresses and my skinniest jeans.

Twenty-five lbs. Oh no! Now my cute little blouses won't button without puckering! And my cute little tanks are beginning to ride up at the back and show cleavage at the front. Not the look I'm going for! Gasp! My strapless sundresses won't zip. Anything with a zipper won't zip!

I've got to join a gym.

I do, for the classes, and the moral support even though I own a treadmill, an elliptical, and an adequate collection of free weights.

I lose 7 lbs and gain 10 and lose 5 and gain 3 and lose 8....

You get the picture, so for months I'm hovering around 25 - 30 lbs overweight and I'm not making progress. I know why. It isn't a mystery, but it is still very frustrating.

Then a few months ago, the bottom really fell out for me (break-up, unemployment, and family illness combined). And I just couldn't find it within myself to take care of myself by eating healthy and working out. It was all I could do to make it through the day and fall into bed exhausted at the end of it...

So...then came the extra 10 lbs.

I am now officially very overweight.

It isn't that pesky 10 lbs I wish would go away so that I can wear my favorite party dress. It is blouses that won't button at all anymore and pullover shirts that get stuck at my shoulders and skirts that threaten to rip at the seams. And flabby arms and visible cellulite on my thighs - yuck!

This is the first summer I have not worn shorts at all. Thank goodness for capris - otherwise I would have been trapped wearing long pants all season.

I can't wear 85% of the clothes in my closet. Not just because I am self-conscious about my body and how I look in them, but because the majority actually don't fit. I cannot get into them.

I am so fed up.

A week ago, I was on msn.com and I saw an article entitled 3 Ways to Walk it Off from Prevention magazine. It's a really good article because it gives an actual step by step breakdown of how many minutes to walk at varying speeds to get results. One workout is only 20 minutes, and the other two are 45 and 60.

I won't go into it here, but part of my initial weight gain was due to health problems that sapped my energy. I am recovering, but I can't push myself like I could have when I was, say 20 and fit. I can't just hop on my elliptical machine and go for an hour, or get on my treadmill and run like I'd like to.

But I have to do something because I don't feel comfortable in my own skin. I feel like I'm living in a fat suit. I have fat rolls. Belly rolls, back rolls, jiggly arms - ew! My waist has become absolutely non-existent and my breasts are out of control. I feel like they belong to someone else and they are constantly in my way! It is awful. I am so unhappy and choosing what to wear everyday is such a chore.

So, how did I go from no exercise to deciding to participate in a marathon?

Well, it's been a tickle in the back of my brain for years, but I never took the time to really plan for one. I can't run. I have terrible form. I don't own a good sports bra or running shoes. I will hear about a charity event about 3 -4 weeks before it starts and think: hey! That would have been a good cause to support, but there's no way I could be ready for it. I'm so out of shape, I'd cramp up or pass out on the course and require assistance. No thanks! That's not helping anyone!

There was a link to this page in the article I read. It has information about walker-friendly marathons and more step-by-step advice about how to train for entry in a marathon. I read it and thought: this I can do!

I used the feature: My Walking Calendar to create a 12 week program for myself. If I stick with it, I should be ready to walk 13.1 miles without feeling like I will fall out and die.

I start tomorrow. Now that I have written about it, I have to follow through!

I will keep you posted on my success.

What I Am Supposed to Look Like

This photo was taken almost three years ago in November of '04. I can't even think of putting that dress on now, but it is my firm determination to be able to wear it comfortably (and not just squeeze into it) by the end of this year.

Monday, August 13, 2007

I like your hair...

In a similar vein, n'Drea, Meikmeika and I recently observed that we get more unqualified compliments from men than women. (See this post by n'Drea and comments.)

I find that men will approach me, tell me they like my hair and go on their merry way. Women will often stare from a distance and never attempt contact, not even if I look at them and smile.

What is with that?

Do you even have a theory?

I thought it was just me or maybe just my area, but apparently not. My consultant and I were talking about it at my last retite. Women will stare at our hair for an AWKWARDLY long period of time and NEVER say A WORD!

IMO that is more rude than most comments or questions they could come up with.

Even when I'm not sure what to say about someone's hair, but I'm curious, I know I can always say: I like your hair who does it?

That's totally non-offensive and usually works as a pretty good conversation-starter/ice-breaker. Even if I wouldn't wear the style myself and only have curiosity, it invites them to talk about it. Or they can politely decline.

How hard is that?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

What Did You Do to Your Hair???

Or, How Our Men Feel About Our Decision to Lock...

Some of us make the decision to lock or go natural or do the big chop after much deliberation, and some of us do it rather spontaneously, and dare I say, impulsively. Some of us do a lot of research and some of us go in blind. Some of us make the decision while single and have no mate whose opinions matter. Some of us consult our man and ask his opinion. Others of us just do it and damn the consequences.

In reading blogs I have found that husbands and SOs have various reactions to our choices to go natural. Some are supportive. Some are curious. Some are angry. Some are simply bewildered, blindsided, and confused.

I really appreciated the post, "Good Men Like Fros", by Kaya of Naturally You! Magazine.

She provides excellent points and examples that help us to appreciate how our men must feel when we come home with a drastically different 'do! I know if any man of mine came home looking like Frankie Lymon, Al Sharpton or Snoop Dogg with artificially straight hair, I would be undone! I might not be able to keep him! I might refuse to be seen with him.

She acknowledges that natural hair v. altered hair is not the same and men's hairstyle choices and expectations are generally not the same as women's, but what she focuses on is perception and the fact that you get used to the person you love having a certain look. You were attracted to them, in part, because of that look, so if that look changes suddenly and drastically, it can be difficult to accept it and make the adjustment.

I think that is an important acknowledgement, and her analogies helped me to see their point of view.

Well said, Kaya!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

On Lock Ignorance

n'Drea recently posted about someone who asked when she was going to take her locks out. Apparently the enquirer didn't realize that they were locks.

We all seem to get that question at some time or other, as well as questions about how long we are going to grow them and why would we 'do that' to our hair? If we are perceived to have 'good hair' there is even more dismay about the decision to lock.

n'Drea wondered if she would get the same reactions if she had traditional locks.

So here are my questions to those of you who have or did have traditionals: do you get the same questions as those of us with Sisterlocks? Do you encounter the same level of ignorance about the locking process and your decision to lock? Do people approach you and touch your hair without asking? Do people ask if it is all your hair?

It seems to me that there must be some overlap, for lack of a better term. I imagine people must ask some of the same questions and have some of the same reactions, but also there must be different ones.

In my opinion, Sisterlocks look very different from traditionals in the beginning, which seems to cause greater confusion. I think when locks are started with twists or coils or organically, it is more obvious to everyone that you are starting locks.

Sisterlocks are so small, and typically produce those loose curly crinklies...and there are the parts... Plus they can be started with relaxed ends. On many people they do look like something else entirely. It seems that this makes people more likely to ask questions like: 'what are you doing with your hair?' and 'how long are you going to keep those in?'

(I especially like the use of the word 'those' as if I have somehow added something that didn't belong.)

In a way I feel like traditionals are more 'established' and recognizable, that people feel more like they understand them, even if the information and conceptions they have are inaccurate; therefore they are less likely to approach individuals with traditionals with questions about their hair. Is this an incorrect assumption?

I am curious about this. I welcome any comments and feedback.

Oh, and I want to clarify that I do not mean ignorance only with its negative connotations, but also in the sense of simply 'not knowing'. A lot of the questions I get asked are obviously based in innocent curiosity, but people don't always stop to think about how they might sound.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

On Sisterlocks Inspiration

I always hesitate to use the adjectives ‘well-spoken’ and ‘articulate’ as compliments – ‘cuz y’all know that some of them have ruined those two words for some of us. Personally, I feel like I can always tell contextually whether it is a genuine nod of recognition and praise vs. a backhanded compliment or register of surprise – like I am one of the few exceptions that proves the rule. But I know that there are some people who always bristle a little, maybe even subconsciously, when they hear one of the other of those words.

However, I said all that to say that I have been so impressed with the writing on the blogs I’ve been following. It is very nice to feel connected to and have the opportunity to communicate with so many AA women who are professional and well-educated and creative (and articulate and well-spoken).

It doesn’t surprise me to know that you all exist – it is not like the rare sighting of a legendary mythological creature. “Loch Ness Monster caught on tape!”

… Although I did see a “Locmess” once. (Nothin’ but love for you, girl, because you keep it SO real.)

I don’t consider it a remarkable novelty or exceptional phenomenon to encounter such amazing women – It’s just that I have a very close-knit circle of friends that I have other things in common with (besides my hair). And we call each other often and vacation together and go to parties...

Since I have a fairly active social life, I’ve never spent very much time (read: any) online in chat rooms. And I never read a single blog before January of this year.

My attitude about blogging was always: who cares?

Not in a snotty, self-absorbed way. I am a writer at heart. I journal almost daily, and I love to read memoirs, auto-biographies, and other personal accounts.

I have enough opinions and funny experiences that I’ve often thought I could write a book or even sustain a literary column, but I always thought: who would care to read the minutiae of my life?

I email my friends and write letters to them, but why would people I’ve never met care to read about my daily affairs and all my little ups-and-downs, my trials and triumphs?

I always figured they wouldn’t.

I never had the desire to go online searching for blogs, even on topics or among groups of people that interested me…until I discovered SL blogs, and then I was immediately hooked! At first, I really was just looking for pictures. But then I actually started to read, because I was looking for more information about locks.

However, as I read about the individual lock journeys, I began to care about your lives because you all share so many stories about what is happening to you day by day: births and deaths, weddings and engagements, divorces and separations, illnesses and cures, career milestones and life lessons.

…And it is very fascinating to me to see how open and expressive you all are.

The online sisterlock community has truly been an inspiration to me.

Thank you all!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

On Sisterlocks Vanity

A while back Woman In Process posted about how locks make you egotistical. And it is so true!

I feel like I must spend 10 - 30 minutes a day staring at my own locks in the mirror...well, not every day, but when I start I just can't stop. I get kind of mesmerized with them, making note of changes and admiring the texture.

They are changing yet again. I'm noticing that the pattern is becoming less defined in some of my locks, and while they are not swelling or getting puffy, they are thickening and gaining density. I really like them exactly the size they are now, so I hope they don't get very much larger in diameter, only heavier and denser, so I have less fluffiness and flyaways. A few of my ends have sealed.

I have the hardest time getting good detail shots and closeups, so I don't have any pics of the changes. I haven't really had time to experiment with my camera and set up the shots the way I want.

I notice how many Sisterlockers use words like love affair, lovely, and adoration to describe their locks and how they feel about them. Many of their user names and blog titles reflect this relationship they have with their hair!

It's amazing isn't it?

I look in the mirror so many times and think: Wow! I really love my hair! It's so beautiful! It feels so good! This is so wonderful!

I always think and speak about it in gushing, glowing terms and superlatives. I have to contain myself when speaking to people without locks who have only a casual curiosity lest they think I am just so full of myself and completely narcissistic, but I know you all in the blogosphere know what I'm talking about, right?

Does the high accompanying this infatuation ever wear off? I suppose the love deepens and grows, eh?