Category Archives: Random

Fen-tastic

Right, so cheesy pun there. Rihanna has never been on my radar much; her music wasn’t particularly to my tastes, though I had nothing against it, and I thought she was beautiful and clearly talented but was not a fan girl.

Something that I have noticed recently, however, and perhaps I would have noticed this earlier if I had actually been a fan, is how independent she is. She’s a savvy businesswoman – her makeup line Fenty has changed the game by simply acknowledging that women of every shade should have makeup that suits their skin. Other brands have widened their ranges over the years, but Fenty set out to cater for every shade from albino to the darkest black from the outset. No tiptoeing around the edges, they just dived right in and what I find striking is that every woman has at least a couple of shades that might suit her. Everyone.

But what really impressed me recently was her body positivity, revealed in an interview for Cut Magazine in which she was asked about her approach to clothing:

“Well, I actually have had the pleasure of a fluctuating body type, where one day I can literally fit into something that is bodycon, and then the next day — the next week — I need something oversized; I need a little crop here and a high-waist there to hide that part, you know?

I really pay attention every day when I go into the closet about what’s working for my body that morning. I feel like that’s how everyone should go after fashion, because it’s an individual thing. And then, if you take it further, it’s like: What week are you having? You having a skinny week? You having a fat week? Are we doing arms this week? We doing legs this week? We doing oversized?

I love to play with silhouettes as well, but I think it’s important to make sure that you wear the thing that works for your body the best, and that’s flattering.” – Rihanna

There’s something beautiful and so very rare about a woman who is at peace with her body and makes the clothes fit her frame, rather than the other way around. I love that Rihanna is a positive role model and yes, she has stylists and custom made clothes, but while her wardrobe is out of reach, her attitude is something we can all adopt.

I remember falling in love with my thighs a few years ago. Not because they’re lovely  – far from it. But because they’re mine. They’re huge and strong and curvy and have cellulite but they are mine.

Since I was a teen I have hated my legs, especially my knees. But as I got older and my body changed, I found that my thighs bothered me the most. I steered well clear of tight jeans and skirts and sought to cover up my lower half whenever possible.

And then one day, at the grand old age of 30, I just stopped*. I looked in the mirror and liked what I saw, because it was very me. Men may hate or love them, and thick thighs are currently in vogue thanks to Nicki Minaj, but I try to make how I feel about my body my plumb line for self-confidence. It doesn’t always work, but like Rihanna, I find what makes me feel cute (nice underwear especially) and rock it. I’ve found the looks that flatter my shape and feel good – they aren’t always in fashion, but I’m true to my style.

 

*being in my thirties is amazing. I think I’ll have to write about it sometime.

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Skull vibrations, baby

A moment of nerdery that is also close to home: scientists have a theory about why we don’t recognise or like hearing our recorded voices played back.

The answer is interesting (and my title is a spoiler alert) but it’s also something I struggle with. I find it so hard to listen back to my speeches or interviews, but I know it’s one of the best ways to improve and to learn what you do well too.

So, grit your teeth, listen back to yourself and learn to be a better public speaker. And if it sounds like a hot mess, it’s probably all in your head.

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Here My Dear

2017 is many things so far, but for me personally, it’s the year (ok, I started this towards the end of last year) that I take care of myself.

Not in a New-Years-Resolution-Fitness-Craze sort of way; more of a commitment.

Committing to my health spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally.

Committing to living the life I have, not looking backwards and being trapped in nostalgia or straining forwards waiting for it to “begin”.

Committing to the people in my life by showing up and allowing myself to be seen; and taking the time to see, listen and love my family, friends and colleagues.

Commit to doing all the things that I’ve been putting off out of fear or waiting to have someone to do them with.

Aside from all of that, I’ve been watching, listening to and reading some new stuff – new to me, so don’t stone me for being late to many proverbial parties.

Baggage Reclaim: A site that’s about all things relationships. Not just romantic relationships, I hasten to add. Natalie Lue writes with wit, kindness, humour and directness about self-esteem, love and life. It’s therapeutic.

Very Smart Brothas: Sharp commentary that makes me laugh darkly at least once a day because: truth. eg Dear White People Who Write Things: People Who Voted for a Blatant Racist are Fine With Racism (It’s Not That Hard).

Tiny Letters: Yes, I know everyone has been all about this for maybe two years but it’s a great email newsletter from all your faves. Bim Adewumni, whose own one (entitled …fuck is this? ) is fantastic and here she’s compiled a handy list of some other good ones. 2017 may be the year I start my own.

This Is Us: Listen. I am not a sappy person. (start of this post notwithstanding). I like to think of myself as a soft boiled egg: yes, a little gooey on the inside but there’s a robust buffer and a resilient shell to crack through first. I like my TV sharp and either funny and dark (Crazyhead), action-packed and dark (Banshee) or somewhat creepy and dark (Penny Dreadful). Throw in the odd trashy drama (Nashville – but I blame my love of country music for this) and I’m set. What I do not do is sweet. This is Us is sweet and funny and has me all up in my feelings every damn episode. It’s about a family and all the frustrating/beautiful/slightly bonkers things that families do. It’s also a wider commentary on society, race… there’s a lot, okay. And it undoes me every time.

Podcasts: I’ve added Melanin Millenials to my listening mix. Right now, my favourites are the Baggage Reclaim podcast (linked to the aforementioned blog), NPR’s Code Switch podcast (filling that chasm left when Melissa Harris Perry departed our screens) and Death, Sex and Money (Presenter Anna Sale has a gloriously intimate interviewing style that draws the best out of her subjects and one of the loveliest presenting voices to boot).

Music: Lee Moses is on repeat for me right now. His track Bad Girl is raw soul.

 

 

 

 

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Looking Back, Moving Forward

I’m on a break, winding up the year and preparing for the next. This Kermit meme just slayed me:

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Voice-Overs

Watching Luke Cage earlier I realised with pleasure that Sonja Sohn was in the show. I know her on sight obviously as a huge fan of hers from the Wire, but her voice is one of my absolute favourites. That got me thinking about other actors whose voices (and work) I admire:

  • Gina Torres
  • Angela Bassett
  • Mahershala Ali (also from Luke Cage and House of Cards)
  • Reg E Cathey (Also from House of Cards)

These are just a few and I’m steering clear of the obvious (James Earl Jones et al) but I have to say, there’s something about a sonorous, mellifluous, voice. I think deeper voices tend to resonate more with me, especially on women.

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Conversations About My Boiler

Part One: In Which My Temperamental Boiler Gives Up The Proverbial Ghost.

Scene: My kitchen. The repairman and I have exchanged pleasantries (“Where is your husband? Why aren’t you married?”)

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Black Twitter

Twitter can be frustrating much of the time, but there are corners of it that give me joy, primarily for their humour. Muslim Twitter and Black Twitter in particular.

Buzzfeed (who else?) rounded up some tweets that are all too real for Black girls.

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A city of contrasts

In the space of two days, I was reminded of how London is a city of contrasts.

At the weekend, I went to a house party to celebrate the christening of a little girl with mixed Trinidadian and Indian heritage. Her dad’s best friends (Filipino, Jamaican and Indian) were there, as were extended family from Guyana, Ireland, Chester and India. It was a Catholic christening although her mother’s faith is Hindu.

It was a beautiful melting pot that showed London, and Britain at their best. I stood there and thought, politicians don’t know anything. All up and down the country, people are just getting on with life and loving. Of course, there are challenges, but the lived experience of the 21st century is much more complex, surprising and lovely than the newspapers would suggest.

On Tuesday, a friend of mine was subject to a verbal xenophobic attack. A tall, blonde, blue-eyed Finn, she was mistaken for a Pole after someone overhead her speaking in Finnish and was subsequently attacked. It’s not the first story I’ve heard from a friend. It seems that now especially, simply being perceived as foreign is enough. White, black, English speaking or not – to be noticeably different is intolerable for some.

So, this is where we are, London.

And now we wait to see if the Tories racially-charged campaign did the trick.

 

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Marble Race

Nothing clever here. Just a marble race. In the sand. With commentary.

WHICH IS UTTERLY ENGROSSING.

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Lovin It

So, it was the weekend of love. I had a weekend full of friendship and culture – including the movie Freeheld and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom at the National Theatre. Here are three things that gave me the warm and fuzzies:

One The reaction to Justice Scalia’s passing, in particular this response to the GOP’s rush to declare that the current, democratically elected POTUS is somehow ineligible to nominate his replacement:

Two Saturday Night Live, “The Day Beyonce Turned Black”.

Three 

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” Maya Angelou.

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