Fashion & Beauty

Perms & Skin Bleaching: Two Sides Of The Same Coin?

Last week an article about the abuse of skin bleaching in Jamaica went viral online. This practice, which requires one to apply a cream to the skin that strips it of its pigment in order to achieve a lighter complexion, is not foreign to Blacks in the U.S., but is rarely discussed. However the topic of Black hair remains on the table within our community and the issues of perms and relaxers is one guaranteed to spark the hottest of debates.

In last month’s all-women’s podcast, one member of our group likened perms to skin bleaching and she received an incredulous response. Though the application of perms and skin are about the same – apply it to the skin/hair and the original state of each is changed – the idea of the two being linked insulted former and current perm wearers at the table. I, too, am a former permie turned natural, but saw the link between the two practices – though I understood why my other sistren at the table were insulted. As a community, we liken skin-bleaching with self-hatred, but with perms we don’t. Perms just make our hair more “manageable”.

However having the dichotomy of the two presented before me I couldn’t help but think about the level of “self-hate” that is imposed upon us as children when it comes to our hair and the need to make it “manageable”. How many of us from ages 6 on up spent hours at the salon under the heat of the pressing comb, and were all too happy to move away from that to the ease of a perm? Both practices instill in us that there is something “wrong” with our hair in its natural state. For me, the discovery of natural hairstyles was not one of raised consciousness, but a decision I made based on economics. However, there was a certain freedom I felt knowing that my hair in its natural state could be managed. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more concerned with hair and scalp health for black women and have frequented sites like Nappturality and Long Hair Care Forum for advice and tips on maintaining hair health.

Our podcast ended at an impasse: One side feeling that wearing a perm has nothing to do with self-hated and the other feeling that there is a definitely an undercurrent of self-hate so deeply embedded in us when it comes to our hair practices, that we can’t see it.

What do you think?

Last 10-Minute Break of 2010: Black Brainwashing

Listen in to the last podcast of 2010 as KC and the family discuss the issue of color and hair in the Black community. Podcast guests include Chris Lehman, Tash Moseley, Je Lewis, Malcolm Darrell, Toria Williams and Stacee Brewer.

Webwatch 2011

As the Internet grounds itself as the media outlet of choice, the hunt for websites of substance increases daily. In these current economic times, retail on the web is working feverishly to compete with local retailers and with a myriad of gossip and “news” blogs in existence, it is a challenge to know where to go for truth and information that sparks a variety of interests. Further, it’s easy to miss sites started by real people sharing a bit of their lives for pure entertainment purposes. That said, here are a few sites I plan to keep my eye on for 2011 – you should too.

The Art of Reuse: This group of young folks from Canada are revolutionizing the concept of thrift shopping for the modern-day fashion forward shopper. They open one-day “pop-up” boutiques called Interim and sell only the finest of local thrift shop offerings to buyers – still at the fraction of retail prices. What’s hip about this concept is they’ve done the hard work for you – no need to comb through racks of grimy clothes at the Goodwill, looking for a jewel. The group has a point process for picking only the best of what any thrift store has to offer and brings it to you in pristine condition.

ASOS: This UK based retailer is the purveyor of wonderful fashion, accessories, and beauty products at amazing prices. What I love about ASOS is their offerings come in a variety of sizes (check out ASOS Curve) and after at time, their clothing transitions into an “outlet” section where you find offerings discounted as much as 50%. Currently, they offer standard shipping to the U.S. for $7 – pretty comparable to most stateside retailers.

Diares of a Plus-Sized Vixen: If you are looking to be entertained, this woman’s blog might have the giggle you’re looking for. Authored by a young woman named Dwann, this blog tells her adventures and escapades of being a full-figured girl dating in these trying times. The blog is very revealing, personal, and just downright funny at times – one wonders how she escapes these situations unscathed. What I love about this blog is how open Dwann is, and also how very “new millennium” her dating experiences are. From texting, to social networking, she is mastering the art of post-2000 new dating rules. Check her out.

Folkstales: This blog is for adults only. If you’re into erotica, turn off Zane’s Sex Chronicles and let your imagination run wild here. Authored by a person known only as “The Storyteller”, the blog claims that each kinky tale is based off of a real-life experience shared with the author. Read one of these stories aloud to your boo one late night, and see if things don’t heat up.

Merc80: Merc is a Black Is friend, and his site has grown exponentially since we talked with him this past summer. His site remains to be the central location for interviews with underground musicians, designers, entrepreneurs, movers, shakers, and just all around cool people who are making things happen. What I love about this site most is Merc’s in depth, multi-media interviews. Often, he splits them into parts so that you really get to know about the person, and includes photos, video and audio footage. Keep and ear to the streets on this brother cause he’ll be moving up in 2011.

Plndr: Who can resist a deal when it comes to clothes? Plndr is almost too good to be true, as they offer you upscale urban fashions up to 80% off! ¬†From designer tees, to sneakers, to accessories, this site offers a little bit of everything! The catch? Their sales only last for a short period of time, so shop before the clock runs out. The prices here are so low, you won’t even sweat making that impulse purchase.

SicklyCat: Unbookmark Huffington Post, and replace them with this. Sickly Cat happens to be the premier site for unadulterated infotainment. Check this site daily for only the most interesting findings in world news, strong opinion pieces, and an insanely funny podcast. What makes this site unique are the variety of contributors and therefore, opinions about everyday issues. It’s worth it to jump into the conversation and give feedback in the comment section – most likely, you’ll receive a reply from the author themselves.

Snique Away: This year I probably signed up with 20 different sites offering deals for this and that, including the dreaded bid sites that are too darn good to be true. This site, however, is a gem for those who love the travel. Snique Away offers luxury hotel accommodations at a fraction of the cost, but only for a limited time. Check them out weekly to see and where their offerings are and book within the timeframe listed to get up to %50 off your next vacation.

Tumblr: Peace out MySpace. Bye Bye Blogger. Tumblr is the place to be if you are looking to start blogging in 2011. What makes the set up of Tumblr so cool is that tons of writing isn’t required if that’s not your style. Feel free to upload pics, videos, and audio that speak to you. Get a piece of the Internet and customize it to fit you. To get a sample, check out our own Mr. CEO’s Tumblr. Guaranteed fun.

YFF: Young, Fat, and Fabulous. Yes she goes there, and she is Gabi, MTV’s newest Twitter jockey, but before that, she was the host of YFF, bringing good fashion to the full-figured. For the curvy girl looking to stay trendy, this site offers retail that will blow your mind. Check her out and prepare to shop!

Until I Get To You: This site is the antithesis to all “relationships suck” websites. Authored by Aireka Muse, this blog offers real stories of marriages/relationships between people that are successful, and also offers another perspective on being a single woman in today’s dating game. For anybody feeling low about their future prospects, check out this site as a pick me up.

Ustream: Where else will you find a DJ battle between HOJ manager Big Dho and Phonte of The Foreign Exchange? Bump prime time, and see which of your favorite artists have shows they stream directly into your computer. What’s cool about Ustream is you can participate in a chat session with other viewers and streamers themselves, making the experience truly interactive. Check it out in 2011 and see which of your favorites actually do have their own reality show.