It’s just hair

This post was hard to write. It’s hard to type when you’re rolling your eyes the whole time! Sheesh!

The source of today’s frustration is that ruckus about the magazine article showing how people with straight hair can get an afro. A lot of people seem to be upset by it. It’s being called ‘cultural appropriation’: a term that I hadn’t heard about or truly understood until last week.

The internet tells me that appropriation is “the action of taking something for one’s own use, typically without the owner’s permission”. I counter that with “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” perhaps.

I have worn my hair natural for about 9 years. I have a thick head of hair, which used to be even thicker when I was a teen, so early on, my mother had it chemically straightened, so it could be manageable. I continued that process until I moved to Vancouver. Unfortunately, the climate change was tough on my hair and it was hard to keep it healthy. I decided to keep it in its natural state and I never looked back. For me, my naturally curly hair was just my own and it was easy. I wear it because it’s relatively free to maintain and it’s easy and I think it’s authentically me. It’s not a political statement nor because I’m from the Caribbean. It’s just what’s growing out of my head. Need I remind you about my latest tattoo?

This photo was taken by Vikera Hunte. Please do not copy without permission.

This photo was taken by Vikera Hunte. Please do not copy without permission.

This whole cultural appropriation thing with regards to hair is kinda over the top for me. The article doesn’t make a cultural or political statement about afros, its headline simply says, “You (yes, you) can have an afro even if you have straight hair”. It makes no reference about race. Either I’m not understanding it properly or there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. I think that model was used to show that if you have fine, straight hair, you can have big hair with volume, as in, you can have a completely different look temporarily. You know, just like people with curly hair that get it flat ironed and have a completely different look temporarily.

I happen to think my hair is my most versatile accessory. Even when I had an online dating profile, I wrote right on there, “One thing you should know about me is that you can never assume you’re going to know what my hair looks like.” I change my hair ALL the time. I wear it super short, I add extensions, I dye it, I wear it straight (flat ironed) and I wear it big and fluffy. Every Thursday or Friday, I scour the internet looking for new styles and new ideas. I see something I like that would flatter me and watch some videos about it and then make the change. I never once stop to think about the origin of the style. Honestly, I don’t really care. I’m not going to lie.

Photo taken by Vikera Hunte

Photo taken by Vikera Hunte

I wear head wraps on the weekends “like an African woman”. I don’t care that it’s an African-inspired style, I care about the flexibility of being able to leave the house in ten minutes without having to wrangle my hair into something decent. I don’t think about an African seeing me and thinking, “Look at her, she’s not even African, but she wants to wrap her head like us?” For me, a head wrap is not an homage to my African heritage, it’s a piece of cloth. The end.

To me, hair is just a thing. It’s not a political statement. In American history, the afro was a symbol. Women didn’t wear their hair that way unless it was to make a point. Even now, sometimes I get a Foxy Brown comment, which I don’t really understand, to be honest. I do like the attention my hairstyles get, but to say that it has a larger meaning than I have too much time on my hands, I don’t know.

The article shows how you can change your hair from straight to voluminously curly. I’ve read the comments on some websites and there are some that asked, “Why couldn’t they use a Black model? Here they go, not giving Black people credit. Here they go, using White people to celebrate Black successes.” Well, forgive me, but Black models will already have curly hair, no? Oh right, everyone’s sporting straight hair or weaves or extensions these days. So you’re mad because you have curly hair that you don’t want to wear and choose to wear your hair straight, but are mad because people with straight hair want to wear their hair curly? Hmmm…again, either I’m not getting it, or this doesn’t make any sense.

I’ve always thought the beauty of my curly hair is the infinite possibilities it allows me and I get excited thinking about what I can do with it. If someone can show me a way to change up my look (for free and relatively easily), then why the heck not?

Can someone explain to me why I should be offended?

V

Through my own eyes

Good morning everyone!

Do you think when you look at yourself you see yourself through the eyes of someone else? When you make your decisions, do you subconsciously let others weigh in?

I’ve always said if it wasn’t for my mother being who she was, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today. She was always in my corner boosting me up and letting me know that I could do anything. Sure, there were times when her advice was misguided because she feared for me and my well-being. Our opinions differed only because as a mother she wanted to protect me and I wanted to take risks. Now that I am a mother myself, I get that. She always let me know that I was smart, she let me know that I was beautiful and that I had many things to offer. She let me know that I was worth something and that I was a prize. Hearing that all through my life gave me confidence, it gave me strength, it made me stand up for myself and it also made others treat me the way she saw me.

You teach people how to treat you.

It’s only now, when she is no longer here, I see the fact that for a long time, I had been looking at myself through her eyes. My kindness and gentleness, my sense of fairness and generosity, my loyalty and honesty are all things that she wanted me to be, what she thought me to be and I manifested that and became all those things. Over the years, I had become that woman.

Interestingly enough, while I had a voice in my heart telling me how to be a good person, there were also other voices creeping in with disparaging words; words that told me that I am other things too. In the past, there was someone in my life through whose eyes I also saw myself and the Vikera I saw was not so good. The Vikera I saw was lazy, loud, aggressive, overly talkative, too smart, a mediocre mother, cheap, naive, a little bit stupid and overly ambitious. I saw myself through that person’s eyes for a long time and it took its toll on me.

Over time, I started to believe those things, in varying degrees. My mother had created such a strong foundation that this other stuff couldn’t possibly be true, but for pockets of time, I did question if I talked too much, I did think that I could be a better mother, I did wonder if I should dampen my rambunctious, vivacious personality. I realized that I started looking at myself through that person’s eyes.

Isn’t that strange?

Luckily for me, though, over time, I started looking at myself through my own eyes: a skill that took A LONG TIME to get a handle on. It took a long time to start looking at myself objectively and judging myself and my actions based on the person I wanted to be not who someone else thought I was.

I do not judge my actions based on what others think about me. I judge my actions based on what is right and fair to others.

This circles back to how strongly I feel about the media and body image and all of that stuff. This comes back to all these forces in our lives telling us things about ourselves that we may not necessarily buy into but before you know it, we start believing it and repeating it. We start looking at ourselves through others’ eyes – others who do not have our best interest at heart, others who don’t know who we are, others who try to hurt us, others who are not trying to build us up. We have to be vigilant, we have to be aware. We have to think if our opinions are actually our opinions or if we are voicing or thinking someone else’s.

I do like my rambunctious personality, I am hella smart, I am definitely loud and funny, I can be lazy. I am a wonderful mother. I hate doing dishes and laundry. I can do anything. I have thick thighs. I am a procrastinator. My wit is everything! I can be too generous sometimes. I am loyal. I love hard. I snore.

Photo taken by Vikera Hunte. Please do not squirrel off with it without asking first.

Photo taken by Vikera Hunte. Please do not squirrel off with it without asking first.

All in all, I’m not perfect, but I’m fucking awesome and will only get better! <— That’s me looking at myself through my own eyes and I look goooooood!

Have a great day guys! ❤

V

Wow! Where does the time go? We’re in the last week of February already! I still remember New Year’s! Time marches along, I guess, whether you’re on board or not. I barely have a plan together for this year and we’re two thirds through the first quarter. Seriously? Sheesh!

Anyway, before I get too hard on myself for not getting my sh…self together, I have to remind myself about my new philosophy. In my defence, it’s new, so I keep forgetting about it! Whoops!

When I wasn’t working last year, I had applied for income assistance from the Government (which I didn’t end up getting, so “Boo!). In the documents they gave me, there was a tracking sheet that I would have had to submit showing how much time I had dedicated to work search on a daily basis. While I never had to submit the form, at the time, I thought it was still a good idea to use it as a motivator. Pretty soon, I was using the form every day and it helped me get through those long days when I felt like I had accomplished nothing.

While decluttering a couple weeks ago, I had come across those lists and what I noticed was that I had started making lists, not only of jobs I had applied for, but other things I had done that day. Even looking at it almost a year later, I felt accomplished. For those of you who have ever had to be off work for any length of time looking for work, it can get very discouraging and I had figured out a way of motivating myself.

This brings me to my very motivating “Done List”. This weekend, I was very busy. I had gone out both Friday and Saturday nights, coming home in the wee hours both nights. Needless to say, yesterday morning, I did not feel particularly vibrant, but there was a lot of things I wanted to do. Nevertheless, I rolled out of bed around noon and started my day. I knew that it would be extremely easy to waste the day, justifiably because of exhaustion, and watch movies all day, but I was determined to be productive. I started my “Done List”.

So this list is exactly what it sounds like: a list of things I had done for the day. I put all the things on there that I didn’t have to do, but did anyway. I put things on there that when I woke up I had no real intention of doing, but managed to do. I’m not going to lie, “Get dressed” and “Brush teeth” were on that list! Once I was up and started making the list, the rest of the day rolled along nicely with me adding items on the list. I was able to get a shocking amount of tasks done, and I’m proud of yesterday’s list.

As I lament about the time flying by, maybe I should make a little ‘Done List’ for 2015 so far, so it doesn’t seem like I’m wasting time and have accomplished precious little.

My Done List as at February 23, 2015

  • Invested in a pair of hiking boots as a first step toward being more active
  • Learned how to make delicious cornbread, which will go a long way at any potluck I have to attend
  • Learned how to braid my hair from back to front (which is a wonderful accomplishment!)
  • Sticking it out with online dating – even going on a couple dates!
  • Accepting that I may not be able to go to Trinidad this year (which is HUGE for me!)
  • Decluttering the house (with two trips to the donation centre)
  • Rearranging my bedroom after 6 years of it being the same way
  • Keeping the inside of the car relatively clean
  • Bought a tablet, so I can work online easier
  • Starting experimenting with makeup
  • Was asked to present in a creative writing forum

Okay, at first glance, this list is not earth-shattering by any means, but for me and my life, this is incredible. Even while I was thinking about the things to put on it, I amazed myself. It feels good to have done so much in such a short time.

I guess, from this point on, it’s onward and upward, and if I do nothing else for the rest of the year, I’ve done quite a bit already! When I started to write this, I felt like I didn’t have a plan for this year, meanwhile, it seems like a pretty wonderful plan is already underway!

V

Brown skin, curly hair

Good Monday morning to you!

I trust everyone had a good weekend. I started writing today but couldn’t decide if I should write about my new tattoo or if I should write about the fact that I’m going to start giving less f**ks about things! Then I thought, “It’s my blog, I can pretty much write about whatever I want, so I’ll do both!”

I never thought I would be a tattoo person. Trust me. I have always walked the straight and narrow, but over the past few years, I realized that what I wanted shouldn’t really matter to anyone else but me. I wanted a tattoo, as long as I could afford it and I was happy with what it was, why the heck not?! So I got one, then another and now another.

This photo was taken by Vikera Hunte. Please do not copy without permission.

This photo was taken by Vikera Hunte. Please do not copy without permission.

This last tattoo is kinda personal to me. I’ve written before about how I feel about being black in Vancouver – isolated and different. Over the years though, it’s gotten better. I feel more comfortable. I’ve started getting more in touch with the woman that I am. Over the Christmas break, I watched instructional video after video about applying makeup on dark skin. I’ve gone through that exercise before where I look up how to put makeup on, but this time I tried to find women as dark as me. It made a difference hearing advice from women who looked like me. No longer was I trying to work with what was available, I wanted to validate my own existence. I wanted to validate my dark skin. I’m proud of it and I’m not going to try to marginalize it anymore. I’m trying to make a conscious effort to embrace who I am even if I don’t get that external validation.

My brown skin and curly hair are what make me me. It makes me feel different, yes, but I’m done apologizing for being me and I’m done pretending that I’m the same when I’m not. I saw Kidlet’s face when I showed him the tattoo. He had a smirk on his face. I think it might have been the moment when he realized that this tattoo applied to him as well and that I placed value on those things about myself and by extension those things about him too. I don’t know for sure. For me though, I wear it as a badge of pride.

A couple people have asked why I tattooed something so obvious. I think a tattoo is not like a sign I wear around my neck advertising something. For me, I will only put on my body the things in my life that mean something and will always mean something to me even 20 years from now. I’m not saying what I am, I’m saying what’s important to me. You can hear me talk and know I’m a Trinidadian, I don’t need a Trinidadian flag on my ankle to say that – but when you see it on my body, you know I’m not only a Trini, but I’m proud of it!

This last paragraph is a nice lead in to the other part of today’s post: I’m going to try to start giving less f*cks! My sister-friend sent me an article about how to give less f*cks about things. I’ve shared with you before about how anxious I get about things – either rationally or irrationally. I worry about so many things all the time. I plan, I obsess, I think, I worry. Understandably, she sent me the article in an attempt to get me to relax.

The writer of that post FINALLY got me to understand that I don’t have unlimited f*cks to give in a day. I should really be more selective about what I choose to worry about. If I’m disproportionately annoyed about forgetting to add a dryer sheet to the laundry or incensed about something that happened to a friend, I’m just squandering my annoyance.

I have to learn how to not get worked up over everything. The article really made me see in a straightforward way that living this way will only stress me out. Now, this is a work in progress, but I already see where I’m making a conscious effort not be annoyed. I am CHOOSING not to be annoyed even though I very well could be! Being in traffic this morning, for example: whether I’m annoyed or not, will not make the traffic dissipate. Whether I’m annoyed or not, instead of tailgating the people ahead of me and being grumbly, I chose to sing one of my favourite songs on repeat a few times instead at the top of my lungs. There is so much in my life right now that I can’t control, being upset and outraged about it without having any control over it just seems like a waste of my emotion.

Now this new frame of mind is a work in progress, but I’m going to give it a shot! I’ll let you know how this week goes.

Have a good week ahead!

V

Calm the f*** down!

Yesterday I was what someone I knew considered to be ‘freaking out’ about something and he just said to me ever so calmly, “Why don’t you just calm the f*** down?” The words arrested me. They stopped me in my tracks. After that bucket of cold water had washed over my anxiety, I said to him, “Thanks! I needed to hear that!” Okay, so it’s not commonplace for me to be talked to like that but I certainly wasn’t offended by any means. I think there are times when we let our thoughts take hold and begin a whirlwind and we need to hear, “STOP!”

Any time I think about thoughts going too far, I ALWAYS think about the Las Vegas experience. It happened years ago, but I still think about that as an example of me needing to calm the f*** down!

A guy I was seeing for a few months had a trip planned to Vegas with his best friend. I’ve never been an insecure girlfriend/wife, so I didn’t really mind. I wished him a good time and off he went to Sin City for four days, I think it was.  I got texts from him the morning of, on the way to the airport, while he was waiting to board and a couple when he got there. Then I got nothing! I didn’t think much of it. I’ll be the first to talk about roaming charges, so I thought he was being smart. Then the second day passed. Still nothing. I had texted him, but got nothing in return. Then ensued the worrying. “Did he get there? Is he okay? Did he meet someone else? Why hadn’t I heard from him?” I slowly started working myself up. I’m not going to lie to you. I called his hotel in Vegas. Oh yes, I did. Turns out, the hotel had never heard of him OR his best friend. Then I really started to freak out. I started questioning if he really did go to Vegas and if not, where the heck was he?

Day Three: nothing.

On the fourth day, I get a message from him on Facebook. “Hi babe, I lost my phone in Vegas. Call my work. I don’t know how to get a hold of you.” Turns out, he lost his phone on the first day – first day Vegas shenanigans, of course. The room was in his friend’s friend’s name – they had gotten some deal or something, which, of course I didn’t know. Also, nobody knows anyone’s phone number by heart anyway, so how else would he have gotten a hold of me except through Facebook?! All I remember was thinking at the time, “That makes sense. Duh!” Compounded with the fact that I have NEVER had any trust issues AT ALL where he was concerned, so it wasn’t even rational. After talking with him and him stressing out about having to get a new phone, I realized I was long overdue for a “Why don’t you just calm the f*** down?” I just couldn’t let my mind run away with itself. Geez!

If you remember my banana bread story, you’ll know I have anxiety issues, so when I’m told to smarten up, it helps me put things in perspective. I need more of that in my life.

One is the loneliest number

What’s going to be my winter hobby?

A few months ago, Kidlet’s Dad and I changed the way we shared our time with him, so now we have full weeks on and off. It means that I’m away from my child for a long time, but then I get to be with him for a long time. Now what that has meant to me is that we spend quality time together, playing games, having dinner together, and just being a family together. The flip side to that is when he’s away, I have enough time to get out of Mummy mode and I’m just a single woman, rambling in our home with nothing but time on my hands. The evenings, which were usually filled with board games and healthy dinners, turn into movie marathons and a bowl of cereal.

Usually in the summer, I can get motivated to go out and be productive, meet up with friends or, at the very least, do laundry! Now that it’s dark at 6, it’s harder to get momentum in the evenings. I find myself working late to avoid coming home to dark and empty house. I have to get out of the funk. I have to find a class or something to take. It seems imperative at this point. It’s not about finding a partner, although I think that would help, but it’s about finding myself as a person.

How many of you mothers would know how to fill 7 days back to back if you were periodically relieved of all of your motherly duties? It’s because I know I’m not only a mother. It was the same way when I got married and moved to Canada. For a long time I felt like I was just a big sister and when I moved away from my brothers, it felt strange not having a gang of people to take care of, but then again, I was a wife, so that redefined me and I focussed on that. Having said that, earlier this year, I found out that I’m not cut out to be a Stay-At-Home-Mum either. So I’m back to square one. I’m saying all this not to feel sorry for myself. I’m saying this because I find that I keep circling back to this point.

And I’ve been at this point before, essentially wandering in the desert, but I just suppressed it and moved on with my life. Joining the gym was a flop. Perhaps taking some kind of class might be a good way to go, but what class? Blogging helps – having the commitment to write and focus my energy on creating good posts is a good thing. I just think it’s uber distressing not knowing who I am in isolation. I’ve always prided myself on being self-aware, but I can’t seem to get a handle on this. I’ll find it. I know I will, and when that happens, “Watch out!”

Maybe it just comes right down to be lonely and being alone. It could be just as simple as that.

Nevertheless, it’s the restlessness….

Sigh.

*****Back to my regularly scheduled programme*****