All Things Afro-Esque

Fall is here which means time to breakout all the dark colors. The blacks, the neutrals, the dark blues, the forest greens, and deep burgundies.

If you’re like me I enjoy these colors all year round.

When it comes to makeup dark lipstick is the current trend.

For weeks now I’ve been on a search for the perfect dark purple/red lipstick for someone of my complexion. It’s been an interesting journey.

To be honest, I’m a newbie when it comes to makeup. I didn’t seriously start wearing makeup until maybe my first year of undergrad. Even nail-polish is kinda new for me.

But I adore lipstick, especially a good matte lipstick.

The first dark lipstick I tried was by Mac. It was way too dark. It was very close to a black. A woman working their told me because I have yellow undertones, I should stay away from cooler colors. This of course made me disappointed because all the cool tumblr girls seem to get away with damn near black lipstick and it look killer in it. This also made me realize I’m not a cool tumblr girl either. So my search continues.

I tried a color by Sephora, but Sephora brand lipstick didn’t work for me. I would have to continue reapplying throughout the day.

After having success with a bright purple color from Stila, I realized maybe spending a little bit more money on makeup means I’ll get better options.

So a few weeks ago I tried out some lipstick from Make Up Forever.

Both were ok. I ended up getting the N50.


I like the N50, but I felt like I could do better. I almost gave up on the whole dark lipstick thing, when I found the perfect dark lipstick.

Kat Von D’s Rosary

And I was about to buy it when I also started looking for a good nude lipstick. The woman at Sephora helped me find a good one by NARS. Since I really could only afford one lipstick at the time, I decided to go with the nude. I needed a good everyday lipstick. I’ll get the dark lipstick later, after I return the Make Up Forever.

NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Cognac

To be honest? I’m obsessed with this nude lipstick now. It’s kinda perfect. This entire time I was looking for a dark lipstick, but I’m realizing nude looks amazing on me. Will I give up on my dark lipstick? Nope. I’ve spent too much time and money looking for the perfect dark lipstick. Plus it’s good to switch it up.

Two Sundays ago when Nina Davuluri of New York won Miss America, the racist backlash on social media sites like Twitter was not surprising.

Miss Davuluri is the first Indian-American to win Miss America. Exactly 30 years ago Vanessa Willaims for the first black woman to win.

Crystal Lee, Miss California, was the runner up was also Asian-American.

However on September 15th Miss America was called anything, but her new title. People went to twitter to discuss their hate for the 24 year-old winner. Comments like, “And the Arab wins Miss America. Classic.” or “9/11 was 4 days ago and she gets miss America?

Or even the most grotesque by comparing her to the terrorist’s group Al Queda, “Miss America is a terrorist. Whatever. It’s fine.

These tweets and more only show that many racist Americans don’t know the different between someone who is Arab and Indian and that they love linking terrorism and 9/11 to things that have nothing to do with one another.

People forget that the internet is written in ink. Once you put it out there, it’s kinda hard for it to be erased.

Another image that got circulated around a lot that night was this:

#MissKansas a real miss America ” @nateypoo14 this is why everyone is freaking out over #MissAmerica

To be honest, I forget how big pageants are America. With shows like Toddlers and Tiaras and Honey Boo Boo, beauty pageants are as American as apple pie.

However American is code for white by many people. Use I am technically American, but society pictures an young American girl as blonde, blue, just fresh out of college working where she is. Not me and not Nina Davuluri.

This got me to thinking about the concept of the girl next door.

According to Urban Dictionary, The Girl Next Door is someone who is “someone you could bring home to your parents”or a “sweet, virginal, pure girl who you always admired, but could never actually go up too.”

I most admit The Girl Next Door concept is problematic because it place the Madonna/Whore complex on women. That women can only be one way or another, either prude or a whore. However woman of color rarely have the opportunity to be placed on such a pedestal. They are usually overly criticized, objectified, and sexualized. So being seen as “pure” or “virginal” is usually out of the question.

Women like Nina Davuluri could never been seen as the girl next door in a mainstream concept, even though she has the qualities of one. Miss America is supposed to uphold this idea. A beautiful, smart, and sweet unattainable woman. However her “otherness” cancels this out.

Her racial and ethnic background shouldn’t exclude her from this term (in reality we shouldn’t put such general labels on anyone) or from her being America. Racists White Americans forget that America is melting pot and that there is no one way to be American.

Julie Chen revealed on the daily talk show “The Talk” that she had undergo surgery to enlarge her Asian eyes. Chen, an American news anchor and and producer for CBS. She has done everything from CBS Early News to Big Brother.

While working as a local news reporter in Dayton, Ohio, Chen’s boss allegedly told her that she would never sit at the anchor desk due to her Chinese heritage. ” ‘Let’s face it Julie, how relatable are you to our community? How big of an Asian community do we have in Dayton?’ ” she recalled him saying. ” ‘On top of that, because of your Asian eyes, sometimes I’ve noticed that when you’re on camera and you’re interviewing someone, you look disinterested. You look bored.’ “

via The Hollywood Reporter

Here is another woman who was openly criticized for not looking American enough.

Even though she was born in Queens, New York, because she is of Chinese decent, this erases her Americaness.

When asked about her opinion on Julie Chen’s surgery, this is what Nina Davuluri had to say “Unfortunately, I don’t agree with plastic surgery, however, I can understand that from her standpoint,” she replied. “But more importantly, I’ve always viewed Miss America as the girl next door, and the girl next door is evolving as diversity in America evolves. She’s not who she was ten years ago, and she’s not going to be the same person come ten years down the road.”

Regardless of how you feel about plastic surgery, to see someone change their looks to appease people’s racial insecurities is upsetting. As someone who hopes to work on TV one day, maybe even on screen, the idea that you may have to change your natural looks to fit into a more European Beauty Standard just be successful in this line of work is frustrating to say the least.

Women like Nina Davuluri and Julie Chen, are reasons why I want to work in media. To show that woman of color come in many different molds.

We can talk about how beautiful Nina Davuluri is, but we can also talk about how smart she is. Right now she is going to use the money she won with Miss America to apply to medical school, in hopes to become a cardiologist. Davuluri graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in brain behavior and cognitive science, earning Dean’s List, Michigan Merit Award, and National Honor Society Award honors along the way.

Is she the girl next door? Maybe or maybe not. But she’s our new Miss America and she really can be whatever she wants.

“Statement Making Compton Tee”:

“N.W.A Muscle Shirt”:

“Ice Cube Cropped Sweatshirt”:

Hip-Hop has been commercialized for years now. There’s no denying that. Your parents or grandparents probably know a few Biggie or Tupac lyrics, or at least are aware of who they are.

The know Jay-Z as the rapper and the business man.

They know that people couldn’t stop talking about Kendrick Lamar’s verses on Control.

Like any other genre of music, portions of Hip-Hop is mainstream cool.

People have been complaining that hip-hop has been completely white-washed. Thanks to the popularity of rappers like Macklemore and Iggy Azalea. However you feel about them, you can’t deny the fact that in mainstream pop music they have become the faces of new hip-hop. Easily digestible for people who may not have been raised on rap and hip-hop culture. They also have crossover appeal because of their whiteness.

As someone who listens to all kinds of music, I find it refereeing to know other people who a diverse taste as well. This summer I went to an old school hip-hop show and was surrounded by a bunch of white fans who were rapping along to the MC’s like Big Daddy Kane and Naughty by Nature. Hip-hop has become universal and there’s nothing wrong with that.

However my biggest problem with Forever 21’s N.W.A shirts is because of lack of knowledge of what the words and faces on those shirts mean.

For one, N.W.A stands for Niggaz Wit Attitudes. N.W.A was popular rap group that rose in the late 80s in Compton, California. They were considered the pioneers of gangsta rap on the west coast. Their music, heavily criticized at the time for being violent, disrespectful to women, glorifying drugs and other criminal like behavior. However it was also a response to what was happening around them at the time. Drugs, crime, poverty, and violence was what consisted for people living in urban areas. They were able to take what was going on at the time and talk about it on a worldwide stage. Folks who lived in urban areas all over the the nation was able to relate. This is at it’s core what made N.W.A great and want makes them a legendary group in hip-hop.

So why can’t pretty young blonde girls not wear a N.W.A shirt? The majority of buyers at Forever 21 probably know nothing about N.W.A. The fact that the website’s models are conventionally pretty, skinny, blonde, white girls who are wearing these shirts seems ironic. A group that almost 20 years ago who would have never cater to this audience is now being sold at a store where 13-18 year old girls could spend all of their allowance.

I wonder what was going through the heads of the designers at Forever 21: How can we sale edginess and Miley Cyrus to our preteen set?

Hip-Hop and Black Culture will always be discussed and dissected. Because it’s not created in a vacuum, black people aren’t the only ones who will appreciate it. However how can we distinguish between appreciate or appropriation?

What do you guys think, do you believe Forever 21 was right for having white models wear N.W.A shirts or do you think that they should of used black models? Or do you think they should have never made the shirts in the first place?