Friday, 29 June 2012

Uncensored: Is Chester French's Black Girls Video Problematic?

So here's my issue: I think I quite like this song, but I'm not sure if I should.

I hadn't heard of Chester French before I found this video, so I don't know if this is within the expected range of where her music and imagery usually falls, but it feels a little uncomfortable to me.

Chester French's Black Girls video is beautifully shot (and NSFW so watch out!) but the premise makes me bit uneasy. The song is about loving (and sleeping with) black women, because they're so uniquely beautiful. Awesome right? Maybe not.

My problem with the video is that it seems to exoticize and fetishize black women, even though the lyrics say that's exactly what it's trying not to do. In the video, French is seen flirting with and kissing (among other NSFW things) a gorgeous black woman. There's nothing wrong with this in and of itself. People have sex.

However, I'm not sure how the nakedness of black woman adds to the narrative of her beauty. The portrayal of the sexuality of black women at the hands of white counterparts has a long, sad and negative history, and it can be painful to be reminded of the objectification that many black women face even today.

Necessitating that this gorgeous woman be naked in the video, places the emphasis squarely on her sexuality. That says to me, "Chester French likes black women because she thinks they're hot." Not "Chester French like this black woman because she's likes her personality and she's an awesome person to be around." Suddenly, the narrative is all about how sexy this woman is instead of about why French would be interested in her in the first place.

Then come the actual lyrics. The second verse reads:

Well I have tried to taste the rainbow in my life
I've sampled many different flavors I enjoy
It's not to say I wouldn't settle down with Sally
Dilly dally with her heart like it's my toy
I've been to England a few times
And it's common over there
Plus the whole world's turning brown and who cares

And there's my problem. A black woman is a person, not a novelty. She is not one of many to be "sampled" so that you can choose your favourite. I dislike the idea that interracial relationships should happen because they're hip. They should happen because race ceases to become a considering factor in the viability of a relationship.

I highly doubt that French meant to offend, and I can honestly say that the video is gorgeous. The problem is that I think the video ignores some very important social problems and prejudices, and I'm not sure if I'm okay with that.

What do you think of the video? Am I reading too much into this? Or am I right to feel uneasy? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Uncensored: Blogging HBO's Girls

I'm giving in. 

Since Girls premiered on HBO back in April, I've heard everything from praise to condemnation for the show. Some say the show's creator Lena Dunham is the "voice of a generation", others say that the show is whiter than white bread, and that it's a problem.

Since I was still in college when the show premiered, (and really, I was already watching too much TV) I decided that I was going to let this show pass me by. I wasn't going to watch. And since so many other sources had endlessly catalouged all the ways in which this show was ignoring me, a young, college-educated,  twenty-something female (who wanted to be) living in New York, and was BLACK, I figured, why support a show that doesn't support me?

But then I caught an episode. Episode 2: Vagina Panic to be specific. And it was hilarious. From "all the stuff on the side of condoms" to "throwing the best abortion ever", I was reminded so much of all the non-PC conversations that I have with my girlfriends in the privacy of our own little sphere of the world.

And I won't lie; the stark whiteness of the protagonists did bother me. It was definitely in the back of my mind. But what was in the forefront of my mind was the witty dialogue, the utter ridiculousness of half the things coming out of Lena Dunham's mouth, and the all too familiar situations surrounding sex and relationships.

Dunham's Girls might not represent every part of my personality, and I may not relate to every situation these girls find themselves in, but I can relate to the twenty-something experience, and so far, it looks like the show delivers on that, if nothing else.

I'm looking forward to watching (and writing about) the rest of the season.

Away I go!


PS: My Girls recaps will all be posted under the Uncensored tag. I've been saying for a while that I wanted to include more of myself in this blog, and I think this a great solution. Uncensored will be all the stuff that may not necessarily be PC, or in line with what a fashion blog might post, but it'll be my spot to rant about things that bother me. I'll be sneaking my feminist flag in there at some point. Sometimes it'll be NSFW, sometimes it'll be controversial, sometimes it'll be politics, and sometimes it'll be straight feminist fare. But it'll be all me, all the time. 

Additionally, I have a lot of opinions on a lot of things, and I've never felt like I was able to post them here, in my own space, which is utterly ridiculous. Every girls needs a safe space to say words like "fuck" and "vagina", and generally swear to the high heavens without having to worry about the pearl clutchers. This is mine. I'm posting Girls here because just one episode has let me know that I'm going to need a safe space to talk about dirty things and say dirty words. When I'm made it through all 10 episodes, I'll move on to other things. I'm weirdly excited. :)

Friday, 22 June 2012

Nike Voices Celebrates Title XI: Women in Sports

I found this video on the Marie Claire website a little while ago, and I just had to drop everything and post about it. To celebrate the 40 years since title XI was passed, ( a law that calls for gender equality in sports) Nike created a short film showcasing Olympians Joan Benoit Samuelson, Lisa Leslie, Marlen Esparza, and Diana Taurasi.

It's so sweet and poignant that I was on the verge of tears. Although, to be fair, it doesn't take a whole lot these days. But it's beautiful to see women taking charge and forcing paths in places that were once not accepting of their presence. It was beautiful to see these women, trailblazers, interlaced with images of young women, gearing up to continue the tradition of women in sports. 

But what really touched me was a quote around 0:36: "I didn't set out to dominate. I just did." 

I love that attitude, and I hope that more women align themselves with this kind of thinking, no matter what their field of choice may be. 

Good job Nike!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Cover Wars: Zenia Sevastyanova Smolders in Giles for Dazed & Confused’s July 2012

Zenia Sevastyanova Smolders by Kacper Kasprzyk

One last cover to round out Tuesday's lineup. 

Everything about this cover is perfect to me. From the bow-tie to the boots to the shag cut to the burn holes, it just scream fa-shun to me. Lame I know. 

I've always thought that the less commercial mags tend to have more interesting visual covers. I love D&C and Numéro covers because they're always so much less about appealing to passers-by, and more about pulling in dedicated fashion readers and lovers. They create covers that someone who appreciates fashion can be drawn into and love. I love me some Marie Claire and Elle, but Numéro, Candy, D&C, Paper? Covers are way better. They're collectibles I tell you. :)

What do you think? Which magazines produce your favourite covers? Do you prefer commercial covers, or more artistic ones like this?

Cover Wars: Karlie Kloss and Joan Small by Steven Miesel for W Magazine

Joan Smalls by Steven Meisel
via fashiongonerogue
Karlie Kloss by Steven Meisel
via fashiongonerogue

Fashion face-off! Two of my favourite models are covering W this month and I couldn't be happier. Also, I really miss my W subscription...

Joan and Karlie look stunning (and oddly similar) on their respective covers and I think we can all agree that they're gorgeous women. My love for Karlie is not a secret, but I find myself gravitating towards Joan's cover more. There's something about the depth in her eyes and the cut of her cheeks that pulls me in. I think it's a win for Joan on this one.

What about you? Which cover do you prefer and why? Are you a big Joan or Karlie fan? Let me know in the comments below.

Cover Wars: Emma Stone by Mario Testino for Vogue

Emma Stone by Mario Testino

Favourite funny girl Emma Stone is this month's issue of Vogue. I've been a fan of Emma ever since Easy A (which was on Starz the other day actually) and I'm so glad that she's hitting the big time. She looks gorgeous  on the cover and she really draws you in with her big gorgeous eyes.

 It's also refreshing to see a comedienne on the cover of Vogue. I think the last time that happened was Tina Fey's March issue a few years back.

What do you think of Emma's cover? Are you a fan of her movies? Who would you like to see on Vogue's cover next?

Monday, 11 June 2012

Multimedia: Mizery Loves Company

This was my final project for my multimedia class. I had the most fun working on this, and I was able to explore a culture that I've been fascinate by forever. Mizery was an amazing performer and an engaging person, and I'm so glad that I got to meet her and talk to her about her experiences.

Multimedia: A Moment in Chinatown

This was the second project I did for my multimedia class. I found it to be a TON more difficult that the last one, mostly because the idea was more abstract. It turned out okay, and I got an A, but I'm not over-excitedly proud of it! Considering it was my second time using Final Cut, I think I did pretty well.

Multimedia: Maya Jimenez: A Profile

This is the first project that I did for my Multimedia class last semester. We had to split off into pairs, interview and shoot each other and put together a 3 minute profile of their ambitions as photographers. I had a ton of fun doing it, and I learned how to use Final Cut Pro, which means I have a useful and marketable new skill. It was fun, and I'm glad I took this class.


Happy Birthday! Kinda?

It's my birthday! 
I'm 22!
I'm an adult and I can drink!
I'm an adult and I have to pay taxes...
I'm an adult and I have to find a job so I can pay taxes...


Never mind. This isn't fun anymore.

But anyway... sob stories aside, it is my birthday today and I'm grateful that I've made it through another year. I'm not so grateful that I have class on my birthday and that instead of going out drinking and/or stuffing my face with cake surrounded by my nearest and dearest I will spend tonight studying for a quiz.



ugh, omg THIS. But as it turns out, my aunt and I have the same birthday, and I never even knew! (Not a biological aunt. Long story...) Oddly enough it does make things a little more fun. :)

Although I'm not quite here yet:


I AM feeling a little bitter that I'm not at home (in Trinidad) for my birthday. This is the first time that's happened since my family moved from England when I was 4. As in, before I even CARED about birthdays. I should be at Maracas, relaxing and enjoying myself, not holing up in Mugar. Boo. Normally I love libraries, but BOO.

And while I don't outright HATE my birthday, I haven't really been able to celebrate it properly since I was 18. (Ahh, the high school years...) So, for now I'll just stay bitter with my birthday cake, and send bad vibes in the general direction of happy people:


 Bu if you do feel like being nice to me, I am accepting presents. Birthday glitter man is at the top of my list.


Apparently he spent his birthday alone too. *Womp*

He and I shall devour this cupcake and other fattening confectioneries together.


Yum. Calories. And sprinkles. Never forget the sprinkles.
Eh. I'll probably just do my nails and watch the Bunheads premiere. I'll survive.
Also fun fact, I have the same birthday as Hugh Laurie (yay House! Boo, to House being over!), and Shia La Beouf! (but no one cares about him...)

PS. I would like it to be known that I found all these pictures by googling "alone on". The "your birthday" part auto-completed. I guess that means poor lonely single people is a thing now?
P.P.S. But seriously, leave me some comments. I will feel a tiny bit better if random strangers online extend their greetings.
P.P.P.S. I bet you can tell I'm desperate for attention.

Friday, 8 June 2012

FBFF: Community in Blogging

Well it's been quite some time since I've participated in FBFF, but I figured now was as good a time to jump back in as any. This week we're talking about community and interaction in blogging, and how it affects bloggers.

1. What blogging communities do you belong to?
Currently I'm a member of Independent Fashion Bloggers, Fashion/Beauty Friend Friday (when I remember!) and I recently joined Blog Trends, which has been amazing for interacting with new bloggers and getting different perspectives. 

2. What role do you think community plays in blogging?
I think that's up to the individual blogger. Stats and comments are not a good measure of the quality of content, just the popularity of the blogger, so it's really up to the blogger to decide how they want to engage with the larger community or whether to remove themselves from it entirely. I think that it's entirely possible for a blog to be of high quality and to be successful without being a huge part of the zeitgeist, so community as it relates to blogging is I think more about the relationships you form with other bloggers as people and less about the actual blogs themselves. Even now, there are bloggers who I respect and admire and interact with regularly, but I've stopped reading their blogs. It's less about our individual content and more about the interpersonal relationships.

3. Commenting and social media interaction has decreased in the last several months. Why do you think that is?
Firstly, I think that this has a lot to do with the fact that so many bloggers are making the jump to blogging full time. Since they're now consumed with the day to day business of working with brands and managing their finances and their images, there simply isn't as much time left in the day to read and comment and interact as there used to be. There's only so much time in the day after all.

Secondly, I think that as a result of so many bloggers becoming businesswomen, the fashion blogging community in particular has become very insular and selfish, especially when it comes to personal style bloggers. This isn't an accusation, just something I've observed over the last few months. With all the designer collaborations and brand partnerships, the market is full to the point of bursting. Everyday, more people are making the leap to blogging full time, but there is only so much money to be made. I think that many bloggers are beginning to recognize this, and it's inevitably led to selfishness and jealousy. It's one of the biggest reasons why I've vowed to always ALWAYS remain a hobby blogger. 

4. How do you cultivate community around your blog?
I have to be honest, I don't even try. When I started blogging, I always knew that it was a venture that I would be undertaking for myself and no one else. When it comes to readers and stats, I'm grateful for the limited recognition that comes my way, but it's not the reason I blog. I've always been a hobby blogger, and that fact allows me to remain fairly divorced from any "responsibility" to the community as it were. It's not to say that I don't want to participate or that I won't, only that the success of my blog isn't tied to participation. 

5. If you could make one resolution to be a better community member what would it be?
My resolution would be to be more constructive with my commenting. I don't have the time to read other blogs like I used to, but I think that the driving force behind blogging is the conversations and discussions that they can generate. I think that being more mindful of the way that I participate in conversations online and being more open and honest without being combative, is something that will enable me to get more out of the experience of being part of the fashion blogging community. 

What are your thoughts on blogging and community? How have you been interacting with other bloggers? Head over to Modly Chic to see other perspectives on this topic!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Misc. Music: No Church In the Wild (Kanye West & Jay-Z ft. Frank Ocean)

For everything horrible thing that you can (justifiably) say about Kanye West, you have to admit that he knows how to put together a visual.

One of the things that I love about his music is that he never leaves you hanging. He uses every means he can get his hands on to demonstrate for you what he's trying to say. From his videos for Runaway and Power to Love Lockdown and Paranoid, you can always tell that a lot of thought goes into the visuals for his music. As repulsive as he behaves sometimes, you have to respect his artistry.

This video really shows you how in tune to his themes he really is. This video doesn't even feature him (or Jay-Z or Frank Ocean) but he still manages to get his point across. Presumably drawing from the London riots and the Occupy Wall Street protests, Kanye managed to bring to life the growing state of civil unrest, and political turmoil. It's very poignant.

I don't really have much more to say, because I honestly think the video speaks for itself. Kanye is a great artist, and I love his music. I just wish he had a tiny bit more etiquette.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Awkward Black Girl: I'm awkward and black

If you haven't been watching this show, you need to start.
It's funny and intelligent and relatable and everything that you'd look for in a great show.
And yes, the protagonist is black.
Catch up on season one here.

Editorial: Nadja Giramata by Andoni & Arantxa for Style Switzerland May 2012

Nadja Giramata by Andoni & Arantxa

I wish there were more visible black faces in fashion. Race will always been an issue until seeing models of colour is no longer something different/new/exciting. It should become as ubiquitous as seeing Caucasian models on the cover of a magazine. We need to stop this separate but equal mentality.