Beauty As A Weapon

Since we’re all adults, we know that looks matter in all areas of life. A lot. In the real world, we are all judged by our appearance. Especially women. For women, beauty is a weapon. A weapon that disarms men of means, power and influence. A weapon that opens doors of opportunity that might otherwise be closed. A weapon that is either working for—or against—each individual woman.

Over the centuries, there’s been a curious reversal. Most marriages were solid structures and only love affairs were ephemeral. Men of influence chose and remained married to their wives for reasons that had very little to do with the woman’s individual attributes. Instead, powerful men chose their wives based on the political status and wealth of the woman’s family.

Generally, as long as her father and brothers maintained their wealth and influence, a wife was relatively secure in her marriage. The political and social price of divorcing or abandoning a wife was prohibitively expensive in earlier eras. Only royal mistresses and courtesans absolutely had to master the arts of capturing and holding powerful men’s interest and desire in order to live well.

There’s been a reversal over the centuries. In the modern West, marriage is fleeting and a woman’s ability to live well is determined by two (sometimes interlocking) skill sets: her ability to provide for herself, and her ability to attract and hold quality men’s interest and desire. A woman who has to do every, single, thing in her life without any man’s help is a burdened woman. Such a woman is operating under a disadvantage in any context, whether it’s at work or at home. Even when there’s no expectation or even serious desire for a liaison, men are more inclined to help a beautiful woman.

Since modern marriages are based on the ever-shifting sands of emotion (and nothing else), it behooves modern women to study the timeless strategies used by women from previous eras. Women whose livelihood depended on their ability to utterly captivate men of means who were surrounded by an endless array of other beautiful women. A woman who wants to:

  • marry,
  • stay married to, or
  • if necessary, quickly replace a husband with another quality husband

would be wise to study the ways of the courtesan.

In Europe, the courtesan’s arts were a matter of poverty, wealth, and government for several centuries.

In the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries [in France], the position of royal mistress was almost as official as that of prime minister. The mistress was expected to perform certain duties—sexual and otherwise—in return for titles, pensions, honors, and an influential place at court. She encouraged the arts—theater, literature, music, architecture, and philosophy. She wielded her charm as a weapon against foreign ambassadors. She calmed the king when he was angry, buoyed him up when he was despondent, encouraged him to greatness when he was weak. She attended religious services daily, gave alms to the poor, and turned in her jewels to the treasury in times of war.

Sex With Kings: Five Hundred Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge, pg.5

Let’s be clear. With this category of posts, I’m not talking about sex. Sex was one part of the courtesan’s repertoire, but it wasn’t the only part. Nor was it the most important one. By itself, sex has never been enough to bind a man to a woman. This is even more true in this modern era of mass promiscuity. Since nobody in the intended audience is playing dumb, then I won’t have to repeatedly emphasize that I’m not talking about (or advocating) prostitution. Or that the ongoing Beauty As A Weapon series of discussions are intended to assist Sojourners in securing and maintaining wholesome, stable marriages to quality men. Finally, I’ll note that I’m also not solely talking about external beauty, although that’s an important component of the courtesan’s arts.

With this ongoing series of posts, in addition to beauty tips, we’ll discuss the behavior skills that make a woman an enduring object of desire for quality men. In future posts, we’ll study the examples of some of history’s most famous courtesans. Before we get to that, let’s discuss the minimum requirements for cultivating one’s beauty as a weapon.

PURGE YOURSELF OF “VULGARIAN” TENDENCIES

In his book, The Art of Seduction, Robert Greene describes several basic anti-seductive qualities,

Seducers draw you in by the focused, individualized attention they pay to you. Anti-Seducers are the opposite: insecure, self-absorbed, and unable to grasp the psychology of another person, they literally repel. Anti-Seducers have no self-awareness, and never realize when they are pestering, imposing, talking too much. They lack the subtlety to create the promise of pleasure that seduction requires. Root out anti-seductive qualities in yourself, and recognize them in others—there is no pleasure or profit in dealing with the Anti-Seducer.

The Art of Seduction, pg. 131. He goes on to list a number of anti-seductive behaviors. I believe the primary anti-seductive trait among modern African-Americans is what he calls “The Vulgarian.” Among modern African-Americans, this trait plays out as the conscious, deliberate refusal to see oneself and one’s behavior as others see it. Mr. Green describes The Vulgarian as follows:

Vulgarians are inattentive to the details that are so important in seduction. You can see this in their personal appearance—their clothes are tasteless by any standard—and in their actions: they do not know that it is sometimes better to control oneself and refuse to give in to one’s impulses. Vulgarians will blab, saying anything in public. They have no sense of timing and are rarely in harmony with your tastes. Indiscretion is a sure sign of the Vulgarian (talking to others of your affair, for example); it may seem impulsive, but its real source is their radical selfishness, their inability to see themselves as others see them. More than just avoiding Vulgarians, you must make yourself their opposite—tact, style, and attention to detail are all basic requirements of a seducer.

Id. at pg. 136. We’ve previously discussed various manifestations of Vulgarian behavior: cursing in public, “keeping it real,” and so on. It’s best to drop Vulgarian habits as soon as possible.

RECALIBRATE YOUR BEHAVIOR AND CHOICES AS YOU INCREASE YOUR STATUS

When you cultivate and increase your external beauty, you simultaneously increase your status. There’s a need to recalibrate your behavior as you make your physical transformation and ascend the social “food chain.” Since nobody in the intended audience is playing dumb, then I won’t have to explain that there’s always a competitive social food chain in operation. Sometimes the jockeying for status is overt; and sometimes it’s subtle and muted. I also don’t have to explain that there’s no such thing as opting out of the competition. People who mistakenly believe they’re opting out are actually only succeeding in marginalizing themselves.

As the Adonis Index trainers point out to men here and here, behaviors and mannerisms that might have been endearing when a person is lower on the food chain can register quite differently (and negatively) as they ascend the food chain. This reality is contrary to the some of the (idiotic) cultural slogans that are popular among African-Americans, such as “Don’t ever change . . .”

In the real world, as you change (improve) your exterior circumstances, other people automatically start changing their perception of you. This causes a change in their reactions to you. Sometimes these changes are overt. Sometimes they’re subtle. But there are always changes of some sort. And so, some of your outer behavior and choices need to change as well.

This dynamic plays out in many different contexts. Let me give an example from the workplace. Several years ago, one of my colleagues was promoted into the management tier of my firm. Like many African-Americans, he mistakenly assumed that “staying the same” would ingratiate him with his former colleagues who are now his subordinates. So he continued sitting around with them during lunch in the same employee break room they had always used for lunch. For a long time, it didn’t occur to him that things were inevitably different because he’s now part of management—he’s now in the “boss” category.

It didn’t occur to him that his continued presence in the employee break room during lunch meant the subordinates who weren’t his personal friends could never relax during lunch. Until it was explained to him, he didn’t understand why everybody who wasn’t his friend stopped eating lunch in that break room. He mistakenly thought he was ingratiating himself with his former peers. Instead, he was imposing on them. He ultimately learned to invite his subordinate-friends into his office for lunch. And leave the employee break room for the “worker bees.”

TODAY’S QUOTE

Charm is a way of getting the answer ‘yes’ without having asked a clear question.

―Albert Camus

ADDENDUM

A reader named YMB made a comment to this post that more modern, Western women should consider. She said,

It’s definitely not a question of whether one’s physical beauty and comportment are weapons or not- it’s just a question of whose arsenal they end up in. If you’re not making them work for you, then they will work for other women who will use them to help them get what you want or what you have.

She’s right. That’s real.

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186 Responses to “Beauty As A Weapon”

  1. KimP says:

    And you ended your post so perfectly with a quote from my favorite French author/philosopher! Khadija, you clearly aren’t playing around in 2011!

    I recall a debate I had with an ex-friend who argued Lena Horne only attained success with such a mediocre voice due to her looks. Playing devil’s advocate, I asked, “what’s so wrong with using your looks to your advantage?” I understand what he was trying to say by using Lena Horne as an example, which is another topic completely, but if you’re good looking and you know it, why not make use of that fact in the most humble way possible.

    I think for most of us here, playing up beauty and charm will serve as the icing on the cake because we already have the smarts, determination and solid work ethic.

    I think this is why so many smart, educated and truly deserving women go unnoticed. How are the top men supposed to know you have all of these wonderful personality traits if you aren’t putting forth the effort register on their visual radar first?

    I’m all for beauty as a weapon.

  2. Karen says:

    Dear Khadija,

    You have raised some excellent points. Here are some of my observations based on experience:

    1) Vulgarity is never attractive and serves to “other” a woman. She will never be perceived as a lady or as someone to be of interest from normal, healthy men.

    2) We as women are always being observed whether it be other men or women to see if we “measure up or exceed” whatever standard is the cultural norm of a healthy society

    3) How one behaves in private should be kept private.

    4) Crass and crude behaviour is never ladylike.

    5) A lady that is “put together” in manner, speech, clothing, makeup, etc. will be perceived as attractive and/or beautiful even if physically she is not (to coin JN’s phrase) “symmetrically beautiful”.

    6) No matter how important a message may be, it loses its power when it is dominated by vulgar speech

    7) Vulgar speech also implies a lack of vocabulary or that a person is not well read.

    With changing social settings/levels, it is important to take cues from those who are in those settings/levels. If they are not loud, then you should not be. If there is a certain manner of dress/behavior, then take note and adjust accordingly.

    Yes, we all have a core personality but we must have different “faces” that can be utilized based on the situation and status.

    Your example of the perosn that was promoted to management to me is an example of a “beggar mentality”. He still wanted to be “accepted” by the people who were his peers.

    He was promoted to “boss”. Being the boss means you have direct impact on someone’s career and you now know who much they make. It is no longer a peer relationship. He should have known that. The fact that he either did not or was not comfortable with it, shows that he was not prepared to make the necessary transition.

    It is a common mistake with many newly minted managers regardless of gender or race. However it serves as a reminder that when we move from one social level to another, some habits must be left behind if they do not serve the current reality.

    • Oshun/Aphrodite says:

      You know Karen, you make some really good points.

      “1) Vulgarity is never attractive and serves to “other” a woman. She will never be perceived as a lady or as someone to be of interest from normal, healthy men.”

      I think this is a calculated part of the BW indoctrination script in order get BW to other themselves.

      “5) A lady that is “put together” in manner, speech, clothing, makeup, etc. will be perceived as attractive and/or beautiful even if physically she is not (to coin JN’s phrase) “symmetrically beautiful”.”

      I have noticed this too. Since I have been on break I have watched some TV. I was watching Bravo and I saw one of those housewives Beverly Hills I think, shows and I was thinking the same thing as I was looking at those women. I am not trying to knock any of them, but these women were average and some I thought less than average when looking at them, but because they were thin, and they knew how to pull it together with hair, makeup, clothing, and physical carriage etc they put out this “air” and the men responded.

      I am watching these men – rich ones at that- fall over themselves and say so and so is so attractive and in the back of my mind I am thinking a BW could really mop the floor with these women.

    • Brenda55 says:

      “With changing social settings/levels, it is important to take cues from those who are in those settings/levels. If they are not loud, then you should not be. If there is a certain manner of dress/behavior, then take note and adjust accordingly.”

      This advice right here is key and has held me in good stead over the years. I am now in my mid fifties, married and am currently a stay at home wife having retired permanently at age fifty.

      As I advanced in my career and looked at the quality of life I wanted, I quietly observed men and women who had the life I aspired to. I learned a lot and began to emulate what they did. Doing this also put me in contact with the kind of men I wanted for marriage. I never had a issue with marrying outside of my race which I did.

      My husband is a PhD and comes from a affluent family.(Hence my ability to stop working at age fifty.) I have no problem negotiating the social circles that his family comes from. We travel the world and again I have no problem interacting with people living in the Global Village. So yes,keep your eyes and mind open and learn.

  3. Vanessa F. says:

    Happy New Year Khadija and Ladies! May everyone have a productive and satisfying 2011.

    I was and am looking forward to you focusing on ‘Beauty As a Weapon’ topics. As the daughter of a former deb, I was taught this from an early age. One example of this was how posture contributes to a woman’s beauty/appearance – When I was six, my mother had me practice walking in the living room with the R encyclopedia on my head! She made a game out of it, so it wasn’t until several years later that it dawned on me that I was being groomed. If she saw me slouch I got the eye and straightened right up. In addition, at seven, she noticed that my feet were not pointing straight ahead while I walked so I got fitted for shoes that corrected this problem. Thank goodness I wore a uniform to school – those shoes looked almost like the other little girls shoes but they were the stuff of childhood nightmares! {chuckle} All the walking practice and foot correction help me develop a strut of sorts that I get complemented on quite a bit. Who knew they way someone walks could be a point of discussion!

    Re: Vulgarian Tendencies – I saw this tendency on full display a couple of weeks ago while out to dinner in DC with colleagues (12 people – equal number of men and women). There was a woman from my job present at the dinner who believes she should dominate any and all conversations and all attention should be on her, always. This has happened so many times to the point other colleagues are noticing her ways and making not so nice comments about it. This woman has demonstrated through petty (and very public) behaviors over the past few years that I am not her favorite person (I only bring this up to provide context for the next few paragraphs).

    So the night was filled with a 1-sided battle of this woman attempting to block/redirect any male attention I or any of the other women at the table received. For example – if the man sitting next to me asked me a question, she had to put her two cents in and go on and on, making sure all eyes were on her. Others could barely get a word in! I feel if being the center of attention floats her boat, go right ahead and knock yourself out. Not to be an armchair psychoanalyst but there is something that is going on in this woman’s background that makes her think being a loudmouth is cute. There is nothing wrong with a woman expressing her opinion and I do not want to give that impression – but this person comes off as attention hungry/starved.

    My reaction: Be a butterfly, smile and have a sip of my iced tea.

    A week later at the Department Christmas party, one of the men who attended that dinner struck up a chat with me while at bar of the restaurant where the party was being held. He decided he wanted to talk about that dinner and Ms. Co-worker’s ‘performance.’ His words were (and I am paraphrasing/editing his words because they were not vanilla) “She knows you have her beat and she can’t stand it. You don’t have to talk people down in order to hold their attention.” I was shocked that he picked up on the undercurrent/dynamics taking place at that dinner table. I played dumb and said something like “you really think so?” He went on about Ms. Co-worker’s antics for a full 5 minutes. I also recall saying something like “As a man you have a different perspective on things that is interesting to hear.” {more chuckles}

    So to conclude: Just say no to vulgarian tendencies. Its not a good look.

  4. sisterlocgirl says:

    Happy New Year! Whaat a thought provoking post/concept. I think this is an excellent approoach to a different kind of self improvement. I must say that on occasion I have been a little too ” colorful ” with my public speech. This will be a nice compliment to my ongoing personal improvement plan. Thank you for such a well timed, important action plan for moving forward 🙂

  5. FoxyCleopatra says:

    Re Beauty and Marriage:

    When I used to hear women say all that nonsense of ‘looks don’t matter’ and la-di-dah, I actually thought they believed what they were saying. Now I know they knew they were lying to themselves. I recall hearing my dad during some marriage counselling-type seminar where he said that it is very silly when women who stay at home don’t bother to make any effort in their appearance because they are not leaving the house. He went on to say that when your husband leaves for work, u are looking messy, ur hair is a mess etc (since u haven’t bathed), she is wearing ‘shokoto’ (sorta like slacks). He then goes to work and the women in the office have made effort in their appearance. He’s walking/driving and the women he sees are all looking well kept. He comes back home from work. The wife has had her bath but is still wearing nonsense and still looking unkempt. Day in day out he sees this. Eventually, this man will subconsciously begin to equate his wife looks with the unkempt image he is used to seeing and all the well kept images he sees of women will never be of his wife.

    Re Situation-Appropriate Mannerisms/Behaviours:

    I’ve noticed practically every where I go, some black pple seem to think that behaving like idiots somehow makes them seem ‘cool’. The most usual thing is with noise/being loud. At the end of the day, one can’t control what other ppl do but I can control what I do. We can pretend and be pc about it but the truth is that wether we like it or not pple WILL use the negative behavious of other blk ppl to tarnish us. The best way to counteract this is by:

    1. Completely separate yourself from them. If you are in a public gathering and you see a group of bp acting foolish, resist that urge black folks (esp bw) have to always feel the need to hang out or only be comfortable

    • joyousnerd says:

      You said:
      “When I used to hear women say all that nonsense of ‘looks don’t matter’ and la-di-dah, I actually thought they believed what they were saying. Now I know they knew they were lying to themselves.”

      You make great points all throughout this comment. I agree that many of the women who spout the “looks don’t matter” mantra are deluding themselves.

      Others, however, have an agenda. They are trying to confuse, manipulate or convince other women to lower their own stock. The “on point” women who say looks don’t matter may be trying to reduce competition and increase their own power.

      The frumpy women want to normalize frumpiness to blunt those negative consequences for themselves, and possibly persuade a more attractive woman to slide down the totem pole too.

      I got first-hand evidence of this phenomenon Christmas Day. We visited some of my in-laws whom we only see once or twice per year.

      One of my sisters-in-law had always seemed to be the friendliest and most supportive. She’s a hairdresser, and when she saw I had cut my shoulder-length hair down to a natural only a few inches long, she was so supportive and encouraging of my natural hair. Oddly enough, she had nothing to say when she saw my hip length flat ironed natural hair on Christmas. Hmmm. One would think if her support had been genuine, she’d at least comment on my amazing growth. But not a peep from her…

      She had a very sour and angry demeanor toward me all day. The look on her face when all the family gathered around to congratulate me on my weight loss was unmistakable. It was hatred. Her face was full of hate for me. I had been the fattest in the family, and she had been second-fattest. There’s nothing a fat woman loves better than an even fatter woman. Well, now I’m far slimmer than she, and I’m the same size (approximately) as most of the other women in the family… leaving her the fattest.

      Her anger was especially high when her husband stood and looked me up and down for like a full 30 seconds. I pretended not to notice him eyeballing my posterior, but I know his wife saw.

      It was sad for me to see her turn against me. Here I had thought she genuinely liked me, but now I see that she only liked how I made her look in comparison.

      We have to be super careful about which women we listen to. Not everyone has our best interests at heart.

      • Zoopath says:

        I’m sorry to hear that about your SIL. That was a classic example of “when people hate you they join you”. Well, at least she’s declared herself an enemy so that you know how to handle her. It’s so scary to find out that you trusted someone that doesn’t want you to do well.

  6. FoxyCleopatra says:

    ….Cont from above

    talking to ‘the other black faces in the room’.

    2. Make sure that those negative traits are not being given out by you either eg
    – your voice could be louder than you think.
    – that scowl u c on random bw faces do you also have it?
    – are you dressed appropriately for that particular occasion?
    – are your tone, speech and mannerisms appropriate?

    Also, having a soft and subtle smile on your face can do wonders in terms of other people’s immpression of and attitude towards you.

  7. Valerie M says:

    Happy New Year, everyone! 🙂

    Excellent post. Your point about vulgarian tendency makes me think about the “Oprah effect” of telling all and the advent of social media, which no doubt aggravates this effect. What isn’t acceptable offline, often is online. Instead of charm and mystery, blabbing everything and having shock value in what you say has become the social currency for moving up… at least in the short run. In the long run, the woman ends up looking like a fool, begging for attention. I’ve come to realize that Facebook, Twitter, dating sites, IM, etc are NOT a woman’s best friend if she doesn’t know how to use them correctly. Especially if she is trying to build up charm and mystic, but doesn’t know how to maintain it online. There is such a huge pressure to be vulgar online, much to her detriment.

    Online dating is a perfect example of that. How many woman have spelled out their whole life story on their profile or within the first few emails/IMs before ever meeting the guy? Or maybe they felt so comfortable after chatting him up online or on the phone, that within the first three dates, the guy can point out all of her vulnerabilities and insecurities. And Facebook. I’ve seen so many women spout some ugly things about men, women, their friends, and themselves. And they use other people’s behaviors within the site as an excuse to act vulgar and say vulgar things. I see this problem primarily in my generation (Gen Y).

    The worst part is, once you blab all online, you can’t ever take it back. It’s hard to hide your past since everything online is public (no matter how “private” it’s supposed to be) and forever documented. I can imagine how many women will grow up, look back, and be extremely ashamed of their behavior. All women go through the young and stupid phase, but at least the past generations had the option of covering it up because there is no record to look up on Google.

    • Oshun/Aphrodite says:

      Valerie this is insane.

      “And Facebook. I’ve seen so many women spout some ugly things about men, women, their friends, and themselves.

      The worst part is, once you blab all online, you can’t ever take it back. It’s hard to hide your past since everything online is public (no matter how “private” it’s supposed to be) and forever documented.”

      There are multiple web archives that you can look up…wow.

      I guess this is why so many peeps get fired behind social networking.

      For personal stuff like commenting on blogs I have aliases.

      For business stuff I use my real name, but I am hyper vigilant of who I am interacting with (I don’t link to people with booty shots and who are outside my industry) and I watch what I say, don’t get into flame wars, have only one small photo, don’t respond to creeps who ask for more pics or are looking to make friends etc..

      • MsMellody says:

        To Joyous Nerd;

        Congratulations!!!! I am so very very happy for you..thank you for being an example for the natural most effective way to lose weight and gain a new perspective!!!

        The old fashion change of eating and increase in movement!! You have really made my day!! Thanks again and for being an inspiration to me.

        • joyousnerd says:

          I’m so glad to inspire you! I had been THIS CLOSE to getting surgery, but I worked it off instead. I’m confident I can keep it off.

    • Your QUOTE…I’ve come to realize that Facebook, Twitter, dating sites, IM, etc are NOT a woman’s best friend if she doesn’t know how to use them correctly. Especially if she is trying to build up charm and mystic, but doesn’t know how to maintain it online. There is such a huge pressure to be vulgar online, much to her detriment. That is 100% factual statement.I know because it happened to me.I met a really wonderful man online, we had so much in common,amazing spritual connection, intellectual and light-hearted conversation. My objective was to charm him, create some mystique, make him want to meet me in person. For 9 mths we sent e-mails back and forth. I was elated. All of a sudden, he became cold and stopped answering my e-mails, I just couldn’t understand why, spent hrs trying to fiqure it out, still couldn’t. I finally got the courage to ask him why. He replied, ”honestly some of your e-mails creep me out” I was so devastated, embaressed and felt like a fool.I’d really like this man, saw him as potential mate and really wanted to meet him, but I blew it because my emotions got the better of me. In retrospect I think I told him too much about my past because I felt so comfortable talking to him, may have used some vulgar words to describe my feelings for him. Instead of attracting him, I repelled him, the opposite of what I Intended. I think his perception of me changed after that. It’s a lesson well-learned and I wish I had read this article before I met him online. Too late, what’s done is done, there’s no point ”crying over spilt milk”

      • Lisa99 says:

        Don’t feel bad… take this as a learning experience.

        And actually, as some of the ladies on the other page said, I think you’re actually interpreting what happened incorrectly. While you might have been vulgar in some ways, this man was obviously not serious about you because he talked to you for NINE months and made no effort to meet you!

        In nine months, people have met, started talking about marriage and actually gotten proposals! Not saying everyone has to follow that path, but no one should be still e-mailing someone they met online after a nine-month period.

        So I don’t care what you said or how vulgar it was… this man was not serious about you. He was nowhere near as great of a guy that you think he was or might have thought he was. A wonderful man doesn’t drag things out for nine months and he should have been trying to charm YOU, not vice versa.

        So anyway, next time you do online dating, let the man take the lead, and share little about yourself until he shows you through his actions that he’s interested in a serious relationship.

  8. joyousnerd says:

    HAPPY 2011!

    I am delighted to share the following news: I lost 100lbs! I’ll say that again… over the course of a little over a year, through a low-carb diet and daily exercise, I dropped 100 POUNDS. 😀

    I knew I had lost a lot of weight, but since I did not own a scale and had refused to look a the number when others weighed me in the past (SMDH), I wasn’t certain exactly how much I had slimmed down. Well, I ordered a scale for myself for Christmas, and I looked at my old Weight Watchers booklet from when I briefly attended years ago… yep. 100 lbs! (I could shout ONE HUNDRED POUNDS all day & night for the next two weeks, lol, it would never get old!)

    I’m not done yet, though. I want to get down to a flawless physical form- FLAWLESS. No fat wads anyplace (except where they are supposed to be 😉 lol) My goal is to get to 125, so I have 48 pounds to lose until I hit that goal. I WILL do it, make no mistake. I’ve got a winning plan and nothing will stop me from working it.

    I also bought Die Fat or Get Tough by Steve Siebold. Khadija, you and Mr. Siebold appear to be kindred spirits… as he makes zero effort to pander to fat people’s delusions. As they say in the vernacular, he keeps 110% real with his readers. WOW. I’m blown away by his refusal to toe the party line… no wonder the Fat Acceptance folks are howling for his blood.

    Now I need a totally new look. Before, when I was obese, I was a Modesty Jihadi. I adhered to a very strict form of dress and made all my own clothes. I don’t have time to sew these days, and I’d like to look more stylish. I’ll be looking forward to the posts in this series to help me define and execute my own sleek, modern and tastefully sexy style.

    ONE HUNDRED POUNDS! lol

    • Valerie M says:

      Congratulations, joyousnerd! What an accomplishment… This is a testament that hard, smart work and determination really does pay off. Looks like you’re getting 2011 to an amazing start! 🙂

      • joyousnerd says:

        Thank you very much, Valerie! I am indeed getting 2011 off to a wonderful start, with the weight loss being only a portion of the big things and positive changes I’m instituting. It feels fabulous to be on top of my game.

    • Ali says:

      WOW!!! CONGRATS JOYOUS NERD!

      • joyousnerd says:

        Thank you, Ali! I am channeling BerrygirlFin here… I don’t know if 118 (her weight) would look good on me, so I’m aiming for 125. If there’s still some loose meat at that point, though, it’s gotta go.

        As Steve Siebold put it, I want to make my body into “human art”.

    • Oshun/Aphrodite says:

      Congrats Joyousnerd! That is awesome!

      When you learn about clothes, I hope you share. I wanted to wait until I had lost the bulk of my weight before I bought new stuff. I have been researching and I decided to jump in in Dec (for the sales) as I need some good “foundations” and some new pieces.

      Undergarments are a joke.

      I am frustrated. I alluded to this in my previous post. I don’t know who they are making clothes for now a days, or what the dominant body type is, but I have to wonder…

      Everything is in low rise hades!: skirts, jeans, slacks and dresses are no better. Whose idea was this?

      So when I shop they either fit my hips and give me the diaper effect in the front and back bc the inseam is too long, the waist stands away from my body or slides down, the thighs/body of the skirt is too large…and my mom finds this hilarious.

      Or they fit everywhere else, but the hips/butt are hoochie tight.

      Then they have the med or reg rise which seems to me another version of low rise. They are not truly medium or regular on the waist.

      I wish I knew how to sew. My mother is a master tailor (she can sew stuff that looks like store bought including the finished seams) and all her sisters know how to sew. I have begged and begged for her to teach me and she refuses. I bought a suit for an interview, had to have it altered and it was so expensive because it basically had to be remade – and the tailor was not happy about all the work involved in the remake.

      If I knew how to do this I could save myself a lot of money.

      • foreverloyal says:

        Perhaps you could find someone local willing to teach you. Many of the fabric stores run classes, check into that.
        There are also books/dvds available.
        My advice is to start learning these skills on children’s clothing. It’s less fabric to buy.

      • tertiaryanna says:

        Cosign to Foreverloyal. There are internet resources as well and also maybe try the library. If you don’t want to try on children’s clothes, maybe get some thrift-store clothes and try your skills on them. If they turn out badly, you’re not out much cash and since most of the garment is already constructed, you’ve saved yourself the bulk of the work.

      • Where are you shopping Oshun? I prefer stores like Ann Taylor and Talbot’s for my grown woman clothes. I don’t like low-rider pants either, and I think Talbot’s pants fit me better than any others. (Still have to have them altered–I’m ridiculously short-waisted.) They both have great sales around this time of the year, so you might want to check them out. I love Wacoal bras and Spanx foundation garments. Both are pricey, but I’m a curvy girl and consider bras to be a major investment. I get a professional bra fitting every year, or after a major change — childbirth or weightloss.

        As for sewing, I can do minor alterations — hem trousers, take in a waistband, but for major stuff like the suit you mentioned I have to have a tailor as well. I agree about the classes in the fabric stores, they can be a godsend.

        • Lisa99 says:

          I’d like to recommend Coldwater Creek for good fitting pants as well. There are multiple lengths available, which also helps.

          My mother-in-law laughed when I told her how I loved CC pants because she said it’s a store for middle-aged white women “like her.” However, I find that their pants are stylish and don’t scream “middle-aged white woman” like some other items might.

          • MsMellody says:

            To Lisa99;
            Count me too as a Coldwater Creek fan. Love the colorful layouts that they utilize!! Simple straight forward..timely.

            Since you mentioned a particular clothier- here is my list of absolute drop dead faves- meaning you cannot go wrong with these ;

            Garnet Hill
            JJill
            Eddie Bauer
            Soft Surroundings
            * a new fave – NorthStyle
            Pendleton
            Sahalie – for those adventures in and out of the city
            And for ONLY the women here who are 25 and under – Alloy

    • T says:

      Much congratulations to you!! You are an inspiration to sisters like myself who are on the way to “releasing” the excess weight.

    • Zoopath says:

      You posts have really motivated me to get back to my optimal weight as well so congratulations and thanks!

    • Neecy says:

      YOU ARE MY IDOL JOYOUS!!!

      I’m so proud of you. You also seem to have such a positive uplifting spirit. Congrats!! Hopefully I iwll be posting my acheived weight success goal in the next year or so. God willing 🙂

    • formavitae says:

      I would just like to say, “Congratulations!” That’s AMAZING. I can’t imagine how you must feel. Losing weight is a REAL challenge. YOU SHOULD BE REALLY PROUD OF YOURSELF. I was wondering how long your workouts are. Do you do long cardio workouts? Or, are your workouts shorter, since you do them daily? There is a website that deals with “fashionable” modesty, and it has lots of different shopping links. I think you might find some styles you like. Here is the link to the website: http://themodestymovement10.blogspot.com/.

      Here’s to a “Happy New Year” and lots of great shopping sprees!

      • joyousnerd says:

        Sorry for the late reply… I posted a comment about my fitness reggie just for you (and anybody else who is interested) and thanks for the link!

    • Nathalie says:

      Congratulations Joyousnerd!!!! & I’m ready to buy your hair care book 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Doing the “Happy Dance” for you!!!

      CONGRATULATIONS….:-)!

    • foreverloyal says:

      Well, shouting would be unladylike! But if I were you I everytime I walked past a mirror at home I would stop, cheese, and say “100lbs baby!”

      Congratulations. I guess I’ll let you leave the “ankle-length skirt club” Look forward to hearing about your style transformation, developing a signature style is on my list for 2011.

    • Aisha says:

      Congratulations! You are an inspiration.

      • joyousnerd says:

        Oshun/Aphrodite: I share your lament about clothing available off the rack. I need a garment to sit at my natural waist to look my best. Once I’m at goal weight, I’ll hire one of those Indian or Pakistani tailors off of ebay to make myself a wardrobe. I’ll send them the patterns and fabric, and have a seamstress take my measurements. It’ll cost much less than American tailors would.

        T, Zoopath, Neecy, Aisha, Karen: thank you very much and it is absolutely doable. If I can do it, all of you can, too.

        Nathalie: The hair book will be ready in January 2011 but Khadija will need some time to read it before she gives a review… and it’s over 170 pages long!
        forever loyal: I give mysef a thumbs up and a Kool-aid smile all the time! 😀 I feel fabulous.

        • Karen says:

          Dear JN,

          Thank you! I actually achieved my target weight this year with the help of the Paleo Diet. I lost 10 pounds and am now at 123 but the ultimate goal is 119.

          It does not compare to your achievement **big smile** but it is great to hear that we are all moving forward!

          • foreverloyal says:

            Another success-story-in-progress vote for the Paleo diet here. I’m smaller, my skin is clearer, and I’m not hungry on it. What’s not to like?

          • joyousnerd says:

            Having a weight of 123 is already something to crow about! I can’t wait until I am in your shoes. I got the book about the Paleo Diet but I’ve yet to read {hanging my head in shame}

    • Queenie23 says:

      Thats great joyousnerd!!!! I lost 40 pounds. I feel great I just need to tone up some more. I did alot of walking and I used some of “the biggest loser” dvds. I also got my driver’s license on Dec 3. I feel healthier.I’m currently working on my grad school applications. I also found have some etiquette classes in a near by city. I have some etiquette books at home. Wish me luck in 2011 as I take steps towards making a better life for myself. I hope everyone has a great year.

      • T says:

        Wishing you all the best for 2011.

      • joyousnerd says:

        Queenie23: You are doing it big this year! How wonderful that you taking all of these actions to create a beautiful life for yourself!

        palmwater: Thank you! Khadija will let you ladies know when everything is ready to go, book wise.

    • palmwater says:

      Congratulations Joyousnerd on your big achievement!

      I’m really looking forward to reading your upcoming hair book.

    • Karen R. says:

      Congratulations on your success. It made me think of the song “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now.” You go girl.

    • NijaG says:

      WOW Joyousnerd!!!!

      Congratulations on you weightloss. 100 lbs is no joke. I’m also on my own weightloss journey and taking it one day at a time.

      I’m also looking forward to you hair book coming out.

    • CONGRATS!!!! 100 lbs is such an accomplishment. So happy for you-keep up the good work 🙂

      • joyousnerd says:

        Karen R, NijaG & Miss Glamtastic: thank you so much, I’m thrilled to have lost so much this far. I cannot recommend Steve Seibold’s Die Fat or Get Tough enough… this books is amazing. It’s all about the mentality that you need to take the weight off and keep it off. I have found that many of the positive mental habits he describes were changes that I had made on my own. I wish I’d read this book before starting to lose the weight, as I probably would have lost it even faster. I’m glad to have it now, though.

        Die Fat or Get Tough… anybody who needs to lose weight NEEDS this book. I’ll be buying more of his books.

    • mobile68 says:

      JN,

      Congrats on your weight loss! You are an inspiration.

      And sad as it was about your in-law hating, I look at it you must’ve done something right. She was going to find something to hate on you about eventually, it just came sooner than later.

      JN you said:
      “Now I need a totally new look. Before, when I was obese, I was a Modesty Jihadi. I adhered to a very strict form of dress and made all my own clothes. I don’t have time to sew these days, and I’d like to look more stylish.”

      As I am seriously working to lose weight, I think the hardest thing has been for me is what is going to be my signature look? Then I began to question, ” Is one signature look really necessary?” Particularly when in diffrent social settings.

      Anyhoo, Happy New Year! And keep on keeping on.

    • SS says:

      Congrats!! You’re an inspiration to me and I can’t wait for your book about hair.

  9. FoxyCleopatra says:

    Also in ref to the guy you used as an exampl (the boss that wanted to eat with his subordinates):

    I might be a bit off here but I think Pres Obama is a good example to use. When this guy was sworn in, he had this air of ‘being grateful’ to ‘them’ for ‘allowing’ him to be elected. Despite his initial popularity, I believe he could have achieved much more esp with healthcare reform and financial reform (had he tackled it) if he approached the whole presidency as someone who KNEW he was the potus and KNEW he was in charge as opposed to someone who was grateful and felt ‘unworthy’. (Pls I’m not trying to bring in politics here, I just want to use Obama as an eg). Also, his opponents could sense it as well. Whatever one thinks about GWB, he Knew he was the potus and acted like it.

    • Zoopath says:

      Yeah, I felt like he keeps bringing knives to gunfights despite sustaining multiple gunshot wounds. I don’t get it at all.

  10. MsMellody says:

    Good Morning Khadija and Happy New Year to everyone.

    I love how Robert Greene uses some of the most eyeopening examples from literature, science and history to bring home and hi-lite his point in the books he writes.

    I am mid way through finishing Robert Greene’s “The 48 Laws of Power”. Now I am not trying to steer the conversation away from Khadija’s on time post about Beauty, because as all ladies here can attest to – being on point and in charge of your very own beauty is your God given – law of power!!

    I truly enjoy your posts Khadija – you have thoroughly researched the information in all of your posts and that makes you a valuable asset to me and other commenters here, thank you again for what you are doing for us.

    • Pat says:

      Speaking of enhancing your beauty, MsMellody. I have been checking out the Clarisonic for about 9 months. I was trying to see if the price would go down. I actually went out and bought it last week thinking that it would have gone on sale because it was after christmas. It was funny to see your comments regarding it. Over the last year, when I would asked other women about it—nobody had heard of it. I was glad to hear that you use it and enjoy it. I am anxious to use it now…It looks like it does wonders for the skin…

      • joyousnerd says:

        I bought the knock-off, the Pretika. It was $40-$50 and I’m happy with the results. I can’t see spending the money for the Clarisonic, but for those more flush than me, have at it.

      • MsMellody says:

        To Pat;
        Yes I too was hesitant and thought spending that kind of money just wasnt worth it— and this is NOT a slight to your comment Joyous Nerd—- I was oh so wrong!!!
        It was totally worth it!! I use the $195 piece of equipment with my usual $6.99 Olay cleanser or Philosophy cleanser or scrubber and I only use a teeny bit of cleansing product now. Meaning with the oscilation of the Clarisonic I find that my cleansing product goes a long long way. So even though I am not the math genius like my husband – I know that I purchase far less cleaning products per year!! And ONE MORE important benefit – my moisturizers go further,(thank u Philosophy Hope in a Jar, Olay Rx nite cream), my skin is clearer, smoother, softer and I feel pampered each morning when I rev up the old Clarisonic (pink for Breast Cancer Awareness)!!

        I still say utilizing, loving and making the most of our beauty is a powerful wonderful weapon.

  11. APA says:

    I’m truly looking forward to this series. Growing up, my parents always emphasized hard work and book smarts, which is good, but I think young girls also need to be taught how to be ladies and how to present themselves. In general, I think that I do a good job of presenting a respectable image of myself. However, I do have the tendency to be a little “feisty” given certain situations.

    I’m working on learning better ways to deal with conflict and assert myself without being too aggressive because being overly aggressive is not a good look for any woman. However, black women must avoid aggressive behavior at all cost because such behavior only serves to reinforce the existing stereotype of black women as aggressive, overbearing, she-men.

    White women and Asian women don’t have these negative stereotypes associated them, so their poor behavior is more likely to be excused. Case in point, I used to attend high school with an Asian girl, who was known for being loud, abrasive, and rude. Most of her friends and associates were offended by her at least once. My first encounter with her was my freshman year of high school. My class mates and I were hanging out in classroom before our next class. This girl comes in, walks up to a desk, and loudly announces, “Whose stuff is this?!”. She then proceeds to knock over the books that were on the desk before anyone had a chance to respond. The items were mine! I couldn’t believe that she had the audacity to throw my stuff on the ground like that! Once I let her know that the books were mine, she sheepishly apologized. These incidents were a regular occurrence, but everyone viewed her as this cute Asian girl and put up with her bad behavior. A black girl doing the same thing would have been viewed as ghetto and uncouth.

    I truly appreciate the effort that you put into these posts. Although I don’t comment often, I do learn a great deal from you.

  12. KimP,

    You said, “I think for most of us here, playing up beauty and charm will serve as the icing on the cake because we already have the smarts, determination and solid work ethic.

    I think this is why so many smart, educated and truly deserving women go unnoticed. How are the top men supposed to know you have all of these wonderful personality traits if you aren’t putting forth the effort register on their visual radar first?”

    I agree. The bottom line is that frumpiness makes a woman’s life more difficult than it has to be.
    _______________________________________________

    Karen,

    I 100% cosign. Especially points #1,2,5 and 6. Sometimes, it’s almost amusing to hear women who (should) know better come up with all sorts of intellectual justifications for their public cursing. As if any of that theorizing changes how public cursing by a woman is perceived.

    You said, “Yes, we all have a core personality but we must have different “faces” that can be utilized based on the situation and status.”

    Exactly. It’s a matter of how one chooses to package and market their core self. Which traits to emphasize and which ones to downplay based on the situation.

    You said, “Your example of the perosn that was promoted to management to me is an example of a “beggar mentality”. He still wanted to be “accepted” by the people who were his peers….It is a common mistake with many newly minted managers regardless of gender or race. However it serves as a reminder that when we move from one social level to another, some habits must be left behind if they do not serve the current reality.”

    Yes, this mistake is committed by all types of people. I think this is a particular problem for many AAs because we have a deep-seated cultural hatred of recognizing any sort of ranks. This was one angle of the “listening with humility” post.
    __________________________________________________

    VanessaF.,

    Happy New Year!

    That’s funny how your mother “slipped in” some training when you were small. Ahh, the things our parents do that we don’t understand or appreciate until we’re grown.

    You said, “So to conclude: Just say no to vulgarian tendencies. Its not a good look.”

    ITA.
    _________________________________________________

    Sisterlocgirl,

    You’re welcome!
    _________________________________________________

    FoxyCleopatra,

    You said, “I recall hearing my dad during some marriage counselling-type seminar where he said that it is very silly when women who stay at home don’t bother to make any effort in their appearance because they are not leaving the house. He went on to say that when your husband leaves for work, u are looking messy, ur hair is a mess etc (since u haven’t bathed), she is wearing ’shokoto’ (sorta like slacks). He then goes to work and the women in the office have made effort in their appearance. He’s walking/driving and the women he sees are all looking well kept.”

    That’s a point that more women need to keep in mind. Any reasonably successfuly, white-collar man is most likely working with quite a few “on point” women all day long at work.

    I believe your point about how Pres. Obama acts in office versus how Pres. G.W.Bush acted in office is correct. Bush made it quite clear that he was the President. In fact, he acted as if he had been voted in by a landslide—this is a large part of why he faced much fewer challenges to his policies than Obama.
    ____________________________________________________

    ValerieM.,

    You said, “The worst part is, once you blab all online, you can’t ever take it back. It’s hard to hide your past since everything online is public (no matter how “private” it’s supposed to be) and forever documented. I can imagine how many women will grow up, look back, and be extremely ashamed of their behavior. All women go through the young and stupid phase, but at least the past generations had the option of covering it up because there is no record to look up on Google.”

    Also, previous generations of women were more likely to be raised to know better than to ever document acts of foolishness. We were also typically raised to understand and know that most people will inevitably misuse any and all extra personal information that you give them. As a result, most folks I know who are 40+ are very hyper-aware of any and all “paper trails” they’re creating (including electronic ones).
    ____________________________________________________

    JoyousNerd,

    {prolonged standing ovation with happy dance at the end}

    Congratulations!!! I’m so happy for you!

    You said, “I also bought Die Fat or Get Tough by Steve Siebold. Khadija, you and Mr. Siebold appear to be kindred spirits… as he makes zero effort to pander to fat people’s delusions. As they say in the vernacular, he keeps 110% real with his readers. WOW. I’m blown away by his refusal to toe the party line… no wonder the Fat Acceptance folks are howling for his blood.”

    Oh yeah, he’s really REAL—across the board. Not just with obesity issues.

    You said, “Now I need a totally new look. Before, when I was obese, I was a Modesty Jihadi. I adhered to a very strict form of dress and made all my own clothes. I don’t have time to sew these days, and I’d like to look more stylish. I’ll be looking forward to the posts in this series to help me define and execute my own sleek, modern and tastefully sexy style.”

    About the “Modesty Jihadi”-thing: A lot of people develop various coping mechanisms to help make the unacceptable acceptable. The thing is, every person has to ask her/himself: “Do I want to continue to cope with X? Or do I want a change from X into something better?” If one wants a change, then one has to take an accurate, honest look at the situation. It’s impossible to get to a particular destination while using a map filled with make-believe roads and landmarks.
    __________________________________________________

    MsMellody,

    You’re welcome and Happy New Year!
    __________________________________________________

    APA,

    You’re welcome, and thank you for your kind words about the post—I truly appreciate it.

    You’re right—BW don’t and won’t get the same “pass” for uncouth behavior that’s given to White or Asian women. On the other hand, WM worked VERY hard over the centuries to develop a standard for how they require others to perceive and treat WW. Kanye West is still licking his wounds after he violated the rules about how WW are to be treated. Also, Asian woman as a collective worked VERY hard over the past 5-6 decades to establish a certain “brand” for themselves as feminine women.

    [Not that I think Asian women got together and mapped out this strategy. But, as individuals, once they realized they had a good thing going for themselves in terms of mass (stereotyped) image, they have been careful not to mess up a good thing. As individuals, they’ve generally been careful NOT to disrupt an image that has been working to their advantage in terms of marriage to powerful WM.]

    Expect Success!

  13. SeriousSally says:

    Reading JoyousNerd’s term “modesty jihadi” elicited an immediate negative reaction from me. I had to sit with it for a minute and think on why. As a Muslim woman and one who adheres to a (by mainstream American standards) a very strict interpretation of appropriate dress, it felt like an attack, especially since jihadi is a term associated with Islam. I don’t believe that modest is synonymous with frumpy.

    BUT this thought process also lead me to a very important point I want to share. Dress, like speech and manner communicates different things to different people. When it comes to attracting anyone from a man to a business partner or even making a friend, dress is a powerful form of performance art, an elegant tool of communication that can be your ally in unexpected ways.

    Being marginalized makes one hyperaware. I understood early that I had lots of stereotypes working against me as a young African American woman, as a Muslim woman etc. I’ve often used those stereotypes to my advantage.

    Until fairly recently, people reacted to Muslim women with more pity than fear or hatred. The assumption is that we are ‘traditional’ women solidly under the feet of men. Even hipster type men like this idea more than they are willing to admit, and a soft-spoken woman, modestly dressed, can draw out a powerful protective response from men. I’ve gotten out of more than one traffic violation by using the power of a modest femininity as opposed to overt sexuality.

    I like to wear pink hijabs to the airport as I’ve found that pink with a flouncy floral skirt, maybe some pearls and my naturally soft voice helps me avoid harassment from airport security. This works equally well on men and women and across cultures. Only once have I been pulled out of line for extra security checks. I was wearing black that day, and it was an international flight.

    If I’m meeting new people, I put my outfit together according to the kind of people I’ll be around and what kind of relationship I want with them. I understand that in certain situations an abaya will elevate my station amongst the people in the room: it communicates femininity, grace, piety and commitment to certain ideas those people value. I am taken more seriously when wearing it with them. In other situations it will communicate severity and rigidity or make people fearful.

    But sometimes, if know that the power dynamic will weigh heavily against me, I dress in ways that encourage others to stereotype before they meet me order to disarm them and help tip the scale in my favor. This is only in situations where I know well what the stereotype is and that I will have the opportunity to talk to people in order to pounce the stereotype. Traditional cultural and/or religious dress lends mystery, encourages curiosity and can make you the center of attention before you say a word, especially if it’s beautiful. The complex emotions of admiration for the beauty of a dress, attraction to the grace of the person, and fear/curiosity about what that dress actually means can throw people off and give me enough leverage that by the time they actually talk to me, I’ve outstripped all of their expectations and left them awed. This has presented me with numerous opportunities that I otherwise would never have had. I’ve been able to work in places that had no other employees of color and CERTAINLY no covered Muslim women because I understand the subtle theater in dress and, frankly, the power of a pretty face and graceful gait.

    It’s a fine line, and not everyone can walk it–I’ve blown it a time or two — but that aspect of the theatrical in dress is one of the tools that humans have used since the first woman put a pretty flower in her hair or wove some shells into her animal skin.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    [Khadija speaking:

    Nawww…my beloved sister in the deen, I’m not going to entertain anybody playing “offended Muslim” here…we’re going to speak the truth—the WHOLE truth—in these conversations. Even unpleasant and unflattering truths.

    SeriousSally, please direct any irritation with the term “modesty jihadi” at ME, and not any other reader. I’m the one who initiated the use of the “jihadi” term (unflattering term in this context). And I stand by my use of that term as unflattering in this context—I intend to keep using it, and I don’t care if others use it here. Here’s why:

    You are and I will wear cheerful-looking headscarves and clothes. [In my case, only when I’m at the masjid. {chuckling}] But let’s not trip and pretend that we haven’t seem Muslim gatherings jam-packed with grim-looking, no-make-up-wearing women wearing grim-looking, monochromatic black or grey tents. And calling such grim-looking attire “modesty.” In fact, I woud say that such grim-looking women ARE representative of Sunni Muslim BW.

    And these various types of “I find my indentity in my so-called modest ‘Muslim’ clothes (aka Arabian-tribal-style black and gray tents for women to wear); or in wearing my hair in natural styles” women ARE “jihadis.” They are zealots and downright fanatical in shoving their choices down every other BW’s throat. Much like the modern, self-proclaimed “salafis” and other “jihadis” that have disfigured the face of Islam in the eyes of non-Muslims.

    So, I feel that it’s perfectly acceptable to in this sort of context to call such women “Exaggerated Attribute X Jihadis.” And I hereby formally give everybody permission to use that term in the conversations HERE at THIS blog, if they want to. {chuckling}]

    • joyousnerd says:

      I had no intention to offend. Just as Khadija explained above, the phrase was coined by her to describe fanaticism that is misplaced and being used to mask or deflect from something else.

      In my case, I wore very feminine prints and colors, always. But I never allowed so much as my ankles or wrists to show, and I chose oversized billowy garments in an effort to hide my bulky form. This pitiful attempt to mask my obesity under piles of flowers was unsuccessful I am sure.

      Your description of tweaking your clothing choices to the audience and occasion was helpful to me. I hope to learn how to carefully tweak and tune my style as well.

      I would like to cultivate a style similar to Audrey Hepburn’s chic, feminine and classy style. This might sound un-PC to say, but I’d like people to look at me and think I’m from old money, and that I’m a prized and pursued woman. I don’t want to look like a middle aged woman, but I don’t want to wear teenager clothes either. I’m 31, I want to look it, with class and dignity.

    • Mellissa says:

      I like this idea of tailoring your outfits to the occasion. Now that I think of it, it makes sense, you need to blend in, but differentiate yourself from the group.

      I want to try to upgrade my style into a more classier, chic one.

  14. SeriousSally says:

    Forgot to add:

    Congratulations JoyousNerd! You’re an inspiration.

  15. SeriousSally says:

    You know, I agonized a bit over whether or not to delete the first paragraph. I should have rephrased it because I value this space as one where we are all pretty much on the same page and can disagree respectfully. The point I wanted to make, in addition to the last sentence in that paragraph, is that sometimes when I sit with irritation instead of immediately jumping to offense the thought process can lead to useful information. I left it in to try and make that point, but I should have fleshed it out more.

    Anyway, Khadija, I’m Shi’a. I spend no time at all in Sunni spaces because I’m not usually welcome. A decade or so ago when I did, though, I saw what you are talking about. I think this is less of an issue in my community, though, because we never had the Salafabees telling us beauty is haraam. We have our own issues, though…

    In general I DO NOT disagree with you, but I also know that you have Muslima lurkers and I want to reinforce the idea that adherence to conservative interpretations of hijab does not have to mean frumpy or even sexless, as I see an important link between femininity and spirituality in Islam. Creativity in how you carry yourself and attention to detail in dress can be beneficial and powerful no matter how much fabric you use.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    [Khadija speaking: My sister, it’s perfectly fine with me if we disagree. My thing is that, just like anybody else who’s engaged in dysfunction, Muslims are NOT going to be treated as some sort of sacred cows that cannot be fairly criticized without people crying “bigotry.” At least not here at this blog.

    I will also add that as far as I’m concerned, there’s NO meaningful difference in terms of the spiritual health (or rather sickness to be more accurate) among various Muslim “denominations” in the US. I don’t know much about the Shi’a in the US, but I doubt that they’re any healthier than the rest of the Muslim collectives in the US. (I’m not saying that you suggested that they were/are.)

    I recall how a lot of Sufis clapped and cheered when various (Sunni) Muslim bloggers did exposés of the many corrupt and woman-abusing sheikhs and imams among the self-proclaimed “salafis” and Sunnis. But many of these same Sufis screamed “bigotry” when the same bloggers exposed the corrupt doings of some of their sheikhs to the public at large.

    So, please forgive me if I’m being cynical, but I’m reasonably sure that if the Shi’a in America aren’t collectively involved in the popular Sunni hobby of declaring that which is lawful (in this case beauty) as unlawful, then they’re doing something else of a similar harmful magnitude. I have yet to see a healthy Muslim collective—of any sort—in the US. Furthermore, conditions would not be as they are in ALL Muslim countries if any of these people were healthy as a collective. So I’m not unduly impressed by any Muslim grouping or denomination. And we already know the many things that are wrong with AAs. And unfortunately, AAs tend to bring our maladies with us into the deen (whatever version of the deen we accept).]

  16. RColeman says:

    I am so glad we are doing this!!! I started to really work on my external presentation these past few months. I started small with getting my nails done every two weeks. I made sure that they stayed short and they have have polish on them. Skin and hair was next and I found this blog site to give me additional ideas on product suggestions and inspiration for styles; http://moptopmaven.blogspot.com/

    Now I need to work on my clothing choices…I have gone from a tropical state where color and dress codes are different to a mid-western state with 4 seasons. I love color and during the winter months in my area there is a severe lack of it on the racks in my size that compliment my skin tone. Since I have been here I have worn jeans about 85% of the time. I’m really tired of jeans and lack of color choices.

  17. formavitae says:

    This post reflects some thinking I’ve been having as of late. I am currently a student, and I constantly try to dress “practically” (for weather, circumstance, etc.). Since I am on a limited budget, I decided to forgo the many “pleasures” I enjoyed in the areas of beauty/fashion/etc. I realize this approach has taken a toll on me.

    I will be graduating this year and starting my professional career soon. I am excited about the many interests I will be able to resume with my increase in income. “Beauty” is one area I’m REALLY looking forward to reintegrating into my life. Nevertheless, I am starting to realize how “awkward” and “out of place” I feel when thinking about increasing my physical attractiveness. (Don’t get me wrong, I am always appropriately dressed for school, work, etc., I just do it in a “practical” and “efficient” manner.) I was very surprised to discover how “foreign” one can feel to their own person if they stay out of contact too long. Anyway, I’ve decided that I want to be well-positioned to join “the land of the living” (lol) once I graduate. So, I have committed to getting fit and healthy, that I may be able to enjoy my OWN beauty and GREAT “fashion sense”. I’ve joined Evia’s 4-4-25 program for additional support.

    I am a very intelligent person and good student, and I realize that I’ve often felt like I had to be focused on “books” or focused on “looks”. It’s important to be able to pursue and excel at both. I’ve decided that as long as my daughter is doing positive things in her life, I will pay for her beauty/health/femininity maintenance. It’s critically important for a woman to possess. My upbringing has also impacted my feelings about “beautification”. I remember being taught that a woman’s beauty is supposed to come from the inside and not outer adornments. My mother (an attractive and beautifully-shaped woman) also made many sacrifices so that I could have private education, piano lessons, etc. Furthermore, she worked in the factory. But, she always bought beautiful “Sunday clothes”.

    Anyway, the point is that I am accustomed to beauty and physical maintenance being sacrificed for the sake of achieving other goals. I realize it’s important to be able to live life as an “integrated” person. Taking care of your health and APPEARANCE is just as important as taking care of your education and finances. And, caring for your looks isn’t the same as being “superficial”. [I also understand not wanting to attract male attention etc., etc., but that’s not the main issue.]

    In sum, I look forward to improving the “outside” as much as the “inside”, this year. And, I look forward to sharing with other ladies of like mind.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    [Khadija speaking: I’m also concerned by the fragmentation of different parts of ourselves that seems to be encouraged these days. And I’ve come to truly despise the “You need to focus on your books” slogan that is often thrown at academically promising Black girls and young women. Asian women and White women understand that a young lady can and SHOULD focus on both her books AND on getting her “Mrs.” degree.]

    • tertiaryanna says:

      “I’m also concerned by the fragmentation of different parts of ourselves that seems to be encouraged these days”

      I wonder if that doesn’t result from either truly being unable to meet one’s own needs and/or not setting one’s own priorities.

      If a person feels like there’s never enough to get their needs met, then they’re more likely to forgo one area of their life for another. And if that woman is taught not to value her own priorities or decision making, then the sacrifices she makes may not be those that will help her move forward.

      Formavitae, I don’t mean your mom (it’s natural to make your minor child a priority over yourself, so a parent could happily sacrifice a new dress over piano lessons.)

      But for many BW, they are making sacrifices that they don’t need to make. Also, in misidentifying a lack of initiative for a lack of opportunity. There are things that maybe don’t jump in our laps, but that a little effort would gain.

      I think that regular (not obsessive) self-reflection can expose those gaps between healthy sacrifices and limiting ones. Also, carefully assessing our situation and analyzing where our efforts are going: to things that carry us forward, or not? I believe those gaps and misdirected resource allocation are what lead to an unwholesome fragmentation of a person’s life.

      Happy new year, everyone!

  18. mochachoc says:

    Happy New Year Khadija and all.

    Just a quick thought. I don’t like that Camilla Parker Bowles remained a lover to Prince Charles while he was married but she obviously played the game very well. Diana’s beauty was no obstacle for her. Now I hear Prince Charles has intimated that she could indeed be called Queen once he ascends the throne. If ever there was a woman who used her womanly skills she is it.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    [Khadija speaking: Here’s hoping you have a Happy and Prosperous New Year!]

  19. Neecy says:

    Khadija,

    Thank you for tackling the issues that most Black women wouldn’t dare. It is so important that we as BW “get the memo”.

    When I gained my weight, I believe I also fell into the “looks don’t matter” / frumpiness. Before that, I ALWAYS made sure to look my best. I fell off that wagon after weight gain and I am suddenly getting back on.

    I recently made some changes to how I wear my hair and I had to face some hard facts that my short natural hair was/is not as flattering on me or my face as long pressed out hair. I also finally realized that short hair on plus sized women does not look flattering (at least IMO) so I have decided to change it up. I prefer my hair natural and have been wearing it this way for 8 years. But now I realize its not the most flattering maybe b/c I am at a point in my life where (1) after reading many BWE blogs have enlightened me to the fact that we as BW need to always have winning strategies for our lives that will benefit us the most. That includes appearance and I don’t care how many frumpies shout the slogan “looks don’t matter” – THEY DO. (2) I am a lot more willing to yield myself and lose the stout rigidness I once had about things (such as my hair) in order to garner the best options for my life both personal and professional. This is not to say that once I lose the weight, the natural hair may look a lot better on my face b/c I will be smaller. Who knows *shrug*. I will cross that bridge once I get there. But I have seen a tremendous interest in my looks and men going out of their way to be extra nice/helpful and even going the next step by not only chatting and flirting but literally asking if they can stay in contact with me. All this simply b/c I changed a hairstyle that was not flattering on me to one that is.

    As I lose the weight and rediscover my beauty/femininity I will be keeping all of the other things in mind that also matter and contribute to the “beauty as a weapon” profile.

    It seems after the late 80’s (with the influx of hood mentality/gangster hip hop) BW have lost their knack for femininity. I don’t remember being young and seeing BW act the way they do now. I look at my mother and maternal grandmother and they NEVER exhibited those VULGARIAN behaviors and they also took great pride in their appearance (especially my grandmother). So as I had fallen off the wagon, she would ask me how could I let myself go like that. I would get upset and say something sarcastic, but what I didn’t realize then was she was right. I wasted 6 years of my youth being overweight and frumpy when I could have used that time to have my looks work for me in many areas of my life. Especially since grade school I ALWAYS took great pride in my looks and always received positive reinforcement b/c of it. It seems that after college when I moved back home, I faced some setbacks and let myself go and remained on that track for too long. So DONE with that. Moving forward, on and up!

    Its never too late to change, but its also a reality that many BW need to get this memo NOW and start acting accordingly if they want a more enhanced life and better options in quality men and other things that come with being deemed attractive and poised.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    [Khadija speaking: You’re welcome!]

    • joyousnerd says:

      There are other ways of keeping your hair natural while it grows out. Speaking from experience, very long natural hair makes men of every race go crazy. You could wear a wig or half wig, or install some loose braids while your hair grows. If you start pressing or relaxing it, you are very unlikely to grow it out long successfully.

      • Neecy says:

        Joyous,

        I wish my natural hair was a bit longer so that it framed my face. But it shrinks sooo much b/c I normall wear it “wash n go”. The amount of male attention (yes non BM) I have received is insane over the past month since wearing it straight. Even just the way they respond to me. i cannot deny this huge difference – and honestly i really do love that and don’t want to lose it at this point.

        And now I know its not really the texture of my hair driving this (natural vs. straightened) but moreso the LENGTH b/c short hair does not flatter me personally. The sad part is, the main reason my straightened hair is so long & healthy in the first place is b/c wearing it natural I never put any heat on it. So its like a double edged sword. The natural hair is not as flattering for me (especially in terms of male attention) but its the cause of my straightened hair being so long & healthy.

        *sigh* what’s a girl to do! LOL.

        The wig thing won’t work as I have never liked adding anything on my scalp (except braids which i LOVE to death and which are also very complimentary on my face. I would keep my hair in braids more often however, braids are just too damaging to my hair when I take them out).

        So what i have come up with is I will switch between the two. When i wear my hair natural i will opt for more styles which frame my face much better and give my hair some length. With my wash n go hair it shrinks, but if i do long twists etc., that may as well be flattering b/c they add length and volme to the hair – which i need.

    • If it’s important to you to not relax your hair while wearing it straight:
      http://heatstylednaturals.blogspot.com/

      The blogger has long natural hair which she straightens on a regular basis and it looks healthy (to me anyway) and thick.

      I’m definitely not a professional but from what I understand heat is the most damaging to BW’s hair when she is actively trying to grow it. If you are comfortable with the length you have now and are careful you should be able to straighten your hair without doing too much damage.

      From what I have observed from BW women with natural hair who always keep it straightened, you can only tell their hair is damaged when it is not straight (and even then you might not be able to tell if you don’t know what damaged hair looks like).

      Basically, what I’m saying is that relaxing isn’t a necessity if a woman wants to wear their hair straight. Although if you wear straight hair all the time you will probably not be able to retain the natural texture you have now. You will have to big chop or transition to return to your original texture. Although the same can be said for relaxing of course.

      Good luck and keep us up to date on your journey!

      • Neecy says:

        Revolutionary,

        Thanks so much for your encouragement and the link!! Yes her hair is very thick and beautiful.

        This is where I am stumped b/c i am not so much afraid that wearing my hair straight all the time will damage it. b/C honestly i only do heat curling once a week if that. But its losing my natural curl definition that i know is a result of too much heat pressing and curling. But like i said, I don’t use much heat on it even when its pressed out. the styles I wear my hair allow me to not have to touch it with heat unless I am really styling it a certain way.

    • Lisa99 says:

      Hi Neecy! I’m late to your post, but it did bring up a lot of food for thought.

      I wear my hair natural, and for the most part, I’m a huge natural-hair cheerleader for a variety of reasons. That being said though, there was always a part of me that had a so-so reaction to short natural hair on a woman who was overweight. It seemed to de-feminize her, for whatever reason, while it didn’t seem to do that on a thinner woman. The larger women that I usually considered attractive almost always had longer (and usually straightened) hair. I don’t know if it’s a balance or symmetry issue, but yeah, it’s just something I’ve noticed.

      When I was on natural hair boards and would see posters congratulating women that went natural, I do remember sometimes thinking how the woman looked less attractive with the new style… and usually, she was bigger.

      I don’t have any issue with the texture of natural black hair, and I think any kinky texture can look good on a black woman. But the length is what seems to be the sticky issue, which is why you probably got so many compliments when you wore your hair long and straight. It probably flattered your face and your frame more.

      Anyway, I wish you well on your overall journey. If you want to stay natural but do wigs, or return to natural in the future, that’s fine too. If you straighten it, I would stay away from the damaging effects of a relaxer OR stretch the relaxers out for a few months.

      Natural or straightened though, I do think that black women’s hair looks best with “some” texture to it. By that I mean that if it’s straightened, there’s still some body and bounce to it — like the “warm press” that Grandma used to do.

      I think the “bone straight” look — whether achieved with a relaxer or a weave/wig comes off as fake and actually might be a turn OFF to men from the global village. I think non-black men are fine with natural or straightened, but I think they notice a difference when they see healthy hair on a black woman versus limp hair that just hangs there, and is straight only for the sake of being straight. The latter comes off as, uh, not as classy, so to speak.

      Good luck!

      • Neecy says:

        Lisa99,

        thanks for the encouragement.

        ITA. Plus sized women (which i am) do not look most flattering with short tightly curled hair.

        Perfect example that its not the texture but length that flatters a woman. i went out this weekend. I saw TWO thin BW with very short natural TWA (teeny weeny afro) hair styles. They had tightly coiled hair that was very short. but they looked ABSOLUTLY lovely and beautiful. And I believe they were able to pull this style off b/c they were (1) thin and (2) had small heads (lol).

        One happened to be a manager supervisor at the place i was. I told her she looked so wonderful with her natural hair like that. She was very dark, petite, had very delicate small features and I think she was of African descent. She looked amazing.

        I have figured this out and accepted that its not necessarily what texture a woman has her hair in (straight or natural) its about finding the style and length that flatters herself as an individual. i would never look that beautiful with hair that short like these two BW did.

        Its only until recently that I have been willing to admit and understand that everything is not for everyone – and for me short hair isn’t cutting it. So i have to opt for styles and such that give my hair more length to balance out my big ole head and body. 🙂

  20. Muse says:

    Happy New Year Khadija! I pray that 2011 and beyond is full of peace, blessings, abundance, and happiness for you! I love this blog so much and appreciate the work you are doing. I also would like to express gratitude that you are moving beyond the conversations about damaged people and situations. You’ve sounded the alarms so if people choose to ignore them then so be it. I’m happy that your post are now focusing on what to expect in the Promise Land instead of concerning ourselves about what’s going on back in Egypt!

    I would like to cosign on a few points that were made in this note.

    Vulgarity is a plague in the black community and modern American society as a whole. We are now seeing young women conduct their lives as if they never had any home training; sadly some never did. An individual’s dress, speech, TONE, and mannerisms convey to the world how they deserve and/or wish to be treated. You can often tell an individual class mentality just by observing their behavior for five minutes. Due to the vulgarity in African American culture, we see young females dress with their behinds and breast exposed and males emulating prison culture by having their pants hang off their behinds.

    Unfortunately Black women are stereotyped as being unfeminine and aggressive because of their body language, dress, and tone in conversations. I’ve seen two extremes: The frumpty overweight mammy-figure or the over sexualized sapphire. The excessive cursing, crude language, and inappropriate conversations only add fuel to this stereotype. This level of vulgarity is the result of one’s upbringing. Living in the jungles makes an individual animalistic and primal because that is necessary for survival. When one is in survival mode they do not have time to cultivate their feminine side. . Even though I have my serious moments I’ve always been a bubbly person. I didn’t grow up in a household where aggressive body language or intimidation was used. Even to this day I’m very uncomfortable around hyper aggressive Black women. My instinct is to get away from them. So I can only imagine how others might feel.

    I always encourage the young women that I mentor to control the vibrations and tone of their voice. There is no need to yell when you are speaking to someone. I noticed that these young women tend to speak loudly and come off as aggressive because they are afraid of not being heard. I encourage them to speak softly and communicate their needs without cursing or getting flustered. However this will be a difficult habit to break if these women’s home environments consist of fools who only comprehend information if they are being yelled at or cursed out.

    This is why Sojourners need to be mindful of the company you keep. I have all sorts of friends from different walks of life but I don’t intermingle my social networks. Some of my friends and associates can’t come with me to certain events or social gatherings. All of us Sojourners need to have a sphere of influence. The closer to the inner circle an individual is, they more likeminded he or she should be to your core values and goals. My closest friends are individuals on a similar life path and our values are closely aligned.

    Cultivating beauty inside and out requires discretion. In the age of digital media and social networking, people are over sharing. That is an aspect of vulgarity in my eyes. I’ve been guilty of getting caught up in the facebook craze where I shared my opinion on various social issues. Even though I never got personal on my page, it hit me that people don’t need to know everything I’m thinking about society all the time. People share way too much and risk being labeled and judged behind their backs.

    Looks matter. I noticed that beautiful women often get envious looks from other women because she draws attention away from them. A beautiful woman amplifies the ugliness and low self esteem of other females around her. With that being said, instead of hating on a beautiful and polished woman, observe her mannerisms and learn what she is doing to stand out. Most of my girlfriends are really polished. I was kind of a nerd growing up and because I befriended really pretty and confident women I ended up becoming polished myself. So in other words, don’t be a “hater.”

    Beauty is as beauty does. Looks go a long way but if you have a vulgar disposition, your physical appearance will go down the tubes. I can’t begin to tell you how many physically beautiful women I know who ended up looking like garbage five to 10 years later because of bad living. When you act ugly truly believe that something spiritual happens which will eventually manifest physically.

    Misery loves company. Often times we see women try to discourage their girlfriends or other females in their life from losing weight, polishing their look, or make other positive changes in their lives because they don’t want to be left behind. When an individual starts to change for the better, they will eventually start to assess who is in their lives. People become afraid of being left behind which is why positive change is discouraged through passive-aggressive behavior. I would be weary of advice from individuals who aren’t doing anything positive in their lives. Often time they are projecting their fear, failures, and incompetence onto you.

    I would like to close with some fabulous quotes from the lovely and fabulous Coco Chanel! She is probably one of the most fascinating women in history. She knew women and people very well.

    “Elegance is not the prerogative of those who have just escaped from adolescence, but of those who have already taken possession of their future. “

    “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous. “
    “Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity. “

    “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”

    “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.”

    “I don’t understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little – if only out of politeness. And then, you never know, maybe that’s the day she has a date with destiny. And it’s best to be as pretty as possible for destiny.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    [Khadija speaking: You’re welcome! Yes, I’m also pleased with shifting focus to the Promised Land. It had become tiresome to continue addressing Dead Enders and Dead Ender issues. Onward and forward! :-)]

  21. KimP says:

    Congrats JoyousNerd! I bet you feel just as awesome as you look. The last 48 lbs. will be a breeze.

  22. FoxyCleopatra says:

    @joyousnerd,

    If you don’t mind me asking, pls how long did it take for you to grow your hair from the short natural to its present length? Also, is it still natural?

    Thanx.

    • joyousnerd says:

      Thanks, KimP! I look and feel fab!

      FoxyCleopatra: I cut it down to 1″ long in August 2006. Now it’s to my hipbones. It took 4 years to get here. I foolishly tried to texturize my hair about 2 years ago and that part of my hair is far thinner and more prone to damage and breakage despite my focused attention and care. I’ve learned my lesson and I will never use chemicals of any kind on my hair ever again.

  23. Everybody,

    I hope that those of you who are looking to make a change in 2011 will take a look at Evia’s 4-4-25 goal achievement program. If you haven’t been able to turn the page totally on your own steam, maybe it’s time to look for additional supportive materials, gatherings and coaching.

    It’s something to consider.

    Expect Success!

  24. burkeygw says:

    I’m not sure if any of you ladies use it, but apple cidar vinegar is a great way to purify the skin, as well as helping with removal of dead skin(first layer). I don’t wear makeup, so I have to make sure my skin looks very clear. Mine is very oily, and I find that it makes the pores smaller, as well as giving a bright glow to your face. I’m also wearing an afro, but running out of ideas on how to style it(other than headbands).

  25. Ladies,

    New commenters that I’m not familiar with are coming out of the woodwork for this conversation. I hate to have to give this sort of public service announcement, but it’s good to say these things out loud:

    Read up and conduct your own research before you put anything at all on your skin. And before you try any other suggested technique. There are trolls out there who would deliberately suggest things that are harmful.

    And now back to our regularly scheduled discussion.

    Expect Success!

    • Ali says:

      I would agree and say that also – it may just be good advice for them, but isn’t your thing. Something that might work for someone else might not work for you. I know a lot of people love weight training here, but some women have a tendency to bulk up when they weight train. Nope, it isn’t just a ‘myth’ – I’ve seen it happen.

      Also some might prefer a more pencil or dancer-like shape vs. an athletic or hourglass ‘venus index’ shape – I know I do. I JUST started doing stretching exercieses on dvd, to add to my running. I’m finding that Callanetics and Lotte Berk are much more suited to my needs/the figure I like to maintain. They are both basicully ‘hard core’ versions of pilates.

      Still all this tips are great, keep them coming. I feel like I’m learning so much. How often do black women get to exchange beauty tips?

      For sensitive skin, can I recommend Kheils skincare products? Expensive but worth it.

      • Ali,

        You said, “I would agree and say that also – it may just be good advice for them, but isn’t your thing. Something that might work for someone else might not work for you.”

        Exactly. The other thing is that (as you noted) everybody doesn’t want—nor does everybody have to want—the exact same things. Lifestyle optimization isn’t about any sort of dogma.

        It’s about each BW seeking and getting whatever it is that she wants for herself.

        Expect Success!

  26. joyousnerd says:

    How I Lost 100lbs

    At first I was so obese that I got winded and exhausted easily. Richard Simmons dvds wore me out, and I’d go through half a gallon of water during that hour alone. I was so disgusted by the appearance of my fat jiggling that it was discouraging. I wore loose clothes so I wouldn’t have to see my legs shake while I worked out. I was always exhausted, so I would take liquid B12 or drink an Airborne for a boost of energy a few minutes before working out.

    I changed the way I ate dramatically. Since I was on medication for diabetes and had to take my blood sugar readings and eat at certain times, it pretty much taught me how to eat. I have to always couple carbs with protein. If I don’t eat the carb with protein, I take gelatin pills (they are sold to help women grow long nails). I keep hard boiled eggs in the fridge for a quick protein snack.

    As my fat melted and my muscles got stronger, I started using resistance. My favorite workout dvd is called “Bellydance Fitness for Weight Loss featuring Rania: 5 Daily Quickies” I still do this DVD daily. I do at least 3 segments (30 mins) out of the 5. I add 4lbs of weight to each ankle, and use 4 lbs in each hand for the arms section. The waist training section on that dvd is insane; great results.

    I also do powerwalking, by Leslie Sansone. I started with the 3 mile walks, then moved up to the 5 mile walk, which is an hour long.

    My self-talk has changed. When I see cookies or whatever, I have to tell myself that: I have tasted cookies before and they aren’t so special, that 1 will turn into 11 in a flash (true), that I’d rather have a perfect body than tickle my tastebuds, etc.

    To lose the next 48lbs, I will continue doing powerwalks, but I want to up the intensity. I just bought an adjustable weight walking harness tonight at Target. It’s 8lbs and can go up to 12lbs. I will also, god willing, do P90X. I bought it six months ago but I wasn’t ready. I’ll do Power 90 first, and then tackle P90X. I’ll keep you ladies updated on my progress.

    Thank you all so very much for your kind words of support! Really, you ladies are so awesome.

  27. Clarice says:

    Excellent post well worth waiting for and quite timely. Recognizing how easy, to hit it is to hit a bout of frumpiness, with all that Sojourners are actively pursuing and flitting on butterfly wings from one to delight to another strategies are needed to facilitate success and always be able to be fantastic and flawless. Streamlining my beauty routine to a science I keep my personal essentials with me at all times in case I find myself pressed for time and or feeling wilted as a result of a chance unfortunate encounter with the negative. My personal essentials are a tube of lip color a bit of my favorite fragrance in a moisturizer since I have dry skin and a pair of earrings. I make sure I keep these in my car and one set in my purse. That was when I feel wilted I can discretely escape to the necessary room and immediately perk up!

    In this new year I am working to get a set of flawless outfits as go to items. That way regardless as to what I am dealing with I know having prepared ahead of time that these outfits look good and make the statement I want to present even if I am feeling wobbly. My thought is that I may not be able to avoid every negative situation or circumstance I can however position myself to weather it in style and and feeling prepared I can easily smile.

    Clarice
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    [Khadija speaking: Thank you for your kind words about the post; I truly appreciate it!]

    • Brenda55 says:

      You can never go wrong with the classics. I keep a number of classic style out fits complete with shoes and accessories in my closet. That way I can grab an outfit and go when an event comes up. Also remember to pay attention to what goes underneath your outfit. The wrong foundation garments will kill and outfit every time.

  28. Mellissa says:

    What confuses me is when being loud was the standard for a good black woman. It was seen as a woman’s mark of pride to be as uncouth and loud as possible. Soft-spoken girls were considered and targeted as ‘weak’. So I think many women behaved this way to protect themselves.

    What I’m really working on is becoming more feminine and less “sassy”. I’m working hard to figure out how to be more assertive, but be less aggressive. And I made sure to remove myself out of possible situations with DBR’s.

    • Lisa99 says:

      Story of my LIFE Mellissa!

      Why was I the one criticized because I was somewhat quiet and introspective? Why did a group of girls take me aside when I was younger and have a “discussion” with me about how I shouldn’t be so serious all the time? (Thank goodness my mom saw this and stepped in and told them to not ever attempt that mess again!)

      I love that I now get to be charming and polite and demure… it’s seen as a positive! I did develop a cursing habit that I’m working to break — more as a result of working in a male-dominated industry for 10 years than anything — but I notice that I tense up when I’m in certain environments where BW will laugh at every.single.thing. someone says and do that loud cackling thing… or if I choose to stay quiet, I’m questioned about why I’m so “shy.”

      No, I don’t deliberately put myself in these places, but since my profession has me dealing with the public a lot, sometimes that “public” can be DBRs… trust me though, I’m never in these situations by choice!

      I miss the era of the classy, elegant black woman like Lena Horne and the like… women who carried themselves well and always were seen as ladies. I’m working to get to that level myself!

  29. Ali says:

    My new year’s resolution is to work on my cursing. I don’t swear constantly, but I do do it, and it’s a nasty habit I’d like to drop.

    When I was young, I thought swearing sounded cool and adult and tough! Later I saw attractive/beautiful women do it and I realized how much it lowers even the most lovely woman. There’s just something cheap about a women who curses – I know that sounds old fashioned, but there you go.

    I need to figure out some replacement words for when I’m annoyed . . . . . .

    • Karen says:

      “I need to figure out some replacement words for when I’m annoyed . . . . . .”

      Okay, don’t laugh but there are some pretty cool words that were used in the 30’s and 40’s such as “Balderdash” or “Jimminy crickets” to name a few.

      I like the 30’s/40’s from a style perspective and many of the books/movies from that period were not allowed to use curse words (censors), so it is a good source to learn colorful words that are not curse words. Also the use of “silence” can also convey displeasure without having to say a word.

      • Ali says:

        Thank you for the tip Karen! I’ll research some new words from this era. And as you say – nothing wrong with keeping the mouth SHUT. You can’t ever go wrong with that.

  30. I think developing a style of your own is important and makes shopping so much easier. I was very fortunate in that my mother was a seamstress and a woman of impeccable style and taste. My style icon is Jackie Kennedy. My mother suggested her early on because she was tall and wore the type of elegant clothing that best suited my frame. Obviously I didn’t (and don’t) have the money to buy the clothes that she did, but if you study her look you’ll see that it’s very simple. Most of the things she wore–shift dresses, well-tailored trousers, simple sweaters are available at every price point. One of the keys to the “Jackie” look is in the fit. Fit can be problematic because it requires tailoring. You can’t just buy stuff off the rack most times and have it fit. Tailoring can be expensive, but I learned to do simple alterations myself. The cost of tailoring can also be offset by limiting the amount of clothing you own. If you stick to the classics and investment pieces to which you only add a few trendy accessories for each season you’ll have your look down in no time and always look good. For me that’s been menswear style trousers in basic colors, sweater sets (a godsend in the south’s changeable climate), A-line skirts (perfect if you have an “apple” shape like me) and crisp cotton shirts. A “signature” piece of jewelry can be good as well. For me, it’s large hoop earrings. Hoops never go out of style and again, they’re available at every price point.

    Another important lesson I’ve learned is that there can be a marked difference between what you like and what looks good on you. Personally I really like a very bohemian style. (Think Nicole Richie). Unfortunately that look only works if you’re very thin. On larger women all that fabric does nothing but add weight — something none of us wants.

    • Karen says:

      100% co-sign on the benefits of a good tailor. In my travels in Europe, many cities are full with good tailors.

      I also have a pretty similar lineup. My classic pieces are all Austin Reed (purchased many moons ago). They were investment purchases and all have stood the test of time.

      Also I like simple lines with tasteful jewelry to accent the overall look.

      My basic wardrobe consists of:

      black, charcoal and brown (espresso brown) skirts and pants

      White blouses

      Black and brown shoes (low-healed pump, boots, ballet flats)

      I use cardigans, sweaters, scarves and jewelry in various colors to accent the above.

      For the above skirts and pants, I have winter and spring/summer weight. The basics have all be tailored to fit.

  31. Forgot to congratulate you joyousnerd. I lost weight in 2010 as well, and it really is rewarding. I follow the insulin resistance diet which is essentially a diabetic diet combining carbs and proteins as well. BTW, you mentioned boiled eggs, which are a standby for me. Have you see these little carriers?

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0047QKMTW/ref=asc_df_B0047QKMTW1377187?smid=A1YN8GNJEP2KXN&tag=dealtmp3862-20&linkCode=asn&creative=395105&creativeASIN=B0047QKMTW

    I snagged mine out of my husband’s camping equipment. You can get them small enough to carry two boiled eggs. I do a lot of running around during the day, and it’s hard to find high-quality protein on the road. At the beginning of the week I boil a half dozen eggs, then just pop a couple in my egg carrier and place it in my insulated lunch bag. (In the summer time I put one of those cool packs in the bag since it gets so hot here.) That way when I get hungry I can just pop an egg out and eat it. I bought the lunch bag when my son was younger to keep his snacks cool, but it’s been fabulous for my things as well. (My guess is if you don’t have an insulated lunch bag, one of those cool packs in a ziploc bag would work just as well.)

    • joyousnerd says:

      Thank you! I’ll look into an egg carrier, what a brilliant idea! We already have the insulated bag, also for kid snacks and stuff.

  32. Vinindy says:

    Beauty as a weapon – Ms. K, after I read your post, I immediately thought of Mary J. Blige. I’m a long time reader and recognize you rarely “do celebraties” but to me she eptiomizes your point. The artist she is today is a world away from where she started.

  33. Evia says:

    Khadija, I can’t fathom why exactly so many bw bought into the “books first, looks last” mindset. This is why I, too, have stressed that bw are capable and MUST do BOTH–date and go to school simultaneously because their college years coincide with their prime mating period.

    I KNOW this can be done easily.

    When I was in college, I was casually STYLISH everyday and we (gal pals and I) dressed in a way that was calculated to get attention but not in an obvious way. In other words, we didn’t want anyone to think we were actually trying to get attention but we knew that we were going to get enough attention from guys. LOL!

    For ex., my jeans/slacks fit WELL–snug, but not tight. Wearing too-tight clothes was considered a faux pas AND low-class, so that was a major NO-NO. My tops were also tastefully colorful, stylishly cut and were a bit snug but not hugging. I loved blouses with darts (to accentuate my few lil curves–LOL and my long back and arms), and if I found a blouse in a color I liked that didn’t have darts, I would get it and sew the darts in.

    Bw on my college campus were VERY careful not to cross the line and act uncouth or look slutty. In colder/cooler months, I wore body slimming ribbed turtlenecks (in different colors) with my snug-fitting slacks. I knew that the turtlenecks would accentuate my shoulders, neck, and long, toned arms (exercised everyday) and this worked very well for me when it came to getting attention from men! LOL I wore a dab of “Je Reviens” (French eau de toilette) everyday during cooler months and a whisk of “L’Air du Temps” in warmer weather. My best girlfriend at the time wore “Charlie” and “White Shoulders.” Once again, we only wore just a dab because wearing too much would have indicated that we were TRYING to get attention.

    The point is that we NEVER went out without our dab of fragrance and lipstick. OMG! NO way would we have gone out anywhere without those two! We NEVER went out–even to the corner store–unless our appearance was on point. If we tied a scarf around our head, we did it in a stylish way that was calculated to make us appear chic. If we couldn’t tie it to look chic, we wore something else.

    We got attention from a variety of guys (all types) just about every day in NYC. We were both slim and would wear shoes with at least a 1″ heel to look taller and streamlined. Our behavior was calibrated to get attention, if there was any younger guy in the vicinity. When we were in the vicinity of males, we would deliberately put on our “animated butterfly” act in order to display ourselves and send out signals. LOL! Of course, we always pretended not to know that the guys were watching. Pretty soon, one or more of the guys would come over and start chatting with us. We got asked out by guys on a regular basis doing this, but we only dated a certain caliber of man. We would never, ever waste our time dating guys who we called “characters” (nice name for DBRs, non-achievers or underachievers, guys on a too-low level, etc.). This is probably why we only mingled with foreign men and non-black men. We didn’t deliberately reject AA men; they just mostly didn’t fit our criteria.

    Just about every week, I gave myself a steamy facial followed by an egg-white mask followed by an astringent to cleanse, tighten, and refine the pores of my skin because I had/have oily skin that easily broke out. I rarely ever ate foods that I knew would be bad for my skin, or only a tiny amount–like maybe no more than 3 potato chips. If I slipped and ate more than that, I would pray not to break out. My best girlfriend had perfect skin, but she still only ate a few chips so that she wouldn’t gain weight. She, too, had a regular exercise routine and played tennis. She also wore light facial makeup everyday. I never wore facial makeup because it messed up my pores.

    So we surrounded ourselves with slimmer, stylish other women and we constantly talked about our exercise routines, and where to get cute clothes on sale, and of course where to meet cute guys. LOL! We went out socially EVERY week, sometimes a couple of times a week, mostly in downtown Manhattan and on down to the Village.

    We also had part-time jobs and were also very good students. We drank as much wine as we wanted but my best girlfriend had an almost perfect A-average and I always had a high B-average. If either one of us had gotten a C, we would have had to go into therapy. NO lie! We took our education, our looks, and our social lives SERIOUSLY. During school breaks and holidays, we were ALWAYS going on short trips in the northeast out of NYC or would spend more time downtown like at Rockefeller Center ice-skating or roller skating or biking in Central Park, foreign movies, artsy cafes, etc. We rarely ever hung out in black areas (like Harlem) because the males in those areas were the grabbing, groping character types. We’d had some close calls with them a few times.

    Just as we knew that presentation was critically important, we both just knew that messing around with low-caliber men was a major no-no. I mean, what good would it have done us to get our education and then allow a low-caliber man to muck up our lives, so we avoided them like the plague.

    We were both going for our B.S. AND our MRS, and we got them BOTH. She also got an MBA and I got an MS later after we married.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    [Khadija speaking: Evia, what I suspect happened is that over the years, increasing numbers of AA mothers saw various Black girls in their social orbits go off to college, get impregnated by a DBRBM, and then drop out of college to care for the oow baby.

    So, instead of giving nuanced and specific advice to their college-bound daughters about:

    (1) avoiding DBRBM in general (can’t give that advice—it would contradict the “help a brotha out” dogma), and

    (2) positioning oneself to marry a quality man, including quality young men from the global village (because that would contradict the “nuthin’ but a BM” dogma),

    the mantra chanted to young AA girls in hopes of steering them away from college-terminating oow pregnancies became “focus on your books.” {sigh}]

    • lunanoire says:

      Well put.

      As someone who received sledgehammer, rather than scalpel advice on the topic, I think that it’s easier to say no than it is to negotiate yes.

      And as someone who grew up in mixed environments, as a child I did not see many black girls or women in quality relationships or in relationships at all. So I assumed early on that it wasn’t in the cards, and focused on education. For too many AA BW, invisibility is expected; some react by wearing outlandish clothes, hair, nails and makeup and being loud, aggressive and uncouth, while others resign themselves to this concept.

    • Ali says:

      Evia –

      This is the model for what all young black women should be doing in college. But today . . . .if you do some of those things, you are ‘stuck up’ ‘acting white’ ‘boy crazy’ ‘obsessed with looks’ and everything else bad.

      Come to think of it, I was also told to focus on my books/schoolwork . . . but while I wasn’t NEAR as polished looks wise as you, I didn’t really listen. To me, school was about the whole experience of growing up and exploring, not just ‘books’.

      I mentioned this on another blog, but all of my female relatives are told ‘focus on your books’. Many black women are shocked when, come grad school, white/asian/hispanic girls have engagement rings. It’s because they were doing more than reading for four years straight . . . . .

      • Ali,

        You said, “I mentioned this on another blog, but all of my female relatives are told ‘focus on your books’. Many black women are shocked when, come grad school, white/asian/hispanic girls have engagement rings. It’s because they were doing more than reading for four years straight . . . . .”

        Whoomp—there it is… AA women truly need to KILL that “focus on your books” mess and instead tell young AA women to “focus on your undergrad-degree AND your Mrs.-degree.”

        “And the (fashionable, flawless,fit) ants went on with their work.” LOL!—thanks, ForeverLoyal!

    • tertiaryanna says:

      date and go to school simultaneously because their college years coincide with their prime mating period.

      And the evidence bears this out. Average marrying age in the US is about 25. The ages used to be lower, but if you subtract the average time to plan a wedding, then the average time between a proposal and a casual date, then a woman is meeting her potential spouse in her early 20’s: the undergraduate and early grad school years.

      The worst place for a marriage-minded BW to get frumpy is in college.

  34. Evia says:

    And Khadija, THANKS for mentioning 4-4-25.

    It’s just a fact that if we are go accomplish goals, we must work at them in a steady, step by step way. No one has a magical elixir for that. No amount of mere talking and haphazard, occasional action or non-action is going to enable any of us to reach those goals. Accomplishing goals is a disciplined PROCESS.

    Even for women whose goal it is to meet their Mr. Right, this too is often a process. There are often several reasons operating for why some women haven’t met their Mr. Right. They need to get still, quiet, and listen to someone who is effective (not necessarily me) advise them as to why that may be and what they need to do more of, and they then need to get busy on their shorter term goals that will lead to them accomplishing their bigger goal(s).
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    [Khadija speaking: You’re welcome!]

    • foreverloyal says:

      I too have signed up for 4-4-25. I have some real go-getters in my family, and some with great ideas but not nearly enough follow through. Unfortunately for me, I inherited more of the latter’s habits/tendencies..

      But, since habits can be broken and tendencies managed, I’ve decided to do that instead of repeating the same old patterns and getting the same less-than-stellar results.

      Only stellar will do!

      And the (fashionable, flawless,fit) ants went on with their work.

  35. pat says:

    My goal this year is to try eyelashes. I think that I have pretty nice eyes. I want to enhance them. I want to make every part of me flawless so I will start from head to toe.

    Also, and I dont know if this is for a different post. I plan to have get togethers for black women and white men at my home. I own a nice house and I dont utilize it much. However, I will this year! LOL!

    • burkeygw says:

      That sounds like a good idea. Mine are naturally long, but I never wear mascara(or any makeup). Potlucks sound great too, but really don’t have any friends or family I’d enjoy it w/in this state.

  36. Evia says:

    @ Ali re:

    This is the model for what all young black women should be doing in college. But today . . . .if you do some of those things, you are ’stuck up’ ‘acting white’ ‘boy crazy’ ‘obsessed with looks’ and everything else bad.

    Girl, ignorant black folks have ALWAYS been in abundance. We also were accused of “acting white” and “stuck up” sometimes by some of the black students on campus, especially the hard-core “black” ones, but I’ve never had a conflict with being black and still acting normal. Most of the hard core “black” students were cutting classes and flunking out anyway, so we didn’t pay them any attention. We took our education seriously. Being hard core black and dumb may be glamorous now, but not to us.

    So, what we did was to find a few others like us and we didn’t care about the other black students. If we didn’t get invited into their cliches or to their parties or whatever, we didn’t care because I don’t think any of them were having the fun we were having. We did a lot of fun, adventurous stuff. The hard core black women didn’t go anywhere or do anything except get high and get sexed.

    The point is that a bw’s youth–especially these days, is too important to just sit in a room with books all the time. Actually, for ANY hetero woman to do this during her prime mating years is social/marital suicide. Young bw need to model themselves after “effective” women, or the women who are getting what they want, of whichever hue.

    And to me the biggest problem is STILL that so many AA women of various ages who I encounter are still scared they’ll lose their “black card.” They’re always trying to see things from the “black” side or do things that are approved of by ignorant blacks, as you’ve alluded. As has been said, this is why so many bw remain grossly overweight and wear outrageous amounts of hair or hair that is dyed blond or red. That’s the “in” thing among BLACK women, so it’s socially approved by other blacks. They never seem to ask whether it’s helping them or not. They remain around each other so much of the time and never realize how they’re being viewed by others in the world. I know this because on the DL, some of these women are interested in dating middle class non-AA men of means these days, and I can’t find the words to ask them, “Have you passed by a mirror lately?” “Have you listened to yourself lately?”

    It’s really CRITICAL for AA women to be realistic and assess their actual situation, no matter how painful. It’s far better to just have a long hard cry today than suffer forever. Many AA women and men are a long way from being realistic because NO ONE asks them hard questions for fear of them becoming verbally or physically abusive. You can’t tell typical AAs that the emperor is wearing no clothes. You may just get your head chopped off. So people kill them softly by remaining quiet.

  37. NijaG says:

    Happy New Year Khadija!!!!

    A great first post for this New Year.

    I hope this isn’t too Un-PC but I have to say it since I think it ties into some of the points you’re trying to make.

    I don’t think majority of modern Western women realize how lucky they are with the men they have. As a collective they’ve tempered many male traits in order to not just keep their women and children happy, but also lessen the disruptive and negative consequences in the wider society.

    You talked about the security wives in the historical Western society had versus today’s modern times. How the role of the courtesan/mistress played into the wider fabric of that circle.

    You also said:
    Only royal mistresses and courtesans absolutely had to master the arts of capturing and holding powerful men’s interest and desire in order to live well.

    I think this is where the modern Western women kind of dropped the ball. I’m not an expert, but I think one of the themes from the Feminist movement was that the women didn’t want to be seen as one dimensional and placed into certain roles (wife/mother vs courtesans, good girl vs bad girl, madonna vs whore, etc). The wanted to be since as more multi-dimensional and sexually integrated.

    I think for the most part, as a collective, the men were successful in changing their mindset and attitude towards women. However, I’m not sure about the women. I say this because, like you mentioned many modern marriages are based on the ever changing emotions of love, but I still see many women using the old script from the past. In the past, women could afford not to bring their A-game on once married for many of the reasons you stated.

    However, that’s not the case today. You have to be both the Wife and the Courtesan if you want your marriage to work. In fact, I’ll actually say the Courtesan role might outweigh the Wife roles in certain instances.

    Courtesans made it their business to understand the psychology of the men the wanted to have protect and provide for them. I know in Robert Greene’s “Art of Seduction” book he goes into the various different types of male psychology and how to seduce and deal with each type. It think women understanding the male psychology has become a lost art.

    I hope I’m making sense with what I’m trying to say. I’m definitely looking forward to this new turn on your blog. I think it will be most beneficial of us women who are ready to harness our feminine power and take it to the next level.

    • Oshun/Aphrodite says:

      “It think women understanding the male psychology has become a lost art.”

      I agree and I think this is also not being passed down among women. I noticed that Khadija and Evia for example received this info from their mothers and other elder women. I , and others never got anything of the sort – I always assumed that a guy was a “good guy” until proven otherwise – which can result in a lot of damage during the proving. I had no idea that there were men you should identify and eliminate off the bat.

    • NijaG,

      I 100% cosign. Especially the part where you said, “I think for the most part, as a collective, the men were successful in changing their mindset and attitude towards women. However, I’m not sure about the women. I say this because, like you mentioned many modern marriages are based on the ever changing emotions of love, but I still see many women using the old script from the past. In the past, women could afford not to bring their A-game on once married for many of the reasons you stated.

      However, that’s not the case today. You have to be both the Wife and the Courtesan if you want your marriage to work. In fact, I’ll actually say the Courtesan role might outweigh the Wife roles in certain instances.”

      Exactly! Too many modern Western women have either forgotten or never understood that if they want to maximize their odds of being—or remaining—a wife, then they need to learn some courtesan skills.

      Expect Success!

  38. JJ says:

    Concerning the finer points of classy, refined behavior, I’d like to suggest that modifying how we speak extend beyond eliminating cursing.

    There are slang words and phrases which are also dead giveaways that one may be from no background. Some would include, “you knawm saying”, “fo’ real/ ‘sho”. I have seen AA commentators use these phrases on TV and it really surprised me.

    I have also heard AA public figures use the wrong verb, adverb and pronouns. These are BASIC to the English language. Folks, get your grammar straight. (And note: “asked” is not pronounced “axed”)

    My mother always discouraged me from speaking in dialect although I certainly can. That way of speaking and carrying on is reserved for gatherings where only our people are present. And many of us also developed the ability a few generations ago to turn our accents on and off. I certainly can do this as well depending on WHO I’m talking to.

    In Canada I see many other people of color doing this, so don’t think for a minute it’s simply to ingratiate myself to white people. I don’t care about that. However, I am convinced we’d better smarted up and learn to move amongst various social groups a little better.

    For example, the way a Chinese person acts at work may be far different than when they’re with their extended family having Dim Sum. You want to talk about loud!

    Put them in a business luncheon and you see an entirely different display. I have Chinese co- workers who freely admit this to me.

    It’s all about situational appropriateness and becoming adept at cross cultural competency-to your advantage.

    Just make sure this does not come at the expense of cultural pride and personal identity. I have some cousins who operate from this place and I swear its fractured their psyche in some way.

  39. JJ says:

    On the beauty tip, I’m very lucky to have a professional celebrity makeup artist as a close relative. She is a former pro model and actress and has had an amazing career.

    I have shared this tip with numerous BF girlfriends who kept missing it: don’t forget your eyebrows!

    Shaping them is only a start. You have to fill them in as well: it balances out the face and completes the eye area.

    I use a slanted eyebrow/eyeliner brush and fill in with a dark brown powder. Most AA skintones should use a dark brown (not black…it creates too harsh of an arch) eyebrow fill. There are a few exceptions:

    If your hair is dyed a blond or lighter red color, you should dye your eyebrows a lighter color as well. Blond hair= medium brown eyebrows. Lighter red hair= dark auburn eyebrows or medium brown.

    My hair is a dark burgundy-auburn so my eyebrows are dark brown.

    If you have ebony skin tone, then a soft black arch is in order so your brows don’t fade away against your deep skin color. (Black powders come in a variety of intensity from a deeply pigmented onyx black to a softer black that is created by the addition of white. The soft black is the one you want.)

    Eyeshadows work just like powders marketed as “brow powders” and are used by pro makeup artists all the time.

    Brow pencils also work well, but may result in a sharper lined look which isn’t really in style right now.

    • RColeman says:

      I have a question-

      I have about 20% gray/white hair coverage (mostly in the front-I do have a skunk streak going) and some of my brow hairs are also coming in gray/white. I stopped putting henna in my hair a few years back and also cut off my hair so that I would not have that dreadful demarcation between the several shades. Now I have shoulder length hair. The upkeep for henna had me applying every two weeks because of the gray. I want to work with what I have.

      Any make-up tips or books for this? I look like I’m in my mid 30’s but I’m actually in my late 40’s and most make-up tips I find do not accommodate both my skin tone and the gray.

      • JJ says:

        R Coleman,

        It’s ok to have the salt-n-pepper thing going. It can be very attractive depending on your hairstyle and healthiness of the hair itself. Hair that is thick and shiny signifies vitality even with 20 % gray. Do you wear your natural texture? If so, how do you style it?

        As for the greys sprouting in your eyebrows, these are a no-no. I would dye mine a medium brown and maintain a filled in arch.

        I would guess you’re into natural hair dyes; not sure if there are some available for the brows.

        A few makeup tips for your age would be:

        * always wear a foundation that evens out your skintone. We are notoriously affected by hormonal discoloring as well as darkness around the eyes and mouth.

        * most AA women require a yellow based foundation. Few of us have a pink, red or orange undertone so foundations that have these undertones will leave us looking ashen or sallow. Both looks are gross!

        * mineral makeup may be an option for you. It’s natural, and I like that as well. However, it shines up quite quickly so a primer may be in order. I don’t recommend mineral makeup for wrinkling skin as I think it magnifies the lines, but to each their own. It sounds like you don’t have many wrinkles though. I often use mineral makeup on top of liquid foundation to finish and contour my jawline.

        Two sites that have an amazing selection for AA skintones are:

        http://www.lumierecosmetics.com

        http://www.alimapure.com

        (Both are having a sale right now).

        * a medium deep matte grey eyeshadow would look good for everyday wear paired with a charcoal contour

        * a deeper plum lipstick or lipgloss would also likely look flattering on you. Glosses aren’t just for the lil 20- somethings!

        My relative has produced a really great makeup handbook if you’re interested. She’s pro when it comes to AA women; I won’t let anyone else do my makeup for photo shoots and media events.

        http://www.pamelaparkercosmetics.com/?The_Makeup_Book

        • RColeman says:

          Thank you so much for these tips!

          I have very few if any wrinkles (my skin is oily). I have been looking into mineral make up but I didn’t know where to start!

          I wear my hair natural in two strand twists and twist outs…I do up-do’s on occasion. Fortunately for the brows I’m able to manage the grays right now by plucking them.

    • foreverloyal says:

      You are completely right about the eyebrows. I have an abundance of brows. After neglecting them for awhile, I went and had them threaded and I swear I felt like I had lost 10lbs, they make THAT much of a difference in how you face looks.

      • JJ says:

        I also love threading! The East Indian ladies are pro at shaping a sexy, balanced eyebrow.

        I went for quite some time to have mine threaded, and now maintain the same shape myself with tweezing and trimming.

  40. MsMellody says:

    One of the things that I use to feel beautiful and pampered and loved is the following product; Pacifica’s Body Butter in Mexican Cocoa…
    http://www.pacificaperfume.com/herbs-spices/mexican-cocoa/body-butter-jar

    I absolutely love this. You can find it at Whole Foods also.

  41. FoxyCleopatra says:

    @khadija,
    At the point I am in my life, the new direction the blog is taking is perfect for me. I want to get my appearance on point (concentrating on my body, hair and clothes) so the tips/ideas being given here are great and I want to thank you for providing the platform as well as the wisdom you have provided over the years. I have some ‘internet mentors’ who I have the utmost respect for and u, Evia and Roslyn happen to be 3 of them. I suggest to ppl reading: know what you want/aim to be and look for ppl who r that and emulate/study them. This is why I respect the opinions of the above mentioned women (among some others) because I see where they are in their lives, see what they’ve done and see how different they are from the low standard that is expected of bw today. You guys have no idea how much you inspire me (from thousands of miles away across the atlantic…lol!).
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    [Khadija speaking: Thank you for your kind words; I truly appreciate it! Incidentally, because you’re a regular commenter, I just tried to email you the “Limitless” Sojourner’s Passport Confidential dispatch, but my email didn’t go through. If you’d like to get it, use the “contact” button at the top right of this front page and email me. Then I’ll send it to you in a reply email.]

  42. FoxyCleopatra says:

    @joyousnerd,

    Thanx for replying my question. Congrats with your achievements and I wish you even better success as you tackle the last 48 lbs.

    I have a sister and a cousin who I share hair growth and weight loss tips with so the info that you and the other commenters have been providing are great. I hope that I will also be able to share mine.

  43. YMB says:

    Awesome kick off post for the new year/new direction, Khadija! You are providing a truly fabulous resource!

    It’s definitely not a question of whether one’s physical beauty and comportment are weapons or not- it’s just a question of whose arsenal they end up in. If you’re not making them work for you, then they will work for other women who will use them to help them get what you want or what you have.

    Huge congratulations and thanks to Joyousnerd and all of the other commenters who have shared their successes and tips!

    On the previous thread, the Sartorialist was listed as a website for checking out women with flawless style and presentation. Some others are Academichic and Corporette. Academichic is a blog by several female academics who didn’t forget about fashion when they went up to their ivory towers. I like this blog because I get to see outfits on real women who often reuse the same pieces for different ensembles. Corporette offers advice on workplace attire, deal alerts for clothing and accessories, etc.

    Check out The Uniform Project to see one basic black dress parlayed into 365 different outfits. I don’t watch Glee but I love the clothes they dress the character of Emma Pillsbury in. What Would Emma Pillsbury Wear? showcases these clothes and provides links on where the items can be purchased online.

    I have not bought anything from Shabbyapple.com yet (that might change now that I see they are having a 20% off sale) but I really like their clothes and how they style their models. Even if you’re not in the market for new clothes right now, they have a shop by body type feature that allows you to see which kinds of clothing are most flattering to your particular shape.

    This is probably going to be a bit out there for some readers, but I recently found a new shampoo I am just in love with. It’s the first shampoo I can remember using as an adult that actually left my hair feeling moisturized before conditioning. The catch is that it’s a shampoo for dogs. I’ve used Canus goat’s milk soap for years so I checked it out when I saw that CVS.com had their shampoos also. They had so many of the ingredients I’ve been reading about on various natural hair boards, I decided to try it for myself!

    On the comportment level it’s important to learn how to “disagree without being disagreeable”, which is something many AAs have yet to master. People of higher social status rarely openly fight in social situations. If someone is being rude or inappropriate, no one will make a scene about it. The person will likely just be shunned which is more effective and doesn’t result in a loss of dignity for the other parties.

    I’ve learned a bit about handling opposition and “winning” arguments from my fiance. When someone gives him advice about something he’s already decided is the right thing to do, if he thinks it’s not valuable but the person is being adamant about it, he’ll just say some variation of, “You know what, you’re right. That’s what I’m going to do,” and then he goes right ahead with doing whatever he intended to do to begin with. He wins because he goes about his plans without further harassment. The other person “wins” because they think they got their way. When you don’t need someone to agree with you but would prefer that they not bother you about it (or try to sabotage your plans), this is the way to go. I cannot tell you how many disagreements I have avoided with my mother using this one!

    • YMB,

      Thank you for your kind words; I truly appreciate it!

      You said, “It’s definitely not a question of whether one’s physical beauty and comportment are weapons or not- it’s just a question of whose arsenal they end up in. If you’re not making them work for you, then they will work for other women who will use them to help them get what you want or what you have.”

      Indeed! That’s some REAL talk right there that more modern Western women need to consider. I added this to the post as the addendum. Thanks for giving a perfect summary of the post!

      Expect Success!

    • Zoopath says:

      My husband does that stuff, too. Unless he’s decided that the person he’s talking to is high value then he’ll verbally agree with whatever they’re saying. It’s so funny because people think he’s the nice one out of the 2 of us because he doesn’t bother disagreeing with people that he doesn’t consider true friends. Little do they know that his “niceness” is motivated by apathy. However, this also means that *I* get left flapping in the wind during the discussion because I tend to want the best for people so I actually bother to discuss things. So irritating… He knows that I won’t snitch on him either so I’m really stuck.

      • YMB says:

        LOL! I knew it was effective when I realized he’d been using that technique on me for little things here and there.

    • MsMellody says:

      YMB!!! Thank you so very very much for that info on ShabbyApple!! All I can say is – the items offered there are – G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S! Beautiful lady like dresses that I spent a few minutes looking over..I am planning to order a couple of dresses as it is quite hard to find interesting lady like feminine dresses anymore.

      Thank you – you have really made my day.

    • Mariposa Linda says:

      Thanks for the links. There were some lovely things to be lusted after on those sites!

  44. Elle Betty says:

    I’ve been reading you for a few weeks. I only wish I had found your site sooner. Better late than never.

    This post spoke to me. By conventional standards, I’m pretty. I’ve always been able to attract the right men and get into relationships with them. But when I got comfortable, I think I let vulgarity change their perception of me. When I really analyzed what I was doing, that behavior only showed up when I drank too much. In the last month or so, I’ve cut my drinking drastically–drank on NYE AND met a great man from the global village.

    While cutting back on the drinking (and vulgarity), I have lost weight (still a size 8 though) but I’ve gotten a lot of push back from several of my friends. I feel like because they are not as mainstream attractive as me, encouraging me to drink lots was a tool to even the playing field. I guess they aren’t really my friends. <–light bulb moment

    Since I live in such a small pond, I'm having difficulty figuring out how I can adjust my reputation or negate its impact on my marriage opportunities. I haven't actually been confronted with it (directly or indirectly) but I'm sure men who meet me probably do ask around. My party girl years happened years ago. However, people are unforgiving. If there are any suggestions aside from time healing old wounds, please feel free to share.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    [Khadija speaking: Welcome! People in small, close-knit neighborhoods, towns, etc. are generally unforgiving and unforgetful.

    Sometimes, we have to move out of stifling environments into larger ponds and oceans where it’s possible to reinvent ourselves without past personas being constantly thrown in our faces. Sometimes, we have to move to other places to have a wider variety of quality men to meet and socialize with. I don’t know if moving is desirable or possible in your current circumstances, but it’s one of several things you might consider.]

    • Karen R. says:

      I just want to encourage you…Did you know that you can create a new past? You can! What you do today will be a part of your new past, so chart a new course. What’s done is done but now you are putting one foot in front of the other in a new direction.

      • Anne1 says:

        Karen, ITA! Leave the past behind a start anew. No time like the present! New year can equal a new YOU.

        • Elle Betty says:

          I think a difficult thing for me has been accepting that many of the women who’ve been my closest friends for the last decade or more don’t want me to be my best self. But I’m going to deal with that–slowly but surely.

      • Elle Betty says:

        YES! I have been doing a lot of things differently recently. Thank you for your response.

    • Elle Betty says:

      Thank you for responding. I’m not in a position to move–yet. I live in an area where the economy is pretty strong thanks to the government. But I have started looking into moving to another country.

      A good friend pointed out to me that whatever tarnished reputation I may have probably doesn’t exist in the global village. That made me feel better. 🙂

      • Lisa99 says:

        Hi Elle!

        I have no idea about your reputation and don’t care. 🙂

        I just wanted to say that I agree with your good friend… it’s interesting when I read black-only focused blogs and discussions about relationships, there’s constantly this theme of how certain BW get a “reputation” and then are considered to be untouchable or unworthy of a good relationship after that.

        The thing I always noticed though was that this perception was only relevant if I was dealing ONLY with the black community in my area and the BM in my area. Looking “globally” gives you a fresh start and clean slate, but more importantly, I’ve found that folks in the global village base their perception of you on what they see in the here and now. They won’t care if you dated five dudes from the same fraternity back in college if you’re 32 years old right now (plus they probably wouldn’t know what said fraternity was anyway) and by broadening your circles, you meet lots of different people who have NO connection whatsoever to your past and don’t care.

        The global village wasn’t even global to me. I basically dated in the same area I always did, I just didn’t confine myself to the same so-called middle-class black circles where everyone knew each other from the same 3-4 high schools, same 3-4 colleges, same 3-4 fraternities/sororities, same 3-4 corporations, etc. Even living in a very large metropolitan area, if you do the above, you will find your circles to be VERY small, and who wants that???

        Good luck! 🙂

  45. ***Note to Readers***

    In making this new site the kind of project that’s sustainable for me over the long-run, I’ve had to streamline how I handle certain things. The comments section is one of them. What this means is that I’ll give substantive responses to those folks who enter the conversations early (as I did across the board at the previous blog).

    After each post is a couple of days old, I’ll generally continue to publish new comments from readers. (That meet the commenting guidelines as set forth at the previous blog—those who are unfamiliar can read the comment “box” at the previous blog.)

    But, after a each post is a couple of days old, I generally WON’T continue responding to new comments.

    [In other words, I’ll continue to publish comments to this post, but I’m not going to reply to anymore comments in this thread. FYI.]

    Expect Success!

  46. Anne1 says:

    Great post as usual, and right on time. Traditionally, I ring in the new year with focus on improving my outside appearance. Nothing major as I’ve been practicing long enough now.

    I tend to add a few more “classic” pieces to my wardrobe with more white blouses and classic skirts and pants. I update my makeup and nail polish collection. This is who I am and have been for quite some time now.

    Even in high school, I was considered to be a bit old-fashioned but it was all so normal for me despite the many “haters” during those years. I’ve always been thin/petite so the big girls always disliked me. And I spoke proper English too? They really hated me. I had to work very hard at my English (still do) so I wouldn’t allow myself to sound ghetto to fit in. So, I was too much for many by refusing to ‘keep it real’ (LOL). Oh well.

    It’s so funny because the snickering hasn’t stopped when I’m around other BW. The some of the women in my family are big girls, loud, eat every and anything, and let themselves go. They are the quickest to tease me about ‘getting some meat on dem bones’ and cutting my hair into the new ‘short style’. Whatever. I just smile (with an occasional eye-roll added) and keep it moving. I am 125 pounds (a far cry from 110) with shoulder length black hair that I’m seriously considering going a bit lighter — like dark brown with medium brown highlights. But I love me and they’re just mad that I don’t allow them to rain on my parade. Looking flawless is natural for me, thank goodness. And getting attention and going out on dates, no problem there either. Surviving the date? Now that’s a whole other subject (LOL).

    Would you believe that at 40+ I still get extremely nervous, I mean knots in my stomach, when I’m out on a date? Thankfully, I hide it really well though so the gentleman never knows it. Just my nerves, I guess.

  47. Mariposa Linda says:

    I also signed up for 4-4-25 with Evia. I’ve been working on forming better habits in a variety of areas and met with less than stellar success so it’s time to try a new tactic. I can say for all my past failures of I’ve learned something from all of them and I will NEVER say die! Persistence is my closest ally in 2011. I’ve identified some very doable nutrition goals as well as some self-presentation and deportment goals for the month of January.
    I’ve also been reading Die Fat or Get Tough (just one of the books that you’ve referred to that I plan to read) and it’s giving me just the kick in the pants I need to get it together. I like Mr. Siebold’s to-the-point, in-your-face truth telling. I don’t have time to waste reading a bunch of mealy mouthed fiddle-faddle designed to spare my feelings. Just give me the real deal, straight – no chaser. I don’t want to feel good about being fat. I want to feel good because I’ve demonstrated the character and fortitude to attain a beautiful and healthy body.
    I loved your book and have been recommending your blog to those I think are ready-for-it/in-need-of it. Forever Loyal pointed me in your direction (along with Roslyn, Halima, and Evia) back in the Muslim Bushido days and I assure you that I’m Forever Grateful. You ladies have been laying out some truths that people better get with if they know what’s good for them.
    I wish all of you the best of luck with your get-glam program in 2011. I don’t know if it’s still on the air,(I no longer have cable or watch television) but What Not to Wear was a good show that helped me understand how to dress for my body type. There are also several books that do a good job of discussing how to dress different body types. While I’m not an advocate of pancaking your face a la Little Richard, I will say that many Black women are missing the boat with their aversion to make-up. Make-up, when applied properly, can do you a world of good!

  48. Valerie says:

    All the ladies who have lost weight, or grown their hair long, congratulations. You all deserve a round of applause. You all must be very proud of your achievements. It is time for us to live to our full potentials.

    Brilliant series Khadija, what an eye opener! All I can say is Wow and double wow! Thank you so much, information is knowledge!

    • Ali says:

      And props to all my fellow bw rocking afros/twists/pixie style/cropped hair! Long hair isn’t for everybody right? . . . . . . . . : )

      Seriously though Khadija, fantastic post, well needed. I got a lot of valuable information – still checking out all the links.

      Thank You.

  49. Ali says:

    It’s prob. too late to add to this post, but YMB’s shampoo idea reminded me. Does anybody know a good fix for dry scalp/itchy scalp/dandruff (on natural hair)?

    Often the usual drugstore stuff just makes the problem worse after a while – and I’ve tried coal shampoo, which works okay right now, but I heard it also makes the prob. worse after long term regular use. Any amazing shampoo or conditioner that people are using to kill dandruff for good?

    • Zoopath says:

      I have seborrheic dermatitis on my scalp and use a presciption steroid foam called Luxiq. It’s pricey but it’s in a non-water based foam. I don’t use it all the time but when I get flareups it helps. I just started using DHS tar shampoo last week so I don’t know how well it works yet.

    • Coffy says:

      Research apple cider vinegar. I went natural a couple of years ago and did an acv rinse and I no longer have problems with dandruff.
      *search dandruff at earthclinic.com, a lot of users outline their personal remedies

      • Ali says:

        Oh Cool Coffy – I’ll look at the link.’

      • Karen says:

        100% Co-sign on ACV, I do not have dandruff problems but hard water. As hard water can aggravate scalp conditions, the ACV rinse can help.

        In my final rinse after conditioner, I use 2 – 1.5 Liter bottles to rinse. One has pure distilled water (use that first) and then the second has distilled water with 1 tblsp. of Apple Cider Vinegar. Smoothes down the cuticles of the hair and makes my scalp feel better. Avoid getting it in your eyes.

        Works like a charm!

  50. Ali says:

    Whoops, sorry – using tar shampoo, not coal shampoo.