Setting the Record Straight: An Open Letter to Wale

 

I couldn’t decide whether to look like I’m angry with Wale, or melodramatic because this *is* an open letter haha. PS: It’s late and I’ve been wearing my church clothes all day. I look a mess.

Dear Wale…
Just kidding! Am I the only one who has a hard time not laughing at open letters to people they don’t know? ‘To the Woman Who Stared Too Long and Too Hard at My Flashy Shoes, Mismatched Socks and Sour Disposition’. I kid, I kid. Although what these ‘letters’ talk about may be important in its own right, the open letter format and their cringe inducing titles take away from the issues they address. Anyways, I do have quite a bit (too much?) to say about the the whole Wale Instagram thing. It’s not even directed at Wale, but his post got me thinking.
First of all, his post was a nice gesture. He realized something he and other men have done, and called himself and others out on it. I truly commend him for it. He tried to be inspirational, and in many senses he was. He’s trying y’all, cut him some slack! Honestly most of what he said truly was good, ya know? He even addressed the whole ‘I did it for me/I don’t care what you think’ train of thought by stating, “Some girls say they don’t care what anybody thinks… I find it difficult to believe one would alter their body this significantly for themselves.”

*start of mini rant* You have the right to do what you want with your body and don’t have to answer any person (except the law) for it. But with things like women shaving their body hair and other forms of body modification- Yes, you may do it because you personally like it, but you cannot honestly tell me that cultural norms didn’t affect your decision to do so. Even if they don’t affect your decision now, they might have at other times. If  it’s not shaving your legs, then it could be any other cultural norm whether it be eurocentric beauty standards or traditional gender roles. Of course some folks truly don’t care, but many of the changes we make to ourselves come from insecurities. Where does that insecurity come from? I feel like (although I’ve been know to be wrong quite often) you have to have other people to compare yourself to for there to be such deep seeded insecurities. But again, some folks just wanna look or be a certain way, and that’s a-okay. *mini rant over*

In Wale’s ‘uplifting’ post he says, “Dear black women this has to stop. This is not attractive. As black men we apologise for misleading you to believe this is the quintessential black woman.”

HOLD UP! I’m not too mad that he doesn’t find unnatural looking body modifications unattractive. That’s his prerogative (right? am I just being insensitive?). But because he finds it unattractive it has to stop. He doesn’t simply say ‘ew, i don’t like this’ (which would be rude, but again, his prerogative) he says it has to stop. He then goes on to apologize for the stupid standards black men (and everyone else, black women included) push onto black women. So as I lay in the floor trying to get to sleep, I pondered the implications of these statements. Is this an actual apology for the crap we’re subjected to on the daily, or just another plea for us to fit into ‘sexy’ beauty standards? If he found the butt implants attractive, would he care as much about uplifting us? After reading the whole post, I personally believe that he does care about building up black women, but Wale isn’t the only one who posts these long pleas to women.

Something that I’ve noticed is that when people (often men) post ‘inspirational’ messages about women’s bodies, they are frequently tied to what they want from women. These posts don’t usually say ‘Women, you need to love yourselves because you’re awesome and important as an independently functioning human being,’ but rather ‘Love yourself so that I can love you fully’ or ‘Don’t wear lots of makeup because I want to see your beautiful face’ and ‘Don’t starve yourself because nobody wants a skeleton’. Notice how it always ends with their feelings? It’s not always or even usually done out of spite, malice, or aggressive purposeful misogyny.  What these people don’t realize is that those words are the nicer sounding equivalent of what they are trying to ‘save’ us from. They are literally asking us to do something so that they will be satisfied with our appearance and/or disposition. THAT IS THE PROBLEM. The problem isn’t plastic surgery, injections, makeup or short skirts. The problem is that no one will uplift me, unless they somehow gain from the transaction. Am I not worth something on my own merit as a human being? Not as a physical image to behold, or a potential vessel for your unborn offspring, your token black friend, or any other group I may fall into, but simply as me, no strings attached?

That got heavy and ragey and semi-personal towards the end. Sorry. But not really, ’cause ending things on a dreary note is kind of my trade mark (at least in real life haha). Here’s some 2Pac, because that’s kinda  how I’m feeling after this whole spiel. Also, I did not mean to make it so long. Whoops!

*Again (or maybe not again. I don’t remember haha) this was not to call out Wale, because I appreciate most of what he said. It just got me thinking about the masses of quotes that are supposed to inspire people, not just women, but instead end up putting folks right back in the box they started out in.

** And I really appreciate the other nice stuff you’ve said in defense of black women in the past, Wale (and everybody else who says good nice uplifting things haha)

~Dahlia

 

Setting the Record Straight: How I Blog


I’m pulling an xojane and putting an unrelated photo in just for the sake of having a picture. It should have been a selfie, I know.

As I’ve mentioned (too many times) before, I’m not quite sure how I feel about sharing stuff over the internet. Yes, I understand that I sound like an old woman. Sharing everything with everybody boggles my mind. I feel that there’s a line and sometimes its hard to tell when its been crossed. Who gets to draw the line anyways ? Goodness knows I can’t draw a straight one! All of this to say- actually I don’t know. None of this says anything at all, does it?

A little background: I had thought about starting a blog forever ago. I was probably in middle school. I put it off. Here I am years later writing a blog and its super strange. What makes my ignorant thoughts and frivolous likes and dislikes worthy of a website. Who does this help?

Anyways, this post is called ‘How I Blog’. This is not some technical tutorial or anything like that, because I do not understand that stuff at all. It’s about my mindset about blogging and what I’m not attempting to do.

  1. This is not a photography blog. Stunning photographs will not be found here. I can’t take photos to save my life. I am the worst photo subject ever. I’ve always hated having my photo taken, but later regret having no pictures of me doing things. I’m trying to take pictures now, but I find it so painful haha.
  2. This is not a fashion blog. Well, not exactly. Everybody told me I should start a blog so I could share my outfits with the world. I would, but I keep forgetting to take pictures of them (haha)! I also feel as though I am WAY more than the clothes I wear. In fact, I know I am. I am not the girl with the cute shoes, or the one who dresses ‘like that’. I am the girl with a brain in her head. I am a well read girl with thoughts and opinions.  I AM SMART Y’ALL. That was my melodramatic/humblebraggy way of saying that my clothes do not make me who I am. I make the clothes match who I feel that I am at any given moment. At this moment I’m wearing leggings and a t-shirt that are both paint stained.  Read into that what you will (I call it the struggling artist look).
  3. I write like a teenager who thinks she has the world figured out. I’ve written that way since I was little (like 7 or 8). I think I’m going to suffer from teen angst for the rest of my life.
  4. I love to mix the superficial with the more important issues. Does that mean I’m irreverent? I don’t know. But I am terribly sarcastic. Half of what I write should be read in a sarcastic voice. Maybe I should set aside a font for my sarcasm…
  5. I ramble and tend to jump back and forth. In other words, I’m a terrible story teller. Don’t ask me to recount a real life event while it’s still fresh in my mind. I’ll have so many details I want to share and the story usually doesn’t even make sense by the end. I mean seriously, who needs to know how many clouds there were in the sky when I went to that one place that one time when that thing happened.
  6. I talk weird, therefore I write weird too.
  7. References. Music references, tv references, movie references-ALL OF THE REFERENCES! I make ill thought out references way too frequently. They bubble forth from me before I remember that people may not get them. I freaked out when I first saw Gilmore Girls because of all the obscure pop culture references Lorelei made. I understood her frustration when nobody understood her jokes.
  8. Ranting is kinda my thing. Even people who have never met me are aware of my ranting. I’m not so sure that a good thing. Sadly, I’m no good at putting my spoken words into written ones. That means my blog is filled and will continue to be filled with lukewarm cliche filled ramblings passed off as rants. Sorry.

Writing about how unconventional I am for bucking the blogging norms made me feel like such a rebel. (This is one of those things that should be read in a sarcastic voice.)

~Dahlia

Setting the Record Straight: Social Media Part 1

 My best friend says I look like I’m dying in all of my selfies, therefore refuses to like them. I’m so glad she’s my friend.

I could ramble on forever about the advantages, disadvantages, and misuse of social media. This is one of I’m sure many posts to come about social media. So, I got an Instagram a month or so ago, and I’m having major regrets. It freaks me out. I mean blogging is a bit of a stretch for me, but at least I feel like I can say something. On Instagram, I’m taking photos of myself and people are liking them. It’s strange to me. It’s also slightly nerve wracking. I think that I couldn’t care less how many likes I get, but it isn’t true. I’m convinced that people who I used to hate or who hated me will stumble across my Instagram and chortle at the amount of likes I receive. “I have valid reasons” I so strongly wish to say to these people. “I didn’t tell all of my friends and family to follow me” (though they found out and did anyways haha), and “I don’t do the follow for follow”, “I don’t talk about Instagram in real life or tell folks this photo I’m taking is going there”. But honestly, you can’t claim to be ‘above’ something when you’re participating in it . Right? I mean unless you wanna be an annoying counter-culture holier than thou person (which I quite enjoy being at times). But fo rizzle, Instagram creeps me out (I’ll never post a picture of my legs in tights again!). I also feel as though I don’t quite understand proper Instagram etiquette. I’m also not quite sure that I want to understand. I feel the same way about blogging. I don’t think I’m some super unique person with a bunch of crazy wonderful pinterest-y things to offer. I’m writing this and posting because I can. Because I feel like it. I don’t have an artsy face, or an inclination towards photography. I don’t have a ‘passion for fashion’ although everybody seems to think I do. I love clothes and stuff, but my passions are never so straight forward (here I go, thinking I’m soooooo special again). Ugh I could rant about passions and people projecting onto others for a long time too. See? I wasn’t kidding when I said I have so much (too much) to say about all the social medias. I can’t keep it all straight. I was going to delete my Instagram, but now I think I’ll put it off for a while. Maybe trying new things that make you uncomfortable is a positive thing. Maybe its not. No biggie, right? Who am I asking anyways? I feel like the voiceover in My So Called Life. Just call me Angela Chase y’all.
After all of this blubbering, a song seems appropriate. I think I’ll go with…

Can you believe it? I listen to modern music in addition to my solid gold oldies! What can I say, I’m well rounded haha.
To conclude, I just want to say that I’m so totally over Jordan Catalano, although I really hope he follows me on Instagram (or at least stalks me there)

~Dahlia

Setting the Record Straight: Self-Portraits

“You mean selfies?” the children asked. Haha, but really, I hate the noun selfie. I feel so pretentious saying that I don’t like the ‘selfies’, but it really doesn’t matter what you call them; they’re still just an image of you. I bring this up because I just took my first selfie this week. I even posted it on Instagram! I feel like I have to turn in my ‘unaffected non-mainstream counter-cultural teen’ card. I’m not as counter-cultural or unaffected as I imagine myself to be, but I honestly hate feeling like a walking talking stereotype of a teenager. Anyways, I had no idea how to take pictures of myself (or anything for that matter) so I watched a ton of youtube videos on how to take Instagram photos. Here is my first selfie taken in true Instagram form. I was quite disappointed in myself, if that wasn’t already quite apparent.

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A little background: This isn’t my first-first selfie, for I remember taking pictures of myself on my first cell phone. I didn’t post them anywhere and I deleted most of them immediately, but the ones I kept (for the time being) made me feel good about myself. Not the pictures themselves, but the fact that I didn’t look too terribly awful in them. I didn’t take pictures of myself (or anything else) daily and usually only did it when I was bored – very bored.
This is where I start ranting- People are doing the absolute most in this Instagram culture. It is not just young people, plenty of older folks take part, so this isn’t necessarily a generational thing (Phew! disclaimer out of the way). The problem isn’t taking the pictures of yourself or your food or your kids or your dog (the list goes on), but rather the need to always share. The inability to privately enjoy things is the issue. In the time you spent digging out your phone and getting in the right position and pushing the record button you could have been fully immersed in a special moment. A shaky (or very professional looking) iPhone video will never be able to capture what makes any given moment special, no matter how many filters you apply. You could make something look better than it did in real life, but it will never be as wonderful as the real thing. (This rant turned into a ‘live in the moment’ type thing, which was not my original intent. This rant will now change directions.) When you have extensive documentation of yourself through extended periods of time, it’s easy to see how much you’ve changed but hard to realize how much you’ve stayed the same. People my age will post a picture of themselves from a few years ago and juxtapose it with a picture of them now. A before and after, if you will. They then proceed to equate the outer change with a positive inner change, which is not always the case. It’s not my place to label people as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ or quantify one’s personal growth, but when you pull the same crap you did in middle school but in a different form (drinking/drag racing/ smoking or even less ‘sinister’ things) this perceived growth you speak of seems to be nullified. A new hair cut and a mustache does not change you, nor does the posting of inspirational quotes and Bible verses. UGH! Bible verses posted by folks who hardly make an effort to uphold biblical standards and inspirational quotes posted by drama filled/racist/sexist/ignorant people (or worse yet plain old bullies) is so frustrating. Just because your feed looks nice doesn’t mean you are. People liking you does not make you a good person- that’s another rant for another day. Don’t even get me started on comparing yourself to others, being left out, and the amount of superficiality/fakeness that seems inherent with these sorts of websites. To end this lukewarm rant on a positive note, there are many good things that can come from social media, and I thoroughly enjoy scrolling through Instagram (although that may be because I mostly follow strangers). I think that may be where some of the good comes in. Connecting with people you’ve never met can be fun and enlightening. The opposite effect can be had when connecting with people you already know. In real life they aren’t that cool, nice, or inspirational. When they post pictures of parties you weren’t invited to it can be alienating. It can quickly become a competition. I tried to end this positively but I’m just a negative Nancy at heart. Just call me Dahlia Downer.

Anyways I thought this song was quite fitting considering my rant.

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye (Now I’m making musical references!)

~Dahlia