Rediscovering My 4C Hair

 

All 100+ individual locs I cut off!

All 100+ individual locs I cut off!

I had locs from  December 2008 until July 2012. Then, after agonizing over my decision for about 30 seconds, I cut off all my hair with a pair of scissors.

change and commitment by Amy at Grrrl Revolution

“This decision has been a lesson in commitment and going all in.  Eventually I had to stop wondering and criticizing myself, and instead take action.  We cannot make change – be it personal or social – if we don’t commit.  And sometimes commitment looks like a pair of clippers.”

When I cut off my locs over the summer, my hair was wet and deliciously curly from having washed it. It wasn’t just the length I adored, but the way it looked. I love curls – especially if they’re loose and make an excellent wash and go.

But it wasn’t long before I discovered what my hair was really like, though still soft my dried hair just looked like a puff ball. Almost immediately after cutting my locs – which weren’t looking all that great from lack of care anyway – I wore a hat. Even days after, I began to fret, being forced to deal with my frizzy and non-curly hair. But it was more than that – my hair was not wash and go. 

As someone who seeks to create a life of bare minimum physical upkeep, not only did this completely dampen my mood, but it highlighted that I just didn’t have the type of hair that I wanted. Even when I saw other black women with natural hair, theirs was long, flowing, curly, beautiful.

I kept wondering what the fuck? How come my hair isn’t what I want!? 

Then, last week, I discovered hair types and being able to give a name to my hair (and by extension, experiences) has given me the language to figure out WHY I never liked my hair.

It’s a 4C. 

At first, when my hair was longer (shoulder length), I still hadn’t known what to do with it. I wore a pony-tail throughout high school, stopping to get my hair permed once or twice. In college, I wore a silk headscarf for almost a year – with the occasional perm – before adopting locs that suffered from great neglect almost from the day I got them.

But now I know.

So now I have to make a decision: do I keep my hair super short so that I never have to worry about styling my hair or grow it out and figure out how to take care of it?

Honestly – I’m not sure. But not that I have more information about my hair type, I can make a more informed decision about what kind of relationship I want with it.

 

Day 3 || An Almost Fashionista?

There are these rare moments when I wish I was a fashionista. I don’t follow fashion blogs, I don’t like talking about style, I don’t read fashion magazines and 99% of my wardrobe was donated to me via gifts or hand me downs. So I’m pretty sure I don’t even likefashion.

Flickr Credit to: CubaGallery

But not too long ago, I bought a strapless dress from a consignment store. It’s black and red, with white dots (but not polka dots). I have absolutely nowhere to wear this dress. Additionally, I have nothing to even go with it. I don’t own any leggings or stockings, and only have sneakers and a single pair of brown knee high boots. Consequently, the dress has sat tucked away in my drawer, perhaps collecting dust, only occasionally coming across my mind. As I walk around downtown Philly, I pass by a consignment shop that seems to cater to the younger crowd, the mannequins always have great outfits. And when I traveled through New York, I was always amazed by the great ensembles I saw many of the Asian girls wearing on the train. Their super cute shoes, and no matter how strange the individual pieces were, their outfit seemed to pull itself together nicely.

I never felt badly about my permanent collection of blue denim and sneakers but I wondered.

I wondered when I looked at my gussied up room mate, with her knee high boots and face full of make-up. I wondered when people recounted stories of all the compliments they received about an outfit. And when I visited my mother not too long ago, she asked me if I ever regretted not learning make-up from her as a teen. I said no, I don’t even like make-up.

Oftentimes I wonder if being a fashionista is what I really want, but have just been rejecting because I felt like it was being forced on me. I felt that it’s expected of me because I’m a girl, and because I’m nearly 25 I’m supposed to dress, act and look a certain way. But what way is that? And who gets to decide how I look? And why isn’t the way I dress, act and look satisfactory ALREADY?

Bottom line: I’ll never be a fashonista because I don’t care about fashion, or about looking a certain way. I’m not really interested in dressing for my body type, and my overall goal is to be comfortable and ready to leave the house in fifteen minutes. I can admire things without owning them, or feeling like I need to own them to make myself feel better because I’m not “girly enough”.

It’s interesting to talk about this, though I’ve met a few other women who dislike shopping and I imagine there must be other people who dislike dressing up (unless the situation demands it like a job interview or wedding).

What about you? What’s your relationship to fashion like?

I’m participating in National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo).

30 Days of Blog Posting.

If you click the badge, you’ll be taken to the NaBloPoMo and you can join in yourself!

Ross Campbell, Comics and an Interview!

After attending NYCC almost two weeks ago tomorrow (!!) I’m significantly more interested in getting to know more comic creators and their experience in the business. I’ve been chatting back and forth with the wonderful Ross Campbell for-EVER, and even though we somehow magically missed each other at the Con, I DO have an interview he did for me.

Background in: Campbell is both the artist and writer for his own series ShadowEyes and Wet Moon – which is published by Oni Press —> the series that initially drew me to speak with him about doing an interview for me! He’s also currently the artist for GLORY, while Joe Keatinge is the writer (who I got to meet with at the Con and is so very awesome!).

Here’s the interview below; enjoy!

What inspired the story for Wet Moon?
I wanted to do a sprawling teen/20-something drama romance comedy kind of thing with horror undertones, which wasn’t inspired by anything in particular but was naturally what I was interested in, but a few big inspirations I can cite were the city of Savannah, Georgia and the art college there, and just real life and real people I’d met over the years, all thrown together into a plotless soap opera type set-up. I guess the college aspect was probably the biggest inspiration, I liked how kids from all over, kids who might not have ever met or associated with each other, were thrust together in an environment with no parents to tell them what to do. And I’m into horror and scary stuff in general so I wanted to mix that with lurking weirdness and ambiguous supernatural elements, like Twin Peaks or something.

What initially drew you to creating comics?
I think Calvin & Hobbes and old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics were what got me into comics initially, and I used to draw little strip comics for fun when I was a kid but for most of my childhood and adolescence I actually wanted to be a prose writer/novelist. And I almost majored in fashion at college (that would’ve been a mistake, haha). I ended up going into comics in college but more out of not really knowing what I wanted to do, I actually didn’t get really interested in drawing comics and taking it seriously until junior or senior year of college. I don’t know why it took me so long to come around to actively wanting to do comics, but I eventually realized that I could tell the types of stories I wanted to tell and write the types of characters I wanted to write much better in comics than I could in prose.

Do you have a background in art (college degree, etc).
I guess I incidentally already answered this question but yes! I went to the Savannah College Of Art & Design and majored in Sequential Art, which is a pretty much useless degree. I never really paid attention while in college, I was too wrapped up in my own world, so I did most of my artistic learning after I graduated on my own when I realized I sucked and had to bust my ass to catch up.

How do you come up with designs for your characters? Why did you choose a more alternative look for your characters?
My designs are mostly inspired by real people, people I know, people I’ve met, strangers I see, photos of people, etc. I don’t copy an entire outfit or translate a single person into a character, I always mix and match, that sort of thing, whatever fits the character I’m looking for. I also make up things from scratch, like making up my own outfits and hairstyles or fashion ideas, particularly in Shadoweyes where the fashion trends aren’t quite real-world and I can make up stuff nobody in the real world is wearing. Sometimes I try to come up with designs I’m not totally fond of, like designing an outfit I don’t personally find visually appealing but that I think is something the character would wear, so that’s kinda fun sometimes, trying to think outside of the aesthetics I personally like.

For body types and facial features it’s pretty much the same process, I’m really inspired by real people. I like figuring out ways of stylizing real features into shapes to make each character distinct (resulting in various levels of success, I suppose). My character designs also depend a lot on how a character moves and holds themselves physically, which again is inspired a lot by real life people, and even though my stuff is static images I think a lot about this when drawing the characters and when trying to decide on body type or how a character’s limbs (or lack thereof) are.

There’s nothing really behind why my characters are almost always kind of alternative-styled or punky or whatever you want to call it, I just like drawing those sorts of looks, even though in real life I actually like simple, more conservative, even preppy sorts of styles but for whatever reason I don’t enjoy drawing those as much so they don’t usually end up in my comics.

What made you choose female main leads versus male ones?
It feels natural, I guess. I feel like I identify with and relate to women more than men so when writing female characters I feel like I “get” them more than I do guy characters. A lot of time I even feel confused when writing guys, like I’m not quite sure what to have them do or say, that sort of thing. I like drawing girls more than guys, but it’s mostly a writing preference. Plus women usually get better outfits. XD

Are there certain things you’d like to see more in the comic industry that isn’t already there? (Many people have complained about the depiction of female superheroes, for example).

Yeah, the sexism is obviously a big thing, most superhero comics suck in that regard, it would be great to get more women and other less-represented folks into comics, but the biggest thing I’d like to see a broader range of genres. I’ve been thinking over the past year or so that despite the diverse types of comics being done the medium is still pretty narrow compared to prose and film, at least in my experience. Or maybe comics need LESS genre confines, since many of them seem to almost box themselves into a genre/subgenre on purpose. The thing that really got me thinking about this is when I read Laurie Halse Anderson’s book “Wintergirls” and Alice Sebold’s book “Lucky,” one of which is fiction and one a memoir and both awesome and powerful. And I started thinking how come there isn’t really anything like that stuff in comics, and obviously I’m not aware of every single comic being made but as far as I’ve seen how come nobody is attempting anything like this? Is it because comics are usually cartoony or illustrative and tackling serious topics like rape and eating disorders would seem tacky or inappropriate when drawn in visual styles like that? Even genre fare in comics seems narrow to me, like take horror for example, there isn’t really anyone in comics doing anything like David Cronenberg’s body horror stuff or Vincenzo Natali’s weird sci-fi horror thriller movies. Everyone seems to either stick with imitating George Romero (myself included, heh) or generic pulpy vampire/werewolf/monster horror mash-ups. Maybe I just don’t read enough, maybe if I searched more I’d eat my words.

It seems like you use a lot of social media to promote your brand. Have you found it useful for getting people aware of your graphic novels?

I’m not sure, actually, I think this is probably more quantifiable for some artists out there but I’m not sure how much the various websites I’m on actually translate into readership. Deviantart has been by far the best, setting up a gallery there was one of the best things I’ve ever done for my work, and I came along on the site when it wasn’t booming yet so I got a lot of attention in the earlier days. But as far as purely social sites like Facebook or Twitter go, I’m not sure if they’ve actually helped that much. They sure can’t hurt, though.

Have you been able to get in contact with other industry professionals since you’ve started?

Definitely, I think it’s unavoidable. Once I put out a couple books people started to know who I was, both other creators and also editors. I’m not a huge name or anything, I’m pretty small-time and relatively obscure, but it’s enough that I’ve met a large group of colleagues over the years.

Do you have any plans or hopes to move to a bigger press to get your comics out to a wider audience?

I have in the past, I’ve done work for DC Comics/Vertigo but I can’t really quantify if that stuff got me any significant numbers of new readers or not. It would be cool to do something for Marvel, or a traditional book publisher like Simon & Schuster but I can’t see that happening. I don’t think my work is really their type of material.

Do you draw heavily from real life for your comics? What exactly inspires you?

I guess I kind of already answered this in question #4, d’oh! But yes, real life is the best! Real people, places, cultures, animals, science, the occult, weather, outer space. Music is also a big inspiration for me. Probably the most inspiring works that other people have created are the movie Alien, which has also been a big influence since childhood, just thinking about it makes me want to do comics. Hayao Miyazaki is also really inspiring. Some artists that get my creativity going are Frank Quitely, Amy Reeder, Jillian Tamaki, Lamar Abrams, Becky Cloonan, Kevin Eastman, Gerda Beuchel, among others.

Where do you see yourself and your work in the next 5 years?

I have no idea! Freelance comics is a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type job, things change so fast, one day I’ll think my career is about to collapse and then the next day I’ll get some great gig out of nowhere. Never can tell. Hopefully in 5 years Wet Moon will be completed or almost completed, and Shadoweyes will probably be finished, too. Maybe in 5 years I’ll finally have time to get back to Mountain Girl!

 

The images are from Campbell’s DeviantArt, it has loads of amazing images!

Being Happy, Single and Childfree!

Today – I’m so blessed to not be married, pregnant or have kids.

I’m thrilled that I can get up and go wherever I want and do whatever pleases me. A part of me feels that it’s insensitive to be openly enthusiastic about my singleness and being Childfree. But, why should I hide it? I never want to have children – unless they’re in the form of kittens – and I wonder if being in a relationship is worth the time and effort that could be better spent on other activities.

This past weekend I attended New York Comic Con and it was FANTASTIC. I loved seeing all the cosplayers, meeting industry professionals and checking out all the new things coming out in the coming months and into the next year. The panels I managed to attend were interesting and I got to make some new friends and connections all within the span of only three days. When I arrived home Sunday evening, the last day of the Con, this immense sadness filled me as I realized that the fantasy was over and I had to return to reality.

But it also gave me massive insight into what I want to do: create comics, talk to fans, sit on panels about important SHIT and have meaningful discussions about representation in comics. Even though I loved the Womanthology panel I attended – since I contributed as a Writer – I realized that all the women talking to us were white and heterosexual. I loved the all-female presence, but still felt ostracized from the group at large. I wandered throughout the Con, trying to find black creators – there were a few – and trying to find black female characters for me to support – hardly found any. Even when I stopped by Prism Comics, they only had three titles featuring black lesbians, and it doesn’t help that the people who are the face of the gay community tend to be white males. And this is something I definitely want to address in my own career.

And as I get myself situated in New York, mostly focusing on my new internship, job interviews, and writing – I realize that there’s no real time (or urge) to date. I don’t think of my life choices as being anti-cookie cutter or “rule breaking”, the way many Gen Y speak about their decisions, but I do have significantly more important things I want to focus on. So, I feel so thankful that I’m able to do that without having to balance someone else’s needs alongside my own (child or partner)!

I definitely plan on being Childfree for the rest of my existence – I don’t particularly like kids and I definitely don’t want them. And dating? Most people my age are frantic in their search for a partner, or are casually worried about dating in some way, shape or form. Personally, I’m not really invested in trying to experience that. Mostly, I think the obsession with dating stems from people’s fears of being alone, especially when you talk about singlism being primarily directed at women.

Naturally – there are many people my age (and older) who are happily involved, pregnant or some such thing. BUT I’m just glad not to be one of those people – I love the freedom I have right now, and there’s no other situation that could replace or replicate it!

Being Ugly and the Power of Beauty

I’m an ugly girl. 

That’s right – I said it. The big “U” word. The word that people run away from, or try desperately to cover up with make-up, compliments and pseudo-self esteem. Call yourself ugly, and you’ll be under the barrage of:

1. Beauty is subjective! Isn’t it in the eye of the beholder anyway?!

2. Everyone’s beautiful! You’re beautiful!

3. *Lists a bunch of reasons why you can’t POSSIBLY be ugly*

4. Says you’re delusional/insane (re: being completely dismissive)

Part of this problem is that people tend to imagine in extremes. Ugliness is defined as horrific – like Hunchback of Notre-Dame type stuff – so if you don’t look like Quasimoto, then you can’t be ugly. This is irrational. NO ONE looks like Quasimoto, except for him, and few people would go around calling survivors of accidents with physical deformities as ugly. So basically, ugliness is reserved for fictional beings and monsters – which humans are not.

Granted – I understand it, really I do. With great beauty comes great power; to be called a model is probably one of the highest compliments a person can receive. Humans are so fixated on beauty that whole enterprises have been constructed in order to dismantle fabricated beauty (ie: Hollywood stars, magazine covers, etc) in exchange for “natural beauty” (ie: Lady Gaga’s Born This Way type stuff).

And I can understand the sentiment: everyone (well, most of you!) want power because power makes things easier. Money is power, but not everyone has money, but  nowadays anyone can be beautiful, right? I remember my friend, who is from Appalachian, telling me about how beauty pageants were one of the few ways to get out of their town.

So yes – I deeply understand the influence being beautiful has over people – even those who wish to bunk beauty standards. Not so that they can be ugly, but so that they can be beautiful in their own way.

This is all well and good but ignores the truth: not everyone is beautiful (and in some cases, don’t want to be!). I’m not a beautiful girl. Most people focus on my personality, and what’s going on in my mind, not so much my body.

Being ugly, and being willing to call myself that, is always tricky business. When you’re conditioned to believe that ugliness is bad and prettiness is good, well, most people will do anything to show you how “good” you really are. But here’s what I’m here to say: being ugly isn’t a death sentence, it doesn’t say anything about your character (any more than being pretty does) and it’s not mutually exclusive from being awesome. 

Yes – I am a ugly girl but so what? Why do I need to soothe myself with compliments in order to make myself feel better? Why is happiness so directly related to “feeling/being beautiful”? Why can’t I be ugly AND happy, successful, accomplished and unafraid? Why is ugly such a dirty, fucking word? 

Ugliness is a descriptor, like anything else. Being ugly doesn’t make me less than. It simply is. 

Even in the quest to “re-define beauty” why is beauty even a necessary part of the equation? Why force people into believing they’re beautiful? There is power in all things, including ugliness. Many people are terrified of being ugly, but if there’s power in exactly who you are, that includes being ugly too.

 

People are often quick to prove you’re beautiful, even if it’s just one feature.

Why do you think that is? Why can’t people be both ugly and happy?

This is definitely a discussion I want to have with as many people as possible. I really want to understand – why do you want to be pretty so bad? And why are you so quick to downplay people’s assertion of their own looks – which has NOTHING to do with you?

Preferences and Prejudice: Which Is It?

Is it classist to reject someone because they don’t have a job? 

Most of us know that it’s fairly racist to reject a potential partner based on race or on the color of their skin. Many self-identified feminists mourn the perceived standards being projected onto the female gender, and there is more than enough discussion about how people feel in regards to women having short hair or natural hair. (Unfortunately, I am not as well versed about the criterium projected onto same sex/alternative couples, so if you know any – feel free to list them in the comments for added discussion!).

A great deal of people spend an inordinate amount of time trying to prove to others (and themselves) that we’re each unique individuals and aren’t required to abide by arbitrary beauty prerequisites.

I spend a lot of time thinking about the concept of beauty and whose opinion matters the most. When I was a Senior in high school, there was this guy, CJ, that I liked. He was a white boy; tall and rail-thin, and I remember chatting with him online. In my usual style, I told him I liked him and he responded with: I only date white girls.

Most people would respond with complete disgust over this – How dare he!? That’s so racist!  I lived in a racially diverse area where a myriad of people attended my high school, so you would think that most people would have a more “open” view of who they’d like to date. But -

My whole life, I’ve never really been attractive enough for anybody:

1. my skin wasn’t clear enough

2. my breasts were too small

3. I wasn’t perky enough, hood enough, outgoing enough… the list continues

Of course, our choices aren’t made in a vacuum. Do many white people reject black partners out of some racist agenda? If we had a more egalitarian media (since television and cinema influences many people’s understanding of relationships and who they’re attracted to) – would more people be interested in dating outside of their race, economic class, sex, (etc)?

Many women (and perhaps men too) spend a lot of time looking at how they’re not represented in the media, and how this somehow suggests they’re not attractive by conventional standards. I’m not exempt from this; I spent a few minutes on Twitter yesterday lamenting how small breasts are rarely touted as being signifiers of attractiveness. Essentially, large breasts are considered more “womanly” and “feminine” than having a “boyish figure”.

This is a complex problem: on one hand, the world is giant mirror, reflecting back to us what we believe about ourselves and the world at large. On the other hand, I see this as a type of Second-Hander rhetoric – where I long for other people to give me validation about myself in some capacity. It’s almost like I don’t exist until someone else decides I exist. All of this pertains to self-esteem, and the value being placed in one’s own ideas and opinions.

I don’t want to be a Second-Hander, and have other people’s prejudices and preferences dictate Who I Am.

 

What About You? What are some of your preferences or prejudcies? 

As anyone said you weren’t enough because of the way you look?

#YesGayYA – LGBT Novels

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loathed YA. At least since high school, which tends to be the demographic for Young Adult. I loathed the lack of black characters, and how all the characters seemed to be clones of each other in some way, shape or form. There just didn’t seem to be a lot of diversity – in any respect – and generally, YA had become the bane of my literary existence. With one exception (the Uglies trilogy) – I avoided YA with fervor.

In addition to my YA ban, I’d also renounced a lot of reading in general because of the lack of POC and LGBT characters specifically, since these are things I look for. So for several months, I read only non-fiction, but it’s not as satisfactory as a good science fiction or fantasy novel! While I go back and forth with my dislike for YA with the fact that in general, many mainstream novels lack any kind of decent representation.

Recently, someone linked me to Malinda Lo, a lesbian YA writer, who has two books out with lesbian lead characters. Ms. Lo wrote a post detailing the amount of LGBT books being published each year, and thanks to some links on twitter, I came across an extensive list of LGBT YA books available. Some of the books have LGBT leads, while others have LGBT supporting characters. Additionally, much like my previous post on POC authors, there’s a list of books with POC characters too.

Thanks to the wide world of blogging, there are sites dedicated to exploring diversity in books and being aware that we need to bring more attention to books written by POC.

There’s no telling how difficult or easy trying to get your book published might be. Often times, it seems, a book’s success demands on a mixture of marketing and pure luck. Who would’ve guessed that Harry Potter would’ve become as popular as it did – though it took awhile before it finally took off. I remember being in the minority when HP originally came out, and it wasn’t for several years until I met other HP fans. So I would hate for anyone who is interested in publishing a book with LGBT/POC characters to feel dissuaded.

Often times, representation is difficult to come by. Our experiences regarding our race, gender, sexuality, class (etc) colors our perceptions of the world, and often times in many niche environments (ie: blogging) certain types of people are going to be drawn to that place. It can be hard to create diversity when your experience is both knowingly and unknowingly excluding other types of people and their experiences. Books are definitely no exception to this – and more work definitely needs to be more inclusive.

What kind of representation would you like to see more of? Not just in books but in movies, comics – any kind of media you consume on a daily basis (including blogs!).

As a side note, I’ve entered into a giveaway with a chance to win an ipad 2! I’ll link to it here, in case you’re interested in winning one as well. The contest ends September 30th and by October 2nd, you’ll find out who won! LAMFinances – giveaway