Does A Mixed Heritage= The Real Beauty?

Recently on BlackVoices.com writer Kirsten West Savali released a feature article discussing a recent poll published in Allure Magazine ( What’s Beautiful Now: The Allure American Beauty Survey) that allured (no pun intended) … (ok maybe a little, it was too easy) to the conclusive result that both Black and White women find that when it comes to race and heritage being mixed is the epitome of what it means to be beautiful. The magazine polled over 2,000 women and the results were both surprising and alarming.

(Singer Beyonce, photo via Worldwideticket.net)

When you look at modern media portrayals of both Black and White women it’s changed and rearranged itself standard-wise completely in the past 30-50 years as American society has  evolved. In some ways things haven’t changed: Black women are still exposed as being overtly sexual beings or ‘”freaky”, and White women are still portrayed as being docile and “innocent.” But aspects of beauty, like being a  curvier woman isn’t shunned like it once was. Being curvier is now well, flat-out sexy. Having darker toned (but not too dark) is now seen as “exotic.”  Breast implants and reductions are now “birthday presents.” Lip injections, butt injections, cheek injections, skin tanning, skin lightening, liposuction, and oh God forbid if a woman begins to show signs of aging!- seriously? What are American women after? I do indeed believe that in some ways our society is still obsessed with the idea of perfection.

 The ideal body-type was once a smaller, thinner frame like Marilyn Monroe, to a more athletic frame like Farah Fawcett and Grace Jones to now more vivacious and a sort of mix between thin and curvy: Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Heidi Montag, Amber Rose, Nicki Minaj, Giselle, and even reality t.v. stars like Snookie and JWOWW. The survey goes on to report that about 73% women say a curvier body type is more appealing than it has been in the past decade, but 85% would still like their hips to be narrowed. 97% percent of the women surveyed said they’d like to lose weight. But the study also concluded that African-American were three times as likely over Caucasian women, to rate themselves positively when it comes to beauty and confidence. Could it be all the emphasis on mixed features?

(photo via Vanity Fair)

 Looking at all the numbers, it spells out one main thing: American women, black, hispanic, and white…just aren’t really happy with ourselves. Overall the study and article concluded that 64% of people agreed being a mixed woman is the most beautiful kind of woman to be. So what does that say? Well it says two things: 1. Women are still prone to feeling a certain level of insecurity based on the media’s output of what beauty should look like. And 2. The obvious, women who stand on the border line of Black features and White features are it. And who’s the most revered celebrity beauty? Why Angeline Jolie of course. Her full lips, blue eyes, thin and yet curvy frame is the most sought after by men and wanted by women. And I’m not hating. The girl is freaking’ beautiful, but she’s beautiful in her own right first.

My opinion? ALL women have insecurities and we’re ALL struggling as American women to find that peak of confidence. When  it comes down to the pressure both black and white women feel to be something other than themselves, yes I’ve certainly felt it too. It’s everywhere you turn, I guess as it always been, and now with a more diversified country, the beauty ideals have changed and been emphasized. So how do we combat this attack on our confidence? It’s simple: be yourself.  And I don’t mean be your I-just-got-my-boobs-done-weave-done-lip injections-done-self. I mean be YOURSELF. Part of this attack is just marketing and beauty companies trying to make their money, but the other part of it is us as American women accepting ourselves for our differences and living in those differences.

I have a very close friend who’s mulatto (in fact I have a few) and I’ll admit, there was a time I envied her green eyes, caramel skin and naturally curly blonde hair. How exotic, how different, how gorgeous. And I actually told her one day “Girl you are so pretty. I love your look. I wish I had _____ _____ +_____”

And you know what she said to me? “Shut up girl! Your so tall and thin and your hair is so thick and long, I love your skin. You have an exotic look. Your one of the most gorgeous friends I have please.”

(Model/Actress K.D. Aubert often hailed for her green eyes and light skin)

Now did she rub my ego a little bit. Yeah she did. I mean, but hey I never said I didn’t like what I already have.  I’ve heard before that “you look exotic” comment.  I’m not sure if that should really be accepted as compliment, but to play along: If I’m exotic and beautiful, and you’re exotic and beautiful and oh! She’s exotic and beautiful…WHY IN THE WORLD do we need to look like each other?? What makes us collectively beautiful are our ranges in beauty. It would be pretty boring to all look like Angeline Jolie (no hating I swear),  and instead of trying to have what someone else “has” – There’s no need to try to be something you’re not, your you, you count and your beautiful. Confidence is the healthiest form of beauty. Why not just love the mixes we all are in this melting pot anyway?

( internationally known model Alex Wek, photo via ModelsandMoguls.com)

(Actress/Starlet Marilyn Monroe, photo via seefrance.com)

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Michelle Obama continues to fight against Youth Obesity

Let’s Move! A campaign initiated by First Lady Michelle Obama in 2010 is dedicated to solving the alarming rate of childhood obesity in the United States (the exact obesity rates vary from state-to-state according to the CDC.gov)  According to the official Let’s Move website this campaign:

“Combining comprehensive strategies with common sense, Let’s Move! is about putting children on the path to a healthy future during their earliest months and years. Giving parents helpful information and fostering environments that support healthy choices. Providing healthier foods in our schools. Ensuring that every family has access to healthy, affordable food. And, helping children become more physically active.”

Recently, Mrs. Obama released her new promotional commercial in which a fourth grader “shh’s” her as seen on Clutch Mgazine‘s feature roll. Pretty cute if you ask me.

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Vitamin of the Week: Vitamin D

 You may recall in childhood hearing your mother, doctor, camp counselor or  some kind of guardian urging you to make sure you drink a glass of milk a day to get that daily dose of Calcium to ” give you strong bones.” Well mom, dad, doc or whoever told you this was right: Vitamin D found in milk and which promotes Calcium absorbtion, most certainly does promote bone strength, structure and growth, but it also does many other things for the human body.

Out of the five form of this vitamin, there are two major forms of Vitamin D that humans consume: Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3. It is a fat-soluble vitamin and we get it through sun exposure, foods and supplements. In addition to this Vitamin D helps fight against Osteoperosis, heart disease, hypertension  and diabetes. For African Americans and people with darker skin tones,  it’s much harder to retain Vitamin D through sunlight alone and in this case supplements and food are needed.

 For those of us who live in parts of the country where we experience an intense winter period, many people do not obtain a healthy amount of sunlight and suffer from Vitamin D deficiency.  Because of this, it is even more important to moniter our intake of Vitamin D and make sure we find ways to keep our bones, immune systems and moods healthy.

Vitamin D is vital to our body in many ways and easy to consume here’s a list of foods that carry it naturally and can aid in keeping your body healthy and happy just as we  wrap up winter and look forward to that Vitamin D rich sunlight exposure:

  • *Salmon
  • *Tuna
  • *Milk (nonfat, reduced and whole)
  • *Sardines
  • *Margerine
  • *Eggs
  • *Mackerel
  • *Some forms of cereal and
  •  *Cheese!

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What makes a healthy relationship? (Valentine’s Day Inspired)

What exactly is the building foundation of a healthy relationship?

Last year a few days before the infamously loved and hated “Vday” I found myself in tears,  blasting Jay-Z’s more insensitive  tracks, and swearing with all confidence that I would never “fall in love again.” I got dumped four days to the date and it wasn’t pleasant for me, my pillow, or my friends who spent the next few days going on about how dumb men can be. Thank you friends.

 However melodramatic that may have been- it certainly made me realize how unimportant having an actual Valentine can be if you don’t have the real thing. Just hear me out.

Every year Valentines Day arrives and is received as one of the most loved or dreaded of holidays. For those of us in relationships, it’s a day to indulge in chocolate, cards, dates, the color red (just you know in general) and stay “boo’d up.” (Yes I said that) And for those of us who are single it can be a day that emphasizes the  fact that we are to the max; something many women aren’t very excited about. But why not?

(via TMZ.com)

 It doesn’t take Valentines Day making its traditional appearance to know many men and women in our society feel a bit “less than” because of their single status. In recent media black women especially have felt the backlash of seeing ourselves on the forefront of realityt.v.;  bringing desperately single to a whole new level. With shows like: Basketball Wives, What Chilli Wants, and For the love of ______( hell, whoevers next….) alongside  thee most dysfunctional public marriages like the whole T.I. and Tiny fiasco -I’m sorry based off these examples, we’re not winning.

Oh but in reality we are, and in the media we have the power to change how we’re viewed, and we should.

Many of us are guilty when it comes to looking to music, reality tv and celebrities for relationship 101 tips and love, but when it comes down to it in reality and health: having a stable, healthy relationship is most important. I’m no relationship expert and I may be young and to some extent,  inexperienced in the love field; but here are a few keys things I have learned along the rocky road somewhere in between “on to the next” and he could be “the one”:

1. Love yourself COMPLETELY first: There’s nothing worse than when two people (or even just one) enter a relationship and they haven’t mastered the art of loving themselves.

Loving yourself is the best health tip

. Understand that the whole “_____ completes me” line is a true signal for disaster. COMPLETE YOURSELF FIRST. Go out and do things on your own. Set your own goals and achieve them. Know yourself, or at least go hard-core about it and learn to love yourself. That isn’t a pass to be the queen of conceit, but in order to know what you want/need in someone else and to be able to provide them with real affection you’ve GOT to love you first.

2. Friendship matters: Developing a friendship with someone first allows you to get to know them outside of a romantic perspective. We can’t be googly-eyed about someone 24/7. Sometimes it’s just you and that person-just being. And when that happens you’ll probably want to like who you’re with for more than just their physicality and/or what they have. Realizing a healthy friendship strengthens the romantic bond.

3. You are who you love: It always amazes me when people create grocery item long lists of what they want in a mate, yet don’t even come close to having the same qualities. Do you want a man/woman  with a good job, mature mind and dresses cleanly? It doesn’t help if you’re sitting at home, job less and watching Maury repeats looking like you haven’t seen a shower in weeks.

To attract someone you want you also have to mirror that image.

This will also create a healthy balance between a couple.

4. And last but certainly not least, Realize the time: Being single is and can be a great thing. Yes it has its lonely moments but you haven’t truly live until you find the joy in living on your own and on your own terms. This can be a time for intense growth and expansion. Life doesn’t stop at a relationship or being single and despite the stigma placed around it: being single can be just as beautiful as finding someone to compliment your wonderful style. Remember that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, so plant flowers where you stand. : )

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You don’t have to do crazy diets in 2011

It’s no secret that every year, millions of American women make losing “X” amount of weight their top goal for the year. African American women and Latino women (and  even many other women) are especially prone to this train of thought-thinking that we’re overweight or needing to lose weight when in actually it may not be that serious. Most of us come from a lineage of women who are naturally curvacious and larger in body type. Not all of us look like Tyra Banks and not all of us are built like Monique.  We’ve got to love our bodies the way they are and simply improve them for what they are. But the point is that our body types range. Going on crazy diets can actually cause your body more stress than benefit it.

The best route to go if you are looking to lose some healthy weight is to follow what fits your body type. A healthy weight is usually measured by your height and the natural width of your body.

In addition to changing some lifestyle and eating choices, you may just need a revamp of your wardrobe. Many curvy women feel the need to hide their curves-embrace them! This doesn’t mean wearing clothes five sizes larger, it means finding a cut and style that flatters your figure.  Writer and blogger Kathryn Finney of The BudgetFashionista.com has a great advice column for finding the right clothing and accessories for this. Finney’s book The Budget Fashionista in addition to saving you money, shows you how to make your wardrobe tailor to YOU  in a stylish and savvy way, and not just the trends of the day.

In terms of eating choices and diet: There’s one piece of advice my mentor gave me two years ago when she began her quest to lose weight in preperation for her wedding (and  to run a marathon yowzah!) and it was this- it is a lifestyle change. Dieting alone won’t work. If you’re planning to lose weight and keep it there, you need to change your lifestyle as well. That includes constant (but not crazy) exercising, changing your diet permanantly and limiting your intake of junk food. Yes ladies that means, swearing off those treat foods in exchange for baked, organic and low in salt, grease or sugar. And trust me (because I LOVE some good junk food) it’s hard but it is NOT impossible, it simply takes time to become a HABIT.

Keep a journal: Another great way to treat your body right in losing weight would be keeping a journal. Keeping a written record of your progress will not only motivate you but it will also be a place to vent on your frustrations, basque in your joys and right down all the ideas you come across in finding ways to keep a healthy weight.

Remember the goal is to embrace yourself as you are, it is to  transform into a healthier you physically and mentally and  that begins with loving the body your in and making those beautiful curves work for you .

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Video love: “Whip My Hair” Sesame Version

This was just too cute:

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You know I love your brown skin…

Many of us living here in the Northeast  have barely gotten a break from Mother Nature this winter. Storm after storm, ice, a glimpse of sunshine and then? -yet another storm. And that can definitely translate into dryness, flaking and overall harm to your skin, more specifically that of your face.

Black skin particularly comes in many unique and diverse shades, from olive to dark chocolate-brown, and because of the melanin within our skin, we have an extra natural protection against premature wrinkling and reduces the risk of skin cancer. However, that does not make black skin super hero skin. It needs just as much attention and care during the winter as anyone else…maybe just in a different way. Personally I’ve had to reach for alternatives rather than what my local drugstore usually offers, not every product caters specifically to Black skin but there are those that do especially!

During this time of year when the air humidity factor has reached its lowest, it is even more imperative to moisterize, exfoliate and moisterize again! Through trial and error (and some good ole’ advice from my mom and aunts) here are some easy, low-cost ways to keep your skin moisterized and healthy throughout the remainder of the frost:

1. Water: I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a sufficient amount of water EVERYDAY. It works wonders! It is indeed true that what we put in our bodies reflect on the outside, and during the cold season water can boost you’re skin’s natural moister. Water carries nutrients into the cells of the body and also flushes out toxins. Water alone will not prevent your skin from becoming dry, but it will help significantly.

2. Moisturizer: When searching for a moisturizer try to keep the ingredients simple. The less chemicals (such as Parabens), the less harsh it will be on your skin. moisturizer that include natural oils such as Coconut oil, Carrot oil and Olive oil work well. Carol’s Daughter’s “Face Butter” is a great place to start. It was made specifically to fight weather damage, is all natural and also includes anti-aging  ingredients.

3.Cocoa Butter/Shea Butter: Now this one is an oldy. Most of us have experienced Mama, or Daddy lathering on this household staple on our faces before sending us out to the freezing cold bus stops. I know I’m not alone.  It seems no matter how cold it may get shea butter does the trick. And when choosing a good cocoa butter, 100% natural is the best way to go.

4. Lastly, just a few facial cleansing tips: Exfoliate but keep it to a minimum. Some professionals  may recommend exfoliating everyday but if you’ve got sensitive skin  like me you know this is a no-no. The winter whether can be especially hard on skin when exfoliating so keep it to an amount that gets your skin clean but doesn’t aggravate the skin’s surface, 3-4 times a week should be good. Also, moisterizing MORNING and NIGHT. You want your skin to be hydrated even as you sleep and your bodies reaches its resting period (when everything rejuvenates itself) moisterize before bed too!

Winter may have taken some of the joy of going outside, but you definitely don’t have to brave the winds and worry about your skin too. 🙂

(Photo credit: Mischobeauty.com)

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February 7th: National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Upon my daily scroll through blogs this morning I came across a feature on Black Voices Wellness personally sent in by HIV/AIDS activist  Hydeia Broadbent. Some of you may remember Hydeia’s name as she was often appearing on radio and television shows as early as 12 years old, promoting safe sex and education on the HIV/AIDS disease. But Broadbent didn’t contract the disease through promiscuous acts or drug use; she was born HIV positive to a drug addicted mother, and diagnosed at the age of four with the disease. For over a decade Broadbent has been a teen age and young adult activist, speaking out on the dangers of HIV.

Broadbent who is now 26 years old  has faced many physical and mental challenges in living with HIV but she’s remained strong in her fight for people to protect themselves and be aware of the risks. Today on many websites Hydeia’s message about today’s significance was posted, she noted that:

  “Yes, we have our own day during Black History Month. While people never think they are at risk for contracting HIV, that it’s above them, that it is a dirty person’s disease, or is only contracted by those who are gay, I am here to tell you that anyone who is negative is at risk for contracting HIV if they don’t educate themselves on the disease.
America has become very complacent when it comes to AIDS. We think AIDS is only a problem in third world countries. However, the total number of people living with an HIV infection in the U.S. is thought to be around 1.1 million, and of the more than 1 million people living with HIV in the United States of America today, around half are black.” (Via BlackVoicesWellness)

The first AIDS case reported and thus beginning the epidemic was  in 1981 in Los Angeles. The first strain of HIV is reported have entered the United States around 1969  and has since spread throughout the world. As of this year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that African-Americans while making up only 13% of the overall population, are nearly half of the new cases of HIV each year. That means 1 in every 16 black men, and 1 in 30 for black women. In 2006 HIV was the ninth leading cause of blacks and the third leading cause of death for both black men and women aging  35-44.

African-Americans continue to be the leading numbers in cases for STD’s as well, which subsequently causes a higher risk factor in contracting HIV. So what can we do?

EDUCATE EDUCATE EDUCATE. The number one way to prevent HIV/AIDS is not to protect yourself- it is to educate yourself and others. That’s where it starts. If we’re educated and educating those around us we can thus protect ourselves.

Although Broadbent has recently dealt with a change in medications because of brain damage she’s recovered well and continues to be a warrior in her fight.

When it comes to HIV we are all on an equal playing field; this disease does not discriminate.

The H in HIV stands for human.” -Hydeia Broadbent

To learn your status on HIV and find a testing site near you text your zip code to 566948 (KNOWIT) or visit HIVtest.org

(Photo credit GettyImagesEntertainment, Dario Cantatore)

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Welcome!

Hello and Welcome to Color Me Healthy!

This blog was created to discuess, highlight, educate and encourage issues around health and health issues pertainly especially to woman of color.  Women of color being defined as women of non-caucasion descent. I noticed the lack of blogs and magazines dedicated solely to women of color and health and thought it was time to create one.  As a young African American woman in college and learning more and more the importance of taking care of my health in becoming a woman resources into  health education are crucial. This blog is not meant to discriminate but rather to celebrate the healthy and beauty of women of color. Color Me Healthy may not be the first or only blog dedicated to this topic, but it will be the most electrifying!

Here we will discuss:

*Relationships   *Healthy Diets   *Health News   *Health Trends   *HIV/AIDS    *Exercise    *Cancer   *Health Trends   *Disease Prevention   *Disease Education *Heart Disease     *Health in the media    *Recipes    *Destressing     *Yoga   *Hair/Nails and Beauty *Heart Disease *Diabetes and more!!

I am so excited to begin this blog and to engage in live discussion about these issues. I believe through education, discussion and action we can bring forth solutions for our community and the larger health world. I hope your just as ready and excited as I am! Enjoy!

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