Friday, January 28, 2011

Pretty Little Girls

If you looked up “girly-girl” in the dictionary, there’d be a picture of me sitting there in a fabulous pink dress, with my legs neatly crossed, face beat, lips shining (Lip gloss is my favorite!), drinking some afternoon tea, and reading my most recent copy of Cosmopolitan magazine.

I really do love all of that stuff!  So it was a surprise to some people (those who don’t really know me), that I was bothered by Walmart’s recent announcement about their new line of beauty products.  Beauty products – no big deal right?  Did I mention this line is tailored for girls between the ages of 8 and 12?  It’s being branded as an “anti-aging” line designed for “young skin” and it will feature blush, mascara, lipstick and face shimmer. 

Lipstick and blush for 8 year-olds?  Seriously??? 

I’m not mad at Walmart for deciding to run this campaign. They’re a business, and businesses are in the business of making money. Point blank.  And the beauty industry is BIG MONEY.  What frustrates me is the message that this is sending to young girls.  To me, it reinforces an unhealthy focus on exterior, superficial, physical beauty.   

The vanity obsession is everywhere.  Turn on the television on any given day and you’ll see young women who are consumed with their appearance. Part of it is just being insecure (We’ve all been there.)  And companies know that. That’s why they spend millions on marketing campaigns that focus on the beauty benefits of their product.  Get it?   

Yes, I enjoy wearing make-up, but I’m a woman who’s comfortable and confident in her own skin (with or without lip gloss). Young girls should be encouraged to be smart, outspoken, compassionate and fearless. And they should be reminded that real beauty doesn’t come from the perfect shade of face powder.  It comes from within and is always accompanied with great humility.    

Let's leave the lipstick and blush on the shelf where it belongs.    

Friday, January 21, 2011

Uncle Luke - Miami's Next Mayor?

Let me preface this post by saying upfront that I was born and raised in Florida.  Therefore I have a certain affinity for Luke and his music (affectionately known as “Miami Bass”). **pause for a collective gasp** 

Most people know him as Luke, or Uncle Luke, but his government name is Luther Campbell.  He was the outspoken leader of one of the most popular rap groups of all time, the 2 Live Crew.  His trademark: His controversial ‘nasty as he wanna be’ booty-shaking music that dominated the charts in the 80’s. But he’s also known for his highly publicized obscenity case that challenged the Supreme Court to defend free speech --A music censorship victory and a major win for the entertainment industry.   

Not only did he sell millions of records and make gobs of money, but he was the founder of Luke Records, the first independent black owned record company owned by a rapper. He was also was one of the first artists to distribute his own music.

It’s 2011 now and Luke’s a husband, and a dad.  He’s a different man.  But one thing about him that hasn’t changed…he’s still controversial as hell!  Up next, politics.  Yes—the man who wrote hits like "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" and "Me So Hor*y" is seriously considering entering the race to become Miami’s next mayor.  Sounds crazy right?  Not to me.  Here’s why:

In most cities in Florida, Luke is considered a legend (I’m dead serious) and in the world of hip-hop, he’s an icon (If you don't believe me, ask Jay-Z).  Luke was born and raised in Miami.  He's a smart and successful businessman who genuinely loves the city, and is committed to making it better.  Although he’s somewhat retired from the music biz, he’s still very connected to young people.  He currently serves as assistant football coach for Miami-Dade Central High School and is a very active philanthropist in his community.  Luke is brutally honest and forthcoming about his past and the present (He’s transparent--what you see is what you get!)

And lastly, Luke is no stranger to politics.  He was a very outspoken supporter of many Get Out The Vote campaigns during the 2008 Presidential election, and he frequently gives national commentary about current political issues (He's actively engaged in the political process.) 

You think it's silly, absurd and impossible that Luther "Luke" Campbell could be the next mayor of Miami? Think again.....    
Luther "Luke" Campbell

Monday, January 17, 2011

(PINK) Public Service Announcement

Martin Luther King, Jr. day is officially observed on January 17th.  Some folks see it as the most-awaited first holiday break of the year and some see it as a time to reflect and rejoice.  I choose the latter. 
Dr. King’s life is a movement and it didn’t end in 1968.  I was a part of it in 2008, when President Obama became the 44th President of the United States.  I can experience it 24-hours a day on a cable network called OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) and I’m encouraged by it when I think of people like Bill Gates, Marian Edelman and Hydeia Broadbent.

My favorite quote by Dr. King is actually a question:

"Life's most urgent question is: What are you doing for others?"
My answer: Not enough.  What's yours?

Friday, January 14, 2011

(Marriage/Relationship) Digital Media 10 Commandments

Leon Walker thought his wife was having an affair, so he logged into her email account to get proof.  He was right.  Now he’s facing felony charges in Michigan for violating an anti-hacking computer law.  It got me to thinking…  Husbands, wives, partners & others: Knowledge is power!  It may keep you out of jail and divorce court too!  So, raise your right hand, place it over your heart and repeat the following:  
                 (Marriage/Relationship) Digital Media 10 Commandmants
  1. Honor thy marriage/relationship (ALWAYS)
  2. Thou shall learn the digital landscape (Before you buy a car/house, you do research right?)
  3. Thou shall choose strong passwords (Not 'medium' strength ones and definitely not 'weak' ones)
  4. Thou shall not hack into thy spouse’s personal accounts/email without permission (If you have to hack, you already know what's up)
  5. Thou shall disclose marital status on all social media sites (i.e. Facebook) where applicable (People will often assume you're single, and....drama could ensue)  
  6. Thou shall not sweat the small stuff (Get the facts first)  
  7. Thou shall not use digital media (text, email, tweets) to replace real-life verbal conversations
  8. Thou shall not spend more than 5-7 hours a week on social media sites (Ditto for xBox & Playstation) 
  9. Thou shall re-read all updates (postings, tweets, text, emails) before pressing ‘send’
  10. Thou shall always remember Commandment #1 


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Arizona Shooting: Is Free Speech Free?

The  Arizona Shooting.  I’ve been watching in disbelief as the reports continue to roll in.  A congresswoman shot in the head, 13 wounded and six confirmed deaths, including a 9 year-old and a federal judge? What makes this even more disturbing is that this tragedy stemmed from recent heated political rhetoric around issues such as health care legislation and immigration.

nyone who knows me knows - I’m always down for a good political debate. And I love discussing the issues with people who don’t agree with me.  It’s both enlightening and reaffirming. I admit, sometimes it gets heated because I’m passionate about what I believe. Who isn’t? 

I’m also passionate about writing. Super passionate about the First Amendment. This law is in place to protect and promote freedom of information, expression, and petition. The First Amendment = the blueprint for personal freedom.  It's freedom of speech!  Period.  My motto is this: “I may not agree with what you’re saying, but I’ll always support your right to say it.”

Sadly, people died in Arizona because one person didn’t agree with another person’s position on important issues. It makes me ask, is free speech really free?  Not for the Arizona victims.  They’ve paid the ultimate price for something most of us take for granted. Was it worth it?

9 year-old victim Christina Taylor Green and her mom


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Smiling Like Miss Celie

I’m terrible at receiving compliments.  Most times I just say thanks and smile like Miss Celie. Other times I feel the need to explain, justify or just return the compliment.  And then—and this is the worst, there are times when I just won’t take it!  I’ll actually come up with things to say to weaken a flattering remark.  It's the weirdest thing ever.  Here’s how the conversation goes:

Person A:  Steff, you really look cute tonight.
Person B:  Yeah, you’re workin’ that dress.
Me:  Oh please, I could stand to lose 20 lbs. If it weren’t for Spanx, I’d be…

Why do I do that?!?  Reason #1: I’m kinda shy and I don’t like a lot of attention. Reason #2 (the real reason): Compliments make me a bit uncomfortable.  In some ways I feel like if I believe the “hype” of a compliment, I’ll become arrogant and shallow. Truth is, I’m not arrogant or shallow.  I’m unassuming and humble.  I want to stay that way forever and ever (corny, but true.)

I often wonder, will I ever get to a place where I can just accept and embrace a compliment in the spirit in which it’s intended to be?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Until then, I’ll just keep smiling like Miss Celie….       

Miss Celie from The Color Purple