Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Imitation vs. Inspiration. What Lane Are You In?

Whoever came up with the slogan, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," either never encountered the annoyance of a stalker/imitator or is an imitator themselves. There are very few things that are more annoying to me than a copy catter, biter, stalker. Now don't get me wrong, I'm completely aware that there are few, if any, one of kind original any things and that all things are derived from some level of inspiration and influence, as it should be, but there is a clear distinction between an imitation and inspiration. The latter requires some level of creativity, effort and integrity. It's a combination of those things you may have some fondness of with a boost of your own distinguished style and personality, so in fact it becomes yours and not a duplication of someone else. The former, imitation, is just a complete lack of self, style, uniqueness, confidence or consideration! Point blank period. The imitator that annoys me the most is the one who copies you down to the very last detail and then flaunts in front of you as if you have no idea what they are doing or you are somehow impressed or wowed by something that you have already done 10 times better! And it's not that I don't appreciate the nod from the copy catter because I do. Obviously, someone duplicating you is somewhat of a compliment because it does demonstrate that you are clearly impressive to the extent that others copy you. But a simple verbal compliment would be sufficient enough! I really don't need you to run out and duplicate an entire outfit I had on this past Thursday. You could simply just say"you look nice" or "I love that hot pink biased cut sweater you are wearing!" Whatever happened to the desire not to wear the exact same thing as the next person or to look anything like someone else? I thought the goal was to be unique or distinguishable? Remember when walking into a party and realizing that you and the next person were similarly dressed or styled was the worse thing that could've ever happened to you?? I wonder where that feeling has went. In any event, it seems that the desire to duplicate is as persistent as it ever has been, no matter the fact that I'm long out of junior high school. So with that being said, I've decided to incorporate some useful tips for the life long followers in an effort to keep the irritation of the copied subject down and to decrease the embarrassment you subject yourself to for being less than creative:
1) Consider how unique or particular the certain item or thing you are seeking to imitate. The louder and more flamboyant the more annoying and obvious your copying will be! You may want to copy something less distinguished. Please. Thank You.
2) Have some discretion when implementing the copying. If your model works with you, attends school with you or is in close proximity to you how about you save your mega copying for a date, place and time when your model is not around to see your low blow move. Please. Thank You.
3) Remember that if your hairstylist is not my hairstylist, your hair texture is not my hair texture, your at home hairstyling abilities are not the same as mine, and your facial structure and shape is not the same as mine you CAN NOT rock the same hair cut! Similarly, if your height is not my height, your body shape is not my shape, your skin complexion is not my complexion, and more importantly, your level of confidence is not my level of confidence, then the likelihood of your pulling off the same outfit in the exact same color is pretty darn slim as well. Additionally, if you like the paint color on my wall or the vase on my stand I assure you that Benjamin Moore has 4200 different shades of color to choose from and between Ikea, Target, Marshall's Home Goods and the boutique decor store downtown you can get a much more impressive vase than the one of mine that you like!
4) Note that crossing the line into the more appeasing realm of inspiration (versus the unacceptable ridiculous realm of imitation) is really not as difficult as it may seem. Adding an additional detail, changing the color, leaving out a specific detail that was pretty telling or mixing concepts to make something totally different can be the distinction between copying or being inspired. Try it!
5) Lastly, just pick up a magazine....all the opportunity for copying is right there, and they are advertising for the sole purpose of you copying what you see! And when all else fails I urge you to look at any episode of Sex and the City, any show on HGTV, or a random music video and you should be just fine! Good luck!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Thank You Sean and Nicole Bell

On July 28, 2010, Sean and Nicole Bell finally got some level of relief in connection to his November 25, 2006 murder on the eve of their wedding date. Justice? Not quite. Some relief? Yes. The city of New York settled the wrongful death suit in connection to his murder and the injuries to his friends, who were also shot, for over $7 million, a little over $3 million to Sean's estate and the remaining amount to be split between the 2 surviving friends. I've followed this story since it happened. It is one that has stayed with me for years. It was an awful tragedy. A young, gorgeous, black man at the age of 23 was gunned down with over 50 shots fired by 3 off duty police officers on the eve of his wedding to his high school sweetheart and mother of his two young daughters. He was unarmed and celebrating his impending marriage with his friends and then he was dead. It really doesn't get any worse than that. Here we are in the 21st century and young black men were still targets and it was sad and scary and disappointing. I always just felt so bad for Nicole as she tried to garner justice and awareness, not just for Sean, but for US! She was just a young, beautiful mother and then she wasn't. She was burdened with the task of never having married the love of her life, raising her two daughters by herself, living with the memory of the gruesomeness of his death, and now tasked with the responsibility of getting justice for Sean. It wasn't fair. I could always see the grief and sadness in her face and voice when she recounted the story and talked about how things were not progressing, how awful she was treated by the police the day he was murdered, how disappointed she was when the police officers were acquitted of any criminal responsibility, when federal civil rights charges were declined, as she pursued the wrongful death settlement and as she continued to lobby for changes in police policy to help avoid another young man from being murdered. I'm thankful for her for keeping up with the cause and continuing the fight for US despite not having her love besides her. I know if she could trade it all in she'd rather just be married to Sean and raising her children with their father. I pray that this settlement brings some calm in the storm knowing that even in death Sean was able to provide for her and the children, that she could do something with him that would be beneficial to them forever. Thank you Nicole and thank you Sean, your memory and your death was not in vain. I can raise my young, black gorgeous son knowing that someone, aside from me, sacrificed for him. I pray Nicole's continued strength in her pursuit and some day very soon in her very young life she can have the level of peace she needs to enjoy her daughters and the rest of her life.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The New and Improved Nicole Ari Parker

I jokingly told my girlfriend recently that the lightskinned, sandy haired, light eyed girl never impressed me. In fact, I always thought they all look exactly alike and not exotic at all. They have all those "characteristics" that you would think automatically made them interesting and beautiful but never really amounted to much, well as far as I was concerned. To put that all in perspective, I'm not trying to come across as discriminatory or to generalize and come up with misplaced and ignorant conclusions. I'm mostly joking in my assessment that "they" all look alike but the other part of me is tired of the generalization that those with these characteristics are beautiful just because, so this is more about balance and annoyance with the blanket beauty pass for being black with fair skin or black with lighter eyes or black with wavy hair. That has to be one of the most annoying and frustrating assumptions and racist based conclusions out there and it's even more offensive when it comes from black people. I've said it before, and trust me you will hear it many times over, Nia Long and Halle Berry (I do acknowledge she is mixed and her hair is fine but she's also brown skinned, has dark eyes, and is more beautiful with her pixie cut and brown hair than she is with long highlighted locks) are super hawwt without any of those "auto" features, not to mention there is Sanaa Lathan, Gabrielle Union, Michelle Obama, Malinda Williams and many other brown skinned women that are automatically beautiful without doing a single thing or having been born with any one of those "auto" features! Anyways, I say that all to announce that I have been pleasantly impressed with Mrs. Kodjoe more recently. With age, marriage and children she looks absolutely fabulous, and that's my kind of girl. She looks gorgeous in this picture! The dress and shoes I absolutely love, her hair looks more modern funky and most importantly, she seems very happy. Absolute winner look...and it has nothing to do with her hair texture, eye color or skin tone! The dress and the shoes are to die for and her happiness is to kill someone else for!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sex and the City.... with Children

I was riding the train today and one of my favorite passenger buddies was surprised to hear I had children and especially the age of my own, 11 and 13. He said shocked, " but I see you with the shoes and the clothes and I just always assumed 'Sex and the City.'" I responded very matter of factly, and just as confused as he was, "oh yes, it is Sex and the City. Just with kids." I never understood the end of your life in exchange for children type of mentality and I certainly never even made the attempt to grasp the concept of "mom jeans" or mom all. It's a sad sad day in the world when the message conveyed is that when you have children you should do away with a sense of style, self esteem, or individuality, as if being dowdy, consumed, and lost is the recipe of a good parent. I dissent. In fact, I think that one of the integral ingredients for good parenting is absolutely loving yourself to death, refusing to lose your own sense of style and personality, and having a strong esteem. What can you offer a child that is dependent upon you when you don't know or care much about yourself? Progression, confidence, success and comfort breed the same. I personally made it a top priority not to compromise any pieces of my style and personality when I had my children. They were and they are always my number one priority but instead of feeling the need to put all things aside when I had my children, I felt empowered and inspired by them to proved that it is not a contradiction to maintain yourself while parenting. You can be loving, committed, responsible, and dedicated while looking fabulous, trendy, youthful and IN all at the same time. So yes, there is dance class and soccer practice for my daughter and football practice and track meets for my son, parenting conferences, and school events, but it's always with tight fitted designer jeans, the hottest heels and the cutest "in" bags and accessories, with the support and love of my children! No compromise. I'm just as involved and concerned with my children and their adventures as I would if I had a pair of ill fitted, out of style, faded pants on! So with that, I would encourage all parents to challenge yourself to keep your kids your number one but without losing sight of yourself and your own needs. Balance is always key. :-)

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Age?

I always provide the cliche response that most women use post the age of 21 when asked my age. I respond, "I'm 21," with a smile and bat of the lash. But the truth is, my age really isn't that big of a deal to me....yet. Black woman are incredibly gorgeous and age knows no limits concerning us. Lucky me. Also, my mother, who will be 54 this month, is absolutely gorgeous and she could easily pass for 10 to 15 years younger, so I know my fate. Double lucky me! As I've aged, like fine wine, as us honeeyz are known to do, I have begun to notice a new form of "hate," and let me first say that I really think the term "hate," in that regard, or the term "hater" is so played out and overused. Therefore, I use it really with much pun intended! To think that someone actually hates you because you are annoying as heck or they think something you are doing is stupid or corny makes them a hater is rather juvenile and quite presumptive? Grow up already! Has it ever occurred that it could be as simple as they actually just think that what you are doing is stupid or corny and not that they are spawns of satan and just hate you for no viable reason?? Anyway, back to the subject at hand. I've recently came across a new form of hate or a means in which some haters (lol) have used to take an unsuccessful shot at me on occasion. This would be the topic of my age. I'm out of my 20s and sailing into my 30s with class and swag for days (for the record, the term "swag" should really not be used by anyone over 14 years of age so much more pun intended with the use of that term)!! Some people are not so happy about my graceful aging so I get the occasional reminder that I'm older or not quite as young as the suspected hater, which to me is such an obvious and desperate, yet misplaced, attempt to attack me and hopefully make me feel inferior. NOT. First of all, 32 is young so I can't be old, accordingly, such attack is factually incorrect! Second of all, I look fabulous and very frequently pass for 22 so who the heck cares what the stupid birth certificate says anyway??? I'd much rather be 32 but easily pass for 22 than look 32 and I'm actually only 22. And third of all, this is such an obvious fishing expedition because if you could say something else about a person, such as they are stupid, ugly, unsuccessful, fat, dirty, classless, broke or had a poor sense of style (the worst allegation of them all) you'd probably say any of those things first (which would be discriminatory, childish and classless in and of itself but that's another topic to be posted and discussed at another time) rather than scream out the "that's why you are old" insult. In short, throwing meaningless digs at my being "older" is an utter and sincere waste of time. I have no hangups and if noting my age is a last resort effort against the older me that looks flyer and younger than you, I'd recommend just forgetting about it! I mean look at Halle. The fact that she is that gorgeous and her body is doing those kind of tricks at the age of 42, makes her that much more rather than anything less. Calling her older or pointing out she is in her 40s is a joke! And FYI, once you hit 26 you're really no spring chicken yourself so watch it! Just a tip. Now, for the sake of closing my personal rant on a more positive note, comment on this post and share with me one of your favorite beauty secrets that keeps you feeling (most importantly) and looking young and hot! My mom always showed me that less is so much more and that I should always have Dove soap and a good moisturizer handy at all times...which I do. Check out the pictures attached of my mother last summer at the age of 53. I'll do whatever she recommends!

How Real is This??

Teen Vogue, and some other teen magazines, as well as the non-famous "regular girls" fashion blogs, of my particular notice, "Sea of Shoes" and "The Style Rookie," are seemingly designed to attract the normal and younger fashionistas in the world; however, I find it quite confusing considering these magazines and blogs generally boast overpriced designer digs that no real teenager (or adult for that matter) could truly afford to purchase considering they are either too young to work AT ALL or are significantly limited to working normal teenage jobs which in turn are paid at minimum wage for the part time hours a legal work permit would allow. In one issue of Teen Vogue there is a fashion piece titled, "Sugar Rush," where brights and pastels are modeled through the pages, but of interest is the brands and designers that are used to create the looks. One outfit consists of $360 D&G blazers and Louis Vuitton belts (price not listed). Another look is made up of Burberry skirts, Chanel bracelets and plastic Louis Vuitton bracelets priced at $310 to $420 each! Lots more Louis Vuitton and Chanel with a piece or two from Dsquared2, Christian Louboutin, Miu Miu, Prada, Phillip Lam and a bunch of other overpriced pieces that no normal teenager should own completes this spread! "The Style Rookie" is certainly not dictated by high end designers and must haves that 95% of the world can not afford even if they prayed on it every day of their lives, but blog owner, little Miss Tavi (I adore her but I'll get into that later) does attend fashion week in New York, she does have a recent post on Givenchy's 2010 lineup, and she does frequently rock designer pieces and accessories I, as a practicing 32 year old attorney, can not afford myself. In her defense, she does usually clarify that most of the items were given to her or borrowed, but still.... And "Sea of Shoes" (another fav of mine that I will discuss in more detail later) has all types of couture and high end designer finds that are to die for especially since no normal person, particularly teenager, could afford any of it. You would literally have to die for some of the things on this blog! But to put things in perspective and in all fairness, "Sea of Shoes," seems to be more about artistic expression and the true love of fashion rather than high end designer propaganda pushing by a teenage girl and her mom despite the expensive finds.
Overall, I'm not necessarily saying that these magazines and blogs are all wrong in what they do. There are some great articles and topics that are teen oriented and helpful in every Teen Vogue issue. There are also more affordable pieces sprinkled throughout their fashion spreads, such as those from Express, Topshop, Guess and Babyphat. Also, Elle girl is an excellent teen oriented magazine that does a great job of promoting real life teen issues and teen apparel. "The Style Rookie" is absolutely wonderful and a commendable feat for little Miss Tavi. It is one of my favorite blogs on blogger and she does an excellent job with managing her blog. Her writing is absolutely superb, her creativity is over the top, her articles and topics are very well balanced and she brings a lot of important and sometimes controversial issues to the light and let's not forget she is a 13 year old child who has to get up and go to school every day! And the same for the Sea of Shoes blog. The art of fashion, bright photography and the bonding between mother and teenage daughter is way more attractive and prevalent than the expensive clothes that no other normal teenager could afford. I love what these two blogs are presenting and I particularly love the blog owners for being young, ambitious, artistic and successful. I would encourage my followers to follow and support these blogs.
In short and to further clarify, I'm not attacking. I've already mentioned, and will mention again and again, that attacking is so not my style. I only draw attention because there is some misleading elements and there is the potential issues that some of these outlets may cause when the attracted audience (young, impressionable, awkward, emotionally imbalanced teenage girls) is desperate to get their hands on the looks and brands celebrated in some of the aforementioned medias, particularly the commercially successful magazines. Maybe they should challenge themselves to be all Teen and not just some Teen, or maybe even consider changing their name so not to deceive that the magazine is for teens and about teens only. I would suggest, "MiniVogue" or "YoungVogue" because these would allow the youthful styles without compromising the designer brand that no normal teen could afford. I'd also suggest clinging to more affordable but comparable brands and lines such as French Connection, Zara, more Topshop, Alice & Olivia, H&M, and BCBGeneration, just to mention a few. All and all, it's all just a thought???!!!! What do you think?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Halle Berry and Nia Long Effect

It seems to me that Halle and Nia are becoming more and more gorgeous and uber hawwwtt with time? How is this possible? Clearly it is and I want in! I've always been a fan of both women and I've yet to identify one "in" commercial celebrity that can hold a torch to either of these ladies, and I'm even more tickled considered they are successful and progressive black women in Hollywood....far and few between, unfortunately. In any event, all the paparazzi pics of Halle walking around in her work out gear looking fab and Nia's recent Love Jones ode (FYI, Love Jones is my absolute favorite movie of all times, and because of this I am forever the hopeless romantic in search of what "Nina and Darius" had and I'm not inclined to settle....see my Diary chronicles for more details...) at the 2010 BET Awards has me in a tizzy. With that said (and seen), I'm on a mission. I'm creating a new lifestyle in terms of my diet and exercising habits because as I just recently said, I want in! Who wouldn't??? Shout out to Malinda Williams, Sanaa Lathan, Gabrielle Union, Rihanna, Kelis, and Eva Mendes....women of color who have me in the gym going hard! :0)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fast Times In the Life of My Fingernails

I love fashion and creativity but I'm an attorney and I have to keep things toned down to a certain extent. No colored hood hair or sloppy flamboyant nonsense, which actually doesn't work for me at work or at home or at play because it's just wrong!!! But I say "a certain extent" because although I have to wear suits to court, I still try to wear a cute, funky, modern and young suit, and although I work in the office when I'm not in court, our Firm dress code is business casual so I take liberty with color, my accessories and shoes (but of course....and for the record, my liberty with my shoes is not to be played with)!! But one of my favorite accessories is my fingernails!! Not only is this a fun way to reflect my style and taste but what girl doesn't like pampering inexpensively and a quick, easy and simple way to break up a classic (yet sexy) black suit without going off the inappropriate and unprofessional deep end! So take a look at some of my favorite designs and how my nails make me special in an unexpected splash of fun, spunk and personality kind of way!!! NOTE: I highly recommend that you pay very close attention to Samantha Jones' nails in Sex and the City 2: The Movie b/c they were hotter than her outfits, which is pretty hard to do!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Power of Target

I can not even begin to describe the necessity of Target store. It has to be the single most important place in the U.S. Before I even realized how big it was and how necessary it would become and how deprived the North East had clearly been, I stumbled upon it. It was 1997, and I was living in Coral Gables, Florida, right outside of Miami. I was a sophomore at University of Miami. I was a new mother and on the verge of becoming a new wife to my now ex-husband but then jr. high school sweetheart (that experience gets its own category and label....OMG). Although my tuition was mostly covered, my living expenses and penchant for all things brand was kicking my @ss. Therefore, I needed a part-time job. I landed in this shopping center and at this store that at first I thought "looks like a very fancy and clean K-mart." I was very curious but I was also skeptical. I despised (and still do) Kmart and the other "mart." They are synonymous to some form of modern day torture and aside from grabbing some toothpaste and toilet paper, why else would anyone decide to spend any additional time in those stores and let alone actually make a substantive purchase??? Uggh. The thought of it is making my stomach turn. Anyways, my love with Target began right there because my skepticism was pleasantly dispelled and from that moment on Target was my go to place for ALLLLL things. I ended up securing my part time job at that very Target in Coral Gables and the long hours on my feet, straightening and stocking shelves, jumping on the register, cleaning the food cafe and dealing with psycho supervisors was always softened with the ambiance and stock of "Tar-Che!!" It was that introduction where I found that the Home decor and furniture, clothing, electronics selection, and beauty products were to rival the high end department stores but the prices were within the reach of a young, college student, teen mom hundreds of miles away from home with a keen sense of style despite of! Today, I love Target more. It never breaks my heart, it never betrays me and it never disappoints me. Even my children are incredibly fond of Target. When we don't have any particular plans or activities scheduled we generally decide to "just go to Target" and we never leave disappointed even if we leave empty handed, which is a rarity. You will see in my fashion labels and categories how I frequently pair inexpensive hot clothing pieces with excessively overpriced shoes and handbags (my other vices that have since reduced me to stone cold irresponsible soul) and you will see here first (and later again) how my home is an eclectic mix of inexpensive and expensive pieces, the best coming from none other than Target!! My side bedroom table, which I get a ton of compliments on, came from "Tar-Che" and was an ultimate clearance find at $20. The table is solid black/brown wood, perfect square shape with circle cut outs. The vertical striped vase on the table is another $5 target clearance find. My dining room table is adorned with great "Tar-Che" finds, the huge wooden ball center piece and the marbled brown dining ware are the perfect additions. And lastly, one of my most prized and proudest home possessions (b/c I thought of it all by myself) are the two 8x10 black and white photos of my children I have hanging on my living room accent wall. The frames were clearance "Tar-Che" finds and when I saw them I immediately got the idea to take these two colored 5x7 pictures of my children, when they were younger and both wearing cute fedora style hats, and have the pics altered to fit the frames and accent my accent wall. Enjoy!

The Dating Chronicles

I've made a conscious (and maybe later to be regretted) decision to chronicle my dating life....for now. I figure if I'm gonna do it, date that is, I might as well share the mess with the rest of the world. Well actually, my favorite girlfriends (and one guy friend who actually asked me when was my reality show airing)laugh so hard at my crazy date stories or my inappropriate and misplaced responses to some things that shouldn't be deal breakers and some things are beyond deal breakers! I thought if I could make all of my 2 friends and 1 guyfriend laugh that maybe I can make you guys laugh so here goes my 1st entry!!!
- So I went out on what I'm going to affectionately refer to as "re-date." A "re-date" is not a simple circumstance of going on a subsequent date with the same guy, but in fact, when you have dated someone in the past...beyond the first date, and something bad happens and you stop, lose touch with that person, maybe even fall apart from that person, and stop thinking about them altogether. This is not a love story gone bad but just a dating situation that stopped working and you let go and moved on. Now, here comes that guy years later and asks for a do over essentially.... a date as if we didn't date and then didn't talk. It has been approximately 4 years since the last time I've seen him or dated him. He reached out to me via FB and I agreed to go out and I had lotttttsss of fun!!! But we always had fun so now what? Consider that part of the problem was we always had fun and that's exactly why I liked him and generally the extend of my fondness for him. He was funny, smart, nice, friendly and fun. But there was nothing else I felt beyond that. He was a great friend who helped create great times. So now what? Is there a chance when you engage in a re-date or are you just re-doing every that was done on the initial date?
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