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With the best articles on caring for natural hair, Curly Nikki is your source for inspiration and advice. Find out about the latest styles and trends today!

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    By Veronica Wells 

    Earlier this week, I saw a meme on The Shade Room that didn’t initially strike me as anything special. Usually, I like to go into the comments and check the pulse of the culture to see what people have to say about a certain topic. But with this, I just kept scrolling. Nothing to see there. It wasn’t until I saw my friend like it and then I saw it again on an associate’s page, that I decided to read it again to see if I missed some type of profound truth. Women were actually saying that they consider liking several Instagram pictures in succession to be a form of shooting their shot. 

    Chile.

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    Shade Room IG Post
    I don’t know if it’s the swiping on the dating apps or the heart that appears on Instagram when you like an image, but this type of behavior--doing what we all do almost every single day on the gram does not a shot make. It could mean you appreciate the photography, the witty caption he wrote, the progression of his beard growth. Liking an IG doesn’t always mean you have romantic feelings for the subject of the shot. Just like a picture is worth a thousand words, there could be a thousand reasons why you would like it.

    I don’t have to tell y’all that many men aren’t experts in recognizing and understanding the meaning behind body language and other non-verbal cues. I’ve seen women laugh hysterically, dislocate their necks flipping their hair, and damn near wear a hole in a man’s sleeve petting him-- and the brotha still walked away completely oblivious to the fact that she was trying to get with him. More often than not, men need things spelled out for them...explicitly.

    I have to admit that part of the reason I’m writing this is so the notion that liking Instagram pictures to express romantic interest doesn’t become a thing. Things will get very sticky and problematic for the women who are just liking pictures for art’s sake. I can see mad unsolicited and unwanted dick pics in DMs if this continues.

    Furthermore ladies, if we’re going to complain about men not putting forth enough effort when it comes to dating and getting to know us, we have to be willing to do the same. The same clarity of intention we expect from men, we should be willing to deliver. In other words, if you’re going to go against the grain and shoot your shot, really shoot your shot. I know some of us just started feeling comfortable putting ourselves out there in this way. So here’s a suggestion. If you’re really bout it, you slide in his DMs and tell him that you like what you see, that you would like to get to know him better. Hell, maybe even suggest an event you all can attend together. That’s a message no one can misinterpret and if he’s interested, he can take it from there. In the words of my mother, “I’m not telling you what I’ve heard. I’m telling you what I know.” I did this in college when Facebook was everything. And I got my date...and a couple after that. Since I was successful, I consider it a good experience.

    And I think this is at the crux of the reasons why women want to like pictures and consider themselves Millennial Macks. We don’t have to be confronted with any type of real rejection. Believe you me, I get it. Rejection is unpleasant. It’s hell on the ego. But this is what men go through whenever they get up the nerve to ask a woman out. And if you really want to flip the script, buck tradition, then you have to be willing to see how the other side lives. It’s tough but it’s better than spending months wondering if you could have had a connection with someone outside of your phone screen.

    Do you consider liking a person's IG photos shooting your shot?
    Veronica Wells is the culture editor at MadameNoire.com. She is also the author of “Bettah Days” and the creator of the website NoSugarNoCreamMag. You can follow her on Facebook and on Instagram and Twitter @VDubShrug.

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    Ciara, Russell Wilson and Ciara's Son
    By Brenda Alexander

    Coming into a relationship with children can add layers of difficulties. A mother and child are a packaged deal, so when you date her, you essentially date her kid(s) also. The reality is, there are risks associated with dating a woman with children. And, if you decide to go steady, those risks turn into obligations. There is an expectation that once a man becomes seriously involved that he should take an active role in her children’s lives both emotionally and even financially. But how much should a man contribute financially to his girlfriend’s children? That’s the question and debate that was sparked after this social media post.

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    Post Via TheShadeRoom
    Their conversation is a lot to unpack and since the backstory is not 100% clear, let’s just assume that these two are exclusively dating and she asked to borrow (or have) $20 for her children’s field trip. Could he have simply given her the funds or does he make a valid point in explaining that regardless, those responsibilities are up to the kid’s fathers?





    Every relationship is different. My mom was in a relationship with my stepdad for 16 years. They began dating when I was 2, married when I was 9 and divorced when I was 18. I lived primarily with my mom and they shared the financial responsibility for our household. We took family vacations together, he took me`to and from school via carpool, attended parent teacher conferences in place of my mom and dad when they were unable to and so on. But, whatever my stepdad did, came secondary to my dad, who has always been 100% present in my life - holidays were blended, family photos were still taken, etc. It was was established from the very beginning of their relationship that my dad was first. I remember every Christmas my stepdad would ask me what I wanted, and he’d splurge; but, I never flat out asked him for anything, simply because I did not have to. Anything my stepdad provided was considered extra.

    But not every co-parenting relationship is as seamless. I know plenty of relationships where the biological father is absent or involved very little financially, leaving the burden on the mother. So when stepdads, or men who take on the role of a father figure while they are in relationships with women who have children, accept the role of breadwinner, the larger conversation centers around is there a firm discussion of what he does and does not pay for, if anything at all?

    In an article on MadameNoire titled “Let Him Tell It: Helping Out A Woman You’re Dating Is Noble, But It’s Still A Courtesy,” the author (a male) explores the text conversation with both angles in mind: the one who helps out financially for his girlfriend’s children - and the one who objects and feels it isn’t his responsibility. He even suggests that the idea of providing for a woman and her child is an old school concept with millennial men opting out of that idea. He states:
    “The newer generation of guys, for lack of a better term, isn’t with the sh-ts. They will ask why money is needed, which is valid. Once it’s learned that money is for a woman’s kids, they will question the fathers’ involvement which is, again, valid. Now an old school guy’s logic may be, “Let me show you what a man is supposed to do.” Guys from this generation may see this as an opportunity to be very frank about a woman’s decision making regarding whom she has children with. And that’s exactly what we saw in the situation above.”
    Ultimately, the author comes to the conclusion that a man assisting a woman financially, for whatever reason, is a noble act, but simply a courtesy.

    The most common reaction from this was, “It’s just $20. He should have just given it to her.” That is true. Especially, if we are looking at this from the viewpoint of the two being exclusive. In a partnership, we should be able to rely on one another for help when we are down and not scold one another for doing so. But he mentions that a field trip, in his eyes, is not a necessity, so that justifies his no. When you eliminate the other back-and-forth about baby daddies not stepping up, them not being married etc. and focus on the substance portion of the argument, both are solid perspectives.

    Ultimately, the lesson to take from this is laying out expectations of the man you are dating and for that man to understand that when he commits to a woman (assuming they are in a relationship) who has children, he will likely run into a situation such as this.

    Do you depend on your partner to help financially with your child?
    Brenda is a Philadelphia native with a love for Marketing, Creative writing, wine and Jesus. Her work has been featured on Mayvenn’s Real Beautiful blog and she is the co-author of the book Christmas 364: Be Merry and Bright Beyond Christmas Night (available for purchase on amazon). Follow her on IG @trulybrenda_ and trulybrenda.wordpress.com

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    Lena Waithe
    By Erickka Sy Savané

    When I saw Lena Waithe recently, sporting her new do on the red carpet, my first thought was, “Oh shit, she looks like a straight up dude.”

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    I mean, she was no Hollywood glam queen in the first place, but the locs did add a pinch of femininity. And funny enough, when she explained why she cut it, it was that femininity that had to go. She joked,
    “I’ve gotten gayer guys. I felt like I was holding onto a piece of femininity that would make the world feel comfortable with who I am.”
    It was kinda crazy to hear that Lena Waithe, who probably wouldn’t be caught dead in a dress or anything that we couldn’t imagine on Ellen, was holding on to some femininity for us, which could also translate to, I just want to be accepted. And it just goes to show that we don’t know people. Here we are looking at Emmy-award winning, Master of None scene stealing, every day a new show producing Lena, thinking she’s got it made, when all she really wants is to be more of her damn self.

    She shared that she thought about cutting her hair for a long time but wondered if she’d fall too much into the category of a “stud” or “butch,” terms to describe gay chicks that look like dudes.

    Lena debuted her new cut via her IG
    And the truth is, Lena does look more like Leroy post haircut, and it does make a lot of folks uncomfortable. Butches used to make me pretty uncomfortable in my younger years because I always felt like they were going to try to hit on me, which none ever did, and I wouldn’t know how to say I’m not interested. Turning down a dude is one thing but turning down a woman who looks like a dude is another. You don’t wanna hurt her feelings. Plus, butches just looked aggressive even when doing nothing. And I can’t say that I’ve totally worked out all those feelings today, but I’m much better. So, yea. Some folks are spooked. But fortunately, Lena didn’t let that stop her.

    Of her newly shaved head, she says,
    “I feel so free and so happy and so joyful, and I really stepped into myself. If people call me a butch or call me Sir out in the world — so what? So be it. I’m here with a suit on, not a stitch of makeup, and a haircut — I feel like, ‘Why can’t I exist in the world in that way?'”
    You can, Lena. And funny enough, it’s that freedom that really speaks to so many of us. I mean, how many things do we do so others can feel more comfortable? I shave my legs and underarms not because I want to but because I’m afraid of what others will think. I cover my gray hair because I don’t want you to think I’m old, and sometimes I second guess my writing because I don’t want to offend anyone. How many of us show up to work in hairstyles that are ‘acceptable’ when we really wanna rock our natural curls or fro? We’re constantly masking our true selves.

    I remember some months ago a gay friend of the more fem persuasion was telling me and another friend how she wanted to start dressing more masculine. She said it reflected more of how she felt inside. My advice was to ‘do you’ but the other friend, straight like me, was less encouraging, and even tried telling her that what she was feeling was probably just a phase. A part of me understood where the other friend was coming from because being a feminine gay woman is a lot easier than being one in a suit. One screams gay but what about when you wanna tuck in? I haven’t spoken to my friend for a while but when I see her again I hope she’s wearing a suit. I hope when she sees me I have hairy armpits. When I see you at work tomorrow I hope you have a fro that kisses the sky.

    In what ways could you benefit from being 'gayer' aka being more yourself?
    Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of CurlyNikki.com, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in Essence.comEbony.com, Madamenoire.com, xoNecole.com, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or  

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    Blac Chyna, Kloe Kardashian & K. Michelle 
    By Brenda Alexander
    The black woman’s curvaceous booty is nothing new. We all envy that one sis in our family/friend circle for being shaped like a Coca Cola bottle: small waist, nice hips and a plump butt. But what happens when a woman desperately yearns for a shapely figure and the operating table is their top choice? BET’s documentary Killer Curves: Bodies to Die For puts that question to the test by highlighting the dangers associated with surgical enhancements to your backside.

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    The show opened by examining the historical context of the way our butts were both celebrated and exploited through history and pop culture. Dating back to the late 1700s and early 1800s, Europeans put Sara Baartman’s booty on display and used her as entertainment for various shows and slaveholders. While on exhibit, she was forced to strip and dance while onlookers looked in amazement. Commentators used Baartmans experience as a foreshadow and contrast to current times: we were made a mockery of for our natural bodies that’s now turned into us going to extreme lengths to take our booties to bigger heights, literally and figuratively.

    Sara Baartman
    Music and television documented the evolution of the black woman's behind. We were “Doin The Butt” in the 90s, Destiny’s Child praised us in “Bootylicious,” and who can forget Sir Mix A-Lots famous “Baby Got Back?!” Things took a darker turn with some of the misogynistic lyrics in Hip Hop where our butts were the only things shown. With the inclusion of the video model/vixen, commentators attribute the fascination of perfect butts to the video chick era and in today’s world, Instagram helps none. Whereas it was known in the black community that butts were the ish, when other non-black celebs with booties (Kim K) came onto the scene, curves were now desired appropriation by the masses. Before you knew it, everyday girls black and white were taking consulting appointments for surgery.

    There are three ways to surgically augment the booty. The most natural way is a Brazilian butt lift, the transfer of fat from one part of your body to your butt. Butt implants is the second option, which is an implant that voluminizes the butt through insertion above the buttocks. The most common option are injections. They are the quickest filler and can range from silicon to any type of substance. They aren’t FDA approved because of high risks: if injected improperly, an artery could be hit and cause infection, loss of limbs and even death. Because of the costs, injections are commonly done in what’s known as the black market, by underground non-licensed “pumpers.” A normal lift or implant could run upwards of $20k whereas injections are $300 per butt cheek. Women who opt out of injections and want actual surgery travel overseas for procedures, where surgeons charge one third less but are unsafe due to differing preventions. Usher Raymond's ex-wife Tameka Raymond nearly died after getting a procedure done in Brazil.

    K. Michelle
    A few celebs and influencers shared their horror stories of botched butt jobs. Singer K. Michelle had various injections, transfers and implants put in. The first doctor she went to denied her injections because she was already hefty in that area. Taking no for an answer, she went elsewhere and began a series of monthly procedures. After a few years, she began experiencing trouble sitting and standing and migraine headaches. This is common delayed side effect, with one doctor explaining that your body rejects the foreign substance in an injection which causes infection that your body tries to fight by pushing it out. She eventually began having the implants removed, causing additional complications including having to be hooked onto IVs weekly for constant fluid and even infertility.

    Two other women shared their traumatic aftermaths. Both became infected, with one’s infection spreading throughout her body that resulted in her having multiple limbs amputated: both butt cheeks, hands and feet. She’s now a motivational speaker who travels to warn other young women against injections.

    Apryl Michelle Brown was left without multiple limbs after butt injections
    The other’s infection was so bad after years of dozens of injections and implants that 65% of her left butt cheek produced a hole, her kidneys failed and she had emergency surgery to remove the silicone implants that doctors discovered had burst. Her surgery and hospital stay landed her with a $2 million medical bill that her insurance company denied payment. She now promotes “pump parties” where she tricks women into thinking they are coming for injections but she instead gives them an intervention.

    Others have died. Latesha Bynum went brain dead after injections were shot into a major artery that traveled to her heart, liver and brain. In the years that injections have become common, 25 people have been reported in the news as dying from them while their “pumpers” receive a 5-year manslaughter sentence. The FDA recently released a national state of emergency report, warning the public to stop with injections.

    Despite the widespread attention on the dangers of injections, women are still running to the nearest “pumper.” Hopefully after viewing Killer Curves and the nationwide praise the documentary has received, more awareness will be spread and women will think twice. A bigger butt can be obtained naturally ladies. Squats ain’t never hurt nobody!

    Are butt enhancements worth the risks?
    Brenda is a Philadelphia native with a love for Marketing, Creative writing, wine and Jesus. Her work has been featured on Mayvenn’s Real Beautiful blog and she is the co-author of the book Christmas 364: Be Merry and Bright Beyond Christmas Night (available for purchase on amazon). Follow her on IG @trulybrenda_ and trulybrenda.wordpress.com

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    By Anayotothe

    When cheap tickets hit my hotline bling, I always answer the call.

    During my time living in Rome, I made sure that no day went to waste. Almost all of my free time was spent exploring obscure restaurants, hidden neighborhoods, and historical sites off the beaten path. Rome is MASSIVE though; after three months of exploring every cobbled crevice, I still felt like there was so much left to see. I had this radical idea that I would live a strictly Italian life for 90 days because, why not? Pizza everyday, that beautiful language, like a song, being sung to me daily…but that idea was dashed real quick when I saw the dizzyingly cheap inter-Europe flight prices.

    I kept finding myself on Google Flights dreaming up all the possibilities. A few days in Berlin spent partying in grandiose nightclubs? A retreat to Athens for a historical tour on the foundation of democracy? So many choices, so little time. In the end, I randomly decided to book a trip to Istanbul.

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    Naturi Naughton 
    By Ta-ning Connai
    Naturi Naughton is the epitome of a saying that I love: Your setback is a set up for your comeback. ‘Cause no one can play Tasha from the hit show Power like the middle girl from 3LW! I honestly didn't think she would ever rebound from the drama around her 2000’s girl group. However, slowly but surely she took the world by storm, reaching stardom after many years of obscurity.

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    3LW
    I clearly remember when 3LW’s video for No More came on TV. I was like, “Oh my goodness, they so cute, I sure hope they can sing!” The first two on the mic were Adrienne and Kelly, and I'm not gonna say they sucked, but the whining was super irritating although the lyrics and beat were super dope.

    So now I'm just sitting there patiently holding my breath to see what the brown girl gon’ do, ‘cause the two light-skinned girls seem to be hogging the song. When the video ends, my protest begins ‘cause Naturi didn't even get to sing, and I truly wondered with all my heart if it was a colorism thing. See, I might be light, bright and darn near white, but I'm quick to call a spade a spade; not the type to just sit back and relax while this crap keeps happening right in front of my face.

    A few singles later, Naturi had her turn and the sista could actually blow; which made me wonder even more why she wasn’t singing lead tho. So by the time the news hit that the group was remixed and rumors swirled as to why, I wasn't surprised and didn't think Naturi lied when she said she was axed for her skin tone.

    The two group members went on damage control, to wipe up the tea Naturi spilled, and as I heard different reports it started to smell like drama that management built. Whatever the case, whoever to blame, Naturi was hurt the most; nobody would touch her with a ten-foot-pole, she could barely find any work.

    Naturi as Lil Kim
    Little odd jobs came here and there, then the Lil Kim role came calling. But the movie Notorious didn't do so well, and there were rumors that Lil Kim didn’t support Naturi because she was too dark for the role. Again, Naturi’s star was quickly falling. But when the character of Tasha St. Patrick was born, my girl literally killed it! And for five straight seasons folks are staying tuned-in to see what the actress is going to do next!


    Ruth was Naomi’s daughter-in-law, actually one of two (The Book of Ruth from the Bible). All three women lost their husbands and they didn't know what to do. To top it all off, there was a famine in the land; wow, talk about a major setback! While all three women were parting ways, Ruth was like, “Nah, forget that!” She was one of the realest, a ride-or-die type and wasn't leaving Naomi alone. She said, “I'm following you mama and your God too, “til death do us part”...that’s us!”

    No clue to where they were going, they ended up in a field, a field that belonged to the richest man in town, and the next part you won't believe. Ruth rolled up and found herself work amongst all this man's employees; she was never too proud or even too shy to do whatever was necessary. She did this every single day, to care for herself and her fam, til one day the rich guy noticed her there and was like, “Yo, who is THAT?!” One of his workers filled him in about the setback the ladies endured, but he put more attention on the amazing fact that Ruth remained loyal to her in-law. So now the rich man (Boaz is his name) was thoroughly impressed, he walked up to Ruth and said, “Don’t go nowhere and I'll give you nothing but the best!” Ruth tried to be calm but ran back home like, “OMG! What should I do?” Naomi said, “Baby girl, don’t even trip, the brotha obviously likes you!”

    Boaz got bold and started shooting game just like a natural poet, and before you know it, him and Baby Ruth became a serious couple. They married first, had a baby last and the child was no average thing; he was the Grandfather of David, the greatest of kings, ‘cause his mommy was a comeback queen!

    Naturi as Tasha
    Now, your comeback might not be a Hollywood gig or a child related to a king. Maybe you'll bounce back from being abused or from a terrible disease. The key is to keep your eyes open wide and expect to see the day, when all your troubles start to make sense as they lead you along the way. On the surface, your set back might look like a journey littered with all kinds of trash, but bet your bottom dollar hun, those tough times ain't gonna last. Just being a black woman means you've gone through some things. Yet you survived it all, yes here you are, you beautiful comeback queen!

    Do you believe you can come back from anything?
    TA-NING is a former model and clothing designer who one day got the "call" to leave the fab world of fashion behind. While in Bible College, she discovered her knack for mixing her quirky style of writing with her gift to teach. TA-NING'S TELL IT TUESDAY is a weekly column that uses doses of pop culture to tear down the walls of churchy tradition, change the face of Christianity, and present it's message in a lively way. Ta-ning resides in Santa Monica (by way of BK), is obsessed with dogs, and is an old school Hip-Hop junkie!

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    Photo via Benny's IG
    By Winnie Gaturu

    You've probably heard of Benny Harlem and his impressive hair. He was even featured in the 2018 Guiness Book of World records for having the highest high top fade ever recorded. His natural hair journey is nothing short of impressive. For him, it's not only about the hair, it's about nourishing the soul and spirit and using natural products.

    Benny has been growing out his hair for the past 14 years, and like every other natural, it has taken time to fully understand how to nourish his hair. He's tried and tested many products while making all the hair mistakes you can imagine. Eventually, he started making his own natural hair products which he has been using together with his wife and daughter, and due to public demand (from his many social media followers), he decided to make the products available for people to buy. Now find out why they sell out in 59 seconds.

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    Benny's products aren't the typical products you find in the market. They are masterfully created to provide maximum benefits to hair. Apart from vitamins C,D,E, biotin, B5 and minerals like iron and zinc, Benny's products also contain rare ingredients such as Ethiopian Frankincense Healing Butter, Whole Grain Ethiopian Kachieia Butter and Raw Honey Dipped Kokum Butter. Due to the intricacy involved in creating the butters, oils and moisturizers, every single order is made by hand and takes a few weeks to be processed from start to finish. For instance, it takes two weeks to naturally process the oils from the rare butters. This can't be rushed, but the wait is definitely worthwhile.

    Another great thing is that the products are crafted for every kind of weather. They include the Ultra Summer Harlem Hair Care Kit, Master Winter Hair Care Solution, Spring Hair Care Kit, Winter Harlem Hair Care Solution, Summer in Harlem Hair Care Solution Kit and the Green Veggie Hair Kit. These products do a great job of nourishing natural tresses, restoring damaged hair, promoting hair growth and strengthening the strands. If you don't believe that these are what Benny Harlem and his family use on their majestic crowns, then take the word of the satisfied customers. Many keep posting about how these products have changed their hair and lives in general. Benny's wife even managed to grow out her baby hairs into beautiful long healthy strands of hair using the all-natural products.

    Via Kortney's IG
    Given all these amazing ingredients and benefits, it is no wonder that these products get sold-out as soon as they're made available for sale. To be specific, the get sold out within the first 59 seconds. This leaves many eager customers disappointed, and the high traffic even makes the website crash. Those who aren't fast enough to get their products don't shy away from airing their grievances either. 

    Via Benny's IG
    Benny Harlem is aware of these limitations and is in the process of making amends on his website to avoid crashing. However, for the products, he knows that he can't meet the demand but is keen on providing quality each and every time. He's even training several people so that he can make more product available. Benny Harlem's aim is for more people to discover the beauty of their natural hair and see what a transformative experience it is.

    What do you think about Benny Harlem's Natural Hair Products?
     https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-DnsMSFjLFNw/We9aV3iBeiI/AAAAAAAADII/F9HbMPX6PfYe6aCJqc-eDi3Wgmu41YE4wCLcBGAs/s1600/Winnie%2BG..jpg
    Winnie Gaturu is a writer, tech lover, mom, wife and student from Nairobi, Kenya. During her free time, she loves trying out new recipes, diy projects, filling in crossword puzzles and spending time with her family. You can catch up with her onyourhairandbeautywrite.wordpress.com.

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    Kyle Patrick
    By Onicia Muller

    Caribbean-born model/actor/dancer Kyle Patrick was spotted performing at the Pornceptual stage during Amsterdam's MILKSHAKE Festival. The multi-genre dance music festival promotes diversity, respect, and the freedom to let Ones’ guard down- regardless of sexuality, gender, or race. He’s statuesque; having the right balance of leanness and sculpted muscles. His dark skin is just as interesting as his ever changing looks. See why Kyle Patrick is this week's naturally glam pick!

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    Where are you from? Where do you live now?
    "Sunshine City! Sint Maarten: the friendly island." Demonstrating the powerfully impressionable radio jingles of the time. At the moment I call Berlin, Germany home. I'm just one drop in an ocean of young artists who've come to the ‘NYC of Europe’ to discover themselves while learning to surf in this wild turf. Though dance still makes up the most of the work I do, ‘freelancer’ is a commonly accepted job title- one that suggests an association with a multi-disciplined, often art-related field of work.

    What's the best and worst thing about living abroad?
    I’d have to say that the worst thing about living abroad is being invited to go swimming in a natural body of water. My years of being a Caribbean boy have spoilt me rotten when it comes to “beach” visits. I simply cannot truly enjoy much less than the pristine water and fine, sandy beaches found all around my tropical home. That said, the best thing about living abroad is the ease of travel between wildly different countries and cultures. So an equivalent beach-vacation isn’t too hard to find.
    What inspired your current look?
    I've been natural for as long as I've lived in Europe -- which is over a decade now. The honest answer to what's motivated my go-to look: sheer pragmatism. I've always wanted to have long hair. Not entirely sure why. Part of it is definitely rebellion which started against my parents, but then later developed to have further-reaching implications. Throughout my life, I've discovered that I love to question traditions -- to kinda make sure we still need them. I was taught, growing up, that if I don't keep a groomed appearance, I would have lots of trouble being successful in life. My older brother told me over-and-over again that cornrows -- the only socially acceptable way for a boy to wear his long hair in the Caribbean during the time of my youth -- would never be accepted in the workplace. "If you ever want to be taken seriously, you must keep your hair cut low and your edges sharp!"

    As I'm not an actual rebel, I at least tried to incorporate that last part in my own hair journey once I moved away from home to attend university. But being a student, suddenly on my own, I quickly found ways to cut corners in order to make ends meet. The soft-edged afro is low maintenance and essentially free. My go-to look was born! I went on to have a very successful career too-boot! Albeit on a technicality, I've disproved the myth that black boys with nappy hair won't be taken seriously.

    What hair products or accessories do you use?
    I've tried quite a number of different afro haircare lines. Currently, Cantu is my brand of choice. Their shampoo, deep-and leave-in conditioners work wonders! Additionally, I use tea tree oil to treat my scalp and roots. Daily water spritzes round off my regimen. If my hair is braided or I'm wearing some other protective style, I wear a silk cap to bed.


    How do you stay fit?
    Dance is deceptively strenuous. Having made performance art my career, it’s my work that keeps me fit. That and raving.

    How do you stay centered? I find that being honest with myself about myself is a huge contributor to my feeling of being centered. In combination with an active practice of self-reflection, I am able to identify and work to remove -- for example -- prejudices I might not have been aware I’ve been carrying around. I guess you can say that self-improvement is a hobby of mine.

    How has being natural influenced your self-esteem? 
    The low-maintenance, low-cost aspect of keeping my hair natural has allowed for a carefree attitude to seep into the far reaches of my life. Not having to stress about money, time and excessive effort invested in my hair prevent feelings of entitlement to compliments or acknowledgment from developing. I feel empowered just as I am which in turn makes it easier for people around me to accept me.

    KALTBLUT Magazine

    What's been the best part of your natural hair journey or your hair journey in general?
    Being able to transform my appearance has been the most fun so far. To have even the ones closest to you taken aback by the impression of a new hairstyle is a thrilling delight!

    Do you dig Kyle’s carefree, every-changing naturally glam style? 
    Follow him on Instagram and Twitter (@kye_pai)


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    1 Year of Relaxed Hair
    By Kanisha Parks

    Going back relaxed after being natural for 7 years has been nothing short of a major learning experience. The day of my relaxer, I was so incredibly happy and relieved to finally have hair that was easy to manage. But looking back, not all of my high expectations were met. Honestly, if you had asked me the day I got my relaxer where I wanted to be in a year, I definitely would’ve said something like, “Well, I plan to grow and retain at least six inches of hair.” Needless to say, that didn’t happen . . .

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    Here I am a year later and I probably retained three inches of growth. I was so disappointed but am happy that at least my hair is healthy and growing. I can’t lie, it’s been quite a year for me and my haircare definitely took a backseat to other things, but I was still able to take a look back over this year and compare my natural hair journey with my new relaxed hair journey, and here are some important lessons that can apply to either natural or relaxed hair:

    My relaxed hair
    1. The grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side. 
    Relaxing your hair will not eliminate any hair problems you’re having. This may sound obvious but whether you’re relaxed or natural, you’re going to have to take really good care of your hair if you expect to retain length. I went natural back then because I thought simply going natural was the key to growing my hair super long after years of struggling with short relaxed hair. Seven years later, I thought going back relaxed was going to have the same effect! It seems I should’ve learned the first time that it’s not about the texture of your hair but the way you maintain it.

    That being said, yes, my relaxed hair has been much easier to manage and I find that I don’t get breakage as easily, even when I do get lazy with my haircare. With my natural hair, moisture was a constant issue and concern but with relaxed hair, ensuring that protein is regularly incorporated in my regimen is more important. So with either one, you have to remain consistent and attuned to your hair’s needs.

    My natural hair
    2. If you’re doing your hair yourself, you have to learn about it.
    I can’t stress this enough—whether you’re natural or relaxed, knowing your hair is key! Don’t think that learning someone else’s routine is the secret to gaining the same hair success that they have had. You’re going to have to really put time into learning about your hair if you plan on doing it. Is it dry, protein-deficient, over-moisturized? What texture is it? Are your strands fine, thick, or normal? What’s your hair porosity? Do you have any trouble areas?

    I mean, think about it—you wouldn’t trust someone who didn’t really know anything about hair to do your hair. So why do you trust yourself if you haven’t dedicated time to learning about hair?

    3. Just because they can do it doesn’t mean that I can (or want to).
    I see relaxed ladies on YouTube all the time doing their own relaxers and even though I am a complete advocate for doing things myself, relaxing my own hair will never be one of them. I’m just too afraid of something going wrong.

    The same is true for getting relaxers at all. They really aren’t for everyone but neither is natural hair. Yes, technically anyone can go natural or get a relaxer but every woman has to do what’s best for her, her hair, and her lifestyle.

    4. NEVER give up on your hair! 
    All too often we get frustrated too easily with our hair and make rash decisions. I went back relaxed after weeks of turning the decision over in my mind, researching, and weighing the pros and cons. I didn’t just do it because I was mad that my hair wasn’t growing.

    Even now, not getting as much hair growth as I would’ve liked within the past year hasn’t made me want to throw in the towel. I know it’s my own lack of paying close attention to my haircare routine that stunted my growth. Always be real with yourself and when all else fails, seek help from a professional! Your hair can and will grow, it just takes time and patience, sis.

    All in all, I know how controversial relaxers are and while I totally understand that, I still am 100% happy with my decision. The one thing I do miss more than anything is truly being a part of the natural hair community since I’m not natural anymore! Regardless, I still follow all of my favorite naturals and share any information I can about natural hair with other women.

    Regardless of our hair differences, it’s important to maintain the sisterhood and keep our opinions from interfering with. After all, it really is just hair!

    Are you happy with your relaxed or natural hair?
    Kanisha is a Christian writer/author based in Augusta, GA. Other than CurlyNikki.com, she has also written for BlackNaps.organd Devozine, and has authored a book of poetry entitled, "Love Letters from the Master." Kanisha can be contacted for business inquiries at kanishaparks@gmail.com

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    Diddy & fam via the gram
    By Kaila Kea

    When Diddy announced he was changing his name to Love last year, the media went into a bit of a frenzy. Those of us (me included) who still call him Puffy were unbothered, but others wondered what brought this on. Although he soon announced that he would not be changing his name after all, he has certainly embodied nothing but love since that time. In fact, Diddy’s Instagram posts alone are enough to get your day started right. So, if you haven’t been watching or perhaps you’re just out of the loop, here are 4 takeaways from Diddy’s life of love (per the ‘gram). 

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    CHANCE, D’LILA & JESSIE COMBS
    Family first Even in the 90s, when he was everyone’s favorite playboy (and Biggie’s right-hand man), Puffy was a family man. From featuring his firstborn son, Justin (and then-girlfriend, Misa) in Biggie’s Juicy video, to stepping out onto numerous red carpets with his beloved mom, Puff has always made it clear that he values family. Within the last year, we’ve gotten to see more of the Combs clan and quite honestly, their connection is heartwarming. Diddy has exemplified strong family values over the years, but it was his May 2018 trip to the Kentucky Derby with his 3 girls that did me in! Daddy-daughter time is important, whether it’s at the derby, the park, the movies, or the crib. So, seeing Puff and his girls, decked out in tulle skirts, white gloves, and lace-trimmed fascinators was not only endearing – it was fatherhood at its finest.



    Positive vibes only
    In addition to being big on family, Diddy is one of the coolest motivational speakers around. He consistently uses his platform to spread positivity and share lessons he’s learned about religion, family, love, and the like. Regardless of what you are going through, you can be sure that a quick scroll of Diddy’s Instagram feed will reveal some words of wisdom, a 90's throwback that fills us with nostalgia, or another form of much-needed encouragement. Aside from making us dance for the past 20+ years, Puffy has always radiated positive energy and recently, it’s on a whole new level.


    When it’s for you, it’s for you.
    As someone who seems to have it all, Puff could easily act like his life is a piece of cake. Instead, he makes it a point to talk about the triumphs as well as the trials. Take the Breakfast Club interview that aired earlier this year – Puff let us in on the process to get all of his baby mothers on the same page, illuminating the hardships and the harmony behind blending a family. Not to mention, he often reminds us that no one can block the blessings that are in store for us. In a world filled with missed opportunities, it is nice to be reminded that no simply means not yet.

    A post shared by Diddy (@diddy) on
    Recognize greatness
    There are plenty of top-earning celebrities who could care less about paying homage to their peers. Diddy isn’t one of them. Not only has he praised Lebron James, Gabrielle Union, J. Cole, Chadwick Boseman, and Kendrick Lamar, but he has also shouted out Brittany Barnett, Colin Kaepernick, Naomi Wadler and other activists who are working relentlessly to eradicate injustice in marginalized communities. As a giant in the music and fashion industry, Puff isn’t obligated to shout anybody out. But at every chance, he breathes life into public figures who are doing their thing and doing it well.

    Follow Diddy's Gram here!
    Are you spreading love? 
    Kaila Kea is a freelance career coach and writer who specializes in creating content pertaining to career and self-development. In addition to writing for CurlyNikki, she has also created content for ZipRecruiter, Blavity, 21Ninety, and LinkedIn. Her work is both provocative and pleasing, often straddling the fine lines between career goals and natural hair care, current events, and goal-setting. Follow her journey on Instagram. 

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    Omar Epps
    By Mwabi Kaira

    Omar Epps made his acting debut in Juice in 1992 and he has not slowed down since. We have seen him on the big screen (Higher Learning, Love & Basketball, Almost Christmas) and small (ER, House, Shooter). He married Keisha, one third of Bad Boy group Total back in 2006, and they’re raising 3 children, Aiyanna, K’mari and Amir. Now the actor turned author is ready to talk about fatherhood.

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    Omar was raised in Brooklyn by his mother, Bonnie Maria Epps, an elementary school principal after his father left them. He only spent 4 days with his father growing up. Like a lot of black men who grow up fatherless and raised by strong mothers, Omar had a fulfilled upbringing and didn’t lack and lament not having a father since you can’t miss what you never had. It was only after working a very long day on set and coming home hungry and tired and just wanting to relax, but his son Amir wanted some quality time too, that Omar realized parents always put their children first. His father did not.

    With this realization, Omar knew that it was time to take a deep dive into his own story to uncover "the depths of torment and pain" he felt toward his father for the lack of presence in his life. That was the genesis of his self-published memoir, From Fatherless to Fatherhood released in June.

    From Fatherless to Fatherhood shows how men can break the cycle of fatherlessness within their families, and come to terms with their own issues surrounding their fathers. Omar’s father died years ago and Omar found peace about their lack of relationship long before his demise. He explains,
    “I've been at peace with that for a long time. Through the years, I’d try to build a relationship, but relationships are dialogues. They're not monologues. So you learn to love certain people from a distance. I had love for him as a human being. I didn't know him really personally, you know. At the end of his life, I just felt a sadness and it was just like damn. It didn't have to be that way."
    You can catch Omar in Shooter on the USA Network.  From Fatherless to Fatherhood is available everywhere books are sold.

    Omar Epps & Family

    *********
    Would you buy this book for yourself or a loved one?
    Mwabi Kaira is an African girl navigating her way in an American world.  She is of Zambian and Malawian heritage and moved to the USA in 1993.  Writing has been her passion since she could put a sentence together on the page. Mothering her sons is her pride and joy.  She has been an avid runner since 2013 and has run 10 half marathons and a full marathon.  Keep up with her athttp://africanbeautifulme.blogspot.com

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    Brenda Alexander (far right) & fam 
    By Brenda Alexander

    After almost two years of trying to get passes for the National Museum of African American History & Culture in DC, I finally registered and recently had the pleasure of experiencing the magic of the new Smithsonian addition. I was outdone by what I bore witness to. When everyone told me, “It’s impossible to get through the museum in a day,” I thought they were exaggerating, because our people love the dramatics. But my was I wrong.



    The museum is split into two sections: history (slavery through post civil rights movement) and culture (music, film, sports, theater and everything in between). Both have four levels and if I’m honest, it’s overwhelming by just how much there is to see and read. Not one time period, struggle, accomplishment or person was missed.

    I started on the history side from the ground up (which I advise all to do). My timed entry pass was for 10AM and by 3PM, I wasn’t even halfway through the history portion. After a while, I found myself skipping the reading portions and just admiring the artifacts to try and get everything in before the museum closed.

    To save all of my future museum goers some trouble, I wanted to highlight some of the most profound exhibits to look forward to and a few tips on how to maximize your time there.

    Emmett Till Memorial

    Note* no photos or videos are allowed to be taken in this exhibit at the request of his family

    I heard from almost every person that visited the museum that they could not bare the memorial out of fear that it would be too heavy a burden. But, if you can find the strength to walk through, I’d strongly advise you too. I will admit that it’s heavy. Walking towards the casket as negro spirituals ring out from the speakers, photos of a handsome and smiling Emmett hang from the walls with quotes from his mother and others makes it reminiscent of an actual funeral. You know his body isn’t there but you know the story and can feel the presence and somber of the time as if you were there. It’s powerful and an experience that’ll forever stick with you. You leave feeling a range of emotions: sadness for what occurred, pride for how his mother led a new movement and anger knowing that the woman responsible is alive and thriving today having never been prosecuted, along with the lives she protected.


    Celebration of Oprah Winfrey’s Life and Career


    Oprah’s exhibit is the size of the White House. Just kidding, but it’s huge, and she deserves it. Her exhibit stands alone in the lobby, adjacent to a theater in her honor. It starts by unraveling how the year she was born shaped the progression of the way media tells stories, which I found fascinating. Fans can look forward to learning about her life through photos, videos, personal journal entries, some of her famous wardrobe on display and even the set from her talk show. One of my favorite discoveries was reading her first contract from her first television show in Baltimore - she made a $75k salary that increased by $100k over three years. That was in 1985! Auntie O been a boss! It was also revealed just how generous Lady O is: donated $22 million to the museum and over $400 million to various charitable causes throughout her career.

    Black Cities



    One of my favorite parts of the museum was learning in extensive detail the plight of African American homeownership in this country. For those unaware, there were many black and prosperous communities besides Tulsa, Oklahoma - also known as the Black Wall Street. I won’t give them away (that’s why you must visit yourselves), but the exhibit features an actual home that was built in one of these communities. Within these communities, blacks could put down a deposit for as little as $5 or purchase land for as little as $50 and build by hand, multi-leveled homes to be passed down through generations.

    Culture (All of it)

    1968 Olympics 
    If you think you were amazed with the history section, you’ve got more coming. There’s music and video at almost every turn, an actual old school record store where you can select the music you want to hear from a digital player while you walk through, costumes and instruments from some of the greatest artists and a bronze replica of the famous fist pump at the 1968 Olympics. Not too mention the celebration of our food, style, dialect and anything else you could think of. The phrase “for the culture” has new meaning after seeing this portion of the museum. 

    Museum History
    After touring the museum, I had dozens of questions on who was responsible for giving this prize to the world. You’re naturally curious and anxious to know how this gem came to be. Luckily, the museum has its own exhibit that details its long journey. It was a century in the making that had many setbacks, but thanks to one final push from OUR President Barack Obama, the museum made its debut in September of 2016 with the first African American President and Family in attendance. Now isn’t that a full-circle moment.

    Register for your timed entry passes online and get your walking shoes ready. And if you can, take two days to really absorb all the museum has to offer. You’ll leave the museum feeling proud, appreciative and motivated- and even slightly ashamed for slacking in certain areas of your life after realizing just how much our ancestors endured.

    Have you been to the museum? Do you plan to attend?
    Brenda is a Philadelphia native with a love for Marketing, Creative writing, wine and Jesus. Her work has been featured on Mayvenn’s Real Beautiful blog and she is the co-author of the book Christmas 364: Be Merry and Bright Beyond Christmas Night (available for purchase on amazon). Follow her on IG @trulybrenda_ and trulybrenda.wordpress.com

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    By Dawn Washington

    As I'm watching a news story on the rise of maternal deaths in America, I'm shocked to learn that America leads the world in the number of maternal deaths. But that shock didn't compare to what happened in me when I heard the stats related to maternal deaths among African American women and the reason why.

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    In response to the question of why deaths during delivery are 3-4 times higher among African American women, Harvard Medical Professor and Obstetrician, Neel Shah prefaces,"...this is going to be hard to hear.” And he goes on to say,
    “We believe Black women less when they express concerns about the type of symptoms they are having, particularly when it comes to pain.”
    Hard to hear is an understatement. Several days after hearing them, the truth of his words still stings.

    While the news story goes on to contribute unnecessary C-sections to the shocking stats among American mothers, it drills down to other issues that lend themselves to the national and deadly problem: gender and race. Dr. Shah says that there is an element of gender discrimination in hospitals.
    "[For] a woman, after birth, who comes into a hospital with concerning complications, there are no rules for how quickly obstetricians have to see her. In fact, it's a routine case that it will take hours."
    Serena Williams and most recently, Beyoncé in her Vogue article have spoken out about their near death experiences during the delivery of their babies (both worth checking out to understand the scope of this problem). But beyond the fact that once again Black women are hit with real data that points to the problem associated with being Black and female, the question is begged, what is it about Black women that they are not believed on the hospital bed?

    Representation in media studies offers at least one answer. Representation says that from the images seen on screens and print (film, television, news, magazines, videos), we make meaning. And the meaning that has been made about who Black women are in a country like ours has been dubious at best.

    The "strong black female" title has been one that Black women have claimed as their own. But did you know that being strong, black, and female was a white construction created in mediated images long before many of us were born? In the context of a racist and white supremacist culture, even seemingly positive labels can work to our disadvantage. What proves to be most dangerous are the internal, unspoken perceptions people have of Black women. The danger of purporting strength as a Black woman in a racist country is that she can be perceived as having a higher tolerance for pain than other women.

    So now that it is out that medical professionals are not trusting the word of Black women when they alert them to their health concerns or problems, it is important to also air out the reasons why.

    Film scholar, Donald Bogle says that since the beginning of American film, two primary caricatures have represented Black women: mammy and the tragic mulatto. Their characteristics are familiar. Mammy is strong but loyal. The tragic mulatto is alluring but untrustworthy. Throughout American film history, Black female representation was mostly one or the other. But toward the end of the 20th century, with iconic and historic characters like those of Pam Grier and Teresa Graves, Black feminine representation became a mashup of both mammy and mulatto. She was strong and deceitful…prime conditions for the perceptions Dr. Shah speaks of in his research.

    Now well into the 21st century, Black female representation is even more prevalent. From news stories of police excessive force and the women who are left to pick up the pieces, to the stars of reality television and contemporary movies, our presence has gone mainstream in old and new ways. Black female lead characters like Olivia Pope (Scandal), Annalise Keating (How to Get Away with Murder), Issa Rae (Insecure), and Yara Shahidi (Grown-ish) have been written into scripts more than they have ever been. And yet, in a country that continues to racialize Black beauty and Black presence, a country where Michelle Obama, is an "ape in heels," Maxine Waters is called "crazy" and chided for "her James Brown wig,” and Omarosa Manigault is called a "dog" by the President of the United States, Black women in 2018 still contend with biased labels of the past that seek to keep them as caricatures and to rob them of their humanity...even to the point of death.

    The link between long-held stereotypes and perceptions about Black women’s tolerance for pain and their credibility, can all be difficult to process. It can seem like a stretch to underline the impact of these titles and the way they have seeped into the consciousness of everyday people. But I am hard pressed to find any other reason why medical professionals wouldn’t treat us like any other patient.

    Damned if we do. Damned if we don't.

    Because no matter how bright we shine, in our intelligence, in our beauty, in our nobility, in our resilience, in our dignity, civility, or success, the labels continue to work to contain us. Racism continues to skew our representation to fit into undying stereotypes and caricatures that have been set into the American consciousness.

    I appreciate Dr. Shah for boldly speaking the truth about what is happening in America’s hospitals as it relates to Black women. His truth exposes other truths that are less discussed, like how harmful ideologies continue to play themselves out in new generations of people and in real-life data.

    Mammy, mulatto, strong Black female, whichever way our presence is interpreted, Black women  are first and foremost human. Wiping the slate clean and ridding the American mindset of the lie that we are anything but remains to be the challenge.

    What do you think about the reasons behind the high rate of black maternal death?
    Dawn has a Master of Arts in Media and Cinema Studies and holds down a day job in academia. She is a freelance writer from Chicago who has written for The Chicago Defender, NBC5 Chicago, and Caramel Lattes and Stilettos. Read more of her works here.

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    Elaine Lee 
    There is a way to gray gracefully. Nikki's Mom, Elaine Lee, shares her story in USA Today's Up Front magazine!

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    What do you think? Gray or Nay?

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    Amara La Negra scrubbing the hell out of her man's shower via IG
    By Veronica Wells

    Amara La Negra caused quite a stir this week, when she used her Instagram account to send an interesting message. Aside from the fact she was cleaning the bathroom in a bodycon, the image became controversial because of caption:
    “A man’s house is a reflection of the woman’s he’s with. Food for thought.” 💭 Being Pretty is Just a Bonus with me.”
    As you can imagine, people took issue with the post for several reasons. 

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    They didn’t know whether it was a Lysol ad. And they couldn’t figure out why Amara would make it a point to clean a house she doesn’t live in, a house that doesn’t belong to her, and presumably the house of another grown, able-bodied individual. In the modern era, men clean their own houses, not only women are out here working alongside them but because that’s just what responsible adults should be doing for themselves. Furthermore, if a man’s house is dirty, it’s not a reflection of the woman, it’s a reflection of his own triflingness. Period. Fullstop. We’re not absolving men of responsibility and we’re certainly not shouldering the burdens of their own shortcomings. 

    For as much as I wanted to ride for Amara, she’s proven herself to be a “pick me.” If you’ve never heard the phrase before, a pick me woman is one who tries to distinguish herself from other women with the intent of making herself appear more appealing to other men. If you’re wondering if you’ve ever been or continue to be a pick me or you just want to double-check and make sure you’re not embarrassing yourself on the internet like Ms. Amara, then here are some pitfalls to avoid.

    Shaming another woman for their choices
    Whether it’s her attire, sexual behavior or practices, pick mes specialize in regurgitating sexist double standards like "Dress how you want to be addressed" or "No man wants a woman who everybody's had." Interestingly enough, when men operate in the same fashion, they never have anything to say.

    Attempting to make yourself more appealing for the sake of men
    I’m not talking about putting on makeup or dressing up, I’m talking about broadcasting the things you do-- or would do-- in a relationship because you believe it will attract the man you desire. The women who post the meals they make for themselves with captions like “Your girlfriend could never…” are prime examples of this.

    Blaming feminism for the destruction of the Black community
    Crack, poverty, racism and slavery are all acceptable places to point the blame when we talk about what has contributed to our challenges as a people. Believing women deserve equal rights is not one of them.

    Unwillingness to hold men accountable…for anything
    If a man cheats and you immediately point to what his wife did wrong...then you’re hustling backward and playing the Pick Me game.

    Hotepian
    If you find yourself or another woman sounding like a Hotep, repeating homophobic rhetoric, advocating for polygamy because monogamy is unnatural etc, then there’s a chance you’re saying and doing these things to make yourself seem down.

    Marriage material
    I learned a long time ago, that what we’ve been taught to believe was marriage material is a farce. There are so many of us who are still in a tizzy trying to figure out “How did she get married?” She got married because marriage material is relative and generally a way for men to control the behavior of women. There are other ways to describe your appealing qualities.

    You speak against your own
    Nothing is a stronger red flag than listening to another woman say she doesn’t get along with women or she’d rather “hang out with the boys.” Even if men have more female friends, they never disparage other men. This is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to seem “cool” by insulting your own kind.

    Take outrageous and unnecessary actions for the sake of proving to a man that they love them
    In the bowels of Instagram, I found a woman who suggested that she stands every time her husband entered a room as a way to honor him. Her rationale was that if she stood on Sunday to honor the Pastor, she could certainly stand to honor her husband. Do what you feel. But let that practice be something you do for your man, rather than insinuating that women who don’t do the same somehow don’t value their partners. Furthermore, when you ask these women what their men do to honor them, they can only name the essentials like being faithful and paying bills.

    Always want to know what the woman did when she was assaulted, abused etc.
    If you’re one of those women who always believes there are two sides to a story when a woman was abused or want to know “What she did” you’re a mouthpiece of misogyny.

    Claim that they don’t require anything from a man
    Unlike independence, pick mes are appealing to the newer generation of men by claiming that they’re not high maintenance. Ex: “I don’t need my man to spend any money on me. I can just cook a meal and we can watch movies at his place.” You need to see a little more than that sis. Trying to prove that a man won’t have to work to get or keep you, also means he likely won’t value you as he should either.

    Are you a Pick Me woman? Have you been around any?
    Veronica Wells is the culture editor at MadameNoire.com. She is also the author of “Bettah Days” and the creator of the website NoSugarNoCreamMag. You can follow her on Facebook and on Instagram and Twitter @VDubShrug.

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    Aretha Franklin
    By Brenda Alexander

    By now the world has learned and is mourning the passing of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. For the past 60+ years, she’s provided a musical soundtrack crossing as a backdrop to an ever changing world. Donned one of the greatest voices of all time, her gift crossed multiple genres, generations, racial, political, social and gender barriers. A true artist, she led with her voice, remaining mum on an evolving tabloid driven industry, sharing only what she felt she owed us- her music.

    Outside of her catalogue was a world-class diva with a sparkling personality who gave fans much to watch whether dressed to the nines or throwing the best shade. In her honor, here are some of my favorite moments from Re-Re.

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    A Wig Snatch
    You can tell an old schooler from a new schooler by the lack of care for looking cute while doing their thing. Patti flaps her arms like wings, rolls around on the floor kicking and screaming and will take her shoes off in the middle of singing her first song. Mary has the old school bop down to a science. All of the greats burst out into a sweat during their second set. But I have never...and I mean never, witnessed a wig emerge off of a performer’s head voluntarily. The song must have been vexed so deep within Reefa’s spirit that only a wig snatch could do it justice. When the holy ghost hits you, you go with it.



    An Anthem for Civil Rights & Feminism

    I doubt she knew when she sat at a piano in 1967 and birthed R-E-S-P-E-C-T that the song would be as iconic. Otis Redding originally penned the song in 1965 to reinforce the traditional family structure: Man works all day, brings money home to wife and demands her respect in return. Never conforming to gender roles, Aretha wrote her version as a response, this is pre-No Scrubs vs No Pigeons days! It registered to women nationwide and remained #1 on the charts for 12 weeks. The civil rights and black power movements adopted it next with racial protests occuring around the country.



    Faith
    Born and raised in a church-going household to a Baptist Minister as a father, she held tight to her faith throughout her life. Her 1972 Grammy-winning album "Amazing Grace," which was recorded live at New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in South Central Los Angeles and featured gospel legend James Cleveland, became one of of the best-selling gospel albums ever. Her gospel underdone was always present in her music and she spoke often on her love for God, saying "My faith always has been and always will be important to me."

    She Rode for Angela Davis
    As a vocal supporter of the Civil Rights movement, she performed at benefits and encouraged voter registration. But other work was kept relatively private, including financially supporting Martin Luther King Jr.’s work, the families of incarcerated people and black activist ministers. That changed after she was quoted in a 1970 JET magazine article detailing her intention to post bail for Angela Davis. She put her reputation and career in jeopardy by rallying behind Davis, stating: “I’m going to see her free if there is any justice in our courts, not because I believe in communism, but because she’s a Black woman and she wants freedom for Black people. I have the money; I got it from Black people—they’ve made me financially able to have it—and I want to use it in ways that will help our people.”



    The Associated Press Fax...5 years later
    Aretha’s a trip. She’s always been referred to as Whitney’s godmother and even spoke about their relationship in an interview with Wendy Williams. Many were surprised to see that she was absent from Houston's funeral and confused when Dionne Warwick introduced her to give her thoughts at the podium and had to come back and announce that she was not present. But it wasn’t until 5 years later that Aretha gave her side to the story to AP and even denied she was her actual godmother. Whew Chile!


    Aretha Shades Patti
    Remember Aretha was caught on camera ignoring Patti when she reached her arms out for a hand and Aretha snatched away? Despite both denying a feud and appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show together in the past, but Re never seemed to care for Patti. There were rumors of discord for years but none have been confirmed. 


    Aretha at the Smithsonian?
    After her hat made its debut during her performance at President Barack Obama’s Inauguration in 2009, the Smithsonian wanted it for display but Re wasn’t sure if she was ready for that. “I am considering it. It would be hard to part with my chapeau since it was such a crowning moment in history. I would like to smile every time I look back at it and remember what a great moment it was in American and African-American history. Ten cheers for President Obama,” she said in a statement to New York Magazine. Shows Re was a woman of thought and integrity!

    Thanks Ms. Franklin, for giving us the example of a natural woman! May you sing from the Heavens!

    What's your fav Aretha Franklin moment?


    Brenda is a Philadelphia native with a love for Marketing, Creative writing, wine and Jesus. Her work has been featured on Mayvenn’s Real Beautiful blog and she is the co-author of the book Christmas 364: Be Merry and Bright Beyond Christmas Night (available for purchase on amazon). Follow her on IG @trulybrenda_ and trulybrenda.wordpress.com

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    Photo via xoNecole
    By Lydia Anglin

    Once upon a time, there was a baby naturalista who used to sit in front of the mirror every night, with her arms held high for over 45 minutes, trying to complete the perfect twist out.

    As she huffed and puffed, she wished for a fairy godmother who could end her misery and just grant her poppin' curls at the flick of a wand. But, this naturalista eventually came to her senses and realized: ain't nobody got time for that.


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    Screenshot of video
    By Onicia Muller 

    There's a one-minute clip of an adult male pretending to arrest a baby. A small fraction of Twitter users replied in-thread that police or Child Protective Services (CPS) should be involved. A larger portion seemed to view the role-play as a joke. As always, I have mixed thoughts about the situation. Mainly, was it wrong and if not, was it wrong to post on the internet?

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    The clip opens with the adult male helping the baby to stand on his feet. At first, I thought maybe he had a dirty diaper and was rushing to get to a changing area. I caught onto the scenario once the baby was face down and told for a second time to “spread your sh*t.” For the most part, I was as stunned as the infant arrestee. I finally laughed when his little face looked into the camera with his precious ‘help me’ expression. Oh no, should I be?

    My views are based on the belief that the video was created and uploaded by the child’s parents and not by paid caretakers or older relatives.

    As a private activity, I don’t think this game was wrong or dangerous. I think this role-play falls under “kitchen table talk” and “family business...” things you do and say in controlled environments where everyone shares the same values. To me, there’s no difference between playing 'arrest the baby' and 'cops and robbers.' Although I have more conservative feelings about using racial slurs and adult language around children, I let them slide because the child is not in danger. Then again, I’m also the woman who jokes about baby suicide. So maybe my sensibilities aren’t so sensitive.

    In my second viewing, I focused on the baby and found that he wasn't in physical danger. Maybe emotional danger because he was headed for Worldstar infamy, but we’ll get to that in a moment. The baby was old enough to support his head and maybe even take a few steps unassisted. Based on the actions, not language or other elements, nothing in those 60 seconds of play seemed too rough or even abusive.

    This summer, I was waiting in line during our church’s potluck and saw a dad balancing his 6-12 month baby in his outstretched palms. Having stabilized the baby in a standing position, he tossed and thankfully caught him. As a super pregnant woman, I was like “aw hell no.” However, my husband's reaction was #DaddyGoals. Was this dad abusive or inappropriate? No, but like the first dad, that’s something he probably shouldn’t be doing in public- especially because people were moving around and setting tables. Also, any of the older and untrained kids could have been inspired to try this on a younger sibling.

    By the way, did anyone call CPS when comedian Will Ferrell released his baby landlord sketch? Or is that only okay when it’s professional role-playing aka acting?


    Should this video have been uploaded to the internet? I don’t think this video is going to destroy this child’s future. Aside from a few think pieces and hater comments, I doubt this will have negative consequences for those involved. I would not have uploaded it. However, as a person living in a different country from most of my family, I find myself sharing sensitive stuff over the internet. Unfortunately, I use NDAs in everyday communications. I can only hope that they use judgment and not share our conversations and protect their devices from being stolen or hacked. I can definitely see several relatives creating and sharing footage like this. That said, like with nudes and juicy gossip, anything can go viral once it’s been recorded.

    Finally, if I wanted to reach, I could write about how the adult male in the video was projecting what (might have) happened to him and many black men in America. The video reminded me of when my nephew would put his toy truck in the corner and say "you are not listening. Bad truck." We soon learned that he was mister chatty in playschool and had been spending some time in the corner. However, sometimes things aren't that deep -- or rather -- they don’t need to be made that deep. I don't think we should call CPS. Maybe Charlamagne Tha God, Worldstar, America’s Funniest Home Video. Or how about we just leave it with Black Twitter.

    Do you find this video offensive? Was the Dad was out-of-line?
    Onicia Muller is a Caribbean writer and comedian currently freezing her buns off in Chicago. A former crime reporter and children’s columnist, she's found her happy place writing about women in entertainment. If you're into oversharing, read her weekly humor column Just Being Funny in The Daily Herald’s Weekender. In June 2018, she received IGNITE Caribbean's 30 Under 30 Caribbean American Emerging Leaders and Changemakers award for her work as a cultural influencer.

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    By Lenora Houseworth

    There is a common belief that black women either don’t need or partake in cosmetic surgery or other procedures. You’ve probably even used the term, “Black don’t crack.” Well, this is not completely true. As an aesthetician, esthetician and Director of Skincare Services/Partner of Lavish Medical Spa, Leslie Nesbitt has seen the cosmeceutical aka the non-surgical industry become more inclusive while finally addressing the unique skincare needs for people of color.

    In recent years, the New York-based Lavish, seen in The New York Times, has exploded with an uptick in procedures like skin lightening, or IV whitening, among women of color.


    The procedure, which goes for $300 per session, mimics any IV treatment you’d get in a hospital for dehydration, menopause or the flu, injecting natural minerals in the blood stream. While results can vary, it usually takes up to four treatments before your skin is noticeably more even, with fewer blemishes. Clients often see a difference in the first treatment says Nesbitt. For patients looking to completely change their skin color, ongoing treatments from 15-30 sessions are needed. Some patients cite Lil Kim or Beyonce as celebrities they want to immolate when interested in changing the natural color of their complexion entirely, which Nesbitt says are fewer compared to clients who just want a brighter, clear skin tone.

    You of course can’t talk about skin lightening without acknowledging it is a controversial topic in the beauty world often rooted in colorism. Yet, it has become a multi-billion dollar business worldwide, and growing. Nesbitt asserts IV whitening treatments are completely different from more commonly-known over-the-counter skin bleaching systems, which she warns against. She says, 
     "I have clients of all ethnicities and backgrounds coming in for IV treatments for different reasons to address different skincare needs, many times after botched, topical skin bleaching."  
    Indian clients make up the majority of Nesbitt’s clients for lightening due to their skin being most susceptible to hyperpigmentation. Black women mostly undergo the treatment to heal dark spots, which is common in black skin. Nesbitt says,
    “IV whitening is not really skin bleaching because there's no topical bleach. It suppresses melanin with vitamins and minerals, and helps to break up melasma. Anybody that has pigment or hormonal changes, may have dark patches (or melasma). Most patients just want overall clarity.”
    Men surprisingly are making up a growing number of clients requesting these treatments in order to even their complexion. A month lead time is recommended before a major event for any skin treatments. As with any procedure, make sure you follow the directions from the skincare specialist for optimal results. Nesbitt explains,
    “Do your research and just make sure that you don't just sign the form. Make sure that you understand the treatments that you are getting. A lot of times if something goes wrong, that means the person didn't do something right. So follow the (post-procedure) instructions.”
    Lavish will soon expand its business into the Los Angeles area, providing the same services while serving as an alternative for those who don’t want to go under the knife to change their appearance.
    Leslie Nesbitt via IG
    “Society tries to define how we should see beauty ...I believe beauty starts first in the soul. How you feel about yourself is important to me, "says Nesbitt. "Giving someone the tools to achieve those goals are important to me.”

    What do you think? Would you ever try this procedure for your skin?
    Lenora Houseworth is a social media strategist and writer based in Jersey City, NJ by way of the Chicago. Her work has been seen in places such as Yahoo.com, Glaad.org and BlackEnterprise.com. Jay-Z lyrics and avocados are her life. Follow her adventures on Instagram @LenoraSheWrote!

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    Photo via Madamenoire
    By Sonya Eskridge 

    Barbie is teaching young girls about the joy of playing with natural curls with a new deluxe styling head and it’s about time!

    Black moms on Instagram were stunned to find out that Mattel has produced a Deluxe Barbie Styling Head with naturally textured hair. CocoaMochaKids found the doll perched on a shelf in the Barbie aisle at a New Jersey Wal-Mart earlier this month, and they couldn’t resist sharing it with their followers.


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