MIXED GIRL MEMOIRS PT 2 – TO FALL BETWEEN TWO STOOLS

To “fall between two stools” was an idiom I learnt in a Saturday school I attended as a young child. The school was called A.C.E (Afro-Centric Education)  and we focused on learning about the usual historic events taught at my regular school but from black perspectives (as we were pretty much all children of non-British origins). I couldn’t have been older than 10 years old at the time, but it was a line that resonated with me then and remains with me today. For those not familiar with the concept, “to fall between two stools” means never quite fitting in to either category that you are supposed to – or at least that’s what it means to me.

Coincidently, the best way for me to explore my personal experience of this concept is to do so through the three academic stages of my life- primary school, secondary school and university. Each stage giving way to very different thoughts, feelings and emotions on the idea – a point in itself worth noting.

As mentioned in my ‘Things I Would Tell my Younger Self’ post, I went to a very multicultural primary school. It was (and still is) situated in the heart of the Cardiff docklands which holds immense historic routes of sailors who came and went from all over the world; often leaving behind the product of a multi-racial union. Therefore a large majority of the children I shared these years with were also mixed raced. In primary school it honestly didn’t really cross my mind that I was “black” or “white”, I was just mixed race like the majority of my friends whilst able to identify with the black and white ones equally.  Of course, I was aware that my skin was the colour it was because my mum was half Fijian and my father Maltese but I didn’t ever (as far as I can remember) feel the need to identify with a specific label. Of course it’s important to keep in mind that at the tender ages of 5 to 11, your racial identity and exploring the perfect adjective to describe such is often not at the forefront of your mind.

In secondary school, I was one of a very small handful of non-white students in the entirety of the school. This school is situated in a middle class, predominantly white area so it was no surprise that this was the case. Having come from a very tolerant, mixed school it really was quite a culture shock that I was now in the minority – getting picked up on things that I thought were normal such as the way I wore my hair, the colour of my skin or the fact that my grandparents were different colours to me and each other. It was during these years that my racial identity was tested. Having never really been in an environment where I was part of a minority I struggled with identity. Being mixed race in the combination that I am, I find it easy to identify with those from black or white communities but often this is not reciprocated.

I’ll ever forget one Monday morning in year 7. Having attended a birthday party the Friday prior, the girl who’s party it was said (totally innocently with no malicious intent whatsoever) that her parents thought I was “really nice for someone, you know, your colour.” To be honest, no I didn’t know what she meant but the sheer lackadaisical manner she dropped this thought provoking bombshell in made me stop and realise just what she was getting at and what the thought processes of my peers apparently were. It was at this point that I accepted I was different to them and they were different to me – a revolutionary point in my racial identification journey.

From this point on I started to realise that in my predominantly white school/ friendship group, I was the black girl – a label I was not yet familiar with. I was the one with the difficult hair and darker skin tone (when my girls weren’t fake tanned!) I was the minority. It was in high school that I think I really embraced my ‘blackness’ because of the way I was regarded by my peers. I almost subconsciously tried to live up to the label that was given to me by them whilst at the same time still holding on to my white side in order to ‘fit in’.

My University experience couldn’t have been more different to that of high school. Going to a University just outside of London, there was already a very multicultural student community and there were a large majority of international students most notably Cypriot, Nigerian and Malaysian. I became friends with some of the Nigerian girls on my course as like minds and interests brought us together. Whilst getting my weave done by one of the girls, little (again not malicious!!) comments made me realise that although I was still the same person with the same parents and same mixed background, I was now regarded as the white friend! Comments such has how “I had good hair” (like ya girl Becky) and didn’t need a weave solidified the new label that had be bestowed upon me. I had the same epiphanic reaction to that of that Monday morning in year 7 only with the opposite realisation.

Having matured and ‘found myself’, I have become comfortable in who I am by accepting all the facets that make me so. I have almost reverted back to my primary school mind-set with regards to my racial identification. I am mixed raced. My mother is half Fijian/half Irish and my father is fully Maltese, making me a melting pot of backgrounds; making me me!

MIXED GIRL MEMOIRS PT1 – THE FETISHIZATION OF MIXED BABIES

So, I’m coming at you with a new series exploring race, the challenges of racial identity and what it means to be mixed race through small excerpts of real-life encounters. Expect a lot of racial talk, real-life narrations and hopefully some opportunities to start a bit of a discussion!

First up is an observation I’ve made from social media, most notably Instagram and Twitter but I’ve also encountered it in the real world. It’s an observation of this weird obsession and fetishization of mixed babies. There are so many accounts orientated around posting pictures of adorable little brown babies with sandy coloured hair and light coloured eyes. I can totally agree; these babies are beautiful and do look like the majority of my very own family, however, I can’t help but note how problematic this can be for the black community and also mixed babies who don’t fall into this cookie cutter expectation.

The idea that caramel coloured skin, loose curls and light eyes is attractive begs the comparison that dark skin, tights curls and dark eyes are not – characteristically features of a black person. Here would be the perfect time for someone to interject and state that it also begs the comparison that light skin and straighter hair isn’t either, which would be a valid point if the similarities between this idealisation and the treatment of light skinned people pre 1835 were not so apparent. The brash preferential treatment of  light skinned folk dates back to the same treatment of light skinned slaves (the result of a white slave owner raping his black possession). They were given household duties away from the hard, physical labour of the fields and were seen as better and treated more humane than their darker counterparts.

Recently I was at dinner talking about my current broodiness with some friends and one exclaimed “You and Adam would make lush babies!” (Adam, also being my mixed raced boyfriend and future Baby Daddy). As much as I’d like to think she was saying this because we are both strong 10/10s (haha!) I knew what she really meant: that our yet-to-be-conceived-children would be worthy of their own Instagram account yielding hundreds of thousands of followers for the sun-kissed tinge of their mixed heritage skin. It wasn’t said maliciously, obviously, so I couldn’t start a racial rant about how problematic a statement like this can be but it did sit with me. As a female-twenty-something, I’m getting progressively more maternal with every cute kid I encounter and so I couldn’t help but think of all the others things (other than their sun-kissed glow) that my children will have to deal with when they are finally introduced into this very confusing, paradoxical world.

It’s the clear preferential treatment these children receive over their darker relatives that irks me, but I’m not for a second saying that everyone who says “mixed babies are so cute!” is saying so from a racist perspective. I just can’t help but draw these very obvious comparisons especially when dark-skinned kids don’t get anywhere near as much love.

What do you guys think? Do you agree? Disagree? Comment below and let me know!

I was recently contacted by Bonobos – a New York based menswear brand specializing in chinos and pants, asking me to style men’s outfits to suit their female partner/spouse/companion and here’s what I came up with!

 MONOCHROME

 

REAL MEN WEAR PINK

 

AUTUMNAL

 

THE [[BAND]] TEE

 

HOW TO: MINIMAL WARDROBE

Easily Accessible

I don’t have wardrobes. I actually have 2 clothing racks, 2 sets of drawers (which hold some clothes but mostly cosmetic products and underwear) and a wall full of shoes. This way I can see exactly what I have and it makes putting outfits together so much easier as it’s all there right in front of me. It also benefits me  (being the laziest person you will ever meet) as I’m able to decide what to wear without even getting out of bed! #winning

Basic Colour Palette

So if you’ve been reading my blog you will know that I’m one of those boring people who keeps to a very minimal colour palette – blacks, greys, whites, nudes, camel, khaki etc. The main reason for this is I used to have a very eclectic wardrobe of colours and patterns but I could never piece together outfits that looked like I’d actually made an effort. I decided to strip back to the basics and de-clutter in every sense of the word. Since stripping back, my outfits look more put together even though I’ve just chucked it on in a rush that morning.

Interchangeable Pieces

In accordance with the above point, as well as making sure the colours of my items work well together the items themselves have to work well together too (obvious, right?). I used to buy things thinking they’d work well with pieces I didn’t even have and tell myself that I’d buy the coordinating piece another time. This is such an uneconomical way of shopping – buying clothes to go with clothes you don’t have yet. The sooner I ditched this method of shopping the better things were for both my wardrobe and my pocket. As well as making sure the items co-ordinate, I also want to make sure that they can be easily interchanged between work; casual; nights out etc. I hate the idea of having something in my wardrobe that I can only wear for a specific occasions (with the exception of something like a ball gown, obviously).

‘Investment’ Pieces

I’m nowhere near financially stable enough to be investing in actual expensive pieces but luckily  I do have the eye for a bargain. In my GREY post you can see that it’s actually possible to find good quality pieces at ridiculously low prices. The long grey coat was an absolute bargain find from a local charity shop and most of my expensive looking, good quality overcoats have been purchased in the same way. Investment pieces are good quality pieces – not ones that you’ve forked out 3 months wages on.

Old pieces – The Year Rule

If I haven’t worn something in the past year – bye bye! I hate cluttering up my wardrobe with ‘maybe’ items. Those ones where you’re like “Maybe I’ll wear it in the summer”, ” Maybe I’ll wear it next year”, “Maybe there’ll be a fancy dress theme that this will come in handy for”. No. If you haven’t worn it in the past year you are certainly not gonna wear it in the next one, don’t kid yourself. NEXT!!

New pieces – The Week Rule

If I buy something new and don’t want to wear it within the first week, it’s got to go back. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of something when you’re at the shop but if you get home and have no immediate urge to wear it, it’s gonna stay at the back of your wardrobe with the label on – trust me! Take it back before it’s too late.

Regular clear-outs

Every couple of months or so I refresh the items on my rack asking myself if I genuinely like this item and can see it paired with other items currently in my wardrobe. It’s sort of like Marie Kondo’s “Does this item bring me joy?” theory but not as deep.

One-in-one-out

If I’m flitting about Topshop and a new pair of Joni’s catch my eye, then I HAVE to get rid of an old pair of jeans. This means that if I can warrant getting rid of another pair to buy these new ones then fine but if I can’t then I know I don’t need them and my wardrobe stays at it’s manageable level. When I say ‘get rid’ I mean, give away to my cousins/friends/mum, sell on Depop or give to charity.

Karla Deras is definitely one of my style inspirations. Her effortlessly sexy, “I woke up like this” concoctions of neutral tones is right up my street. I adore everything she has to offer from her line (thelinebyK) but I don’t quite have the budget for it just yet. My yearning for such pieces has led me to find some affordable alternatives  which encompass the same kind of vibe so I thought I would share them with you guys!

the inspo.

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the affordable alternatives.

CURLY HAIR Q&A

Recently a friend of mine asked for me to do a post answering some FAQs about my hair so here they are:

What products do you use?

Since I started my curly hair journey 2 and a half years ago I’ve been experimenting with different products and am yet to find my holy grail product/brand. I recently discovered they sell Mixed Chicks in Boots now and tried out their leave-in conditioner. The product was nice and worked well for my hair but I couldn’t justify the £10.99 price tag when the bottle only lasted me 2 weeks.

When I have time to get ready (which isn’t all that often as I love my sleep) I use the LOC method. The LOC method is where you use Leave-in, Oil, and Cream in that exact order. My favourite leave-in so far is the ORS Curls Unleashed Leave-in Conditioner (it smells soooo good!!). My oil of choice is, of course, virgin coconut oil and the cream portion of my routine gives thanks to the ORS Curls Unleashed Intense Hair Conditioner. The LOC method ensures my curls will stay in formation (hehe get it) for at least 3-4 days providing I look after it which I’ll get to in a bit.

LOC

Do you deep condition? If so how often?

I try to deep condition my hair once a week or when my hair tells me it needs it. I don’t use any particular deep conditioners as I like to pick a few of the sachets from Boots and experiment with different ones. Hair mayonnaise (any brand) is the kind of thing I like to use to deep condition and I slather my hair in it in the shower, get to my business of shaving, showering, dancing etc. then wash the product out. When my hair is showing signs of real thirst I wear the deep conditioner to bed. I just slather it on to dampened hair, twist it in a bun and cover my pillow in a t-shirt.

Do you co-wash? How often do you wash your hair?

YES!!! Whenever I’m doing a wash-n-go I co-wash. My hair gets too fluffy when I use shampoo on it so co-washing is the only way for me. There’s a common misconception that it’s the shampoo that cleans your hair but it’s more the action of rubbing your hair with the pads of your fingers that does the job. I wash-n-go most days and only shampoo like once a fortnight. I absolutely hate my hair after shampooing as it loses its coils and just fluffs up. So when I do shampoo I either wear it in a bun for a few days or cake it in more product which kind of defeats the object of shampooing in the first place!

Do you wear a headscarf to bed?

I tried this and it would just end up with on the floor, under my pillow or down by my feet by the time I woke up. I tried to tie it tighter but I would just wake up with a headache. I’m looking into getting a silk pillowcase but at the moment I just tie my hair in a pineapple with the loosest bobble I can find. The plastic twisted ones are my fave or a big loose scrunchie works great as well.

How do you preserve your curls for the next day?

As mentioned above, I wear my hair in a loose pineapple for bed then in the morning I water spray the perimeter of my head which has experienced some frizziness through the night. If needed, I’ll apply a bit more leave -in conditioner to these portions but normally the water spray does the trick!

Do you finger detangle?

YES!! I rarely use hair tools on my hair as I think they greatly contribute to breakage. I always detangle in the shower and do so with my  hands covered in coconut oil and conditioner. I find this is the best way to ensure it is completely detangled.

How do you control product build up?

I try not to put any product on my roots. For the majority of my hair, I start applying product from my ears down, and for the front portion I do it from an inch or so away from the roots. When I feel like the product is building up and weighing my curls down, it’s time to get the dreaded shampoo out.

A few extra things I feel I need to mention…

I never use a towel or hairdryer to dry my hair but always use a t-shirt. Any old t-shirt will do, I normally just use the one I had on the day before. This drying method ensures less frizz as there’s less friction with the cotton as opposed to the abrasive towel and the t-shirt also soaks up the water quicker!

I very rarely, if ever, use heat on my hair. This was the biggest factor contributing to the state of my hair when transitioning from my chemically straightened hair to my natural curls. Blow drying on the hot setting increases frizz anyway and the use of heat is never going to help make your curls pop. In the 2 and half years I’ve spent transitioning I can count how many  times I’ve straightened my hair on one hand. Bearing in mind I used to straighten it everyday! This was the biggest driving factor to my hair becoming thick, curly and healthy.

 

BIG BROTHER IS SUBSCRIBED TO YOU

Cho2myFVIAEbyK4

Anyone who knows me in real life knows I love me some conspiracy theories. I’ve not long started reading George Orwell’s 1984 for the fourth time and can’t help but notice the obvious similarities between the way life was described to how it actually is today. The big difference though, is that in the book, Big Brother (the government) surveil the citizens through means of ‘telescreens’ and  CCTV cameras dotted around the metropolis.

The surveillance described in the book is that from government to citizen – something that is just part of life but not exactly a voluntary act. However, in today’s social media orientated society we offer this surveillance of our own lives out with no need for the government (or whoever really is in charge) to have to make much effort to keep an eye on us. We literally volunteer to have our lives watched and out there for all the world to see. Whether  you’re a bog standard social media user and just have a Facebook profile to keep up with your mates abroad or if you use a variety of social media outlets, ‘they’ are watching you and you are letting them.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware of the fact I’m typing this on another type of social media platform and I myself use a multitude of different outlets but since reading this book again I can’t help but draw this conclusion.

It’s really clever when you think about it. If the world does work in the way I think it does (where there’s an elite group of rich folk at the top of the food chain and we ‘sheeple’ work 9-5 to line their pockets whilst ours are empty) then social media is the perfect way to keep an eye on us and make sure we’re living according to their agenda.

This isn’t just an idea that I have by the way – that ‘they’ watch us. There’s proof of it and we just accept it because we think they’re doing it to look out for us! For example, web cookies when searching online. Ever think it’s weird that they literally watch what we’re searching for then flood future webpages with adverts of those products? Or boost up the prices for train tickets when they’ve seen what you’ve been searching for? All to keep us as mindless consumers spending money we don’t have on stuff we don’t need in order to keep the corporations going and the top dogs rich.

If only George Orwell could see the world today. He’d be absolutely perplexed that we volunteer to be watched. We update our accounts telling people where we are, what we’re doing, who we’re with, what we’re wearing. There’s no need for them to have hidden cameras in our homes when we have them basically attached to our hand or at the end of a selfie stick. It’s just really ironic that Orwell forecast for us to live in a society where we were spied on by an external party but we’ve proved his theory right by volunteering the information for public view.

Technology these days is absolutely phenomenal and as a kid (who had to ask my parents if they were expecting any phone calls before setting up our dial-up internet to talk to my friends on MSN) I would never have expected to be a part of this kind of society. It’s amazing but absolutely terrifying at the same time.

What do you think about this? Have you read the book? Do you think I’m crazy? I’m really eager to know what you think!

#LEMONADE – INITIAL THOUGHTS

So I started writing this post 6 days ago -that’s how long it’s taken me to comprehend Lemonade.

As far as I was aware Lemonade was supposed to be a documentary produced by Beyoncé about police brutality, black power, celebrating being a strong, independent and unapologetically black woman. And it was all of this and then some. As well as being a narrative documentary about the current racial climate in America and the struggle of being a black woman in America today, it was also the ‘surprise’ release of her 6th studio album. I say ‘surprise’ because by now we should’ve known it was going to be an album, especially after her self named album and her upcoming Formation World Tour. As a long standing Beyhive member, I should really have guessed tbh but once again The Queen comes in and shocks the world with another secret release.

So, I woke up on Sunday morning to a text from one of my best friends and fellow Stan asking whether or not I’d seen It yet. I downloaded Tidal and for the next hour I was completely mesmerised with the new music, thought provoking imagery and strong messages conveyed in every scene.

As soon as it started I knew I could write forever about each tiny detail so I decided to jot some notes down in my phone as I was watching it to show my absolute initial thoughts.

The walking down the street smashing up car windows in “Hold Up” seemed to me like Beyoncé smashing out of conformity. Saying goodbye to the sweet, holy, humble Southern Belle that we all know and love and hello to a strong-minded woman who will stand up and fight for what she believes in no matter who it pisses off.  Even the sheer look of happiness on her face whilst she’s doing it contradicts her actions in a way that can be translated to mirror her juxtaposing character trying to juggle the two sides of her personality – is this the return of Sasha?! or did she never leave??

Is the use of the line ‘hop up out of bed, turn my swag on, I look in the mirror say what’s up?’ a nod to the rumoured beef between The Queen and Keri Hilson?

Hearing Beyoncé curse is like seeing your teacher outside of school. It’s weird at first but you get used to it after a while and feel like you’ve been privileged to see something so out of the ordinary. You also appreciate them for being a real-life human being.

The spoken word intervals reminded me so much of being at a Beyonce concert. I now know that they were written by Somali-British poet Warsan Shire – gwan girl!

The horns! The horns again!! From Outkast’s “SpottieOttieDopaliscious”. When I heard them I was like “yaaasss B!” They actually got me so excited for her Tour (which I will be attending on June 30th) as the first time she used them was in the Flawless Live performance (ugh I actually cannot wait to see Flawless live).

The smashing of car windows the middle fingers, the cursing – all signs that Bey has zero fucks to give for you or your opinion.

The appearances of the mother’s of some of  the recent police brutality victims literally made me cry real tears. Such a powerful thing to have them in her music video. Again, without saying much, Beyoncé says a lot.

And now for the elephant in the room: Did Jay Z cheat on Beyoncé?

I don’t know the fella so I can’t defend him but based off of this album and the way it was released, I do not think this is a breakup album. I do not think it is a forgiveness album and I certainly do not think it was Beyoncé’s way of telling us that her husband has committed adultery. What I do think it is, is the best marketing strategy of the century. Fans have doted on the couple’s marriage since he put a ring on it and people never want to admit that others are happily in lurrrrve so the idea that the current reigning King and Queen of the music industry are going through a bad patch is bound to make sales soar. Please remember that Beyoncé released Lemonade on TIDAL. You know, that music thing that she and Jay Z own TOEGTHER. Kudos to the both of you, you really are #couplegoals in every sense of the word.

 What do you think of the album? Do you think he cheated? Let me know in the comments below!

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