Style

The Things I Hate About The Monthly Period

Image sourced from Face2face Africa

Image sourced from Face2face Africa

When the ladies from Always started coming to our school back in primary school, I knew they had seen the need to educate us 10 year old girls about menstruation. My mum had mentioned a few things in passing to me before. But the Always ladies had a lot to tell us about the period, how to use the sanitary pads and how to use the sanitary buckets for disposal and for once, the boys were not allowed in our talks.

In a way, it made us feel important having people coming to exclusively talk to the girls at school. Little did we understand then, about the real horrors of the monthly period because 3/4 of us hadn’t started having them. Recently, one of the bloggers I follow, girlwiththafro, decided to talk about the period and I couldn’t help get amused for I could so relate.

Other than being reminded monthly why I’m a female, there are things I really hate about the period. So here goes;

1. Period Cramps

I’m one of those unlucky women who cramp like they are giving birth on most monthly periods. I don’t usually walk around with a grimace on my face on those days, but I kind of grimace inwardly each time I’m hurting. I’ve had my cramp moments that unintentionally drew attention to the people around me or made me lose things.

One time in high school, I was cramping like they had been paid to torture me and I had to put a straight face and get through the day, even though I just felt like lying down and doing nothing. I had a set book with me that day. The ones you read and are supposed to decipher hidden meanings that will be examined in your English literature exam. Those books were hot cakes back then and got stolen at any given careless moment. In my turmoil, I stood up from the dining hall table and left the book lying there in full view of merciless thieves. And that’s how I lost the book and had to pay for it after high school.

Another cramp moment happened one really cold July morning. So I’m tossing and turning in bed and a male cousin of mine, walked in and asked with concern written all over his face if I was okay. Of course I wasn’t and I had to tell him why. The horrified look on his face clearly said how much he thanked the gods for being born a boy. And he was understanding enough to send a female friend of his to the chemist to get me painkillers. Thank God for family.

On a Sunday when I wouldn’t let anything get in my way of experiencing the Holy Spirit including the godamn cramps I was having, I literally dragged myself to church. Only to end up sitting through most of the service and wondering why I even showed up in the first place. As soon as service was done, I perservered till I got to town and walked right into the first chemist I saw.

On most of those days, it’s usually a guy who serves you coincidentally and when you ask for Buscopan plus tabs, they just know what’s really up with you. But I must commend these chemist male employees for being so kind and understanding and inquiring if you need water to take the tabs. Of course yes, you need water to rid yourself off these pains!!!

2. Sleeping at night

Forget that Always advert when the lady turns in bed in silky white pyjamas and wakes up like an angel, yawning like she has just been cast in a princess movie. We don’t sleep like that on those days!!! You might be wearing the longest, absorbent, breathable pad in this world with additional reinforcements, but you will still be cautious at night. You will end up sleeping on one side till morning and have to wake up in the middle of the night just to check yourself or possibly change a pad. Those days are when you don’t even want to be sharing a bed with a man.

Your girlfriends who know you are on your Ps and have just received a sleepover invite from a boyfriend will probably gasp, “Are you going to a guy’s house on your Ps??!!” They are not jealous. They simply understand the struggle too well and the horror of staining someone else’s sheets and especially a man’s, with an elaborate, red robot pattern.

3. Mood Swings

Ever wondered why you seem to hate everybody around you and make additional enemies during your monthly period? Mood Swings!! Those are the days you will literally be snarling at your boss in your heart (because you value your job and your face cannot allow you to snarl openly at him/her) and wondering when it will get to 5 o’clock and you can go home and break some cups and plates to vent.

For some reason, those existing problems you had that you had decided to face with optimism will seem literally magnified on those days. Please do not make rush decisions in this state! It’s just the hormones acting up and the period. It shall pass.

Of course we really hate men asking if it’s that time of the month when we are fussing over petty issues and throwing an epic tantrum, but sometimes, it’s really it. But we are women. We are supposed to know how to handle this, without someone having to remind us how entirely powerless we are with controlling the mood swings, at this time.

4. Not trusting white bottoms and dresses

I never trust any white bottoms or dresses at this time even if Jennifer Lopez’s stylist insisted. What if something leaks? What if I’m strutting around unknowingly, with an obvious red patch on my behind. No, no. No White.

One of my female cousins saw a woman in white bottoms, bent over mtumba (second hand clothes) on a crowded street in town with a small telltale red dot on her bottom. Needless to say, she didn’t even know how to tell the woman without causing her untold embarrassment. I mean, where do you hide in such a situation?

I saw enough girls get laughed and snickered at by both boys and girls in school, when they stained their school tunics on their very first period, to even effectively explain the kind of embarrassment, a grown woman can feel for staining her clothes. Thank God, my very first started at home. And so painfully, my cousin chose to keep quiet.

So, what do you personally hate about the monthly period? Share below.

Do I Make A Statement With My Natural African Hair?

I’m at that stage in my life when I have no idea what to do with my hair. It’s about slightly over an inch long (courtesy of a shave I did sometime in September last year, when I still didn’t know what to do with the full length, African mane on my head), partly chemically processed, partly natural. So on days when I’m leaving the house, I do the curl activator thing to make it look a bit presentable and comb it into an impressionable afro. If you can call it that.

This is my current hair situation. I was trying a kind of mohawk look sometime back.

This is my current hair situation. I was trying a kind of mohawk look sometime back.

 

This was my chemically processed, styled in curls hair sometime back at its full length.

This was my chemically processed, styled in curls hair sometime back at its full length. Forgive the 60s retro look that is oh, so old fashioned.

 

My once full length completely natural hair when I had belief in my original kink

My once full length completely natural hair when I still held belief in my original kink.

It’s not the first time I’m writing about hair on the blog. Because hair is a part of us. And especially African women who are blessed with kinky manes. That shrubbery on your head, if you would call it that on days that it just can’t sit right and frame your face right, always reminds you of your African roots. You can’t run away from it. You can perm it, like I have done in the past and recent past just to make it more manageable, but as soon as that growth of natural hair appears, you are reminded of your roots.

Not that it is a bad thing to be an African woman.

However, an African woman who chooses to embrace her natural kinky hair is a force to reckon with. I have seen celebrities try the no make-up look albeit successfully. I have also seen celebrities of pure African descent swear that the long, silky hair we were seeing on their heads was indeed natural. I have equally seen pictures online of natural, African hair that still didn’t look natural enough. So whenever I see an African woman walking around with what indeed looks natural and still appear confident in her skin, I silently salute her because I’m still not that confident with my natural one.

Nigerian Writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who has a penchant for rocking her natural mane. Bellanaija.com

Nigerian Writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who has a penchant for rocking her natural mane. Bellanaija.com

Take Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, for example, who is never afraid to wear her hair natural. She has actually talked about African hair in her books. She is also considered a feminist. Not the bashful kind of feminist who got the script all wrong and ended up appearing bitter instead of passing a message. Which actually brings me to my blog’s title today, Do I Make A Statement With My African Natural Hair?

In many ways, yes.

It takes a lot of courage for an African woman to choose to wear her hair natural. Not with the wide array of styles and weaves to choose from, coupled with all the tricks available, to help make your hair appear fuller and much more silkier than it originally is. Hair is considered sacred in many religions. They actually refer to hair in Islam as “ornaments” which a woman is supposed to cover, to avoid unwarranted attention such as admiration, envy, sexual attraction and the likes. This just proves how much power hair actually has and especially on a female.

Therefore, when an African woman decides to celebrate her actual hair by choosing to wear it natural, she is passing out the message that she embraces all that makes her African. Including her hair which had once been considered undesirable for a long time, by the African female fraternity due to its texture. A texture that seemed unusual when compared to Caucasian hair.

She is making a beauty statement that by deciding to take the often unpredictable natural look route, she is not fazed by the desirability factor. She is confident enough to work with what mother nature blessed her with. And trust me, African men are totally turned on by African hair on a woman’s head that is well taken care of. So a woman is not only making a statement but embracing that which makes her an African woman. It oozes confidence to the opposite sex.

And while it has taken a very long time for African women to love their natural hair, it is refreshing to see a natural hair fad in Nairobi, a city I have resided in for sometime. It speaks volumes about the liberation of the African woman, who tried sometimes unsuccessfully to achieve that silky Caucasian hair look. Who literally tied her head with a head tie on those days when she didn’t have her braids or weave on, because she was not confident enough to venture out in all her African glory.

That woman has since seen the light and is rapidly moving in a direction that celebrates what was once considered unusual. That woman can be called a feminist who accepts herself first, before she can begin to demand for gender equality and for more opportunities for the oppressed girl child. That woman is a shining light in a dark tunnel.

 

Why Our West African Brodas Will Always Be Appealing To Kenyan Women

I must admit that this is a topic that has fascinated me for a while. These West African brodas( that’s how they pronounce brothers there for those who are wondering) who land in this beautiful country of ours and within months, have managed to successfully date this Kenyan damsel, who had proven outta many Kenyan men’s league for ages. What is it about these men that makes Kenyan women go gaga and agree to settle down with, after the entire society had already written them off as “too old” for marriage? Talk about classic stereotypes.

Please note that after interacting with Kenyan women who are married to or in relationships with West African men and careful observation, I came up with the below list of reasons;

1.West African Men Are Expressive

A Nigerian man in Nigerian inspired attire. Photo Courtesy of Google Images

A Nigerian man in Nigerian inspired attire. Photo Courtesy of Google Images

West African men are quite expressive. From the way they talk to how they dress. One time I was at the Hub in Karen with some of my relatives and this obviously, West African guy that for some reason looked like someone I had seen before on TV or a magazine, was in all white. From the African inspired shirt, to the trousers, to the sandals. In his company, was this tall, svelte, fashionably dressed lady in jeans and heels whom I had no way of telling if she was Kenyan or equally West African.

Now Kenyan men are going to bash me for this, but you rarely get to see a Kenyan man in all white and sandals and still make the sandals look fashionable in addition to looking damn good! Our Kenyan idea of a man being extremely smart is the official suit. Blame “this official suit looking good” mentality on the British colonial influence, but it has taken a long while for us to see Kenyan men play around with color and other styles that are still dapper. Trust these West Africans to dress in all these bursts of color and still look manly enough, for Kenyan women to literally feel like throwing themselves at their feet.

A West African man will not feel less manly, for expressing himself to a woman about how much she means the world to him. Every woman, not only Kenyan, would want to hear it from a man she’s with that he loves her to the moon and back. We have our own cultures back here in Kenya, that frown upon men expressing their emotions and perhaps prevent our men, from going all expressive about their feelings. I don’t know about the West African culture, Ghana and Nigeria and the likes and what they think about an expressive man, but their men are not about to shy off soon from adorning their women with expressive declarations of what they feel about them.

2. They are providers

I’m not trying to imply that the Kenyan men are not providers. As a matter of fact, just so you know, I have never dated a West African man. I have only interacted with a couple. However, the West African man came to Kenya and took provision to a whole other level. Of course there are those West African men who have landed in Kenya while making money in unscrupulous ways, to be able to throw it carelessly on “trivial” things like spoiling Kenyan women silly.

Kenyan women on the other hand have a reputation of being materialistic. We all get lumped in the same category of golddiggers even though some of us, might have no interest whatsoever in the materialistic things a man has to offer. Kenyan women equally have an East African reputation of being aggressive if the number of single women, successfully raising their children on their own while catering for the childrens’ every need, is anything to go by. Plus there’s a new crop of men who simply refuse to provide for whatever reason.

So it’s not like women generally latch onto men for money purposes. However, the feeling that a man can actually provide for your every need and feel no strain nor complain while doing it, is quite refreshing for a woman. And this is where our West African brodas got the script right. They will provide and provide to their maximum abilities. And especially if he is an upright, law abiding citizen, a woman can’t really complain, can she?

3. Their culture is fascinating

African Print Fabric. Pinterest

African Print Fabric. Pinterest

There’s a fascination with West African culture in Kenya. I mean, we consume enough afrobeat music from West Africa already! Do they listen to our Kenyan music themselves? I have no way of telling. It’s a different culture altogether from their accents, food, names, how they dress, how they act. Even the West African man’s physical build is slightly different from the Kenyan man’s. Different is sometimes fascinating to a woman. It’s a mystery that a Kenyan woman would like to unravel. So coupled with the other two reasons, I believe we are still going to witness many Kenyan-West African unions in future.

Thoughts? I can take the stones thrown at me 😛

The “Naked Is The New Sexy” Trend

Disclaimer: This post contains some images with varying levels of nudity.

There seems to be a new trend in Celebville of prancing around resembling our African forefathers, who knew nothing about wearing clothes for decency. Our African forefathers can be forgiven for that, because they made use of readily available materials in their locality and possessed the wisdom to cover up areas considered private.

So been wondering how this “Naked is the new sexy” trend came about.

Quite recently, Chrissie Teigen, model and wife to musician John Legend received quite the backlash for wearing a barely there outfit to the AMAs, that ended up showing us a little more than we bargained for. I watched the Fashion Police go at her on her wardrobe choice and couldn’t help getting amused that, they considered her choice poor, yet more and more celebs are flashing  their nudity at every given opportunity and still get considered classy.

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 20:  Model Chrissy Teigen arrives at the 2016 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 20, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images for Fashion Media)

The Photo that showed Chrissie accidentally flashing an area that should have been kept covered up. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images for Fashion Media)

A quick check on the Internet and it is clear Chrissie has a penchant for risque outfits, that cause her regular wardrobe malfunctions. But she seems to take it in her stride seeing that she has a modelling background and a hubby, who does not seem to give a hoot over what the critics think of his wife’s wardrobe choices. Who am I to judge?

We’ve seen more skin flashing from other female celebrities to dwell on this particular one.

One of the Risque outfits Rihanna has won to an event in the past. Image Courtesy of Google.

One of the Risque outfits Rihanna has won to an event in the past. Image Courtesy of Google.

 

Yet another risque outfit that J-Lo has won to a past event. Image courtesy of Google.

Yet another risque outfit that J-Lo has won to a past event. Image courtesy of Google.

 

Nicki Minaj in a barely there outfit to a past event. Image Courtesy of Google.

Nicki Minaj in a see through outfit. Image Courtesy of Google.

See what I’m talking about?

I’ve said it here in the past that there’s this pressure for female celebrities to look and appear sexy. Perhaps oversexualized? I’m a huge fan of Ariana Grande and regularly download her music, but I can’t help being concerned that the young lady has for a while, been trying so hard to be sexy. Too sexy for her age.

I would have loved to see her gradually transition from a late teen, to an early twenties young woman to a late twenties woman. Sadly, I have seen her dress too grown up, writhe on the floor, pout her lips and push out her bust and bum for the cameras, at a point in time when she looks really young to be doing so.

Ariana Grande on stage. Photo Courtesy of Google.

Ariana Grande on stage. Photo Courtesy of Google.

And trust me, African female celebrities from the African continent are joining the “naked is the new sexy” bandwagon, as evidenced by South African musician Pam Andrews, who wore this risque outfit to an awards show sometime in 2014.

Pam Andrews. Courtesy of Google Images

Pam Andrews. Courtesy of Google Images

Celebs in the past have been known to be too quick to hush their critics with rather strong words concerning their careers in showbiz, whenever they were faced with severe backlash over how they dressed or portrayed themselves. It’s all about entertainment. Entertainment is harmless, they tend to make it seem.

Well, I consider myself no moral judge. However, the sexuality of a woman tends to be overused in the entertainment scene. We don’t get to see many naked male celebrities in video shoots but we do get to see hordes of women in barely there bikinis and varying degrees of nudity.

The culture of “sex sells” is deeply rooted in our psyc that anything that does not seem to promote sex and nudity is considered rather bland and boring. Show us some more skin, and we definitely gonna look and pay attention!

It’s no longer about the celebration of a woman’s body but rather how sexual she can appear in her skin. How many times sex flashes in our minds when we see these exposed parts of a woman that ought to be covered up but have instead been put on display. I have no idea what the entertainers themselves feel about this topic but it is rather unsettling to me.

It may surprise many to learn that the conservative Indian culture actually celebrates the woman’s body in a saree. You don’t get to see a woman’s “hooha” to quote Chrissie Teigen, her nipples or her booty. But you still get to see the feminine silhoutte that is still attractive in a saree.

Internet Sources

Internet Sources

 

Internet Sources

Internet Sources

 

Internet Sources

Internet Sources

So I’m kind of wondering if there are other ways we can celebrate a woman’s body, without having to see her naked or being privy to the fact that she has no underwear underneath. Is it even possible for our female celebrities who have over time grown accustomed to this nudity buzz, to tone down a little bit on just how sexual they portray themselves?

Is there really a future for little girls who have grown up witnessing their celeb moms shaking it on stage, in see through clothes that revealed their breasts and bums? Would I still reach out for that music CD next time I’m out shopping, of a female celebrity I love, in music videos that were akin to a nude party?

What do you guys think?

 

The Woman In Office

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this post are the author’s.

I have never been so much into Politics in the past and recent past. Indeed, I have hardly blogged about politics in my whole period as a blogger. However, I can’t help but be a Clinton supporter in the American race for presidency. I really admire this woman’s strength and resilience and the events that have unfolded during this American campaign period, have only made me really want her to clinch the presidency. Not that I know much about American politics save for watching the CNN News and chancing on Hillary Clinton’s autobiography in the campus library one rainy evening, which I chose to devour as I found the book highly interesting. But that little knowledge I have acquired about this woman, has led me to firmly believe that women can indeed be world leaders.

There has always been a tendency in the past to associate women in the public eye with beauty, fashion and style. All we get to hear about is what she was wearing and who dressed her and how she looked in the process, downplaying some of the significant roles that a woman in the public eye is supposed to perform. And while it is of equal importance that a woman should take care of her appearance and especially, if she occupies a certain position that requires her to look the part, I tend to think that always being concerned with how she looks doesn’t really matter sometimes, but only does a good job of furthering the stereotype that women ought to be admired in the physical sense and not the intellectual sense.

Image sourced from www.motherjones.com

Image sourced from http://www.motherjones.com

In my country, when wife to the late Joshua Orwa Ojode who passed away in a helicopter crash in 2012, mentioned in a recent anniversary of her husband’s death, that she would wish to represent the Ndhiwa Constituency just as her deceased husband once did, it was interesting to note that what many people noticed was how her hair looked in one of the photos. The said photo did the rounds on social media with Kenyan men and women alike bashing her for what they termed as her hair appearing “wild”. With some going as far as to suggest that she needed a salon visit before declaring her political ambitions. I mean, did anyone consider that it could have been windy on that particular day?!

And while I find Clinton to be well put together in her pantsuits ( we call them trouser suits in my country), subtle jewelery and well coiffured hair, I’m glad that the focus is not always on what she is wearing and which designer she is representing, but on what her values are as an American individual and how she plans to move the American society forward should she become president.

Mrs. Mary Ojode, wife to the late Orwa Ojode in mourning of her husband's death. Photo courtesy of www.capitalfm.co.ke

Mrs. Mary Ojode, wife to the late Orwa Ojode in mourning of her husband’s death. Photo courtesy of http://www.capitalfm.co.ke

The photo that got tongues wagging concerning the apperance of her hair. Courtesy of www.nation.co.ke

The photo that got tongues wagging concerning the apperance of her hair. Courtesy of http://www.nation.co.ke

It should equally be noted that women in office should not necessarily be divorcees and therefore deserving of the stereotype that some careers for the female gender cannot accommodate a husband in a woman’s life. Indeed Clinton has had her fair share of marital woes and especially in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. I have come across some articles that criticize her on how she chose to handle some of the scandals with other women involving her husband while he was in office. I do not consider her unwise per se, for choosing to stick to her husband as she would go on to state in her 2003 memoir that No one understands me better and no one can make me laugh the way Bill does. Even after all these years, he is still the most interesting, energizing and fully alive person I have ever met.

Her choice to save her marriage remains a personal choice. I bet she does value the family unit and the American people equally do irregardless of the divorce rates in the country. If they didn’t, then none of the Obama family pictures would have constantly been put on display like they have been. And beautiful pictures indeed which serve to show that strong willed, opinionated, educated, career oriented women like Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton can still balance being a mother, wife and office duties.

In African societies, women have constantly been under represented in political issues concerning the country. We tend to sensationalize the fact that women are highly emotional and of a lesser intellectual capability to fully understand what running the country entails. The chauvinistic nature of most African societies firmly imprints in the minds of men that women should not hold positions of leadership. That women should always cower behind the leadership of men. It is refreshing to see that in recent times, more African women are taking up positions of leadership and more African men are beginning to realize that behind that veneer of sexuality and beauty lies a sharp mind.

A woman’s presence should not only be gauged by her marital status and how she looks physically. I recently came across an article in one of the local papers, where women vying for women representative position in the coming 2017 elections, in one of the parts of our country, were being termed as “beautiful”. It was more like who is fairer than the other. I felt as if the emphasis should have been more on their political ambitions and less on their physical appearances. However, this only served to show how much society in recent times, has objectified the woman so much to the point where it did not matter what age she was, what she represented and what she believed in.

Unlike her counterpart in the American presidency race, who has often exhibited high emotions and an ignorance on how some policies, other societies and races function, I feel like Clinton has handled herself with grace and intellect. It would indeed be refreshing to see a superpower being led by a woman and equally, a motivation for African women that high positions in the country are possible for them to hold.

 

 

The Iconic Safari Boot: Did Your Dad Own A Pair?

uniformdistributorsltd.com

Mine did! And I’m not at all ashamed to proclaim that he owned several pairs back then, when safari boots were the in thing for ordinary Kenyans. Just kept replacing them as they aged. But the nature of his job required him to have long lasting shoes. Boy, was he a frequenter of farms! The safari boot served him well. It’s a hardy pair of shoe.

One time, we left our shoes outside on the doorstep as was our usual routine and my father’s safari boots just disappeared! It was so funny because none of us heard a thing and it was around lunch hour. We highly suspected our neighbors though and our suspicion was proven right when a couple of days later, the neighbor’s son emerged in a pair of freshly, dyed, black safari boots.

But you see, the thing with suspicion is that you can’t really confront the person you suspect lest you end up making a fool of yourself. Trust me, this realization was a hard pill for us to swallow. Interestingly, it didn’t seem to bother my father much. He just got another pair as was his habit.

Nowadays, Kenyan men donning safari boots are considered shady. I mean with all the different types of modern shoes in the market for men, why in the world would an urban Kenyan man decide to get a pair of safari boots?!

Of course if you are a male foreign or domestic tourist or modelling safari wear or a tour guide, you can be excused for donning a pair. It works especially well for the tour guides who pair the boots with khaki trousers or shorts. Not so, for the clueless ones who decide to do official trousers with safari boots.

Love to hate them, safari boots remain a Kenyan identity with the Swahili word “safari” loosely translated to mean “journey” in English. So of course if you are a foreign tourist keen on visiting our game parks, be sure to dash into a Bata shop to get yourself a nice pair of safari boots before you embark on your game drive.

I like how http://www.world.bata.com/bata-best-sellers-safari-the-boots-that-say-you-know-Africa describe the shoe;

Made of the finest cowhide, this shoe is a favorite because it evokes the savannas of Kenya. The boot’s rough finish not only feels genuine but also fits “just right”.

Constructed to withstand rugged terrains while providing walking comfort, the safari boot is also easy to clean regardless of the road travelled.

Appreciated for its superior quality, the safari boot is still hand stitched at the Bata factory in Limuru, Kenya and this attention to detail gives the shoe an attractive authentic look that many brands have attempted to imitate.

So there you have it! Did daddy have one of these?

 

Are African Men Entirely Clueless On Romance?

I recently stumbled on a comment on some Kardashian related post. Someone had posed this question in what seemed like anger, disgust even; “why are all the Kardashian women dating Black men?!” I must admit that I have in the recent past equally got puzzled by the choice of men to date or get married to in the Kardashian family. Whenever I pore over Kardashian related news and  comments, I always seem to get the idea that Americans are pretty tired of having this family constantly shoved into their faces by the media. Well, Americans, you are not alone.

You see even here in Africa, Kenya to be precise, we are starting to get a little too tired of all the Kardashian themed shows that seem to dominate the E channel. And while quite a number of women genuinely admire the Kardashians’ fashion sense, yet a sizeable number gets really irked by the domination of this family on the media. So fret not brothers and sisters, we are in the same boat of irritation, if we choose to put it like that.

Kim Kardashian and hubby Kanye. Photo courtesy of www.people.com

Kim Kardashian and hubby Kanye. Photo courtesy of http://www.people.com

As a Kenyan woman, I’m very aware of how we tend to rate our fellow Kenyan men on a lower scale while compared to the European and American men or any man who is not of African descent. It’s really interesting that nowadays, I tend to bump into interracial couples on almost a daily basis with of course the man being White and the woman, Kenyan. I mean, these White men are very romantic when compared to the normal African man who probably grew up in the village, went to school at some point barefoot and only landed in the city for campus, we may be tempted to reason.

Well, I would like to question what romance really means to some women. Is romance the ability of a man to be loaded (with cash of course) and to spoil a woman silly, upgrade her even? Or is romance the tendency of a man to treat you right, to listen to you, to support you, to comfort you while in distress and to respect you as a woman and the role you play in his life? If we choose to look at romance from these two perspectives, then I begrudgingly have to admit that most of us Kenyan women or just to be fair, African women are lost.

I have no idea whatsoever why the Kardashian women settle on their choices of Black men but seeing how high maintenance these women come across to be, I tend to reason that these Black men are up to the game. Could be to boost their ratings, who knows? It would be unwise of me to carry on with my list of probabilities seeing that I’m Kenyan born and bred.

However, there was a wide range of wealthy romantic White men for these women to take their pick from but they instead settled on these particular men. Could it be far fetched for us to actually conclude that the Black men in the Kardashian women’s lives are actually romantic? And that the poser of the aforementioned question, happened to be a Black/African woman who over time has accepted the stereotype that Black men are no good or only good for Black women, so why are these White women with them in the first place?

I have nothing against an African woman choosing to date a White man. But if at all she’s of the notion that African men are clueless on romance and therefore her choice to date the former, then I have a problem. We have to admit that as Africans, for the longest time possible we have battled esteem issues with our kind. Why do we have this idea that we are inferior when compared to other races and therefore consider the weaknesses of our African men, as something that is equally inferior to other races? Is it because we allowed our once oppressors to totally brainwash us into believing that nothing good can come out of our race? Just to make things straight, our once oppressors being the colonial masters of many years gone by.

Well, it might surprise you that domestic violence is also an occurrence in countries in the West and is perpetrated by equally, men of descents that are nothing close to being African. So that is not reason enough to dismiss our African men with the notion that they can be violent toward women. Men looking down on women happens all over the world. It simply depends on the mindset of a man and at times has nothing whatsoever, to do with culture or how the man has been socialized to view women after circumcision. Yet another reason that is not justification enough to rate our African men poorly. Levels of civilization depend on one’s open mindedness and if he is not willing to be civilized, then you have no business being with him. However, there are numerous African men who are civilized or act as urbanites and not countrymen if we are to be blunt in that sense.

Media has contributed greatly in giving African women the false illusion that White men are better in matters love and treatment than the normal African man. African women on the other hand are wrong to judge the African man based on how society has groomed him to be a man. We do not expect our African men to hold hands in public and to plant wet kisses on our lips in full view of everyone just to appreciate us, yet we secretly do. To be honest, most African societies frown on emotional men. Even in funerals which are obviously sad and painful affairs, men in many African societies are expected to remain strong and not shed a tear in public even if it happens to be their wives who have passed on. We then have our Mexican soaps where men openly shed tears while professing their love to women and we subconsciously internalize that to mean romance?!

Romance should not be gauged by one’s race. As a matter of fact, romance has absolutely nothing to do with race. And if as a woman you desire to have a romantic man in your life, then perhaps it is time that you truly appreciated yourself to the point where even an African man will see the need to romance you.

 

 

 

 

 

Of Body Art And Beauty Politics

What crosses your mind when you see a heavily tattooed woman?

genevieveng.com

genevieveng.com

Well, I kinda was confronted by that question a couple of hours back. I walked into a shop and one of the shop attendants was a woman, with lots of tattoos on her arms as well as a large flower detailed one on her lower back. You might wonder how I was able to make out that she had a tattoo on her lower back. Well, this particular woman who is every inch African, was wearing a daring cut out blouse that was literally open at the back so you could get an ample peek of her bra as well as the tattoo.

I emphasize on the word African because the tattoo craze has only caught up in Kenya a couple of years ago. Back in 2003, you could walk up and down a street all day long and not spot a single soul with a tattooed arm or neck or whatever. For those who are African and have been born and brought up in Africa like me, they probably know how much religious Africans are. We tend to attach every little detail of life to what religion states and since the Bible forbids one from putting permanent markings on their skin, tattoos are still being frowned upon by many of the older and younger generation alike.

Most people of the above reasoning tend to associate the putting of tattoos on one’s body with being devilish. However, for quite a large number of people from this generation, tattoos just like ear piercings are a form of body art. A way to express oneself. Well, if being tattooed wasn’t entirely a painful process, perhaps I would be having one teeny tiny one myself. I’m not so big on several tattoos on one’s body but I must admit that I have previously (and in the recent past) yearned to have one small one. If I was the very daring type, perhaps 3 small ones in different locations. However, it’s not something that I’ve finally concluded to do. Fleeting thoughts if I choose to look at it from that angle.

Some religious denominations equally discourage body piercings in addition to tattoos. There are members of certain denominations who would not dare wear earrings or any jewellery. All these things are usually attributed to some demonic origin thus the shunning. Well, Christians tend to be divided in the aforementioned reasoning. I personally have had my piercings from a very young age and I now consider them a part of me. The first pair of ear piercings I got at 6 years of age and the second pair at 10. I sleep in my studs, shower in them and only part with them when I want to change earrings into something more fancier.

I tend to believe that the Israelites too donned a lot of jewellery. When Moses in the Bible went up to the mountain and these people who seemed to possess such little faith, decided to remove all of their jewellery and make a golden calf to worship, that must have been a ton of jewellery. As a kid, we once visited the Gede ruins in the Coastal region of my country on a school trip and one of the photos I saw and remember, in the mini museum at the historical site, has this Arabic woman wearing so much jewellery including a quite heavy looking nose ring. I had never known people adorned their noses with other things other than studs before and therefore, remained quite puzzled for a while, long after the school trip was over.

Africans too have been known to fancy tribal markings. This is more like the tattoo version of Africa. Surprisingly, the idea behind some of these tribal markings was to enhance the beauty of a woman. I have witnessed Sudanese citizens currently residing in Kenya with wavy tribal markings on their foreheads that are permanent, men and women alike. I once mentioned that to a friend and with a puzzled look on his face, he stated that he had never noticed these kinds of markings on our Kenyan-Sudanese counterparts. I reminded him to pay close attention next time and he will surely spot this.

It might come as a surprise to many Kenyans of the latter day generation that some communities too in our country had tribal marks. However, you can hardly spot any Kenyan nowadays with tribal markings since these are practices that have been completely phased out over time. Save for the Maasais, Turkanas and Samburus who still elongate their earlobes, it is quite rare to encounter a Kenyan with tribal markings across the face or body. So we can confidently state that human beings have always possessed this fixation with body art for eons. That doesn’t mean that those actively pursuing the culturally motivated ones are primitive or in need of serious enlightenment.

On the tattooed woman I met today, well, I personally still get a little surprised seeing all those tattoos on someone. I’m not one to impose what I believe on another. I’m also very aware that there are a lot of stereotypes attached to people who decide to get tattoos. We may be tempted to brand them as misfits, ungodly or rebels. Perhaps people who have no intention whatsoever of ever being employed in a sober organization. Being a third world, Africans tend to place a lot of emphasis on education for a better life. We are guilty of overlooking the Arts or someone’s creativity in making a living. That’s what the missionaries drummed into our heads. Education is the ticket to success.

Well, it might come as a surprise to many that there are people out there who have no intention whatsoever of ever getting white collar jobs. Who do not care whether a tattoo is on their face, wrists or wherever. That is simply their choice. We also vary greatly in our choices of body art and while I will always prefer ear piercings over large tattoos someone of another thought may view tattoos as the way to go. Such is the diversity of different personalities.

So what crosses your mind when you see tattoos on anyone?

 

 

 

I’m Not My Make Up

I’m not so big on make up. I was obsessed with eye pencil at 19. Couldn’t leave the house without. Mind you, my eye pencil functioned as both an eye liner and lip liner plus doing the eyebrows. Yeah I know, call me backward. I have never been one to spend my time in the make up section of a cosmetic shop, debating on whether the blue eyeshadow works well with me or the copper eye shadow. I tried full make up at 21 and it just wasn’t my thing.

Quite recently, I was at a salon having my hair done and this hairdresser goes something like, “We’ll shape your eyebrows as a complimentary service.” I immediately declined and I could see the look of utter surprise on her face. Then I went on to clarify that I don’t do make up so shaping my eyebrows would be a waste of time really. I suggested they do my pedicure instead as a complimentary service. Hahaha turns out that was not part of the package for free services!

When I go out clubbing, I do some make up. If there is a wedding function, I also do some make up. Mostly just the lips. I have sensitive skin which constantly throws surprises at me. So foundation is totally out of the picture unless it is something which works with my skin type. I haven’t been that aggressive in identifying one yet. I have had male acquaintances including a workmate in the past suggest that my forehead was breaking out because it was that time of the month.

Please guys, stop going all cluelessly gynecological on women you hardly know that well! I mean it! It sucks. Who gave you the idea that faces only break out because of our monthly periods?! Come on!

I was once reading something where this foreign guy firmly stated that Nairobi women should go easy on the make up. His argument; we were still pretty without. I totally agree with him and echo his advice to Kenyan women. I don’t own a car meaning I’m a frequenter of Nairobi streets where I see all kinds of garish looking make up on women. Some make up is usually so nicely done that I wish I had time to get a tip or two from the ladies wearing such. Others, oh well.

I’ve seen eye pencil drawn like crowns on a woman’s face. I’ve seen really bold shouting colors of lipstick on women I thought their skin tone needed a much less bolder lip do. But hell, I’m not a make up artiste so I shouldn’t really be voicing my opinions on the color of lipstick women of certain shades should wear. Sometimes though, I can’t really help it getting these kinds of disapproval thoughts in my head. Nairobi can get really hot at times. My hometown of Nakuru is even worse. Badly done, cheap foundation stands out in the heat!

I have a problem with mainly the Western media making it seem like a woman without make up is ugly. I have pored over comparisons of female celebrities with or without make up. Some of them are pretty much average looking women without make up. We get so used to seeing them with professionally done make up to the point where their normal selves come out as rather plain and a rude shock to us. Bloggers and columnists maximize on this.

 musician-ashanti-without-make-up-www-pinterest-com

musician-ashanti-without-make-up-www-pinterest-com

 

I have seen celebrities being branded ugly just because they stepped out one day without make up and the Paps snapped a picture. I saw a commenter state that one female celebrity who always looks gorgeous in make up resembled a homeless person without. My point; How is a homeless person supposed to look and what is a female without make up supposed to have in common with that?!

I firmly believe that a woman’s looks should not be judged by the make up she wears. There’s just much more to womanhood than make up. Woe unto the man who overlooks a plain looking woman for a woman caked in heavy make up. There are indeed such men, don’t go all war like on me for stating that! Men obsessed with vanity. The real beauty of a woman lies under the many layers of make up.

It is time we taught our women to embrace their flaws rather than to conceal them. There’s this illusion  the media creates that all female celebrities are flawless. There was an unedited picture of Beyonce doing the rounds on the Internet where you can actually see that her face had an acne breakout. Many people seemed to react with outrage that for years, we have been duped into believing that Beyonce was the epitome of female flawlessness. Boy, did she get bashed for it!

Beyonce just like any other female is indeed human. We have put her on a pedestal of perfection to the point where, we actually do not view her as a normal human being with a body that might not be all that perfectly hourglass and a face that may at times work against her. We have forgotten that with technology, anything on a music video or photo can be fixed. I saw no need for the reaction the unedited version of the picture got.

Nobody is perfect. And while I have nothing against make up, don’t misinterpret me, I simply think that this obsession we have with make up to perfect us and give us a confidence boost of sorts needs to go. When it gets to a point where a woman is totally insecure without make up on, then we need to go back to the drawing board to find out what exactly went wrong with this make up business.

I’m all for women embracing their natural beauty first before anything else. Trust me, there are days I pass by my reflection in the mirror after walking under the sun for hours and my face reminds me of a pubescent. Women have battled image insecurities for ages. It’s pretty normal really with all that outside pressure on what constitutes real femininity. We yearn to look perfectly feminine. However, using make up to hide our insecurities isn’t going to be the answer to our image issues. What needs some real work is actually our esteem.

Before I sign off, wishing y’all ladies a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Make those resolutions and rock those natural manes and seemingly plain looking faces you’ve got in 2016!!! You are woman enough! See you guys next year 🙂 😉

 

The African Woman’s Natural Hair Diaries

Let’s talk about the African woman’s natural hair.

Forget about the amazing, edited photos we see online of African women with sleek, black “natural” hair braided into cornrows or held up in fancy hairstyles, that make you somehow insecure with your own mane. As a matter of fact, I tried my level best just to find authentic, natural hair images from the Internet for this post.

Let’s talk about our own African, natural hair as we know it. Kinky, often times unmanageable, which hardly grows to our desired lengths or if it does, then thanks to our blessed genes. Let’s face the real truth of our African hair from a feminist perspective.

African natural hair comes with its bagful of challenges.

In my country Kenya, for example, some of the communities famed to have nearly all of their women with naturally long, soft, manageable hair happen to notably be the Maasai, Samburu, Somali and communities from Northern Kenya such as the Borana, Gabra and the likes. Other women from other communities who may possess such kind of hair, considered beautiful by many, may attribute it to familial genes.

As a clarification of my statements above, there are African women with naturally, long, soft hair doesn’t matter from which community they come from, (though there are those from communities that have a distinct hair texture) and African women as well, with kinky, shorter hair.

A shy but beautiful Samburu woman. Photo courtesy of http://www.beontheroad.com

For most of my life, I have struggled with hair. It is the kinky type. The one that a blow dryer cannot even manage. It has it’s good days and oh, so many bad days, that I would be forced to tie a turban to avoid the embarrassment of a bad hair day. I have been tempted to perm it before. I have actually gone ahead and had my hair chemically processed, just to avoid the hassle of natural hair which shrinks when it comes into contact with water.

Please do not be fooled by the picture below. This is my natural hair at its finest. There are days when I swore I would shave it all off and I know many African women secretly struggle with hair issues. We just don’t say it aloud because we believe that we are past that stage of constantly fretting about hair. But then it is a known fact that hair makes a woman. How a woman wears her hair determines her whole look. We look different every time we come from a salon which is proof of this.

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Good Hair Day Image Of My Own Natural Hair

 

There is a contributing factor to this struggle with our hair though. Society long came up with a gauge of what is considered beautiful and what is considered not beautiful. Africans have sadly endured periods of oppression in the past, where their oppressors appeared to have “better” hair, “better” looks and “better” opportunities than them. We were socialized to find something wrong with ourselves from our way of life, to our looks. We developed a desire to emulate what was considered ideal. If we didn’t achieve it, we felt at a loss on what to do and our insecurities set in.

I’m not employing a victim mentality by stating the above, far from it! However, most of the insecurities that African women have with their hair, is mainly due to the fact that it does not grow to amazing lengths, it is not soft and flowy like that of their Caucasian counterparts. The end result is African women trying to achieve the long, flowy hair look by donning weaves and chemically processing our hair.

And while I have no issue whatsoever with weaves and permed hair ( remember, I have equally tried both in the recent past), my perspective on this is that as African women, we have not taken our time to really understand the intricacies of our hair. We only find the need to take really good care of our hair once it is chemically processed, because there are consequences for ignoring a permed head. When it is in it’s natural state, we assume that a full blow dry will do.

Convincing an African woman to treat natural hair with wholesome hair treatments would be like convincing a tired mule to transport heavy luggage. The only hair treatment we deem appropriate for natural hair, is washing it with a shampoo we assume will take care of everything and using hair oil during our blow dry sessions. We at times tend to neglect our hair lines, which break with every braiding and twisting session at the salon, only noticing there is a huge problem once the damage is already done. The blow dryers with their heat do no justice to our scalp.

Braided African hair. Image courtesy of nappilyjenny.blogspot.com

However, all hope is not totally lost as in recent times, an ever increasing number of African women are opting to take really good care of their natural manes. Some are ditching the weaves for their well kept kinky dos and the results are truly amazing. An African woman with a full head of black, natural, kinky hair is a sight to behold. We all have admired the afros of the 70s era that our parents rocked. The same hasn’t changed in this era. An African afro is our identity and will still be our identity for decades to come.

African women need only five remedies to fully appreciate their natural hair:

  • Take time to study your natural hair.
  • Understand your natural hair and what works for it.
  • Embrace your natural hair, short or long, kinky or soft with no comparisons to another’s.
  • Fiercely love it.
  • Take good care of it.

Ethiopian hair. Image Courtesy of http://www.pinterest.com

Remember, how a woman chooses to wear her hair reflects a lot about her personality. All these unattainable targets we set for our hair are not necessary. The versatility of natural African hair is that it can be braided into so many different styles and as much as we love our weaves, the hair underneath is what will always matter. So make a mental note to always and I mean ALWAYS, take good care of it.

Our kinky, curly and knotty heads are our identities. Columnist, Carol Odero, on today’s Sunday Nation, clearly attests to this with her article on hair. We got to rock these manes we’ve got!