Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Something Happened On The Day He Died, Spirit Rose a Metre and Stepped Aside, Somebody Else Took His Place and Bravely Cried- I'm a Blackstar (My 5 Etsy Shop Picks)

Over the last few years i've really developed a soft spot for Etsy! If you're not yet familiar with it, Etsy hosts millions of independent online boutiques selling handmade and vintage items. The site is most popular for the fantastic handmade jewellery and high quality, genuine vintage clothing on offer.

Here are my five favourite Etsy shops at the moments...

  • Dronning Vintage Based in California (USA) this is one of the prettiest and most successful dress shops on Etsy! If you love genuine vintage clothing and have a thing for the 1940s - 1960s in particular like I do, this is the shop for you!


  • MarcusKwame is a New York (USA) based artist with a fantastic array of prints for sale through his Etsy store. Touching work with a focus on the African American experience.

  • Dig For Victory A Brighton (England) based dress shop with a twist... Stunning one of a kind vintage style dresses (mainly 1950s) made using vintage and end of roll fabrics.

  • Peace Images Stunning handmade jewellery from Georgia (USA). Bold designs, beautifully made with a focus on Africa.

  • StormySeasUK shop owner Liz is a Brighton (UK) based illustrator known for her unique and quirky drawing style.

So those are my Etsy shop picks for today... I had to stop at 5 cos I really could go on and on- could make a pretty extensive list of fabulous Etsy artists/illustrators alone!! Etsy is so huge with so many great sellers i'll probably come back to share some more with you at a later date. 

Also drop by my Etsy Bank Holiday Flash Sale for 20% all full priced items until tomorrow (Tuesday 1st June) at 8pm gmt. Worldwide shipping at pretty cheap rates xx

(Title = lyrics to 'Blackstar' by David Bowie)

Sunday, 15 May 2016

I Looked Into Myself Like A Case With You, You Don't Weigh Me Down Like You Think You Do... (Are IG Baddies the unsung beauty trendsetters of this generation?)

 This morning I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and stumbled upon this article from UK Vogue titled 'How Fake Lashes Got Cool', accompanied by a picture of a young woman called Sarah Snyder who i'd never heard of until I made the mistake of clicking through and reading the article. Apparently she is Jayden Smith's girlfriend. If you do not wish to read it, the bones of the short article (which admittedly is just a thinly veiled advertisement for a few brands of false lashes Vogue is pushing) are that this fresh faced, skinny white blonde girl wears fake eyelashes all the time and this is apparently cool, new and trendsetting of her because she usually wears otherwise simple makeup, unlike the 'perma-tan girls in body con dresses' with whom false lashes are apparently traditionally associated with. So non-orange white girls take note- the false lash stigma is now gone- go and buy some!

Sarah Snyder and her 'trendsetting' fale lashes

I don't know what it is that got to me about this piece in particular. After all, misattributing the popularity of beauty and fashion trends to white girls is absolutely nothing new and happens in these types of publications all the time- Kylie Jenner being the most obvious recent example, having single handedly started wigs and invented lips. But even for sloppy western fashion media this is a hot ass mess. There are sooooooo many Black girls who wear false lashes as part of their everyday look now that you can visit any high school with Black students in attendance and see half the girls rocking falsies. The lash revolution was massive and it happened years ago with the introduction of semi permanent lashes and the growing popularity of eyelash enhancement that meant a better offering of affordable falsies becoming available on the high street. The pioneering make-up whizz's popularising them in everyday looks for ordinary women aren't invisible online either- they're pretty much running Instagram, Youtube, Tumblr, Twitter and any other social media platform you can think of, attracting droves of followers in the process and they are regularly Beat. To. Absolute. Perfection. I'm talking about: beat hair, beat nails, beat clothes, beat makeup- beat lashes and beat selfies...

Instagram @sonjdradeluxe

Instagram @heathersanders 

Instagram @itsreesiie 

Instagram +ItsMyRayeRaye 

Instagram +msroshposh 

Instagram @jomichelleartistry

  I think what really riled me about the story was that it described Sarah Snyder as 'one Instagram IT-girl that is giving falsies a fresh approach'. Oh please! False lashes aren't in need of a fresh approach. Beat Black girls on IG are already serving fresh lash look after fresh lash look, from the dramatic to the subtle. The Beat Black girl look is just not palatable enough for Vogue for them to advertise false lashes off the back of it. The Beat Black girl look is assumed to be off-putting to Vogue's readers. The Beat Black Girl is not 'cool'. I checked the Cambridge Online Dictionary for the definition of 'cool'. The 3rd entry was 'fashionably attractive or impressive' and the synonyms included: 'trendy', 'funky', 'happening' and 'in'. Spearheaded by Black women, Instagram Baddies are arguably some of the most influential and copied girls on the scene. They wield huge consumer power through their large audiences and many even have their own lines of make-up and eyelashes. I try to limit the time I spend looking at their accounts because my self-esteem is low enough already welp!, but who is more 'fashionably attractive' and 'happening' (lol, that phrase reminds me of my mum), more 'trendy' than the beat Black IG baddie who has grown herself a loyal following of 100,000+ people? This is a movement that has happened outside the rigid rules of what is in Vogue (ha). Carving out a niche for themselves that caters to audiences who fall outside the parameters of skinny whiteness. Vogue went so far as to write their own set of style rules for how false lashes should be worn- 'Keep it simple and leave the contour kit for another day'... OK then, thanks... Not so subtle shade duly noted!

For Vogue and other white publications, the image of a Cool Black Girl is a narrow and controlled one that comes in the form of women and girls like: Willow Smith, Amandla Stenberg, Solange Knowles and Zoe Kravitz. Obvious colourism aside (something that I know is also problematic within IG baddie culture as well... But that is another issue for another time), fashion and beauty wise these people all fit into the Vogue paradigm of coolness. Don't get me wrong, I like all those women, but through no fault of their own they make for easy reference points when it comes to featuring a token ethnic. Vogue would probably rather close down tomorrow than do a piece like this using Blac Chyna as their credited source of trendsetting beauty inspiration. Yet Black women such as Blac Chyna, Amber Rose and many others continue to lead the way in what's popular in beauty and hair, never managing to escape the labels of 'ratchet' and 'ghetto' that plague Black women while the white girls they inspire go on to be branded cool and trendsetting by Vogue, Elle and countless other fashion and lifestyle publications.

Now unlike with braids and certain styles of dress, I have no qualms with white people wearing false lashes. Why would I? False lashes are for everyone who wants to wear them and they are certainly worn cross culturally to stunning effect. I'm just saying that in an age where people power is exposing beauties and make-up talents who are setting the beauty agenda of so many women, it's time to start giving credit where credit is due... Sarah Snyder is behind the trend, not the leader of it... But I suppose this is a bit of a water is wet post. Point is... The jig is up Vogue. The 'eye-lash renaissance' already happened, you just weren't a part of it! xx

(P.S. Title = lyrics to 'Choose Me' from James Blake's incredible new album The Colour In Anything)

**I don't own any of the images used in this post. They are featured for the purpose of observation only. If you own any of the photos and would like to have them removed, please e-mail me and I will do so**

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Dance To The Big Big Beat, Dance To The Big Big Beat (Why I'm Not Giving Up On Azealia Banks)

Please note- due to the overwhelming response to this post I am unable to post any more of the comments left before today (15/05/16)- even after the comments I have already deleted there are over 50 comments still awaiting moderation and although I know that many of them are thoughtful comments and critiques, I am unwilling to filter out all the racism that has been sent to get to them. Sorry if you wrote a decent comment! 

**There is some racial language used in this piece that some readers may find upsetting.**

I don't usually write pieces like this here, I guess this blog is fairly light-hearted in that sense, possibly to a fault. But the events of the last two days have had me thinking far too much to not write this piece. You'll have to excuse my writing style, I know it's not the easiest to read.

As i'm sure most of you are aware, Azealia Banks went on another one of her Twitter tirades last night. This time against ex- One Direction heartthrob turned solo artist Zayn Malik. The beef started with Azealia pointing out the apparent similarities between his new music video and one of her own music videos. She received some nasty and racist abuse from Zayn fans, as we've come to expect from his hardcore, mostly young, 1D fandom. Then Zayn responded with his own tweets (which he later denied being directed at Azealia at all what is the truth?!?!?)and what followed was an unexpected racist tirade from Banks using many homophobic and racist slurs. I'm not gonna write what she said here, i'm assuming if you have access to this post, you also have access to Google, but it was pure bile.

Now I know that in recent years Azealia has become more well known for her Twitter rants than for her songs (which is a shame because a lot of them are absolute bangers), but why aren't we talking about this woman's mental health? I'm no expert on Azealia Banks and i'm certainly not a mental health expert either, but it seems clear that she needs help. And soon. I can only assume that the Angry Black Woman trope that has plagued Azealia's career is responsible for the lack of attention that has been given to the downward spiral she appears to be on. When Britney Spears and Amanda Bynes went through their issues, discussions about their mental health were at the core of media reporting. While it was a disgusting circus in both cases, it was accepted, as a given, that there was more at play.

 Although Azealia has been pulled up for homophobic language in the past (which at one point she apologised for, an apology it seems she has doubled back on), she has been outspoken about white supremacy and cultural appropriation and was a proud, self-proclaimed 'pro Black girl'. She was angry, yes, but rightfully angry... As many Black people are. She took Igloo Australia to task. She called out racism and colorism in hip hop, the music industry and the media in general. She didn't mince her words and her fiercely pro-Black stance did not endear her to the Western media. A Black woman like Azealia doesn't fit into a box. In a society that refuses to accept the idea of multiplicity in the Black identity, you cannot be a pro-Black, long purple weave wearing, festival rocking, outspoken, alternative, flower crown wearing, crude lyrics spitting, dark skinned Black woman. Those things cannot exist within the same person.

The point of alllll this is that, as is the case with so many Black women, the angry, evil Black bitch narrative does not allow her public persona any hint of vulnerability. Everything she says and does is taken as evidence of how animalistic and uncivilised she is. The unpredictable and uncontrollable Black woman. The bad Black woman held up in the media as an example to the world of the kind of Black woman society doesn't need and shouldn't accept. If we cannot see vulnerability than we do not need to admit that there is a possibility that someone is struggling with their mental health. Even if there is an overwhelming amount of evidence to support the claim. The notion of vulnerability is confined to whiteness, to women like Britney and Amanda. Not dark skinned Black women who have been openly critical of white society.

When I first saw what Azealia had been tweeting to Zayn Malik and later Skai Jackson and others, I had the same knee jerk reaction as most people. I condemned her and felt disappointed and betrayed. 'She's gone to far now' I thought 'the point of no return'. But then I started thinking about things more critically. I referred back to the inspiring things she used to say. I wondered how a woman who used to make so many spot on observations about race and power in the western world could have fallen into extremely racist and homophobic internet trolling. How can she could be endorsing Donald Trump for president when she used to mock him? How she can she be tweeting that she was bleaching her skin because she is tired of watching other light skinned celebrities get ahead? How could she be arguing with a 14 year old black girl and making horrible and personal comments about them?

This is a tired Black woman. A publicly vilified Black woman. A Black woman who has endured both subtle and overt racism throughout her entire career. A talented Black woman who has been overlooked and dismissed. A beautiful Black Woman. And clearly, a vulnerable Black woman.

White society grinds down the self-esteem of Black women and then hangs us out for our public crucifixion when we finally snap. I truly believe that Azealia needs help and support and as PoC we owe it to her and to ourselves to protect that outside of the hideous white narrative that is trying to destroy her (google it, look at how these articles are being written, look at the pictures of her most of them are using). When we abandon Black women like Azealia Banks we engage in the work of white supremacy. I for one am not trying to do that, even when it appears that trauma and underlying mental health issues are manifesting themselves in such a horrible way!

These words of Malcolm X were bought back into public discussion recently when Beyonce featured the on her visual album 'Lemonade', they feel all too relevant here today xx