#BuyBlack Spotlight: Iman Cosmetics

I love Iman Cosmetics!!! (

*Oprah voice*

)

I started following the beauty brand on Instagram two months ago after seeing a beautifully rich wine-colored lipstick while exploring the app. I immediately liked the picture and then left a comment under the picture asking about the name of the lipstick and where I could purchase it. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they sold the lipstick and other Iman Cosmetics products at Walgreens.

I have known about Iman Cosmetics for years. I remember when it started over a decade ago as beauty brand that made makeup for women of color. But for a long time, I thought it was a high-end makeup brand like MAC or Dior that was only sold at department stores and that cost between $30 to $50 per item. This past year I have seen Iman Cosmetics featured on various best beauty brand lists in Essence and Ebony magazines. 

After finding the lip color (which is Iman Luxury Moisturizing Lipstick in Opal) in one of my local Walgreens stores in Boston (and seeing the affordable price of $10), I decided to finally try out the brand. I went to the beauty brand's website imancosmetics.com and downloaded their suggested Iman Cosmetics Beauty app, which provided customized Iman product recommendations to match my unique Color Signature, based on facial recognition technology that analyzed my skin tone. The app helped me identify my concealer and foundation matches and also suggested lipsticks and eye shadows that would work well with my skin tone. 

For my first purchase, I bought the Iman Luxury Moisturizing Lipstick in Rebel, Iman Second-to-None 

Stick Foundation

 in Clay 4, Iman

Corrective Concealer

 in Earth, and Iman Luxury 

Luxury Lip Shimmer

 in Honey from walgreens.com (also available at amazon.com). The products arrived at my house within 5 days. I tried each product out immediately and I fell in LOVE with them. 

The concealer and stick foundation matched my skin color so well and provided such great coverage. When I wore it, my friends and my family immediately noticed the difference and complimented me on my makeup. Iman Cosmetics makeup products gave me such a beautiful, healthy glow. Within a month, I got my mom and my best friend to purchase and try out Iman Cosmetics products. I also purchased two more lipsticks, another lip shimmer, and the new Iman 

Luxury Concealing Foundation

 in Earth 3. 

As a black woman, I really appreciate the quality, price, availability, and color options of Iman Cosmetics. I am tired giving my money to beauty brands that do not care enough to create products that match my skin color. Creating one or two "dark" or "brown" foundation or concealer for women with brown pigmented skin is ridiculous, exclusionary, and outdated. Black, latina, and other non-white women come in a variations of colors and make up significant portion of the female population. We need more than one or two shades to cover our beautifully diverse skin colors (I am looking at your Maybelline. Your

FIT ME Matte & Poreless Foundation

has only one color for brown skin).   Iman Cosmetics is made for us by us (F.U.B.U). Model and creator Iman is a beauty icon with a passion for creating products that match ALL women, from the very fair-skinned to the very dark- skinned. 

I have been searching for new makeup products for women of color, after my local Target stopped carrying Covergirl Queen Collection products (which I started using in 2010). Iman Cosmetics came into my life at the right time. As an advocate for supporting black-owned businesses, I have committed to making my personal cosmetics and beauty collection at least 90% black-owned beauty products by the end of 2017.

Ladies, I highly suggest you check out Iman Cosmetics. You won't regret it!! 

Here are my three favorite Iman Cosmetics products thus far: 

Iman Luxury Moisturizing Lipstick, Opal

I Refuse to Accept Less Than What I Bring to the Table

Dating in your 30s is frustrating as fuck!?! Why, as a straight, educated, black woman in my 30s, am I expected to accept less from a man than what I bring to the table?

Storytime!

I met a guy on OkCupid. Let's call him Jean. Jean is dark, tall(er than me), attractive, 30-something black man. On the dating site, he seemed nice, thoughtful, and truly interested in getting to know me and dating (with the intention of developing a romantic relationship). Jean didn’t seem crazy and most importantly did not display any fuck boy tendencies. He was attentive and communicative without being thirsty or overbearing. So, when h

e asked for my number, I gave it to him and we began to get to know each other offsite, in the "real world". 

However, as we talked more, I noticed a few things that irked me about 

Jean

Number One! He didn’t go to college. 

I understand that a college education is not the only measure of success and drive, but I did not get a feeling that he was on a career path. An electrician is on a career path because that type of work requires training, skill building, and certification (and they get paid well for the time and effort they put into their craft). Jean seemed more on a job path. And, again I know that not everyone has the freedom, drive, or resources to forgo a paying job to pursue their dream career. I myself am not working in dream career, but I am on the path. I am building networks and developing applicable skills for my dream career. But, again I know everyone's journey is different, some people's paths are short, some people's path are long, and some people's paths are crooked.  Thus, in an effort to keep an open mind, I pushed aside my feelings about his lack of a college degree. The important thing was he was employed and was able to support himself.

Number Two! He is Catholic and it is important to him. 

Religion is a touchy subject (along with politics). Somehow, we got on the subject of him being Catholic. I informed him that I was also Catholic. Jean thought this was great because he assumed that we would have no religion or faith-based issues. I immediately disagreed.  Being born and raised Catholic does not play an important role in my life. I am more spiritual than religious. I believe in God and in living a life that is as moral and caring as possible.  I disagree with the Catholic Church on several major issues, such as abortion, homosexuality, priests being men only,  to name a few. Because I am not religious, I am weary of men who place religion high on their relationship priority list-- you know, the type of men who state that they are looking for a "Godly woman". I don't know what that means and I really don't want to know. But, in the case of Jean, he seemed to be okay with my views on religion, and he even shared a few of my views on the Catholic Church. 

Then, it happened. The deal breaker! He asked me what I was looking for in a man. 

I told him. I am looking for a man who is educated, career driven, and open-minded, loves traveling, eating good food, drinking strong drinks, and trying new things. Most importantly, I am looking for a man who is interested in building a relationship based on friendship, love, laughs, communication, and respect. 

His response: Do you think that you are expecting too much??? 

What in the entire FUCK!!! I told him: No, I know what I need to be happy in a relationship. I am not expecting less from a man than what I bring to the table. 

After I said this, Jean continued to press me about my relationship needs. He said that he is looking for a woman who is nice, respectful, family-oriented, and educated. Jean told me that I am expecting too much that may put stress on a relationship. I was flabbergasted and a bit annoyed. 

My list is not long. This is not a

"What Chilli Wants"

list. (Remember that show where Rozanda "Chilli" Thomas from TLC fame was looking for a husband but he had to fulfill a long checklist of requirements, including not smoking, not drinking, not eating pork, not having more than two baby mamas, and being fine with a six pack and a big penis.) 

I am not looking for a man that fits 50 things on a must-have list. I am looking for love and happiness in a relationship, not contentment. I would rather be single than be in a relationship in which I am expected to lower my standards and push aside my wants, my desires, and my needs all in the name of having a man. 

I do not need a man. I want a life partner who is also my best friend, lover, protector, co-parent, cheerleader, and ride-or-die. I am willing to comprise on my preferences on height, race, age, body type, income, musical taste, and family background. 

But, I am not willing to accept less than what I need, want, and deserve.

With all that said, I end with this message to the all the "Jean's" out there:

Boy Bye!

Lemme Get This Off My Chest: Don't Mansplain My Feminism

Ladies, has this ever happened to you? You comment on a friend's post and a (male) stranger thinks that it is okay to mansplain to you about why YOUR decision to do or not so something is wrong. 

Check out the video below to find out what I had to get off my chest: 

Lemme Get This Off My Chest: These Dudes Ain't Loyal

You want me flawless

You want me patient and sweet

You want me willing

You want my honesty

You want me to be

Appreciative

Respect your space

Ignore your fears

You want spontaneity

A good girl and a freak

You want loyalty

You want something that you’re not, willing

To be

You want something that you’re not, willing

To be

Expecting me to be loyal

Expecting me to be faithful

You want something that you’re not, willing

To be

--Willing (interlude) by Jill Scott 

How To Stay Focused During a Long Weight-Loss Journey

First things first, I am proud to announce that I lost .9 lbs this past week. Although it is not a big number, it is still a victory because it is a weight loss and not a weight gain.

Week 4 Progress:

In 4 weeks, I have lost 8 lbs with the Super Shred diet and Nike Training Club Lean Fit workout challenge.  **pelvic thrusts** Now I have 42 lbs to go...42 LBS TO GO!!!! Ugh.

Losing that much weight is not going to be easy or quick (unless I max out my credit cards and get liposuction). It is going to take months upon months of working out, dieting, and focus.

To help me keep focused during my weight-loss journey, I am doing the following 3 things:

1. Join Fitness Challenges 

This is very simple. Find a fitness challenge and do it.

  • It helps you develop a regular fitness schedule that is easy to follow and increases with intensity as it progresses.

  • It prevents you from feeling overwhelmed by making you focus on a short-term, achievable fitness goal.

  • If you get your friends or family to join the challenge, it helps you create a fitness support system to keep you motivated to finish.

  • Plus, when you finish, you are fitter and have the sweet satisfaction of completing a fitness goal.

Here's a challenge for you: 

2. Try New Healthy Recipes 

The internet is wonderful place to find tons and tons of healthy recipes (note: Pinterest is the best site ever to find yummy, healthy recipes).

  • It helps you transition from bad eating habits to good eating habits, by allowing you to eat less calories without feeling deprived.

  • It helps you discover new foods and dishes that you can share with your family and friends and impress them with your culinary skills.

  • If you cook your meals ahead of time, preferably at the beginning of the week, it will help you stay on your diet and give you less excuses for grabbing for "fast fatty foods" (the dreaded 3 F's).

Here's a healthy recipe for you: 

3. Buy Cute Workout Clothes

Just because you are working out and sweating doesn't mean you can't look good while doing it.

  • Having cute workout clothes takes the UGH out of working out by giving you the same feeling as getting dressed up for a night out.

  • They tend to be form-fitting, which is a GOOD thing. Wearing oversized and baggy workout clothes make you look frumpy and larger than you really are, skewing your body image. Wearing cute, form-fitting workout clothes provides much-needed support for your jiggly parts and allows you to check your form and make sure you are correctly performing exercises, decreasing injuries and maximizing workout benefits.

  • Plus, it helps show off your new developing fit body.

Here's some cute workout clothes options for you: 

Low-end Activewear Brand: Everlast (sold at

Sears

)

High-end Activewear: Ivy Park (sold at

Nordstrom

)

Why Guys Pull Away: The Rubber Band Effect

If you have been following my blog, you know that your girl Toya T is living single and looking for love. And so far, I have not had the best of luck. My most recent dating endeavor did not end as happily as I hoped. And, it seemed like I should have seen it coming. He likes to play disappearing acts...and I do not.

Somehow...I don't know...maybe the love gods got tired of watching (and laughing) at my pitiful attempt at finding love and decided to help me out a bit. Regardless of how or why it happened, I came across this Youtube video by Jenny Delish (from Real World Ex-plosion fame) that gave one of the best dating analogies I have heard. It gave me a bit of insight on some of my dating flaws.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Highlights from the #BlackGirlMovement Conference 2016

I had such an amazing experience at the first national Black Girl Movement Conference in New York City. It was an indescribable feeling to be in a room filled with black women, black girls, and black female scholars, activists, and game-changers talking about the greatness of black girls and black girlhood. Looking around it felt like I stepped into a different world. 

There were black girls of all ages, shapes, shades and hair textures, proudly proclaiming their love for themselves and each other. The three days of the Black Girl Movement Conference was a celebration of black girlhood and all the things that make us unique, from the games we play to the way we wear our hair. Even though I am in my 30s, I sometimes need a reminder of how great it is to be a black girl because there are so many times that we are not shown how beautiful, smart, unique, strong, powerful, talented, and amazing we are, always have been, and always will be. 

The mainstream media largely ignores us. When we are assaulted, kidnapped, or killed, we do not get the same attention and urgency as our white counterparts receive. We are often told that we are not beautiful. Our bodies are scrutinized, fetishized, and degraded. Our hair and hairstyles are considered  unkempt, dirty, and unprofessional. But, when a white girl displays any of our characteristics, features, or cultural stylings, there are considered attractive, fashionable, exotically beautiful, and innovative. 

This conference truly is a movement. It is a reminder, declaration, battle cry: BLACK GIRLS MATTER AND THEY ARE ALL THE MAGIC THEY WILL EVER NEED.

I really hope they continue this conference for years to come. Here are some of the highlights: 

Panel Session: Writing and Researching Black Girls

Only at a Black Girl Movement Conference will you find a sing-along 

Little bit of black girls moving, led by Camille A. Brown. 

Check out those moves (and smiles). 

#BlackGirlArt:::Picturing Black Girlhood exhibit (at Raw Space in NYC)

My black girlhood, all you needed was chalk and a pebble. 

Join the movement:

http://iraas.columbia.edu/Event/black-girl-movement-conference

#blackgirlmovement #bgm2016

#BlackGirlMovement National Conference, April 7-9

I am in New York City this weekend to attend the first Black Girl Movement National Conference. I am so excited about attending this event/this special moment in history. As a black girl, I feel that issues I have faced in my lifetime are not often addressed. I am extremely proud of my alma mater Columbia University for developing and sponsoring this much-needed meeting on the state of black girls past, present, and in the future. 

If you are interested in checking out this black girl magical moment, click

here

for more details or check it out on livestream

here

.  

Black Girl Movement: A National Conference” is a three-day gathering at Columbia University in New York City to focus on Black girls, cis, queer, and trans girls, in the United States. Bringing together artists, activists, educators, policymakers, and black girls leaders themselves, this first national conference on Black girls seeks to address the disadvantages that Black girls in the United States face, while creating the political will to publicly acknowledge their achievements, contributions, and leadership.Girl Movement: A National Conference” is a three-day gathering at Columbia University in New York City to focus on Black girls, cis, queer, and trans girls, in the United States. Bringing together artists, activists, educators, policymakers, and black girls leaders themselves, this first national conference on Black girls seeks to address the disadvantages that Black girls in the United States face, while creating the political will to publicly acknowledge their achievements, contributions, and leadership.

#PhenomenalWomenMonth: Ain't I A Woman? by Sojourner Truth

Ain't I A Woman? 

by Sojourner Truth 

Delivered 1851 at the Women's Convention, Akron, Ohio 

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.   

Lemme Get This Off My Chest 6.1: ALL Black Lives Matter

You gotta remind people that black lives matter like you remind a child to wash their hands before they eat.

For more information on the incident involving Dr. Imani Perry, check out this NYT article: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/10/nyregion/black-princeton-professor-protests-her-parking-ticket-arrest.html?_r=0

Finding the Perfect Jeans For Curvy Girls (With Big Thighs)

For curvy women, finding a great pair of jeans that are flattering and affordable is hard, especially if you are part of my particular sect of the Women with Curves club---the Big Thighs Crew. Unlike women with those highly sought-after thigh gaps, women like me with big thighs and disproportionately smaller waists are lucky if we can find jeans with spandex in them. The jeans that I  typically find at the local mall are either too big in the waist or can't get passed my thighs (without a lot of dancing and struggling and deep breaths).

As a curvy woman who added on a few more curves over during Snowmaggedon 2015, I have actually avoided wearing jeans for the past 6 months because I can't fit the ones in my closet (they look real nice on the hangers). For most of this year, I have turned to leggings--a curvy girl's best friend. But, after seeing a post on

Hey Fran Hey

's blog about how she found a flattering pair of curvy girl friendly jeans, the

Levi's 721 High-Rise Skinny Jeans

. Inspired by her, I hit Macy's and tried on about 10 pairs of the 721 and of the

Levi's 311 Shaping Skinny Jeans

. The 721 fit me, but the 311 fit me so much better. The 311 features tummy slimming technology and feels so soft on the skinny. I loved them so much, I bought two pairs. If you are looking for a pair of jeans that flatter all of your curves, I highly recommend you check out what Levi's has to offer.

To Be Like First Lady Michelle Obama: Learning to Embrace Me

Michelle-Obama-2017-ESPY-Awards-Fashion-Cushnie-et-Ochs-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-1.jpg

First Lady Michelle Obama is an inspiration. She is intelligent, beautiful, and confident. She is a role model for all women, especially women of color who have to deal with racism, sexism, and classism from those outside their communities and sadly also from those within their communities. 

Hearing First Lady Michelle Obama speak candidly (in the video below) about her personal struggles dealing with racism and sexism, during the time of her husband's first presidential bid, with the media and opinion polls openly picking her apart and questioning her every action really hit home for me. Despite her educational and professional pedigree, as a Princeton grad and successful lawyer, almost all of the critiques of Michelle Obama were steeped in longstanding stereotypes of black women as being too loud, too angry, or too emasculating. As a black woman, I struggle with how people, including my family and friends, perceive me. The way I present myself, speak, eat, dress, and choose to live my life is constantly judged and ridiculed by not only mainstream society but also by other black and brown people.

Lately, I have been especially concerned with not being viewed as an "angry black woman" (which I discussed in an earlier post). This concern has invaded my everyday thoughts. When I am teaching in my classroom, when I am interacting with people in public, and even when I am hanging out with my friends, I am checking myself. Am I talking too loud? Am I coming off as bitter or angry? Am I being too aggressive or too bold? If I feel the answer is yes to any of these questions, I try to change my tone or my mannerisms, or I completely shut down. It is a hard thing to deal with, this feeling that something is wrong with you or that you need to change yourself to make others comfortable around you. And then I think...Why do I care if people think that I am angry? Why can't I be angry? Isn't anger a natural, normal feeling? Why are people so concerned with black women's anger? Why am I worried about how people may or may not view me?

The First Lady's ability to overcome being publicly critiqued, through confidence in herself and in God's plan for her, emboldens me. Her story points out the possible light at the end of the dark tunnel of negativity and racial/gender stereotypes that I face as a black woman in America. I aspire to be like First Lady Michelle Obama, to be able to fully embrace being me. All day. Every day. To stand proudly in my truth, in my skin.

IMG_1876.JPG

I am loud. I am opinionated. I curse. I cry easily and often when I'm mad, sad, frustrated, or happy. I am overly protective of my friendships. I'm rude. I'm selfish. I'm giving. I'm intelligent. I'm silly. I'm introverted. I'm outgoing. I am not friendly. I sometimes speak before I think. I think too much and tend to dwell. I'm insecure. I'm confident. I get angry. I am a womanly. I am perfectly imperfect. I am divinely favored. I am my mother and father's daughter. I am me and the best thing I can do is, like First Lady Michelle Obama, "have faith in God's plan for me, [...] ignore the noise,  and be true to myself; and the rest [will] work its way out."

Is Bigger Better?

Is bigger better? Before you start getting up in arms, I am not talking about the male sex organ. I can answer that question for myself. What am talking about is the booty, particularly the size of the female booty. I have been sitting on this question (literally and figuratively) for awhile now, ever since booty injections and implants and Brazilian butt lifts have become the new boob job. The days of people being obsessed with the Dolly Partons, Pam Griers, and Pamela Andersons of the world are over. Well it is not really over. People still love big boobs. But there is a female body part that has become the object of people's sexual gaze.

Today, people, both men and women, rich and poor, people of color and whites, are overly obsessed with big booties (myself included). It seems that you need to have a

booty

donkey

 elephant booty to be considered sexy, desirable, or dateable by mainstream society. There are young women who have Instagram pages with post after post of back shots showing off their booties. Look at Kim Kardashian. She would not be a media spectacle without her large (fat injected, possibly Brazilian butt lifted) booty, which Kanye loves squeezing, showcasing, and talking about to any and every one. It is not her infamous sex tape with Ray-J or the reality show(s) with her family (that E! refuses to take off the air for a second). It is her shape, specifically her small waist and gigantic booty.  She has made a name and social media empire from pictures of her booty (clothed, oiled up, sandy, and bare). On her family show, she spent an episode creating booty selfies for her husband Kanye West (which she eventually put together and published as part of a 1000-page book of selfies of herself called "Selfish").

Sadly, big and round booties have been seen for a lifetime on many women of African descent (from the "Venus Hottentot" Sarah Baartman to Jennifer Lopez to Serena Williams), but has not brought them the same amount of adoration, fame, and wealth solely from this body part. You may argue that J.Lo got a lot attention for her booty. And yes she did. Who doesn't remember hearing rumors that she ensure her famous booty for a million dollars? But, unlike Kim K, it was not J. Lo's booty that put her on the map. She danced and acted her way into the public eye and then people noticed her shape, particularly her big booty. In the curious case of Sarah Baartman, who was put on display in Europe because of her voluptuous shape, she gained much fame but did not gain any wealth or adoration from (white) people's obsession with her booty.

As a woman with a not so big booty, I will admit that the age of the big booty has impacted my self-image. Every time I walk by a mirror I push out my butt a little and check how it looks in my jeans/skirts/dresses, and then wish that it would grow 2 sizes (along with my boobs because I refuse to not be proportionate) so I can

pop off an Instagram modeling career

 be desired by men, envied by women, and rapped about by rappers (don't act like you wouldn't geek out if you were immortalized in song---see

this

 and

this

 and

that

 for examples of good love for the "big booty"songs).

This brings me back to my original question. When it comes to the female booty, is bigger better? Is there such a thing as a "too big" booty? Does it matter if it is real or fake? Does it matter to whom a big booty is attached? Why does a big booty seemingly get more"positive" reactions when a white women has one than when a women of African descent has one? What impact has society's obsession with disproportionately large booties had on the self-image of women, especially young girls, in America?

Speak on it!