Whitenicious, a cosmetics line created by California-based, Nigerian-Cameroonian pop star Dencia touts its ability to help customers even out their skin and get rid of discoloration. The product is essentially a skin bleaching cream in a golden jar, sold for $150 a pop– well, at least that is what anyone would gather from Dencia’s “transformation” as seen on the advertisement, from a mocha beauty, to a caramel, Beyonce look-alike, to a washed-out corpse.
So why is this never explicitly stated? More importantly, why is the purpose of Whitenicious — to make a dark skinned person have lighter skin — intentionally concealed? The advertising campaign for Dencia’s product leads consumers to believe that the function of her “cosmetic” is to “nourish your skin and lighten dark knuckles, knees and elbows.” Keep reading »
I am a 23-year-old black woman who, for a long time, tried to have discussions with white people about racism in America. I went to a white, liberal college in New York City where I thought such exchanges were welcomed. I actually believed there could be such a thing as a productive conversation on the matter, some type of engagement, a debate. I wrote speeches about the wealth gap between black and white families (a staggering $100,000 difference), the unforgivable incarceration rate of black men, the discriminatory education system. I even made a video about the misrepresentation and misuse of black women by pop culture and the media. Most of my revelations were met with silence and blank stares by my class of mostly white peers. Eventually the professor, typically a white man or woman, would clear his/her throat and ask, “Well, any questions for Tiffanie?” The students would whisper amongst themselves, but oddly, I was never asked to elaborate. It was understood, in their opinion, that I was the overly sensitive, angry black woman. The racist; a race baiter. Keep reading »
It started innocently enough at the mailbox.
I reached in and pulled out the usual bills, Victoria’s Secret catalogs, and fliers for the local pizza joint. Because it was the holiday season, there was also an envelope befitting a Christmas card. “Oh! [Redacted family member] sent us a card!” I said to my husband as we made our way into the house.
Then I looked at who the card was addressed to: the Bogadnovs’.
Bogdanovs is my husband’s last name. My last name is Wakeman. We were addressed both by his last name. Keep reading »
Three or so days in, I’ve listened to Beyonce’s new, self-titled record straight through at least a dozen times. I say with all seriousness that I believe it is her masterpiece, one of those increasingly rare albums in which every track is essential to the overall story. While I have my favorites, there is not one track I have the desire to skip. The album and its 17 accompanying music videos tell a story about womanhood, but specifically Black womanhood, that is powerful, compelling and beautiful. At times, the songs are clearly autobiographical, but they also speak to themes that are relatable to many women — sexuality, self-expression, motherhood, love, heartbreak, power, and self-worth. The latter theme is especially felt in the album’s opening number, “Pretty Hurts,” which has Bey singing about the damaging effects of rigid beauty standards and body policing. The video for “Pretty Hurts” features Beyonce as a pageant contestant (from the Third Ward, the area in Houston where she grew up) who endures judgmental looks and objectifying weight and measurement assessments as she sings, “But you can’t fix what you can’t see/ It’s the soul that needs the surgery.”
The song sends a powerful message about the pressure we put on girls to look a certain way; the video depicts just one way that pressure is experienced by girls specifically in the pageant circuit. But according to Amanda Hess over at Slate, the video’s pageant theme is “based on an incredibly outdated vision of how we reinforce unattainable physical norms for girls.” According to Hess, “today’s beauty myth is constructed through collections of highly curated ‘candid’ selfies beamed straight from the stars themselves, and Beyoncé is its queen.” In other words, it’s not just the video that Hess has a problem with — it’s Beyonce delivering that message at all because, in her opinion, Beyonce is part of the problem. What Hess gets wrong is … well, everything. Keep reading »
R. Kelly is one of the most successful R&B artists of our time. He’s sold 54 million records globally, had a career that spans three decades and penned classic records that have provided the soundtrack for some of our best moments.
But while folks were bumping and grinding to his hits, other things were going bump in the night. Keep reading »
Dear Variety Columnist Brian Lowry,
You wrote a negative review of Sarah Silverman’s new comedy special, “We Are Miracles,” which aired on HBO Saturday night.
And I get it.
The special felt stale, pointlessly antagonistic, and lacked actual jokes. But worse than the program itself was the bizarrely-gendered language you used to smash it.
The title of your piece, which I can only assume was approved by a Victorian-era ghost, was “Sarah Silverman’s Bad Career Choice: Being as Dirty as the Guys.” In the review, you claim Silverman appeared, “determined to prove she can be as dirty and distasteful as the boys.” Keep reading »
I am a black woman and my best friend is a gay man. He came out to me the summer between our senior year of high school and our freshman year of college.
“I really need to tell you something,” he began, while driving us home from our summer job at the local pool. I didn’t know what to expect — an admission of love, maybe? That would be awkward.
He pulled the car over, then stared deeply into my eyes and said, “I’m gay.”
I breathed a sigh of relief.
“Oh, that’s cool with me,” I replied.
He was excited that we would remain friends and was especially happy to have someone to go out and “meet boys” with. Together we frequented New York City’s gay clubs and bars, more often than the straight ones. Splash, Therapy or Barracuda, but The Ritz was a mutual favorite. It was a two-floor bar with a huge dance floor, usually jam packed with sweaty, shirtless men by 1 a.m. The environment offered us both freedoms: I could be as black as I wanted: dance to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” twerk it, shake it and break it (while being applauded), and he could be as gay as he wanted. Keep reading »
I watch a lot of television. One of my mother’s favorite stories involves her coming home from work and finding a three year-old me on her couch, pointing to a schedule grid in her TV Guide and asking to watch a primetime “Scooby Doo” special. As such I have a vast amount of useless pop culture knowledge. I can remember who shot J.R., when Sam first kissed Diane, and why I still want to kick Damon Lindelof in the balls over the “Lost” finale. I also remember a lot of really, really unnecessary rape scenes.
Like Laura Spencer’s rape on “General Hospital.” Krystle Carrington’s rape on “Dynasty.” Liz Spencer’s rape on “General Hospital.” Kelly Taylor’s rape on “Beverly Hills, 90210.” Naomi Clark’s rape on “90210.” Joan Holloway’s rape on “Mad Men.” Tara Thorton’s rape on “True Blood.” Gemma Morrow’s rape on “Sons of Anarchy.” Gillian Darmody’s rape on “Boardwalk Empire.” Buffy Summers’ almost-rape on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Madison Montgomery’s rape on “American Horror Story: Coven.” [Warning: Spoilers after the jump.] Keep reading »
I have slept with a fair amount of people. But I’ve orgasmed with only one, the person I was in a long-term relationship with. All of my other sexual encounters have been varying degrees of fun, but have not resulted in the Big O. For me at least — the men I’ve slept with always come. This never comes as a surprise to me. I don’t expect to come from casual sex, while I’m sure every dude I have it with does. As Natalie Kitroeff notes in an article for The New York Times, “in hookups, inequality still reigns.”
Here’s what I’ve noticed over, uh, the last 13 years of having sex. Some guys, even random dudes I’ve brought home from bars, are really, really into getting women off. But most of them are driven by their own egos. “Every girl I’ve ever been with has come” is something I’ve heard more than a few times from guys who just won’t stop until they’re sure you’ve reached their idea of satisfaction — orgasm. I’ve been known to fake it with these men, because it’s just so much easier than explaining to a relative stranger “I just can’t orgasm unless I am really, really, really in the right mood and there are no distractions and I’m 1000 percent relaxed and my OCD/ADD isn’t acting up. Also you have to be licking my pussy just right and it also helps if I use my vibrator while you’re fucking me, but even then it just might not happen. Don’t take it personally, I’m still having a great time!” I have given a few dudes the short version of that explanation and they all looked at me like I just killed their puppy. Keep reading »