Image: @darknslay

Loving your natural hair is a learning experience.

Your entire life you are exposed to images of hair that shape and transform your perspective of the person you see when you look in the mirror.
That person – you should be happy with her.
You should love her fully, from her crown to her heels.
But sometimes it is hard to do so.
Because a voice in your head constantly reminds you that your hair does not look like the girl on TV. Your curls will never be as defined. As loose. As beautiful.

Continue Reading


With the expansion of media, especially social media, where companies – like Shea Moisture and Carol's Daughter - can now reach a broader audience, compromises are being made out of respect for marketing strategies. For brands like this, losing focus on its core consumers has now resulted in an emotional gamble as members in the natural hair community have had to reevaluate staples in their hair care regimen.

Texture discrimination, or the unjustified exclusion of certain hair types from the forefront of branding, encompasses a myriad of questions concerning natural hair. It is rooted in a fusion of issues, such as colorism, racism, self-comparison, and media-induced insecurities. Although there are layers to be peeled back when taking a stance on how the media reinforces the exclusion of particular hair types, it is always up to us as a community to stick together.

Division Within Our Community

In June, a woman by the name of Tiffany Buttafly posted this message on facebook, which has since been deleted, accompanied by a picture of two lighter skinned girls with long, defined, voluminous, curly locks:


More black women are creating platforms through which they can share their own natural hair journey while also being constantly exposed to the journey of others. Given this, we are now more aware of all hair types – not just our own. And we can now put two and two together between hair types that are more socially accepted and how this discrimination is reflected through media, thus resulting in feelings of exclusion harbored by women who are not being represented at all.

Anytime a system of classification is used to recognize and understand the difference between various hair types, self-comparison will always lurk within our community. Not only do we classify hair types, but we associate a level of struggle, and sometimes Blackness, with them. The closer someone is to type 4 hair, the more struggle they face with their hair while the farther away someone is to this hair type, the less struggle they face. So why are women who struggle less being chosen to speak for the women who struggle the most? Especially when women with kinkier hair textures were the pioneers of the natural hair movement in more ways than none.

This is a gist of what Buttafly was attempting to convey in her message, however, the message was lost in her anger. She instead reinforced a divide between herself and the sisters that aren’t dark enough, aren’t kinky enough, aren’t Black, or African, enough. Buttafly’s message is a clear indication of the internalized prejudices we sometimes enact against ourselves, but deflect as problems created by other people, because the media has made it difficult to pinpoint where our insecurities come from.

We should always remain alert as to where we stand on the line. We must remind ourselves that we walk the line together.

Loving Ourselves So We Can Love Each Other

The way we address texture discrimination through our platforms should be intentional instead of accusatory. A YouTube based organization called LAMBB, or Look At My Black Beauty, is a good example of how we can use our platforms “for black girls to commune and feel safe away from a society that constantly condemns us.” Earlier this month, LAMBB published a documentary on texture discrimination in which they showcase women with a variety of kinky hair types who share their thoughts on issues like: the over-representation of racially ambiguous women within marketing; the comparison of Blue Ivy’s hair to that of North West; the effectiveness of products that are usually advertised for looser hair types; and the importance of hair typing.



This documentary is one of the few videos to discuss texture discrimination without condemning other women for their apparent or perceived privileges. It sheds light on the nuances intertwined across black women’s individual hair journeys and how good hair is a socially constructed ideal that should be replaced with the concept of healthy hair.

Taking Steps Toward Conscious Discourse

How we talk to and about one another on natural hair sets the stage for how future generations will engage with other women and men on hair, how they will come to love their hair. The marketing industry will continue to use our insecurities as a basis for its commercials, billboards, and magazines. When companies like Shea Moisture choose to exclude us from the forefront for the sake of money (expansion), we must come together - not divide ourselves - and use our voice.

Below are a few steps we can take to approach the topic of texture discrimination from a stance of love rather than a stance of anger, hate, or envy. These steps will allow us to dig deeper into our understanding of natural hair and what it means to the ENTIRE black community without overshadowing the truths of prejudices or privileges many black women face.

Always come from a place of love. Love for ourselves and love for our sisters, regardless of how easy or hard we think their natural hair journey has been.
Do your best to avoid making assumptions. Obviously that are some things about natural hair that cannot be denied, like the level of challenge many of us will face in finding a regimen that brings our hair to life. Still, learning to love our hair is more emotional than it is physical; how that process plays out for one woman will never be equal in difficulty for another.
Ask questions. No matter how much you think you know about another person's hair, you will never be them - so how can you actually know? Inquire about another woman’s hair journey, or struggle, before you assume that because her hair is kinkier, she must have been teased growing up. Or because her hair is looser, she must have been praised in her home.
Put yourself at the center of your argument. Believe it or not, not every black woman feels the same as you do on texture discrimination while others will have no stance on the topic at all. So in some cases, saying “I” instead of “we” holds you accountable for how YOU feel rather than how you think WE all feel.
Remember why you started your natural hair journey. Your journey is YOUR journey - never forget that.

What you see on social media, in magazines, on television, is a compelling distortion of reality. Real life experiences cannot be replicated in true form. Social media has become both a way for black women to find each other as well as for companies to find more consumers. Yes, the brands that have served us since the early 1900’s are expected to remain loyal to its core buyers. But no, this does not mean that they always will.

It is up to us as a community to use our resources, whether it be money, YouTube, Instagram, or education to make our voices louder than the brands who seem to hide our truths. And in the process of doing so, we cannot let their misrepresentation of us drive us apart.

Have you experienced texture discrimination? Share in the comments?
***********************************
Ariel is a writer, lover, and certified personal trainer. With a passion for helping others improve their quality of life, she uses her knowledge and writing to connect with other women (and men) looking to change their lives. If you're in need of inspiration on love, strength, or confidence, check out her blog, The Freewoman Diaries or her YouTube Channel here. For personal training inquiries or life advice, send her an email: freewomandiaries AT gmail DOT com.
Image: @darknslay

Loving your natural hair is a learning experience.

Your entire life you are exposed to images of hair that shape and transform your perspective of the person you see when you look in the mirror.
That person – you should be happy with her.
You should love her fully, from her crown to her heels.
But sometimes it is hard to do so.
Because a voice in your head constantly reminds you that your hair does not look like the girl on TV. Your curls will never be as defined. As loose. As beautiful.

Continue Reading


With the expansion of media, especially social media, where companies – like Shea Moisture and Carol's Daughter - can now reach a broader audience, compromises are being made out of respect for marketing strategies. For brands like this, losing focus on its core consumers has now resulted in an emotional gamble as members in the natural hair community have had to reevaluate staples in their hair care regimen.

Texture discrimination, or the unjustified exclusion of certain hair types from the forefront of branding, encompasses a myriad of questions concerning natural hair. It is rooted in a fusion of issues, such as colorism, racism, self-comparison, and media-induced insecurities. Although there are layers to be peeled back when taking a stance on how the media reinforces the exclusion of particular hair types, it is always up to us as a community to stick together.

Division Within Our Community

In June, a woman by the name of Tiffany Buttafly posted this message on facebook, which has since been deleted, accompanied by a picture of two lighter skinned girls with long, defined, voluminous, curly locks:


More black women are creating platforms through which they can share their own natural hair journey while also being constantly exposed to the journey of others. Given this, we are now more aware of all hair types – not just our own. And we can now put two and two together between hair types that are more socially accepted and how this discrimination is reflected through media, thus resulting in feelings of exclusion harbored by women who are not being represented at all.

Anytime a system of classification is used to recognize and understand the difference between various hair types, self-comparison will always lurk within our community. Not only do we classify hair types, but we associate a level of struggle, and sometimes Blackness, with them. The closer someone is to type 4 hair, the more struggle they face with their hair while the farther away someone is to this hair type, the less struggle they face. So why are women who struggle less being chosen to speak for the women who struggle the most? Especially when women with kinkier hair textures were the pioneers of the natural hair movement in more ways than none.

This is a gist of what Buttafly was attempting to convey in her message, however, the message was lost in her anger. She instead reinforced a divide between herself and the sisters that aren’t dark enough, aren’t kinky enough, aren’t Black, or African, enough. Buttafly’s message is a clear indication of the internalized prejudices we sometimes enact against ourselves, but deflect as problems created by other people, because the media has made it difficult to pinpoint where our insecurities come from.

We should always remain alert as to where we stand on the line. We must remind ourselves that we walk the line together.

Loving Ourselves So We Can Love Each Other

The way we address texture discrimination through our platforms should be intentional instead of accusatory. A YouTube based organization called LAMBB, or Look At My Black Beauty, is a good example of how we can use our platforms “for black girls to commune and feel safe away from a society that constantly condemns us.” Earlier this month, LAMBB published a documentary on texture discrimination in which they showcase women with a variety of kinky hair types who share their thoughts on issues like: the over-representation of racially ambiguous women within marketing; the comparison of Blue Ivy’s hair to that of North West; the effectiveness of products that are usually advertised for looser hair types; and the importance of hair typing.



This documentary is one of the few videos to discuss texture discrimination without condemning other women for their apparent or perceived privileges. It sheds light on the nuances intertwined across black women’s individual hair journeys and how good hair is a socially constructed ideal that should be replaced with the concept of healthy hair.

Taking Steps Toward Conscious Discourse

How we talk to and about one another on natural hair sets the stage for how future generations will engage with other women and men on hair, how they will come to love their hair. The marketing industry will continue to use our insecurities as a basis for its commercials, billboards, and magazines. When companies like Shea Moisture choose to exclude us from the forefront for the sake of money (expansion), we must come together - not divide ourselves - and use our voice.

Below are a few steps we can take to approach the topic of texture discrimination from a stance of love rather than a stance of anger, hate, or envy. These steps will allow us to dig deeper into our understanding of natural hair and what it means to the ENTIRE black community without overshadowing the truths of prejudices or privileges many black women face.

Always come from a place of love. Love for ourselves and love for our sisters, regardless of how easy or hard we think their natural hair journey has been.
Do your best to avoid making assumptions. Obviously that are some things about natural hair that cannot be denied, like the level of challenge many of us will face in finding a regimen that brings our hair to life. Still, learning to love our hair is more emotional than it is physical; how that process plays out for one woman will never be equal in difficulty for another.
Ask questions. No matter how much you think you know about another person's hair, you will never be them - so how can you actually know? Inquire about another woman’s hair journey, or struggle, before you assume that because her hair is kinkier, she must have been teased growing up. Or because her hair is looser, she must have been praised in her home.
Put yourself at the center of your argument. Believe it or not, not every black woman feels the same as you do on texture discrimination while others will have no stance on the topic at all. So in some cases, saying “I” instead of “we” holds you accountable for how YOU feel rather than how you think WE all feel.
Remember why you started your natural hair journey. Your journey is YOUR journey - never forget that.

What you see on social media, in magazines, on television, is a compelling distortion of reality. Real life experiences cannot be replicated in true form. Social media has become both a way for black women to find each other as well as for companies to find more consumers. Yes, the brands that have served us since the early 1900’s are expected to remain loyal to its core buyers. But no, this does not mean that they always will.

It is up to us as a community to use our resources, whether it be money, YouTube, Instagram, or education to make our voices louder than the brands who seem to hide our truths. And in the process of doing so, we cannot let their misrepresentation of us drive us apart.

Have you experienced texture discrimination? Share in the comments?
***********************************
Ariel is a writer, lover, and certified personal trainer. With a passion for helping others improve their quality of life, she uses her knowledge and writing to connect with other women (and men) looking to change their lives. If you're in need of inspiration on love, strength, or confidence, check out her blog, The Freewoman Diaries or her YouTube Channel here. For personal training inquiries or life advice, send her an email: freewomandiaries AT gmail DOT com.


Aren’t you tired of crashing before noon and needing a coffee refill multiple times throughout the day?

Believe it or not, the more coffee you consume on a daily basis, the more dependent your body becomes on that caffeine-fix.

Continue Reading


Trust me. I’ve been through caffeine withdrawal and it is not pretty. Headaches. On top of headaches. Anger. Fatigue. I thought I’d never make it through.

And this was just from a month of drinking coffee consistently every morning.

But then I discovered the power of smoothies and how they could not only help me feel confident in how I started my morning but they also gave me a longer-lasting energy throughout the day.

Foods like cacao, Goji berries, hemp seed, and blueberries make me feel alive. Coffee just makes me feel like my eyes won’t stop moving unless I go to sleep.

I know how hard it is to take a break from coffee, but it is so worth it. Eating fresh, raw ingredients immediately gives you a boost of energy and makes you feel clean throughout your body.

Here, I have put together some of my favorite smoothie recipes that give me that good ol’ energy that lasts longer than the 45 minutes I get from coffee.

Enjoy!

NOTE: For all recipes, combine ingredients using a high speed blender. Be careful not to over-blend ingredients and if using frozen fruits/veggies, thawing may be necessary.


Green Clarity Smoothie

Packed with leafy greens that will clean you out, blueberries for extra energy, and ginger for an extra zing!

SERVINGS: 1

1/4 cup dandelion greens
1/2 cup spinach
1/2 cup kale
1/2 cup blueberry
1 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
1 tbsp ginger
water


Berries Berries Berries

Antioxidant rich and naturally tangy, berries are a great way to start your day.

SERVINGS: 1

1 cup blueberries
1/4 cup goji berries
1/2 cup strawberries
1/2 cup raspberries (or kiwi)
1 tspn ginger
ice


Papaya All Through Me Smoothie

This simple smoothie will give you that push you need for consistent bowel movements while also providing antioxidants and anti-cancer properties.

SERVINGS: 1

1 1/2 cup papaya
1 cup coconut water
1 tbsp chia seeds
ice


Kick Ass Cacao Smoothie

If you want a real bang of energy, then skip the chocolate and use raw cacao bits. Rich in antioxidants, zinc, magnesium, dietary fiber and other nutrients, this superfood will give your body a natural boost that feels - and almost tastes - like coffee.

SERVINGS: 1

1/4 cup raw cacao bits
1 cup almond milk
4 baby bananas
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tsp cinnamon
water


Spinach Me Green Smoothie

Another leafy green smoothie that with the avocado, makes a creamy breakfast.

SERVINGS: 1

3 baby bananas
1 cup kale
1/4 avocado
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tsp cinnamon
water

Feelin' Smooth Strawberry Coconut Smoothie

This one is all about the coconut milk. A fourth cup of coconut milk contains 27 percent of your recommended daily intake of manganese, which controls your blood sugar and boosts your metabolism. Not only will you feel balanced energetically, but you'll burn fat throughout the day.

1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup strawberries
1 palm of cacao bits
2 baby bananas
1 tbsp cinnamon
water

Sometimes energy is more or less a state of mind. Eating foods that are high in sugar, salt, or fat overwork the body and prevent it from using its energy efficiently. However, a diet rich in whole, raw foods pushes the body to rid itself of toxins and run more smoothly.

Ease off the caffeine slowly by replacing your coffee with a smoothie at least once a week. Your body will tell you what is best for you.

Which of these recipes is your favorite? Share in the comments!
************************
Ariel is a writer, lover, and certified personal trainer. With a passion for helping others improve their quality of life, she uses her knowledge and writing to connect with other women (and men) looking to change their lives. If you're in need of inspiration on love, strength, or confidence, check out her blog, The Freewoman Diaries or her YouTube Channel here. For personal training inquiries or life advice, send her an email: freewomandiaries AT gmail DOT com.


Aren’t you tired of crashing before noon and needing a coffee refill multiple times throughout the day?

Believe it or not, the more coffee you consume on a daily basis, the more dependent your body becomes on that caffeine-fix.

Continue Reading


Trust me. I’ve been through caffeine withdrawal and it is not pretty. Headaches. On top of headaches. Anger. Fatigue. I thought I’d never make it through.

And this was just from a month of drinking coffee consistently every morning.

But then I discovered the power of smoothies and how they could not only help me feel confident in how I started my morning but they also gave me a longer-lasting energy throughout the day.

Foods like cacao, Goji berries, hemp seed, and blueberries make me feel alive. Coffee just makes me feel like my eyes won’t stop moving unless I go to sleep.

I know how hard it is to take a break from coffee, but it is so worth it. Eating fresh, raw ingredients immediately gives you a boost of energy and makes you feel clean throughout your body.

Here, I have put together some of my favorite smoothie recipes that give me that good ol’ energy that lasts longer than the 45 minutes I get from coffee.

Enjoy!

NOTE: For all recipes, combine ingredients using a high speed blender. Be careful not to over-blend ingredients and if using frozen fruits/veggies, thawing may be necessary.


Green Clarity Smoothie

Packed with leafy greens that will clean you out, blueberries for extra energy, and ginger for an extra zing!

SERVINGS: 1

1/4 cup dandelion greens
1/2 cup spinach
1/2 cup kale
1/2 cup blueberry
1 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
1 tbsp ginger
water


Berries Berries Berries

Antioxidant rich and naturally tangy, berries are a great way to start your day.

SERVINGS: 1

1 cup blueberries
1/4 cup goji berries
1/2 cup strawberries
1/2 cup raspberries (or kiwi)
1 tspn ginger
ice


Papaya All Through Me Smoothie

This simple smoothie will give you that push you need for consistent bowel movements while also providing antioxidants and anti-cancer properties.

SERVINGS: 1

1 1/2 cup papaya
1 cup coconut water
1 tbsp chia seeds
ice


Kick Ass Cacao Smoothie

If you want a real bang of energy, then skip the chocolate and use raw cacao bits. Rich in antioxidants, zinc, magnesium, dietary fiber and other nutrients, this superfood will give your body a natural boost that feels - and almost tastes - like coffee.

SERVINGS: 1

1/4 cup raw cacao bits
1 cup almond milk
4 baby bananas
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tsp cinnamon
water


Spinach Me Green Smoothie

Another leafy green smoothie that with the avocado, makes a creamy breakfast.

SERVINGS: 1

3 baby bananas
1 cup kale
1/4 avocado
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tsp cinnamon
water

Feelin' Smooth Strawberry Coconut Smoothie

This one is all about the coconut milk. A fourth cup of coconut milk contains 27 percent of your recommended daily intake of manganese, which controls your blood sugar and boosts your metabolism. Not only will you feel balanced energetically, but you'll burn fat throughout the day.

1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup strawberries
1 palm of cacao bits
2 baby bananas
1 tbsp cinnamon
water

Sometimes energy is more or less a state of mind. Eating foods that are high in sugar, salt, or fat overwork the body and prevent it from using its energy efficiently. However, a diet rich in whole, raw foods pushes the body to rid itself of toxins and run more smoothly.

Ease off the caffeine slowly by replacing your coffee with a smoothie at least once a week. Your body will tell you what is best for you.

Which of these recipes is your favorite? Share in the comments!
************************
Ariel is a writer, lover, and certified personal trainer. With a passion for helping others improve their quality of life, she uses her knowledge and writing to connect with other women (and men) looking to change their lives. If you're in need of inspiration on love, strength, or confidence, check out her blog, The Freewoman Diaries or her YouTube Channel here. For personal training inquiries or life advice, send her an email: freewomandiaries AT gmail DOT com.

How many times have you tried a new diet that didn't work for you?

How did you come across this diet?

And if you thought it'd work, WHY?

Continue Reading
Too often do we find ourselves adopting lifestyles that "look" like they will do just as much good for us as the girl we saw in the video or on the commercial. That's the essence of consumerism.

Take consumerism and sickness, mix them together, and wallah! You have Big Pharma down your throat with medical bills up to your nose.

It should be clear that major pharmaceutical companies don't give a rat's bottom about your health unless it means that they're taking your money and digging your grave very similar to drug overdose, the leading cause of death for Americans under 50.

Conventional medicine only makes some us of sicker while lack of education on food science leaves many of us absolutely clueless. This is why it is up to us to take control where we can—our diet.

According to a world-wide known healer, Dr. Sebi, food is the only medicine we need. Through food, herbs, and holistic healthy practices, each individual can turn his or her life around for the better. More specifically, by eating foods that are genetically optimal for our bodies, we can reverse disease and increase longevity.

Who is Dr. Sebi?
Dr. Sebi, born Alfredo Bowman in Honduras in 1933, is known around the world as a natural healer and vegetarian herbalist who believed that food could and should be used as the body’s medicine. Through food, he believed, one could cure herself of all disease.

Bowman himself suffered from illnesses such as obesity, asthma, diabetes, and impotency (erectile dysfunction). He was a self-educated man, having never attended formal schooling, who emphasized the importance of thinking outside the box of traditional western medicine, which could not cure him of his sickness. In 1985, Dr. Sebi, director of USHA Research Institute, began posting ads in publications like the New York Amsterdam News newspaper about USHA Research Institute’s success in finding a cure for AIDS and other diseases. He was arrested on February 10, 1987 - two years later - for practicing medicine without a license, selling products that were not FDA-approved, and making “fraudulent” claims about his ability to cure a disease that was said to have no cure. Forced to appear in front of the Brooklyn Supreme Court, Bowman was found not guilty by a jury of six men and six women on two counts of practicing medicine without a license. In fact, Dr. Sebi provided witnesses who testified that as a result of USHA’s dietary program, they had experienced improved health.

Before Bowman’s death in 2016 after being taken into custody while traveling in Honduras, he helped dozens of individuals change their diets and ultimately their lives by sharing his non-textbook knowledge about food and its effect on the body. There are numerous recordings of his teachings and interviews he did. Having worked with people like Steven Seagal, Michael Jackson, and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes (she was actually visiting Sebi in Honduras when she died in a car accident), Dr. Sebi is known to those who choose to know him.

What is the Electric Food Diet?
Dr. Sebi continuously shared his discoveries about food, creating a dietary program that he found to be “consistent with the African genetic structure.” The foods that he recommend are non-hybrids as Bowman explains in “Eat to Live” that hybrid foods require starch in order to be bound together. Starch is an acid.

The Electric Food Diet, also known as the Alkaline Diet, is based on the premise that foods can influence the body’s pH levels. This essentially means that the foods you eat can either make the body’s environment more acidic or more basic (alkaline), where acidic means a pH in the range of 1 to 6 and alkaline means a pH in the range of 8 to 14 - a pH of 7 is considered balanced. Since disease thrives in acidic environments where excess mucus begins to spread throughout the body, depleting vital organs in the body of oxygen, Dr. Sebi believed that one could reverse this process by removing blood and starch from her diet.



Below is the nutritional guide provided by Dr. Sebi that lists all the vegetables, fruits, herbs and other foods consistent with this diet:


Should you adopt the Electric Food/Alkaline diet?
Yes and no.
Dr. Sebi was a firm believer that textbooks could not provide the knowledge that one’s own self-discovery and experimentation could. Although Dr. Sebi was, and still is, trusted by many and has cured dozens of illness, it is always important to do your own research before adopting any type of diet that requires a drastic transformation in your perspective of food.
I ask myself this, “If my granny lived to be 98 years old and in her last years I watched her still eat turkey necks down to the bone, what does this mean for me?”
So, challenge yourself first with questions you can’t answer. If you decide that the Electric Food diet is something that could help you, start with baby steps. Find support groups in your neighborhood and online. Check out Ty's Conscious Kitchen where you can find Dr. Sebi inspired recipes created by Tyrone Pendland II, chef and creator of Ty’s Conscious Kitchen. Again, do your own research as it will enhance your experience and make you feel confident in changing your lifestyle forever.

What do you think about Dr. Sebi's teachings? Is this diet something you'd try? Why or why not?
****************************************
Ariel is a writer, lover, and certified personal trainer. With a passion for helping others improve their quality of life, she uses her knowledge and writing to connect with other women (and men) looking to change their lives. If you're in need of inspiration on love, strength, or confidence, check out her blog, The Freewoman Diaries or her YouTube Channel here. For personal training inquiries or life advice, send her an email: freewomandiaries AT gmail DOT com.