By Erickka Sy Savané

Let’s face it, some questions are just taboo. If you’ve ever asked a woman, “How many months are you?” when she wasn’t even pregnant then you know there aren’t enough rocks to crawl under. It’s right up there with “Is that your grandchild?” when it’s actually the person’s kid.
I’ve been both the asker and the one asked, and it can suck on both ends. Usually, the person asking is just excited and can’t wait to share in the big news, but for the person who isn’t pregnant, well, it’s not so cool. Does any woman want to look pregnant when she is not?

 Continue
To be on the safe side, common sense says that asking someone if they are pregnant is a no-no unless they are being transported to the hospital delivery room because it’s just not worth the embarrassment of being wrong. Most would argue that it’s none of your well-meaning business anyway. If a person wants you to know they will tell you. Actress Tia Mowry has been very vocal about the negative impact of the media’s constant speculation that she is pregnant and equates it to a form of body shaming. At one point she felt compelled to share this message on Instagram.
But the truth is nothing is ever so black and white, and there are only a few occasions when–dare I say it–it’s okay to ask. Here are some…

1. When she’s such a good friend that even if she isn’t pregnant you can both have a good laugh. When one of my besties asked me if I was preggers and I definitely wasn’t, I didn’t get mad, sad or offended. If anything, it was an indication to go easy on the Cheese Puffs. Seriously, if your homegirls can’t ask you anything then maybe you need to re-evaluate the friendship.

2. You want to be mean. True story, Sandy was just a few weeks into a relationship with her man when they happened upon his ex-girlfriend at a party.  “Congratulations!” she said enthusiastically.
“For what?” asked Sandy.
“The baby!” said his ex, pointing to her belly, with a wicked smile.

3. You’re her husband or boyfriend. Not every woman is ready to announce a pregnancy even to the person she loves and some women don’t even know that they are pregnant, like in the case of Carol who hadn’t lost the weight from her first baby so a big belly was no biggie. It took her husband insisting on her taking a test for them to discover that she was actually six months. The same thing happened to my mom who had my brother and then me just 10 months later. She didn’t find out I was coming until she was a full nine months. Perhaps if one of her sisters had said, “Hmmm…you look pregnant,” she would have found out sooner.

4. When the person is constantly sick, tired and/or moody. Nausea, vomiting, and threatening to stab you for showing up 10 minutes late to lunch are all indications that a person might be with child. Sooooo, for your own safety, you might wanna ask in your sweetest voice, “Hey, do you think you’re pregnant?”

Are there any instances when you think it’s okay to ask a woman if she's pregnant?

Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of CurlyNikki.com, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in Essence.comEbony.com, Madamenoire.com, xoNecole.com, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or ErickkaSySavane.com


 By Erickka Sy Savané

Let’s face it, some questions are just taboo. If you’ve ever asked a woman, “How many months are you?” when she wasn’t even pregnant then you know there aren’t enough rocks to crawl under. It’s right up there with “Is that your grandchild?” when it’s actually the person’s kid.
I’ve been both the asker and the one asked, and it can suck on both ends. Usually, the person asking is just excited and can’t wait to share in the big news, but for the person who isn’t pregnant, well, it’s not so cool. Does any woman want to look pregnant when she is not?

 Continue
To be on the safe side, common sense says that asking someone if they are pregnant is a no-no unless they are being transported to the hospital delivery room because it’s just not worth the embarrassment of being wrong. Most would argue that it’s none of your well-meaning business anyway. If a person wants you to know they will tell you. Actress Tia Mowry has been very vocal about the negative impact of the media’s constant speculation that she is pregnant and equates it to a form of body shaming. At one point she felt compelled to share this message on Instagram.
But the truth is nothing is ever so black and white, and there are only a few occasions when–dare I say it–it’s okay to ask. Here are some…

1. When she’s such a good friend that even if she isn’t pregnant you can both have a good laugh. When one of my besties asked me if I was preggers and I definitely wasn’t, I didn’t get mad, sad or offended. If anything, it was an indication to go easy on the Cheese Puffs. Seriously, if your homegirls can’t ask you anything then maybe you need to re-evaluate the friendship.

2. You want to be mean. True story, Sandy was just a few weeks into a relationship with her man when they happened upon his ex-girlfriend at a party.  “Congratulations!” she said enthusiastically.
“For what?” asked Sandy.
“The baby!” said his ex, pointing to her belly, with a wicked smile.

3. You’re her husband or boyfriend. Not every woman is ready to announce a pregnancy even to the person she loves and some women don’t even know that they are pregnant, like in the case of Carol who hadn’t lost the weight from her first baby so a big belly was no biggie. It took her husband insisting on her taking a test for them to discover that she was actually six months. The same thing happened to my mom who had my brother and then me just 10 months later. She didn’t find out I was coming until she was a full nine months. Perhaps if one of her sisters had said, “Hmmm…you look pregnant,” she would have found out sooner.

4. When the person is constantly sick, tired and/or moody. Nausea, vomiting, and threatening to stab you for showing up 10 minutes late to lunch are all indications that a person might be with child. Sooooo, for your own safety, you might wanna ask in your sweetest voice, “Hey, do you think you’re pregnant?”

Are there any instances when you think it’s okay to ask a woman if she's pregnant?

Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of CurlyNikki.com, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in Essence.comEbony.com, Madamenoire.com, xoNecole.com, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or ErickkaSySavane.com

The Awakenings Project by Marissa Southards
By Sharee Silerio

When Marissa Southards picked up a camera three years ago, she was simply trying something new. One day, her husband Brian, a pencil artist, brought a professional-level camera home so he could work in a different medium.

Active in St. Louis protests and the Black Lives Matter movement, she took the camera into the streets to capture what was going on.

“You see an image, and it angers you, or it makes you mad. Or it inspires you. We are now equipped with the ability to tell our own story, because we have cameras now. One of the best quotes that I have ever heard was ‘The revolution will not be televised.’ And it won't be. We're telling our own story and we're doing it through pictures.”

Continue

After reviewing her protest photos, Southards’ husband noticed that she captured some unforgettable moments. Though her work was beautiful, she rejected the part of her that was an artist.

“I felt like, I'm a mom. I'm a career professional. I'm a wife. I'm an activist. These are the most important things,” she said. “Yes, I have this creativity, but I'm not going to do anything about it.”

After flipping through Instagram, she came upon a photo of her friend Ashley, covered but topless, fully without shame.

“Her attitude was, ‘If you don't like it, look away, but I love who I am.’ There was something about this woman owning everything about who she is that sparked something in me. I call it Revelation X because it was that true moment that I realized I am really stuck in my own way."

With her husband’s help, she took a photo of the word “empowered” on her bare back, put it in black and white, and then posted it on social media. She received a lot of positive feedback, and her friend Julie proposed using her space, the botanical beauty store Blissoma, for a shoot. After planning and promoting, they expected 10, maybe 12 women to show up.

Marissa Southards 
“There was a line. I ended up getting 52 women, girls and Trans women who were ready to reclaim themselves. Every woman chose a word that best reflected them, and it was not the label that society gave them,” says Southhards.

Thus, on October 29, 2016, The Awakenings Project was born in St. Louis, Missouri. The series was so powerful that Southards did it again. This past summer, she shot Awakenings II in Mattoon, IL, St. Louis, and Chicago, which included 101 participants. Awakenings III, which kicked off in Chicago this past weekend, has a wait list and will span multiple cities such as Louisville, Kentucky; Mobile, AL; St. Louis; Mattoon; and more.

Testimony

Oracle
Kujichagulia (Self-determination)
Using the body as a form of empowerment, protest, healing and reclamation has become a passion for Southards. This January, she planned an action during the St. Louis Women’s March when its leaders decided to silence women of color by disregarding their point of view, feelings and experiences.

“For generations, white women's bodies have been put on a pedestal. They have been used to shame women of color. Specifically, if you don't fit this idea, if you don't look like me, we're going to shame you. We decided to take back the messaging of our own bodies,” Southhards explains.

During the march, seven women walked down Market Street with little to no clothing on, and messages written on them such as: 53% of white women voted for Trump; Black Women Matter; Black Trans Women Matter; Resist; and No Justice, No Peace. By the end of the march, the group had grown to about 42 women.

Women's March 2017
Kelly Morrison, one of the models for Awakenings II, also participated in Southards’ Women’s March action says,

“There is something really beautiful and empowering about stripping away the context of everyone's opinion of you and focusing on how you see yourself, and putting that word on your body for all to see."
When using the female body as a form of protest, Southards feels that it's important to focus on issues that impact all women.

“Body as canvas is not a form of protest utilized very often. There's a very human element to it, and it’s very risky," says Marissa. "You have to be very cautious about it. But because it is so visual, the impact is bold. There is no way to ignore it."

To keep up with activist and photographer Marissa Southards, follow her on Facebook  & Instagram

Do you think bodies used as canvas is a viable form of protest?
 Sharee Silerio is a St. Louis-based freelance writer, Film and TV writer-producer, and blogger. When she isn’t creating content for The Root or The St. Louis American, she enjoys watching drama/sci-fi/comedy movies and TV shows, writing faith and self-love posts forSincerelySharee.com, relaxing with a cup of chai tea, crafting chic DIY event décor, and traveling. Review her freelance portfolio at ShareeSilerio.com then connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Amanda Shine, Founder, The Setting

"I moved to New York when I was 17 to model—I actually grew up as a local in Southampton. Right when I was signed there were a lot of jokes that I needed some...finesse with my look. I was a surfer so my hair needed some love, things like that. They sent me to Julien Farel on Madison and I would sit there to do hair treatments for hours. They'd give me all sorts of products to use to get my hair in shape. Back in the apartment, I'd even take an egg and olive oil and coat my hair in it, then wrap it in Saran Wrap. When I booked a Pantene job, they cut 11 inches or something off, and my agent was so happy because my ends were finally gone! [Laughs] I remember it was at this Japanese studio in a nondescript building in Chelsea, and he just cut the whole thing dry—this Japanese guy with like a Samurai sword. I was like, ‘Is this life? Like, where is my hair?’

When I turned 22, I made the abrupt transition to do something else. It was such an intense world and I needed to leave it behind. It was hard—I didn't have a college degree or a resumé so I really had to dig in. I started interning in windowless fashion closets, getting exposure, and then I transitioned into event planning. I did special events with Gucci and brand partnerships with Everlane, which really inspired me to do what I'm doing now—my line of handmade ceramic products that I’m making myself, called The Setting.

SKINCARE
I've always erred more on the tomboyish side, but I think as I've gotten older—I'm 28—I've started to look at beauty as a way to be nice to myself. It's less about being social or superficial. Working with clay is so drying, so everything I do now is about moisturizing and investing in that process. My boyfriend's mom gave me a tub of Kiehl's Creme de Corps and that just started me on a tear... I go through so much of it now. And hand cream! Lots and lots of hand cream after working with clay all day.

Cleansing is where I'm most basic. For my rosacea, I use Avène Antirougeurs Redness Relief Dermo-Cleansing Milk with my Clarisonic. It's this blue-green color and I think it's the same as the La Mer Cleanser but about an eighth of the price. For exfoliating, I love the Nivea Gommage Lissant—it's drugstore but I got it in St. Barths so it feels very French to me. Nivea is one of the brands that always works, no matter where I get it. If I'm wearing a lot of makeup, I love the Klorane Floral Water Makeup Remover. It's very gentle.

As far as toning, I get very into sprays and mists—that’s what I do probably the most often to stay moisturized. It's really good for when I come home from the studio and feel dry but don't want to reset everything on my face. I have the Glossier Soothing Face Mist, the Avène Eau Thermale, the May Lindstrom Jasmine Garden Botanical Mist... Every time I go into a place like CAP Beauty, they show me a new one. But I use them all! I'm basically out of the Caudalíe Beauty Elixir. Then I have the Chanel Silky Soothing Toner, which is a little more astringent, so I can't use it every day.

My friend got me the tub of Aztec Clay but my skin is so sensitive, I can't even do it for 10 minutes. After eight, I'm like 'OK! Get it off!' But I love it because it's so powerful. There's also Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic Acid and Retinol Brightening Solution, which is basically like retinol—you're not supposed to use it all the time, though. I bought it because I know so many people that love this brand, and it’s like a clean brand while still being pretty scientifically advanced. But again, it’s strong—I wouldn’t use it during the day. I put it on maybe once a month and only at night.

My all-purpose oil is the Caudalíe Divine Oil. I use it on my face, hair, body, scalp—it's heavy but it feels right during the winter. I also have the original Crème de la Mer. Some people are like, ‘I can’t use that in the summer…’ I’m like, ‘I can use it all year round. Twice a day. Morning and night.’ I love this Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado, too. It’s so nice, I’ve been using it for years. My routine is essentially, 'If it's not broken, don't fix it.'

MAKEUP
My lipstick is like my security blanket a lot of the time. I feel like, with lipstick, I don’t need anything else. My friend works at Tom Ford and whenever I see him, he brings me one of the mini Lips & Boys lipsticks—it's always a funny little surprise. My most used one though is Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Very Victoria. I actually didn't pick it out for myself either... I was in Selfridges with someone I worked with and she picked it up and said, ‘This color I think would be really nice on you.’ I was trying to be a woman but I thought it was too mature for me anyway. But then I put it on, and if you just do one layer of it, I feel like it just darkens your lip a little, plus it’s moisturizing. Her products are beautiful—I have the Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder, too. It's a 'daily luminous tint' with SPF 15 in it that takes your natural skin and puts like a very light sheen on top of it. I'll still do a highlighter on top of that—Benefit Watt's Up. It fits right in the crook of your face. One time, I put it on and went out and took a photo, and it looked like I had a UFO ring under both eyes. I was like, ‘Whoa, that’s when happens when you don’t blend it in…’

I just started playing around with liquid eyeliner. I bought the Chanel Stylo Eyeliner Pen in Noir after I saw this woman on the street with the perfect little flick. She was in shopping mode, so I stopped her and said, ‘I’m so sorry, I need to ask you like a) what that product is and b) is it hard to do it?’ And she was so nice! She walked me through a tutorial. My mascara is also Chanel—it's got a rubbery brush. But I also have Diorshow, and I was using the Givenchy one for a while. It's the packaging that draws me in to all of them.

My brows are huge and the only thing I'll use on them is the Bobbi Brown Brow Pencil. Other than that, I've never known what to do about them. Part of it has to be because one time when I was younger—and I think every girl has a horror story about this—I took a razor and tried to clean them up. I shaved half of the end off and a girl at school told me, 'You know, they don't always come back...' I was so horrified.

HAIR
Right now, my hair is the longest it's been in years. I wash it every five days consistently with Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine for 'frizzy, dry, and unmanageable' hair, so it's made for me. To condition, I use the Kiehl’s Olive Fruit Oil Deeply Repairative Hair Pak. Actually, to wash my hair, I've been going to Drybar more frequently, especially when it's cold and I don't want to let it dry on its own. So I'll go once a week—it's $49 plus tip, which I don't think is that bad. Blowout's the new manicure.

BODY
When I first started modeling, I was doing a lot of Pilates and yoga to sculpt because I was a broader girl. Now one of the biggest benefits of starting The Setting—outside of all of the creative and professional rewards of doing something for yourself and on your own—would be my ability to create my own schedule. And I am somebody who works late at night and gets up early and writes emails, but I can still go for a workout class at 9:30am if I want to. It’s so nice, and it also makes me work even harder, because I really now believe in being strategic with my time and my energy and being as efficient as possible. Now I go to Modelfit on Bowery, and I sometimes train one-on-one with Noosha who’s amazing. Don’t let her beautiful face fool you—she is extremely hard. I do that three to four times a week, and then I also do Pilates at Plank. It’s beautiful and I work mostly on the tower. Then when I get home and shower, I use Aveeno Body Wash Stress Relief, which I love.

FRAGRANCE
Obviously Santal 33 is my jam. And then I used to work at Bond No. 9 when I first moved to New York, and it’s so funny because Laurice Rahme, who’s the founder, hired me because of my handwriting. I didn’t have a college degree and I was interning and had just left modeling, and so she was just like, ‘Who are you..?’ So I did a handwriting test for her, and she was a really cool person to be around, and I would just watch how she ran her business. I would do a lot of customer relations for her and a lot of gift-wrapping… Their Nuits de NoHo fragrance is the one I love. It’s a really nice sort of nighttime scent with jasmine. It’s strong, but it's also so simple. I also like to wear this oil from a boutique called Warm—the oil is called Warm, too. The owner is from Hawaii and when you put it on, you feel that.

A lot of the times, I'll just use essential oils. I have a Muji diffuser in my bedroom that I'll use every day with whatever I'm feeling. And then sometimes I'll put a few drops in the bath. My go-tos are sandalwood, jasmine, and neroli. Together I just feel like it's a bit of a moodlifter. Everyone has a mixture that they like, I feel. And I think it’s nice to get back to basics and smell things that are pure and raw."

—as told to ITG

Amanda Shine photographed by Tom Newton at her home in New York on October 8, 2015. 

More like this: Meta Flora's Marisa Competello talks the best Whole Foods hair buys, Jennifer Fisher shares her high/low brow routine, and Meredith Melling has bronzer recommendations for days in The Top Shelf.

The post Amanda Shine, Founder, The Setting appeared first on Into The Gloss.

Kat Borchart, Photographer

"Hi! I'm Kat [@kat_borchart] and I live in Los Angeles, in a small area near Glendale called Atwater Village. I'm a freelance photographer, which allows me to dabble in a lot of different things—production, marketing, taking photos, editing, and actually some accounting—so every day is a bit different. In college I majored in commercial advertising at a photography school, and then I worked for a few companies doing in-house ecommerce photography and assisting other photographers before going full-time. Those 'grunt work' years felt like going to college all over again, but now being able to be my own boss is so rewarding...to feel that sense of accomplishment when I get a new job or make a client happy is truly the best feeling.

My work mainly involves shooting models, mostly women, so pulling references for beauty is always a part of my creative process. Even though it's winter, I’ve lately been pulling a lot of summer vibes—rosy and sunburnt skin, tan lines, road trips. If I’m in a creative rut, I love to pick up copies of Russh, Oyster, and Mirage and jump on my secret Pinterest boards to get the juices flowing again. In my teenage years I was totally obsessed with Roxy. I loved the Surf Riders and their golden tans, freckles, and salty blonde hair. I think that gave me my first sense of wanderlust.

Around that time, when I was getting into makeup—and also getting acne—my grandma taught me the importance of cleansing and moisturizing on a daily basis. She took me to Rite Aid and bought me a Neutrogena Facial Cleansing Bar and two Neutrogena moisturizers, one for day and one for night. I still use the bar! I swear my skin is groomed to their formulas. I wash my face in the shower, and then I wash my body with Rudy's Body Wash or Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Peppermint Bar Soap. I was getting into dry brushing for a minute, but because it's winter, all I want to do is go from one warm spot to the next. So like Cindy Crawford I'll just lather on Whole Foods' apricot or almond oil and pat dry. It really makes a difference, and my skin just drinks it in.

After the shower, I'll put on a coat of Glossier Priming Moisturizer and then do my makeup. I'm of a 'set-it-and-forget-it' mindset because I hate carrying touch-up stuff with me. If I'm just doing a day at home for work, I try not to wear any to give my skin a little break. But for doing errands or taking meetings I'll use Laura Mercier High Coverage Concealer for Under Eye in 2.5 and then an all-over pass with Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20 in Sand. It gives enough coverage without making you feel like you're suffocating your face.

Then I'll add mascara—lately I've using Benefit Roller Lash—and I'll fill in my brows where they need it. A producer on set was gushing about the Diorshow Brow Styler and begged me to let her do my brows. Now I’m a convert, and I love sketching them in ever so slightly. If we're going out, I'll add a lip. I love MAC's Sin, although I have Ruby Woo on standby. And if I'm feeling wilder I have a small Urban Decay Naked Eyeshadow Palette that I'll go to for a little eyeshadow smudge. I do a mix of nudes and gold with a bit of black, and I apply it with a liner brush.

There isn't a lot of rhyme or reason when it comes to my hair products, except adding texture and a good scent. To wash, I typically use Pantene, but sometimes I'll switch to my boyfriend's shampoo—he's using Rudy's, which has a great citrus smell. I’m a huge Bumble and bumble fanatic, so if it's summer and I’m not drying my hair, I'll use Don’t Blow It with a spritz of Brooklyn Beach Hair in Summer Scent. If I do dry it I'll scrunch in some Brilliantine. I can’t do my hair with irons or anything, but I’m obsessed with my Babyliss Pro Hair Dryer. It's not too expensive and really dries your wet hair without frying it. Also, I learned this one great hair trick... After I discovered that all dry shampoo is mostly made up of cornstarch, I’ve kept an old spice shaker of it in my bathroom to run through my roots if I don’t have time to shower. It works like a charm, although you have to work it through really well.

I’m also pretty obsessed with these Japanese foot exfoliation peels called Baby Foot. I only do them once or twice a year, but you put these little plastic booties on for about 30–45 minutes, and for the rest of the week, all of the skin peels off your feet—including the super rough parts. It’s definitely not for everyone, but I love having super smooth heels after the whole process is over.

My routine is all about good skin and textured hair. So much of beauty is subjective, and everyone has their own preferences and sensitivities, so I try not to think too much about what everyone else uses and focus instead on what works best for me. I assisted on a big brand's beauty campaign once and they didn’t use any of the product on the model at all! That was my first truth-in-advertising lesson—now, I really only take recommendations from friends and coworkers instead of from product copy."

—as told to ITG

Further reading: Photographer Libby Gray shares the best skin-reset mask, student Ryen Staggers swears by her one "beauty potion in a bottle," and product stylist Diana del Río believes in wearing a satin cap to bed in the #ITGTopShelfie.

The post Kat Borchart, Photographer appeared first on Into The Gloss.