Nothing is Promised

Last week supermodel and America’s Next Top Modelfinalist, Winnie Harlow a.k.a Chantelle answered questions from Bravo’s Andy Cohen that set off, I won’t say controversy but a bit of social media cattiness from former America’s Next Top Model contestants and fans.  Winnie said that the show didn’t do anything to help her develop her career.  Other former contestants and fans think she’s being ungrateful.  But a few ANTM alumni agree with Winnie.

The first winner of America’s Next Top Model Adrianne Curry said years ago that the show didn’t do anything for her career.  Other models from early seasons said that the show not only didn’t help them become successful but it was a hindrance to getting signed with an agency.  Other former contestants on the show credit ANTM for giving them their start in the business and giving them a platform from which to speak.

I don’t have a problem with Winnie telling her story and giving her opinion on the matter.  But I do take her words with a grain of salt.  I watched her season of the show and she didn’t come across as a very likable character.  There was an arrogance and sense of entitlement about her and she wasn’t well liked by other cast mates in the Top Model House.

It’s hard to gauge how effective ANTM is in launching careers because there aren’t many super star models anymore.  Fashion magazines use actresses, reality show stars and the children of famous people in their ads.  The models that don’t fit into those categories may be successful but they aren’t household names like the super models of the 80s and 90s.

I am a long time fan of America’s Next Top Model and while viewing each season I have questioned whether many of the girls could really go on and model.  The contestants that are chosen are people that look good on TV but they don’t really look like people that you see walking in fashion shows or in fashion magazines.  I don’t think that it matter much because each season thousands of hopefuls audition to fill fourteen spots on the show.

2015-08-27-americas-next-top-model03

Tyra also uses the show as her own personal soap box.  She has used the show as a platform to challenge beauty standards and she picks models accordingly.  Yet, fashion models are overwhelmingly tall, thin, young and European.  ANTM has featured contestants that speak well to Tyra’s beliefs but I’m not sure they are what the fashion industry is looking for.

Nonetheless, I have seen ANTM contestants acting on TV programs and in print ads.  I follow many of the former contestants on Instagram and they seem to have entertainment careers.  But I’ll admit it’s always hard to tell who is successful and who isn’t from Instagram pages.

I’m sure being on a show like America’s Next Top Model is a great learning and opportunity for young models especially in the social media age.  But just like American Idol, The Voice and other talent finding competitions there are some contestants that are successful once their season is over and others that are never heard from again.

So it seems that being a contestant on ANTM is a lot like going to college.  You show up with hopes and dreams for the future.  Your experience in the program may give some valuable lessons that will help you achieve your goals but winning ANTM, American Idol, making it to the NFL or NBA draft does not in and of itself promise success.  Often times people that struggle in the initial stages of their career become stars.

When you hear Jennifer Hudson’s powerful voice remember that she was an American Idol loser and she only got as far as she did in the competition because Randy Jackson saved her.  Tom Brady wasn’t a top NFL draft pick and Michael Jordan didn’t make his school’s basketball tryouts one year.  You just have to make the most of your opportunities and keep plugging away at your goals.  I believe that people that don’t give up achieve a measure of success but stay humble because nothing is promised to anyone.

winnie

 

 

No Make Up Lent 2018

I am not Catholic but I decided to observe Lent this year.  I was inspired by a short video that I saw on Twitter of a priest discussing the topic.  On a whim the day before Lent began I decided to not use make up for 40 days.  I took it as a new experience and challenge.

I am a light make up user.  I don’t use concealer, powder or foundation.  But I do enjoy black liquid eyeliner, black mascara and a nice bold lip color.  Getting ready in the morning is my favorite part of the day.  I have fun choosing what I’m going to wear and applying my make up.  I think of it as my time to spend on myself before I go out and try to satisfy the world.

The first few days of Lent I was very uncomfortable.  It was shocking to see my reflection when I passed a mirror. I felt like a few people that were use to seeing me with make up looked at me strange.  I felt like I needed to explain my appearance but I didn’t because I would have seemed very self centered because they probably didn’t think anything of my appearance at all.

I didn’t feel like I was doing my best when I wasn’t wearing make up because I feel that I look better with it.  I wanted to give up on my challenge early on and throughout Lent.  I didn’t feel like I was becoming spiritually enlightened or closer to God.  I just looked plain in the face and I didn’t see any value in that.

I wish I could say that I spent the time that I usually spent applying make up reading the Bible or in prayer.  I didn’t.  And I didn’t show up places fifteen minutes sooner than normal either.

I was really happy once Easter arrived and I could wear make up again.  It was like being reunited with an old friend.  Observing Lent didn’t have an Earth shattering spiritual affect on me but I do feel like I learned some discipline and I learned to put aside vanity for the sake of honoring God.  I removed a part of my life that is important to me and glorifies myself and put it to the side for a while.  I’m glad that I observed Lent this year and I am actually looking forward to doing it again next year.

The experience reminds me of one of my favorite Bible verses:

Galatians 2:20 New International Version (NIV)

20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God,who loved me and gave himself for me.

 

Top-Disadvantages-of-Using-Cosmetics-and-Beauty-Products

 

Director Jeferson De debuts his film “Correndo atrás” at Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles; with cast made up of almost all blacks actors, movie details the difficulty of being a poor, black man in Brazilian society

Black Women of Brazil

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Note from BW of Brazil: Of course by now, everyone knows about the blockbuster American film with the nearly all-black cast that’s breaking all sorts of box office records. I’m of course talking about the Marvel Disney film Black Panther, which was released as Pantera Negra a little less than a month ago.The film has been an instant smash in he United States, Brazil and around the world, but what else should be expected? The film’s budget was $200 million and it’s part of the hugely successful Marvel Comics superhero film brand.

Although films with a majority black cast are actually quite common in American film history, it’s still somewhat of a rarity in Brazil.But one film I am really looking forward to seeing debuted at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles just a few weeks ago, actually just about a week before Black…

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Real Talk: Money Saving Tips

I read a tweet a month or so ago from a millennial asking Generation X and Baby Boomers for financial advice.  I answered the tweet without actually answering the question.  I told her that I felt like most financial advice that I’ve seen given in the media is usually geared towards people with fairly high incomes so I can’t advise anything without knowing her situation.

I’ve often been frustrated by financial advice given through the media because it is usually unrealistic for people who make less than $70,000 annually.  Suze Orman expects people to have tens of thousands of dollars in retirement by thirty five.  I remember her telling someone on her show once that they just need to make more money as if it was that easy.

Most young Americans spend their youth paying back debts and have no opportunity to save for retirement or a home.  I’ve heard financial advisers tell their audience how to get the best interest rates on a mortgage.  Well if you are in the market to buy a home or retire you’ve already crossed a certain income and savings threshold.  There isn’t much advice out there for people that need it most.

But I have some financial advice for those with modest incomes.  I’ve never made a great deal of money but I’ve managed to accomplish a lot with what I have.  I got a second Bachelors degree.  I’ve travelled out of the country twice.  I’ve taken my mom on a few nice vacations.  I’ve bought a few cars.  And it’s not a problem for me to treat a friend to dinner once in a while.  I’ve never really been broke.

I will start with the only financial advice I’ve ever heard on TV that anyone can follow.  Many years ago Oprah aired a series on financial responsibility.  She had a man on the show who simply said, “Pay yourself first”.  He said no matter what you make or what you owe take a bit of your earnings and save it for yourself.  It really does work and we can all do this.

Learn to cook.  I’m far from a culinary expert but I have some skills in the kitchen.  If you don’t know how don’t worry, if you can read and follow a recipe I promise you that you can cook.  Cooking saves you from eating out which is very expensive.  Even fast food and convenience items from the store is expensive.  Learning to cook simple meals will save you money and will probably improve your health.

Clip coupons.  People kind of laugh when they see the coupons in my purse but I have learned that there are certain items that you never, ever have to pay full price for.  The Sunday newspaper consistently has coupons for toothpaste, body wash, cosmetics, feminine hygiene products, toilet paper and paper towel.  Retailers like Walgreens and CVS have their own coupon programs which can be coupled with your newspaper coupons.  The savings over time are significant.

Coupon with a purpose.  Coupons can be a double edged sword.  I am on the coupon list for a few retailers that I frequent.  I’ve saved money at clothing stores because of the coupons they send me.  Some retailers send coupons regularly and I feel like I need to use the coupon or else I am wasting money.  But the truth is I could save %100 by not buying that item.  Coupons only save you money if you were going to buy the item anyway and you can apply savings.  If you are just buying something so you can use the coupon you are wasting your money.

Shop with a purpose.  I’m an impulse buyer and I rarely have regrets.  So my personal policy is not to window shop because I can’t.  I will always find something I like and I won’t want to walk away from it.  Even if I leave the store without whatever item caught my attention I’ll come back for it next week.  I stay out of stores unless I am prepared to buy something and have the discretionary income to do so.

Don’t waste money buying money.  ATMs often have fairly high fees to get cash from their machine.  Use your own banks ATM or get cash when you shop with your debit card at the grocery or drug store.  Avoid charging more on your credit card than what you can afford to pay in a month.  Paying the interest on a credit card is a real drag especially if you only make the minimum payments.

So there you have it.  There are a few of my thoughts on maintaining a budget and saving money.  You can make a little go far with a good game plan.  Good luck.  Go out there and prosper.

2017

I’ve always loved New Year’s Eve.  It’s been my favorite holiday for as long as I can remember.  I remember staying up late as a child to watch the ball drop in Times Square and thinking that it was such a treat.  I’ve always enjoyed going out for New Year’s Eve as an adult.  How can you not love a holiday that involves cocktails, hugs and kisses and new party outfits?

I get a kick out of the year in review shows that come on TV and radio.  News outlets remind us of current events that happened throughout the year and radio shows count down the year’s biggest songs.  Sometimes those events or songs seem so long ago.  We can come such a long way in a year.  The new year is a great time to reflect on your personal experiences and accomplishes over the past year.

2017 was a pretty good year for me.  I feel very accomplished and blessed.  I grew as an artist and professional in 2017.  This meant a lot to me because for years I felt stagnant in my life and I didn’t see any opportunities to grow and prosper.  I year and a half ago I was forty years old with a masters degree, about $30,000 in student loan debt and working as a waitress in a Mexican restaurant.  I was beginning to think that I was going to work in that restaurant for the rest of my life.

I ran across a job opportunity on the internet and I filled out the application.  Just as I finished the application after thirty minutes or so something went haywire with the website and the application was lost.  I got really frustrated.  I had been filling out applications for years without any response and I almost didn’t fill it out again.  But I had a brief conversation with a man I went out on a couple dates with and he told me to give myself a break and try again later.  I followed his advice and found some success.  That relationship didn’t work out.  But I’m grateful to that man.  Without his encouraging I would probably be at the Mexican restaurant with my masters degree breaking my back serving burritos right now.

I’ve also made great strides in paying my student loan debt.  I now owe about $24,000.  That’s still a lot but for a long time I wasn’t even moving the needle on the amount that I owe.  I only ask for progress even if it’s slow.  I’ve even got a little money saved in a savings account.  It’s not a great deal of money but once again it’s all about progress.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.

While I was a server I bought a one year old used car.  The car I was driving was around ten years old and I decided I would not pay for any more expensive repairs.  One night after leaving work my car got hit from behind.  I wasn’t hurt at all.  The repairs would have been about three thousand dollars so I took the insurance money and got myself a new vehicle.  At the time I wasn’t sure how I was going to afford a new car because the one that was hit was paid off.  But I was able to make ends meet while serving tacos and then I got my new opportunity.  I owe it all to God.

Things worked out for me in a way that I could not foresee.  I know that the blessing of my car and job opportunity are from God because it all worked out perfectly.  I believe God does things precisely and without a lot of drama or mess.  God was far ahead of me and I just had to be faithful and keep working hard even though I did not see how things were going to be resolved.

I’m looking forward to what 2018 has to offer.  We live in very exciting and interesting times.  It’s kind of like we live in a little soap opera and it’s fascinating to see what becomes of it all.  But as far as my humble life I know God is in control and as long as I keep Jesus and His word first in my life things will fall into place for me according to His plan.  When I was younger people told me this and I’ve read scripture such as Jeremiah 29:11 :

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

As I’ve gotten older and have had the chance to see God work the words of the Bible have become so much more clear to me.  I feel like I’ve seen them in action.  Anyway, here’s to a great 2018!

Why do Children Bully?

Bullying has been a hot topic for the last few years and this week the bullying hype has reached a fever pitch due to the #Keaton hashtag on Twitter.  People love to reflect on why children are so cruel to each other.  To me it is painfully obvious why children mistreat each other to the point that a student may commit suicide because of taunting at school.  Children mistreat each other because they are growing up in a mean, disrespectful society that does not value others.

I’ve been noticing for years that people love to strong arm one another in modern day America.  There is no respect for a difference of opinion and when people do not do what we want we try to force our will on them.  I noticed that in various customer service positions I’ve held.

If a store clerk says “Sorry you can’t bring this back you’ve owned it longer than what our return policy allows” or “Sorry this coupon is expired” or “Sorry you can’t substitute the sides and still get this at the same price” people become mean as hell.  They use language to demean the clerk and demand to speak with a manager.  If management doesn’t do what they want they call the corporate office and rudely make demands and if they don’t get their way they threaten to slander the company on the internet.  They’re bullies that don’t respect the boundaries of others and want to force their will.

The “Real Housewives”, “Basketball Wives” and “Love and Hip Hop” are popular reality show franchises that give us a glimpse into the private lives of the wealthy and privileged.  These tales involve adults, some of whom are grandmothers, that treat each other terribly and sometimes they are even violent to one another.  The characters on these shows are sensitive and have hair trigger tempers.  Their interactions often lead to mean words being thrown back and forth, wine being thrown in someone’s face and/or punches being thrown.  There is no doubt in my mind that a lot of these shows are family viewing in many American households.

Social media is another place where mean, rude, crass behavior has become normal.  People call strangers names and demean each other for their opinions.  The behavior gets even worse when people start talking about and to celebrities.  Geez, people love to build celebrities up and then drag them through the mud or “cancel” them.

To top it off look at who Americans chose to be their leader in 2016.  A man was democratically elected because Americans want a president that speaks his mind and isn’t politically correct.  In other words America wanted crass and brazen behavior in the White House.  He does what he wants and doesn’t consider others.  He grabs bitches by the pussy!  In other words Americans wanted a bully as a president.  The last president we had was considerate, polite, professional and tried to help people.  What a punk!

So the next time anyone ponders why children bully each other just look at what is surrounding them as they grow up.  They are surrounded by bullying in real life, in the media, in entertainment and in the White House.

Bullying and treating others with disdain is normal for children because of the behavior the see modeled before them.  So don’t blame children for the bullying.  It’s not their fault that they are growing up in this modern day trashy American culture.

 

Feminist Identity

Modern feminism is very confusing to me.  It’s as if it can’t decide which message it wants to spread.  On one hand we’ve been taught that women can be soldiers, police officers, firefighters, or the President of the United States.  But we are also being told that women are delicate flowers that can not be expected to speak up and stand up for themselves if a man gives them unwanted attention.  Feminism needs to pick it’s identity because I don’t think you can claim to be bold and brave and passive and childlike at the same time.

I was born in the mid 70’s so I inherited the Gloria Steinem, “I am woman hear me roar”, brand of feminism.  I’ve never completely bought into it.  I definitely believe that women should be independent and that we should be able to pursue any career that we choose as long as our talent, abilities and skills are competitive with others in the same field.  There is absolutely no reason that women should be barred or discriminated against in most fields.

The aspect of feminism that I’ve never agreed with is that men and women are equal.  Math was never my strong suit but I know that equal means the same.  I don’t believe that either gender is superior to the other but I do believe that men and women are different.  We are just hard wired differently.

Feminism has been telling women for decades to act like men and take on masculine characteristics.  I think this in itself is sexist and shows a lack of appreciation for femininity.  I believe that women are more modest by nature.  However, feminism has told women to put their bodies on display as often as possible.

60’s style feminism also brought about the sexual revolution which hasn’t worked out very well for women.  By nature women yearn for exclusive relationships.  Feminism has taught women to be sexually liberated and have as many partners as possible.  It seems to me that this attitude from women have made men value women less and it’s made it more difficult to find men that are interested in commitment and family.  If sex is readily available for men many of them don’t see the need to be married.

Sexual assault and street harassment is a hot button issue for today’s young feminists.  I see them on Twitter all the time complaining about their space being violated by men publicly or privately.  I don’t understand why young women can’t tell men on the street to leave them alone.  If a man at the workplace is making unwanted advances why don’t these ladies make it clear that they are not interested and if the behavior continues document the incidents and report them to human resources.

For decades feminism has encouraged women to be bold and assertive but now it’s claiming that women are delicate flowers that need to be protected.  Which is it?  There use to be societal norms that made men take relationships more seriously, respect a woman’s space and take more responsibility as a father.  But feminist attitudes chipped away at the conventions and now they are all but destroyed.

Women have always had a hard time regardless of the culture or time period.  Feminism started off well and still offers a lot of great values.  But I think the great feminist mistake was not valuing and respecting femininity and teaching young women to be more like men.  A man is not superior to a woman but we are not equal, meaning the same either.  I want to be respected for my skills, talent and work but I want to be respected as a woman too.

God Prevails over Man Made Leadership but Choose your Leadership Wisely

It a scary time in America right now.  We don’t know what to expect from our political leadership right now.  They seem to be trying to change the system that we’ve had in America to a new system that exclusively benefits the wealthiest of the wealthy and makes it difficult for middle class and poor people to survive.  I think that the democratically elected Republican leadership in this country is downright evil and those that support it are stupid and evil as well.  Perilous times are ahead.

But the Bible tells us that there is nothing new under the sun.  The world has seen evil, self centered, arrogant, egotistical, conceited, cold hearted, foolish, greedy, tyrannical leadership before.  The Bible is full of stories of heavy handed poor leadership.  And those that were faithful to God always prevailed.

Please do not misunderstand me.  I’m not one of these passive Christians that opts out of politics because “The Lord always reigns supreme” or “God is in Control”.  I agree with these quotes but I don’t think that means you can’t have a political opinion and act in your best interest.  I can’t stand any of these flaky Christians that don’t vote because “The system is not Godly”.  I resent a lot of stupid, gullible Christians for helping to make America ground zero for future global economic collapse, xenophobia, racism, sexism, pedophilia, poor manners and general stupidity and ignorance.

At this point in human history Americans just have to take things day by day and be prayerful and have faith in God.  Take inspiration from Biblical heroes like Daniel who stood up to King Darius in the book of Daniel.  Also in Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar order three boys into a fiery furnace for not bowing down to him.   Be inspired by the stories of Moses and the Jews who were brutally oppressed by Pharaoh  in Exodus.  Remember the persecution of infants by King Herod in the Gospels.  All of those that were persecuted by evil leaders persevered with faith from God.  They were blessed because the were steadfast in their beliefs and unafraid of evil.

So remember that there is nothing new under the sun.  We live in uncertain times in America right now so have faith in God and love each other.  With that being said vote better next time and stop being so dense.  Don Don’s presidency has nothing to do with Jesus and it will not benefit you unless you are rich.  There is no need to test God like this.  I would believe in the Lord if I lived in Shangri-La so why did these fools open the flood gates of misery, poverty and pestilence.  Have faith.  Be smart.

Ecclesiastes 1:9King James Version (KJV)
9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

2 Timothy 3:1-5New International Version (NIV)
3 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

 

Grown Woman Sex Appeal

I am a forty two year old woman that will turn forty three in February of 2018.  People usually think I’m younger than what I am.  Sometimes people are a full decade or more off when they guess my age.  For the most part I have taken pride in this.  But lately it has begun to grate my nerves when I hear a person say that a woman looks great for her age.  What’s wrong with looking your age?  What exactly is a certain age supposed to look like?

As I have gotten older I have learned to appreciate what I call “grown woman sexy”.  Grown woman sexy is hard to explain or pin point.  But all I can say is that women don’t even start to have it until they are at least thirty two.  Grown woman sexy is physical beauty mixed with poise and sophistication.  Not many people have that in their twenties.

It’s a little perverse to me the way the world obsesses over youthful beauty.   There is a lot to be said about wide eyed, energetic, youthful beauty.  It is indeed lovely and I admire watching it on America’s Next Top Model, beauty pageants and in pro sports.  But if you are fifty and still trying to attract a beautiful twenty year old lover, any twenty year old lover, you’re a bit peculiar.  What’s wrong with other fifty year old people?  Why didn’t you snag your young dream lover when you were young and cute yourself?

I’m mostly posing these questions to men because women don’t seem to have the same hang ups on youth.  As I’ve gotten older I don’t have a problem with a receding hair line or a dad bod.  It’s kind of hot really.  And gray hair is sexy!  When you get older and you are on the dating market you need to face reality and deal with grown people ****.  I appreciate maturity and how it looks.

If I was a man I think I would appreciate a woman with a bit of a sloppy mid section.  I don’t think cesarean scars or stretch marks would be a problem.  I also think that laugh lines and crows feet add character.  Aging characteristics just make a lady look different but I don’t feel like looks are diminished until you hit the elderly stage of life.  A woman can be active and vibrant until she’s made it to that hip replacement age.  Until then live it up girls!

You couldn’t pay me to be in my twenties again.  It was fine while it was happening but there’s nothing about my twenties I want to relive.  I have grown so much and I have been very blessed so I feel that I have a lot to look forward to in life even once I make it (Lord willing) to hip replacement age.

I think that prime time for women is between thirty two – thirty seven (or older).  You are still young enough to take chances and enjoy the youthful pleasures of life but you’re too old to be naive and foolish (hopefully).  By the time you are in your mid thirties a woman has an education beyond high school even if it’s from the school of hard knocks.  And she has had some good and bad experiences that make her a more compelling person.

I honestly think the fixation people have with youthful female beauty is that a lot of men want to treat women like blow up dolls.  There is little appreciation for a mature woman’s point of view in this world.  (I think that’s how the U.S. ended up with Donnie for president).  Outside of marriage and motherhood American society doesn’t take much interest in the experiences of adult women.

I also think that making women feel bad about aging is yet another way men try to control women.  Society holds many judgments like this against women.  The number of sexual partners, failed relationships, children, weight and age are all used as indictments against women but not against men.  People will use anything on this list and you can probably think of a few more on your own, to tell a woman she isn’t good enough or worthy enough to be respected or loved.

If women don’t measure up to the standards that our culture has set for her she is told to settle and accept poor treatment from partners, poor wages from employers and little to no voice in the world around her.  The bias placed on aging women is probably the most cruel because she is being judged and punished for not dying.  What a message to send women as they start to get a few gray hairs.  Age is another device to control women.

Be mindful of telling a woman she looks great for her age.  If you want to give her a compliment just tell her she looks great.  Period.  Telling someone they look younger than what they are may be a matter of fact but not necessarily a compliment.  There is no reason why younger should automatically be considered better.

Enjoy the age you are and don’t look back.  You would be giving up too much if you did.  Be the best you that you can be at this point in your life.  Be grateful for all of your experiences.  They give you a rich history and give you stories to tell at parties.  And if you’re blessed this history plus exercise and eating right will help you achieve peak grown woman sexy.