THE REIGNING THING

xo,
April 18, 2014

In all my findings, the notions that have influenced trends in hair and skincare remain the same. Meters of beauty, race and the dissecting of skin; the idea that one complexion is more desirable than the other, the need to attain it and a market that dedicates itself to it. Seeds of insecurity stemming from colonialism, elitism etc, cosmopolitism and the influence of travel, class and affluence, mass appeal, education and the lack thereof, technology and access to information to name a few.
As panelist in a summit for a cosmetic company in South Africa this past February, I thought it might be beneficial to the company to hear intimate stories on the consumption of beauty products in Nigeria. My hope is that it might cause some sort of change in what beauty products they pushed into markets or even in how it is marketed, labeled etc.
 
Reigning things and factors that inform it make up some of my early memories of beautification and local consumerism. Let me elaborate- Growing up in the 90s, ‘The Reigning Thing’ was the word I had come to associate with how things were purchased, desired, or experienced in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. There was always a craze about the latest soap, the latest cream, the latest lip-gloss, the latest brands, the latest perfume, jewelry, etc. It seemed news of the latest things would pass through my country in a kind of storm that would become a great fad with everybody trying to experience it. But of course this was not always so. Growing up my family consumed products primarily for medicinal reasons. There was a general soap for the entire family and a general cream that most of us used; everyone from my grandmother, to my cousins and myself. This soap was usually antiseptic, and for the entirety of my childhood I mostly saw one, at the most, two brands used. The cream, nothing fancy, functioned solely to moisturize and protect from the harsh sun, or against infections, or to give a glow of health. And it seemed every product that we used during this time served a primary purpose of keeping us in good health. There were not many concerns with skin types or sensitivity. In fact the weather took precedence over this as sometimes it determined the brand or kind of products we used as we went from rainy to dry season and back.
 
Changes to this norm happened much later as we made our way into young adulthood as secondary level students and became conscious of the reigning things around us. Slowly and for no particular reason other than to partake in the reigning experience, we stopped using the general soap and cream, and began to use some of our pocket money to buy into these experiences. In no time, we were all having little corners in front of the bedroom vanity with small fancy bottles of cream, powder, and perfume. Perhaps the only reason, outside of being in vogue, was for the luxury or idea of having products that were better made, better perfumed, and better packaged.
 
I have to note that my experiences with the reigning thing only went as far as experimenting with brown powder from Hausa hawkers, Palmers cocoa butter cream from our local boutiques, and liquid eyeliner from India or the Nigerian Fulani tribe. However, it continued through observation.
Very rapidly, beautification in my community or perhaps the entire country went from simply engaging in these faddish experiences into a great need to attain a more desirable complexion. The “reigning thing” became very much about toning, brightening, and the retransformation of complexion.
 
For the consumer who simply desired to be considered better looking, or to keep up with their mates, to move up in society as many of these experiences were about, it was not a matter of choice. It also suddenly seemed that these kinds of reigning things were for a certain class or people with certain pockets and those desiring to mimic them. We, the teenagers just watched in amazement, shock, and sometimes despair.
 
It’s important to note that a good percentage of Nigerian women do not bleach or lighten their skin; in fact they are quite proud of it. But during this period of the great fair skin reign of people going from dark to brown to fair, it started to seem that something was terribly wrong with being of a darker complexion. This particular “reigning thing” had somehow officiated a kind of meter that began to define beauty around me.
But it was what the nation desired. It is what men desired of women and what women desired of themselves to compete with other women, even mothers spoke highly of the fair daughters and blamed their husbands and husband’s people for their browner girls. “Abeg, my family is fair jor, it’s my husbands people, they are dark.” Eh eh eh I no want, who you say you wan marry? Abeg carry your charcoal go o” The desire and need for a lighter complexion were so strong that very little questions were asked; those came much later. Much, much later when women started to notice or experience the backlash effects of bleaching.
 
Products were scarcely labeled with very little information but we hadn’t noticed. Some products said as little as fair cream for a cream and fine talc powder for brown powder. Some just named the content of the product for consumers who knew what effects they desired. The overriding concern in my observation, were not in questions of product information but in the authenticity of the contents in these products as there were many local imitations too. The other overriding concern was in availability. Scarce was not a word consumers of this particular “reigning thing” took lightly to. Though I don’t think there was any real way of telling if many of these products were authentic or would be made readily available. It simply flooded the market and was fiercely marketed for the results they provide.
 
….Continue Reading & Join The Conversation….


xo,
December 26, 2013

 of ME by ANA KRAS
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of ME by ANA KRAS


xo,
December 24, 2013

In my Brooklyn studio.


xo,
December 23, 2013

I am my own muse. I am the subject I know best. The subject I want to better.


xo,
November 25, 2013

oroma elewa by jody rogac

of ME by JODY ROGAC Part of ‘IN BETWEEN’ Jody’s first book in collaboration with THE NEWS STAND and ALL DAY NYC


xo,
October 8, 2013

of ME by JODY ROGAC My hands are starting to look like that of my grandmothers; strong with rich protruding veins. Telltale signs of an artist whose hands have served and will continue to serve him/her well.

of ME by JODY ROGAC
My hands are starting to look like that of my grandmothers; strong with rich protruding veins.


xo,
October 8, 2013

of ME by JODY ROGAC I knew of fellow photographer Jody Rogac. I knew she didn’t overly retouch her work if at all and thought to myself, I’m nervous. I knew shooting with her meant I had expose myself and a life long insecurity of baring it all to the camera. But I braved it. I wanted to see what I was so afraid of. I wanted to embrace my flaws. I wanted to finally embrace every line. I wanted to see how I have aged and what harsh realities my face now bares. What was a very fearful step to take became a step toward a release of what fears I had held about my kind of beauty and beauty in general.


of ME by JODY ROGAC
I knew of fellow photographer Jody Rogac. I knew she didn’t overly retouch her work if at all and thought to myself, I’m nervous. I knew shooting with her meant I had expose myself and a life long insecurity of baring it all to the camera. But I braved it. I wanted to see what I was so afraid of. I wanted to embrace my flaws. I wanted to finally embrace every line. I wanted to see how I have aged and what harsh realities my face now bares. What was a very fearful step to take became a step toward a release of what fears I had held about my kind of beauty and beauty in general.


xo,
June 26, 2013

“We teach females that in relationships, compromise is what women do. We raise girls to see each other as competitors, not for jobs or for accomplishments— which I think can be a good thing— but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are. If we have sons, we don’t mind knowing about our sons’ girlfriends, but our daughters boyfriends? ‘God forbid!’ But of course when the time is right, we expect those girls to bring back the perfect man to be their husband. We police girls, we praise girls for virginity, but we don’t praise boys for virginity. And it’s always made me wonder how exactly this is supposed to work out because *laughs* the loss of virginity is usually a process that involves *laughs*…
We teach girls shame. ‘Close your legs!’ ‘Cover yourself!’ We make them feel as though by being born female, they are already guilty of something. And so, girls grow up to be women who cannot say they have desire. They grow up to be women who silence themselves. They grow up to be women who cannot say what they truly think. And they grow up—and this is the worst thing we do to girls—they grow up to be women who have turned pretense into an artform.”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


PRESS PLAY

xo,
May 10, 2013


 

A Taste of Zamrock’ featuring psychedelic rock artists in 1960s Zambia,5 Revelations, The W.I.T.C.H and others.
Enjoy!


What is beauty?

xo,
May 8, 2013

What is beauty? What makes a thing beautiful? Why does it move anyone to label it as such?
On a superficial level, I’ve wondered what certain structure of a face or curve of a body makes one beautiful and if I possessed it. I’ve oft wondered about my kind of beauty and whether or not it was beautiful. Sad? Isn’t it? Sadder are the factors we allow to inform us what beauty is or means. Wouldn’t you agree? And yes, I’ve also tried to understand what was informing my ideas of beauty.
….Continue Reading & Join The Conversation….


xo,
April 26, 2013

Creatives are not particularly meant to be understood. I find you’re only allowed to be thoroughly fascinated, annoyed, repulsed or interested in us or our work.


xo,
April 14, 2013

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of ME and JODIE SMITH by ELIAS TAHAN
Hemmingsway,
Los Angeles, March ’13


DEAR MARY LODU

xo,
April 6, 2013

You inspire me.
With Love and Admiration,
Oroma


xo,
March 30, 2013

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of ME by ELIAS TAHAN
Los Angeles. March ’13


xo,
March 30, 2013

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of ME by ELIAS TAHAN
Los Angeles. March ’13


PRESS PLAY

xo,
March 27, 2013


In loving memory of the late CHINUA ACHEBE with remastered songs from Igbo Highlife legends; THE ORIENTAL BROTHERS, CHIEF STEPHEN OSITA OSADEBE and OLIIVER De COQUE.

As you may have heard or read, Nigerian Author, the legendary Chinua Achebe past on some few days ago.

Chinua Achebe is responsible for some of my most cherished novels; Anthills of the Savannah, Girls at War, No longer at Ease, A man of the people and Things Fall Apart. 
As a child whose favorite past time was reading, Achebe words delivered worlds of possibilities, plates full of knowledge and genuine African thinking. His brilliance in delivery helped make sense of the very intricate world I come from. In fact, the foundation of some of Africa’s emerging great thinkers and creatives are laid in the very ink of his pen.

For all he has done for me and my people, I have put together a mix of Igbo classics, a symbol of my respect and admiration. This mix features remastered songs from Igbo highlife legends; The Oriental Brothers, Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe and Oliver De Coque.

These are the same songs my grandmother bent over to dance to in customary Igbo fashion. And the songs that are played at the parties of dignified society Igbo men.

Enjoy and please share and help me honor him.


Thank you.


xo,
March 18, 2013

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of ME by ELIAS TAHAN
Los Angeles. March ’13


WHAT IS IT?

xo,
January 13, 2013

So many want [it], cry and have many sleepless nights over [it].[It] has become a major cause of anxiety, jealousy, and fatal neurosis. For [it], some are esteemed but for many, however [it] is the root of all disrespect.
There are those who work hard for [it] and some who have [it] handed to them. Some downright sleep their way to it, alter themselves for [it] for there is no longer shame in [it]. [It] is unmistakably a phenomenon. Songs are sung about it. It has become the unwritten code that is implied in every desire to be. You too have thought of [it], of ways to get [it]. Though no one has ever told you exactly how to find [it]. You cannot blame them for the ungodly secrecy that surrounds [it] and for hoarding [it].
….Continue Reading & Join The Conversation….


xo,
December 26, 2012

The aroma of crushed guava leaves, the taste of salted clay, dancing under stars that I can almost touch and a moon that dances along, home.


THE MODERN DAY MUSE

xo,
December 16, 2012

Stylish, chic, in vogue and on every style blog. Some are truly talented and have carved out a path of their own. Others are famous either by default or association. All of which does not seem to affect our admiration for their ‘it’ factors: their shoes, their clothes for example and the lives they lead. But in a recent conversation, I was told that style stars, socialites and ‘it’ girls are not necessarily considered modern day muses, that we simply obsess over their style.
What, if I may ask truly makes and defines one as a modern day muse? Who are yours?
….Continue Reading & Join The Conversation….


THE STRONG BLACK WOMAN

xo,
December 10, 2012

The term strong woman or strong black woman implies that a woman possesses admirable inner strength, a defined sense of identity and independence. One might even say that strong women today are modern day feminists. But I find that this term or label also strip women of a certain fragility, softness or vulnerability. It excludes and undermines the strength and approach of the subtle and gentle woman.  Taken further out of context, this term can go as far as making a thinking woman with opinions appear aggressive, manly or unapproachable. Maybe I’m wrong but as a woman today who is working to achieve, to attain and to be, do you fully embrace this term? Can you truly embrace that which excludes what is quintessentially you? Does the term ‘Strong Woman / Strong Black Woman truly define who we are?
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A WOMAN’S MANIFESTO

xo,
November 22, 2012

As a woman, it becomes imperative to have policies, rules you live your life by. As you get older, these rules change, maybe they don’t but in one way or another, you learn to adjust or stand firmer by them. You learn things you absolutely cannot compromise on like the character of the kind of man you want to share you life with, the person you’d like to become and or the kind of life you’d like to lead. Do you have a manifesto? Are you making changes to policies you once held on to? Let’s talk.
….Continue Reading & Join The Conversation….




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