Straight up: this is going to be a rant. A rant about how logically the appearance of a woman should not even be considered or criticised when it is irrelevant to her profession. Cynthia McKinney is many things: an activist, a former congresswoman, a member of the green and the democratic party, a former presidential candidate… She even served as a Commissioner in The Citizen’s Commission on 9/11, got consecutively elected 6 times as a member of the US House of Representatives for the state of Georgia, earned a B.A. in international relations from the University of Southern California, an M.A. in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and is currently studying for a PhD at the University of California. She worked as a high school teacher and later as a university professor before embarking on her political career.

All these achievements seem to be ridiculed by one and only one irrelevant detail: she is black.


The text below is an excerpt from the March 31 broadcast of Cox Radio Syndication’s The Neal Boortz Show, with producer Belinda Skelton and talk radio host Royal Marshall:

“BOORTZ: For instance, or for goodness sakes, jump in and I’m gonna say — I’m gonna start out with something controversial. I saw Cynthia McKinney’s new hair-do. Have you seen it, Belinda?

SKELTON: No.

BOORTZ: She looks like a ghetto slut.

SKELTON: Well, how is it?

BOORTZ: It’s just — it’s hideous.

SKELTON: Is it braided? Or —

BOORTZ: No, it’s not braided. It just flies away from her head in every conceivable direction. It looks like an explosion in a Brillo pad factory. It’s just hideous. To me, that hairstyle just shows contempt for — no, it’s not an Afro. I mean, no, it just shows contempt for the position that she holds and the body that she serves in. And, I’m sorry, there’s just no other way to — it’s just a hideous and horrible looking —

MARSHALL: Her hairstyle?

BOORTZ: Yeah, the hairstyle. It just, it looks like an explosion. Have you seen it?

MARSHALL: Yeah, I like it.

BOORTZ: Oh, jeez.

MARSHALL: It looks better than the braids she was wearing.

BOORTZ: No, the braids had some dignity. They had some class.

MARSHALL: The braids had dignity?

BOORTZ: They had more class than this thing.

MARSHALL: This says, you know, kinda 2000s, you know, stepping up to the plate. Contemporary look, you know?

BOORTZ: She looks like Tina Turner peeing on an electric fence.

MARSHALL: OK, so you don’t like her hair.

BOORTZ: Yeah, OK, I don’t like her hair. I’m sorry.

MARSHALL: That being said, I think a lot of people would say it looks a lot better than those cornrows she was wearing. You can’t tell me that’s dignified.

BOORTZ: Well, I’m not a big cornrow fan but I got used to her with that. OK?

MARSHALL: So she’s staying the same for you?

BOORTZ: She looks like a shih tzu!

MARSHALL: I like Cynthia’s new hairstyle.

BOORTZ: Well, there you go. Differing opinions.”

I thought this was a good correlation for those who didn’t already hear about this story when it happened. Notice how he tries to play it off like he is insulting her “hairstyle” but her loose hair is simply her natural texture and he has assigned it a label- ghetto and slutty and trashy. He also states he doesn’t like her braids either. From what we know now about her hair type that leaves her with only one styling option if she listened to him or God forbid, he had some kind of power over her, like being the one in charge of decided whether she got a job- straight hair. Surprise, surprise.

What is so wrong with women succumbing to the beauty ideal and conforming other than the obvious, is that they don’t realize it’s never been about the actual physical features. That is what those insulting “Other” features want you to think, if only you burn your hair straight, get that nose reduced, that skin color lightened/darkened, change your hair color, lose that weight, etc you will become better and more worthwhile. So in our minds the physical is what is holding us back but trying to rid ourselves of that feature shows a basic lack of understanding that the feature has never been the problem. It’s the label someone has arbitrarily decided should be assigned to that feature and getting rid of the feature is a solution akin to hiding, it doesn’t really solve anything. McKinney could have chosen to wear a blond weave to avoid being labeled a ghetto slutty trash but she shouldn’t have to.  No woman should, whatever career they are into. McKinney should be judged on her achievements, not her hair texture.

For more info about Cynthia McKinney, click here.

To read the entire radio broadcast, click here.


Having recently joined the Digg community, I came across the following collection of Christina Hendricks pictures and the subsequent comments made by Digg male users. While I am aware that Christina is closer to a size 10 than a size 20, she is nonetheless a good example of “natural is better”. It is pretty obvious that her “assets” are not fakes for starters so I would consider this a proof of men do prefer natural breasts to silicon implants (hint hint, girls). The other thing to take into consideration is her hair colour. While not being natural (she’s been dying her natural blonde hair since she was 10), it is nonetheless ginger: a colour that is very often the subject of playground bullying. Another thing to take into account is that her face is actually asymmetrical: it does not necessarily make her less beautiful but it is still regarded as a flaw by beauty fascists. I will also readily admit that the first thing you see are her breasts but if you look at the whole package, she is not exactly stick thin and scrawny everywhere else. She is the first to admit that, like most women out there, she would not mind losing another 10 pounds but is afraid of losing them in the wrong places so chooses to accept herself as she is. My last point to take into account is the role she plays on TV show Mad Men: an office manager trying to fight back the machismo of a male ran advertising agency in the 60’s or, for short, an old-school feminist.


I would not say that Christina Hendricks is a role model yet: I do keep in mind that she is “only” an actress (in the sense that she hasn’t achieved or demonstrated model behaviour outside of her profession). However, due to her being all natural and looking like a woman should be (curves, flaws and all) while still managing to be successful, I would say she rocks. I am certainly looking forward to see where her career takes her.


Some things nowadays just make you sick… I came across this news article on my commute this morning:

Bullied for her good looks…

It just goes to prove that bullying never stops at anything: – If you are “ugly”, you get bullied

– If you are pretty, you get bullied

– If you get better grades then anyone else, you get bullied

– If you get bad grades, you get bullied

– If you are fat, you get bullied

– If your hair is not dead straight, you get bullied

– If you haven’t slept with a boy by age 13, you get bullied

– If you’re a slut, you get bullied

… And the list goes on, and on, and on… Be it a positive or a negative aspect that sets you apart from the norm, you will always get bullied.

I did not know Poppy Bracey, nor the circumstances surrounding her death. I seriously doubt that the bullying is the only cause for her suicide since the girl was in foster care. However, I do know her suffering and the pain the school yard’s hyenas must have imponed on her.

Rest in peace, angel.

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I am not a fan of the politically correct, do-gooder, outcrying, NIMBY type of parents who tend to think the government, telly, schools, big corporations and other institutions should raise their kids for them. However, this is not a post about them. This is a post about the group of parents (Mumsnet) who have appealed for highly sexual materials to be “watershedded”.  This new outcry is not regarding the usual, “in your face” sexual content but the sneakier ones… You know the hip-hop/RnB/pop/girl’s band music videos? More specifically the one where the nearly anorexic size 8 girls are wearing next to nothing? Even when it is not a macho hip hop/RnB music video where the highly muscled gun-totting so-called gangsta is smacking his biatches around, the girls have to have the most sexual, forget suggestive as subtlety has now disappeared, dance routines and outfits. The problem is, these videos are actually on all the time, you don’t even need to have a music channel. All you need to do is switch on to a non-music national freeview channel in the morning and there you have it.

I do not usually agree with parents trying to get the government or the institution of the moment to do their jobs for them, but it must be hard for a mum trying to induce some body confidence and a sense of self-worth into her teenage daughter. It must be even harder nowadays where we (women) are given such a high (unachievable) standard of beauty to measure to. The effects of the over sexualisation of women is pretty obvious: you only need to walk down a shopping centre on a Saturday afternoon and you’ll see what I mean. The girls whose thongs are showing out of their tight jeans, whose padded bright pink bras are visible through their low cut white t-shirt, whose hairs are highlighted blonde, straightened to death… Don’t be fooled, a lot of them are only 12. I am a huge advocate that a woman that has everything on display has a low self-esteem. The fact that you are flaunting everything all at once in one-go would usually betray that you sense you have nothing better to offer or nothing else worth noticing. I am talking about women… What drives a 12 year old to already think like that? If you want respect, start by respecting yourself: put some clothes on.

Click here to read the original article.

Click here to see a video of Justine Roberts, founder of Mumsnet.

Direct link to the Mumsnet campaign.


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For anyone who does not know what the title of this post refers to, “How To Look Good Naked” is a fabulous programme on Channel 4 where women who have huge body confidence issues see themselves boosted up by getting a full makeover and agreeing to pose for a nude photoshoot and strut their stuff on the catwalk.

A huge inspiration altogether, this programme has helped me realise that it was ok to not be a size 10 with DD cup perky boobs, a flat stomach and the shadow of a bum. This was simply done by showing that we are all different and normal women have wobbles, stretch marks and other things that are deemed “unsightly”.

Now one of the latest episode has shown a different end of the spectrum. Instead of having a size 14+ on the show, they had a size 10 44 year old woman. Before having her kids, Jane used to be a size 16 and loving her curves. However, the pregnancies left her with a size 10 body. Now before we carry on, let me clarify that she had no stretch marks, no cellulite, no flabby skin hanging loose. It’s as if the 2 pregnancies transformed her body into an 18 year old’s.  “What’s her problem then?” you (and I, admittedly) would ask and I am sure most women who have had 2 kids and feel they are now worse for wear would be infuriated. I must admit I was a tad jealous at this woman: where every average woman would have put on 2 sizes, she dropped 3 and could now fit into anything on the high street (let’s face it, most pretty stuff are cut for shapeless size 10’s). On the other side of things, you could tell she really had a problem: it was not just the overlaying of clothes to create the illusion of volume or wearing 2 bras on top of each other, but also her body language and how “recluse” and “curled up” on herself she was.

All in all, once you got past the initial reaction of shouting “There is nothing wrong with you!” at the telly (or more at the woman in question), this was actually a good episode of the series. Not because it necessarily boosted the confidence of curvy girls out there, but because I think it layed out the bare and common truth: no matter what size/shape a woman is,  she will always find something to hate about herself. Even when you “conform” with the ideal beauty the media sells, you can still feel like the ugliest blob on earth.

Another issue this has lifted is that maybe size 10’s and below hate their bodies too simply because they fail to see how they are the envy of so many other women. They might also hate the “anorexic chick” stereotype as much as size 14+ hate the “obese fatass” stereotype we women and health freaks plonk on each other. For all you know, a tiny size 8 who eats like a pig in the hope of growing some curves could suffer just as much as the size 18 who is constantly dieting and not shifting those medically unsafe pounds.

Bottom line: it’s always good to see the other side’s point of view before casting judgements. What do you think?


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Click here to see a slideshow of Nicole Kidman through the years.

Yes, Nicole Kidman is the startup point of my little rant today. How does a stunning curly redhead gets to become a straight haired blonde zombie with collagen injections in her lips (I will not go on the subject of botox)? Her hair has gone so bad that I seriously suspect that even her loose curls are not even natural anymore: they are too perfect and must have been made with a curling iron after flat ironing the whole of her head to death.

Nicole Kidman used to be one of the celebs I would use as an example of “curly isn’t ugly” whenever someone was pestering me on the schoolground. “Well, Nicole Kidman is a successful actress and she is married to Tom Cruise and she is curly.”

She is not the only celebrity to have tried to negate her genetic heritage. Without turning this into a freak show of cosmetic surgery, many people would try to eradicate whatever signs of belonging to an ethnicity they may have. The over the top example of Lil’ Kim with her fake nose, chin, boob implants, blue eyes, lightened skin and honey blonde hair speaks for itself. Did she really think obliterating her “blackness” would make her more successful?

The other example I would think about is Leona Lewis… When she was on the X-Factor (the equivalent of American idol), her hair was dyed blonde but was extremely curly. Now she has gone for a darker shade (great) but her curls have nearly gone. I also suspect she was getting hair extensions at a certain point (the video for Run) because you can only get curly hair that healthy down to a limited length.

The same thing proved true on American Idol (we do have the show in the UK too). Everytime I see a girl with an afro or curls going through to Hollywood, I always tell my husband: “Another one who is going to be forced to wear a wig/ get it relaxed/ get it straightened for the sake of Glamour”. It gets tiresome to be right. I don’t believe straightening your hair makes your voice better… Unless I slept through all my biology classes and that puzzling correlation escaped me.

So my question is this:

Does success go hand in hand with changing what you were born with just to comply to the norm?

This is more of a chicken and egg thing really. Do you become successful thanks to your original looks first and you start changing because you are pressured to fit into a mould to appeal to more people? Or are you pressured into it to keep people talking (same old face/do)?

The only curly haired actress I can think of who has stayed curly is Mary-Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Maid Marian from the 90’s version of Robin Hood with Kevin Costner, the main girl in The Abyss…). Unfortunately, it looks like she is stuck with TV series guest roles now. All the other ones I can think of have sacrificed their manes on the altar of the all winning flat iron. Sad.


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I know I promised this blog was not going to be about me. I am going to use the “I”, “my” and “mine” quite a lot in this post as it refers to a lot of my close friends…

Ever since I started modelling, my friends have been scaring me. Not in the “Oh, no! Modelling is bad for you, there are conmen out there and you don’t want to develop and eating disorder…” kind of way but more in the “You are so photogenic, I look like a rat, a blob, a mess, I’m ugly, I wish I could look this good…Blah blah”. What actually scares me is the fact that those statements come from women I admire for their guts, intelligence and drive. One of them is actually a marketing executive who speaks 2 languages fluently, managed to complete a part-time MBA and was my bridesmaid at my wedding (and I secretly wish I had her figure). Another is a mom to 2 lovely little boys who has found the courage to divorce her abusive and inconsiderate husband of 11 years so her boys could have a better quality of life. On top of taking care of her boys and running her house, she is dealing with a chronic condition called fibromyalgia. She is officially disabled as a result of it. However, despite her recent and successful spur at getting her life sorted and getting a lovely new boyfriend, she still has massive issues regarding her self-perception and refuses to have her picture taken.

I have plenty more examples of this, I could go on for ages but I won’t. I have been trying to explain with no avail that given the right photographer, lights, make-up and clothes, any woman’s inner beauty can shine through on camera. I did tell them that I, and any other model/celebrity, do look like cr3p on amateur pictures taken on the fly by friends and family, just like everyone else. They just haven’t had the occasion to work with a proper photographer in a proper studio.

As a result of this, I have had an idea germinating in my head… I think I will have an interesting talk with my photographer friend on our next photoshoot. Maybe I can prove my friends wrong: they too can look good on camera.


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Interesting Reading…

February 28, 2010


Why do we trust that “beautiful” people are nice? What drives us to make that (stupid) assumption? The answer to the question might lie in Robert Cialdini’s book: “Influence: The psychology of Persuasion”. Please note at this point that I am not promoting this book, I just came across the following (long) quoted passage and found it to be serving the message of this blog: do not cast judgements based on appearance only. “ Although it is generally acknowledged that good-looking people have an advantage in social interaction, recent findings indicate that we may have sorely underestimated the size and reach of that advantage. There seems to be a click, whirr response to attractive people. Like all click, whirr reactions, it happens automatically, without forethought. The response itself falls into a category that social scientists call ‘halo effects’. A halo effect occurs when one positive characteristic of a person dominates the way that person is viewed by others. And the evidence is now clear that physical attractiveness is often such a characteristic. Research has shown that we automatically assign to good-looking individuals such favourable traits as talent, kindness, honesty, and intelligence. Furthermore, we make these judgements without being aware that physical attractiveness plays a role in the process. Certain of the consequences of this unconscious assumption that ‘good-looking equals good’ scare me. For example, a study of the Canadian federal elections found that attractive candidates received more than 2 and a half times as many votes as unattractive candidates. Despite such evidence of favouritism toward handsome politicians, follow-up research demonstrated that voters do not realise their bias. In fact, 73 per cent of Canadian voters surveyed denied in the strongest possible terms that their votes had been influenced by physical appearance; only 14 per cent even allowed for the possibility of such influence. A similar effect has been found in hiring situations. In one study, good grooming of applicants in a simulated employment interview accounted for more favourable hiring decisions than did job qualifications – this, even though the interviewers claimed that appearance played a small role in their choices. Equally unsettling research indicates that our judicial process is similarly susceptible to the influences of body dimensions and bone structure. Good-looking people are likely to receive highly favourable treatment in the legal system. For example, in a Pennsylvania study, researchers rated the physical attractiveness of 74 separate male defendants at the start of their criminal trials. When, much later, the researchers checked court records for the results of these cases, they found that the handsome men had received significantly lighter sentences. In fact, the attractive defendants were twice as likely to avoid jail as the unattractive ones. In another study – this one on the damages awarded in a staged negligence trial- a defendant who was better-looking than his victim was assessed an average amount of $5,623; but when the victim was the more attractive of the two, the average compensation was $10,051. What’s more, both male and female jurors exhibited the attractiveness-based favouritism. Other experiments have demonstrated that attractive people are more likely to obtain help when in need and are more likely to obtain help when in need and are more persuasive in changing the opinion of an audience. Here, too, both sexes respond in the same way. In the helping study, for instance, the better-looking men and women received aid more often, even from members of their own sex. A major exception to this rule might be expected to occur, of course, if the attractive person is viewed as a direct competitor, especially a romantic rival. Short of this qualification, though, it is apparent that good-looking people enjoy an enormous social advantage in our culture. They are better liked, more persuasive, more frequently helped, and seen as possessing better personality traits and intellectual capacities. And it appears that the social benefits of good looks begin to accumulate quite early. Research on elementary-school children shows that adults view aggressive acts as less naughty when performed by an attractive child and that teachers presume good-looking children to be more intelligent than their less-attractive classmates. It is hardly any wonder, then, that the halo of physical attractiveness is regularly exploited by compliance professionals. Because we like attractive people and because we tend to comply with those we like, it makes sense that sales training programs include grooming hints, that fashionable clothiers select their floor staff from among the good-looking candidates, and that con men are handsome and con women pretty.“ The rest of the book is actually a very good read and provides useful insights into how salespeople, conmen, advertisers, lawyers, etc… try to influence you into doing what serves their interests. It does set some good foundations for anyone who wants to understand the power of influence and turn it around to their advantage, whatever side of the fence they are on.

For more information about Robert Cialdini, click here.

To buy “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”, click here.


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My first role model…

February 26, 2010


The role model of this first week of blogging is a colleague of mine. We both work for an IT consultancy and things can get tough career wise: you hit a glass ceiling as there are certain things and perceptions you cannot beat (especially when it comes to women). In came my role model: she pulled me out of a dreadful place and gave me a chance at proving that I could do things more intellectually demanding than just filing documents. She was 33 at the time and the best mentor that a 24 year old could ever hope for. She was tough yet kind, demanding yet forgiving and extremely good at what she was doing yet able to transfer that knowledge smoothly. Despite all the travelling that came with our jobs, she still found time for being part of a book exchange club, serving as a buddy to an orphan as part of a charity effort, stick to her vegetarian diet and maintain an allotment. 3 years have passed since we have worked together and despite the fact that we live in different parts of the country and the separation the nature of our work induces, we still keep regularly in touch. She was invited at my wedding. She is so good at her job that she managed to get promoted twice in the space of 3 years, a massive achievement considering that it usually takes 5 years to get promoted once. You would also think that being nearly 10 years older than me, she would not be bothered with my friendship: when people more mature than you bother to keep the friendship alive, it usually means a lot. She was invited to my wedding.

Which brings me to why she is one of my role models: 2 days before our wedding, I receive a call from her saying she might not be able to make it to our wedding. Her dad had a brain tumor.

Eventually, she managed to make it to the wedding without having to sacrifice her family time. However, a few months later, her father is not getting better and the prognostic is of the gloomiest. In the face of this, most people would want to retire themselves within their families and hide with them. Not my friend: her fiancé proposed to her on Christmas day and they are planning their wedding for June. It is most likely that her dad will not make it until then. I guess they do not want to spend the little time they have left with her dad being sad and despaired but happy so their memories of their last times together can be bittersweet rather than just bitter and sad.


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… out of celebrities’ body parts?” That was the subject of an interesting article I came across on the second page of Metro, the commuters’ free paper, this morning. It detailed the results of a survey carried out by the Good Surgeon Guide. That same survey was carried out in an effort to promote “good” cosmetic surgery. Well, let’s just say their brainchild seriously backfired on them: most of the body parts the surveyed blokes chose to build their fantasy woman with were all natural! True, the body parts owners were the usual suspects we get bombarded with (Angelina Jolie’s pout, Cameron Diaz’s cheeks, Cheryl Cole’s hair, Kelly Brook’s boobs…) but it goes to show that guys do prefer our natural qualities and assets. On the other side of the coin, they got to make a nightmare woman as well and most of “her” was made of fake body parts (Jordan’s overinflated boobs, Leslie Ash’s trout pout, Jodie Marsh’s weird nose, etc…). All of this certainly gives a slap in the face of cosmetic surgery. There are just some things you cannot fake.

Click here for original article.


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