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A Grown-Up Guide to Playing Dress-Up

--Tracee Ellis Ross’s Facebook page, you know that she’s been directly interacting with her fans much more these days, offering personal photos, both close-up and full-length, discussing her TV viewing preferences, and dishing on favored vintage and designer items in her wardrobe. You may’ve also noticed how sophisticated some of her Instagram pics are and wondered if she has a professional photographer on retainer, just to cover the events of her daily life.

As it turns out, Ross is just a fan of self-portraiture–and she happens to be really good at it. But why would someone who grew up under the glare of fame and lives near-constantly in the public eye now even want to spend her personal time dressing up and photographing herself? Well, there’s a difference between a big, business-related photo shoot, where orders are being barked and wardrobe is assigned, and the kind of silly, sultry, empowering pics you take in the privacy of your home.

The latter is something I know a little bit about. I started taking self-portraits in grad school, as an extension of an intense, belated self-discovery phase. As an introvert, I wanted a private and carefree space within which to explore the sides of my personality I’m reluctant to express in public. It’s surprising how commanding you feel when you direct yourself into character–huntress, mogul, sexpot, urban fairy–and position your body at odd angles, under various tints of light. You’re almost entranced and when you emerge from the moment and look at the photographs it yielded, you barely recognize your resplendent, uninhibited, unapologetically fierce self.

As an experience, I highly recommend it. And, apparently, so does Tracee Ellis Ross. Of her own interest in “playing dress-up,” she has this to say:

"I keep posting these fun pics I take of myself and you all say the loveliest things and you keep liking them. THANK YOUUUUUUUU!!!! I have always loved taking pictures. I love playing dress up and I love any kind of “pretty playtime”. Now with all this technology you can do such fun things to your own pictures you almost don’t need some fancy photoshoot to make great pictures. Anyway, playing dress up, playing with hair and MU, being silly being sexy and sometimes creating characters from my dress up has always been a form of creative expression for me. I was a stylist when I first got out of college and worked in the magazine world @ Mirabella magazine and in the fashion Department of NY Magazine. And I have been dressing up and taking pictures side I came out of my mom’s belly. Images, style, clothing —-I love aesthetics but from a deep place of self expression not necessarily from a place of FASHION. Anyway, I am glad you seem to be enjoying what I enjoy. I see some of your nice pics on Instgram and Twitter…FUN!!!!"

In short: yes. Grown folks play dress-up, too. Some of us get more into it than others. At the height of my interest in the hobby, I’d even hit up Forever 21 or Charlotte Russe and buy one of those insanely cheap dresses I wouldn’t have the nerve to wear in public, just for self-portraiture purposes. I’d dress it up or down, coyly lift the skirt or tug at the bodice, or trouble a strand of faux pearls. Someday, I hope to have a home with an extra room entirely devoted to the practice (If you’re a Community watcher, think Troy and Abed’s Dreamatorium.), where I’d build and break-down photo sets and turn myself into Dorothy Dandridge, Donyale Luna, or Pam Grier in the space of an afternoon.

(Continue reading at Clutch...)

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Kush & Splendor: 5 CBD Beauty Products That’ll Take Your Self-Care Routine From 0 To 100

Lotions, creams, and salves—oh my! With cannabidiol (CBD) popping up in just about every product you can imagine, the cannabis-infused beauty industry is clearly on the come-up. In fact, analysts predict that the “wellness” movement—as well as the legalization of Mary Jane across the world—will help rake in $25 billion globally in the next 10 years, according to Business Insider. That’s 15 percent of the $167 billion skincare market.

And what better way to up the ante on one’s wellness routine than with all-natural CBD? Just ask Dr. Lana Butner, naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist at NYC’s Modrn Sanctuary, who incorporates CBD in her treatments.

“CBD is a fantastic addition to acupuncture sessions for both its relaxation and anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving effects,” Butner shares with Vixen. “The calming effects of CBD allows for patients to deeply relax into the treatment and really tap into the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest, digestion and muscle repair/regeneration.”

She adds that CBD’s pain-relieving effects are “far-reaching,” from muscular and joint pains to migraines and arthritis—and even IBS and indigestion.

The magic lies in CBD’s ability to impact endocannabinoid receptor activity in our bodies. Without getting too wordy, our bodies come equipped with a system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is the HBIC over our sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response. Also known as cannabidiol, CBD teams up with this system to help reduce inflammation and interact with neurotransmitters. According to Healthline, CBD has also been scientifically shown to impact the brain’s receptors for serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating our mood and social behavior.

All that said, it’s important to note that not all CBD products are created equal. Many brands cashing in on the green beauty wave use hemp seed oil, sometimes referred to as cannabis sativa seed oil, in place of CBD... which doesn’t make them any less great! Hemp seed oil is actually high in antioxidants, amino acids, and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids—all of which are for your skin.

“It’s generally viewed as a superfood and is great for adding nutritional value to your diet,” Ashley Lewis, co-founder of Fleur Marché, told Well and Good last month. “In terms of skin care, it’s known as a powerful moisturizer and skin softener that doesn’t clog pores or contribute to oily skin.”

However, when companies start marketing CBD and hemp oil as one-in-the-same, that’s when things get a bit tricky.

“The biggest issue is that hemp seed oil and CBD are two totally different compounds that come from different parts of the hemp plant, have different makeups, and different benefits,” Lewis added. “Marketing them as the same thing just isn’t accurate and does a disservice to consumers who are expecting certain benefits that they won’t get from hemp seed oil and who are often paying more for what they think is CBD.”

So if you’re looking to benefit from the perks specifically attributed to CBD, make sure you’re reading labels before buying, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Hell, ask for a product’s test results, while you’re at it. It never hurts to be sure.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, are you ready to see what all the hype is about? For this 4/20, we rounded up a few CBD (and hemp!)-infused products to help give your self-care routine a bit of a boost. Looks like your holiday just got that much kushier. You’re welcome!

Note: Data and regulations surrounding CBD and its use are still in development. That said, please don’t take anything written in this post as medical or legal advice, and definitely double check the laws in your state. Also, please do your body a favor and hit up your doctor before trying any new supplements. We’re just tryna look out for you. Okay? Okay. Read on.

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Vivica A. Fox Explains Past Hesitance Behind 'Two Can Play That Game' Script

In a new interview with Essence, actress Vivica A. Fox discussed how she initially turned down her role in Two Can Play That Game based on the script. The established entertainer said it's her mission to ensure that black people are positively portrayed onscreen, and noticed the aforementioned film's prose didn't live up to those standards.

"I think the reason why—no I know the reason why—I've been doing this for such a long time is that I fight," Fox said. "When we did Two Can Play That Game, I fought for the way we talked, walked, the way we loved each other." The Set It Off actress continued to state that she consistently declined Two Can Play That Game before signing on to play the lead role. "Because the script, when I first got it, I turned it down three times because it just wasn't a good representation of African-Americans, so I fought them on everything," she noted. "I want to make sure that the images of African-Americans are as positive and as true as they can possibly be."

In 2001, the romantic comedy debuted to fanfare, boasting an all-star cast of Morris Chestnut, Mo'Nique, Anthony Anderson, Bobby Brown, Gabrielle Union, Wendy Raquel Robinson, and more. Directed by Mark Brown (Barbershop, Iverson, How To Be A Player), Fox plays a career driven person named Shante Smith who navigates a curveball when her boyfriend Keith Fenton (Chestnut) cheats on her with a co-worker.

After its release, Two Can Play That Game raked in over $22 million at the box office.

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Actress Gabrielle Union attends the Being Mary Jane premiere, screening, and party on January 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for BET)
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BET To Unveil Edible Billboard For 'Being Mary Jane' Wedding Finale

As Being Mary Jane comes to an end, BET is willing to offer fans a taste of what's to come in the series finale.

The network has enlisted the help of Ayesha Curry, celebrity cook and cookbook author, to create an edible billboard that also doubles as a wedding cake. The sweet treat will commemorate Mary Jane's (played by Gabrielle Union) nuptials in the two-hour series finale.

On April 20 from 1:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. at Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal in New York, fans will be presented with the edible billboard. At the intersection of Ashland Place and Hanson Place, the closer Being Mary Jane enthusiasts get to the billboard the quicker they'll notice that the four-tiered wedding cake is created from individual boxes, each containing a slice of Curry's prized wedding cake.

All fans have to do is pull a box from the billboard, snap a picture for the 'Gram, take a bite and enjoy. Although lovers of the show won't be able to celebrate with Mary Jane herself, biting into a slice of her wedding cake, for free, is the next best thing.

Don't forget to tune into the series finale of Being Mary Jane on Tues. (April 23) at 8/7 c.

Also, check out what's to come on the series of Being Mary Jane below.

Save the date! 👰🏾It'll be worth the wait. Join us for the series finale of #BeingMaryJane TUES APR 23 8/7c only on @BET!

— #BeingMaryJane (@beingmaryjane) March 29, 2019

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