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Dear Sistas, Take The Focus OFF Gabby's Hair

Dear Sistas,

I wanted to talk to you about our little one Gabby Douglas. At sixteen years old, Gabby has become an Olympic Gold medalist, ranking her a world-class gymnast. The online support for her has been wonderful. The #GoGabby hashtags during competition and the many gifs of the Virginia native in truly impossible poses are enough to make me want to attempt the splits…Don’t worry, I’m not.

The problem is the other chatter.

There’s an ongoing conversation taking place, both online and off, about Gabby’s hair. Apparently some find it ‘unkempt’ and are displeased. Even more surprising is that this discussion isn’t taking place amongst white people, or fellow gymnasts or even young men trying to see what’s good – but instead, the majority of the criticism is taking place amongst other Black women.

A simple twitter search of Gabby’s name produces a mixed bag of commentary, with a great majority of negativity generated from other women of color, complaining about Gabby’s need for a perm. It would be easy to simply say it’s a matter of taste, but really there’s a bigger issue here, that as we continue to grow as a culture, we are going to have to address. We are not our hair.

I’ve always had thick, long hair but as a child it was wild and hard to manage. I can recall the ‘great hair decision’ of ’86, when I was given a perm without my father’s permission. It sparked outrage, changed the texture of my hair and began a cycle of chemical dependency that would last until 2004 when – as an adult – I decided I didn’t want the chemical treatments anymore. It took me two years to grow it out but what was left was a healthy head of hair. On my best days, I can do anything I want – flat iron straight, loose curls, tight ponytail – but humidity is my kryptonite. Muggy summer days narrow my options to the natural fro or a high bun pinned to the top of my head. Recently I’ve been on two-a-day workouts, averaging 4 hours of intense sweating has meant I don’t get to wear my hair down as much as I’d like.

The irony is, I’ve been having conversations with my own style team about weave, being heavily encouraged to get a sew-in. Now, I’ve worn weave years ago, so there’s no judgment against it. But as I listen to the people on my team – who truly have my best interest at heart – I can’t help but think of Gabby.

Do we really believe that the only way to be beautiful, as Black women, is to have a perm or a weave? And in 2012, when we’re doctors, lawyers, Olympians, aren’t other things to take pride in besides our hair?

The relationship between Black women and our hair stretches all the way back to Africa, but the current sub-cultural standard of straightening took root in post-slavery days when we began to adapt European standards of beauty as our own.

I applaud Madame CJ Walker, but aren’t we advanced enough as a people to finally ask: my hair is not long enough for what? Gabby’s hair isn’t straight enough for what? I am Black and I’m proud of that. But my pride in that fact can’t begin or end with my hair. And if it does, then what does that say about our prioritizing?

Black women account for 41% of revenue for the hair care industry, totaling $9 billion in 2011. But we only account for 12% of the fitness industry, largely in part because of the complications vigorous workouts cause to our hair. So there should be no surprise that 1 in 4 Black women will develop diabetes by the time they’re 65.

Listen, every culture has its vanities. But confusing them with our values only sets us up to fail. Yes, you should always look your best, especially when the world is watching. But ‘best’ is subjective. And just because Gabby’s hair isn’t as you would like it, doesn’t mean she isn’t at her best. And let’s not forget she’s competing at the Olympics, not Bronner Bros.

There’s a lack of clarity in our communal value system. Instead of encouraging our sisters, daughters and friends to take pride in their talent, their abilities and what they’ve been able to accomplish first, we’re sending the message that your medals don’t mean as much if you don’t fit into a standard of beauty that was never meant to serve us anyway.

At some point, we will have to either reclaim ourselves and begin to set our own standards that include more than our hair, or we will continue to grow ever frustrated with how we’re portrayed in a society that is taking their cues from us. And you cannot be upset with how we’re depicted if you’re not even sending the right message to ourselves.

Am I telling you to ditch the box perms and pressing combs and go full on Angela Davis afro-chic? Not at all. I love my pressing comb. Rock your perms, straw sets, naturals, braids, locks, and anything and everything else we can come up with. Hell, I may even actually get a weave. But do so understanding that your hair is not what’s on your head that makes you regal, it’s who you are that makes you worthy to be called Queen.

Go Gabby.

Love,

Jas

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Kelly Rowland Says Her Highly-Anticipated Project Is "Definitely Coming"

Six years ago, Kelly Rowland released her fourth studio album titled Talk a Good Game. The project boasted hit singles like "Kisses Down Low" and the transparent "Dirty Laundry." Now, the Houston native is preparing to release a project that'll surely satisfy fans' patient earbuds.

In an interview with Billboard, Rowland shared her hopes for putting out a new body of work and the pressure that she's encountered since she's been in the studio. "This is by far the longest, most pressure-filled process ever, only because I know what it's supposed to be and I have been so hard on myself. I know it," she said. "And it's the first time I've said it out loud. I've been extremely hard on myself. But it's definitely coming, and I'm more so excited about this project than anything else."

The news follows the recent release of Rowland's "Kelly" track, which was met with critical acclaim in November 2018. In addition to preparing the release of new music, the "Motivation" singer discussed fans' wish for a Destiny's Child reunion. The rumors have been fueled by social media photographs of Rowland with either Beyonce or Michelle or all three, especially during Beyonce's past Coachella performance. But Rowland assures readers that it's not what they think.

"It's so funny. I guess every time people see us together, they just see music but I see sisterhood, and that's what we are and that's what me, her, Michelle [Williams] and Solange and I are. People see us all together, they immediately think music. I'm like, no. Just family." As Rowland previously mentioned Solange, she hopes to one day work with her again.

"I'm a huge fan," she said. "I love her writing and how detailed and particular she is. I always wanted to figure out how the heck she has so many different layers of harmonies when she is constructing these vocals, and it's so complex but simple. It's genius. It's the genius in her genius mind that she has in there." One of the last times the pair collaborated was on Rowland's "Simply Deep" track off her debut solo album of the same name. Solange also penned a few songs off the same project. Fast forward to 2016, and Rowland's vocals were featured on Solange's iconic A Seat at the Table.

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Teyana Taylor To Pay Homage To Ballroom Culture In "WTP" Video

Teyana Taylor aims to keep her hot streak of innovative videos coming thanks to this recent announcement. Taking to Instagram on Wednesday (Jan. 9), the "Gonna Love Me" singer will show adoration to ballroom culture in the visual for "WTP."

Directed by Gregory "Beef" Jones, The Aunties Inc., and Taylor herself, the Harlemite takes viewers on her journey to the expression-filled space where she hopes to rack up 10s across the board from a group of judges. The premise of the video also seems to follow a mockumentary format airing on a fictional network named FEMTV. Alongside Taylor, other men and women get ready to display their talents and confidence on the ballroom floor.

"WTP" is featured on the mother-of-one's sophomore album, K.T.S.E., which was released in June 2018. While the rollout's controversy didn't entirely muddle the excitement behind the project's debut, Taylor said she was sold on the idea that her album would be treated as the biggest out of G.O.O.D. Music's string of releases last year.

"I didn't know ahead of time that there wouldn't be any singles or visuals. But I knew that it was going to be the five-album thing," she said during a HOT 97 interview. "[Kanye] wanted [my album] to be last, he wanted mine to be the biggest. That's the way they sauced it up. I was sold."

The video will debut on Jan. 19. Check out the teaser below.

 

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👀 1.19.19 👀 #WTP Directed by @teyanataylor & @ogbeefjones @theauntiesinc 🙏🏾🙌🏾🙏🏾 The wait is ALMOST over. 😏 @museumofsex

A post shared by Jimmy Neutch- Shumpert (@teyanataylor) on Jan 8, 2019 at 6:32pm PST

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Trina Braxton’s Ex-Husband, Gabe Solis, Dies After Battle With Cancer

Gabe Solis, the ex-husband of Trina Braxton, lost his battle with cancer, Thursday (Dec. 20),  TMZ reports. He was 43.

Solis passed away at his home in Texas, surrounded by friends and family, according to the outlet. No official details have been released about his passing.

Solis had reportedly been keeping his cancer battle private. His death came as a shock to his loved ones. On Friday (Dec. 21), Braxton seemingly mourned the loss of her ex-husband with a cryptic Instagram meme reading, “I need a hug..E bottle of wine.”

The former couple tied the knot in 2003, and appeared together on previous seasons of WEtv’s Braxton Family Values. Despite finalizing their divorce in 2015, Braxton and Solis confronted lingering issues from their marriage during an episode of Iyanla: Fix My Life, earlier in the year.

Braxton has since moved on to a new relationship, but remained friends with Solis.

 

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A post shared by Trina Braxton (@trinabraxton1) on Dec 21, 2018 at 9:49am PST

READ MORE: Phaedra Parks To Join 'Braxton Family Values' Cast

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