Beauty

What does it mean to be perfect, anyway?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8umFV69fNg

With this video, we are one step closer to helping people accept that their body and shape can be represented in mainstream fashion, too. Although this did not take place in the United States, I'm proud of our world for taking a step towards inclusivity, and acceptance towards true beauty and diversity that's representative of how our culture actually  looks.

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You Can Touch My Hair!

Black hair is complicated. How a black woman wears their hair can be linked to their identity, politics, professionalism, and comfort and/or discomfort with their culture. I am proud to have transitioned over the past few years from wearing silky European looking wigs and weaves (which was largely perceived as more attractive) to now completely natural, non-chemically straightened hair (common words associated with natural hair; nappy, kinky, curly, wavy). This transition has been a long time in coming, and wouldn't have been possible without the great help, beautiful examples and no-chemical use model of Good Hair Salon in Seattle. Having not been very active in the black natural hair community, it felt to be a courageous step walking in one day with my teeny weeny afro (TWA) - my hair was dry, breaking off and generally unhealthy. The great artists at the salon have helped my self esteem with regards to my hair one appointment at a time. The education provided about correct products to use for my course 4c hair, hair washing regimens, protective styles and overall, the non-judgmental atmosphere have been paramount in my continued decision to resist the temptation of chemically straightening my hair. One ramification of this change has been a fascination with my hair by the general public, including [mainly Caucasian] people asking if they can touch my hair - or some who seemingly cannot resist their urge to simply reach out and touch my afro without asking.

Some African-American women have stated that they feel like they are animals at a petting zoo when being asked this question. Others feel that it is a modern day representation of blacks being owned by whites, a request that reeks of racial superiority and privilege. Others acknowledge that some people may simply be attempting at a kind comment that they hope will help to heal the continued racial divide in America.

Although I enjoy and demand respect of my own personal space, I suppose if someone asked, I'd allow others - black, white, red or yellow - to touch my hair. Perhaps there is some benefit of acknowledging others' curiosity and letting it be satisfied in a mutually consenting way?

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

I watched the movie "The Diving Bell & The Butterfly" last night. I was recommeded this movie by a friend, Etta, after telling my her about one of my clients who cannot speak and can only nod his head. I was explaining to Etta about how I  communicate with this client by asking only "yes" or "no" questions. This movie really moved me. I'll tell you a little bit about it;

This is a masterpiece of a movie about Jean-Dominique Bauby, a French fashion magazine editor who in 1995 suffered a massive stroke. He slipped into a coma that lasted 20 days and awoke to find himself paralyzed from head to toe. He was diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder called locked-in syndrome.

Bauby retained vision and hearing, and his mind continued to function perfectly, but his body was almost completely paralyzed. Astonishingly, he succeeded in writing  an entire book (that went on to become a bestseller!), although he could blink only his left eye. A speech therapist suggests a system of communication where they arrange the alphabet in the order of most frequently used letters, then Bauby chooses the letter he wants by blinking his one eye when the speech therapist reads it aloud. Using this method, word by word, blink by blink, he dictated his memoir, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which was published in 1997.

Before his stroke Jean-Dominique led a life of glamour, pleasure and self-indulgence as the editor of Elle magazine. He was a loud and opinionated, just like my client, whom I know has so many profound and verry deep questions. I know that my client longs to have fun and controversial conversations, and I want so badly to be patient enough to engage in this sort of conversation. But, boy it is taxing.

This movie has prompted me to be even more patient with my client, by allowing him to speak more than I already try to. This movie demonstrates the painstaking repetitiveness that is absolutely necessary in order to give people who are non-verbal all of the freedoms of speech that they deserve. You can imagine after going through the alphabet three times, to obtain three letters, that if you got one of the letters wrong it takes quite a lot of patience to go backwards and figure out where you went wrong.

The meaning behind the title is beautiful. Bauby felt as if his body were a "diving bell" a dead weight of a body sinking further and further underwater, while his mind was a "butterfly." He felt that his mind could soar into whatever parts of the world that he wanted. His imagination was colorful, exciting, and light as a feather. Combine the two and you get "The Diving Bell and The Butterfly," a dead weight of a body married to inspiration and a vivid imagination.