I was woken before 5 am to tell you this story. If you’ve read this blog before, you know that I lived in Japan for 3 years with my husband. And although I’d love to tell you tales of only laughter, joking and habitual high-fiving’ it would not be giving an accurate portrayal of the experience as a whole. The truth was, I was young, inexperienced in life, still a newlywed and felt like I had been “flung,” out into the world in some ways. Sink or swim. But traveling to Japan was my choice and I decided that I was going to go the distance. I learned a lot while there and some lessons I didn’t come by easy. About a year before we were scheduled to leave, I got pregnant with my daughter, Chloe. My husband and I were excited but didn’t realize what we were getting into until we got into the weeds of it. It was a very emotional pregnancy. I was highly sensitive and would get emotional at the drop of the dime. You wouldn’t believe some of the things that people would say to me. Like, “Oh, Emerald….I didn’t even recognize you,” and a slew of other insensitive comments that you NEVER say to a pregnant women. I already have a full face, so I was on straight stay puff marshmallow man face mode.
I’ve always been a night owl but when I was about to have Chloe, I could barely sleep at all. At this time, Myspace was popular, so I would be up chatting with my friends in the US because it was daytime over there. I had managed to click a couple links and found a forum for expectant moms. I joined and posted a chat about how I had not been able to sleep through the night. How I was stressed and how it was my first baby and I was living overseas. The response was immediate. Many nice ladies reached out to me, saying they were praying for me and to be encouraged. I started go back and forth with this one lady in particular and she told me that she was a US contractor based in Korea and had a son. She would offer words of encouragement. One day she asked for my address, so I gave it to her. After that email conversation, I never heard from her again. About a month later, I went to the post office and had a little slip in my box saying I had a package. I didn’t remember ordering anything but who doesn’t love getting packages? J Either way, I brought it home and opened it. It was filled with baby clothes! There was also an envelope with a card in it. The card had a check for $50 and written inside it said……”for I know the plans I have for you declareth the Lord, plans of good and not evil, to give you a hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:11) I was floored. It was from the lady in the pregnancy chat room! I could never get in contact with her again to tell her thank you. God had to get me a message and He did. God loves us and in hard times, He will find a way to get you the word you need to press on. It might not be as dramatic as my situation but you may flip on a church channel and find out that word was just for you. Or maybe someone may tweet some encouraging words. God is never left without a witness, so if you have a chance to be good to people, to give to people or pray for people……you should. Your good deed may impact their life forever. That lady from Korea has probably forgotten about me and what she did but I never will.
My husband and I lived in Misawa, Japan for 3 years. I had just graduated college and I was not prepared for the 22 hour flight to the Far East. I’m so glad there was no one there to see me freak out except for my husband. I was filled with anxiety because I was newly married and I didn’t know what would happen so far away from home. Deep inside, I felt God talk to me. He said “Go, if you don’t go, you will regret it.” Many of my family and friends eyebrows rose as I told them that I was moving across the world. I wanted to share some of my experiences from this real-life adventure.
The Japanese culture is very different from American culture. In Japan, respect is supreme. Shortly after arriving, I got a job as an English teacher at a Japanese School called Misawa English School. I remember walking in to meet the principal, Ms. Izumi Marimoto and smiling at her. I told her I would like to teach at her school and she told me to bring a copy of my degree and my resume. Do you know what I did? I brought a resume and my real paper degree with me the next day. LOL! She just smiled and told me the pay was 1500 yen per hour and would rise in 2 months. I was a quick study and taught English as a Second Language from Kindergarten through adult. I also taught at another Japanese school further in the city on certain days. There was a Japanese lady who would accompany me in the classroom as my assistant. Her name was Miho Berry. Miho would help with language interpreting issues. One day, I was hurrying through the sliding of the school. I had forgotten to take off my shoes. I walked into Ms. Marimoto’s office and Miho lost it. She started fussing at me about respecting Japanese culture. I apologized and took off my shoes. Usually, Miho and I were cool but on that day I really made her mad and I saw how passionate Japanese people were about preserving and maintaining their culture. I also taught an English as a Second Language seminar for JASDAF. (Japanese Air Self Defense) Think….Japanese Air Force. These soldiers had flown in from all parts of Japan to get some basic English skills to use while they were deployed to the Middle East. They wanted to be able to communicate with their English soldier counterparts and I was charged with bridging the gap. The students had a thirst for knowledge, were very astute and respectful. After the seminar was over the students as a whole invited me out to dinner. I came and was surprised they had gifted me with a purple rose pin and a Hirai Ken CD. He sang a song called “Pop Star,” that I would hum around class, so they took the cue and bought me the cd. Afterwards they invited me to karaoke and transformed into certified party animals! Japanese people take their karaoke very seriously! All of a sudden they were partying and drinking Asahi like it was the fountain of youth. It was innocent fun though. They sang Michael Jackson and Beyonce very badly! LOL! Drinking is a part of Japanese culture. If a boss asks his employee out to a bar after work, he has to go, he has no choice. Telling your boss no is seen as disrespect.
Another highlight was the onsen. I would go by myself to relax. When you walked in you would pay the lady at the front desk 150 yen, it was very cheap. (Like $1.50 give or take depending on the exchange rate) It was separated, a ladies section and a men’s section. I had a basket with soap,shampoo,conditioner and lotion. Some folks even brushed their teeth there. Yikes! At any rate, you go into a common area where everyone strips down to their birthday suits, stuffs their clothes in a cubby hole and takes the basket into the onsen area..I just minded my my business as I was always the ONLY American there each time I went. I caught intrigued stares but it wasn’t a big deal. The onsen was a stoned in hot tub that had minerals in the water. Before you could step in the onsen, you had to be clean from head to toe. There were rows of shower-like stations that were very short. There were buckets that everyone sat on and washed up individually. There were babies, toddlers, adults and senior citizens. It was a melting pot of age groups. After washing up, I would go get in the onsen and it was VERY HOT. So hot that it would burn up the most stubborn bacteria. LOL! I could never stay in long because it was really just that hot. There was a cold onsen that had a milky color to it. I don’t do cold though. There was a sauna and that’s where people would talk to me. Older ladies (like 75 older) would ask me my name and how old I was. I knew some Japanese, so I could answer those simple questions. The older ladies would always say “kawaii or cho kawaii,” which means cute and very cute. Some were even brave enough to touch me on my upper body. I didn’t take it personal, I’m sure I was the only black girl they had seen up close and “real personal.” In America, an onsen could not exist. Think about it. A public jacuzzi…..yea right! It was a part of their culture and that was one of the things that I enjoyed. I always felt extra clean; my hair seemed to be extra-healthy and bouncy. They said the minerals in the onsen water were good for your skin and created a feeling of well-being.
Well that’s all for now……Hope you enjoyed it.
Comment or RT if you did! :D
Throughout history, the state of human consciousness is what has propelled us forward as a people. The African American psyche has been influenced by everything from not truly understanding our roots, to the pride of our past leaders who fought for civil rights. It's a mixed bag of emotions. Our past produces a people who are proud of their heritage but still are left with many unanswered questions.
Hair. Hair is one of the most controversial subjects in the black community. In recent years, black women have chosen to wear their hair without the aid of chemical relaxers. These women are dubbed as being "natural." Straightening out our naturally curly and thick tresses with perms used to be an unquestioned way of life. Now, there is an unsaid gap between black women who choose to wear their hair natural vs. those who perm their hair and wear weaves. Some women who wear their natural feel they have moved to a higher state of consciousness by accepting their hair in its untouched state. They believe that by doing this, they are accepting themselves as God created them and not conforming to a society that says that their hair is "nappy" or "not good." These women refuse to be influenced by a media that dictates what beauty is. Instead, they choose to define beauty for themselves by embracing what some may feel looks “too ethnic.”
On the other hand, we have black women who wear weaves and perms and couldn't be more proud. To some, hair is an accessory that does not make them any more or less of a black person with pride. They don't share the ideology that wearing their hair with perms or weaves effects their self-esteem or outlook in life. And truly, it's a matter of preference. Who’s to say that women with natural hair have higher self-esteem than women who choose to wear weaves and perms? Self-esteem is an inside job. You can't tell how a person feels about themselves by how they wear their hair. Whether you decide to wear your hair natural, permed or add extensions, the important thing is that you like what's staring back at you in the mirror. Maybe going natural may usher you into a stronger sense of black pride but maybe it won't. Everyone is different. No type of outside adornments can fix what's wrong on the inside of a person. In the debate between natural vs. permed hair, I stand neutral. Wear your hair in a way that makes you feel the most beautiful, intelligent and competent.
Dealing with fashion people has been very interesting. As a fashion writer, I deal with these people from time to time. So you like to wear nice clothes, you eat at nice restaurants and you have other cool fashion-forward friends, that’s nice, but so what. The reason why I like fashion goes beyond social circles and acting like I’m too good to talk to “common folk.” I genuinely love beautiful things. Whether it’s a beautiful dress, necklace, a pretty flower or a nice handbag, whatever, I just love beautiful things. My love for beauty is not limited to fashion. You can catch me outside with my 3 year old Chloe, admiring nature and taking rubbings of different leaves. Only when we have been hurt, do we put up this false self that is a barrier from the world and how cruel it can be. There are plenty of mean people out there. The worst ones come under the guise of being nice. I’d rather someone be mean from the beginning, so then I know where I stand with them. And hell, at least there consistent. I have talked to fashion people/ famous people and they really are the same as you and I. Celebrities are not extraterrestrial beings that float among us, contrary to popular belief. To separate regular human beings from “stars,” is an ideology we have bought into whole-heartedly. If tonight everybody decided that they didn’t give a damn about celebrities or status, a lot of people would go broke and turn into “common folk.” I’m not mad at celebrities or wannabe celebrities, but I do take issue with people who think that their better than others. It’s been said so many times that it has become trite; a person who accepts themselves is truly successful. Whether you are adventurous, goofy, down-to-earth, loud, wild or crazy, make sure you live a life that mirrors who you are on the inside. Many times I’ve thought, maybe I should just change and act stankin too, but that’s not me. Whether I’m successful by anyone else’s standards is completely irrelevant and also none of my business. I’ll know when I’m walking in the full blessing God has for me. Even then, I understand that we are all at different places in our lives and we will arrive at different times. The truth is……YOU ARE A CELEBRITY. You are the director, writer and producer of your own life. My wish is not to sit among snobs with a nasal-sounding voice and talk about how much better I am compared to the rest of the world. I want to find genuine friends that I can relate to, joke with, laugh and cry with.
Keep it Fresh & Fancy (but down-to earth..lol)
June Ambrose is the zenith of celebrity stylist. Her creativity and presence are undeniable. She started as an intern at MCA Records, which sparked her interest in the entertainment industry. At that time, fashion and entertainment were not as interchangeable as they are today. Now, companies rely on celebrities to build their brands interest to reach the widest demographic possible. Ambrose has styled anyone who is anyone. Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Puffy Combs, R. Kelly and Jay-Z are only a few of the heavy-hitters on her roster. She owns a full-service creative styling firm called Mod Squad. Ambrose not only dresses celebs but helps them take their career to the next level, by helping them build a brand around their name.
What captured my attention was her classic beauty. I can only describe her as Audrey Hepburn-esque. She’s very different but in a way that is alluring and captivating. Her signature oversized black specs paired with ruby stained lips and raven colored locks entrance high fashion designers to pursue this fashion muse. She is an entrepreneur, author and mother of 2. Her Twitter feed is always interesting. She absolutely loves the camera and it loves her too!
If Barbie was translated into a real life woman, she would be 6 feet tall, with a 39-inch bust, an 18-inch waist and 33-inch hips, according to Galia Slayen. Not only are these measurements unrealistic but they look quite absurd. The Mattel Corporation introduced the Barbie doll in 1959, which eventually became the best-selling toy ever. The Barbie doll stole the hearts of millions world-wide and made an unmistakable impression on the toy industry. Barbie’s long limbs, delicate features, flowing hair and almond shaped eyes represented the epitome of beauty, femininity and elegance.
52 years later, the Barbie doll continues to affect pop culture. Nicki Minaj is a platinum selling recording artist who has adopted the “Barbie,” persona. Her popularity has created a cult-like following of fans who she calls her “Barbz and Kenz.” It is very common to see Twitter usernames with “Barbie,” attached to them, paying homage to the Queens raised rapper. Many girls owned Barbie dolls. Most parents never stopped to think that this image of what beauty is could affect their child’s self-esteem. Today, millions of dollars are spent on plastic surgery in pursuit of “perfection.” The pressure on women to be beautiful and skinny is astounding. After all, not many people are a busty, size 0.
Barbie has been made to fit across many nationalities but beauty comes in all sizes. I haven’t ever seen a full-figured Barbie, have you? The average American woman is a size 12. That’s a far cry from 39, 18 and 33. Although Barbie’s are for play, we must realize that even toys create a lasting impression. Children will naturally compare themselves but our job is to help them divide fantasy from reality.
Stay Fresh & Fancy,
Sources: www.mattel.com Gaila Slayen for Huff Post College: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/galia-slayen/the-scary-reality-of-a-re_b_8...
What is style? Style is merely a physical manifestation of the creativity one holds inside. We all have different personalities and through our personal styles we are able to create who we are and who we would like to be perceived as. A deviation from the norm is always welcome and Solange Knowles answers the call.
Solange has style. Not only is she beautiful but she is not afraid to be herself. I’m sure that being little sister to Beyonce can sometimes be difficult. Somehow, Solange has managed to shine brightly in her own rite. I owe this to her bonafied authenticity. Tweets like “I’m at IKEA eating meatballs,” ensure me there is not a phony bone in her body. Tweets about overcoming past struggles open a window into this young artists’ soul. A real person who just happens to be a singer, actress, dj, my make -believe best friend and mom. Inside beauty that translates into strength, cutting-edge style and honesty that we can all sit back and admire. I’m happy for her.
Oh and she’s definitely fresh + fancy
<span style="font-family: 'Calibri','sans-serif'; font-size: 12pt;">I love this cover! It brings back a bit of nostalgia. In 1993, Janet Jackson graced the cover of Rolling Stone cradling her "twins." I have an excuse for knowing this. My older sister, Krystal was a Janet Jackson fanatic. She used to practice the "crying in the mirror with braids," scene from the movie Poetic Justice. She was a huge fan.
Fast-forward. 2011, Ms. Kelly Rowland joins the "hand bra coalition for a better tomorrow," and does the cover of Vibe Magazine. Her smash hit “Motivation,” is creating major buzz and she wisely strikes while the iron is hot! Kelly is a dream. An undeniable beauty + girl-next-door allure and charm. Thanks Kelly for giving us something to groove to and for giving us a new way to use the word motivation.
Fresh + Fancy
My first recollection of Amy Winehouse was when I was on a 3-year stint in Japan. Her sultry, soulful voice made me wonder where she had come from. Her hit song "Rehab," was in heavy rotation with its infectious, juke-joint like tempo. Years later, I remember seeing her in a print campaign for Fred Perry. She looked absolutely gorgeous.
Some are quick to judge her lifestyle, but I know better. If a person does anything in excess, it's to self-medicate. Who knows what events transpired in her life. Who knows what made her want to numb herself to reality. No one does. Who are we to judge? She was 27 years young and I hate that such a young talent had to leave us. She's free now.
In college, I majored in English. Mainly because I love to read/write and it came naturally. As a senior, I had composed countless papers on Emerson, Whitman, Baldwin and thick textbooks with titles like "Literature of the 18th Century, 19th Century and 20th Century....etc. It was a bit tedious and I wondered if professors were more concerned with page count or the quality of the writing being presented. Now, I am an avid reader, with an insatiable appetite for learning, philosophy and fashion. Words paint pictures, just as an artist does. It is all intertwined. One gives life to the other. I believe that ability to create is God-given and is inside each of us.
I am now voluntarily reading "Fashion from the 18th to the 20th Century." Ironic, I know. This book is definitely fresh+fancy. The clothing from different time periods expresses the human condition and thought of that era. Answering all the questions about how women were viewed and treated. Aside from its wealth of knowledge, the book is aesthetically gorgeous. You will devour page after page of glossy fashion throughout the ages!
Fresh + Fancy