The Disrespectful (and Ridiculous) Preference for Natural Beauty

“I prefer a naturally beautiful woman with natural hair, no make-up, and no surgical enhancements.” With all due respect to the men who think this way, no one gives a shit.

Three years ago, I published a piece on Huffington Post called, On the Cultural Appropriation of Natural Hair. While researching the piece, I was given insight into the importance of hair to women, especially black women. I discovered that there is a litany of emotions that accompany a woman’s decision about how she wears her hair. It was eye opening, to say the least.

Since writing the piece, I had to check my own misogyny and paternalism of adding and removing value from a woman based on my preferences. In all honesty, I thought that I was complimenting women who had the courage to embrace their natural, organic beauty. I was supporting yet another unrealistic expectation of perfectionism that causes so many women to question their own worth. I was also buying into the notion that “natural beauty” could only be achieved by certain woman. I was very wrong and worse, incredibly naïve and disrespectful.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any issue with both men and women having preferences when choosing whether or not to engage or entertain members of the opposite sex. We all like what we like and no one has the right to redefine or challenge our preferences. However, as a man, implying that real beauty is unassisted just speaks volumes to my ignorance of the challenges that women face attempting to survive and thrive in their own skin. Possessing the unmitigated gall to think that I have the right or ability to define a woman’s beauty further illustrated my willingness to embrace a culture that repeatedly tells women, “you’re not good enough.”

The preference for natural hair provides no empathy for the woman who suffers from stress-induced alopecia. It belittles the woman whose natural hair texture makes her a target for prejudice in certain work environments. It mocks and ridicules women who take pleasure in using their hair as a means to communicate their creativity and individuality. Most of all, a preference for natural hair reinforces the notion that women do not have full and complete ownership of their bodies.

A woman’s decision to wear or not wear makeup, wigs, weaves, waist trainers, body shapers or any other accessory she uses to embrace the image in her mirror belongs solely to that woman. She doesn’t require (and most cases doesn’t want) input, permission, or validation from a man. Telling a woman, “you look better with no make-up on” may sound like a compliment, but in all actuality the man who says this is consciously or subconsciously challenging her personal definition of beauty. That is not to say that a woman wouldn’t consult a particular man about his preference, but that is up to her to develop enough trust to share the responsibility of creating her presentation to the world.

At the end of the day, most men are regurgitating the erroneous definitions of beauty force fed to us by society. Men are using digitally manipulated photographs of women who have been pieced together by technology to judge who is or isn’t beautiful. That sun-kissed model with perfect hair and even more perfect body lounging carelessly on the beach doesn’t exist. God didn’t create her; she was carefully crafted by a talent graphics designer. A better approach is to embrace the woman who has embraced herself. Confidence is sexy, because everyone likes the way they feel when they like the way they look. The subjective nature of beauty means that there is no singular definition. So ridiculing women who choose to wear weaves isn’t about the weave, it’s demeaning the woman’s choice to ornament herself in a way that suits her.

I’m attracted to women who first find themselves attractive. There is nothing more endearing and enticing the woman who owns her beauty and the choices that she feels are necessary to create that beauty. That incredible feeling I have about myself after I get a fresh haircut has less to do with my barber’s haircutting skill than it does my barber’s ability to give me the exact haircut that I chose. You see, I know what looks good on me and I don’t need anyone to cosign.

Send Me a Pic

3486CAD100000578-3605051-image-a-7_1464075527612.jpg

"Send me a pic!"

Do you know what happens to a man's mind when he develops an obsession or addiction to pornography? He begins to separate women from their humanity. Women are no longer human; they become inanimate objects that these men use as tools to achieve pleasure.

There is NO difference between a man who is addicted to porn and a man who solicits provocative pictures from a woman he's dating... none.

Once you snap that picture and click "send" on your phone, you cease to be a human being in the mind of the man who receives your picture. Your image gets stored on his phone along with the other trophies he's collected. Not only will he use those images for his own gratification, he will share those pictures with other men. How do I know? Because I've seen those pictures and I've seen men share those pictures at the barber shop, the gym, and any other place where men congregate. Funny thing is that the man doesn't say, let me show you a picture of my lady or my wife. No, he says, check out what this chick I'm messing with sent me. That private picture you shared is now on public display. The men who see the picture reward the man with accolades and affirmation. Your picture has just helped him prove his manhood to his peers.

Congratulations... you're a trophy.

He doesn't need a picture of you. He needs to spend time with you. He needs to create an emotional bond with you that supersedes his physical attraction to you. You want your image etched into his heart; not his brain. By sending those pictures you are communicating to him that you are perfectly okay with being an object. I know it feels good to receive compliments, but do you really want your body to be the focus of his desire for you? Don't you want to be more than an image?

I don't care what excuses he gives for soliciting the picture. Sending a provocative picture of yourself to a man you are dating immediately lowers your value in his eyes.

Ladies, let's talk about the sexy pics you post without solicitation. You're an adult, ladies. You are free to do whatever you want and I will never suggest a woman's style of dress dictates how she is treated. However, understand that despite the fact that everyone loves to claim that God alone can judge them, that can't be further from the truth. We all have the power to judge anyone we want. If I scroll through your profile and I see pictures that feature your body parts and not your face, I'm judging... right or wrong, I'm judging. I'm going to assume that your body is all you have to offer. Grant it, I could be VERY wrong, but that will be my perception. There is a way to be sexy, but not provocative. If you are unbothered by the thoughts or perceptions of strangers, by all means, carry on!

Bottom-line, don't send a man any picture that you're not comfortable being shared. If he asks you to send him a picture, my suggestion is that you direct him to one of your social media accounts or let him know you will be happy to take a selfie with him the next time you see him. If that won't suffice, you may want to reevaluate the nature of your relationship.

Just my 2 unsolicted Lincolns.

The Perfect Man

Michelangelo's David

Michelangelo's David

"A good man will do this..."
"A quality man will do that..."
"The man God has for you will do this..."
"The right man will do that..."

With all due respect, grow up. God is NOT going to send you a perfect man. Primarily, because no man is perfect. The man God has designed for you is flawed. He's going to be strong in certain areas and weak in others. He's going to say the wrong thing and make dumb mistakes. He's going to make bad decisions and be oblivious when you needed him to be aware. He won't be perfect and his ability to always do and say the right thing should NOT be your litmus test for his worth.

What the right man WILL do is compliment you and all of your imperfections. He will be apologetic when he makes a mistake. He will put forth effort, despite his shortcomings. He will attempt to right his wrongs and do whatever is necessary to not repeat bad behavior. He will hesitate when you need him to move with confidence. He'll make a quick decision when you needed him to be patient. He will slip, fall, and get back up again. He will be transparent, vulnerable, and most of all - consistent.

He won't be in the perfect package, but once you fall in love with him, it won't matter. He will cater to your needs and meet the requirements that you've always deemed necessary for a mate. He won't always be a great guy, but overall he'll be really good guy.

Please stop with this unrealistic and unreasonable expectation that the "right" man will always do the right thing from day one. He won't. I promise you he won't.

You shouldn't be looking for a perfect man. You should be making yourself available for a man who has the desire and ability to facilitate opportunities for you to be happy, prosperous, and emotionally and spiritually fulfilled.

He won't acheive any measure of perfection until he's yours. You'll shape him, mold him, and customize him for you. That's why he'll feel perfect.

Just my 2 Unsolicted Lincolns.

The Contrast

Deviant Art

Deviant Art

Every person deserves to be judged based on their merit. Sometimes, we make the mistake of allowing our past experiences to serve as a baseline or standard for which all future experiences are measured. It is wise to learn from our past but very dangerous to use our past as a litmus test. The juxtaposition of your ex and someone you are currently dating can produce a false narrative that will lead to disappointment.

You are not looking for someone who is the opposite or different from your ex. I don’t care how horrible he or she was, looking for the opposite or comparing differences can leave you blind to undesirable traits or characteristics you have yet to experience.

“You are nothing like my ex.”

It may seem like a compliment, but it isn’t. Essentially, what’s being said is that your value is limited to your ability to be different than the person who hurt me. So, what’s wrong with that? It’s a setup for failure. Eventually, the comparison will stop. Eventually, the person who is nothing like your ex will be required to bring something else to the table. Those characteristics that were romanticized because they were “different” start to lose their potency when you stop comparing.

Consider this: I offer you two glasses of wine. You taste the first one and you immediately hate it. You don’t like the taste or the aftertaste it leaves in your mouth. You describe the wine as “horrible” or “disgusting”. Now, I offer you the second glass of wine. This glass of wine does not have to be good, great, or extraordinary. It only has to be different than the first glass. As long as it doesn’t share any undesirable characteristics of the first glass of wine, the second glass of wine will automatically be “better” ... but can it stand alone? Will that glass of wine be just as good without the contrast?

When you meet someone new, don’t judge their value based on anything but what they show you. Don’t allow their different speech, style of dress, mannerisms, or even actions from your ex to award them extra points. They may be different, but you owe it to yourself to make sure that different equates to being better. Judge them solely on their merit. Focus on the qualities you like because you like them, not because they are so different than your ex.

If he or she is great, then there is no need for comparison or contrast to establish or maintain that greatness.

Mamma's Boy

Me and Mom

Me and Mom

I’ll admit it. I’m a mamma’s boy. My mother was a young woman who had felt her share of hurt from men. Like many single mothers, she made it her mission to ensure that no woman would ever be hurt as she was, by a son that she raised. She taught me how to treat a lady. She taught me chivalry, the value of communication, and even revealed a few well-kept feminine secrets that I’ve used from time to time during courtship.

What she also did was make me the man in her life. Unfortunately, that unraveled all of her hard work and made me updateable. My mother doted over me and praised me more than I deserved. She coddled me, because I provided as much security for her as she did for me. I was the one man that would never leave or hurt her. Don’t get me wrong, she taught me right from wrong, and I definitely suffered the consequences of my actions. I can assure you that no rod was spared; however, she was forced to play both disciplinarian and comforter. Needless to say, the lines were often blurred.

Fast forward to my dating years. Through my mother’s love, I had developed a sense of entitlement and an unrealistic expectation of a woman’s role in my life. I wanted a woman to be my mother – not like my mother – be my mother. I expected to be taken care of and showered with verbal affirmations, even when I didn’t deserve them. I also gave my mother way too much power in my relationships. I allowed her to have a voice in situations she should have been mute.

I eventually had to learn that my mother was extremely biased. Her opinions will always be welcomed, but they are only solicited when it is appropriate. There’s a reason the bible tells us to “leave and cleave” because you certainly can’t serve two masters. There can only be one woman in a man’s life, and if he’s married, that woman cannot be his mother.

The mamma’s boy is not a lost cause. He just needs to mature and come to the full understanding that his mother may have been wrong about him. As a woman dating a mamma’s boy, I caution you to understand the depths of this relationship. Challenging his mother will not end well for you. You can help him see his mother’s imperfections by gently making him aware of her inconsistences and unfavorable behavior. However, forcefully confronting him about his mother will cause him to attack.

It will take time, but he will come around. Though not intentional, his mother has been programming him for years to accept their shared sense of entitlement. Getting him to see the truth will be time-consuming, but not impossible. You have to decide whether or not he is worth your time and effort.

I still hold my mother in a very high regard, as any man should. (A man who doesn’t respect his mother will NOT respect you. Trust me.) Though my mother is still an important woman in my life, I’ve made room for a woman to occupy a space that my mother never will. My mother understands that I love her, but I’m my own man, and she is NOT my woman.

Be careful ladies; there’s a difference between a man who loves his mother and a man who believes his mother’s delusions of his grandeur.

Value

Let's talk about value and how it relates to choosing a potential suitor. Value is subjective and is based on individual preferences, standards, beliefs, and objectives. No one has the power or authority to validate or diminish another person's perception of value.

Value should be the primary factor when it comes to decision-making in a relationship or a courtship. The value that you place on someone should also be consistent with the value that person is illustrating he or she places on you. Your effort should not vastly exceed someone else's.

Value is NOT absolute; it is extremely fluid based on your preferences and standards. What was once valuable can easily be worthless years, months, days, or even minutes later. Imagine seeing someone you find attractive from across the room. Immediately, visual appeal provides value for that person in your eyes. Now imagine that the person says or does something that you find undesirable. The value you had placed on the individual has now decreased. Conversely, you may discover something about the person that is so desirable, you are able to look past preferences that were traditionally deal breakers. The value you didn't see before has significantly increased.

And that is perfectly okay.

He lied? Decrease his value. But he's apologetic - increase his value.

She has poor hygiene? Decrease her value. But she's attentive - increase her value.

He doesn't have a job? Decrease his value. But he's great with kids - increase his value

She's overweight? Decrease her value. But she's so much fun - increase her value.

He's too short? Decrease his value. But he treats me with respect - increase his value.

Your faith has NOTHING to do with your evaluation of value! Being a Christian or Buddhist or Atheist does NOT mean you are required to see value in a person for the purposes of dating. You are not bound by any rule or law that says you must abandon your preferences because of your beliefs. If you do, then you are only guaranteeing that you will be unhappy and dissatisfied in a relationship. Please stop allowing people to guilt you into believing that you MUST give someone a chance because of your faith. It is a ridiculous notion that my belief in God requires me to open my heart or give my time to someone that I see no value in.

Every dating question can be answered by first evaluating value.

Q: "I've called her three times and she hasn't called back; should I call her again?"

A: What is her current value to you compared to your desire to be ignored?


Q: "I like him but he has kids and I don't want kids; should I give him a chance?"

A: What is his current value to you compared to your desire to not have kids?

Q: "He immediately brought up sex the first time we started communicating; should I continue to talk to him?"

A: What is his current value to you compared to your desire to avoid sexual conversations right away?

Q: "She wants me to take her to an expensive restaurant and I can't afford it or don't want to spend that kind of money on a meal; should I take her out?"

A: What is her current value to you compared to your desire to save money or limit your spending on food?

See the answer is based on your perception of the person's current value. If it exceeds whatever preference or rule you've created, then go for it! If it doesn't, then "to thine own self be true." Once you change your preferences or standards for someone who has little to no value, you are not being hurt by someone - you are hurting yourself. You are voluntarily becoming a target for someone who is not worth the pain.

Just my 2 Unsolicited Lincolns.

Dear Ayesha Curry

Not that You Asked…

Steve  Jennings/Getty

Steve Jennings/Getty

Dear Ayesha Curry,

Let me start by saying I totally understand what you meant during your interview with Jada Pinkett Smith when you said, “I have zero—this sounds weird—but like male attention. So, then I begin to internalize it and I’m like, ‘Is something wrong with me?’ I don’t want it, but it would be nice to know that like someone’s looking.”

A person’s relationship status doesn’t remove the desire to be desired. We all want to receive affirmation that we are attractive. You aren’t looking for validation, just a little confirmation.

Having said that, there’s a reason that men aren’t in your inbox and it has NOTHING to do with your beauty.

There’s a hidden movement behind the lack of attention you are getting. There’s a force working behind the scenes keeping men at bay and forcing them to respect the boundaries of your marriage. The drought in your inbox is due to a meteorological phenomenon called Steph Curry.

Your husband (with your assistance) has launched a media campaign touting himself as the quintessential husband and father that has been so successful that he has effectively neutralized all threats. Although men are extremely competitive, none of us like to lose and we see no value in embarking on any endeavor that is guaranteed to yield no positive results. There’s a risk versus reward factor to sliding in the DMs and usually the risk of rejection is eclipsed by the potential reward of reciprocation. In your case, there doesn’t appear to be a reward and the risk is beyond rejection, it’s ridicule and possible exposure.

Along with his accomplishments on the court, the platform Steph has provided for you that you have successfully grown so exponentially creates an uneven playing field and tremendous home court advantage. The longevity of your relationship and the bond that you publicly display creates the perception of an impenetrable barrier for would be usurpers. In keeping with the basketball analogy, the image of utter happiness you and your husband portray has made taking a shot in your DMs impossible… there appears to be no open shot to take!

The fact that your husband gets attention from women should be of no consequence. The stereotypes of men in your husband’s position create the misconception that all successful, wealthy, and influential men are open to the advances of other women. With that concept in mind, some women perceive opportunity where none may exist.

To have a husband who is free of scandal involving other women, publicly doting and supportive, and a superb and involved father is basically kryptonite to the advances of other men. There’s no point. Hell, most of the men who others believe may have a chance with you probably would think you were crazy for entertaining them if that chance actually existed.

Again, I get it. We all want confirmation from a variety of sources that we still got it. If your spouse is the only person attracted to you, you may start to wonder if his love for you has caused him to view you through rose-colored lenses. You are a beautiful woman that any sane man admires from a very safe distance. The irony is that every other married or involved man on this planet is trying to create the same illusion of impossibility to keep men out of their women’s DMs!

In closing, your problem isn’t a lack of interest… your problem is that you and your husband have made it clear that there is a total and complete lack of opportunity.

Just My 2 Unsolicited Lincolns.