A Love-ly Shock

Why is it that we are shocked or astonished by acts of love? Why is it that we are surprised by those who show love and care to others, regardless of color, sex, orientation, politics, belief (or the lack thereof)? Why are we shocked when that matters not a whit to someone but the other person’s humanity does?

In the past few years, we have witnessed such division and vitriolic rhetoric in our society as to break hearts and burden souls. The negativity has laid heavy on my own heart and, more than once, wrung tears from my eyes because it can seem insurmountable. How did this come to be such a norm that, when one does show kindness and love, it is met with a sense of incredulity and awe? I do not believe that it is right or correct to solely blame religion or politics for this shift in social consciousness. We, as human beings, are losing the courage to love. It feels at times that we are so concerned with being recognized – with having our rights and our personal brand of humanity or life recognized – that we fail to recognize the humanity in others. We see them merely as a (wrong) nationality, a (wrong) religion, a (wrong) political/social position, or a (wrong) sexual orientation, not as fellow human beings to whom we can show kindness, respect, and love. Love, the action and not the emotion, has to be taught. How then can we hope to teach it if we do not show it?

Bill Hybels, founder of the Global Leadership Summit, admonishes that we should “serve people joyfully and indiscriminately”. Could we do life any better than that? If we took the chances afforded us to serve and help others, or even to show them a little love, what good could we do? Instead of pouring our vitriol and telling people how wrong they are, what if we treated them like who they are: a person. A person who may have thoughts, opinions, positions, and beliefs different from ours but a person nonetheless. Can we not meet them where they are in their humanity and ours? Do not mistake me: it costs to show love. It can cost a great deal. But are you willing to at least try? To make even a moment’s difference or maybe restore someone else’s faith in humanity and that love/kindness/goodness really do exist? I cannot tell you the number of times that someone has given of that hope to me and restored my heart in a difficult time, by the smallest of acts.

We are shocked and awed by love in 2015. It is why videos go viral, campaigns overflow, and everyday people show up on talk shows and news broadcasts. I would much rather that love be commonplace and everyday. To know that we share in each other’s humanity, can accept it and each other, and help each other to stand through life. What is even a small thing that you can do today to help make love commonplace instead of a rarity fit for the evening news? Go and do it.

Let Down Your Hair

As I sat in my hairdresser’s chair the other day, I picked up the magazine that was on the counter – a back-issue of Hype Hair and began to flip through it. I realize now that I should have counted advertisements, meaning I should have counted how many advertisements for Remi hair that I saw in the half of the magazine that I flipped through. Its frequency was almost literally every other page. For those of you who don’t know, Remi is a supplier of hair extensions. The reason this sparked in my mind is because, a month or so ago, I posted this selfie on my Facebook page sans make-up or anything, on a whim and sense of feeling pretty. 968036_10152100165903133_807967466_n In the comments, someone asked me if I had Remi hair. Honestly? I had to look that up. When I figured out what it was, I alternated between laughing out loud and feeling a little insulted. For the record, though, I have never once had hair extensions, weave, or anything of the like. Every inch of that was my own hair (six to eight of which came off the other day). But what I also realized is that is not the first time I have been asked that. I have been asked if not only my hair is real but are my nails real? I like to grow out my nails a little bit, always have. They grow quickly and my cuticles have a curve to them that makes my natural nail growth graceful (at least, I think it does).

So, in my mind, this prompts a question. What is the expectation of beauty in a black woman that seems to predicate an assumption of falseness? False hair, false nails, false eyelashes, intense make-up, etc. Why must any part of me, or any of us, be false? Let’s be honest, the advertising would not be so intense and frequent if it were it not successful. What is it about current social expectations of beauty that would prompt people to look at me and ask if I am all ‘real’? I mean, the same thought is prompted when someone asks, “Is she a real blonde?” or “Are those her real breasts?” By the way, I am 5’2 and a D-cup; I’m pretty sure that latter question has been lobbed in my (in)direction a time or two. Next confession: I relax my hair. It’s easier to manage and care for this way. So, no, while this may not be my hair’s natural state, it is still my hair. All of it, every inch, every grey, every (sometimes broken and split) end.

I know that this an old debate but yet the question remains. Why is falseness assumed (or worse, expected) in certain standards of beauty, for both men and women?