Goodbye Mall, Hello Secondhand.

So while lurking for the nine millionth time in the Freehold mall and simultaneously contemplating the incredible fashion and natural hair blogs which have become a part of my morning ritual, I had a thought. After making a conscious decision to eat far less meat and processed food and introduce astronomical amounts of fresh foods into my diet (which is harder than it sounds when you’re unemployed), I figured that there had to be some other conscious decisions to make my own personal bubble a greener place. Standing in the middle of a crowded mall with teenyboppers all wearing the same clothes from the same stores, it hit me. Why not try something outside of the mall?

Then I really thought about it. How much of my closet is comprised of clothing from Forever 21? Far more than is healthy. In the past year and a half, most of my purchases consist of stuff from this chain not because of its quality but because of its price. Let’s face it. They sell cheap stuff. Another fact to deal with: you get what you pay for. The clothes from these places are blatant knockoffs from other designers and chains. My friend Alyssa and I went shopping one day and literally saw the same garment in Forever 21 that we had seen in H&M that very same day for almost $10 cheaper! In theory this sounds like a win until you think about the fact that this very same piece will last about as long as the trend itself. Once again, sounds like a win until you realize that inevitably, you will throw said piece away contributing to the behemoth amounts of garbage that our world is already swimming in. Not to mention the rumors that these money hungry-fashion-clone-factories are producing record amounts of waste themselves. Bravo.

Ok so here’s the question: how do I still get the thrill of shopping without spending gross amounts of money, find quality clothing while keeping a green thumbprint?
Then, like bird poop, it hit me! Vintage and second hand clothing! Throughout my recent fascination with all things natural hair and fashion, I noticed that these bloggers wore a great deal of rescued clothes in addition to fashions procured through the usual channels all creating fantastic individual styles. Honestly, I was probably born in the wrong decade and every time fashion trends from ages past come back in style, I get excited. So, the plan is in order to jumpstart this attitude, I will not allow myself to buy anything fashion related (with socks, bras and underwear being the exceptions) from a chain store for 14 weeks. Don’t ask me why that long. It just seemed like a good idea. So, with the aid of my fashion consultant/best friend A, we will construct a fanciful wonderland within the realm of my closet with the aid of vintage and used clothing! I’ve completely justified my shopaholicism by saying it’ll be green. Why am I allowed to go about this world unchaperoned?
As a side note, I am in no way, shape or form a fashionista or environmentalist. But, trying to be green seems like a good idea and when I think long and hard about it, it should pan out in the long run. I’ve never really been a fan of looking exactly like everyone else so here’s my chance to change that and be slightly Earth-conscious about it. I will NEVER drive a Prius and still haven’t gotten the hang of keeping those reusable bags handy but I mean, baby steps, right?

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Scissor Happy

Yes, I’m a cutter….but not in the way that you think. You see dear friends, when I get bored with my coif, I’m prone to cutting it. Taking off inches when my hair reached just below my shoulders when relaxed was common place either because of split ends or simply because I wanted it cut. My dear roommate fussed many times about my frequent run-ins with scissors. The boredom issue is now compounded with the fact that there are still about 2 inches of relaxed ends attached to my coiled roots meaning caring for my hair has become a dubious task with my natural roots and relaxed ends unable to reach an agreement on which treatments they can both agree with. Scissors, please.

Might not sound like such a big problem until you consider how different these two beings really are. The Relaxed hair (we’ll call her Medusa for now) agrees with only the cholesterol treatments but natural hair (refer to her as Foxy Cleopatra) prefers oil on a daily basis and/or my special leave-in concoction inspired by KimmayTube consisting of Shea butter, aloe vera gel, coconut oil, sweet almond oil and handy olive oil. In fact, Medusa HATES the leave-in and gets crunchy when I use Eco-Styler Gel. Meh. In fact, this problem would have turned me into a product junkie if I weren’t so broke. Never thought I say this but, thanks unemployment.

The follicle discord has been making my curly ‘fros and Bantu twist outs literally crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. For food, this can be a lovely thing but not for my hair! Besides the tension between my Jekyll and Hyde textures, wearing nothing but curly ‘fros for the past three and a half months have me itching for the scissors. Even switching it up for the past three weeks with updos, experiments with Bantu knots (which have been causing serious knotting for some reason) and a flat twist in the front haven’t been able to keep me from gleefully snatching the scissors and chopping it all off! So okay, how do I hang onto the relaxed ends to keep some length while simultaneously keeping my hair presentable and keeping the temptation to cut my hair at bay? The answer was simple. Braid the biznaches up! Done deal. Medusa shall be spared for now. Now let’s see how long it takes for me to miss my curls. Vicious cycle, vicious I tell you!

Anybody else get scissor crazy or have issues with the dueling textures?

Lets not mince words. They fed me lies about hair as a child.

Being as how this is my blog and all, I feel there is a matter of contention that I would like to take the opportunity to address without being ridiculed for it. After deciding to cease my dealings with the “creamy crack”, I began to research and stumbled upon no less than two dozen natural hair blogs and websites…to begin with. Many testimonials go back to the beginning to talk about their hair journeys and who influenced them as children. In contemplating this same question, I discovered a wealth of resentment. As an impressionable child, my notions of what hair was capable of were heavily influenced by no less than four lying and deceitful entities. What were these entities you ask? Well let’s troll the list, shall we?

4. Comic book characters (Mainly Storm from X-Men): Not only did the female comic book characters have incredible and gravity defying locks, but so did some of the men! Not fair! So I sit there and try to figure out why my hair won’t flow crazily like Storm’s resulting in my obtaining a long white skirt, securing it to my head and pretending it was hair. Whoopi Goldberg had a t-shirt and I had a skirt. Sad, but incredibly true.

3. Christie Dolls: So remember that black friend that Barbie had? Yeah, that was Christie and in my mother’s vain efforts to feminize me, bought me several Christie dolls. Needless to say, they did not make me more girly. In fact, they only succeeded in making me into even more of a tomboy. Sorry Mom. However, a secondary side effect of these dolls was to confuse me even more about what my hair was supposed to look like. I was a light skinned little girl with thick, tightly coiled hair that, even with the repeated abuse of a hot comb, rebelled into an unruly cloud. My parents said they got me the Christie dolls because she looked the most like me when in fact, she looked the least like me. Light with coiled hair versus brown skinned Amazon with thick straight hair. Yeah sure. We look exactly alike. I mean, of course all Barbie derivatives are gross perversions of human anatomy but the hair??? In hind sight, even Beyonce does have a lace front to compete with the hair of those dolls, Barbie OR Christie! My hair never even remotely resembled that of those dolls on its “best” days. Even after my first relaxer, I went back to the dolls to compare and it wasn’t even close. I swear that doll laughed at me. It’s ok because I stuck one of them in the microwave once. Her hair was never the same again…

2. Beyonce: Fabulous as she may be, she lied. She freaking lied to me. Around 1999/2000ish, I was given my first mainstream CD that was all mine: “The Writing’s on the Wall” and I loved it. Once again, there was a side effect: I wanted to look like Beyonce…and her hair. Even later, throughout the scandal, replacement and reformation of Destiny’s Child, I loved Beyonce…and her hair. When she struck out on her own, I decided that hers was the look I wanted eventually. Then, the bombshell! The hair that I had been privy to was, in fact, hers only in the sense that she’d bought it and had a receipt. So the only way to have her hair is not to pray each night for long hair like I had been doing but to go to a store and buy it??? Beyonce was officially by first lesson in the deception that is fake hair. Don’t get me wrong, I find nothing wrong with braids or a good weave but she should have given a disclaimer that her hair was in fact, not hers. Just a little common courtesy was all I wanted.

And now for the grand finale!!! The biggest impact on my follicle delusions:
#1. Disney Princesses: Yeah, I said it. You may remember the Facebook bumper sticker a while ago that shared the same sentiment. As much as I love Ariel and Aurora, Pocahontas, and especially Jasmine, no human being on earth has hair like they do and no little black girl with curly, coiled hair was ever going to either. At least Snow White kept it reasonable with her little shoulder length helmet that was very 1920s in its styling and Belle had books on her brain instead of vanity. So, it’s understandable that she wouldn’t vetch to the animators about having longer locks. It’s probably why she was my favorite Disney princess too! She did lie about her hair! Those other heifers though? Filthy liars. Once again, parents should give their daughters disclaimers and warn them gently that “I love you baby so I won’t lie to you. Your hair will never look like hers.” I feel it would be much more humane that allowing a child to grow up to believe that she too can have unnaturally red hair like Ariel or the glorious crown of Jasmine’s hair. Don’t get me started on Jasmine though because she just makes me mad. From the hair, to the unnatural curves that she has (that I still want) to the huuuuge eyes, she’s probably the reason why so many people are plastic surgery addicts. Thanks a lot Jas…but I digress.

And there you have it. The childhood conditioning for screwy follicle perception. And the ringleader in all this madness: Walt freakin’ Disney!!!

**Reader beware. For the most part, I’m half serious about my post at most but even humor has some basis in reality.**