Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Urban Model

The urban model has always been an interesting subject to me. I can remember the first time I was drawn to her. I was watching the Michael Jackson video for "The Way You Make Me Feel," and Michael was dancing circles and stopping traffic for the curly-haired Tatiana Thumbtzen. She was a true woman in my young mind, and whenever I put on my mom's high heels, I imagined walking down the street in a spandex dress, stopping traffic just like her. I always looked at amazement at Naomi Campbell, because she looked exactly like the brown barbies I got at Christmas. Years later, when Melyssa Ford crawled out of Jadakiss' pool in "Knock Yourself Out," I was reminded of how beautiful a voluptuous Black woman could be, but it still seemed the only other people who noticed were BET executives.

Modeling is simply marketing, and as long as women of my curves and complexion are consumers, I would like to see someone I can relate to dolled up in products I will buy. I picked at the mind of Sean Rush, executive publisher of the exciting new KISS Magazine to get his take on the urban model, what she's missing, and what to expect from her in the future.

SJB: Why after all this time is the urban model not prevalent?

SR: I personally am a big supporter of this industry. This industry is still a child in my eyes. In fact I can remember urban modeling being introduced only 10 years ago. To me just like any child it has to learn and grow each year. I have seen it take many forms but it hasn’t developed the maturity it needs to maintain, just like a child versus an adult. You can parallel this industry with Hip-Hop, very similar. It took Hip-Hop several years to not be known just as a music form but to be financially rewarding. I think urban modeling gets a bad rep, because we look on the other side, and see how Europeans and Caucasian Americans flourish, but we don’t take into account that their industry is over 100 yrs old, very mature. Vogue was created in the late 1800’s. You do the math. Child verses old ass adult? No comparison. The urban model will be very successful in the future as it continues to evolve and more companies believe it is here to stay, and invest in it.

What do you see to be the biggest contradiction between White and Black models?

SR: The biggest contradiction is to hold them both side by side. Put a Caucasian and Black woman side by side and on most occasions the curves will never equal. Have you ever gone to a mall and looked in plian day at a Victoria's Secret window? You have half naked models in lingerie for all ages to see. These women of course are very slim and non-threatening. Now if you were to put a typical black woman in those same clothes, mothers would have a fit and cover their children’s eyes. Same clothing but different body types. This is why our work is sometimes considered porn. It’s not the clothing, but the subconscious threat of body shape.

SJB: Being the editor of a hot, new, industry magazine, how are you working to bridge the gap?

SR: Well what we make an effort to do is to stick to our culture, we are not trying to cross over we are proud to be an urban publication. So we will continue to highlight beautiful women of ethnicities, and this doesn’t mean light-skinned women, or exotic women, but all women of color.

SJB: Do urban women not have selling power?

Yes they have selling power, however people haven’t figured out how to sell them. Once this matures into something else and finds consistency we will see the selling power of it.

So Sean says I have to wait for them to see the success I feel they deserve. Bummer. Ah well, his publication does give me my fill. Check it out in PDF here:

Check KISS online at and on twitter @kissmagazine. One of my favorite elements of their website is the behind-the-scenes footage of a photoshoot.

The urban model above is one of my beautiful friends Tunisha Hubbard (@TunishaMeyoshi) as captured by Andrew Thomas Clifton ( Check them both out they're awesome.

Friday, January 29, 2010

I Breathe Power

As many of you know, I am currently an intern at WSB TV, the ABC affiliate station in Atlanta. Can I just say this has been the most personally stressful internship I have ever taken. I've never felt more incapable. Yeah, I've had my share of crazy jobs. On a scale of 1 to 10, PINK Magazine ranks 150 on some stuff I'll never put myself through professionally ever again, but I finally found the one job I am so eternally passionate about, and here is my opportunity to make my bold entrance into the field. The problem is I am so anxious to make a good impression, I'm scared to make a bad one, which results in my not making any impression at all.

I am one month into the starting position of a lifetime, and I refuse to squander my opportunities, so I've turned to other people's experiences for a little inspiration.

Meet Robert Greene. I've been reading The Art of Seduction for maybe three years now (it's what I need when I need it), and I recently downloaded The 48 Laws of Power, so it's safe to say I'm a fan of his work. I am also, however, skeptical of anyone who claims to have life all figured out, and frankly if you follow his words, you'll beast this little world we live in. So I had to find out who he is, and because I'm just not that connected in the media industry, I found all I needed on his blog. Drink this nourishing excerpt below:

"When I was fresh out of college and starting my writing career at a magazine in New York, I will never forget a particularly lovely spring afternoon in which the editor of the magazine invited me for lunch to discuss my latest article. I thought it was a good piece I had written and was expecting some praise. Instead, he proceeded to dissect the article, explain why it was so bad, why I would never be a writer, and what other careers I should think about.

This of course shocked me. But instead of thinking of myself, I couldn't help study the man who was saying this. He was downing one gin and tonic after another, in the middle of the afternoon. The following image came to me, one I remember to this day as vividly as ever: this man was like a house that looked okay from the outside, but on the inside, all of the beams and supports were rotting and termite infested...from alcohol, from his own sad life. I also had the feeling that maybe some twenty years earlier another editor had given him the same ugly talk, and it worked, and so instead of being a writer, he turned into a dried-up editor, full of regrets. His way was not to help others avoid the same mistake, but to do the opposite.

I went home and thought about this, a lot. Yes, my writing could sometimes be a little chaotic and all over the place, but I was young, finding my voice. Deep down inside of myself I had faith. I was different and weird, and I would express it in words or go down in flames. But why was this man deliberately trying to sabotage me? Why not be constructive and helpful? It soon dawned on me that this was not an objective opinion on his part, but some twisted need to put down other young writers. Working with mediocre writers made him feel better about himself. With such writers, he could do a lot of editing, which was obviously his big joy in life. Analyzing it in this way, I felt I had absorbed my first body blow in the work world and had survived.

Over the years, I collected many more body blows from idiotic editors, manipulative bosses who took credit for my work, sadistic managers who wanted to show their power, saboteurs of all kinds (what can I say, I worked in Hollywood for several years.) But for some reason this first one has always stood out, because it taught me something I will never forget: there are ugly people in the world.

They manipulate, play political games, etc. Their first concern is not doing a good job but protecting their egos, assuaging their insecurities. It is not my role in life to figure out what their problem is, or what made them this way, or how I can help them. I am not a social worker. I will not get sucked into their dynamic, or allow my emotions to be entangled in their games. It is nothing personal. Their problems go way back, to mommy and daddy, no doubt. I will get out of their way, or I will find ways to protect myself, or even return their blows if necessary. It can be rough out there, and I am not going to whine about it or complain, I am going to succeed and have the last laugh in this life."

So this is obviously the worst case scenario in my mind. I think I would die if someone told me I should find a different career. This is what I want to do. And because it's in front of the camera, I'm leaving myself open for all sorts of scrutiny and judgment. No one has ever put me down at WSB, but if they do what will my response be? Will I run away and re-evaluate my entire life? Not anymore. And three New York Times bestselling novels later, I can see what quitting can prevent. I can see what self confidence can accomplish. I can feel what power promotes. All of my fear comes from within, and Robert Greene isn't more divinely favored than I am. I can reach my dreams too. Cue the Goapele.

Hell yes I need a lot of work to be where I want to be. Bring it on. Or better yet, I'm going to go find it. I am going to succeed and have the last laugh in this life.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Face Crack

So it's the end of winter and I finally got a skin regiment down. Well give me some credit, I was in Liberia for a month in the land of humidity. I touched down in Atlanta at the peak of the ice storm. Just my luck. As soon as I stepped off the plane my face started to flake, and no amount of Aveeno could stop it. Below are my new favorite winter products and skin solutions, and trust me, I've tested damn near everything in your neighborhood beauty store. I know we're supposed to get more snow next Friday, so this give you a couple days to try one or two newbies out. I know, I know, I'm too kind for sharing these secrets.

Thick does the body good: Bath and Body Works' Lay it on Thick, Shea Butter Lotion :: $20

So this is my old faithful body lotion. Truthfully, you lather this on and you will never be ashy again in life, or at least until your next shower. I've tried many $3 drugstore lotions and maybe my African skin doesn't do well with them, but trust me, if you purchase this product you may forget what Jergens is. I like it because it's not that hard, pure shea butter, but it's spreadable and still thick. Read about it here:

Buffing Stuff: MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator :: $22

I love baby bottom skin, and this exfoliator gives me that feeling everywhere. I read about it on, one of my absolute favorite beauty blogs, and after testing the product I feel the same way Daneen feels. It's awesome!! It's a tough, black exfoliator but when you work it into your skin it forms a cool lather, gentle enough for your face. The only downside is that it is truly a limited edition product, so ladies grab it when you can.

There's Hope: Philosophy's Hope in a Jar (for dry, sensitive skin) :: $38

I've fallen in love with 2oz of cream, and as the tagline says I "believe in miracles" now. I pretty much live in Sephora, and I asked the associate with the super dewy skin "how come you look so good?!?" She gave me this product and we've been happily beating Atlanta weather ever since. It feels good, smells good, and makes me look healthy. I've found my face saver :) Read about it here:

The Cure for the Cracked Kisser: MAC Lip Conditioner :: $13.50

I was experiencing a severe Gucci Mane, chapped lip issue. And I love LOVE lip color but there's nothing worse than a flaky red lip. So I found this A-MA-ZING lip balm, and yes it's better than old school Carmex. It doesn't shine too much, and you don't have to keep applying it to feel the difference. And it's MAC which makes it 20 times more official. Read about it here:

The most exciting of all facial remedies: The Float Experience

So I have an awesome aunt that paid for an hour and a half facial for me to enjoy at Float: The Affordable Spa Experience in the Highlands. Can I just say that if anyone is looking for an additional monthly expense, this would be the one to add. My face was glowing and looking extremely radiant after I was through. It was amazing, relaxing, and rejuvenating for me and my skin. I was relaxed, but more than that the specialists gave me little tips on how to keep my skin clear and fresh. Did you know you should change your pillowcases three times a week? Or that drinking cold water dries you out? Me either. Your first one hour experience there is $39, making it completely worth trying out. I hear they do wonderful massages also, but I reserve massages for foreplay... that's a whole 'nother post. Check Float out here:

Problem solved. I'm addicted to everything here like Amy Winehouse is to everything else.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Frenemies? There's a Law for that.

Law 2 of The 48 Laws of Power: Never Put Too Much Trust In Friends, Learn How To Use Enemies

"Be wary of friends-- they will betray you more quickly, for they are easily aroused to envy. They also become spoiled and tyrannical. But hire a former enemy and he will be more loyal than a friend, because he has more to prove. In fact, you have more to fear from friends than from enemies. If you have no enemies, find a way to make them."

Damn that's bold. Didn't your mom say "be nice to everyone?" Now Robert Greene is saying you may want enemies more than friends for your own personal gain. After reading this, I sat in reflection of people who I would consider my enemies as I tried to extract a lesson or two.
I hate the word "hater." Some people just don't like your ass. Period. Let's be honest. They may not like the way you do things, or they may truly envy the way you've got it all together but whatever the case may be, having enemies is something we all experience. We may as well grow from it.

If I can be honest for a minute, I've learned about letting go of the past, about pleasing other people, about burning unnecessary bridges so I don't make a mistake and walk backwards, and about keeping my mouth shut to stupid people, all from enemies. Don't you think these are all necessary life lessons? Where would I be if I hadn't learned them? Where friends are so used to being pleasant, and family is with you no matter how much you act a fool, sometimes you need to experience that real loss to truly gain. Strength, courage, and wisdom don't come from walks among roses. You have to be tested. So thank you to my loyal enemies. Do you see how wonderfully everything's turning out for me?

PS. The image is of my two favorite "frenemies" Natalie and Kate from Bad Girls Club. Pure entertainment.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My Top 5 Memories of Liberia

Hello Lovers --

I know I've taken an abnormally, uncomfortably long break from my blog, but Oh! The lessons life has revealed in the past two months...

I want to start by sharing the Top 5 memories I have from my trip back to Liberia. As I stated in my very first post, this page represents matters of my heart and soul and I became most exposed to these feelings when I returned to the land I could never know but will always love. For Liberia is indeed my heart and soul, and the reason I have to keep working. I have to be able to provide for my people.

These are in no particular order.

1-- Family. I spent a lot of time with my father and grandmother. Anyone who knows me knows why this is such a big deal. I used to claim to be fatherless. But the Lord puts people in your life without revealing reason, you just have faith that things are where they need to be so you can be the best person you can. I have an amazing family. I always have. If it weren't for my mother's strength in times when she could have been weak, I wouldn't understand how powerful a woman could be if she walks by the Lord. Being with my father made me appreciate my mother even more.She obviously gets her strength from my grandmother. From small, she was always my best friend. I'll never forget my traditional Christmas dinner, down to the red velvet cake, or riding around Monrovia in my father's car. He and I ate meals together for the first time in 5 years. I always wanted the opportunity to be daddy's girl and I got the chance for 3 weeks, and I was reunited with my grandmother, my best friend. It was the Christmas of a lifetime really.

2-- The Lebanese own everything profitable in Liberia. At least all the tourist spots. It's kind of a shame that we don't own much in our own country. In my mind we will always be oppressed if we don't find ownership in our home. As nice as the casinos are, and as much time as I spent in the sushi bar for my own personal reasons, I would just love to put money in our own pockets. The Lebanese don't have to pay taxes on their businesses. So every cent they make (and they make large USD) goes directly in their pockets. With 84% of Liberians living below the poverty line, we'll never find our way out from under without entrepreneurship meaning more than pushing gum and bags of water on the streets. It's nice to live in a good house and have access to cars, but all I really want is neighbors. I want Liberians to run their own country in every way.

3-- I loved getting clothes made. And it was sooooo cheap! I'm ready for the next Liberian function to show off my gowns! And ladies I will be having a boutique sale so you can have your own pieces of Liberia :)

4-- There's nothing like swimming in the Atlantic Ocean even if you know it may carry you away forever. And there's nothing like cussing out the watchman for falling asleep when he's supposed to be alert and making sure predators stay away. Nothing beats falling asleep in the club because it doesn't shut down until 8am. And you haven't lived until you've seen the lights on Capital Hill when it's Christmas. Or the view from Inez Cooper's restaurant. Or naming your own price for everything you want. I can't complain about Atlanta traffic, because at least here there are rules. I love being a Bernard/ Bush/ Urey, because I can break them all. I love being a Liberian girl.

5-- But the poverty is too much. The children in the streets and at the orphanage were all so beautiful, and any of them could have been me or my sisters or brother. I am a lucky one because I know where I come from, but even luckier because I had a way out. My mother once told me "the only thing comparable to war is hell, and no one knows that until they live in one." Well hell ripped through, and after the flames died down, all that's left are shells and feelings.

Before I left, my roommate asked me "So are you gonna come back all African?" And I stood there perplexed. I really didn't know what to say. I've always been Liberian, but how would anyone feel to have a home that they never knew? A whole background you could only hear about and never see because of the outcomes of destructive war. No one should have to ever question who I am because I should always be proud of where I come from. No, three weeks isn't enough time to build a whole life, but I'm grateful that I was able to quickly experience the land that made me.

Other deal sweeteners:
- There's a girl there who is named after me. No really her name is Archel.
- Acrylic fill in is $10. Pedicure is $10. Full sew in is $15.
-The kids at the orphanage showed me the pigs and then laughed at me when I ran scared. Chivalry is dead everywhere, I'm convinced.
- It was 2010 5hrs earlier than Atlanta.
- Ro-zi's makes these bomb ass lemon tarts and yes I made it to Sunday brunch every Sunday to partake.
- Ok I did get sick and go to the hospital and it was a mess. Like ants on the bed.
- I never had to clean up after myself. We had people for that, and the world knows I'm a mess.
- My grandpa, who can't speak, said I am the heiress to his fortune. I got his head nod on camera.
- I made lots of money in the casinos by smiling. Plus you eat and drink for free. It's a gold digger's paradise.
- I met my godson Jimmy Neal Jr. on one of the last few days there. I already love him, although he was asleep when I saw him. Maybe that was part of it. He and I will be family forever and he doesn't even know yet.
- Our driver Owen likes "I Can Transform Ya."
- My dad's anthem is DMX "What These Bitches Want..." Awkward...

Next time I'm taking my sisters with me! There are a million and one more pictures on my facebook page. I have promised myself I can't visit any other blogs (YBF specifically) until my blog is current. I'm coming guys! Thanks for supporting your favorite aspiring journalist.

To learn more about Liberian life, I hate to say this, but read the New York Times Bestselling novel The House at Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper. They used to sell it at Starbucks. Supposed to be an amazing book. I'll get around to reading it once she accepts me as a facebook friend.

For kicks, experience LIB State of Mind: