Category Archives: Health and Beauty

Went there, did it – wore the T-shirt!

So… I did it! After a lengthy discussion with some friends on the campaign, discrimination, human mortality, survival instinct, morality, responsibility and any and every other issue possibly connected to the social issue of stigma associated with HIV/AIDS , I headed valiantly to the City on Saturday to get hold of my HIV+ T-shirt, just as I planned. Like any good big sister, I brought my little one along for her general social education. NOT just so I could have company. Promise. The actual event started at least an hour and a half later than scheduled (that’s when I left for another engagement), and up until that point, I saw a small crowd of at least 100 people starting to assemble.

After making several inquiries, I finally spotted the t-shirt distribution point and raced over. I was issued stern directions: “Do NOT just come here and take a shirt and go! You are supPOSED to WEAR the SHIRT NOW, and STAY for the ralLY!” Well. There went any internal debate about whether I would actually wear it or not. Looking around at the numbers already wearing it, I figured I’d never have this much centralised support so now it is! My sis and I quickly donned the shirts. I think we looked a little too happy to have just been ‘labelled’ HIV+, but there was definitely a positive energy buzzing in the atmosphere. There was that mixed feeling of both trepidation and affirmation in following through with a decision to accept responsibility to be active agents for change in civic society.

Although I didn’t get the benefit of the on-stage portion of the rally since I had to leave, I felt really encouraged. I saw people there of all ages, all walks of life, representatives from community organisations. I didn’t feel as alone as I do on this issue as I often do in my own professional and social circles. The next level up, though, is to get the t-shirt into my regular wardrobe rotation, and not reserve it for socially-conscious events. I’m encouraged, but I’m going to be real with myself too. I can for sure say though that I’m already growing through this dialogue – both internal and external (see nation-wide comments here).

Change is possible and individual choice not only makes a difference – it’s the impetus.

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HIV + ….should it matter?

Photo by Anesta Henry, retrieved from http://www.nationnews.com

Would you wear this shirt? I’m eager to get my hands on one. Note, I didn’t say eager to wear one. The thought of being identified, even if superficially, as a person living with HIV/AIDS is not nearly a pleasant one. I get the feeling, though, that that’s exactly what Dr. Henrick Ellis, head of the local HIV/AIDS Commission, wants to happen. It definitely makes me think about what so many who do live with the disease face every day. It makes me wonder why WE make them carry this burden, in addition to their inescapable fight with the disease.

The HIV/AIDS Commission is launching a new campaign against the stigma persons living with HIV/AIDS continue to face in our conservative society where image and superficial talk supersede love and humanity. Harsh but true. The shirts read “HIV + ” on the front, while the back says “should it matter?” I love the idea. Imagine the effect it could have when persons are directly faced with that conflict – a sister, a daughter, a friend, a cute girl on the street and all the positive emotions these labels evoke, alongside the disgrace, shame, blame and disgust usually associated with persons living with HIV/AIDS. I hope it would make them consider that this disease does NOT discriminate. I hope it would make them consider that WE – YOU & I – should not discriminate either. The campaign launches on Saturday at 2pm in Jubilee Gardens, Bridgetown. I’m planning on being there and getting my hands on one of these shirts. (Is it shallow to hope they have baby-tees….?)

 

P.S.: If you are interested in empowering yourself to DO more in the fight against HIV/AIDS, click here for e-course materials Towards Universal Access: Young People in Action.


NAPPY Chronicles: Co-Washing Magnificence

Inspired by the Napptural Twitterverse, I decided to try a co-wash. It’s summer and my hair needs it. Heck, who am I kidding, as long as I’m living my brillo textured hair will need all the moisture in the world.

Well, first what is a CO-WASH? Its basically a conditioner (no shampoo) wash. Based on the fact that naturally kinky hair can demand a lot of attention in the area of moisture, and most shampoos contain ingredients that actually counteract moisture absorption, a CO-WASH is like a much needed defrib for natural hair flatlining in the moisture department. For more info on what it is visit my tweep @thenaturalbride blog http://thenaturalbride.wordpress.com. She has lots of great stuff over there in the realm of naturalness.

You’ll need:

  • A bottle with an applicator tip OR if you are into recycling (like I am) an empty bottled water bottle will do for mixing and applying.

My Co-Wash Recipe:

  • Cheap conditioner: VO5, Suave, Aussie, Whatever is on sale with a good fragrance will do
  • Melted shea butter (add a few drops of your fave essential oil if you desire)
  • Olive oil (depending on how dry your hair is you may be able to skip the shea butter and just add your essential oil to the olive oil
  • Feel free to add a little bit of a deep conditioner … I did. lol
  • Shower cap/shopping bag (yes… shopping bag… when you can’t ride a horse ride a cow… and my locs are long enough where a cow is necessary)

Mix these ingredients in your water bottle/applicator bottle. Notice I did not include quantities. This is intentional, averaging is an art, and I trust that you know just about how much product you will need to saturate your hair. You can keep the mixture warm by submerging the bottle in warm water until you are ready for it. Apply the mixture evenly to the hair. If you have locs, make sure you get it in there really good. Massage the scalp and work the mixture through the hair. Cover the hair with the shower cap/plastic bag and let sit for as long as it takes you to shower or for as long as you want (minimum 3-5 mins according to @thenaturalbride). Rinse really well (to avoid build-up) with cool water. Oil and style as usual etc.

    Brillo locs much?

    My Results:

    My hair has been going through a severe drought and I was really motivated by the softness and the great smell of my hair! It definitely feels softer and with a little oil up I can see the difference. I had deep conditioned and washed about a week ago but did not have the opportunity to retwist so this was the perfect solution to the rewash vs. quick water rinse dilemma. I definitely recommend for natural heads! And it doesn’t hurt that your hair smells absolutely heavenly afterward!:)

    Let us know how it works for you!


    Lock Juice!!

    When I’m hot and thirsty (in the dehydrated sense), I reach for some ice-cold passion fruit juice. Hits. the. spot. Like you have NO idea what that does to me. When my hair’s thirsty, I reach for…………………………..Exactly. Moisture was never quite on the forefront of my mind. I figured oiling my scalp would take care of that. Or conditioning when I shampoo. Well, in came Fall followed by Winter, and my error was exasperated. So I tried a hot oil treatment (hearkening to the good old relaxed days). Didn’t help so much. I expected it to just miraculously transform my cactus coiffure into sultry silk in one go. Surprise, surprise, no such luck. Decided I should make some kind of concerted effort. My lack of faith in most lab-produced crap on the shelves, plus feeling *even more* rootsy now that I’m Barbados led to me scouring the ‘net to find out if there’s anyway the random bottles of glycerin around my house could help. Plus I keep hearing about this egg treatment thing. So. *new* moisture regiment!! It’s only been a month, but I can already see and feel the change. I’m alternating my fortnightly shampoo with an egg treatment, for protein enrichment to strengthen and restore my hair from it’s brittleness. I’ve added glycerin to my spray bottle concoction – it’s a humectant and promotes moisture retention. It’s all outlined below:

    Egg Treatment

    * 2 beaten eggs
    * some random conditioner to thicken the gloop
    * 2 teaspoons of olive/coconut/castor oil

    -mix it all up, apply to hair in sections, cover with shower cap.
    -rinse with WARM water within FIFTEEN minutes!!! (if not, the egg will coagulate – you don’t want bits of fried egg stuck in your locks! trust me….)

    I don’t shampoo when I do the egg rinse – it actually doubles as a cleansing agent, and I’d rather not assault my hair like that. Contrary to popular belief, my hair did not stink from the eggs, it was quite fresh-smelling. If you’re really worried, you can consider fragrance in determining what oil you add to the mix.

    Glycerin Hairspray

    *approx 3 parts water to 1 part glycerin
    *1/2 part olive oil
    *couple drops of peppermint oil

    I spray generously from roots to ends. At first, I did it everyday, even twice a day (once right before wrapping in silk for bed), but now it’s at about once every other day, as it seems to be retaining the moisture and needing to be sprayed less. There’s lots of debate online about glycerin’s usefulness, I say the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and it seems to work for me. Granted, Barbados is definitely humid (and humidity seems to be an issue), but by all means, give it a whirl. Adjust the portions in your mixture to suit your texture and climate.

    Now my locks be juicin’ like whoa! I am a happy camper!


    Let’s Get it On

    “Where Peter? He ain’ comin’ ova?”

    “No, he home recovering from de surgery.”

    “Surgery?! Wha’ surgery?!”

    “Well I guess he ain’ tell nuhbody really, but he went an get de surgery tuh gi’ he a button tuh press when he waan get hard.”

    *Silence*

    That silence was most necessary – I needed to process what I was hearing. A button-induced erection? Huh? The conversation continued – over the breakfast table, mind you – and I gleaned that this button was undetectably inserted somewhere under the skin, and produced a virtually instant erection when pressed. Interesting. Well it became the joke for the holidays, as everybody shared imaginary love-making scenarios involving this push-button hard-on. I’ll confess, I shared a laugh or two. But I’m trying my best to make this post more informational than inflammatory. I don’t have all the info, but the good doc below does, so check it out. I can’t help but wonder, how many of *you* would get this if things just stopped rising like they used to?? And I couldn’t help but wonder, would I sleep with a man if I knew he had a push-button penis?? Let me know what you think on the poll.

     


    The NAPPY Chronicles: Arctic Survival

    It is currently 28 degrees F, factoring in the wind chill it is 20 degrees. In Bajan measurements i.e. degrees Celsius that is around -2 degrees Celsius. (btw that’s a minus in front of the two, not a typo) EXCELLENT!!!!

    Today is as good a day as any to address the effects of this arctic blast on your, my, our hair.

    It is with temperatures like these that people who have moved from warm climates have to adopt a mantra of reason. We reason with ourselves that we can endure, that we are here for a reason and the ends will justify the means. And when that fails, as you maneuver the arctic chill, you just mutter things under your breath that would make your momma slap you if she heard them coming from your mouth.

    Can you rock a baldy?

    Though everyday of winter may not be subzero, around this time one needs to pull out the inner Rambo because believe it or not, this is survival of the fittest. If you want to greet spring with healthy (or closer to healthy than conceivable) hair, if you do not want to be forced into a BIG CHOP before you are ready, if your head is too big or unshapely (in your opinion) to be rocking an Ebony from Season 1 of ANTM, you might want to pay attention to what I’m about to say. Here are a few tips to help you come out on the other side of winter with hair on your head:

    1. MOISTURE MOISTURE MOISTURE MOISTURE

    I can’t stress it enough. Locks, Fros, perms, blow outs, Nia Longs, Halle Berrys – they all need moisture. If you can afford to, treat yourself to a deep treatment at your salon once a month. If you can’t afford that, treat yourself to a deep treatment at home. In your pantry you most certainly have a treatment for all types of hair – Olive Oil. I forget if Extra virgin is the thickest but in any case, after shampooing and using your regular conditioner you saturate your hair in some EVOO  wrap it up in some Saran wrap or a few plastic shower caps and go about your regular in-house routine for as long as you want until you are ready to shampoo it out. Lucky for you, you can also use it as a base oil, add some

    fragrance or aromatherapy oils to it (loves me some bergamot, lavender & rose mary) to use as a “daily” moisturizer. The Body Shop’s hair masques work well esp. Brazil Nut. I also recommend Organic Root Stimulator Shea Butter Softening Hair & Scalp Lotion for keeping hair supple out of the shower. Natural heads especially loc heads- take heed that there is a balance you will need to find between too much product and too little. Too much product attracts dust particles and lint and causes build up in your locs (see The Lint in My Locs). Too little product will do nothing to counteract the brillo texture, or prevent the literal disintegration (breakage) of your hair. Contrary to the hype, locs shed… picture brillo that hasn’t been used in a while. Can you see the rust on the inside? Exactly. Coconut oil is another good pantry option for a base oil.

    2. HATS ARE CUTE, BUT CAN BE DANGEROUS

    Cute but dangerous

    You really can’t survive without a hat in these temperatures. I don’t even care if your afro alone could qualify you for the black power movement or a stint to replace Huey on the Boondocks. Be mindful that a hat that warms your head can hurt your hair. Knitted beanies and berets can be your worst enemy. These warm little headpieces can leave so much lint in natural hair it wouldn’t be melodramatic to shed a tear over it. Hats may also cause breakage and suck the little bit of moisture left out of your hair  – natural or other wise. And losing moisture is a no-no. So my recommendation is to stop wearing hats…. JUST KIDDING. When buying hats one should ensure that there is a protective lining on the inside of the hat. And while it would be perfect if every cute hat in the world was made this way, it is not always possible, so invest in a moisture friendly scarf to wear under the perfect enemies you will have no choice but to purchase. Be mindful of if you will be required to remove your hat out of etiquette – you might not want to wear that old silk scarf you’ve been wrapping your hair in since high school.

    3. ADOPT VERSATILITY IN THE ART OF KEEPING YOUR HAIR CLEAN

    Product causes build up… and build up can cause that musty smell. You know the one. For females it is the one that will cause you to be very careful about how you hug people. It causes you to lean forward in de fete so that people think you are dibbin out but really and truly you just don’t need for this guy to be close enough to get a whiff. Washing the hair too often causes dryness. You strip the hair of natural oils and also impair the follicle’s ability to absorb moisture. There are a number of “dry” cleansers out there that you can use on your scalp. Most of them are alcohol based and work in a way to up lift the oil based build up on the scalp and allow you to work it out with a washcloth. If you are not a fan of these cleanser again, find a balance between light moisturizers that do the trick.

    If you find that you suffer from a flaky scalp, Tea tree oil makes a good addition to your EVOO concoction. Tea tree has natural antibacterial properties and helps with dandruff and flakiness of the scalp as well. You can also add this oil to a fragrance free shampoo. Be sure not to apply tea tree oil directly to skin or scalp by itself, it must be mixed with something first. Also in the winter months, wash less often with your clarifying shampoo. I know it cleans really well but it can cause excess drying of the hair in winter.

    4. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY

    Got Lotion?

    In these months your hair is not the only thing that will need attention. Chances are if your hair is dry, then you may not need to look any further than your elbow or knee cap to know that your body is crying out for moisture.

    When I used to work at the Body Shop I had a customer put me on to the fact that sometimes a craving isn’t just a matter of being hungry. Sometimes you may experience phantom smells of fruits or beverages. And since then I have noticed that when I crave sunflower seeds or I keep smelling the sesame seed body butter I don’t have, my body may be crying out for vitamin E. When I’m craving blueberries, my body may be requesting a boost in antioxidants. (I can’t explain craving Popeye’s on these terms except for the fact that that chicken is damned tasty.) What you put into your body is just as, if not more important than what you put on it. You don’t want to be like Ashy Larry over there 🙂


    Citizens of Earth: Leah Marville and the LOVE Campaign

    Love away the stigma. * Beauty with a purpose.

    If you’re afflicted with the deprivation of not knowing who Leah Marville is, get caught up right quick. Barbados has this way of churning out the killer combo of beauty and brains like whoa.  From Barbados Fashion week to South African couture,  there’s no choice but to add Leah’s name to the growing list of Barbadian  models taking the International Fashion world by storm – Lene Hall, Sara Collins, Tennille Stoute, Ramon Dodson, Richard Elms, I could go on. De sun ain hot in Bim fuh nuttin!

    While Leah is following a now illustrious path, she is no doubt already leaving footprints all her own. Chasing the title of Miss Barbados World, her spearheading of The Love Campaign perfectly captures the pageant’s theme of ‘Beauty with a Purpose’. Focusing on providing support to children in families affected by HIV/Aids, the campaign promotes the destigmatizing of those battling the illness and its consequent myriad of social and economic challenges.

    Mine was the pleasure recently of a chat with Leah. Her drive and heartfelt passion were undeniably evident.  The philanthropy of celebrities and entertainers often tends to be a secondary effort – at the beginning of one’s career, the focus is “me-me-me”, then after amassing a certain amount of fame and/or wealth comes the thought to “give back”. Of note is that it is while Leah’s career – though already outstanding – is yet young, that her contribution towards the plight of others is  equally outstanding. She spoke of a compelling desire to heed the cries, whether loud or silent, of those in need. It is indeed a costly calling, requiring the investment of much time and focus. In addition to modelling, Leah currently works full-time (and often more) with South Central Entertainment. Then add to the pot her academic pursuits (she holds a degree in Law from the University of the West Indies) and her participation in the Miss Barbados World contest. When and how could she possibly be pulling off such an amazing campaign? Though admittedly sometimes sleep-deprived, she credits her continued success to her passion and the support and assistance of others who have caught the vision.

    It is clear that the phrase ‘status quo’ holds little meaning for Leah: she is determined to continue to push limits – her own, the nation’s and the world’s – in efforts to meet the needs around us that are so evident, yet many of us have learned to ignore. I feel inspired. Reassured. Encouraged. Challenged to be a productive Citizen of Earth.

    Thank you, Leah!