Just Try

SnoopySinger Colbie Caillat recently released the music video for “Try” {posted below}.  The song, and it’s message, struck a chord immediately.

The opening lyrics to “Try” are:

Put your make-up on
Get your nails done
Curl your hair
Run the extra mile
Keep it slim so they like you, do they like you?

And here is part of the chorus:

You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to, give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing

The song is about women in general, who try so hard, either through dieting, make up, spending money, etc.,  to get people to like and accept them; to get society to like and accept them. This song, and it’s video, beautifully expresses the theme of the  Seven Dress Sizes collection. While watching this video, my mind went immediately to this particular collection of short stories.

No, not just because I have a story included in this anthology, but because I think we (regardless of age or sex) need more stories like this in the world and in circulation.  They need to be read, to be discussed, and most importantly, they are needed as a counterbalance to all the “standard of beauty” none sense that our girls and boys are being indoctrinated with.  Seven Dress Sizes takes you into the lives of seven different modern women.  All struggling, in a full scope of shapes and sizes, to find the keys to unlocking their confidence, self worth, and acceptance of their individual brands of beauty.

My grandma use to tell me all the time: “Don’t eat anything prepared by a cook that won’t eat their own cooking.”   This is a creative paraphrase as I can’t remember exactly what she said, but you get the idea.  Why would you eat anything (no matter how desirable it sounds, looks, or smells)  if the person who made it won’t eat it?  There are so many people out there in the world that are willing to hurt, maim, starve, nearly kill, or bankrupt themselves all to get other people to like and accept them, when they can’t even like and accept themselves.

We face so many societal pressures, and not just women, members of all minority groups (be them based on sex, race, or privilege).  There has been a time when we’ve all been caught up on trying to be something we’re not, just for the sake of fitting in, or not being ridiculed, or gaining something we think we want/need.  As a mom of 3, I am hyperaware of the many negative images and pressures that exist in our world. I wore myself out trying to keep all these negative influences away from my children. I then took a different approach.  Yes, I still teach my kids right from wrong, but I also place a high priority on allowing them to develop their own personalities, their own interests, and their own quirks.  But giving them this freedom to grow is not enough, I make them to own up and accept themselves for what they are: the things that make them unique, special, and beautiful.

Most of the time, this is involves lots of jokes and laughter. You should SEE some of the outfits my youngest puts together, but as long as it is age and weather appropriate and doesn’t clash too horribly, I let her roll with it.  I can’t tell you the number of times I joke with my son about his love of all things camping and outdoor survival related (seriously, I’ve NO CLUE where he got that from, because it most certainly didn’t come from me).  But hey, he’s not harming anyone and he’s learning valuable skills.  So even though it’s not my thing, or most people’s thing,  it’s perfectly okay that it’s his thing.

But sometimes a serious conversation is needed to reinforce their values, morals, and norms, AND to reassure them they are fine the way they are. I tell them often they cannot, nor will not, ever please everyone all the time. Once my daughter came home in tears and wanted to cut her locs off–which are halfway down her back– because someone told her she “looked like a boy” with them. My response to her was “We can cut your hair if you want you, it’s 100% your decision.  You are beautiful with or without locs, with long or short hair.  However, we are NOT cutting your hair because of something stupid and idiotic some child said to you.”  It took her a couple of months to think on this, she decided she didn’t want to cut her hair after all. 🙂

This is my way of instilling a strong sense of self confidence, self worth, and self love  in them.  This is something that took me nearly 30 years to grown into and develop on my own.  I wanted to give them a leg up on the learning curve. I think it’s working and wish more adults would start living and loving for them, not some unobtainable society standard.

Hey, go be you!  Try loving and accepting you for exactly who and what you are. Try not downing those that are not like you or that don’t live up to your standard of beauty, whatever that is.  I’m not saying don’t strive to improve yourself, no one is perfect.  But try looking at yourself with an honest filter vs. the hypersensitive, harsh one.

Just try.

 


7 Dress Sizes

 

 

What is a woman’s worth ? What is beauty? Depending on culture, commercialism, family, or our peers, men and woman have allowed society to dictate a woman’s worth based on nothing more than the outer shell of her existence.

There is no perfect number. No measurement or shape is safe under the judgmental eyes of the world.

No eyes can judge a woman as harshly as her own.

 

 

**Music & lyrics are property and copyright of their owners; provided here for educational purposes and personal use only.

State of the Industry: African American Romance

LaTessa MontgomeryWith it being Black History Month, I wanted to spark a bit of conversation about a genre I’ve loved since the mid 1990’s:  African American romance.  I’ve seen its popularity grow over the years, but it’s still not at the level of its mainstream counterparts.

Today, I am over at Savvy Authors sharing my thoughts about African American romance, its place in today’s market, & its possible place in the future and what this means for writers and readers of this genre.

Head on over and join in on the discussion.  I’ll see you over there. 🙂

Book Reviews, What Do You Say?

ReviewI’ve had a multi-faceted  association with book reviews over the years.  First, as a reader with a limited book budget, I would seek out reviews on new authors or genres I’d not read before. True, everyone is different and not every story will resonate with every reader, but it helped me feel a bit better about spending my few little bucks on a new title.  Did it always work? No.  But I’m an analytical person, so I always feel better about a decision when I can do a little research and gather a few data points. 🙂

Out of my love for reading, I became a professional reviewer for  Romance In Color  in 2005, and moved up to the Senior Review Editor shortly after that.  I did this for roughly 6 or 7 years.  It was through this experience I got to see another side of the review process.  I worked closely with publishers, and authors in some cases, to get professional, objective, and unbiased reviews done  in a timely fashion on the newest releases.  From this experience, I learned the importance from a marketing and PR standpoint reviews held for the authors and publishers.  Not only did I, as reader, look to reviews to help decide which new titles to try, but authors and publishers look to them as a sort of “word of mouth” advertising and exposure option.  Favorable reviews could be used to encourage additional readers, as positive soundbites on marketing materials, or mentioned during author events to make a point (either about theme, story, character, or a wealth of other things).

And now, as a published author, I look at reviews in yet another new way.  My first release, a short story in the Seven Dress Sizes collection, is out and I’ve received mostly good feedback on it, both in person and in the form of published reviews.  As an author, I am always interested (good or bad) in what someone thinks about my writing, how it’s received, and whether or not they picked up on themes, motifs, or point I was trying to get across.  But me personally, I like to look at them from  that standpoint.

I’ve presented 3 different angles from which I view reviews.  Today’s What do you say? topic is:
What are your thoughts on leaving book reviews?  If you do reviews, do you tend to leave a review on an official review site (such as GoodReads or Amazon)?  Do you prefer to use your personal website or Facebook page?  Or do steer clear of written reviews, prefering to actually speak to others about your opinions on books? (such as through a book club, when asked, or when speaking to others about books)

Image courtesy of DreamsTime

 

Happy Father’s Day: My Top 3

Clark GriswoldToday is Father’s Day, the *official* day set aside to show all the dad’s in the world our love and appreciation for all the hard work that goes into rearing us wayward children. 🙂

Today, after I made my round of calls and sent off a few notes via text, I got to thinking the great fictional fathers that exist in our hearts and imaginations.  Which naturally lead me to pose this question to myself: For whatever reason, who are your top 3  favorite fictional fathers and/or father figures?

1. Dumbledore
While Dumbledore had his faults, I appreciate how he encouraged Harry’s faith & confidence in himself.  As Headmaster he couldn’t be seen publicly encouraging Harry to skirt the rules, play his haunches, or follow dangerous trails that ultimately  lead to people getting injured  or dying.  But Dumbledore has his covert ways of arranging things in the backgroud that allowed Harry  the means and opportunity to develop into the man who, did indeed, rid his world of the one of the greatest evils it had seen.

2. Andy Taylor
No explanation needed.  What’s not to love about a hard working single parent that takes the time teach his son morals and integrity not only via instruction, but by living what he preached.  Not to mention he made sure to take time for his son with fishing trips and a little music on the front porch occasionally.

3. Clark W. Griswold
Sure, Clark may be a little misguided from time to time, he may not be the best planner in the world (as evidenced by many a failed vacation trips), and he may exhibit questionable parenting skills from time to time (e.g. Strapping his dead aunt to the roof of the car and driving her at her son’s house–OR my personal fav– going on a raging cussing tirade on Christmas Eve in front of the entire family.) But his heart is alway in the right place.  Clark just wants provide the best for his family in terms of experiences and life style, but he is always cognizant of the fact that spending quality time with his wife and kids is the most important thing.

Who are your top 3?  And remember, no judging.  I mean, I did include a guy who worked to keep his mentee safe, just so he could die at the right time, and another that left his dead aunt, in the rain I might add, on her son’s doorstep. 🙂