“I am more than what I look like, I am more than what I do.”

Before heading to work, I was able to sit down and enjoy the last of my Sunday afternoon watching a mini marathon of “Oprah’s Lifeclass.” For some of you who might not be familiar with the segment, Oprah sits and reflects on some of her best and most enlightening moments from her talk show.

Thankfully, I was able to catch her episode on the lesson of aging beautifully.

As a young girl, it became clear to Oprah that she did not fit into society’s idea of “pretty.” She was never called pretty by any of her peers until about the age of nine. She said that hearing it for the first time caused her to breakdown. She grew up defining herself in other ways, as smart, intelligent, a good speaker, etc.

Throughout her numerous interviews with beautiful TV personalities and models, Oprah felt she never received a truthful response when she asked her guests what the benefits were of being defined as a “pretty girl” by society. Long story short, Oprah received the answer she wanted in 2010 while interviewing Cybill Shepherd. And that answer was that being defined as “pretty” by society opened many doors and automatically came with privileges. Privileges that held “pretty girls” to a higher standard than other womyn. Cybill Shepherd, a former beauty queen and “it” girl of the 70s, knew that being defined as “pretty” by society contributed to many of her accomplishments. Many womyn try to uphold what society defines as “beautiful”or “pretty” but once natural processes, such as aging, take over, your definition of yourself becomes blurry.

Even though Oprah stated she understands the fear womyn face, she is blessed to never have felt the need to hold onto society’s definition of beautiful because she was never defined as such. She believes womyn need to cultivate a spiritual, meaningful life that brings you beyond the definition of “pretty.” She said it is “confusing” and “aggravating” to hear womyn lie about their age because they are blatantly denying the years that they have earned, the wisdom they have gained.

As Oprah stated, and as I also believe, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with taking care of yourself: exercising, eating healthy, wearing makeup, dressing stylish. But, once you find yourself living to the expectations of what others, or society, chooses to define as “pretty,” it becomes as issue.

“The understanding of who you are is necessary as you get older because as you begin to lose the external attraction, it is your true responsibility to cultivate an inner attraction.” (Oprah)

**Catch Oprah’s Lifeclass weeknights at 8/7c & live on Fridays at 9/8c**

The Double- Edged Sword

Nobel Peace Prize 2011

LtoR: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, Tawakkul Karman (Getty Images)

Almost two weeks ago, three womyn from the Middle East and Africa were jointly awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for their activism in womyn’s rights.

These three womyn were awarded the prize for their “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work (”

  • Leymah Gbowee- A resident of Liberia and a mother of five, Gbowee works in Ghana’s capital as the director of Women Peace and Security Network Africa. She is honored for her continuous campaigning against rape being used as a weapon against her womyn.
  • Tawakkul Karman- A mother of three has become known as the “Iron Woman, The Mother of Revolution, and The Spirit of the Yemeni Revolution” by her fellow protesters. Karman is a journalist and head of Women Journalists without Chains. She is also a member of the Islamic party Islan and was awarded the prize for her work as the leader of anti- government protests in Yemen.
  • Ellen Johnson Sirleaf- The first womyn to win a presidential election in Africa ran for re-election last Tuesday. Sirleaf became the president of Liberia in 2005. Sirleaf is seen as a peacemaker and reformer. (

Some people speculate on the authenticity of the  Nobel Peace Prize being that Adolf Hitler was once nominated, even though he was not ultimately awarded the prize. Regardless of past nominees, I think it is monumental that womyn are being honored for their activist efforts. These three womyn show that perseverance and courage go a long way. This will inspire and motivate womyn across the world.

Afro- Latinas; Where Are You?

As a young Dominican girl, growing up watching Hispanic/Latino television with my family, one thing soon became clear, I hardly saw any Latinas that looked like me. And by me, I mean the brown-skin, curly-hair, curvaceous, “morenita” type. There was always the skinny, fair-skin, fine-hair type, but what about me, what about US?

I soon learned that “us” was the Afro- Latinas. The ones whose African roots were clearly visible through our traits. Today, I still continue to see the divide in our representation in Hispanic/Latino media AND American media. Popular Hispanic soap operas (novelas) never cast an Afro- Latina for a lead role. There aren’t any Afro- Latina newscasters and we are hardly represented in magazines. As a matter of fact, when Dominican and Puerto Rican actress Zoe Saldana was placed on the front cover of the September 2011 issue of Latina magazine, it was a big deal.

This is not only a problem in Hispanic/Latino media as I stated earlier, American media doesn’t give Afro- Latinas much credit either. Most Afro- Latinas are cast as African- Americans when they appear on American television shows or movies. Panamanian actress Melissa De Sousa, who starred in The Best Man and stars in the new show Reed Between the Lines, claims she had to “fight” to start being cast as an Afro- Latina after bringing up the topic to her agent ( Her fight was worth it as she plays an Afro- Latina in Reed Between the Lines. She also stated that she felt it has become a mission of hers to represent Afro- Latinas after she received plenty of love and thanks from fans that could identify with her.

So why is there a misrepresentation of such a demographic? I think it stems from problems within the Hispanic culture. Many Latinos do not want to identify with their African roots, especially if they don’t look “African.” But for those of us who do share the qualities of our ancestors, we are quickly shunned as the “lesser” Latino/Latina. Our darker skin color and kinkier hair somehow becomes a measurement of our worth. Growing up, the black people in my neighborhood were called “morenos” and that usually carried a negative connotation: “Don’t hang out with the morenos. Morenos will get you in trouble.” But I was in turn called a “morenita” by fellow Dominicans and other Latinos, so was I also carrying that negative connotation?

I believe much of our disconnect with our African roots comes from a lack of education and an overload of ignorance. We are all African. We all have these roots and until we teach our youth to learn and appreciate their roots, there will always be a divide, within our communities and the media. An accurate understanding of the Hispanic/Latino race cannot be understood without taking a look into our African lineage. It cannot be ignored.

Pulitzer Prize- winning Dominican author, Junot Díaz, said it best, ““I was neither black enough for the black kids or Dominican enough for the Dominican kids. I didn’t have a safe category” (Fox News Latino).

Author’s note: This post is in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month and the continuous struggle of my fellow Afro- Latinas. I love all my Latinos/Latinas!

Tribute to Breast Cancer Awareness

Musiq Soulchild- Yes

“Musiq Soulchild recently announced his new role as an Ambassador for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Circle of Promise, a movement designed to further engage black women around the globe in the fight against breast cancer.

Take a few minutes to check out Musiq’s new video “Yes”, which features breast cancer survivors from the metro Atlanta area. The video was directed by Juwan Lee.” (Source: YouTube)


Oveous Maximus- Dulce de Leche (Courtesy: YouTube)

“This will always be a man’s world, under a womyn’s supervision.”

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