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Leave Baggage Claim Alone, Black Folk. It Did What Rom Coms Do

I’ve had numerous people say to me they weren’t going to see the new movie “Baggage Claim” because they thought it was going to be corny, predictable, formulaic, blah blah. A number of people also said they can’t really stomach Paula Patton, including the person I went to see the movie with.

In my opinion, Patton was a fine choice for the optimistic, still-working-it-out, oblivious Montana Moore. Her seemingly flighty persona and physical comedy seemed natural for the part.

baggageclaimI was trying to think of other black actresses who would have pulled it off, in my opinion would have been any of the female leads of the cast of Girlfriends (Actress Keesha Sharp (Monica) would have knocked it out of the park, she does the sexy, funny girl really well. I love her on “Are We There Yet?”) , because they all have serious comedy chops, and are extremely good-looking. The only problem, even though they all look amazing is, they would have been too old for the role. I refuse to throw Sanaa in the mix, because she has been done to death. Yet I love her.

Now that I think about it, Raven Symone would have been a really interesting and ballsy choice for Montana (they ain’t ready), and would have nailed it, especially the speech at the end about loving herself.

Wait, now that I’ve listed all of these people… either way, I digress, Paula did her job. She was still adorable.

The younger crop of actresses are relegated to being sexy objects of affection or neck-rolling, no mess-taking, independent women.

Basically all of the people I’ve talked to about Baggage Claim were other black people. I don’t know how white people felt about it. I didn’t hear them gushing about it at work, so they just didn’t care. These kinds of movies kind of don’t register on their radar, because anything with a majority black cast, I tend to get the feeling there’s a belief there’s nothing there for them, meanwhile on the flipside, people of color don’t have choices. Most TV and movies have mostly white casts with one person of color just thrown in, but it is universally accepted by all audiences. We find the connections to characters unlike us anyway. But reverse it, and you just don’t see white people in the theaters for movies like this. You just don’t. “Think Like A Man” may have been the exception because of the fact that Steve Harvey is inescapable these days.  (They were moved by “The Butler” though… I do wonder if they’ll take it a step further and see “12 Years a Slave” but that’s another blog.)

My argument is this. If you ask a lot of black women, we looooove romantic movies and comedies and we don’t care who the hell is in them.

I adore Julia Roberts in basically anything and most black women will agree “Pretty Woman” is a classic. And “Dirty Dancing” we know the words, we know the dances, the music and we will scream, “Nobody puts baby in a corner,” with fervor.

“The Holiday” is one of my favorites and who doesn’t love Bridget Jones? Cmon.

“How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” is another fav. I can’t get that yellow dress out of my head. Ever.

So after naming all of these movies, it just amazes me how critical black people are of romantic comedies. The few that see the light of day.

I don’t know if we just stopped believing in love or because in our real lives it’s such a fucking battle, we can’t even enjoy poking fun at the journey and how love really makes us look goofy and silly. We have to be cool all the time. We have to be proving a point or that we are just as worthy as everyone else. Ugh.

That shit is tiring.

Why can’t black girls hide in trash cans outside of their lovers house? Or step in dog poo?

My heels get caught in sidewalk cracks all the time, and my dress will blow up on my way into the office.

It’s funny! It’s great. It makes me laugh at myself. Sometimes I have lipstick on my teeth and one time I almost walked out of the bathroom with my dress tucked into the back of my granny panties. These things are humorous bites of life we find ourselves still laughing at years from now.

Must we be so oppressed that we can’t create movies that reflect that too?

We always argue that people of other cultures paint us with the same broad brush culturally.

I actually feel like there’s some parity in the world when we can have a corny, predictable, silly, romantic comedy too. Was it over the top and totally not realistic?

Yes.

That’s what makes it a great movie. For people who are so technologically savvy, we have lost our imagination. Sometimes a cardboard box is a space ship, people. Sometimes it is.

I don’t want to constantly see a movie about how hard it is to be a black person.

We love, we laugh and we embarrass ourselves all of the time in the name of love. You’ve read my blog. You know I have moments.

So while everyone waits with bated breath for “The Best Man Holiday” (which I’ve already said I’m going to see three times in the theater), there are a bunch of people knocking Baggage Claim without giving it a chance and I think it’s unfair and unnecessary. For those who don’t know, “The Best Man” is one of the crown jewels of black romantic comedy in the cannon of black romantic comedy. Great story, great cast, great portrayal of black folk. The others include, “Love Jones,” “Love and Basketball”, “Brown Sugar,” “Something New,” “The Wood,” “The Brothers,” and I will include “Think Like A Man.”

I can’t wait.

Baggage Claim fit the rom com criteria.

Sad girl wants love.

She knowingly or unknowingly along with or without Friends and family hatch a hair-brained scheme to catch a man.

Poor unsuspecting man gets drawn in.

Meets sad, crazy girl, who wants love more than anything else.

He realizes she’s crazy and it all falls apart.

He realizes he can’t live without her and goes chasing after her, or she realizes she can’t live without him…

Basically whoever messed up the most has to run through the airport, train station, opening night, performance, business launch, somebody else’s wedding… etc. to say they were sorry and make up.

Nothing more, nothing less. It wasn’t going to be a groundbreaking glimpse into the dating life of good, black folks doing well for themselves.

And if it was, I wouldn’t feel like watching it. Instead of being funny and light, it would be sad and depressing and I have enough of that in DC in real life.

So lighten up, haters.

Confession: I Thought I Was Too Grown for Sneakers

Tracee Ellis Ross is a grown woman who rocks sneakers right and appropriately. My inspiration to wear sneaks again. Photo courtesy of solecollector.com

When I was a kid, a teen and through my first two years of college, if I wasn’t at church or a formal function, I was wearing sneakers or tennis shoes– whatever you like to call them.

I lived in em. They were easy and comfortable. They were just, me.

Somewhere down the line during my matriculation at the prestigious and oh so fashion forward Howard University, where I watched girls teeter on 4-inch heels, with Louis Vuttion bags sitting in the crooks of their elbows, faces made up to perfection for 8 a.m. classes, their influence– no matter how vain I thought they were– was seeping into my psyche.

I slowly let go of my Old Navy baseball caps, sweatpants and my beloved athletic shoes.

I started to morph from the sporty tomboy of freshman year (to this day people know me as the chick with the baseball caps) to a young woman who wasn’t as extreme as the pseudo model co-eds, but was developing what I thought in my mind,  a more mature look. To truly achieve this, to truly become my more feminine and mature self, it was clear, my all-purpose athletic shoes had to be the first to go.

It all was a gradual transformation. I left the sneakers for leather booties with a two inch heel, to go with form-fitting jeans and shirts to hug my curves. Eventually, I full out fell in love with heels, and wore them everywhere like the “pretty girls” I mocked.  By the time I got into my latter 20s I realized, all I owned were heels.

I looked in my closet and I may have only had one pair of sensible flat shoes that didn’t hurt my feet. So, I turned my shoe obsession to kitten heels and cute flats and wedges. In my latter 20’s I still wanted to be cute, but I still needed to be able to walk, handle business and not take off my shoes at the end of the day and be mistaken for a ballet dancer from the ankles down (ankles up, I’m all about it).

When I joined the company softball team one spring, I realized the only pair of sneakers I owned were the faithful pair I wore in college, before my “metamorphosis to maturity.”

Even when I purchased a new pair for the team and to wear when working out, I never, ever wore them casually. It seemed young.

Since I recently bought a jazzy pair of Nikes for Zumba, and I decided one day to wear my Zumba shoes out with jeans, I had a revelation.

It was cute! And comfortable!

And I didn’t look crazy.

Hold up.

So, as I mentioned in a previous blog, there is a pair of casual Pastry brand sneakers I’ve been eying. I had to ask at least two friends if I’d be one of those pathetic women trying to pretend she’s a teenager when she’s well into her 40s, whose entire wardrobe consists of items from juniors departments, Forever 21 and Delia’s. I like Junior’s departments, Forever 21 and Delia’s, but these days, I purchase few and very specific items from those stores.

I was going to go ahead and buy the sneakers anyway, but this photo of one of my girl crushes and style mentors, actress Tracee Ellis Ross confirmed (so did a mail solicitation from the Scooter Store) for me that sneakers can be rocked right by grown women too outside of the gyms and running trails.

To all of the sneakers I passed up thinking I was too grown/good for you, I’m sorry. I’m so, so, sorry. I was wrong. Take me back, old friend. I didn’t realize how much I missed you.

As for the baseball caps… I never gave those up. I upgraded to a sprawling collection of Kangols that every man in my life, including my father, has tried to steal or trade.

Goodbye, “Literal, Lazy, Sexy.” Hello, “Subtle, Sexy, Chic.”

As you may have read earlier, I had a great New Year’s Eve, during which I wore a scandalous yellow dress with a plunging neckline that required boob tape.

But was still tasteful.

Upon seeing the few photos circulating on Facebook, a friend sent the following text: “I see you, J. Lo.”

To which I responded, “I had to do it while I was still in my twenties.”

It’s true.

While our favorite starlets like the infamous J. Lo and Halle Berry are now into their 40s, had babies and still have amazing bodies and can still probably rock their most talked about frocks, I am fully aware that I am a regular woman in transition.

I don’t have a trainer, a chef, or a glam squad.

I have spanx, I make a good salad, I have a few MAC products, a mirror and good sense. I’ve got to work with what I’ve got.

Fashionwise, as a grown woman, there are just things I’m going to have to leave behind in my second decade.

I won’t be wearing large logos on my clothes or accessories. Example. In college, I had a pair of jeans with Enyce in large blue stitching across my behind. No mas. I used to love Guess purses, but their logos are too loud and gaudy for my taste now.

I will not let my bra straps or panties show. I have invested in those bra clasp thingies and have a variety of strapless or convertible bras to accommodate various styles of clothing I have.

I will no longer wear low-rise jeans. I gave them up a couple of years ago this will prevent the visible panty situation.

I won’t expose my midriff. A snug tee, I’m down for, but outside of a banging two-piece to rock beachside, no dice.

I can’t wear novelty shirts with cherries on them or saying I’m a golddigger, hustler, or slut, or naughty kitten. I’ll let my suitors find that kind of information out on their own.

Even my beloved Carrie Bradshaw, of Sex and the City, told her homegirl Samantha in an episode in season 6, that there comes a time where even the edgiest of fashionistas mature and don’t dress with “naked” as their default setting, as they once did in their youth.

As a grown woman, you want to always be sexy, but also taken seriously. Ask any human resources director and they’ll tell you, nothing sends your credibility down the drain faster than an inappropriate ensemble, no matter how brilliant you may actually be.

We judge older women harshly. Look no further than reality show hip-hop mothers like Frankie (Keyshia Cole’s mom) or Mama Jones (rapper Jim Jones mother and self-proclaimed “psychotic bitch”) who wear skinny jeans and midriff exposing tee shirts. Their antics as well as their clothes often make you wonder if their grown children are more mature than they are.

I’m not saying they should be school marms, but there are grown women doing the damn thing the right way. I call it “subtle, sexy, chic.” This type of style is more thought out. It’s strategic, and when done correctly, it still brings the boys to the yard, and keeps em there. Yes, it takes time, practice and finding your own personal style mentor to help you get it right.

As the headline of this blog says, the literal interpretation of what’s sexy, tends to be lazy and mainly includes showing skin and doing not much else.

However, the “subtle, sexy, chic” women don’t hit you over the head with the breasts and booty as soon as they enter the room, but they also don’t shy away from playing up their best assets with well-tailored clothing on and off the red carpet. Women who dress “subtle, sexy, chic” allow you to see other sexy traits that aren’t as obvious and that grown women play up very well: hair, eyes, smiles, the decolletage.

Meet my celebrity style mentors:

Michelle Obama. There’s a reason President Obama hasn’t cussed out the entire free world yet, dropped the mic and walked off the stage like the lead singer from “Sexual Chocolate”. He has a fine woman at home. Michelle is the epitome of class and she rarely gets it wrong. Whether she is jump-roping, gardening, entertaining world leaders, or encouraging military families, her hair, makeup and clothing choices are always appropriate and she pulls it off wonderfully.

Princess Kate Middleton. (She’s turning 30 next week! Kate dresses the part as modern young royalty in a way that’s classic, but still fashion forward.) I think Kate has done a wonderful job since she’s been in the spotlight as Prince William’s boo. From jeans to evening wear, she is a strategic dresser and knows she can’t embarrass head grandma in charge, the Queen. She doesn’t try to dress older than what she is, but she manages to get it right and represent respectfully. This young lady is going to be one to watch and emulate for years to come.

Tracee Ellis Ross. I decided to throw one celeb in here, considering wives of world leaders have another level of pressure and decorum to adhere to that the rest of us don’t. Tracee wowed us as Joan Clayton on the television show “Girlfriends” and she gushes all the time about taking her famous mom, Diana Ross’ clothes. She’s got the big, gorgeous signature hair (also from her mama) and she’s another one who makes a trip to Trader Joe’s look like an effortless jaunt down Fifth Ave. She’s creative but takes calculated risks that end up winners.

So as I turn the big 3-0, I keep these women in mind as I’m shopping and getting dressed.

As for the yellow dress and a few other items in my closet…

They are officially retired.

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