Real girls in their own place.
Not too crazy and just a pinch of naughty...
There are very few things that Kanye and I have in common, other than self-identifying as black, but even that is questionable now that he’s remade himself in the image of Yeezus. According to W Magazine, Yeezy wrote “I Am a God,” after his feelings were really hurt by a major fashion designer:
Last fall, a few days before Paris Fashion Week, West was informed that he’d be invited to a widely anticipated runway show only on the condition that he agree not to attend any other shows. “So the next day I went to the studio with Daft Punk, and I wrote ‘I Am a God,’ ” West says. “Cause it’s like, Yo! Nobody can tell me where I can and can’t go. Man, I’m the No. 1 living and breathing rock star. I am Axl Rose; I am Jim Morrison; I am Jimi Hendrix.” … “You can’t say that you love music and then say that Kanye West can’t come to your show! To even think they could tell me where I could and couldn’t go is just ludicrous. It’s blasphemous—to rock ’n’ roll, and to music.” [emphasis added]
If I’m honest – like, really, really, brutally, embarrassingly honest – there is a part of me that has felt something like this before. My head isn’t so far up my ass to pretend that it’s even close to what Kanye is expressing here, but I think we all have those moments where someone else’s actions violate our feelings of self-importance. For me, it’s usually when I feel like someone is questioning my intelligence and the first thought that usually crosses my mind is, “I went to Harvard, [expletive deleted].You’re an idiot.”
It’s not something I’m proud of, but I am consoled by the fact that I’m not one of the people who feel compelled to refer to it as the “H bomb,” which is really the cherry on top of various douchebaggery coming out of Cambridge. Anyway, I know I’m not alone in feeling a sense of moral outrage at some of the small inconveniences that make up daily life. Shouldn’t everyone know that I’m just better than they are and act accordingly?!
Unfortunately, that’s not the way things work. Luckily, for me at least, I have a platform from which to shout to the world the top five things that make me the “No. 1 living and breathing Valarie.”
I am an American – It’s got to count for something, right?
I have an uncommon, but not unheard of name – God-inspired names may be meaningful, but they are so unoriginal.
I am pretty good at basically everything I try – beginner’s luck is always on my side!
I never had braces – One time, a teacher dentist took pictures of my mouth so that he could show his students that good jaw and teeth alignment can happen naturally.
I make amazing first impressions. Then I just hope I never see you again.
Sometimes, we all need a little pick-me-up and it helps to remind ourselves that we’re good enough, smart enough, and people like us, but clearly the ability to plank on millions has catapulted Yeezy to new egomaniacal heights. We can all be gods in our own minds – no one likes the thought police – but, clearly, some of us need to learn how not to abuse our power by forcing our self-delusion on others.
Like what this Harvard grad has to say? Check out her exclusive self-portrait set photos “A Day With Valarie” only on the MIMP APP…
A lot of girls (me included) think that it’s easier to be friends with men than with other women. Let’s be real – men are easy: either they’re interested in you and you’re interested back or you don’t care and you can relax and let it all hang out. Like the ladies of MIMP.
But, relationships with women, well, those are decidedly more difficult to navigate. The familiar trope depicts women as catty, gossiping harpies who are only interested in sabotaging each other’s chances at personal or professional success. See, every season and cast of The Real Housewives.
Of course, it doesn’t need to be this way. No one is immune from envy or jealousy (see, Kelly v. Beyoncé), but neither are we expected to just sit idly by and do nothing while the people around us achieve our dreams. If you want something – GO FOR IT. If you’re not sure how to get it – ASK FOR HELP. And, who better to ask than the lovely ladies doing the things that you want to do?
When I decided that I wanted to write about more than just my daily goings on, I started submitting things through various series of tubes and the lovely Heather, our resident MIMP star and MAMO Editor, gave me a chance. I was excited and nervous about my entry in the MIMP community – SO MANY BEAUTIFUL WOMEN! SO MANY PEOPLE WHO ARE MORE INTERESTING THAN I AM! – but, I quickly realized that there was only one thing that I needed to do, and it nothing to do with how I looked or changing my interests (which, according to Netflix, err on the side of early 90s British crime dramas).
What is the Shine Theory? I’m so glad you asked:
When you meet a woman who is intimidatingly witty, stylish, beautiful, and professionally accomplished, befriend her. Surrounding yourself with the best people doesn’t make you look worse by comparison. It makes you better.
Honestly, the ladies of MIMP made it a little too easy. Who wouldn’t want to get to know these ladies? They are sexy. They are confident. They are smart. They are everything I’ve ever wanted to be and wanted other people to think about me (and I’m not too proud to be thought of that way if only just by association). As a woman, finding out that there’s a place where you can be all of your selves without sacrifice is basically like, well, honestly I don’t know what it’s like because I can’t think of anything better!
Welcome to the MIMP Club: where all the women are strong, all the women are good looking, and all the women are above average.
I used to be a massive flirt. It was basically nonstop and it didn’t matter if you were a man or a woman – everyone was a target. Flirting is really all in the details: a well-timed remark; a hand on a knee; a coy smile. It’s not enough to be a trophy, you have to really make the other person believe that they are the only thing that you’re thinking about at that minute. I mastered it.
But, then, I lost it.
I mean, the thrill of the chase still runs in my veins, but now I’m only chasing one man and strategizing for ultimate career success (which is a full-time job unto itself). I haven’t really seriously flirted with anyone in [a longer period of time than I care to mention], and I can begin my senses beginning to dull. The mental sparring and electricity of proper flirting is just not a part of my life at the moment – my boyfriend lives in a different country at the moment and my workplace is made up of a lot of incredible women, but it’s not that kind of place, you know?
So, I have a plan. I am going to bring flirting back into the fold. I think what went wrong was that I just thought of flirting as a means to an end – I want you to like me, so I’ll flirt with you and you will like me. Apparently, I had it all wrong. There are at least six different reasons people flirt. SIX! Of course, part of that is checking someone else out, but some people do it just because they like it. And, by golly, I like it. I like it a lot.
Flirting is fun and it’s good for you! Obviously, if you’re in a relationship – don’t do anything stupid. (That message is mostly for the guys because they, apparently, are worse at accepting friendly flirtation for what it is).
But what’s the harm in a little playful banter, as long as you’re not in Little Rock? So, I intend to flirt all over this town until I’ve had my fill and then continuing flirting until I know I’ve got my groove back.
Flirt on, people. Flirt on.
P.S. I have a Day With Me set rolling out next weekend, so stay tuned…
Ok, full confession: I’m not actually naked right now. But, the title got your attention, amirgiht?!
My purpose here is not to parade around in my skivvies shooting tempting glances at the photographer – the girls of MIMP have that on lock. My purpose here, whether real or imagined, is to get you to think.
As you might have imagined, I think a lot. Like, A LOT. About not-insignificant things and, I’ve learned, a desire to have deep conversations about race and gender and the intersection of all things that make humans interesting and flawed does not make you Ms. Popular.
Given my social nature, I’ve found that my desire to have friends generally trumps my interest in digging into their deepest, darkest fears and the things that I talk about are not generally based on my “naked” thoughts – the thoughts that emerge from the damp, dark recesses of my mind, but are suppressed by my years of social conditioning.
And I imagine it’s the same for you.
The things that come out of our mouths are very rarely the things that we are thinking. The conversations that we have are usually based on some derivative notions or insignificant ideas we have about how the world works or should work.
But, at any rate, they are of the things that we have been told are acceptable in civilized society. On occasion, in small groups of like-minded individuals, you can tap into the things that you’re probably too scared to admit in public, but the exhilaration of those moments is so fleeting and the oppressive sense of loss when the moment passes encourages most to stay in the comfort zone that’s been created for them.
What would MIMP be if all these lovely women just played it safe? BORING. So let’s get naked! Let’s talk about the things we never thought we’d talk about. I’ll share a story and maybe it will help you feel free to share yours. Either way – let’s start a real conversation. A naked conversation.
When I was six years old, I was riding the bus to school and talking to an older, female student who I remember being friends with – as much as anyone can be friends with a first grader. To be honest, she was probably in sixth grade, but she seemed like an adult to me. She was, however, old enough to flirt and have someone flirt back. Having no understanding of these sorts of dynamics, when some boy came over and started giving her a hard time, I felt like I needed to stick up for my friend. And I did.
And his response was that I was ugly.
I wish I could say that it didn’t have any effect, but clearly I still remember it. And it hurt. I had never thought much about the way I looked – BECAUSE I WAS SIX – but suddenly, the knowledge that my appearance had any sort of bearing on how other people perceived me was mind-blowing.
Growing up, I was always only one of the few people of color in every school that I attended and, while I never felt like that held me back, I never felt that I quite satisfied the high standard that was set by all the blonde and blue-eyed belles around me. I judged myself harshly and others even more so for failing to meet my ideals.
Of course, people do grow and change. I can honestly say that I am less concerned with what others things than I used to be. I would be lying, though, if I said that I had somehow risen above a shallow preoccupation with looks and embraced everyone’s difference. I wanted to be pretty then, and I still want to be pretty, which is not easy to admit. That is something that I don’t like about myself.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. It seems like I am constantly meeting or hearing about inspiring women who make me want to be a better person and encourage me to share some of my baggage because even if doesn’t help others, it helps me to let go of it – the first step is admitting you have a problem, after all.
So, was it good for you too?
P.S. Get excited for me to show you a little more than my mind on the MIMP App soon with a self portrait set, “A Day With Valarie.”
Many women love a man in a uniform. Of course this usually refers to a military uniform – cue Officer and a Gentleman, Top Gun, or any other number of Hollywood blockbusters that draw women in with the promise of hot guys either in uniform (muscles rippling and barely contained in the fitted blues) or with shirt off (skin glistening, muscles rippling – it’s what muscles do – as they drop and give me 20). But, some men can also capitalize on it with a tailored suit (preferably Tom Ford) and distinguished air – a la Bond, James Bond (Daniel Craig, call me, please).
The recent explosion of Tom Ford suits (mostly in JT videos) got me to thinking about why it is that a tailored suit is so tantalizing. I read somewhere that uniforms tend to signify responsibility and conformity with social conventions for the person wearing them, and that it’s not actually the uniform that we find sexy, but the anticipation of throwing off the yoke of social order by sexualizing the person in the uniform that gets us going. If you doubt it, I think 16 year-old Britney Spears clearly illustrates the power that uniforms (or lack thereof) can have.
Normally, there is not much that a man can do to get my attention. I love men, but you know, I’m smart (Harvard graduate), attractive (my milkshake really does bring all the boys to the yard) and financially independent – so it’s not enough to lavish gifts, act like you can do better, or pretend you know anything – I promise I’m smarter, more attractive, and generally probably way more interesting than you. I’m not saying all this to brag (I am), but I do wish I could be easily impressed. I’m just not, and that is my burden to bear.
That being said, a good-looking guy who knows how to dress himself will always get a second look. Every. Single. Time. I just wish more guys would step up to the plate. It doesn’t take much to get a man’s attention. Basically, you just have to have a vagina and be in their general vicinity. This does not mean that all men are shallow – it’s just recognizing that men look at every woman that walks by them. When it comes to sexual desires, men tend to be visually oriented so it makes sense that they’re always looking. Women, however, tend to require a little more psychological prepping to express their sexuality so the somewhat complicated theory of what makes a man in uniform so attractive actually makes a lot of sense, too.
If men can have eye candy, why can’t women have it too? It’s of course, not enough to be good looking, but it helps – Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree does not suddenly transform into the White House Christmas tree when it spends $10k on ornaments. I would just like to walk down the street and not wonder why I try at all when every other guy that passes by is not even close to hitting the mark. I shouldn’t have to use Mr. Porter to get my fix, you know what I mean?
True to form, I am WAY behind on all things music. Not having a car has severely limited my ability to stay up on the “hot beats.” I suppose I also never really learned how to search for new music because friends always introduced me to the hotness of the moment. That’s how I “discovered” The Knife, M83, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, The Weeknd, among many, many others.
Otherwise, my natural tendencies lean heavily toward old school R&B (which is making a comeback!) and R&B/hip-hop collabs. In a stroke of good luck, I got tickets to see Jay-Z and JT at Yankee Stadium (SQUEEEEE!), and decided to update my playlists to prepare for what promises to be the best summer of music I’ve probably ever had. JT’s new album is….ok, but, bien sur, Hova brought it with Watch the Throne (I told you I was way behind).
In a brilliant move that I can only assume escaped my attention through some massive failures in online communications – Frank Ocean, Kanye, AND Jay-Z created “No Church in the Wild.” While the song itself “explores themes of religion and decadence,” the lyric that got me (and I’m sure a lot of other people) was Frank Ocean’s hook:
Human beings in a mob/What’s a mob to a king?/What’s a king to a god?/What’s a god to a non-believer?/Who don’t believe/In anything
Specifically, it made me think of the place women hold in society. What is a woman to everyone who knows her? Where does she fit in the grand scheme of things? There is a clear hierarchy in the song – mobs are of no consequence to a king who controls the police power of the state and can easily suppress the will of the people (Hello, my name is Bashar Al-Asad); kings are of no consequence to gods who are all-knowing and all-powerful; but ultimately, the individual is still able to exercise his free-will to deny the power these other forces may have over him.
Sadly, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that women are just part of the mob. Not to be alarmist, but there are women around the world who can’t even learn without the ever-present threat of violence against their minds and bodies. Unfortunately, men tend to have positioned themselves as the kings and gods of these towns and villages – utilizing whatever power available to disempower those around them. Even in the U.S., the marketing towards women tends to be rather patronizing. Many young women are no longer able to distinguish between their own wishes and the things they’ve been told to want; the things that will make people like them.
But, if you know the right places to look – you can find the women who have rejected the idea that they need to fix anything about themselves. They’ve become the “non-believers.” Take MIMP, for example: real girls (no touchups!) in their own place (they are people too!). The women of MIMP are calling the shots and taking their place at the table. What could be more empowering than that?!
JJ’s story of rejecting others’ negativity was great. In honor of National Women’s History Month – tell the real women in your life how amazing they are and not to let those who would seek power to deny them theirs. India.Arie said it best:
I am not my hair/I am not this skin/I am not your expectations
(Sorry I’m not sorry, but I didn’t NEED to step up my game. I just WANTED to.)
I know this guy - let’s call him ODB. We dated for a hot second, and it was intense and exciting, but a terrible idea. You know the story. But, as much as my interactions with him led me to question his morals, his fashion sense is spot on (although, trending toward #dandy).
What does this have to do with being a narcissist, you may ask. Well, I am here to say that I respect him, as one narcissist to another, because if you’re going to be an a-hole, then you might as well look good doing it, right? (See, e.g. Galliano)
However, it is sometimes difficult to admit that you respect people that you don’t like that much. ODB and I had a falling out of epic proportions. There are certain parts of town that I don’t like going because the chances of running into him are high. The restaurants that I used to enjoy are tainted by the knowledge that I enjoyed them with him.
BUT – I can’t deny that he helped me step up my game. When I met him, I was just regular old me – it wasn’t that I didn’t care how I looked, but I didn’t put any special effort into it either. Not to brag, but I never had trouble getting dudes with my regular face and clothes, so there was really no incentive to try harder (Okay, definitely bragging, but humbly). And, I mean, I snagged this dude when I was all regular, right?! I didn’t appreciate how a few (thousand) dollars could impact the way people reacted to me.
When you spend time with someone who puts A LOT of effort into their appearance, you start to see how it pays off. ODB was attractive, but he was not model hot. Yet, girls were all about his slim cut suits and 3-day beard. So, I started working a little harder. First, it was a brighter lipstick. Then it was higher heels, dresses and fancy undergarments (just don’t call them panties, please). It was like playing dress up every day. Fun, but it’s exhausting. The “dark side” of all this is, of course, that you end up hiding behind the clothes and projecting an image of yourself that you want other people to accept as true rather than just letting your freak flag fly.
Obviously, we all go out into the world with expectations and desires for how other people perceive us, and there’s a delicate balance to cultivating an image that reflects who you are and what you want other people to think about you. And ODB has perfected this. To get back to the original point, that is why I respect him. He understands what other people expect from him, but also who he wants to be. And he uses this knowledge to his benefit. It may seem a bit manipulative, but, as they say, don’t hate the playa, hate the game.
Well played, ODB, well played.
(If you’re interested in a more intellectual discussion of image and how it affects the way we’re perceived and how we perceive ourselves, watch this great video or read this article about Cameron Russell’s recent TED talk.)