à l'allure garçonnière

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Honored to host, edit, and illustrate this dope essay on Browntourage Mag!

It’s uniquely radical when women of color of all shades and sizes, as well as gender fluid and gender variant people of color take selfies. We are manufacturing our own visibility and share their narratives in the face of erasure and forced silence. How radical is our self-love when we aren’t taught to love yourself? When we aren’t the beauty standard?

-D.K.A.Look At Me: Selfie Culture And Self-Made Visibility


'beauty' does not equal self-worth


This is coming from someone who likes fashion, sometimes wears makeup, and used to be firmly on the ‘beauty can mean lots of different things!’ bandwagon. 

Physical appearance is important in this world we live in. It is important for a couple of reasons:

a) tending to your outside can be an act of self-love and self-care. As a person who struggles with depression and PTSD, a person with a traumatic past, keeping up rituals of tending to my body with love - and I define that in a few different ways, not just cosmetic - are ways to remain present, small ways to tell myself that I value myself. THAT IS COOL.

b) we live in a society that tells us about a million times a day that how much our bodies align with an arbitrary set of standards meant to indicate ‘physically attractive’ is vital to our self-worth and that we should always strive to be closer to those standards. Those standards are misogynist, racist and cisheteronormative. They are always shifting, and they are propped up by industries that make enormous amounts of money preying on our insecurities and vulnerabilities. This is not new information. THAT IS FUCKED.

I think of playing with my appearance as fun, and I don’t generally do it to please anyone but myself, but when I’m doing it I always try to think about WHY I like a particular look. Is it because it makes me look more like I align with those standards I mentioned above, those standards that have literally killed people (not just from eating disorders, but as I am someone who will always have an ED to contend with, that is often first in my mind)?

Can one move toward an aesthetic that fucks the industry? As someone who enjoys aesthetics and has a very strong sense thereof, I would like to think there is some room here.

(I think of the great Mark Aguhar in this regard.)

But please, always keep this in mind: how closely you align to those given standards does not make you a kind person. It does not make you a smart person. It does not make you a thoughtful person. It does not make you a funny person. You can be a person that conforms to those standards and be all of those things, of course, but you can also be a person who conforms to those standards who is cruel and boring, or a person who doesn’t conform to those standards who has all or some of these great qualities.

And I will always fight against the idea that those standards are meaningful to me personally, meaningful in an essential and real way. As they stand right now they are important simply because they have such impact in our lives: there are so many studies out there that indicate that how close one conforms to those physical standards affects whether we are likely to get jobs or housing, how much money we’re likely to make, so on and so forth.

How fucked is that?

How important is it to fight beauty hierarchy in every corner of our lives? It is crucial.

hearts for eyes for jes’ brain.

Her Body Is Not Your Playground: Why the Photoshopped Frida Nudes Are Not Okay


by Mia McKenzie

October 25, 2012

A couple of months ago, I started seeing these images going around on Facebook, of Frida Kahlo in various stages of nudity. They were being posted and re-posted by several people I like, awesome POCs whose admiration of Frida Kahlo I definitely share. But something about the images seemed off to me. I mean, where had all these new images come from, all of a sudden? I decided to click on the link, to actually follow it to a web page. And there I discovered the awful truth: that these were all photoshopped images of Frida Kahlo’s face on someone else’s body.

Why would anyone do this? I mean, okay, there are all kinds of photoshopped pics of celebrity heads attached to naked bodies that don’t belong to them. Apparently, the desire to see a woman with her clothes off is so powerful to some people that seeing her with someone else’s clothes off will suffice. I won’t lie. I don’t get it. But I guess some people are into that. Okay. But, right or wrong, I guess I don’t personally associate this phenomenon with the kind of folks who actually know who Frida Kahlo is. Further, I guess I expect that people who do know who she is, and who care enough to click and share a link about her, would respect her enough to not want to see her objectified, and in such extreme ways. But then I realized that the person behind all of this was a white man. And I was like, “Oh. Yeah. Figures.” When did the idea of respecting the image, body, or identity of women of color ever trump the need for white men (or any men, really) to do whatever they please? Brown and black women have been treated as beasts of the sexual burden of white men for hundreds of years. White men have regarded the bodies of dark women as plantation playgrounds, where they can rape and abuse and use as they please, for centuries. This is yet another way to do that. Without any rightful claim to it, this person has taken the idea of Frida Kahlo’s body, staked a claim to it, used it for what he desires, and called it art.

Is this art? Really? Is this “genius” the way it is described here? Or is it just the same old racist, misogynist bullshit?

Don’t answer. It’s a rhetorical question.

There is more at play here, too, than just racism and misogyny (as if those aren’t enough). The fact of the matter is that Frida Kahlo did not likely have a body that looked like any of the bodies being used for these photoshopped images. The real, authentic nude photographs of Frida that exist only show her naked from the front, and from the waist up. What we know about her life is that she was a victim in a terrible bus crash in her youth, and that the results of that crash included years of surgeries, full-body casts, and the inability to have children.

From Bio.com:

Kahlo was impaled by a steel handrail, which went into her hip and came out the other side. She suffered several serious injuries as a result, including fractures in her spine and pelvis.

Following the accident, Frida would go on to have more than thirty surgeries.

We’d have to be in some serious denial to think that these things did not affect the way Frida’s body looked. There were surely scars, surely much evidence of decades of pain and surgery and brokenness. To replace that broken, scarred body with smooth, un-flawed flesh, as in these photoshopped pics, is plainly able-ist. Further, it dishonors the life Frida Kahlo lived and the experiences she survived. Here was a woman, an artist, whose artistic expression had everything to do with her physical pain, everything to do with existing inside a body that was twisted and gnarled, a body that hurt every day. To erase that is to attempt to erase Frida herself.

At the rate these pics are being shared, if this keeps up, these images of Frida Kahlo, which are not images of Frida Kahlo at all, will replace the authentic images that we have of her in our hearts and minds. People who don’t know her story, who don’t realize how fake these images are, will take them as the truth when there is no truth in them, when they are blatant lies. Lies created by someone who shares neither her color, nor her gender, nor her pain.

Whenever I see one of these photos posted in my Facebook news feed, I write a comment to let the person who posted it know that it’s fake and why that’s fucked-up. Maybe if others join me in this practice, we can help save the real image of Frida from erasure.

Mia McKenzie is a writer and a smart, scrappy Philadelphian with a deep love of vegan pomegranate ice cream and fake fur collars. She is a black feminist and a freaking queer, facts that are often reflected in her writings, which have won her some awards and grants, such as the Astraea Foundation’s Writers Fund Award and the Leeway Foundation’s Transformation Award. She has a novel debuting in the fall and has a short story forthcoming in The Kenyon Review. Her work has been published at Jezebel.com, and recommended by The Root, Colorlines, Feministing, Angry Asian Man, and Crunk Feminist Collective. She is a nerd, and the creator of Black Girl Dangerous, a revolutionary blog.

See Mia in Beloved: A Requiem for Our Dead

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quinn deveaux and meklit hadero cover arcade fire’s neighborhood #1 (tunnels)

GODDAMN. i’m swooning for both these charmers, and am tearing up like a baby right now.


neighborhoodthreat: “Sevigny is that rare bird—an Oscar-nominated and Golden-Globe winning actress who nevertheless finds the time to secure her “indie-darling” status by also starring in smaller independent films. For Chloë Sevigny, it’s not about how much fame a project is going to get her. It’s about quality—statements on which have gotten her into trouble in the recent past. We sat down to talk about the final season of Big Love, her rumored apocalyptic coupling with a member of Jersey Shore, and why the media just won’t let an actress speak her mind.”


neighborhoodthreat: “Sevigny is that rare bird—an Oscar-nominated and Golden-Globe winning actress who nevertheless finds the time to secure her “indie-darling” status by also starring in smaller independent films. For Chloë Sevigny, it’s not about how much fame a project is going to get her. It’s about quality—statements on which have gotten her into trouble in the recent past. We sat down to talk about the final season of Big Love, her rumored apocalyptic coupling with a member of Jersey Shore, and why the media just won’t let an actress speak her mind.

Does anyone else


Feel vaguely uncomfortable about the way we tell people they are beautiful?

I mean, ok, that is super vague. But beautiful as a radical statement? Like, everyone is beautiful, or whatever?

I mean, I think we absolutely one hundred percent do need to take conceptions of beauty back from the beauty industry. We do need to reclaim our bodies, and embrace skin tones, bodies in all sizes and shapes, faces, hair, as beautiful all in their own unique way because the fucked up ‘beauty’ industry has white washed and ‘skinnied up’ our conceptions of what beautiful is. It has straightened hair, widened eyes, narrowed hips, and thinned noses. And that is not ok. So I think those things are super important. And maybe it’s because I am white that I think this, so I would be super in to other perspectives, because I have had the privilege of seeing white faces everywhere, and so on. 

But… it just seems condescending sometimes. Like,  I’d rather be told I’m strong than beautiful. Or clever. Or funny. Or radical. Or riotous. Or about a dozen other things. It feels like we still are putting a value on the aesthetic over ability, which is a problem women face in the first place.

Maybe it’s just a personal thing. I don’t know. Is this some level of unexamined privilege I haven’t considered? It probably is. Anyone have any thoughts they want to share?

 yes. yes. yes. i want to post my thoughts but i need to get back to work… reblogging for a reminder to write about this later.