Phaedra Parks Spreads the Donkey Booty Love

Published by Ayana Byrd on Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 4:58 pm.

(Photo: Courtesy of Nida Fitness)

Real Housewives of Atlanta star Phaedra Parks LOVES a big butt and a smile. Sir Mix-a-Lot, Nicki Minaj and all the casting agents of hip hop videos have nothing over the reality show attorney/mortician. Deciding to put her money where her big badunkadunk is, she and husband Apollo have debuted an exercise routine to give every lady some kapow in her derriere.

The name: Phine Body. The mission: an ass that will melt hearts. Lest you worry that your behind is in the hands of amateurs, take solace knowing that Apollo is a certified fitness trainer, an expert who will give you lift and definition on workouts called “Donkey Booty Volume 1″ and “Lower Body & Core Training.”

Any viewer of RHOA knows what a Donkey Booty is. It is Phaedra’s term for a large, toned, beautiful rump…one that, coincidentally, looks like her more-than-ample bottom. And to get one is within everyone’s reach, from the naturally endowed to the flatter-bootied ladies. It takes muscle toning and dedication, but apparently it doesn’t take a lot of sweat. Explaining the philosophy behind Phine Body, she told StyleBlazer, “Our DVD … while it is a very tough DVD, it’s anaerobic vs. aerobic, some parts of it. So with some of those toning exercises, you’re not doing hard sweat. You’re definitely going to feel it because you’re working your muscles, and you’re using core resistance, and that’s going to give you great results.”

Bless her heart, Phaedea doesn’t just want your ass to look it’s best — she also wants your hair to stay top-notch and and not in danger of being sweat out. It’s a win-win from top to (donkey) bottom, and should be the stocking stuffer for all the women on your holiday gift list.

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Prince Gets a Brand New Hairdo

Published by Ayana Byrd on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 12:37 pm.

(Photo: Courtesy of ABC)

In case you hadn’t noticed, hell apparently froze over this week. The deep freeze took place just as Prince stepped on stage for an interview on The View. The artist formerly known as Behold My Hair in a Press and Curl was wearing a wee Afro, a mini blowout, a peek at what lies beneath the creamy crack.

Though Prince was on daytime TV to discuss his three-night “Welcome to Chicago” tour that benefits an economic organization, anyone who has watched him go through a Helen Willis-ish blowout (topless and atop a horse, no less, on an early album cover), Jheri Curl, finger waves, and various pixie  cuts knows that this was the dawn of a new royal day. Prince without a perm? Pshaw! But there he sat, in sunglasses and flowy pants and a leather jacket although it was 80 degrees.

And because his name is Prince and he is funky, the normally rambunctious ladies of The View were on their best behavior and no one made mention of the fact that his look had changed. Which is a good thing, because as any man who will appear on national television with assless pants will tell you, fashion doesn’t make the man. So don’t be surprised if tomorrow his weave is brushing the floor.

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Who’s More Ghetto: Kanye or the Kardashians?

Published by Ayana Byrd on Monday, August 27, 2012 at 4:46 pm.

(Photo: E! Networks)

The question of ghetto fabulosity came up on yesterday’s episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Remember how Kim claims her first career (before her second career as Paris Hilton’s BFF, third career as sex tape siren and current career as Superstar Kim Kardashian) was being a stylist/closet organizer?

You forgot that? No worries, because so did Kim, the show’s producers and her boyfriend Kanye. So the rapper made another appearance on the reality show, this time bringing his stylist along because Kim’s wardrobe needed some serious tending. Kim was wide-eyed and excited because Kanye “works in “fashion.” So does she, with a clothing line and that former career as a stylist, but that never got mentioned. Instead she couldn’t wait to see what they were going to do to update her look and, as Kanye later says, so she can get on Best Dressed lists. This being reality TV, of course problems ensued:

Problem #1: It is creepy–and likely a mention on a questionnaire asking “Do you have a controlling boyfriend?”–when a man who takes off your clothes off wants to dictate what clothes you put on. Miles beyond a simple “Hey baby, I like when you wear that skirt,” this was wholesale, head to toe makeover. This turned Kim on, but Khloe was aghast, leading to…

Problem #2: As little sister Khloe looked in horror over the piles upon piles upon piles of clothes and shoes Kanye had determined had to go bye-bye, her rising anger wasn’t because a man had offered to buy her (rich) sister all new clothes if she just listened to what he said. No, she was angry because he was getting rid of a lot of pieces just like ones she had. Worried that meant she too might be a fashion disaster, Kim tried to calm her by explaining that Kanye had pointed out to her that these items were “ghetto.” Khloe countered that everyone needs a little ghetto and ghetto fabulousness in their life…and if it could be delivered with a fur-lined, stiletto Timberland-type boot, then so be it.

Problem #3: The episode ended with the sobs of little brother Robert. Sad and hard to watch…especially considering no one also thought to shed tears over two rich women from Calabasas, California willy nilly throwing around the word “ghetto” and wishing they could hold on to the little ghetto passes they felt they’d claimed through shoes, clothes, bags (and, though no one said it, maybe some of the Black men they’ve dated), with no regard for the ignorance such a claim represents.

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The Sad Fall of a Supermodel

Published by Ayana Byrd on Monday, August 20, 2012 at 12:35 pm.

(Photo: Focus Pictures, PacificCoastNews.com)

The word “supermodel” was born in the 1980s and intended to let us know right away, before we even had a name but just by the descriptive that they were models of the super kind, that certain women were better, more beautiful, more exquisitely human than the rest of us. These women, not surprising when you considered the world’s prejudiced aesthetic ideals, included a lot of white ladies, but a handful of Black beauties named Naomi Campbell, Gail O’Neill and Karen Alexander were also bestowed the lofty title.

Nearly three decades later, the Internet has effectively blown the lid of the super part of supermodel. Like Toto taking down the curtain and revealing that the Wiz of Oz was just Richard Pryor on a cot, the internet has shown us video of Kate Moss doing coke and looking desperate and, most recently, a photo of Naomi Campbell losing the battle with her hairline.

Weaves and braid extensions have never been a hairline’s best friend, but did no one tell Campbell that she might want to switch to wigs? Look at Brandi, Naomi! There’s a reason why she gave up her signature braids. Now, days after this photo was released, Campbell sashayed down the faux-runway of the Olympics Closing Ceremony, with a seemingly lush head of hair. But we knew the truth of what lurked underneath her headpiece: a head that needed some love, some relief and some added strands. Go ahead, Naomi, be super and get rid of that weave.

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The Un-beweavable Problem on Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta

Published by Ayana Byrd on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 1:42 pm.

(Photo: VH1)

Here’s the thing about reality stars—they aren’t famous because of a hit song or stellar talent. They’re famous for a supreme lack of shame and willingness to show their ass on-camera, all day, all night, all season long. When you are only famous for your shenanigans, you owe the audience a few things to insure that they stay committed to following your hijinx: 1) You don’t suddenly, four episodes in, start acting like someone with some sense and 2) You don’t every scene and every episode look like a totally different person. This last tidbit has not been conveyed to the current Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta cast.

When Rihanna dyes her hair Raggedy Ann red, then Marilyn Monroe blonde, then Goth Princess black, no one says “Who’s that?” But when K. Michelle, Erica, Mimi and the rest of the LAHHA cast switch up their looks more frequently than they call each other a “bitch,” those of us at home are left thinking “Is that Scrappy’s Baby Mama? Or the one who couldn’t even get Stevie J. to wait to drive her home from her abortion? Or the one who was with LA Reid’s son before but this week is swapping spit with Benzino…”

Does Momma Dee detour from her bangs and bad-assness? NO! But Erica, your heavy banged-wig that you wear in your confessionals is worlds different than the hair in your other scenes and, often, you’re hard to recognize as the same woman. Mimi, what did you think you were doing in last night’s episode with a lion’s mane of wavy weave pulled back 90s style, a serious departure from the long 80s-assymettical-influenced style we’re used to seeing you as you bemoan life as Stevie J’s boo? And K. Michelle, are you a raven-haired Keyshia Cole lookalike or an dark red-haired one? And, Joseline: short? Long? Cornrowed? The only way we can recognize you scene after scene is by your humongous, exposed breasts and your fur-ers.

Ladies, some consistency, please.

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It’s Twin Day for Kim and Kanye

Published by Ayana Byrd on Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 4:45 pm.

(Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

Any middle school girl who had a bestie knows about the grand tradition of Twin Day: it’s when, after hours spent on the phone and more than one conversation where you harass your parents to buy you a new outfit and sulk off when they say “hell no,” you get to show up at school in the same get-up that their BFF is wearing. Because no one is a detail-hound like a tween girl, Twin Day doesn’t just stick to matching pants and shoes, but hairstyles, earrings, socks, everything visible is made to look as close to the same as their best friend’s. Though the prize is usually lackluster (from a school t-shirt to an announcement on the intercom system), any participant of Twin Day will tell you they’re not in it for the gifts, but the glory. And glory, not the Jay-Z song but the praise and attention of millions, seems to also be the motivation behind Kim and Kanye’s BET Awards outfits.

Kim, long known for having the biggest butt on the block, found herself seated next to Nicki Minaj and three down from Beyoncé. Compared to those two, her buns were a mere afterthought. So, forced to admit gluteal defeat, Kim had another plan: Twin Day to the rescue! She and boyfriend Kanye both wore simple, unadorned white outfits. One thing would have kept them from winning the prize for best twins: while Kanye was frequently shown yucking it up with a smile or a laugh, Kim looked tense, like a smile would have been too much to ask for the seemingly most uncomfortable star in the building. Still, though, cheers to keeping a school-age tradition alive! Let’s see if anyone else tries it at the MTV Awards.

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Solange’s Not Takin’ No Mess “No Mo”

Published by Ayana Byrd on Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 3:46 pm.

(Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Perrier-Jouet)

Once upon a time, in a year called 1966, the decision to stop straightening hair was a political statement. This was a time before the Jackson 5, JJ Walker’s sister Thelma and even Barbra Streisand decided a massive halo of kinky hair was more cute and fashionable than revolutionary. This was a time when the Black Power Movement was making natural hair a tenet of the belief that Black (capital B required) was Beautiful.

Once upon a time, in a year called 2009, a singer more popularly known as the little sister of pop megastar Beyoncé, decided the time had come to take out her weave and cut off her hair. ‘i wanna cut all my Hair off & have a fade (cropped haircut) phase,’ Solange Knowles told the world through Twitter. And so that’s exactly what she did, shunning critics and complainers and rocking a fade, then braids, turbans and Afros of varying lengths and textures.

All seemed to be going well for this celebrity who dared to ignore the narrow beauty ideals offered to the famous. Until, that is, she came under attack by the Natural Hair Police, an unofficial cadre of bloggers, stylists and commenters. In a series of online statements, they let it be known that Solange’s ‘do needed some assistance. It led the singer to head back to the internet to let her feelings be known. Said Solange:

“I’m only going to say a few things. I cut my hair ALL off 4 times in my life all for very different reasons….I only reiterate this because this is nothing new for me. This 4th time did not define me, just as it had not the previous 3 times. I’ve never painted myself as a team natural vice president. I don’t know the lingo and I don’t sleep with a satin cap…However, I did notice when I picked out my hair, I kept seeing feedback about needing a “twist out”. Connnnfesssioonnn: I HATE twist outs. Correction, I hate the way they look on me. SO I end up always picking them/steaming them out. Look, all I’m saying is. My hair is not very important to me….so I don’t encourage it to be important to you. I’m very emotional today (involving something else), so I’m letting the momentum of that help me to express the fact that…I don’t want to talk about no damn hair…..no mo.”

And with that, she lived happily ever after.

The End

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The Other Massive Problem with the Mary J. Blige Chicken Commercial

Published by Ayana Byrd on Wednesday, April 4, 2012 at 4:09 pm.

(Photo: Courtesy hiphopstan.com)

So many (too many) are to blame for the travesty that is the Burger King Chicken Wraps commercial starring Mary J. Blige. A few of the worst offenders:

• The person who conceived the idea

• Any Black Burger King employee who heard about the idea and didn’t pipe up to say, “Hey guys, so…chicken…soulful singing…Black people, this isn’t a good idea. Maybe Mary can hawk that smoothie we have David Beckham talking about in his commercial.”

• The script writer—unless they are angling to get hired by Dave Chappelle, because the “What’s in that new chicken wraps!?” line is pure comedic genius.

• The casting person for thinking it would help sell chicken wraps by hiring  little white kids who look like they were plucked out of a poster for suburbia, sticking paper crowns on their heads and having them raise the roof as Blige croons about crispy chicken.

• The director. Why does Blige interrupt the store manager with her question about the contents of the chicken wraps? Why does she do it with a little bit of hostility? Is it because she’s been told to stand atop a table, with no explanation given for why she must tower over the customers-turned-concertgoers? Why does she answer her own question, proceeding to sing each ingredient in the same wrap that moments ago she didn’t know what it contained? Only the director knows the answer to these questions.

• Bilge’s vocal coach. We have all seen Mary jumping up and down in stilettos as she pulls at our heartstrings with soulful performances at award shows. And we have all witnessed the emotion in every note when she sings at telethons. But this is chicken, not Hurricane Katrina or the Grammys. Did she really have to feel it so much?

• The editor. If they were doing their job well, there wouldn’t be a phantom appearance at 6 seconds that looks like Blige is holding a rubber chicken or stuffed monkey. For anyone wondering what zoo animal is in her clutches, the answer is none. Turns out a person walks by, their head is captured on screen and no one edited it out. Fail.

• Mary herself. This extends to her manager, her besties and anyone else who heard she was being asked to sing for chicken and, ignoring that history has long stereotyped Black people and our hyperbolized love of of a greasy piece of fried chicken, said, “Go on, girl, do it! And make sure to sing it with your all!” This is the same kind of thinking that will land you as the spokesperson for the National Watermelon Society.
But there is one other person,who is either the great unsung hero of this fiasco or the worst offender of the bunch: Blige’s hairstylist. Let’s imagine they got the run through of the project so they could figure out how to style her hair. If they then thought, “let’s add some volume, twist it around in front and tuck it into a sloppy pompadour style because that’s the way to guarantee Mary looks hot,” then they are a foolish devil. By if instead they thought, “I will make her look like Foghorn Leghorn in the hair area because if you think  $2 million is enough to sell black people out, you deserve to look like the chicken you’re selling,” then they deserve a parade in their honor.

What have we learned from this, people? Don’t sing for chicken. And if you absolutely must, don’t do it while looking like the Looney Toons most famous rooster.

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Dawn Richards, You Are Not Native American

Published by Ayana Byrd on Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 12:25 pm.

(Photo: Bad Boy Records)

Years after the disappearance or crash-and-burn (hey there, Audrey) of her Making the Band castmates, Dawn is still making Diddy Dirty Money big moves. Like her former mentor Sean Combs, the singer can’t stop, won’t stop. Yet, like Madonna, Gwen Stefani and Alicia Keys during her unfortunate but brief bindi-wearing period, she can’t get it through her head that cultural appropriation is not an okay way to give a pop star extra oomph.

Consider Dawn’s new video, “Bombs.” In it, she hoped to convey the spirit and essence of a warrior, explaining on 106th & Park, “I wanted the art direction to be cohesive with the song and sound of the EP. Warriors fighting for the same cause. ‘Bombs’ is the ‘Hearts have arrived’ record.” So to that end she dressed herself up like a Native American. She put feathers on her head and did a little dance to show her tribal fierceness.

This is not okay.

Native Americans got precious little of what they deserved once their land became American land. And now, all these years later, the least they deserve is to stop having their symbols and rituals of cultural pride and heritage be used as a gimmicky prop.

There’s also the very real issue that by prancing around in a headdress, Dawn looks silly. Cultural appropriation is not classy, it’s clownish. As clownish as, say, Katy Perry covering “Niggas in Paris” (if you missed the travesty, enjoy it here). Katy is not Kanye or Jay-Z, just as you are not Pocahontas, Dawn…so everyone, just go back to your familiar corners and get a grip.

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A Shout Out to the Hoodie

Published by Ayana Byrd on Thursday, March 22, 2012 at 10:18 pm.

(Photo: Courtesy Facebook)

It’s hard to motivate to find something snarky to say about the multitudes of snark-worthy offenses that have been taking place. One (black) TMZ staffer saying “Welcome to the dark booty rebellion” after another (white) staffer said he normally doesn’t care for big butts, yet after seeing Minaj shake hers in a bikini in Hawaii, he “liked it.”  There is plenty to say about that.

Also a lot of sarcasm to throw at the insistence on playing up every single hot Latina mami stereotype when going gaga over Sofia Vergara’s lingerie-clad Esquire magazine cover. Plenty to say about that, too.

But it seems disrespectful to poke fun when fashion got a chance this week to step up as a symbol of something meaningful. The #millionhoodies hashtag has taken over many Facebook and Twitter feeds, as celebs, everyday folk, young, old, white, Black and everything else pulled up their hoodies in a show of solidarity with murdered 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. What happened to Martin is best described here on the Colorlines website: “Martin was visiting a friend of his father’s in a small gated community outside of Orlando, sporting a gray hoodie and armed with a pack of Skittles and a can of iced tea,” writes Jamilah King in an article that places his death in a long line of socially condoned lynchings of African-Americans. “Along the way he became a target of nearby resident George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old member of the local Neighborhood Watch, who thought the teen looked ‘suspicious.’ Zimmerman then shot and killed Martin—and, so far, it’s been with legal impunity, protected in part by Florida’s expansive definition of self-defense.”

So as the law conjures more “reasons” not to arrest a man for the murder of a child, angry, frustrated protestors put on their hoodies. Some, like the multitudes who flooded New York’s Union Square area on the night of March 21st including celebs like the Roots’ Questlove, literally took it to the streets. Others posted photos of themselves on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, showing their solidarity on social media.

So, today, snark-free and dripping with exhausted earnestness, wear your hoodie and realize that a single type of clothing usually relegated to ballgames, chilly beach parties and hip hop videos can be a visual representation that Trayvon Martin died alone but is in the hearts of millions.

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