One of my goals for this year is to stop using gender specific pronouns in group settings. I’m still working on it. It’s challenging, but whatever weak minded excuse you can put here to pardon our comfortable ignorance simply isn’t a good enough reason to ignore people’s identities. Plus for me personally, there’s like this weird voice that comes naturally when I start filming content that makes the phrase “hey guys” sound worse than it already does. No bueno.
As we celebrate PRIDE MONTH and the 52nd anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, It’s my responsibility to encourage active alley and creating inclusive environments, especially in this little corner of the internet. So I took the liberty of making this handy little list of alternative and inclusive pronouns in hopes we can all continue to grow and be the best advocates for EVERYONE (see what I did there), not only during PRIDE, but each and every day.
*Friendly reminder: These are strictly for group settings. When interacting on a personal level, I encourage you to seek out the individuals name and preferred pronoun and address the person as such.
Everybody / Everyone
Folks / Folx
Yall / You all / We all
All Yall / All of you / Each of you
Yinz (if you’re in/from Pittsburgh)
‘N them (followers n them)
Any appropriate adjective with the word people (Party people, Beautiful people, Good people)
Beings that aren’t defined by social constructs like pronouns—haha!
Food names (Pumpkins, Muffins, Cupcakes, etc.)
So now that we have a starter list of alternative and inclusive group pronouns, let’s put them to practice! Look for opportunities to use these words and build a habit of inclusive language. Like I said before, no excuses!
Instant gratification has become the way of the world—particularly, the way of our world. Don’t get me wrong I don’t think anyone has ever been excited to be patient (…if that’s even possible), but there is something to be said for putting in the work and embracing the journey. Plus, if we are being totally honest, anything worth having is worth the work that goes into it, as I hear my momma’s voice saying, “You get what you pay for.”
You do get what you pay for.
I’ll give you an example.
During the first year of my undergrad, I was raped. I had no clue how to move forward after the assault. I didn’t know how to talk about it, I didn’t know how to process it, and I didn’t know how to heal from it, and it showed. I was struggling with feelings of shame, guilt, and unworthiness. I remember being consumed with confusion because I couldn’t determine if I was validated because some “wanted” me, or ashamed because I wasn’t worth loosing my virginity in a special or romantic way.
I went into survival mode and learned to cope with drugs, clothes, attention, and whatever else temporarily validated my insecurities. If I’m being real, I was so far gone it felt like the coping worked. I was living under the false pretense of happiness and fulfillment, and because no one was threatening my illusions of splendor, I invested in emptiness. Did you read that? I said because I lied to myself so much, for so long to cover up my pain, I built myself, my livelihood on an empty foundation. And I had no choice but to start over.
The part that stabs at my heart is I believed the copping worked, but it didn’t. It covered up adequately, but it didn’t work for personal growth and the healing process. I truly thought I had overcome my insecurities and hit a heavenly self-love plateau. In my illusion I was perfect, but behind the false lashes I was so far from fulfilled.
So many time we find ourselves doing things that make us feel good after trauma, and that’s cool but it’s important to remember to do things that are uncomfortable so we don’t end up living in toxicity.
I’ll be honest, these days I’m still working toward healing the right way. I’m still building the habit of wildly and unapologetically loving myself. I’m still growing into fulfillment, and that’s okay! Don’t get me wrong, it’s taking foreverrr, and the process is a messy one, but this time I want to intentionally invest in my best self. I needs that ROI, okay?! So, the ancestors and I are buckled in for the journey—we’re trusting the process in full and taking the scenic route.
It’s no secret your twenties are about growth, finding yourself, and learning to live on your own terms. The idea is to experience enough in your twenties that you’re ready to make better decisions once you hit 30. I’m no different. During my twenties I learned so much, I thought I learned it all. In fact, I remember thinking on my 28th birthday that I was set and not far from accomplishing my preconceived ideal life.
You see, at 28 I was in a serious relationship, had a decent job (with benefits, chile), had just bought a new car, and was on track to go back to school and finish my degree the following year. I was under the impression that I understood my desires and knew myself quite well, and in my mind, I was walking and moving through life with ease.
Things were good—er actually, things were blissful, but as the old adage goes, ignorance is bliss.
Somewhere between 27 and 30 I regressed. If I’m being completely honest, I grew comfortable in every aspect of my life. Now, you may be asking, how does one “grow comfortable?” Isn’t that oxymoronic? Well technically yes, but let me explain. Once I realized I was obliviously on the well-constructed path I curated for myself, or in other words, settling for living in ideal scenarios and social constructs, I let myself slack.
I stopped being active and eating healthy because I was good with how my body looked.
I stopped saving extra money because I already established a savings account.
I stopped applying to jobs because I was content with the one I had.
I stopped actually dating my boyfriend because we moved in together.
I outgrew my surroundings and found comfort in complacency, and truth be told, I liked it. I enjoyed the leisure and the lack of pressure, so much so, I began to grow in the wrong direction and instead of continuing to grow up, I grew laterally. I expanded. That’s cool for like businesses and stuff but people are more like flowers. People aren’t meant to expand, we’re meant to bloom. Bloom and grow forever.
I know what you’re thinking, “…but Ari, expanding is a positive thing…” –you’re right. Initially expansion sounds like a goal. The problem is expansion only occurs once you’ve oversaturated the current market. When we stay stagnant during seasons of growth, we expand in places that might work but aren’t necessarily the best or most fulfilling. When we expand and the world around us continues to grow, it’s only a matter of time until reality kicks in, and the missed opportunities, or regrets, are clear.
Life has a way of putting us in autopilot and just going through the motions. Now, with the pandemics of Covid-19, racism, and capitalism surging the streets, these cravings for complacency are stronger than ever, especially for Black women—we need a break. We need refuge—and rightfully so, we deserve comfort.
While I encourage you to take breaks and find joy in little, everyday moments, I urge you to find a lesson that inspires purpose. Keep growing, sis.
This pandemic had my nails looking sad, sorry, and all out of sorts—and I know I’m not alone.
In addition to nail salons shutting down, technicians are booked up weeks in advance, and there is little sign of an end in sight. While I realize this certainly isn’t the worst problem or even a big deal in the grand scheme of things, the uncertainty of future nail appointments has left me scrambling to find affordable, between-appointment solutions to keep my nails looking good.
I’ve taken to the habit of getting a full set each appointment so each set lasts a little longer, but that brings us back to the nail removal.
I’m either ripping apart my nails bed, or taking time I don’t have to soak them off while simultaneously drying my nails out from all the acetone.
Well, I’d like to introduce you all to Mrs. Darlene Willis, or as I like to call her, the EZ Nail Lifter Lady, and like many other lady entrepreneurs, an answer to our (broken-nail) tragedies.
I had the opportunity to pick Mrs. Willis’s brain and get the skinny on her new invention, EZ Nail Lifter, a beauty tool used to separate and lift the false nail from your natural nail in a quick, easy, and painless way. Check out the Q&A below.
Who is Darlene Willis?
A Universal Child of the MOST HIGH with intensive training in Customer Care and Human Relations skills.
What do you do?
For over 35 years I was an Administrative Assistant until 2016 I had to take a medical leave do to carpal tunnel and Rheumatoid Arthritis. That lead me to developing the E-ZNAILLIFTER and my company TRY Product, a product development company.
How did you start?
In 1997 I started wearing artificial nails and did not like the removal process. Acetone makes my eyes tear profusely, and my throat gets scratchy due to an allergy. Plus my fingertips would be dried out for days. I knew there was a better way to remove them, so I went all over Michigan looking for something to take them off without soaking and could not find anything. So, I created a handy tool that would remove the acrylic nails and made it look like a tool a manicure set.
What has your journey entailed thus far?
A lot of INTERNAL FORTITUDE and learn as you go. Sometimes it feels like I’m in over my head to even want to launch a product without knowing where to start or having the finances to develop it properly. I work as an Administrative Assistant and saved to get a patent. I found a manufacture company to make me a prototype. I saved to get them made and test on the market. I’m building a brand with the goal of becoming a household name product.
How do you know you’re (not) within your purpose.
I look at life differently. My purpose in life is not to be the problem, but a solution and the best person I can be. If my mission is simply to be a solution, then any project The Most High allows me to take on is my purpose.
What is my magic —-the one thing you need no outside validation on?
I know I am a child of THE MOST HIGH. The Spirit gives me the will to manifest anything I put my mind to, the only thing it never said is it would be easy.
Biggest life lesson thus far?
Never think someone will see your vision. I realize God gave the vision to me and they just might have not arrived to it mentally.
You can learn more about E-Z Nail Lifter, and get your own at www.e-znaillifter.com —tell them Ari sent you, and tell your nails I said you’re welcome.
I’m not a super big Blogger. I’m working (hard) to keep growing but typically I depend on the quality of my work and the style in which I do it to land gigs and create impact. So when I tell y’all I was shocked to learn I was invited to a blogger luncheon with Xfinity, I mean it to the fullest.
I had the opportunity to join Comcast Xfinity for a virtual luncheon event where the brand unleashed some of their upcoming releases and new projects. Of these new projects is a program called Representation, Investment, Strength and Empowerment, or R.I.S.E. for short.
Xfiinity’s R.I.S.E. Program is part of their multiyear initiative to build equity for and among communities of color and our businesses, providing resources for marketing, media, and technology that can be challenging to obtain, especially for minority businesses.
I learned how Comcast as a company and Xfinity as a brand plan to provide these resources and ensure a lasting impression to build up BIPOC communities, which y’all know is my JAM!
During the luncheon Rose Farrales, editor in charge of Xfinity’s kids and music programming, explained the R.I.S.E program as a response to not only the injustices and barriers many BIPOC businesses and businesses owners face when looking to obtain capital such as production and grants, but also to combat the severe impact Covid-19 continues to have on BIPOC businesses.
Rose went on to describe the initial impact of Covid-19 for BIPOC businesses, explaining The National Bureau of Economic Research reported between January and April of 2020, Black-owned businesses declined by 41%, and Latinx-owned businesses declined by 32%, despite that number being significantly smaller for white owned businesses, trending at a decline of only 21%.
Xfinity plans to use these numbers as an opportunity to build up the communities that are often overlooked and under supported, offering consulting, creative direction, technology upgrades, and monetary grants to BIPOC businesses in order to accomplish the goal of providing, “practical and valuable support.”
You can learn more about Xfinity’s R.I.S.E. program as well get involved, apply for funding, and get caught up on the other offered programs at https://www.comcastrise.com/
While all the opinions in this blog post are my own, it was sponsored by Comcast Xfinity.
Okay, yall. I’ve got some good stuff to talk about today.
I recently had the opportunity to learn about a new beauty brand called Edge Naturale, which is an all-natural hair care brand that uses fresh ingredients to strengthen and nourish natural hair. I was able to get my hands on their magical Follicle Enhancer cream and share the results with you all in my latest youtube video.
I really like this cream. In a short 6 weeks, I notice it left my baby hairs looking long and lustrous, as well as soft and full. It also helped keep my box braids protected and intact.
Learn about my entire experience by visiting the All Things Ari YouTube channel—and while you’re there, be sure to like and share the video, and subscribe to the channel.
You can grab your own container of the Edge Naturale Follicle Enhancer on their website. Be sure to tell them Ari sent you!
I am so here for this style session—oh, that’s cute— we may need to officially name these Style Sessions…
Anyway, last week I had the opportunity to visit my Alma Mater, California University of Pennsylvania. Since the campus was closed due to COVID-19, my sister and I got to do fun little fall shoot at some of my favorite places on campus, mask free.
I wanted to do a super neutral look, because… well, I love her, and I wanted something comfy since we’d be walking all over campus. I ended up styling the Katherine Side Zip Sweater, which is an oversized cream pullover with gold zipper details on the side from Fashion to Figure. I paired it with these super comfy Jordana High Rise Shiny Leggings, also of the Fashion to Figure variety.
From there, I threw in these over the knee boots, which are super vintage Fashion to Figure, and my favorite fall accessory, a camel colored wide brim hat from Forever 21. This look is super comfy, super cute, super neutral, and super in season.
This Blog was sponsored by Fashion to Figure and you can use my code, FTFARI, for money off on all of your orders from fashiontofigure.com.
Fall fashion is everyone’s favorite, me included. I love the layers and extra accessories, as well as the nude and earth toned colors. Simply put, fall fashion is my aesthetic, and I love it here.
Most of you know I have an ongoing partnership with one of my favorite plus exclusive brands, Fashion to Figure. Because of this, I decided to start better documenting the outfits I style with their pieces and get consistent with blogging the style details again, and what better time than Fall to start?
I wanted to do a cute & casual warm weather fall look, with semi basic pieces, so I started with the Black Ultra High Rise Self Tie Skinny Jeans. These pants are ultra-fitted with a good amount of stretch. I especially love the self-tie belt because it gives that extra detail to your outfit whether you do a crop top or a bodysuit.
I coupled the pants with the Naomi Animal Print Ruched Blouse. This is my favorite crop top of the season so far. I love the sleeves, the material, and the neckline. More than that, I love the crop tie strings that allow you to adjust the shirt’s length. To style, I added a black wide brim hat with gold detail from forever 21, and these very comfy red strappys from Torrid, paired with a red lip. Because my shoes have the bow detail around the ankle, I cuffed my skinnys, and what do you know? A look!
This Blog was sponsored by Fashion to Figure and you can use my code, FTFARI, for money off on all of your orders from fashiontofigure.com.
Queen and Slim is classic Black love cinema folks will celebrate for years to come, much like Love Jones, or my favorite growing up, Love and Basketball. The story line itself isn’t particularly different, but because the story is told from a Black perspective (obviously) it adds dimension to the story that honestly, makes it a great one. There is a lot to appreciate in this film, everything from the lighting and framework that would easily allow the film to be paused at any given moment and still look like a beautifully curated photo, to the chemistry between the film’s leading roles, Daniel Kaluuya as Slim and Jodie Turner-Smith as Queen; however the most intriguing aspect of this movie is the perfectly placed nods and easter eggs honoring our history, our legacy, and our identities as Black folks.
I’ve broken down some take-always to better understand the film and hopefully point out some of the things you may not have realized. This post includes ideas and thoughts that can only be explained by knowing what happens in the movie. It’s safe to read for now, but this is your warning—there are spoilers ahead so if you haven’t seen the movie, read at your own risk…
The story begins in Cleveland on a bad Tinder date that quickly turns to the worst. After a short dinner filled with eye rolling and witty sarcasm, we flash to the car ride home when our leading roles get stopped by the police and end up killing the officer who pulled them over in self-defense. As we learn on their date, Queen is a lawyer and quickly puts things in perspective, concluding they must run. This alone is a defining moment in the film because if Queen and Slim were not Black, would this be their only option?
Slavery, the Underground Railroad, and the BLM Movement
Perhaps the most prominent of the symbolism used in Queen and Slim is its’ direct correlation to slavery, the Underground Railroad, and the Black Lives Matter movement. What’s cool about the premise is it IS the typical Black storyline we are used to seeing –Black people running for their freedom; however, it’s done in a way to honor and validate the major movements Black people started and experience in this country.
The story non-coincidentally starts in Cleveland, Ohio. This is significant because Ohio is known for being the final stop on the Underground Railroad as it houses The Ohio River, or as slaves called it, the River Jordan. Cleveland is noted for having corruption embedded in its police department, much like Ferguson, and it is also where 12 year old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by police officer Timothy Loehmann for playing with a toy gun on the playground. The film was also released November 27, 2019, 5 days after the 5 year anniversary of Rice’s death. We also see elements of the BLM movement during the protest scene, which although shocking, speaks to the anger in the Black community and the immense confusion that comes with living as a Black person in America.
From Cleveland, we see the couple escape to New Orleans, then Georgia, then finally to Florida, all common routes and stops along the Underground Railroad, and please note they traveled backwards from North to South. They stayed at safe houses, relied on word of mouth, and at one point hide to hide in the floorboards. They traveled with many of the conditions runaway slaves were forced to deal with– no money, no maps, no allies, no peace—nothing, but each other. Even the bar where Queen and Slim had their second date was called The Underground and while in the bar, they were recognized and celebrated, but most importantly, they were safe. The movie also showcases a vivid illustration of the similarities among the police and slave catchers, and how the justice system keeps slavery alive.
Say Their Names
Throughout the film, Queen and Slim never use each other’s names, in fact no one does. While watching the film, I remember thinking wait, what are their names again? This speaks to the characters relatability. I remember after the Trayvon trial, President Obama gave a speech where he explained how he saw himself in Trayvon and if he had a son, he would probably look like him. The fact is, every time these senseless acts of police brutality happen we see our family, our friends and ourselves in the lives lost. This also sadly, speaks to the interchangeability of the names we associate with deserving justice from police brutality. It is not until the end, after they die, we learn the lead characters’ names of Ernest Hinds and Angela Johnson. This is to highlight the lack of identity and validity Black folks experience every day and how often times we are valued in death more than in life. I also find it fitting that world never found out what really happened the night they got pulled over. Their side of the story never existed.
Loving While Black
We are so conditioned to seeing Black families portrayed as dysfunctional and difficult to love, it is invigorating when we see ourselves depicted in a different way. Queen and Slim beautifully illustrated how significant Black love is for our families, our communities, and ultimately our culture. We see hints of this through the movie, like the line about building your man up to feel like a king in his home, as well as the scene when Slim popped Queen’s shoulder back into place with care, encouragement, and strength, but it is most visible at the end upon their capture.
As they arrive at the plane, walking to board, the police pull up behind them. In synchronization, they turn around, take each other’s hands, and face the music. This scene shows the strength and bravery of their Blackness, as well as the sacrifice and dedication of their love and how powerful these elements are when combined. Queen built her man up to be his legacy. She had all the ideas, she guided the journey, hell, she’s the one that decided to run in the first place. Had it not been for her, Slim would have been shot from the beginning. Slim protected his woman. He held her, took care of her when she was hurt, tired, and scared, and led them with her guidance, and that was illustrated in their deaths. She, being his legacy, and he, carrying her until his end, and at all costs, is the takeaway. That IS Black love.
I want to be like Rayne Stewart when I grow up. Rayne is one of the many Americans suffering from Vitiligo, a non-curable condition causing discoloration and the loss of pigment in skin cells. Vitiligo affects nearly 50 million humans worldwide, and as many as 5 million citizens of the United States. It can be associated with other side effects such as psychological stress and hair discoloration.
Rayne was only 8 years old when she was diagnosed. In addition to the stress of the loss of her favorite aunt to ALS, and grandfather to cancer, Rayne suffered emotionally with fears and feelings of inadequacy, and being bullied in school. After moving to Loch Raven, Baltimore, Maryland at the start of 7th grade, and with the help of a close family friend, Rayne decided she was done trying to fit into the mold, and began embracing her Vitiligo. “I started looking at it as something that makes me unique,” she said.
Now only 14 years young, Rayne is a vitiligo warrior and using her voice to change the way children (and adults) who suffer from the condition view themselves. “I don’t mind the questions, and I understand the stares, because I know being different is not a bad thing,” she explained. Rayne has graced numerous schools, conventions, panels and communities with her rendition of self-acceptance. She even went on to write a children’s book called, Perfectly Different, which explains Rayne’s journey with vitiligo.
Rayne realized she wanted to write a book after seeing her cousin release a book series a few years ago. It took her 1 year but she wrote it, in it’s entirety, by herself; and, has sold over 300 books so far! Rayne admits she still suffers from body acceptance in some ways, but overall is thrilled with the progress she’s made and feedback she gets from people, especially children, who have read the book.
With current dreams of Broadway stardom, and one day meeting Ellen, Rayne continues to use her voice to empower others. The ninth grader is even considering a new book about transitioning from middle school to high school. Rayne’s story is different, and her influence is powerful. Her courage to share her story at such a young age is it only selfless, but also empowering. Because of this young queen, more people are learning to love the beauty in being perfectly different. Ya girl is HERE.FOR.IT!