The Pastor and The Weaves

Long_Weave_Pink_BlouseThere has been a lot of reactionary talk lately about whether Black church women should wear weaves. ‘Impossible!’ you might say. ‘With all the pressing economic and social issues facing us today, why in the world is anyone devoting any time to discussing a trivial matter like hair.’

Well, a pastor in Waco, Texas thinks women’s hair grooming habits were worth talking about, and he made headlines after word spread about an interview he gave America Preachers.

Our Black women are getting weaves trying to be something and someone they are not. Be real with yourself is all I’m saying” said Pastor Aamir.

His remarks were more extensive than that, and when they came out the reaction was predictably shallow and sassy:

“God sees the heart …”

“There are more important things to talk about …”

“People are not going to go to a church that doesn’t feed them … ”

“Sounds like the beginnings of a cult … ”

The original interview, as published, seemed incomplete to me. The article didn’t contain a lot of context to help me frame his remarks, so it was hard to understand where he was really coming from. So while most people took the bait from what appeared to be a truncated interview and just went in on this guy, sizing him up as an insensitive luddite, I couldn’t help but ask myself a few questions.

What is the focus of his ministry?

In his excerpted remarks, the pastor also mentions that a lot of people in his congregation are struggling financially. Sounds like he is attuned to their needs, not out of step with his flock. He says a 26-year-old mother in his congregation is one of those with modest means, yet chooses to wear a $300 weave. His point here is that her priorities are all wrong, and I agree. There has to be a way to look cute without spending so much of the family’s hard-earned money on something you’re probably going to throw away in a couple of months. Find a cheaper way to look snatched, slash the hair salon budget and use the difference to enroll your kids in an activity they would enjoy.

Was he generalIzing with the self-esteem remark?
Perhaps. Low self esteem is one reason women spend beyond their means to be fashion forward. But some women are simply vain, shallow and will go to unnecessary lengths to have their hair layed like Toni Childs every single time they step out of their houses — assuming they made an effort to own their homes. And sometimes I think all the other pieces that go with Remys — the fake eyelashes, high-gloss lip color, nails, etc., have a cumulative drag queen effect. Sometimes I think women are obsessed with their outward appearances — and others. When every other woman you see on the street has a head of virgin Brazilian, yet you know her ancestry is nowhere close to matching what’s on her head, you have to wonder.

Other women deserve the benefit of the doubt know what they are doing when it comes to their virgin Brazilians or Remys and aren’t hampered by any psychological issues tied to their beauty self image. They how to wear that Malaysian, maintain and style the hair and how to work out in it. They know when to take breaks from the hair, whether it means throwing on a lace front for a spell while the scalp breathes uncovered — at home in the evenings — or just wearing their own hair unencumbered.

So why bother calling people out?
He wasn’t.  He asked the female leadership to abandon the weaves,  presumably to set an example for other women in the flock.  Or to open up a conversation about our collective self image and what our priorities are–or should be when it comes to beauty rituals. If they overrule him and continue wearing weaves, then I assume that they’ve found another way to get to the root of their problems.

Haven’t the edges suffered enough? Sensitive topic, I know.  All women want to do is beautify themselves. What a paradox that women who consistently install weaves to look their best end up losing a good chunk of their hairline over time, due to excessive pulling, tightening of the hair shaft at the root, and pulling while styling and maintaining the weave. Maybe women should take a break every now and them from such an expensive and potentially damaging way of managing their hair.

This is one of those perennial debates that Black women have to deal with, much like skirmishes in the “mommy wars” sometimes flare up among upper-middle-class Caucasian women. You’ll always have people who offer unsolicited opinions about how women should go about looking their best. Whether it’s a seasoned pastor concerned about your family’s financial solvency, or a bird who just sacrificed her car payment to go out on the scene in L.A., it’s probably best to set aside the extreme opinions and figure out your own brand of respectable style.


Sad News About Rutina & Jacob

Rutina & Jacob, when they were happier together

Rutina & Jacob, when they were happier together

This celebrity couple didn’t make it. News broke late Wednesday that Rutina Wesley, best known for her role as Tara Thornton in “True Blood,” filed for divorce from her husband of 8 years, Jacob Fishel. He is also an actor, best known for the film “How I Got Lost.”

It’s always sad to hear about breakups of any kind. Marriages always start out with love and the best of intentions, the desire to go the distance. They also seemed grounded enough to stay solidly together, judging by their interviews, though I can’t help think that as her career picked up steam and his didn’t so much, it created tension that aggravated any existing issues between them.

They had no kids, so at least they will be spared the possibility of a public, emotional custody negotiation.

Good luck to them both. There are second chances at lasting love.

Mellody and George Welcome ‘Everest’

mellody_hobson_h_2013The news keeps getting better for George Lucas and Mellody Hobson, who welcomed their biological daughter via a surrogate last Friday. She’s named Everest Hobson Lucas, according to news reports.

Mellody herself received warm congratulations about her daughter’s birth during her appearance on “CBS This Morning.”  The part about the baby is at the end. I can’t wait to see photos, but knowing the Hobson-Lucases, who released only spare details about their discreet wedding (my favorite) we’ll get nary a glimpse of the little angel, who probably has her mama’s adorable smile.

I just think it’s wonderful that a guy who was probably done with raising kids loved his wife so much that he agreed to go ahead and dive in to fatherhood again for a young one, to make their family what they wanted it to be. God bless ’em.  Long happy life to all!  (Oh, and ignore all the milksop alarmists who will write snively comments on celebrity gossip sites about the longevity of the parents and who will be there for little Everest. In any case, George has three adult kids who could step in if need be.)

By the way, Mellody’s segment was largely about the pay gap among male and female top executives. I say cut the guys’ pay, because executive compensation is probably a little over the top across the board, and people have been complaining about it for years. But that’s just the influence of my New York Times-reading populist husband.

Tina, Erwin … and Their Estate Planner?

ImageI often think of “marriage” as the oldest business deal in human existence. Tina Turner’s recent wedding to Erwin Bach alerted me to the importance of … bringing an estate planner and tax advisor into the negotiations.

When Tina married Erwin, her partner of 25 years deep, I’m sure that love had something to do with it. But these two have been in a committed relationship for such a long time, even setting up house in Zurich for the last 15, I wondered what finally motivated her to take this step. Especially after reading decidedly anti-marriage comments (for herself) that she gave to Oprah in 2006:

‘People often ask me why don’t  I marry,’ she said. ‘I have love. I have a good life. I don’t need to interfere with that. For some people, marriage means “You’re mine now.” That can be the beginning of the failure of a relationship.’

She added: ‘Psychologically, something happens when someone says, “You’re my husband or wife. You can’t do this or that.” It’s about ownership. That freedom that two people loving each other and wanting to be together – and being able to leave if anything is wrong – is gone.

‘Neither Erwin nor I feel the need to get married. We’ve been together for 18 years. What would marriage give me that I don’t already have? Marriage would be about pleasing the public. Why do I need to please the public if I’m already pleased?’  —

Read more:

After reading that, I figured that Erwin and Tina either had a major turn in their thinking about the institution that was so useless to them just seven years ago. What changed their minds? Not to be overly cynical, but I’ve been reading a lot of estate planning, financial planning and tax planning articles lately, for family business of my own, and I’m tempted to think that Tina and Erwin realized that a Swiss marriage recognized in her native country conferred certain tax benefits and would make the transfer of property easier should one of them … leave us.

Maybe they had just wrapped up their annual or semi-annual appointment with their financial advisor — we should all do those annual check-ins — and discovered the tax and estate planning advantages of tying the knot.

In the U.S. for instance, spouses are the default beneficiaries on a host of financial contracts. For instance, you might be on your second marriage and have a will that clearly directs your current spouse or somebody else to receive your IRA benefits, but IRA beneficiary rules trump that. So unless you name that person in your IRA documents, and your ex’s name is on the IRA documents, guess who gets the money. Not your new boo. Did you know that?

Of course, none of this is any of my business; nor did I feel like digging through Swiss tax or estate planning rules to shore up my theories. But 10-plus years of financial journalism have absolutely ruined the way I look at celebrity news. None of those nosy accounts of short marriages, serial marriages, hookups, baby mamas and new boos hold my attention without some thought to the financial planning nightmare their accountants and lawyers have to deal with!

Well, I wish them all the happiness they and their lawyers can stand. It was certainly a lesson to me to straighten up my financial house.

No really. They’ve had a 25-year head start, so I hope the next 25 are bliss. And in any case, TIna Turner is an inspiration to women to need to leave horrible relationships, start afresh and find a new song for a new life!