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Pictures

Hey Folks

A few weeks ago, I decided I wanted to get some pictures taken. I missed my old job of taking pictures from time to time. I have no reason to at this point. However, I felt, with all the things around me changing, I wanted to get some pictures with my dreadlocks. I decided to go to one associate of the German who I had noticed was on Facebook taking pictures. Last year, when I had first asked, he gave me a run down of what he would do. The price was quoted as 80 euros. I thought, I normally pay guys $300 back home for a photo set. I thought the price was a favor or because he was an amateur, and they were not studio pictures, that they would be cheaper. Normally, in the 10 years I have been taking pictures, if I pay for them I get all of the pictures. Many photographers offer to photoshop them, but I normally decline unless it is included in the price, because I do not pay you to be a graphic artist, I paid Sven Engel for his pictures. My friend who were models used to call this “photoshop photographers” meaning that they were not skilled enough to correctly light a picture, they had to use photoshop to clean up their mistakes, rather than learning to take a better picture. I thought, I did not care, I could clean up his work, I just wanted the pictures.

I arrived and took several pictures. I had several outfit changes, but he did not seem interested in that. He kept saying: “I like to take pictures of Black skin.” That kept sticking out in my head. My skin is not black, it’s brown. I will speak to him about this later. I thought, he has been with his African-German girlfriend for years, he knows the difference between us right? While she is a few shades darker, he should know that we are not the same color. After we finished the shoot, I said to him lightly “Hey, you know my skin is brown right, not black?” He replies: “My girlfriend says her skin is black, so I do not see a problem with it.” I thought to myself, yet another person who thinks their dating of another culture means that person speaks for that ENTIRE RACE. I thought, ok, whatever Kim, it is just in your head. Calm down and just get these pictures.

He gives me a preview of the first picture. My skin has been noticeably darkened. I said to him: “Hey, my skin is not this dark.” “I just like this look, Kim” he replies. Great, I thought, but I do not look like this. For the record, I do identify as a dark skinned Black woman, but as a photographer, you should know my color, and the difference between one Black person and another. I posted.. “Man I hate when ignorant Africans give their European spouses a pass because they themselves are ignorant.” My ex tells me that was a low blow. Sure.. that was probably right. No, he was right. I was wrong to assume that she was ignorant, but from what I knew, I have to say, I think that assumption was very right. I then said… let me ask my twitter followers what they thought about the picture. The response was positive. Everyone loved the picture, however, a photographer friend did comment that I did look much darker than normal. I decided to drop it, and told him that everyone liked it and to keep them coming.

Soon after, I heard nothing from him. Then almost 3 weeks after the shoot, I get a message saying:

Here are the rest of your pictures. I wanted to write you a very long e-mail but i decided to do it not because i think it makes no sence. In short: I hate it when people talking a lot of shit behind my back (on twitter)! Its not the other people that have a problem with your skin tone…its you having a problem with yourself. When i read your blog and your tweets it sounds to me like reverse racism sometimes. Maybe its you having a problem with white poeple and not vice versa.

I will not correct the misspellings. English is not his first language. I was floored. So me wanting to look a certain way makes me a reverse racist. After I said it nicely to him, and he still decided to darken my pictures. He provides a service. They are my pictures, I can say what I want. He then proceeded to give me a total of three photoshopped pictures that you can see below are pretty good:

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I explained to him, that there is no such thing as reverse racism see this video for explanation:

I said to him, you had days to say this, but again another passive aggressive type who waits to give me my pictures, when it was all a simple misunderstanding. I think his level of understanding of English is so low, that I most likely offended him. After that I proceeded to go off, so I am quite sure that I hurt his feelings, I do not care about that at this point. My major issue was that how does 80 euros equal three photoshopped pictures? Sven Engel should make it very clear. I photoshop pictures for a living. That is what I really like to do, rather than saying I am photographer. I still like my pictures, but I am sure I will not be clamoring to apologize in order to get more.

On another note, how in the heck is that reverse racism? I think people in the world have a real fundamental misunderstanding of racism, and throw around that word too much. Some of my best friends are white, how can I be a reverse racist? LOL

My hair/ Uncategorized

7 Things I Have Learned with Locking My Hair –

Hey folks,

I am not sure how closely you have paid to my natural hair evolution, but I have had dreads for the last year and 3 months. When I first came to Berlin, I had Natural hair, and decided last year to go it, and loc my hair. It has been a long process, and I hope to have my dreads for many years to come. First yes, I am calling them dreadlocks. Marcus Garvey called them dreadlocks, and while for a long time I thought the term dreadlocks came from the British shortened term for “dreaded lock” so people who were conscious would use the term locs. I have also learned that the word dread also means fear of God. That was enough to me to be ok with my hair being referred as dreadlocks from then on.

I have quite possibly had every hair style under the sun. I have worn jerri curls, perms, weaves, braids, wigs and have had all types of variations of those hair styles. I went to beauty school while in high school, and learned more about the structure of my hair. By time I turned 18, I had stopped perming my hair on a regular basis. I still would have weaves and braids, but I never wore my hair completely in its natural state. It was around 2004 when I started seeing natural hair on my college friend. I thought she was brave for doing it at that time. Years later, I decided to rock my natural hair myself. I have noticed a few changes in my personality, as well as my lifestyle that I did find to be interesting. So for those interested in locing your hair, here are few things I learned in my short journey.

1- I have great versatility- I can basically style my hair as if it were still straightened. They are still rather short, but it is nice to just wake up and go sometimes.
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2- Natural products work best- I have learned the less chemicals I use on my hair, the better things last. Besides, things can get matted inside my locs so I make sure not to use the heavy products I normally would if my hair were wild and free. I have also started to watch what I eat and drink more water to promote growth of my hair.

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3. My spirituality- I started to read about why women of certain religions wear head scarves. I also started to get into energies and metaphysics. I realized that people touching my hair could potentially transfer whatever negative energy they have to my hair. It made me let people touch my hair less and less, and now really no one can touch my hair unless it is in a very intimate situation. This is why I am against wigs. Covering your head with someone else’s dead hair just seems like a bad idea to me now.

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4. It takes a long time for any type of hair to loc– I have very tightly coiled hair. I thought growing locs would be a simple process. My hair was supposed to be made for this. I was really surprised when it took over 6 months for them to stop unraveling. They are still far from being mature, or even teenage locs. I had no idea the level of commitment I needed to have for this.

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5. I learned to commit to something- I have had a very tumultuous couple of years. Frankly, I am not sure what country I will be living in at the end of the year. I feel every part of my life is forever changing. My relationship, my location, apartments, jobs are all dynamic. I finally found something to focus on, and give my life some stability. It has really calmed me, and helped me realize that I am capable of doing something meaningful, besides the educational attainments.

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6. I still need to take good care of my hair– I admit, I am not always sleeping with a satin cap, and bi-weekly conditioning treatments, but I am still on it in regards to the basic maintenance of my hair. This hair style could quite possibly be my last, and I really want it to look good. I made sure to oil my scalp, do my treatments, and wear my cap when I am in the apartment.

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7. People either hate it or love it– I have been stopped on the street by men saying, “beautiful rasta girl” or even by Germans saying how “cool” they think my hairstyle is. Then, there are the looks and others who question my decision to do my hair like this as a woman. I have to admit, I have seen about 2 other black women in the entire time I have been in Berlin with dreadlocks. I remember my ex’s mother used to touch my straighter hair styles, when I started to wear my locs, she stopped. Some guys really love running their fingers through my hair, and touching it, while some seem repulsed by it. I did not do this hairstyle for any of that, it is my decision, my hair, and I love it.

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My hair/ Uncategorized

African Fashion Party

Hey Folks,

Fashion week in Berlin has come to a close. I am not a fashion person. I have mentioned before my frustration with finding clothes for my body type, and I simply do not have the change to tailor my clothes anymore to fit. I simply gave up. I still appreciate a nice party, so I jumped at the chance to go when a friend invited me out for the evening. The main event was the after party for African fashion designers, but we went to two events. Both located in Mitte.

The first event, I really do not know how to explain it. We went to a bar, I have no idea what the name of it was. This is your typical thing in Berlin. Often times the bars are not labeled, in this case, I simply forgot. We walked in to what I could describe as sounds. I guess this was supposed to be music. I can listen to some abstract things, but it was really killing my mood. I immediately saw my friends. Everyone was looking nice. I decided after searching the internet for what is “hot” right now to wear black and white pants, black shirt, white jacket, wedges, and silver accessories with a red purse, and red lipstick. This was the best I could do with short notice. There was a new face in the group, a Black man from Ghana, but just came back from Australia to Berlin. Dude was really cute. The rest of the crowd was the typical mix of hipsters.

We were there for a performance. This man had things attached to his hands and mouth. I figured out he was the source of the sounds. The devices would light up when they made a sound. I am glad I was not on mushrooms or anything that evening, but maybe I should of been, because I surely did not understand what was going on. He was a black man with brightly colored locs. I was thinking, “Kim, be more open minded, this is cool right?” I am sorry, I was just not into this type of atmosphere. I was at least happy that smoking was allowed inside. I grabbed a glass of wine, and tried to appreciate the “art.” After this performance, we headed over to the next party.

It was refreshing to see a group of Black folks dressed up and ready to party. We walked in, and there was a group of women and few men inside dancing. I quickly introduced myself and made my way to the bar. Afro-beat was blaring in the background, and everyone was impeccably dressed. Some women looked to be models. Noticeably absent were men. I have friends who constantly complain about how hard it is to find a “good black woman in Berlin,” but they sure never come out to places where they might meet one.

I got my glass, and tried to relax. I am not a fan of the new Afro beat popular songs. I love Fela Kuti, and some other old school artists, but this stuff today, I just do not like it. Plus all these dances. I feel like I have to exercise just to dance. I like to relax when I go out. I want a nice buzz, and a seat to chill in. Everybody seemed to know all of the songs. I sat to the side, and chatted a bit with the Ghanaian guy and my friend. I leaned over and asked him a rather silly question now that I think about it: “Do Africans listen to hip-hop?” The look on his face was priceless. I know the answer to the question, but I wonder why I never hear them play it when we are out in the clubs. He responded: “Yes, of course. Just this is an African themed party, and it is appropriate for the atmosphere.” I continued to sit and watch the people dance. I never really dance, unless I am inspired. This was not one of those evenings.

I tried to take some pictures of the evening. I am rather shy, so asking is not my style, but I got what I could. We ended up staying for a while, and I met another designer from the UK (Kenyan-born) who was really nice, and moving to Los Angeles. That was nice to chat with someone about that for a bit. I wished him luck, and rushed off to Rosenburger to grab something before going home for the evening. I had a good time. I still have a lot on my mind concerning this new apartment, my ex-boyfriend, and my life in general, but it was nice to take a break from it to get out for some fresh air. I think the only weird part of the night was when a mixed lady referred to my hair as “funny.” She said it must be a bit hard for you and your funny hair. I thought hmmm, but she explained that Germans would refer to it as such because it is different. I thought to myself, I see so many people with dreadlocks here, why are mine any different? I will address that at another time.

You can Click HERE For professional pictures of the event.

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My hair/ Uncategorized

Miss Jessie’s Products

Hey Folks,

I hope your new year is starting off right.

I have been busy adding things to the blog. One of them was my Hair Store, which is in English and German.

One of my favorite product before I decided to loc my hair was miss jessie’s. It saddened me that I had to give it away, but I love my locs. This product was great for all types of curly hair. It is available in my store for purchase as well.

To see Miss Jessie’s in action, I decided to grab a video from youtube.com that features a lady with 4c natural hair to show you how it can work for basically every type.

Here is a twist out I did with Miss Jessies in 2012

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The English version of the store is located in the right hand column or Hair Store

My hair/ random thoughts/ Uncategorized

Natural Hair Journey 2013

Hey Folks,

    I am starting to do a number of countdown lists, and one thing I wanted to look back at was my natural hair journey. I have been natural off and on for about 10 years, but in 2011 I decided to cut all my hair off and truly start over. This is me before. The first is my high school picture and some pictures of me with wigs and weaves around los angeles.

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    I went to a beauty salon after a trip to Amsterdam and Germany. I was wearing a wig, and developed a terrible cyst. I was in so much pain, I could not do my hair properly. I decided to cut it off. I spent so much time and money on my hair, and I just wanted a break from all of that.

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    I was scared to death of cutting my hair. I live in Los Angeles. It was my job to be pretty at the time, and most men are not feeling women with short hair.. especially dark skinned black women with short “nappy” hair. I did my best to keep it up and tight while I grew my natural hair back out. I did lots of conditioning treatments and stuck to my satin caps at night. It finally began to grow.

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    After about a year of growing my hair, I decided to take it a step further. I really liked my twist outs and wash and go’s, but it took so much time deep conditioning and putting all that gel just to get the curl I wanted. I was really getting into my roots, and history and started to read more about dread locks. Yes, I am calling them that after learning that Marcus Garvey referred to them as such (in a positive way). I learned more about loving my spiraled hair that mimicked all processes in the universe. My hair points straight up to the sky, and is full of life. It seemed only natural to take the step towards locing my hair. I decided to start the process on my own.

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    At first, I was still wearing wigs to cover my new forming locs. They were not growing the way I wanted them to. I am quite used to total control over my hair, and I literally had to trust in nature and let my hair do “its thang.” Almost a year later, I have learned to embrace and wear my locs daily. People have really warmed up to them as well. My friends threaten to burn all my wigs, and encourage me to rock them proudly in Berlin. I actually have LESS people wanting to touch my hair, which is quite awesome. It seems they loved it free flowing hair. I do find that lots of black people want to touch them. Basically, I love my hair. I LOVE what nature gave me, and I cannot wait to have them down my back.

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How To/ My hair/ random thoughts/ Uncategorized

Root 2 Tip: Natural Hair Show and Class in Berlin

Hey Folks,

I hope all is well in your world, things are fantastic in mine. I spent most of the week doing hair myself. I braided two of my friends hair. I am tired, and my fingers are sore, but I still wanted to put some updates of my activities. Last weekend, I went to a hair show. It was put on by the ladies at Flexicurl. The brought this company, Root 2 tip to Berlin to do some hair education, and product demonstration for ladies with naturally very curly hair. This is perfect for a place like Germany, where these products are scarce and expensive if you do find them. I find many ladies know nothing about their natural hair, or how to care for it. I was happy that this was gaining steam here. Well I dragged my friend to be a hair model, because my hair is locked up, and we were able to meet some new people as well.

The company was started by a black woman from London. She was in the same predicament many of our ladies are in: trying to find good, healthy, inexpensive products for natural hair. You will find, if you move to Germany, that hair products, especially ones sold in the USA are just not here. I have contacted companies such as Miss Jessies, Kinky Curly, and even Mixed chicks. It is hard to get them to ship, unless you are an active store. I guess the demand just is not here yet. That is ok, because these girls are doing their thing here in Europe.

They went through the basics of curl composition, hair dos and donts, as well as the best ways to nuture and grow long, natural hair. I thought overall they were basic things, but I have been a natural chick for years. I remember when I first started, it was overwhelming. I could see the faces of the women in the root, listening intensely as she explained these concepts. The energy in the room was so positive, and the ladies were so knowledgeable and nice. They served us dinner too! Here are some pictures from the event below.

Visit: www.root2tip.com

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Question: When you are abroad, what do you use to maintain your natural hair?

My hair/ Uncategorized

Flexicurl -Online Hair Shop in Germany

Hey folks,

It has been an interesting week for me. Of course I hit the jazz clubs. Met some nice and not so nice people.. yet again, I will not bring that negativity here and I am doing my best to not speak ill of another Black person. Anyways, while online on Facebook group: Black Women in Europe, I noticed this post for an online shop searching for natural hair models. I clicked the link, put it in Google translate, and figured out it was an online shop selling all the products I had been looking for. Mixed Chicks, Miss Jessies, etc. Unfortunately, now that my hair is loc’d, I just use a light gel and different types of oil, but I wanted to make sure everyone who reads this know about this store.

It was formally Lexie’s curls, but the new website is Flexi Curl:http://shop.flexicurl.net/

If you are living in Germany, you no longer have to wait to visit the UK or the USA to get your natural hair products.

Below is the German version for those in Berlin looking to model for their upcoming natural hair show.

Hallo zusammen,

wie manche vielleicht schon mitbekommen haben wird flexicurl.net in Zukunft neue europäische Haarprodukte vorstellen und
verstärkt Workshop und Informationsveranstaltungen zur natürlichen Haarpflege veranstalten.
Ein paar der Veranstaltungen werden in Berlin stattfinden und deswegen wenden wir uns in dieser Email an euch.

Wir suchen:

Für unser Promoevent “Love your Hair from ROOT2TIP” am 10.8.2013 Afro Models zur Teilnahme an einer Natural-Hairshow.
Eure Haare werden gestylt und unseren Gästen präsentiert.
Wer gerne mitmachen will sendet uns bitte ein Bild mit eurem natürlichen Haar, per Email an model@flexicurl.net

Aus Zeitgründen können keine geflochtene Haare berücksichtig werden. Bittet sendet uns ein aktuelles Bild mit offenen Haaren.
Die Haare werden in keinen Fall geschnitten.

Alle Teilnehmenden werden kostenfrei + einer weiteren erwachsenen Person und alle weiteren Personen unter 12 Jahren Gratis an den nächsten drei unserer Veranstalten teilnehmen können. Weiterhin bekommen Sie pro Teilnahme eine maßgeschneiderten Geschenkekorb mit unseren besten Haarprodukten.

Wir würden uns freuen euch auf unserem Laufsteg begrüßen zu können.

Liebe Grüße
Euer Flexicurl Team

Bitte vergesst auch nicht euren Namen und eure Telefonnummern
(Teilnehmende unter 18 Jahren fügen bitte eine Einverständnisserklärung der Erziehungsberechtigten Person dazu.)

Wer Interesse hat regelmäßig an einer Veranstaltung teilzunehmen sendet bitte eine Mail an model@flexicurl.net

How To/ My hair/ Uncategorized

Natural Hair in Berlin

Natural Hair in Berlin

Almost a year before I decided to move to Berlin, I went to the barber and had them cut my hair completely off. Why? I wanted to go natural. I had been reading so much about women going natural, and said.. ‘I can do that too.’ It was definitely a big decision. I was living in Los Angeles, where everyone is wearing a weave. Even the non- black women. Rarely, did I see women wearing their own hair, let alone in their natural texture. Walking around with very short hair in a city like LA was tough. Not as tough as it has been in Berlin, I came to find out.
There really aren’t too many black people here. I read that there about 500,000 Afro German people living here, and who knows how many other non German blacks. It is hard to find actual stats on this after some research. Almost every black woman I see has some horrible weave or wig on that does not even come close to looking ‘natural.’ I have been asked questions by some such as: ‘Why don’t you just buy a wig? Can you afford one, are you growing locs?’ Some have even gone as far to say Black people in America are all mixed up, so you can wear your hair like that, but my natural hair would not be acceptable. I encourage those who will listen that it really is about embracing what nature gave you. Personally, I did it to save money. The amount of cash I was spending on weaves and braids was insane. Even though, I do my own hair (thank you beauty school), I have spent thousands of dollars for my ‘European hair hats.’ Do not get me wrong, I have no animosity towards the women that still wear them. It is an easy way to avoid a bad hair day. However, wearing a wig every day and covering my hair just is not for me.
In Berlin, it is very interesting how Europeans respond to my natural hair. I work at a very international company, and many of my coworkers just reach out and touch my hair. I have had to check many of them explaining to them that it was rude to do that. I never go up to them and just start playing in their hair.. why would they think this was ok for them to do. There are also the questions.. ‘How does your hair do that? Why don’t you straighten it?’ And, the comments: ‘You should wear your hair straight, I am sure it would look better like that.’ Sometimes, you get the ones who think your hair is cool, and they wish their hair could do what mine can. I am rather creative ( I would like to think) in my range of styles, and many still think that it is not my hair.. When one can clearly see that is growing from my scalp. Overall, it seems to be the curiosity factor.

My biggest challenge with natural hair…finding products. I have completely given up on this, and now make my own. I am actually planning to manufacture and sell my products soon to people in mainland Europe. That is my dream, and something I am actively working towards. Instead of women having to pay so much to ship it here, my products will do the same as the major labels do, with natural ingredients, and without the extra tax one has to pay in shipping them to Germany. Afro shops here just do not sell them. However, I understand. In my quest to start this business, I contacted some natural product lines like Miss Jessies, Mixed Chicks, Kinky Curly. They do not ship wholesale to Germany. Some never even responded. Most naturals I know here rely on youtube and natural hair websites for ideas. I want my shop to not only sell products, but to have a natural hair stylist to help women find innovative ways to rock their natural hair. It is still a work in progress, but so far so good.

How has your experience been being natural abroad?

Some pictures of my natural hair