Your Body Is Your Temple

October is breast cancer awareness month. Not surprisingly, black women are more likely to have not only breast cancer but diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses. Many of these illnesses that black women are more likely to contract could simply be avoided through a healthy diet and sufficient exercise. We are bombarded with cookbooks and different diets that claim to help us shed the unwanted pounds. But it is easier said than done. Most people generally understand that in order to lead a healthy lifestyle, one must couple exercise and the proper diet. But most women, especially young women, or women on-the-go, cannot always adhere to these stringent guidelines. The thought of eating healthy used to make me cringe. But as I get older, I’m realizing that what I do to my body now will have a direct effect on my life in the near future. The importance of the proper diet and exercise is not emphasized enough, especially not in the black community. Many black women fear that too much exercise will cause them to lose their shape and possibly their favorite asset. Having an hourglass figure is sexy but what’s sexier is being healthy. It is unfortunate that the only time we feel that a change is needed is when we are faced with a dire situation such as diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure. Heart disease is one of the leading killers of black women, so we need to look at our selves and examine our lifestyle and make some changes.

For some, eating right is not the problem; the problem is finding the time to exercise during the day. When you are working 12 hour days and sleeping only a few hours every night, it is difficult to squeeze exercise in. And don’t be fooled by the common misconception that because you are small, thin or not overweight that you do not need to exercise. That is an absolute crock. Smaller women can still contract diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure from not eating a balanced diet. Exercise is an exceptional habit to cultivate. Prevention is a lot easier than living with or developing a potentially life-threatening disease or condition. Not only does exercise promote weight control and ward off diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure, exercising also releases endorphins to the brain, which in turn generates feelings of happiness and euphoria. If you’re not a gym person try taking a walk outside with friends or join a fitness class at your local gym. There are plethoras of ways you can increase your activity and get your blood flowing. Many doctors have stated that the importance of exercise in warding off illnesses and diseases cannot be overemphasized. Exercise is proficient at warding many types of diseases.

If your main goal is to lose weight, the best way to do that is to lower caloric intake (diet) and increase caloric burn (exercise). When you hear the word diet, it probably paints an unpleasant picture in your head of a woman starving herself, constantly checking the scale for the smallest ounce of weight gain and consuming low calorie snacks and diet sodas. Eating healthy does not have to be this excruciating. There is no one-size-fits-all diet. Everyone is different and therefore my best piece of advice is to eat every food group in moderation. For some people a carb-free diet works and for others going vegan has changed their life. The first thing that we need to do is change our lifestyle habits. It may be hard at first to modify your eating and hit the gym but the benefits to these two elements will save your life.

Janice Gassam is a graduate student currently getting her degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology. To contact Janice her email is gassamjz@gmail.com
You can also add her on any of the following social network sites.
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The Road to Beauty

The pressure to be beautiful in our society will drive women to extreme and unbelievably dangerous measures. Traveling south of the border to get plastic surgery done at the dirt cheap price may sound appealing but the growing number of botched surgeries should lead women to think twice about augmentations. The growing trend now is butt implants. It is not enough that black women go through extreme lengths to keep ourselves looking perfect. Now black women are feeling the pressure more than ever to have that hour glass figure we are known for. Women that aren’t genetically blessed feel that in order to get the attention from men they desire, a bigger butt will do the trick. But will that fix the problem?

Generally the feeling of inadequacy when it comes to our looks can trace back to the slavery days. Black woman have not been made to ever feel that we were pretty. The majority of the black women that are showcased in the media fit the unattainable and unachievable stereotype. The picturesque women we are bombarded with on music videos and on television may have us feeling insecure about our bodies. Every woman, no matter how beautiful she may be on the outside, has insecurities. But when you love yourself and are satisfied with yourself, you are able to live with the imperfections you may have; our imperfections are what make us unique. Of course, in some situations, cosmetic surgery is absolutely necessary. Women that have back pain caused by large breasts or that have lost an obscene amount of weight and have excess skin hanging from their stomach may undergo cosmetic surgery simply because of the health reasons. But for the women who seek out bigger breasts because they believe that it will help them enhance in the industry or perhaps boost their confidence, that will not remedy the deeper issue; it just puts a Band-Aid over a scab that will never be healed.

I understand that having the most noticeable attributes may definitely give you an edge if your career is one that is based solely on your appearance. Video girls, models, actresses and others in the media must keep up this unrealistic standard of beauty in our society and our genes sometimes inhibit us from feeling attractive. But what good is an enhanced booty if you still feel unconfident and insecure inside? Surgery doesn’t always solve the problem and often it creates a new problem; an infatuation with perfecting one’s body through cosmetic procedures. I’ve heard so many horror stories of women who’ve gone under the knife only to have botched surgeries or who still don’t feel confident with the new enhancements they’ve received. Before you set yourself back thousands of dollars sit and think about your reasons behind wanting to get surgery. Is it really worth it? Does the good outweigh the bad?

If you think surgery is the way to gain more attention from men, while most people do have preferences, lacking something physically is not always a deal breaker. We put too much emphasis on having the perfect body. No one is perfect. Why are we striving for something that is unattainable? We all have things about our appearance that we wish we could change or tweak. What is the purpose of getting surgery to have a more voluptuous figure or bigger boobs when you will just fit in with so many other women that are opting for these same procedures? Not to mention the risk involved may not be worth it. We all want to feel beautiful but maybe the way to achieve true self satisfaction doesn’t lie in the hands of a cosmetic surgeon.

Janice Gassam is a graduate student currently getting her degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology. To contact Janice her email is gassamjz@gmail.com
You can also add her on any of the following social network sites.
http://www.facebook.com/janice.jnice
Twitter:
http://twitter.com/#!/JaniceGassam
Tumblr:
http://decodingtheenigma.tumblr.com/
Youtube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/user/1987jbaby?feature=mhsn

Single Black Female

When I was younger I was so eager to be in a relationship. I think the fact that I was so determined to find someone caused my luck to go the opposite way. Once I got to college, a close friend of mine and I kept saying every year that we would find boyfriends. That of course didn’t really pan out until we graduated from college. As sad as it was to us during college, once I got older I realized that being in a relationship wasn’t as glamorous as I had previously thought. As a child, television and movies painted such an enchanting portrait of love and relationships. You think that’s exactly how it’s going to be. You will find your prince (or princess) charming, fall in love and live happily ever after. Unfortunately life does not produce happy ever after endings that often. Relationships and marriage take time, effort, and a lot of hard work. Women have this misconception that ending up unmarried makes you unworthy and incomplete. The old maid concept lurks in the back of our minds and becomes more prevalent as we get older. Our biological clock is ticking therefore it is only natural for us to want to find a mate to spend our lives with.

What becomes of the women that don’t find love? Are they doomed to live an unfulfilling and fruitless life? Contrary to popular belief, women who end up single, for whatever reason, do manage to lead exciting and rewarding lives. We as women need to stop perpetuating the idea that because we have a man in our lives, that makes us whole and complete. We need to understand that with or without a man, our lives can find meaning and true pleasure. When you enter a relationship thinking you are a half that needs to find another person to complete you, you will feel devoid of any substance until you are with a man. Find fulfillment within yourself before thinking that a man will provide you with anything you cannot provide yourself internally.

Oftentimes people stay in unhealthy situations because they are afraid of being alone. Don’t allow anyone to make you feel inadequate because you are not in a relationship. Single is a scary word to some. But what’s scarier is that women find some solace in staying stuck in a destructive situation; because they are simply with someone they think that they are better off than a woman that is single. If you stay in a situation that you are unhappy in just to say you’re with someone you are bound to live an unrewarding life. Be with someone because they truly provide contentment in your life. If you feel that you are missing something, and feel like a companion would help fill that void you could be in for a rude awakening. Love yourself and be satisfied with the person you have become and love will find you.

Janice Gassam is a graduate student currently getting her degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology. To contact Janice her email is gassamjz@gmail.com
You can also add her on any of the following social network sites.
Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/janice.jnice
Twitter:
http://twitter.com/#!/JaniceGassam
Tumblr:
http://decodingtheenigma.tumblr.com/
Youtube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/user/1987jbaby?feature=mhsn

It’s Just Hair, Right?

Hair is a major issue that black women face. What to do with it is always a cause of debate. Many black women have recently joined the natural train and are ditching the creamy crack for a healthier and back-to-our-roots option. The decision to go natural is one that is met with a lot of chagrin from men. Men are, for some reason, fascinated with and drawn to long hair; not that hair can provide them with anything other than aesthetic satisfaction. But the process of going natural can be difficult. When growing your hair natural, sometimes the best options is to do a big chop to get rid of all the relaxed or chemically processed hair. This can be a harrowing experience especially because we as black women are so attached to our hair. Our hair is part of who we are. Or is it? Hair is what you make it. India Arie told us that she is not her hair. When will we learn start believing that we are more than just our hair?

We have been brain washed into believing that anything closer to Caucasian is more appealing. The black women that are the most prevalent in the media are those with straightened and/or chemically treated locks and thousand dollar weaves. Changing the world’s perceptions of beauty and even our own perceptions is not an easy feat. But with time it can and will be done. So many women are rejecting the idea that they cannot wear their hair in its natural state, however kinky or Afro-centric it may be. But some women go so far as to claim that black women who do not wear their hair in its natural state are rejecting their heritage and accepting society’s expectations of beauty. Many of us already know the damaging effects of relaxers on our hair. Once I watched Chris Rock’s movie/documentary Good Hair, I was convinced that I was no longer going to relax my hair. I do have other chemicals in my hair and the main reason is because I cannot bear to part ways with my hair. Going natural would eventually require me to cut all my hair off and start over, which is hard. I may wear a weave or a wig occasionally but not because I am rejecting my black roots; personally fake hair is in a lot of ways easier to maintain than my own hair. When you’re on the go, the quickest styles are the most convenient.

At the end of the day it’s just hair and it’ll grow back. Whether we have the patience to chop it all off and start the natural journey or endure the chemicals to achieve our desired look, we all must accept the fact that we are more than just our hair. Hair is such a trivial thing that does not define us or who we are. Some say it may enhance beauty but beauty to me is something that radiates from within. If you are a good person and have inner beauty, whether you have a long ‘do or an Amber Rose buzz cut, you will exude beauty no matter what.

Janice Gassam is a graduate student currently getting her degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology. To contact Janice her email is gassamjz@gmail.com
You can also add her on any of the following social network sites.
Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/janice.jnice
Twitter:
http://twitter.com/#!/JaniceGassam
Tumblr:
http://decodingtheenigma.tumblr.com/
Youtube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/user/1987jbaby?feature=mhsn

Social Network Do’s and Don’ts

In the age that we live in, almost any piece of information about a person can be accessed via the internet. While this can be a great thing when digging up dirt on a potential mate, old friend, or perhaps an old crush, many of us have overlooked the fact that how we present ourselves through social media is a reflection of who we are to the world. The following are tips every woman should be aware of when it comes to their social networking sites:

Tip 1: Unless you have your privacy settings set to where only your friends can see your photos, you may be showing the world an unflattering and very unprofessional side of yourself that is not an accurate reflection of who you are. This means you should think twice about posting the pictures of yourself with a bottle of liquor in hand smiling proudly or with your tongue out and middle fingers up. While posing with top shelf liquor may seem like a status symbol, to potential employees or mates, this makes you look like an alcoholic. We get it; you live vicariously through Rihanna; but employers don’t really care. All they know is that you will not be having any part of their company.

Tip 2: Don’t post pictures of yourself doing things you wouldn’t feel comfortable with your parents, children, and coworkers seeing. Most people have that one person or a slew of people on their Facebook or Twitter that they may not know personally. Why are you giving someone you don’t know very well that much access into your life? We often forget that once we post something on the internet, it is there forever. So if you think there is a possibility of it coming back to haunt you just say no.

Tip 3: Watch what you post as your status. Don’t post or tweet anything that may come back to haunt you. This is just common sense. Even if you are not friends with your manager or coworkers on Facebook or Twitter, based on your privacy settings they may still be able to read your postings. Stop complaining and whining about relationship problems through social media; No one wants to hear about why you’re going to key your baby daddy’s car or why you can’t find a good man. Besides being T.M.I, a lot of times things like that just make you look crazy.

Tip 4: If you see hazardous or incriminating information or photos of yourself on any sites there should be a way to report it as spam or get it flagged and removed. Many women get their photos stolen and used on different social networking sites. There are sites that actually take photos of women in their bikinis and plaster them on a website where users can see. If you are a model, obviously you are in the business to post pictures of yourself; half naked pictures of you floating around the internet may be less of a concern. But you never know when something may come back to bite you in the butt. Better safe than sorry.

Social networking sites can be used to our advantage. We must first learn the intricacies of them and once we have, we can use our page to project ourselves in the best light possible. If there is a lot of sketchy information about you online, you can put out pages that present yourself in a more favorable light. But anyone can Google search your name and what comes up is difficult to control. We all make mistakes and with the easy access culture in which we live, it is easy for anyone to trace our past with just a few mouse clicks. Remember, prevention is far easier than doing damage control.

Janice Gassam is a graduate student currently getting her degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology. To contact Janice her email is gassamjz@gmail.com
You can also add her on any of the following social network sites.
Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/janice.jnice
Twitter:
http://twitter.com/#!/JaniceGassam
Tumblr:
http://decodingtheenigma.tumblr.com/
Youtube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/user/1987jbaby?feature=mhsn

Angry Black Woman Stereotype Resurfaces

The CW has a new show out hosted by Mario Lopez called H8R. The premise of the show is basically that celebrities are given the chance to meet people who dislike them, for whatever reason, and try to win the so-called “haters” over. In a recent episode, Kim Kardashian took on a black woman who was one of her haters. The word hater is used loosely because actors are supposedly used to play the haters during the show. The hater that confronted Kim Kardashian is a woman who is jealous of her body and the woman makes the claim that Kim Kardashian does not do enough for us, the black community. It was really comical to me that Kim’s hater said that Kim does not do enough for our community. What exactly is Kim supposed to do for our community? Last time I checked, Kim Kardashian was not black. What exactly is she supposed to do for us? What disgusted me the most is that this woman is supposedly a paid actor. So you’re telling me someone actually wrote out this nonsense?

My issue isn’t that I disagree with the idea of the show. There are many celebrities and many pseudo-celebrities who are hated on. In fact everyone supposedly has haters. But I think hate is an overused and misused term to describe anyone who dislikes what someone is doing. Kim Kardashian’s whole rise to fame is questionable in the eyes of many. She became famous not because of the fact that her father was one of O.J. Simpson’s lawyers and not because she used to be a stylist and friend to Paris Hilton. As we all know, Kim’s rise to fame came due to the “accidental” release of her sex tape with then boyfriend Ray-J. I don’t respect Kim because of how she became famous. Her rise to stardom had little to do with talent or merit. Many young women look up to her and although she has cleaned up her image, the possibility that she had any involvement with the release of the sex tape makes me question her integrity. Because I don’t respect Kim Kardashian and women like her does that make me a hater too?

I think the fact that a woman, who they chose strategically to be a black woman, being jealous of Kim Kardashian’s curves is a travesty. Other races of woman are jealous of our bodies because of how voluptuous they are. The issue that black women have with Kim Kardashian has little to do with her body. But I for one cannot respect someone that used their body as a tool to gain success, rather than using their skill or intellect. Everyone makes mistakes and perhaps the release of the sex tape was not Kim’s intention. She has used her celebrity status to her advantage and has catapulted into super stardom. She has become a savvy business woman. I can respect that. But the whole idea behind that episode of H8R was fallacious. Most women are not jealous of Kim Kardashian because of her body; many women just do not respect her claim to fame.

Janice Gassam is a graduate student currently getting her degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology. To contact Janice her email is gassamjz@gmail.com
You can also add her on any of the following social network sites.
Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/janice.jnice
Twitter:
http://twitter.com/#!/JaniceGassam
Tumblr:
http://decodingtheenigma.tumblr.com/
Youtube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/user/1987jbaby?feature=mhsn

5 Reasons Why Women Should Hold Out

When it comes to sex, men and women view the act in completely different ways. For a woman, sex is more of an emotional connection whereas for men sex is just a physical act, satiating their sexual appetite. There is the age old debate of when the right time to have sex in a relationship is. Well I’m here to tell you that the longer you wait the better. I have compiled a list of five reasons why you should hold out (for as long as humanely possible) when you meet someone and get into a relationship.

1. Sex clouds people’s judgment. If you are with someone who mistreats you, but the intimate side of the relationship is enjoyable, women tend to stay in that unhealthy relationship because they are being satisfied sexually. How much sense does that make? There are six billion people in this world; I’m sure you can find someone else to satisfy you and treat you well.

2. If you are out here giving your goodies to every Tom, Dick, and Harry, you depreciate you own self worth. A basic principle of economics is the law of supply and demand. Anything that is in low circulation will have an increased price and value. Not that I am saying a female’s body parts can be priced but I am speaking hypothetically. You lose exclusivity when you exploit yourself and allow any and every man to have a piece of you. Make yourself a commodity.

3. Something as intimate as intercourse should be shared with someone you actually care about. Any intimate experience shared with someone that you love and care about makes that experience much more enjoyable. Many people claim that they would never hold out in a relationship because that would be like buying a car before you test drive it. Be that as it may, like I stated earlier, if you are doing something with someone that you care about, the experience will be much better than if it were with someone you barely knew. Practice makes perfect. No one starts out doing something well. They must perform it until it becomes a well-refined skill. The same can be applied to being intimate with someone.

4. Waiting to be intimate leaves something to look forward to in your relationship. If you meet someone and the first thing you do with them, before you even know their last name is have a one night stand, it doesn’t leave anticipation for anything else in the relationship. You’re handing something so sacred and intimate to someone on a silver platter. What have they done to deserve something so precious?

5. A man will respect you if you respect yourself. If you carry yourself with confidence, your mate will have no choice but to follow suit. Sleeping with a man just to appease him will show that you lack morals and values. At the end of the day, if you wait until you’ve gotten to know a person, you will save yourself a lot of heartache that comes with sleeping with someone too early.

Janice Gassam is a graduate student currently getting her degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology. To contact Janice her email is gassamjz@gmail.com
You can also add her on any of the following social network sites.
Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/janice.jnice
Twitter:
http://twitter.com/#!/JaniceGassam
Tumblr:
http://decodingtheenigma.tumblr.com/
Youtube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/user/1987jbaby?feature=mhsn

Women Are Haters

Turn on any entertainment channel during prime time and I’m sure you will find a plethora of drama-filled cat fights featuring the latest selection of wives, girlfriends, aspiring models and video girls. The main ingredient that keeps reality shows on the air is drama. Without that crucial element, ratings will likely plunge. Although we enjoy watching women fight, berate themselves, and call each other names on national television, it kind of makes you ponder why we are so enthused by these profligate displays. Art certainly imitates life in this instance, because in the world which we live in women find solace in tearing each other down and stepping on the toes of other women in order to reach the top. This has got to stop. I’ve encountered so many women who claim that they “don’t get along with females.” I stop them dead in their sentence and ask them if they’ve ever asked themselves why? Often times the familiar response that I hear is that other women are “haters” and are jealous and catty. Be that as it may, we must learn to put our differences aside and look at what we have in common. I’m not advocating that every woman turn into a bra-burning, man-hating member of society, but as women, we need to learn to stick together. Support our fellow females out there who are paving the way for us today.

Many women in our society are equally worshipped, hated and criticized by the general public. The negativity that I hear spewed out when it comes to public figures such as Nicki Minaj, Halle Berry or Michelle Obama is obfuscating. No one is perfect; it is easy to point the finger at women in the spotlight or women who we may feel threatened by. This is a way that we may mask our own insecurities. But this is not the solution. As women we all experience the same hardships and pain although the situations may vary. We are all on the same team.

Women are so afraid of complimenting other women; it is easier to hate another woman from afar than to admit that you admire certain qualities about that woman. We are not in competition. When I see a woman that I find beautiful, charismatic and successful, I examine what exactly she is doing and I use that as inspiration. Instead of looking at what you hate about another woman, try to see what you can learn from another woman. Women in this country are second-class citizens, who are often objectified through media outlets. The bitchiness needs to stop. We could be such a powerful force if we learned to use our powers for good instead of against each other.

Janice Gassam is a graduate student currently getting her degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology. To contact Janice her email is gassamjz@gmail.com

You can also add her on any of the following social network sites.
Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/janice.jnice

Twitter:
http://twitter.com/#!/JaniceGassam

Tumblr:
http://decodingtheenigma.tumblr.com/

Youtube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/user/1987jbaby?feature=mhsn