Category Archives: Food For Thought

The Boom of “Ethnic” Beauty Products

Queen Helene's Cocoa Butter Lotion - I love this stuff...always leaves my skin very moisturized

I read an interesting article this morning at work about a supposed boom amongnst “Ethinc” hair and beauty products. The article highlighted the fact that use of organic and natural beauty products has increased to profits of over $2.7 billion dollars a year and that the largest group of people drawn to these products were Asians followed by Hispanics and the African-Americans. I found this article really intriguing because the author stated that this trend is headed by the fact that minorities are now focused on “…focusing on their individual hertitage” rather than “…wanting to belong to American society and use the same brands”. What? Is that saying that the reason “Ethnic” (and I’ll explain my use of quotations in a bit) beauty products are selling well now is that minorities no longer want to use “White” beauty products? This statement doesn’t sit well with me for the sheer fact that I do not believe that using ingredients that come from the earth or have less chemicals is in way “Ethnic” based. If you ask me, no one should be using harsh chemicals or fake compunds on their hair and skin. To market these

Organix Teatree Mint - Super clean and smells delicious, I'll co-wash or shampoo cleanse my hair with this

products as “Ethinc” immediately does one of two things. First, it alientates those not in the minority pool by subconsciously telling them that “this isn’t for you” and secondly it clumps a group of people (minorities) together as an entirely seperate market that I think subconsciously says “these products are slightly inferior because they aren’t mainstream brands”. Perhaps I’m reading in to it, but the mere fact that the word “Ethinc” is used as a marketing tool for beauty products for people of color is not appropriate in my book. The use of cocoa butter, tea tree oil, fruit extracts, etc is not in any way “Ethnic” or specific to a certain group of people. Those ingredients are probably beneficial not to just Black humans or Asian humans, but to ALL humans. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that there are more products out there that are taking into consideration that biologically, the skin and hair types of the peoples of this planet are different, but I do wish that discussions about the benefits and properties of these products didn’t turn into a discussion about the exclusion of certain peoples from something we should all want – healthy bodies. What about your thoughts after reading the article…am I just being overly sensitive??

The Art of Past or Present Dictatorships (Food For Thought)

"The Hands of Victory" (Iraq)

I read an interesting article this morning on USA Today which was about how artwork and sculptures from the Saddam Hussein regime are being destroyed in and around Baghdad. There are historians both in and outside of Iraq that fear that destoying these “monuments” is destoying a piece of history. On the flip side, there are people that feel that these pieces should be destoyed because they represent a devastaing time in Iraqi history and symbolize an unjust man. The article then went on to explain how artwork from other dictatorships (Russia during the early part of the century, Nazi Germany) was dealt with after those dictatorships fell.

"Al-Shaheed" (Iraq)

Reading this article got me to thinking about the role of art, books, and writings from times in world history in which peoples and/or groups were oppressed or had crimes commited against them. My artistic mind says that these objects are imperative because they preserve history – and history is relevant to humanity whether or not it’s a positive history. Yet, my emotional mind says that these objects should be destroyed because of what they represent – pain, oppression, hatred. I asked myself if I would want a statue of David Duke, greeting me whenever I drove into Louisiana – and of course the first answer was a resonding “Of course not!”.

The Joseph Stalin Museum in Gori, Georgia

However, I feel that if I were to remove myself from the emotionally charged aspect of the statue, then perhaps I could see it for what it was – concrete and iron. Of course this situation is metaphoric and there are no statues of David Duke anywhere that I know of…but it still begs the question of whether or not we should destroy these types of things. Concentration camps still stand in Europe (and some are tourits attractions) and people use old plantations as prime wedding spots here in the US. In fact, some of you may even drive a piece of art from a terrible regime – The Volkswagen car was an idea of Hitler’s. Does the fact that they still stand mean that society still values them for their original meaning or for what they have evolved into?

Moscow State University (Stalinist Art) (Russia)

Monticello Estate (Plantation, USA)

I have not yet come to a definitive answer to my own question and I could possibly be insensitive in saying that if the meaning were removed from art from harsh regimes, some of it is actually quite impressive. I suppose now that I think about it more, books are one thing where as artwork is another…a book gives us a glimpse into how life was (and we can certainly learn lessons from that) whereas a piece of art may just continue to remind us of just how low humanity can get. There are so many elements to this question, both intellectual and emotional…I would like your input. Please share your thoughts.