Why I’m Now (Probably) an Ulta Customer for Life

When you’re a woman of color, particular if your skin tone skews more brown than beige, shopping for makeup is exhausting, frustrating, and sometimes even humiliating. Even though it is 2015, many makeup companies haven’t attempted to make many shades for us darker ladies. Even those that make darker shades make far less of those hues than they do beige, and they often get the undertones completely wrong. Many beige women of color aren’t completely exempt from the awful makeup-buying experience either. The problem here is, again, undertones. Well, really, the problem is bias.

Just a typical day of buying makeup for women of color. Let's see... there's super light beige, kinda light beige, and beige. Um... is this what passes for diversity these days?

Just a typical day of buying makeup for women of color. Let’s see… there’s super light beige, kinda light beige, and beige. Um… is this what passes for diversity these days?

This isn’t a new problem, really. Ask any brown woman about her experiences with buying makeup or using makeup artists, and you’re bound to get an earful.

Enter Nykhor Paul. She’s a South Sudanese model, and she’s gorg. She’s also dark-skinned. On Monday, she posted this (much warranted) rant on Instagram:

Dear white people in the fashion world! Please don’t take this the wrong way but it’s time you people get your shit right when it comes to our complexion! Why do I have to bring my own makeup to a professional show when all the other white girls don’t have to do anything but show up wtf! Don’t try to make me feel bad because I am blue black its 2015 go to Mac, Bobbi Brown, Makeup forever, Iman cosmetic, black opal, even Lancôme and Clinique carried them plus so much more. there’s so much options our there for dark skin tones today. A good makeup artist would come prepare and do there research before coming to work because often time you know what to expect especially at a show! Stop apologizing it’s insulting and disrespectful to me and my race it doesn’t help, seriously! Make an effort at least! That goes for NYC, London, Milan, Paris and Cape Town plus everywhere else that have issues with black skin tones. Just because you only book a few of us doesn’t mean you have the right to make us look ratchet. I’m tired of complaining about not getting book as a black model and I’m definitely super tired of apologizing for my blackness!!!! Fashion is art, art is never racist it should be inclusive of all not only white people, shit we started fashion in Africa and you modernize and copy it! Why can’t we be part of fashion fully and equally?

A photo posted by nykhor (@nykhor) on Jul 6, 2015 at 9:55am PDT

Her message resonated very deeply with women of color, famous and not so famous alike. My pal from law school, Robinne Lee, expressed similar sentiments on her Facebook page about her frustration of dealing with on-set makeup artists who are not prepared for women of color:

I never ever show up on a set without my own foundation and powder. Never ever. I’ve been in this business for twenty years and you only need a couple of bad experiences to learn a lesson…” (reprinted with permission from Robinne Lee) 

All over Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, black women, celebrities and non-celebrities alike shared stories of makeup artists, hairstylists, and stores that treated our blackness—our black hair, our black skin—as an inconvenience. Like nearly every other brown woman of color in this country, I have been there before. This May, when I was browsing through Ulta, looking at aisle after aisle of “30 shades of beige and two of brown, but not YOUR brown” and “our colors only come in light, light/medium, and medium. ‘MURICA!”, the frustration was just too much for me. I tweeted the following, not really expecting anything to come of it [because nothing ever does]:

So imagine my surprise when Ulta actually responded:

So, I took this open invitation, and I ran with it. Below is the part of the very long e-mail I fired off to Ulta the next day:

In response to your request to me on Twitter …, here is the recurring problem I have in Ulta’s stores … :
 
As is evident by my signature line, I am a woman of color. Now, it’s hard enough being a woman of color and trying to find makeup. Most brands, unless they are minority-owned, simply just don’t make enough colors for women of color. So I’m not going to fault Ulta for not carrying more colors if the brand itself doesn’t carry them. However, if a brand carries a more diverse line of makeup, I would expect that your stores—particularly those in diverse neighborhoods—would. I can’t tell you the exact demographics for … However, just looking at the schools zoned in the areas near this particular Ulta, this neighborhood is about 40% non-white. Looking around, I can tell you that there is a heavy population of black, Hispanic, Indian, Vietnamese, and Filipino. Although there are huge variations of colors within those communities, we tend to have a lot of tan-to-brown people. So I would expect that for brands that actually carry makeup in brownish colors, Ulta in our neighborhood would have them.
 
No, it doesn’t. I have requested several times. I have been in the store when other customers have requested more colors (and have been told, sometimes mistakenly, that the brand doesn’t carry them. I’ve looked online, this isn’t true). I’ve even had people who work in the store complain to me that they can’t find colors for themselves either. So, obviously, this is either a management or corporate problem. And, from what I can see on Ulta.com, this is a corporate problem.
 
Yesterday I was looking for Dermablend. From their color match system, I know that my concealer color is Cocoa. Looking at Ulta.com, “Cedar” and “Cocoa” (the only two brown concealers) are listed as “online only,” which means none of your stores will carry this. Similarly, every brown color of Dermablend’s Cover Creme except for the very darkest brown, which is a good 8 shades or so darker than the darkest beige you carry (which means you’ve missed pretty much every tan or brown woman who isn’t extremely dark with red undertones—a description which actually matches exactly no one I know), is listed as online only. I looked for the color of Smashbox Photo Filter Powder Foundation that matches my tone per Smashbox’s website. That, too, was available online only. You used to carry Iman (a brand for women of color) in stores. Now it’s online only. The Smashbox Try It Kit: BB+Halo comes in a “Dark” variety, and Ulta doesn’t even bother to carry that one online (but Birchbox does, and so does Amazon.com…).
 
Basically, everywhere I look in the Ultaverse for colors that might fit me, Ulta has deemed that these colors are “online only” and not fit for store shelves—if it carries them at all. While I love very much to shop online, the one thing I loathe buying online unless I absolutely have to is makeup (foundation and powder, at least). This is for obvious reasons. I mean, how do I know that a foundation or powder is going to actually work for my skin without trying it on? Is it really necessary to have space for 25 shades of beige but only 1 shade of brown (if any)? This is ridiculous and biased. It’s also demoralizing. …. I shouldn’t feel like a second-class citizen when simply trying to buy powder foundation.
 
I’m sure your response will be that these colors just don’t sell and that’s why you can’t stock them in store, but how could they if, based on experience, women of color don’t actually expect to find colors in your store? Honestly, I didn’t even go looking for foundation/powder yesterday …, since every time has been a disappointment. But I looked anyway, and, as expected, I was disappointed.
 
You may not realize this, but blacks have the most purchasing power of any single ethnic group in the United States. Combine us with Hispanics, Indians, and certain Eastern and Southeastern Asian groups, and are you really prepared to say that our purchasing power isn’t worth a little bit of effort to make some room on your physical shelves to make our shopping experience more pleasant? I really like Ulta’s branded products, but I can’t continue this game of purchasing in store and then having to go home to complete my makeup purchases online. And I know a lot of other women who feel the same way.
 
In closing, I would like to add, I would greatly appreciate it if you took the time to give me a thoughtfully crafted response rather than a canned “Thanks for your input. We’re looking into it.” In addition to it being insulting to the intelligence, the fact is, you guys reached out to me after my small 140-character rant on Twitter. I obviously took the time to send you a detailed response of the problem, and I would appreciate some reciprocity.
 
Regards, [Pop Culture Mom]

Honestly, I really expected that all I might get out of this very long, soul-bearing e-mail was a bit of catharsis. So imagine my surprise when the next day, I received a voicemail from the Ulta corporate office.

Now, my phone number was never on the e-mail. However, I’m an Ulta rewards member (and, despite my difficulty finding makeup in-store, a platinum one at that), and the Ulta Guest Services Manager [shout out to Ron!] was able to get my phone number and purchase history from my account. The message let me know that my e-mail had been received and was being taken very seriously and let me know that I could expect a response after the Memorial Day holiday. I was also given a direct phone number in case I wanted to talk before I had gotten a complete response.

After the holiday, Ron and I touched base to schedule a call to discuss his findings in more detail. Honestly, even though Ulta corporate had reached out to me and was clearly making a concerted effort to keep the lines of communication open, I was not expecting much to come from the call. So when Ron started out by telling me that the various corporate heads he had spoken with to inquire as to why there weren’t many products available in store for women of color had responded that they also didn’t understand why that was the case in this day and age and saw it as a problem, I was shocked. But then when the blame shifted to the corporations manufacturing the makeup, my shock waned, and I expected another conversation reciting business as usual. But I shouldn’t have, because Ron continued to surprise me.

Among other things, Ron explained to me that Ulta’s old corporate model could not allow for stores to be diversified, and the result was that every single Ulta store carried what was basically the national average in terms of sales. So the Ulta store in, for example, Sandy, Utah carries exactly the same merchandise as the store in Atlanta, Georgia, even though the demographics of those cities are vastly different [Sandy, Utah is, by the way, 86% non-Hispanic white per Census data; Atlanta, on the other hand, is 36.3% non-Hispanic white and 54% black]. And because this nationwide data is collected based on a country where the vast majority of people are white and where non-white people (particularly those that are either darker than “honey beige” or don’t have pink or blue undertones) don’t actually expect for most cosmetic stores to service them, you can pretty much guess which way the data skews. [And, unless you’re bathing in a sea of privilege, you can also see where the problem lies.] But Ulta is now in a position where it can customize its offerings by region. So in areas like mine where dark people of various ethnicities abound, come early 2016, we should expect to see more of our hues offered not just “online” but also in-store.

Ron also informed me that this “bigger and better” Ulta extends not only to their technology and inventory tracking but also to their ability to court more diverse brands and put some pressure on those brands who haven’t caught up with the times to join the rest of us in the ultra-diverse 21st century. That pressure has apparently worked on some brands, and a few are now expanding their offerings to add several new shades. There were more details, more happiness to share about Ulta’s coming changes to accommodate its customers of color. But the bottom line is that Ulta isn’t just giving lip service; it clearly cares about customer satisfaction—all customers, not just the beige and pink-undertones ones. And as if all of these changes and all of this time spent meaningfully addressing my concerns wasn’t enough, Ron also arranged for the Prestige Manager [since my purchase history is primarily of those cosmetics they consider their “Prestige brands”] at my local Ulta store to meet with me one on one and introduce me to some of their newer lines and colors that might work for me better. The P.M. totally hooked me up, and I have found a new foundation to love. Her name is Becca (one of Ulta’s newer offerings), and, miracle of miracles, there are several shades of brown with various undertones available.

The sad fact is, beauty woes are just one source of the microagressions that daily confront people of color with white privilege in this country. It may not seem like a privilege to buy makeup, but when you’re a person of color denied the simplicity of that experience that others feel, it is evidence what a loss of privilege it is for makeup purchases to become an ordeal. For anyone who would respond, “Well, then don’t buy makeup” (ignoring the flippancy and ignorance of such a comment), the simple fact of the matter is that for many women, buying makeup isn’t really an option. Yes, it would be great if we lived in a perfect world where sexism didn’t make work life easier for women who wear at least natural looking makeup or if women were imbued with so much self-confidence that we didn’t feel the need to wear makeup ever. But this isn’t reality. Additionally, when we live in a world where models and actresses of color feel compelled to bring their own makeup kits to their jobs—a job necessity that is automatically provided for their paler skinned counterparts—or otherwise risk re-inviting the feelings of despair and embarrassment experienced after someone has half-heartedly attempted to do their hair or makeup without putting in any real effort to account for different skin tones or hair textures. It is absolutely galling that someone would think this is equal, fair, or trivial.

This world is diverse. This country is diverse. On most continents on this planet, you can find people ranging from the palest of pale beiges to the darkest of dark browns. There are many different hair types and shades. It shouldn’t be asking too much for professionals be able to do their jobs for every person who might sit in their chairs, and not just the white ones. And it isn’t “baiting” to require that stores selling beauty products be able to service the clientele present in the areas where they chose to setup shop.

Note: Ulta did not ask me to write this post, nor is this an advertisement for Ulta. However, I’d be lying if I said that, given their stated commitment to improve diversity, I’m not interested in ringing the bells and sounding the alarms that Ulta is a store women of color need to add to their rotation. I will always be of the firm belief that the same way we should buycott those brands who have absolutely zero interest in tolerance and diversity [I’m looking at you, Almay, Simply Aryan], we should similarly reward those who do.

Spoiler Alert! There are Spoilers on Social Media

All morning, my Facebook and Twitter feeds have been filled with people upset that they saw spoilers on Facebook and Twitter about last night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Everywhere I look today there are a lot of “Thanks a lot!”s and “You guys suck”s and “Whatever happened to warning ‘SPOILER ALERT!!!’ first???”s. Sorry, my beloved friends and family members. I can’t believe I still have to explain this to adults in 2015, but…

There are spoilers on social media. This is especially true on Must-See-TV nights. And this is most certainly especially true on nights of shows where the network and the show’s creator have not only foreshadowed the “shocking ending” for weeks, but they have repeatedly run ads on television and social media warning you that something huge was going to happen and just how big it was going to be. Heck, it’s not even that hard to figure out from the promos what was going to happen.
Source: Grey’s Anatomy Facebook Page

But you didn’t know anything was going to happen last night, right?

Not to mention, anyone who’s paid attention to media reports already knew that a certain someone committed a cardinal sin in Shondaland—the kind of thing that almost always gets you booted off a Shonda Rhimes show. Apparently, this person didn’t learn any lessons from Isaiah Washington (who at least managed to get himself not killed and was invited to guest on a subsequent episode), Katherine Heigel (don’t let the door hit, you Izzy!), and Columbus Short (RIP, Harrison!). Anyone who is a fan of Shonda Rhimes’s shows know that she does not suffer fools lightly.
But, apart from this one incident in particular, how—seriously, how—do people not know in 2015 that the last place you need to hangout, if you’re the type of person who hates spoiler alerts, is on social media??? Complaining about seeing spoilers on social media when you voluntarily have looked at your newsfeed on an immensely popular television night—particularly one that has been advertised as “changing everything”—is like bitching about getting your hair wet because you left the house without an umbrella when you knew the forecast showed a 90% chance of rain. I repeat:
Sorry, but this one isn’t on your Facebook friend and Twitter follows. If your enjoyment of one of your favorite shows was ruined because you looked at your newsfeed before you watched the episode, to quote Raven Symone, “That’s your fault, boo-boo.”
One of my friends (probably the only one with a potentially palatable excuse) runs her business off Facebook and explained to me this morning that as much as she tries to avoid social media on nights where spoilers are heavy, it’s hard to do that and run a business. I get that, I do. But (as I explained to her) you can use Facebook and Twitter without looking at your newsfeed. Maybe this is conceited of me, but I’ve had entire weeks where I’ve been active on Facebook and haven’t seen my newsfeed once. I go straight to my own profile page, my groups, or the pages of people I feel like seeing that day. Same with Twitter. You can search for hashtags or certain Tweeters or simply just post your own updates and never look at anyone else’s. You can answer Facebook messages without ever looking at a newsfeed, and, in fact, if you are using Facebook Mobile, you don’t even have a choice in this matter, because Facebook now forces you to use the Facebook App and Facebook Messenger separately. There is absolutely no excuse in this day and age for being outraged by spoilers on social media when you have voluntarily put yourself in a situation where spoilers abound.
Some of the comments I saw this morning had people claiming they saw 12 (you heard me, 12) spoilers on their newsfeed last night. Assuming this number is true and not an exaggeration, that person went trolling for spoilers on her newsfeed. In fact, anyone who saw more than three spoilers went trolling for them. With the way Facebook is setup these days, it is impossible to see more than three alerts on your newsfeed at a time (yes, even without pictures). One person even claimed she clicked a link to an article about the episode and was “so upset” that the headline after she clicked spoiled the episode. SERIOUSLY??? Look, if you don’t like spoilers, then avert your eyes when it becomes apparent you’re in dangerous territory. Continuing to scroll through your newsfeed just hoping and praying the next post won’t be a spoiler or, goddess forbid, clicking on news articles about episodes you haven’t watched yet, isn’t the smartest way to avoid something you allegedly hate.
This is social media, folks. Social. Media. The entire idea is for people to interact and engage about their interests, and, yes, sometimes that means they are going to be reactionary about what they are watching on television as they are watching it. If you don’t want to engage, then, until you’re prepared to have that discussion with the rest of the world, maybe you need to unplug?

Originally posted on Blogger (http:/www.popculturemom.com) http://ift.tt/1das6Uc

Walking the Walk and Talking the Talk (AKA How I Spent My Winter Vacation)

I know it’s been a slow year on this blog, so for those of you who have stuck around, let me first thank you. Whether you’re old or new here, welcome (welcome back) and Happy New Year to all!

Honestly, it’s been hard to write more than rants on Facebook walls or quick blurbs on Twitter. My heart has been really heavy. There have been times where I have just been at my breaking point. I’m fearful of the world we are leaving our children. I truly am. And though I’ve kept on a brave face for my girls and even still found time to find some levity in the world [moment of silence for Joe Manganiello’s singlehood] and have kept myself busy with craft project after craft project, whenever there was silence I couldn’t fill, one thought always came back: we are fucked.
So I could just keep being afraid of the silence, or I could do something.
Pop Culture Dad is from St. Louis. [Yeah, I know]. Between the events in Ferguson and some other things, the likelihood of us making it to our annual Christmas trip this year was low like a girl in a Flo Rida song. But… it’s family, you know? And we only get to see them twice a year. But PCD and I decided that if we were going to go into the belly of the best, some good was going to have to come of it.
I had been following the action on Twitter and Facebook since the very beginning, but realized as Christmas was approaching that I didn’t actually know where to find information on how to get involved. I asked around and got several references for groups looking for lawyers to help out. I got in touch with those groups, and they all said they would get back to me… Then we got to St. Louis and… I just waited. No calls. I called again. I was told they would get back to me. My plan to be part of a solution was being thwarted. And, quite honestly, I felt a little depressed about it. In my head, our entire week in St. Louis was going to be filled with one rally or jail visit after another with us shouting to the family, “Come along or we’ll just have to catch you later!” In reality, it was basically like any other trip to the city: family, food, movie, Magic House. Then finally the morning before we went home to Texas, my phone rang with a text alert:

TODAY (SATURDAY), 2PM: STL’s United We Stand Silent March. Meet at Union Station downtown (18th and Market).

Finally! I informed Pop Culture Dad that, despite all the things we needed to do that day and all the promises we made to family, we were going. He was totally game, but we were also unprepared. On the way there, we ran into Michaels and grabbed posters and markers. The Pop Culture Girls decided they wanted to do their own posters. They did not, however, know how to spell “Black Lives Matter” on their own. So I wrote it out for them and told them they could follow it. Little Diva (being six and all) did a pretty great job. Super Girl got all of the letters, buuuuut, well, they weren’t exactly in any particular order. So she allowed me to make her a new sign, and she decorated it.

Super Girl and Pop Culture Dad
Little Diva made her own sign (“MY LIFE MATTERS”). Mommy probably should have told her yellow on pink doesn’t really show from far away.

This is the adorable sweatshirt hiding under those huge coats. It was far too cold to show them off.
Despite our rushing, we made it to the meeting place in time and ready to go. It was cold (particularly for us Southern folk), and it was rainy. However, this group of a little over 100 people was not deterred. We walked arm-in-arm, silently (except for the children…), with our mouths covered with the names of a victim or victims of police and para-police violence, down Market Street toward the St. Louis Arch. As you can see in my pictures, this isn’t just a group of black people. This is truly St. Louis UNITED. There were people of various races and ethnicities. The ages ranged from 0 to somewhere in the septuagenarian range. There were people of various physicalities and physical disabilities.
You notice how that microphone says “5” (as in “News 5”)? The same reporter during those interviews later stated during the 5 p.m. Channel 5 newscast that he could not confirm that there were protesters in the area. Apparently the fact that he was with us from beginning to end was not enough to confirm our presence. See, people? This is why you need to have a healthy skepticism and distrust of mainstream media.
Now here’s where trolls on Twitter and people within the Arch who have unrecognized and unresolved race bias issues differ from what people outside the Arch will tell you. Trolls on Twitter who were never there have been arguing that the group was violent, raging, and vandalized the Arch (seriously). Anyone with half a brain knows that isn’t true. In fact, you can witness it for yourself. I videoed various parts of the protest, and if you look on Twitter for #STLunited, you will see several people who live-blogged or later videostreamed parts of the protest. In addition to what you can see for yourself, here’s what I can tell you: three of the protesters actually went inside the Arch to use the restroom. Once inside, security had noticed there were protesters, and those women were locked inside. When you hear us chanting “Open the gates!” it started because people were asking for security to let those women out. By the way, the Arch is a free, federal landmark open to the public. Can they restrict entry and exit for security concerns? Of course. Is prohibiting a group from exercising their First Amendment rights in a nonviolent manner in a way that doesn’t otherwise violate laws something that can be done at a federal landmark? Honestly, I don’t know [I haven’t done the research on that yet]. It’s a non-issue anyway. Because I think there is reasonable disagreement as to whether there would have been a security risk (probably something as little as a fire hazard) from allowing a marching, chanting group of 100+ people inside. I’m not saying I agree that there was a risk; I just agree that I see both arguments, and so we don’t even really get to the First Amendment issue. 
What I can tell you, however, is that this protest was most certainly non-violent. As I mentioned, this was a varied group, which included a lot of families. We had a woman in a wheelchair, a man on crutches, etc. This group marched in total silence [again, minus the children, who don’t really get that whole “silent” part of the silent protest] for nearly two hours before we reached the Arch. Yes, there were guys in Anonymous masks. And, honestly, the most annoying thing they did the entire time was smoke in close proximity to children and senior citizens. There was only one person in this entire group who raised my antennae, and I was side-eyeing and closely watching that guy the entire time. And, yes, this guy was the one who, after chants I wasn’t too uncomfortable having my children hear, decided to lead a much smaller group in a round of “Fuck the Police.” That’s one guy, out of over 100. There’s always one. And that one person is not the group. He was not representative of the group at all. In fact, he didn’t even march in close proximity to the rest of us (and I have the picture to prove that too).
The police, who kept a safe distance from the group (because no crimes were broken, HELLO) stay close to the guy I was side-eyeing.
The Arch was not vandalized. We created a “memorial” using the pieces of colored tape that had previously been on our mouths. Easily removable. Does not destroy property. It is no different from when people leave signs, flowers, and other memorabilia on public property. Anyone who calls that vandalism is a moron (and probably also an overreaching racist, but I digress…). As I mentioned on the Pop Culture Mom Facebook page, I’m a government attorney. Do you really think I would participate in or encourage any sort of activity that would violate federal law? Of course not. Any suggestion otherwise is preposterous.
tape bearing the names of victims of police violence
Correction of some of the falsities I’ve heard aside, this was a beautiful moment. I actually cannot find adequate words to express how moved I was by the entire experience. Seeing all of these different people come together was amazing. People who didn’t even know each other and hadn’t even learned each other’s names, were linking their arms and hands to stand united. People were helping each other (picking up the wheelchair together, offering food, holding things to allow someone to tend to children, checking on the children and talking to them, etc.). This total group of mostly strangers came together for one common reason—wanting to make sure that law enforcement and the general citizenry realize that black lives matter too—and it was amazing
Super Girl has the best seat in the house
Arms linked marching toward the Arch

 

Strangers united for a common good

Even more than the experience itself, I was so glad to have shared it with the Pop Culture Girls. Due to all of the craziness going on and the unavoidable conversations in our house that Little Diva is entirely too smart (and too nosey) to miss. I had to have “the talk” with her earlier than anticipated. We had the talk over Thanksgiving. More on that later. But suffice to say, even at six, she understands the gross unfairness in treating people differently because of their skin color, and she can’t believe that there are adults who think it is perfectly fine to support a broken system that systematically treats “the other” unfairly. So, despite the fact that she was not exactly down for all that walking (and none of us were down for the cold and the hail), Little Diva was glad she did the protest. One of the gentlemen who had been gathering everyone together when we initially arrived asked Little Diva at the end what she thought of everything, and she answered “Pretty good. Pretty good for my first protest.”
“Pretty good for my first protest.”
I’m proud of my kids for sticking with the elements and trudging along. I’m proud of my oldest daughter for understanding these issues that are so much bigger than anyone should have to understand at six years old [and, sadly, it turns out she “gets it” a lot better than many adults I’ve seen online]. I’m proud of my husband (and his entire family, amazingly) for recognizing and trying to fight against his white privilege to make a better world for, not just our children, but every child in this country. I’m proud of everyone who was there. 
Every time I get overwhelmed with despair, I look at the pictures from this march and I realize that there are people out there fighting to make a difference. I’m not sure if their work will change everything, but they’re bound to change some minds. Every little bit counts!

Originally posted on Blogger (http:/www.popculturemom.com) http://ift.tt/1vHdPR9

GIVEWAY ALERT! The Veronica Mars Movie is HERE

OMG, OMG, OMG, y’all! The Veronica Mars movie is here!
 
I’ll be the first to admit, despite having friends who swore by the show, I was late to the Veronica Mars game. In fact, I watched it for the first time EVER last month. Actually, “binge watched” is a more accurate description. I watched all three seasons over the course of three weeks. At some point during my Season 2 viewing, Pop Culture Dad said to me, “You’re an addict.” It’s sooooo true!
 
I started watching it out of sheer curiosity, since Amazon Prime finally started offering all three seasons for free. My curiosity paid off in spades, particularly after I found out that the much-anticipated Veronica Mars movie was coming out March 14th. Goddess bless you, Princess Anna… er… Kristen Bell and all those VM fans on Kickstarter for making this happen!
 
Anywhoo… To get everyone primed and ready for the movie release [like we weren’t already], Warner Bros. has released a Veronica Mars Marshmallow Super-Fan Purity Test [c’mon… Click it!]:

Veronica Mars: Purity Test Marshmallow Super-fan Trivia – Think you know all there is to know about Neptune, California? Test your Veronica Mars knowledge with all 3 levels of super-fan trivia and find out if you are the ultimate Marshmallow

Additionally, the DVD, which is scheduled to come out some time in May, is already available for pre-order. AND…. *drumroll*…

ONE OF YOU LUCKY MARSHMALLOWS CAN WIN IT FOR FREE!
You heard me. Warner Bros. Is going to provide one luckily Pop Culture Mom Blog winner with a free copy of the Veronica Mars Movie DVD when it is released.
Here’s how to enter:
Mandatory: Like the Pop Culture Mom Facebook page.
Optional: 
(1) Take all three levels of the Purity Test and leave a comment below with your scores
(2) Tweet to me @popculturemom and tell me if you’re #TeamDuncan, #TeamLogan, or #TeamPiz. Add the hashtag #VeronicaMarsMovie. If you have enough characters, go ahead and say why [FTR, I’m #TeamLogan, but I won’t hold it against you if you aren’t]
(3) Leave a comment on the Pop Culture Mom Facebook page letting me know your favorite episode or scene.
You have to be logged into Rafflecopter (below) for the entries to count:
DISCLOSURES:
Contest begins at midnight on March 14, 2014. Entrants must reside in the United States or Canada. Each household is only eligible to win One (1) Veronica Mars DVD via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification. The prize can only be shipped to physical addresses; no P.O. Boxes please.
 
Entries may be received until 11:59 p.m. CDT on March 26, 2014. Winner will be notified within 24 hours. If no valid address is provided within 48 hours of notification, the prize will forfeited, and a new winner will be selected and notified.
About the Veronica Mars Movie
On the eve of graduating law school, Veronica Mars has put Neptune and her amateur sleuthing days behind her. While interviewing at high-end New York law firms, Veronica Mars gets a call from her ex-boyfriend Logan who has been accused of murder. Veronica heads back to Neptune just to help Logan find an attorney, but when things don’t seem right with how Logan’s case is perceived and handled, Veronica finds herself being pulled back into a life she thought she had left behind.
See it In Theaters MARCH 14
Pre-order on DIGITAL HD
ABOUT HOW THE FILM GOT MADE:
Following a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign that ended on April 12, 2013, Veronica Mars was shot over 23 days during June-July 2013. It will be released in selected theaters nationwide on March 14th, 2014.
All promotional materials and the prize are supplied by Warner Bros.

 

Why #iCan’t with Macklemore Anymore

Macklemore and his fake social activism is more tiresome than the people defending him as “the best hip-hop anything, ever… even though we’ve never actually listened to hip-hop.” But the more his old tweets surface, the more sketchy and inconsistent his claims of dependency and recovery become, the more he tries to claim this loving relationship with Kendrick Lamar, and the less Mary Lambert gets acknowledged for her major contribution to his success, the harder it gets for me to stick with my original thoughts of “I LOVE this guy! I just think there are certainly better hip-hop artists who are actually hip-hop, rather than hip-pop.”

I mean, these 2009 tweets of his are real and verified [not that anyone was trying to pretend to be Macklemore in 2009 anyway]:

Not exactly the beacon of LGBT rights, is he? And don’t give me that, “this was five years ago; maybe he changed” crap. If you read his interviews, he allegedly came to his enlightened positions on LGBT rights when he was young. You know… That uncle he’s always invoking?

His tales of dependency and recovery make no sense. He always claims alcohol dependency but the drugs he claims change every time he gives an interview. It started with OxyContin dependency, and now his claim is weed and sizzurup (Google it). But he’s also never been to an NA meeting and claims he’s too busy to do AA consistently. I get that not all sober people do AA or NA, but if you know any recovered addicts, you know they aren’t dealing with his (alleged) drug issues at AA meetings. Also, he’s going to AA when it’s convenient for him to bring along a Rolling Stones reporter; but he’s clearly busier than Ben Affleck (who regularly attends meetings), even though no one knew who the heck Macklemore was back in 2008, which is the time he “more or less” got sober. Which is another thing. Tell me one recovered addict (other than Macklemore) who can’t tell you the day s/he had his/her last drink/hit, let alone year. Seriously, he doesn’t know the year?? I mean, maybe he was soberish and slipped or has never fully and truly done a recovery program but is still sober. That’s still great. But why do you feel the need to bring an interviewer along when you actually decide to go to a meeting??? This self-promotion crap is so old… so very tired.
People are starting to catch on to this guy. These old tweets have found new life today. Even the women at Jezebel (who love him so very much) are starting to talk about it (http://groupthink.jezebel.com/presented-without-comment-1509651073).
Look Macklemore defenders, it isn’t that we can’t accept a white rapper. We accept Eminem just fine. Snow too. Bestie Boys, hell yes! It isn’t that we can’t accept rappers who don’t sing about bling-bling, bitches,and hoes either. The list of rappers who defy that stereotype is actually really long. Anyone who actually listens to hip-hop could rattle off 10 socially conscious hip-hop artists in 10 seconds. People who think rap is only about “bitches and hoes” and guns and bling clearly know nothing about rap—not its roots and not its present. The problem with Macklemore isn’t his whiteness and it isn’t his (alleged) consciousness; it’s his personal narrative and his placement. 
The man can flow. He would’ve been famous even if he acknowledged his past dickishness and didn’t try to fabricate this haggard backstory. But now, here’s where the famous backlash begins. If Macklemore befalls the same fate as Vanilla Ice, it won’t be the “white rapper” curse; it’ll be the “big liar” curse. Lying didn’t work for Milli Vanilli, and it shouldn’t work for him either. 
Also, I’m sorry, but Macklemore isn’t everything in rap. He can’t even get played on most hip-hop channels, but he owns every pop station. And, again, don’t give me that “it’s because he’s white” shit, because Eminem has an entire channel on Sirius/XM (Shade 45)
It’s a damn shame Macklemore turned out to be such a putz, because I really like some of his music. 

I am the Biracial Whisperer (or Maybe I have Biracialdar?)

I was watching ‘Suits’ this morning and actually paying close attention for a change. There was a close up of Rachel (played by Meghan Markle) taking the LSATs. I saw her freckles and hair and immediately and excitedly blurted (out loud, sadly), “OMG! She’s biracial!” For some reason, I always had assumed she was Hispanic, even though “Zane” (her character’s last name) isn’t a particularly Latino name. But there wasn’t any mistaking the HD closeup. I Googled “Meghan Markle biracial,” and BOOM, there it was. Just like my kids, her mom is black, and her father is white of Irish descent.

Meghan Markle and her mother (from her Instagram)

Mariah Carey… Jennifer Beals… Rashida Jones… Soledad O’Brien…  Vin Diesel… Wentworth Miller… and now Rachel Markle. Even before seeing some “OMG! She looks white, but SURPRISE!!” article, I could tell they were biracial. Look, I know I am not the only one. There are probably a lot of you reading this going, “Duh! I knew too!” But, just like when a celebrity comes out as gay or lesbian, there’s something oddly wonderful and fantastic to me about finding the closeted (whether it is simply because the issue has never been raised or addressed because here’s no necessity to it or because a record company or TV producer intentionally wanted to leave the impression that the performer is white) biracial people.

I also get people who don’t understand my excitement about these discoveries. But for those people, when someone asks you if or implies that you are the nanny of your own child, you’ll get it.

 

 

 

 

I Judge Parenting Styles Like I Judge Comma Syntax

Today one of the pages I follow posted an article from the Huffington Post entitled “10 Uncomfortable Confessions From an Imperfect Mom.” One of the confessions, which the page featured, was, “I know that every time I feel defensive or judgmental about someone else’s parenting choices, it’s because I am less than confident about my own.” Commenters were asked to agree or disagree. While there were other confessions that resonated with me almost to an eerie level of discomfort, this one did not. 

Let me be clear: I know I’m not a perfect mom. I’m far from it, in fact. If parenting could be judged by a report card, I’m sure my children would give me varying marks ranging from A++ to F, and those grades in each category would change in any given day. My mother would probably give me different scores, as would a Pop Culture Dad and the rest of society. Heck, I would give myself a broad range of scores. But (and as I responded to the post) I went into this gig knowing that perfection was a ridiculous standard, and I would never fall into those traps setup by the Mommy Wars where I would be forced to feel defensive about being less than perfect or even just different. So I accept my imperfections, but also know that I truly am doing the best I can do—whatever “best” looks like in that moment—within my comfort level. If someone thinks I’m doing it wrong, s/he is certainly entitled to that opinion, just as I am entitled not to give a flying f*ck what someone else thinks.
That’s not to say I don’t judge other parents. I do (boy, do I!). We all do. Judging others is natural. Anyone who says they’ve never judged another person is a liar. Even if you don’t mean to, often you do. And, while I’ve certainly seen some harsh judgments come from obvious places of insecurity, that isn’t always the case. Judgment can also come from a place of feeling in your bones that your way is better. No, just because you have that feeling doesn’t make you right. Unfortunately, your opinion can never be right. Even when your opinion is fact-based, the facts upon which you base your opinion can be right, but that doesn’t mean the ultimate conclusion you derive from those facts is correct. Yes, there are some universal truths out there about which we all may have opinions; but most of us are dealing with shades of gray, penumbras of life in which no universal truths are challenged.
More to the point, though, just because you judge someone doesn’t mean you have to vocalize it. That’s what I think we all really mean when we say people shouldn’t be so judgmental. Yeah, sure, we are all going to be a little judgy; but there’s a huge difference between (i) keeping that judgment to yourself or a conversation among like-minded individuals and (ii) bombarding the person or group you are judging with your “facts” (opinions) about how crappy their parenting is. Generally, unless someone asks you for your opinion; they’re in “your house,” so to speak… (blog, Facebook page, Twitter feed, journal, etc.—anywhere you should be reasonably expected to voice your opinion about your feelings); you are in the midst of an open debate/dialogue/discussion; a person is operating on truly wrong intel; or someone is doing something that any reasonable [the standard for “reasonable” here not being “totally agrees with me”] person would agree constitutes a “universal bad,” no one really gives a rat’s patootie that you think they’re the Worst Parent in the World for [fill in the blank with polar-opposite-of-yours parenting style about which you’re really judgmental]. And that’s fine that you’re confident about you parent. I’m confident about the way I parent, too. But we’re both wrong… and right… and neither of the above.
It’s the same way I feel at work when someone gives me a draft that doesn’t use Oxford commas. At the end of the day, neither one of us is right; we just have different preferences. My judging a writer for giving me a memo devoid of serial commas doesn’t mean I’m insecure about my use of them. And even though I have many grammar and legal writing books that say [paraphrasing], “In America, unless you are a periodical, we use the Oxford comma, dammit!!!” doesn’t make me right. It’s okay to silently roll your eyes and mutter “man, they’ve got this all WRONG.” When I’m controlling the document (just like when I’m running my household), it’s perfectly okay for me to change every single one of the comma clauses to suit my preference. It is not okay, however, to throw the document at the other person and tell him/her how stupid s/he is for not doing it your way [and, yes, that has happened to me too… I was a big firm lawyer for 12 years, after all].