Summer 2021 has come, and (almost) gone, ladies and ladies--and lawd, we just cannot believe it! As we sit back and think about all of the ways in which we enjoyed these three months of *insert applicable Drake lyric here*, we can't help but to feel content with the fact that even though we're medium-ly outside, we did the best we could with what we had. I mean, if you really think about it, Summer 2021 was a tiiiiime, honey. We've managed to narrowly escape potential (and adamant) dictatorship, survived virus(es), while somehow still having a few pennies in our coin purse. We discovered new hobbies and threw the middle finger up at anything less than we deserve. And, the icing, is that we balanced it all with a brunch or two. It took a lot of liquor, it took a lot of weed. But we made it, sis! Even with all the chaos that we may have had to endure, we made it. Clap for yourselves!
And listen, in addition to us living our best-ish lives, one of my favorite things about this summer, was seeing celebrities be just as confused, thankful, humbled, adaptable, relatable, and frickin overwhelmed as we were. They too made the best of a summer-coming-off-of-a-pandemic-but-not-really-because-it's-still-happening, just as we did. And they did it all while entertaining the rest of us (because it's still a little gross outside and we don't wanna go out there like that just yet, fren).
So, in an effort to celebrate the culture, here's a few of our faves who killed this summer, award style!
Biggest Summer Bag: King Bey
And by "bag" we don't mean purse! Queen Bey showed up in the 9th hour, rocking a 128.54 carat, 82 facet cushion cut yellow stone diamond, only worn by four people ever—Lady Gaga, Audrey Hepburn, and Mrs. E Sheldon Whitehouse—in its lifetime (her being the only Black woman), and posed alongside her billionaire husband in front of a never-before-seen Basquiat painting, all for an ad she was paid likely millions for.
Best Summer Style: LeToya Luckett
OK, so LeToya Luckett has never not shown up as best dressed, but this summer…listennnnn. Sis had that baby, followed through on what she needed in love, and has been showing out for 90 whole, 24-hour days. And the cherry on top was the blonde finger-wave pixie that literally no one can rock like she can. Get it LeToya!
Summer Of Living Their Best Life: Chloe Bailey
Now, you ladies know more than I do that Chloe Bailey is special. Don't get me wrong, both her and sister Halle, will take over for young, Black, starlets everywhere, but Chloe is different. She shut down challenge after challenge, created her own challenges, gave the people immaculate content, stayed consistent, and earned all her praises. She has a long way to go before she gets to the top of her career, but she definitely, without any ounce of any doubt, will arrive.
And baby, when she gets there, y'all better buckle up for the ride.
Best Glow Up: Tiffany Haddish
Listen, our good sis Tiffany has found her lookkkkk, mkay?! Sis has never looked better, which beams from inside to out due to the fact that she shed some weight, chopped off her hair, dropped a few bad habits, and found a peen that she loves and wants to hang on to. Love to see it!
Most Likely To Drop An Anticipated Project Soon: Rihanna Tha GOAT
She will surprise us with an album this year, she will surprise us with an album this year, she will surprise us with an album this year. *Speaking it into existence*
Celeb Kid Of The Summer: Kaavia Wade
Lawd, she's a spitting image of her daddy, she often hangs and learns from her mom, and in a year or two, she will be the undeniable star. Kaavia Wade is precious. She represents so much freedom we all wish we had in our lives as young, Black, thriving, young girls. She doesn't take crap and is coined as the resident "shady baby," even with a book to match. Gabrielle Union described her openness so perfectly by telling PEOPLE:
"She's free to be this amazing, dynamic, shady at times, loving at times, funny at times, Black little girl when the world has been not so kind to Black girls and women. So for so many people, she's just straight up freedom and what it can be like."
Summer MVP: Missy Elliott
Missy 'Damn' Elliott has been living hunni, and we are 100 percent here for it. She (somehow) turned 50 years old, has received, and accepted, her overdue flowers, she is humble, gracious, and she minds her business. The fact that she gets to sit back and enjoy the fruits of her labor, as well as teach the newer generation what she has learned in the process so openly, this queen is without a doubt the MVP of the summer. It's the fact that she is soooo celebrated for me. Thank you, Missy!
She’s Up Next: China McClain
Um, so I don't know if you know, but China McClain has a huge following in the digital world, mainly TikTok. Her content is widely shared and loved and sis has curated her own lane. Although she has been in the game for a while as a child star, she has found solid footing as the woman she is today. Keep an eye on her. She will shock us all, just wait on it.
Most Likely To Help Us Keep These Summer Bods In Shape: Tracee Ellis Ross
As if coming from Diana Ross isn't flex enough, Tracee Ellis Ross has given the culture everything we need from it in a way that only she can. She's so open and effortlessly who she is, that it literally exudes, making us all come back for more. She doesn't take life too seriously, she only moves the way Tracee would move, and she keeps us on our toes when she pops out for vacay. If anyone can keep us in check about this pandemic weight gain, it is she. She is her.
Social Media Feed Of The Summer: The Smiths
Between Will's videos and nostalgia, Jada's tough conversations and advice, Willow crossing over into a world that has all of our support, Jaden being a rapper and humanitarian, and Trey with the lowkey vibes, the Smiths are everything we need on Al Gore's internet. They don't promote the mess, they stick together, they are unapologetically melanatedddd. Like, fan me.
Listen, we live in a world where we have to control our own narrative. So many "influencers" and celebrities absolutely do not. They are just here to collect a check, play the game, and run the race.
The Smith family is not that. They keep us fed, and they are willing to show up in a way that we can all learn from. And they do so as a family. Love, love, love.
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Featured image by Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for WWE SummerSlam After Party
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports