As I near 25, I'm not sure if I'm the target audience for Grown-ish anymore, but I still watch it faithfully every week. On one hand, I feel it keeps me young; my old soul requires a regimen to keep with the times. On the other, I have a strong desire to support up-and-coming artists of color, like Yara Shahidi and Chloe x Halle, who are not only wildly talented, but also using their crafts to bring light to important topics. The show exhibits an earnest effort to incorporate stories that represent diverse walks of life. Naturally, being set on a college campus, Grown-ish discusses sexuality a great deal, investigating topics ranging from exploratory experiences, to defining consent, to LGBTQ+ issues.
A few weeks ago, I sat down eagerly to watch episode ten of season three and was thoroughly fascinated when the topic -- celibacy -- was revealed. The episode started out pretty typically, with Ana, a member of the show's central friend group, going on a date with a guy named Javi. Based on the flirtatious banter in the car when they pulled up to Ana's house, it's clear the date went well. At this point, any viewer invested in the story rejoices, because Ana has had a difficult run when it comes to finding love. Javi walks Ana to her door and is invited inside, presumably to hook up. However, just as things are heating up, Javi stops things and gently tells Ana that he made a recent decision to rededicate his life to Christ and to, subsequently, practice abstinence. Hearing Javi say those words, Ana blanched with surprise. I was just as shocked as she was. I squealed with interest and made my husband watch it with me from the beginning.
grown-ish Season 3, Episode 10 | Sneak Peek: Javi Surprises Ana | Freeformwww.youtube.com
The source of my enthusiasm about the story that was unfolding was twofold. One reason I connected to these events was because my now husband and I, who I met in college, had decided first as individuals, then as a couple, to wait until marriage to have sex.
Practicing abstinence was probably the hardest and best decision I've ever made, and an important part of my story. While I share that story with my husband and some friends, it's not the mainstream narrative represented in the media which is the second reason I was so compelled by this plot. In my favorite shows, the most common picture of sexuality is generally one of liberal exploration; sex at is best is depicted to be with diverse partners, with frequent partners, and commonly occurring during adolescence. While this isn't always the case, virginity and sexlessness are often depicted as anomalous, involuntary, corny, and even an indication of inferiority.
Ana and Javi's storyline runs parallel to those of characters like Aaron, who holds the position that no self-respecting man would not have sex for six months. With that being the majority mentality of the show, I was eager to see how the show approached this alternative path. I wondered if the idea of a celibate lifestyle would be given equal dignity and respect as the other paths represented. I was increasingly pleasantly surprised as the show's events unfolded, and Ana and Javi's journey wasn't presented as this weird thing, wasn't overly idealized, and was treated as legitimate.
As someone who can relate to the ups and downs of celibacy, I noticed certain elements that Grown-ish got right about a journey of spiritually-motivated celibacy.
Sometimes You Fall Down and You Have to Get Back Up
I know some Christians I know were disappointed to see Ana and Javi tumble back in bed after having made the commitment to wait. However, while I sympathized with the guilt the characters felt after violating their expectations of themselves, I found the depiction to be refreshing in its realism, because no one is perfect.
Celibacy can be a process that involves failures along the way, followed by rallying and renewed commitment, but that shouldn't lead to feelings of defeat. Abstaining from sex is countercultural and can feel like going against the grain, but it comes down to is making sacrifices where necessary.
In the show, I love how you see Ana and Javi going through that process of falling off the wagon, solidifying their "why," reassessing their boundaries, and relying on their faith and community to give them strength going forward. The important part was that they allowed the lessons they learned from their failures to inform a new approach as they tried again.
Saying ‘No’ to Sex Requires Saying 'Yes' to Something Else
The truth is that avoiding sex isn't easy, especially on a college campus, where there are so many opportunities to partake and sex is often considered an important part of coming of age. For me, though I grew up in a household that valued saving sex for marriage, my parents' standards weren't enough to keep me on that path in college. Being on my own and faced with so many choices, I had to develop a conviction strong enough to stand on in times of temptation. I was motivated by a desire to please God and trust Him; I genuinely believed obeying Him was best for me.
While I was interested in sex and found dating fun, I formed a belief that sex is deeply sacred, and I desired to focus my dating life on building friendships, healing my emotional traumas, and discerning whether marriage would be a reasonable goal with a given person.
In the show, Javi says that he decided to put sex on the shelf to clear his head so he could hear God better. He and Ana hit a snag in their relationship early on when her convictions didn't align with his. After asking Javi where he got his strength from and later rekindling her own relationship with God, Ana found her "why" for being celibate -- being at peace with God and pursuing relationships that were based on more than sex -- and it gave her the strength she needed to move forward.
It Helps to Have a Community of Like-Minded People
A consistent theme in Ana and Javi's journey pursuing a celibate relationship is remaining rooted in community. Having access to and spending time with like-minded people plays a major role in fortifying their commitment to their faith and their celibacy journey, especially when they mess up. Another facet of having positive reinforcement was their friendship with one another and their shared values.
I can speak from personal experience when I say that remaining celibate is so much easier when you have a partner who shares your values and carries their own conviction about celibacy. It's difficult enough having physical boundaries when you're in love and longing to express that physically, without the added temptation of the other person low-key seducing you. It helps to be with someone who understands and knows how to help you meet your goals.
Some people also consider sex to be a vital component of a loving relationship, even before marriage, so it can cause some distress if you're not on the same page and one person feels their needs are not being met. When one person has to violate their own boundaries to meet the needs of the other, it can only lead to resentment.
There are a lot of misconceptions out there about what it means to make a faith-based decision to lead a celibate life. One that I've heard a lot is the perception that following Jesus makes you somehow disinterested in sex until marriage. The other is that celibacy is impossible. Neither is true.
To choose to abstain from sex is a daily commitment to live in that tension between acknowledging your existing sexuality, and that a desire for sex is natural and beneficial, and delaying gratification until your circumstances facilitate the best environment for you to thrive sexually, based on your convictions.
The beauty of art is that it can represent all walks of life. It's great to see celibacy included in the definition of what it can mean to be sexually liberated.
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This post is in partnership with SheaMoisture.
When it comes to healthy hair care, there are a few things that will help you achieve healthy strands: a healthy hair care regime, hydration, consistent treatments, and scalp care. While scalp care is one of the most neglected practices, it is also one of the most important. Why? Because it helps promote healthy hair growth, clear hair follicles, and remove build-up.
When it comes to creating a healthy scalp routine, it helps to know exactly what you’re up against so you know how to specifically treat it. Two of the most common concerns are dandruff and dry scalp. It can be tough to decipher which is which, but here’s a quick breakdown: dry scalp is caused by a lack of moisture in the skin, while dandruff is caused by an excess of oil and yeast buildup on the scalp. Knowing that both of these are big concerns, SheaMoisture released two separate product lines to address both issues: the Scalp Moisture collection and the Anti-Dandruff collection.
Needless to say, if you tend to experience dandruff then I’d recommend you try the Anti-Dandruff collection. However, my biggest concern has always been dry scalp. A lack of moisture on the scalp can be caused by several factors like weather, age, and hair products to name a few. I’ve noticed that when I use certain gels or skip out on a deep scalp cleanse, my roots feel itchy and dry nonstop, which is uncomfortable.
The only way to relieve the discomfort is to properly wash and moisturize my roots, so I tried the Scalp Moisture collection and this is what I thought.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
First, What’s In The Collection?
The Scalp Moisture collection is a four-product line that includes a pre-wash masque, a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, and a moisturizing scalp cream. Each product uses moisturizing and strengthening ingredients like aloe butter and vitamin B3 as active ingredients to provide eight times the moisture. Together, aloe butter and vitamin B3 work to restore dry and brittle hair, as well as add relief to the scalp.
Now, let’s break down each product…
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Pre-Wash Masque
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Pre-Wash Masque may actually be the all-star of the collection. Using this deep conditioning masque is one of the best ways to target your dry scalp, restore hydration, and nourish your strands before shampooing.
I started by completely saturating my hair and scalp with water, then making small sections to apply the masque directly to the root. For my girls who have experience with relaxers and perms, it helps to apply the masque to your roots just like you would do with a relaxer. This way you can make sure you’ve covered as much of your scalp as possible while minimizing any breakage.
Pro tip: you can also use a color application brush to make this step easier.
After I completely covered my scalp, I massaged the product into my roots, used any excess on my strands, then left the masque in for 30 minutes. I was shocked by how moisturizing and clarifying my scalp and hair felt. One of the things that I love about the masque is the slip and how much softer it made my hair. While this is marketed as a scalp care product, it can completely transform your hair from dry and parched to completely hydrated.
In my opinion, the downside of this masque is that the quantity is too small for my liking. Truth be told, naturals go through deep conditioners faster than any other product (especially when it’s this good.) So SheaMoisture, if you’re reading this, we’d love a bigger jar.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Shampoo
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Shampoo is a gentle cleanser packed with the same moisture as the masque. The pearl-colored shampoo is lightweight with a serum-like consistency and a light and clean scent. The smell is pleasant, subtle, and not overbearing. When I applied the shampoo, I noticed immediately that it foams and lathers up very quickly, so less is more.
After applying the shampoo, I parted my hair and started at the roots to target as much of my scalp as possible. I recommend really taking the time to work the product and massage your scalp as much as possible.
Pro tip: using a scalp massager makes it easier and it feels amazing.
Once you start to massage your hair you’ll feel the product start to work. There’s a tingling sensation that might catch you off guard if you’re not used to it, but it’s not nearly as strong as other scalp products I’ve tried. I know some may not appreciate the sensation, but I loved it! My scalp felt clean, light, and breathable.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Conditioner
Like the shampoo, the SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Conditioner shares that pearly color and serum-like feel. It applies very easily while softening and moisturizing your hair. When I applied it to my hand, it gave my hands a lotion-like feel, which speaks volumes about its hydration capabilities. I also loved that the conditioner comes with a pump, instead of having to squeeze the product out – to me, it makes application easier.
I typically apply my conditioner to the ends first but because this is a scalp care product I started at the root and worked my way down to my ends. I did leave the conditioner in for ten minutes, although the bottle recommends leaving it in for three. The conditioner also provides that same breathable feel to your scalp. I honestly loved the relief.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Cream
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Cream is more of a daily relief product for your roots rather than your overall hair. It’s great for providing moisture and immediate relief to a dry and itchy scalp. Just like most of the collection, it gives a light and breathable feel – without the tingle. The applicator bottle targets specific parts of your scalp and makes applying easier.
Pro tip: I typically just squeeze the bottle to wherever I need the relief and use the tip to massage it into my scalp so it doesn’t mess up the hairstyle.
Overall, SheaMoisture’s scalp care line lives up to its claims – it moisturizes, strengthens, and provides immediate scalp relief. I definitely recommend trying the Scalp Moisture collection for an affordable way to treat itchy and dry scalp.
Featured image by Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
The debut of the 2023 film adaptation of The Little Mermaidwas bigger than me. It was a major moment for my inner child who loved watching the original 1989, as well as the 2000 sequel The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, but didn’t know that she could be a mermaid. Though I was never a fan of swimming - or really any aquatic activity - I saw myself in the character of Ariel because she loved to sing, be with friends, and be magical and mystical all day long.
The problem was I didn’t identify as a white woman with red hair and blue eyes.
The casting announcement of Grammy-nominated singer and actress Halle Bailey in the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid was nothing less than monumental. While we waited a few years to see the official character posters and trailers, I knew that having a Gen-Z Black girl play one of my favorite Disney princesses was going to shake the table for years to come - especially as someone who has always worn her natural hair.
“My relationship with my natural hair started very young. My mother actually locked my sister and I [our hair] when we were around five-ish years old, and so I have not known my life without my locs,” Halle told me during an interview about her and her sister Chlöe Bailey’s loc journey as she noted the spiritual importance of her hair journey. “I'm just grateful to be able to make my version of Ariel have my hair. I was so grateful that Rob Marshall, the director, allowed the essence of Halle to flow through who Ariel is. Especially as a Black woman, it's important for us to be able to see our hair be represented in these different roles.”
Halle Bailey attends the world premiere of Disney's live-action film The Little Mermaid.
Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney
According to Variety’s interview with Oscar-nominated hair department head Camille Friend, one of the biggest challenges of bringing Bailey’s locs to life was embodying the spirit of the original Disney princess while maintaining the health and integrity of the actress’ natural tresses.
“It was a really interesting one because I had never colored my hair before. I was excited about it,” Bailey told xoNecole about the dying and coloring process of her hair for her Disney princess debut. “When I saw myself with red roots for the first time, I was like, Whoa, because my whole life, it’s been dark brown. My natural hair is just dark brown, so it was really cool to see myself like that.”
As the first Black Disney princess to star in a live-action movie, representation was key, and both Friend and Bailey knew they had to use their platform to demonstrate to young girls that staying true to your heritage and cultural identity is first and foremost. Working carefully with her natural 24” locs, the wrapping process took a total of 12 to 14 hours to create the 30” custom-colored locs with three shades of red and Keratin tips.
"I'm not guesstimating, but we probably spent at least $150,000 because we had to redo it and take it out. You couldn't use it, and we'd have to start again. It was a process," Friend told Variety about the process following the hair at a beauty store in Chatsworth, CA. In an effort to put on the finishing touches of their hair to make it "dance" as Bailey moved through the water, Friend added loose body wave-type extensions to give a goddess, beachy-appeal for the final product.
The "ROYL" singer was no stranger to her responsibility as a vessel for change when it comes to the versatility of natural hair. Following the representation of microbraids in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella by Brandy, Bailey is the second Disney princess to wear a natural protective style as royalty.
From her 70s-style fro on the cover of EDITION by Modern Luxury to an auburn-red bob at this year's Met Gala, Bailey has proven that locs are more adaptable than the mainstream beauty industry believes. "I think it was just so important for me because it's the essence of who I am really. It's all I've known my whole life."
"I think it was just so important for me because it's the essence of who I am really. It's all I've known my whole life."
Halle Bailey attends The 2023 Met Gala Celebrating "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty."
Cindy Ord/MG23/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue
Bailey continued, "I think that when Rob Marshall and Disney wanted me, it was a beautiful thing for them to want all of me and to not just pick and choose pieces of me, and allowed me to just be completely myself as a Black woman and show all the layers that come with that. I feel like mermaids would have locs, too. I feel like being under the water and your hair, I feel like it would fuse into locs anyways, like how it does in the movie."
"I think that when Rob Marshall and Disney wanted me, it was a beautiful thing for them to want all of me and to not just pick and choose pieces of me, and allowed me to just be completely myself as a Black woman and show all the layers that come with that."
In addition to being under the sea, Bailey feels on top of the world when she's indulging in activities and surrounding herself with things and people that she loves - both personally and professionally. "I think I feel my most happy and beautiful when I'm doing the things that I love, and I'm warm," Bailey said sweetly with a cherubic smile plastered across her face.
"When I'm warm, number one, when I'm in the sun and just kind of sunbathing, or when I'm quiet, or also when I'm underwater," she added. "Since this movie, I've really discovered a passion for diving and just have this curiosity and wonder for honestly the ocean now. I love scuba diving because it's so quiet down there, and you just kind of go into this meditative space and gratefulness when you get to see how massive this world is above and below us. It's really a cool perspective."
Now, in the midst of being a Disney princess, chugging along weeks of press runs and preparation, and gearing up to star in The Color Purple with Danielle Brooks and Fantasia, how does Halle balance it all? One word: Faith.
"I think I truly just put God at the forefront of my life. I remember that I'm here for a reason, and this is all happening because of God. I think that it's easy for me to stay grounded and humble when I remember that I am just being used as a vessel for good and love and light," Halle said humbly about being rooted in her relationship with her Lord and Savior, who is truly the head of her life. "
"I just hope that whatever is meant to be in my life, God just steers me in the right direction. I think I love being in nature the most because I love when I can feel small and that this is a great big world and that these things, even though this movie feels massive on days like this, and it's a lot of pressure to live up to, it's really nice to just lay back and realize that we're all just small crumbs in this universe. I'm just really grateful to be able to do what I love here and make a living out of what I love and just follow in whatever journey I'm supposed to be in."
The Little Mermaid is now in theaters.
Featured image by Don Arnold/WireImage via Getty Images