Food prostitution. Lawd, have mercy! As I was doing my daily check-in on YouTube recently, this was one of the video topics that popped up on my list of suggestions. Being that I'm pretty familiar with Tonya TKO's channel and content, I decided to check it out. The overall gist was a woman decided to social-media-humiliate a man she went out on a date with because he took her out for pizza. Tonya's overall point is there is some sort of breakdown in the woman's character to want to be so mean to the poor guy; that we shouldn't be out here acting like "food prostitutes".
For the most part, I agree. Although I must say that I think part of the reason why there is so much unnecessary-ness that happens on the dating scene is either because 1) we need to spend more time understanding the differences between dating and courting along with what actually makes for a good date (I'll take manners over money any day!) and/or 2) we jump to go on a date with someone before determining, ahead of time, if there is enough of a connection to even go on a date with said person in the first place (more on that in a second). I personally believe that if both of these points were taken to heart more often, dates would be so much smoother.
If you've got a hot date coming up, but you're a little anxious because you can't remember the last time you actually went on a good one, I've got a few suggestions that can make time before, during and even after the date so much less stressful on your mind, body and spirit. Tips that will keep you and your date from feeling like you both had anything less than a good time.
1.Get Your Mind Right
A couple of days ago, I checked out a video by a YouTuber named Asha C. The title of it was "5 Guaranteed Ways to Emotionally Detach!" It basically provided tips for how single women can navigate through the dating scene. Although I recommend watching all of it, if you want the bottom line, the tips are as follows:
- Think with your head and not with heart!
- Don't just date one person.
- Keep yourself busy.
- Reflect on times of premature attachment.
- Associate emotions with surrender until a commitment is in place.
Whether you 100 percent agree with where Asha is coming from or not, what her advice does serve as a good reminder of is the fact that when you have your own mental strategy in place, that makes it so much easier to handle whatever happens on your date with another person. So yeah, take a moment to see where she's coming from, hold on to the gems that you can get on board with and then tweak where you want. A cool and confident woman is someone who is ready for whatever a date night brings her. And she's ready because she prepared herself before ever going on it.
2.Have a Couple of Phone Conversations—Ahead of Time
One reason why I think a lot of dates fail to go very smoothly is because, unless two people already know each other pretty well beforehand, trying to establish a connection while sitting in a crowded restaurant can be awkward, to say the least. One way to avoid that is by talking on the phone before actually meeting up. You can even use that as an opportunity to get some of the "standard dating questions" out of the way. If you need a bit of a nudge, there are 137 first date questions to inspire you here.
By the way, if he refuses to talk on the phone or only wants to text, I'd take that as a bit of a red flag. Texting is about convenience, not establishing a true connection. A man who's really into you is gonna care more about the latter than the former.
3.Avoid Movies. Oh, and Drinks.
While the two of you are on the phone discussing likes and dislikes, it's perfectly fine to slide in that you're not the biggest fan of going to the movies on a first (second or third) date. I mean, how can you truly get to know someone if both of you are sitting in the dark and staring at a movie screen? The only exception in this case is if it's a movie and then something else. But still, on a first date, I'd suggest recommending something with low noise and not a ton of crowds, if at all possible.
As far as drinks go, although having a glass of wine with dinner is cool, tipsy is the last thing you need to be—or should want to see—on a first date. Not only will a sober mind give you both a greater sense of each other's personality, it can also help you to make wise decisions (if you know what I mean).
4.Pay Attention to Your Body Language. And His.
Most of us have heard that 80 percent of communication consists of body language (from the research I've done, it's actually somewhere between 75-90 percent). What this is a blaring reminder of is actions are truly louder than words. This is something to definitely keep in mind once you and your date are finally face to face.
I've got a friend who used to tell me that I needed to work on developing a better "screen saver". What he meant by that is my face has a tendency to reveal just about everything that I'm thinking (especially the rolling of my eyes). As I've worked on that, I've discovered that other not-so-positive forms of body language are crossing arms (it puts you on the defensive); tapping fingers or feet (it conveys impatience); slouching or slumping (it expresses boredom); not making eye contact (it communicates disinterest) and staring at your phone (it's just plain rude).
If you are or he is doing any of these things, that's sending the not-so-subtle message that the date isn't going very well, whether either of you are verbally saying that or not. If you're the one doing any of this, ask yourself if it's a bad date or your body language is a bad habit. If he's doing it, it's OK to make a joke about reading what certain types of body language indicate and then seeing what he says in response. Hey, truth in all humor…right?
5.Be a Good Communicator
If someone were to ask me for the top reason why the first three dates tend to be a total letdown, I wouldn't say it has anything to do with attraction or chemistry. I'd say it has to do with poor communication (which is a top reason for why marriages end too). Y'all, there can be all of the physical sparks in the world, but if the two of you are not actually connecting, you're basically wasting your time.
What exactly does it take to be a winner in the communication department? You need to be able to listen (this includes letting others finish their sentences and thinking about what they said before responding). You need to ask questions (for clarification's sake) rather than going on the defensive when it comes to things that you don't necessarily agree with. You need to be tone-sensitive (if you don't want to be yelled at, don't yell). You need to embrace one another's individuality (they are not you, so they are not gonna think or act just like you do). You need to be warm and inviting (who wants to engage a person who gives one-word answers and doesn't have a pleasant attitude?). And, more than anything, you need to have fun. It's not a job interview; it's a date (which is a bit of an interview only, less stressful…if you let it be!).
6.Don’t “Fake” It
I've got a friend who, unfortunately, is going through a divorce right now. He didn't file; his wife did (actually, 70 percent of all divorces are filed by women). As we were discussing what ultimately got things to that point, one thing he said that I wish the entire world could hear is, "I don't know what makes people think that they truly know someone in a year. So many of us are bringing who we think someone wants to see on a date rather than who they are. Then, once you marry them, you're like 'Who the hell is this?!'"
He's not the only individual who thinks that way. I can't recall if it's Chris Rock or Bishop T.D. Jakes, but one of them said that the individual who typically shows up on a date is not us but our representative. The "best" part of us.
I'm not saying to present the worst side of you when you're out on a date (that's not wise at all). What I am recommending is if you want to start from a real place, begin with acting like a real person. Don't fake a persona, just because you think that's what he'll want to see. By the way, some signs of being fake is agreeing to things that you actually disagree with, pretending to like/enjoy things that you don't or even saying that you'll go on a second date when you know nothing is really going to come from it…ever.
We as women are always talking about chivalry, but it's important that as guys are holding doors open for us that we say "thank you" whenever they do. One of my male friends tells me all of the time that he doesn't care how good a woman looks if her energy is wack. And a person who is impolite definitely gives off bad vibes.
Unfortunately, politeness is a topic that doesn't get discussed nearly as much as it should so, just in case you were wondering what it looks like, polite people—are kind, they respect personal space, they speak the way they want to be spoken to, they don't force their opinions or perspectives on others, they are patient, they say "please" and "thank you" and they try and make others feel comfortable in their space.
We as women can set the tone for how well a date goes, just on the energy we put out alone. Be polite, require chivalry and watch how far this combo takes you—from the beginning of the date until the end.
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Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
- Third Date Questions To Ask A Guy - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- 10 First Date Red Flags To Look Out For - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Here Are 4 Bad Dating Habits You Absolutely Need To Break This Year - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
In xoNecole's series Dope Abodes, we tour the living spaces of millennial women, where they dwell, how they live, and the things they choose to adorn and share their spaces with.
Annisa LiMara has called this space her home for two years. Her Atlanta sanctuary, which she aimed to give the look and feel of something you'd see in the glossy pages of Architectural Digest, embodies her vision of "stunning, yet functional and cozy."
"My home is a reflection of my brand, The Creative Peach Studios, and I am the 'Creative Peach,'" Annisa explains. "It was so easy to reflect who I am and my personal story in my space. When you walk into my home, you know that it is Annisa’s home. I’m so proud of that. So grateful."
On the journey to becoming a homeowner, Annisa looks back on her experience as a "rough one," detailing that she officially started house hunting in March 2020. It had become so expensive to rent, and the 30-something lifestyle influencer decided she would rather invest the money she spent renting into owning a home. However, nine days into house hunting, her search was put on hold for a year. The following year, in 2021, the process of finding the right home and going under contract took a total of four months.
"The resell route didn’t work out, so my realtor suggested a new construction home, which turned out to be the better option," she tells xoNecole of her experience. "Although it requires more patience, it turned out to be a much easier process and a lot easier to maintain since it’s brand new."
As it turns out, the open floor plan three-bedroom two-and-half-bath would prove to be a blank canvas for Annisa to flex her creativity and design skills.
As a new construction, she watched the townhome get built from the ground up, and due to the "cookie-cutter" nature of new builds, Annisa knew immediately that she would change everything about it. The best part about it? All of her updates were cosmetic, so transformation could occur without having to do major renovations to achieve the look and feel she desired.
"The first things I updated were all the lighting, adding built-ins around my fireplace, and installing wallpaper in my bedroom, office, and dining room! I also had board and batten installed in the upstairs loft to make a statement and the kitchen island," Annisa details.
"Lastly, we painted the loft a soft blush pink, the kitchen island is a gorgeous terracotta, and added contrast with black on the doors, fireplace, and stairwell banisters."
In total, she spent $15K in renovations (plus the cost of furniture and decor). And although she says the second level of her home is a "work-in-progress," two years in, she considers the transformation nearly done.
Annisa defines her decor style as "organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho," and with thoughtfully placed touches like plants, warm tones, and organic textures, her perspective can be felt throughout. "I found my point of view as a designer in my work and as I worked on my home, so it all came together organically based on what I was naturally drawn to."
"The organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho' is definitely my signature style. You’ll always see greenery, warm tones, brass, and rattan or wicker in just about every room. My color story is based on my brand [The Creative Peach Studios] colors: blush pink, ivory, olive and sage green, terracotta, and nudes," she adds.
It was her brand colors that would be the jumping-off point for her approach to decorating and styling her space. That, and a picture she had of what would become her sofa from Albany Park. She recalled her decor decisions, "It was their olive Park Sectional Sofa, and I knew instantly I wanted it, and it aligned with my brand colors naturally, so it was a no-brainer."
By drawing inspiration from Pinterest, favorite design brands like CB2, Arhaus, and Souk Bohemian, and through her work, Annisa allowed herself to be guided by her signature style as well as her instincts when making decor and color choices for her own home. "Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason; it just feels right."
Some of the aspects of her home that she regards as her favorites include her bedroom and its little nook where her bed is positioned, the open upstairs loft, and the open concept because "it really allows you to see all of the details I put into the design all at once." Another of her favorite finds is a purchase she copped from the thrift store years ago.
"I have this little brown and gold chair that I picked up for $6 at a thrift store in Jersey six years ago. I couldn’t afford much in my little studio, but the chair was beautiful and unlike anything I had ever seen."
In addition to accent walls featuring blush pink and terracotta tones throughout the space, her gallery wall is another element that immediately draws the eye of any guest who enters. Annisa recalled a fond memory of a fine art piece she purchased from a Black woman artist when she first moved to Atlanta that she now prominently features in her living room. "It was a Black villager from her travels in Africa, and I fell in love with it because it felt like an ancestor I never met. I later found out that she was the sister of one of my very first design clients two years later," she shares. "Talk about a full-circle moment!"
Cultivating a space takes time and patience, and that is a sentiment Annisa echoes when advising people who are looking to infuse more of themselves into their own dope abodes through design. "It is not a race, and you’ll spend more money if you rush into designing without really being intentional about the vision for your space," Annisa concludes. "You just need creativity and patience to do it! And most of all, make sure you feel like it’s an oasis for you!"
For more of Annisa, follow her on Instagram @annisalimara.
Tour Interior Designer Annisa LiMara's Modern Meets Midcentury ATL Home | Dope Abodes
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'Act II': Beyoncé's Country Era Is Paying Homage To Black Artists & Daring Us To Exist In Any Space We Choose
Super Bowl Sunday Queen Bey struck again, snatching all our edges and keeping us in the same chokehold we’ve been in for the past couple of decades. After her Verizon commercial, where she alluded to her power to break the internet, Beyoncé essentially broke the internet with her announcement that Renaissance Act II would be released on March 29, 2024. The final drop in this marketing masterpiece was the release of two new singles, “16 CARRIAGES” and “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM,” which have both soared to number one and two in the iTunes country music category.
However, despite the pure excitement by the BeyHive to follow Beyoncé wherever she leads them, there has already been pushback in the country music arena to deny the Queen access. Oklahoma station KYKC 100.1 FM denied a listener's request to hear Beyoncé’s new songs on its station because “We do not play Beyoncé' [sic] as we are a country music station," it responded via email.
This isn’t the first time Beyoncé has been dismissed in the genre. In 2016, when she released "Daddy’s Lessons" on Lemonade, she not only was met with backlash from country music fans but was also denied by the Recording Academy’s Country Committee after she submitted the record for a Grammy.
Beyoncé (2nd R) performs onstage with Emily Robison, Natalie Maines, and Martie Maguire of Dixie Chicks at the 50th annual CMA Awards in 2016.
Rick Diamond/Getty Images
We saw a similar response to Lil Nas X’s "Old Town Road" in 2019 when the original single was removed from the Billboard Country charts because it didn’t “embrace enough elements of today’s country music.” Lil Nas X went on to win a Grammy with Billy Ray Cyrus for the song’s music video but was only accepted into the category after Cyrus joined for the remix.
Though the origins of the country music genre are an extension of Black culture and African ancestry, Black artists have been essentially erased from the genre's existence. Examples of this are the modern-day banjo – featured in many country songs – which is a descendant of the West African instrument, the Akonting. As with most things in American history, once white audiences were introduced to the banjo in a more “acceptable” manner through racist minstrel shows of the 1850s-1870s, it was quickly appropriated.
This unintentionally led to the creation of the 1920s Hillbilly music, which at the time was mainly popular in the South and later evolved into the country genre we know today. Hillbilly music drew its inspiration from slave spirituals, field songs, hymns, and the blues, which all originated within the Black community, and up until the end of World War I when major record labels rebranded it as country, the genre was successfully integrated.
In fact, in Patrick Huber’s 2013 essay, "Black Hillbillies: African American Musicians On Old-Time Records, 1924–1932," he details the vast diversity in the genre. In the time period chronicled, approximately 50 Black artists were featured on commercialized records within Hillbilly music. Huber’s essay was part of a larger work edited by Diane Pecknold, "Hidden in the Mix: The African American Presence in Country Music," which focused on the large contributions Black musicians had to the industry.
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Despite the huge success Hillbilly music had, record labels couldn’t fully capitalize on it while remaining diverse because of segregation throughout America. In order to market the music and artists to “mainstream” America, music executives not only segregated the genre but promoted it as “white music” and as white southerners migrated throughout the country, they took with them the ideology that country music was solely theirs. This eventually led to the erasure of Black artists and their contributions to their artistry and history.
These artists include DeFord Bailey, who was the first Black musician to play the Grand Ole Opry, and Charley Pride, the first Black person to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Many of us know musical legend Ray Charles for his contribution to soul music, but it isn’t common knowledge that his ability to blend country, R&B, and pop music greatly influences country music to this day. Additionally, Gus Cannon made jug bands (an ancestor to country music) popular in the 1920s and taught Johnny Cash, who is a country music icon.
As we make efforts to honor and acknowledge the Black musicians who helped mold country music into what it is today, we must also acknowledge how the intersectionality of Black womanhood has practically left this demographic out of the country music fabric completely.
As Black women face both racism and sexism (a.k.a. misogynoir), their denial of entry has been easier to maintain in this genre. Linda Martell, the first Black female solo artist to play the Grand Ole Opry, released her debut album, Color Me Country, in 1970. Though still considered a pioneer to many, her career was short, and she faced relentless discrimination and violence within the industry that eventually led her to leave country music altogether. The documentary, Bad Case of The Country Blues: The Linda Martell Story, chronicles her experiences from 1969-1975.
Though there are many up-and-coming Black country music artists, Beyoncé's entrance into this arena creates a clear and imminent threat to the genre’s marketing strategy that it is “white music.” She might be one of the most unapologetically Black artist of our times, penning lyrics such as, “I like my baby hair with baby hair and afros” and “I like my negro nose with Jackson 5 nostrils.”
Argue with me if you like, but for the past decade, Beyoncé has been uplifting and celebrating Black culture and history.
She has made it clear that she has no desire to assimilate herself or her music into mainstream white culture. She is proud of who she is and where she comes from, which is why her making a country music album is a natural progression. Beyoncé's roots are in Texas, she often talks about her love for her state and her upbringing, and just as we heard in Act I of Renaissancewith the inspirations pulled from Chicago house, funk, soul, gospel, and New Orleans Bounce music; we will be serenaded by another layer of her upbringing and soul in Act II.
Beyoncé’s Renaissance is her unabashed way of not only using her stardom to prove that Black people are not a monolith but also paying homage to the Black artists who paved the way for her but are seemingly erased from history.
She highlights the multifaceted nature of Black culture and ignites conversations that force the full history of these genres to be represented and told. As a Black woman who grew up in Alabama and isn’t ashamed to share her love for country music, I was thrilled to hear "Daddy Lessons" in 2016 and I can’t wait for Act II of Renaissance to come out on March 29.
Whether you’re a member of the BeyHive or not, I hope you can see how Beyoncé’s musical evolution is allowing space for Black people, and moreover, Black women, to exist in whatever space they choose to pursue without feeling the need to diminish, readjust, or mold themselves into what someone else says you should be.
Through her art, she is creating a space for us all to live and exist in our fullness, or in short to live in true liberation.
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