OK, so maybe I lied a teeny bit. By my usual standards, I do need to get my nails done along with everyone else I know who really misses being directed to "pick a color" or asked if we want "the spa or regular pedicure?" You know that meme with Arthur's little sister D.W. staring longingly at something off-camera? Well, I am D.W. and D.W. is me and what we are looking at are the nail salons with gates pulled down in front of them.
Of course, the Twitter jokes flew the moment that folks discovered nail and hair shops would close, with the assumption being that anyone who frequents those places would be "ugly" now that they can't access a professional. "It's gonna be all about personality now," read one tweet that I am paraphrasing. But honey, during this time when my routine is drastically different and I need to better manage all this time I have to overthink, I decided the last thing I need to be doing is labeling anything on my body as "ugly" based on my access to a shop. I am determined to be gentler with myself these days instead of nitpicking at little things.
We're still fine even without a professionally done mani, pedi, wax, or whatever, OK loves?
That said, I still plan to settle my behind in my nail tech's chair as soon as outside re-opens and I can safely do so. Hair and nail salons have long been places many Black women go for using glam as a self-care practice; for some (including me), those places were our introduction to it. We often speak of hair shops doubling as therapy offices but the nail salons offer their own reprieve from life's demands. After a long week of dealing with all the things that pilfer our energy bit by bit, it feels good to get somewhere, sit down, and let someone take care of us for once. Like with hair salons, most of us indeed have a horror nail story or two — but there's still nothing cooler than finally finding your nail person who can do exactly what you want without you having to clock their every move.
It's even better if you link with someone you can trust to freestyle your nails and send you out into the world looking like walking art for the next two weeks.
Certainly, not having my nails done isn't sadder or more important than the far greater problems occurring due to COVID-19 disrupting nearly everything about our lives. This is no effort to downplay them to uplift the sanctity of a full set. Instead, me not having access to the salon brings on sadness in various layers. It sucks to have one of the joys I'd made a part of my de-stress me-time routine stripped away from me. I've been getting my nails done professionally since I was in high school — the good ole days when acrylic sets were only $20. My mom would drop me at the mall (back when it was actually OK to do that, alright?) and I'd head straight to a spot called Exotic Nails to spend two hours or so with whoever could freak a French mani with a flower design on top — and a pedicure too if I had it to spare.
Although a teen, my life was often busy, stressful, and sometimes absolutely tumultuous. Exotic Nails was my happy pampering place where I didn't have to lift a finger or foot to do anything for anyone except to let the person in front of me file, paint, or massage. There was something luxurious about that moment that made me feel so renewed once it was over. That was my time to not have to do a single thing for anybody else. Time to exhale. Judging by the other faces that crowded up the spot — some of their heads nodding off as they got days worth of trouble, hard work, and putting other people first temporarily massaged out of their feet — it was theirs, too.
Over the years, my taste in nail designs has changed depending on the season I'm in or the job I have. But my appreciation for going to the nail shop remains.
Beyond my personal self-care woes, I'm concerned about the employees and shop owners battling being completely blown out of business and scrambling to apply for federal loan relief — many of which are Black and brown people who are already economically worse off than the white folks in the same industry. 71% of small business owners worry they may not be able to financially recover from the effects of the pandemic, according to LendingTree's survey of 1200 people. 47% have already acquired new debt in attempts to keep their business during this time. I look forward to hopefully patronizing the establishments near my home again and helping in any way that I can.
I also feel for other people who lean on their nail appointments for even more support than I do, like the members of the Long Nail Goddesses club in Newark, New Jersey — one of whom made getting her extremely long nails done a part of her road to recovery from drug addiction. "Instead of spending money on drugs," the unnamed woman shared in a 2018 Trulydocumentary published to YouTube. "I started spending money on getting my nails done. I pamper myself and this is what I love to do."
I also feel for the nail tech I had just recently settled with, Mandy, who was saving up to take her soon-to-be 10-year-old son on his first vacation in life and her first in 22 years. I wonder if they're safe, healthy, and how she's dealing with their (most likely) thwarted plans. Unfortunately, I didn't snag her number to shoot over a "How are you holding up?" text, but I do know that when outside opens up, if the nail shop is (prayerfully) even still in business by then, I'll be back in Mandy's chair so she can get these nails right, I can tip her well, and most importantly — I can relax again in one of my favorite happy places.
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Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Over 6 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer's, and it is anticipated that by 2050, this number will almost double. With staggering rates of this disease impacting senior citizens and the families caring for them, the need to boost awareness around this neurological condition is greater now, more than ever.
November is Alzheimer's Awareness Month, which presents an opportunity to educate the public about Alzheimer's disease and increase understanding of its causes, symptoms, and impact on individuals and families with loved ones who have or could develop the condition in the future.
What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?
According to the CDC, Alzheimer's disease, the most prevalent form of dementia, is a progressive condition starting with mild memory loss and potentially advancing to an inability to engage in conversation and respond to the surroundings.
The disease impacts areas of the brain responsible for thought, memory, and language, significantly hindering a person's capacity to perform daily activities.
The exact cause of Alzheimer's is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.
Warning Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s
The warning signs of Alzheimer's disease can differ among individuals and typically emerge gradually. While Alzheimer's is not a normal aspect of aging, age is the best-known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Memory problems commonly represent one of the initial indicators of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, especially if they worsen over time.
In addition to this, Healthline notes that symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease may show up as one or more of the following:
- Alterations in mood, personality, or behavior.
- Disruption of daily life due to memory loss, like becoming disoriented in familiar surroundings or repeating questions.
- Difficulty in accomplishing routine tasks at home, work, or during leisure activities.
- Diminished or impaired judgment.
- Misplacement of items with an inability to retrace steps to locate them.
Who Does Alzheimer's Affect?
The prevalence of Alzheimer's in the United States is rapidly increasing, with an estimated 6.7 million among those aged 65 and older in 2023. Approximately 73% of individuals with Alzheimer's are aged 75 or older, and the overall rate for those aged 65 and older is 1 in 9 (10.7%), according to the Alzheimer's Association.
One out of every three seniors passes away with Alzheimer's or another form of dementia, surpassing the combined mortality of breast cancer and prostate cancer. Elderly Black Americans have approximately twice the likelihood of experiencing Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia compared to elderly white individuals.
Prevention and Support of Alzheimer's Disease
The exact cause of Alzheimer's disease remains unclear, and scientists believe it is likely influenced by multiple factors such as age and family history, but genetics do not determine one's fate or outcome.
There is no cure for Alzheimer's, and caring for a loved one with the disease can take a financial, mental, and emotional strain on the family as the disease progresses. Caregivers face daily challenges, adjusting to changing abilities and behaviors, and as the disease advances, more intensive care is often required.
As more research and awareness spreads around Alzheimer's, taking the proper measures to improve and manage brain cognition is essential. Adopting a healthy lifestyle, including regular physical activity, a nutritious diet, limited alcohol consumption, and not smoking, may lower the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
Raising awareness helps reduce the stigma associated with Alzheimer's and related dementias and can foster a more supportive and compassionate community for individuals affected by the disease.
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