Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Girl, Interrupted: The ‘D’ Word And How It Affects Us More Than We Think

Girl, Interrupted: The ‘D’ Word And How It Affects Us More Than We Think
Seventeen years ago my parents announced that they were getting a Divorce. My brother and I were too young to process what this really meant.  I’ve never spoken to him about it so I am not sure what his narrative is. I don’t remember much from ‘that’ period of my life when we were happy as a family. I remember too much, however, the fights and the arguments and the fact that the TV room became the war zone and my bedroom became my mother’s refuge. I still find myself awake at 2 a.m. listening for the shouts and the endless yelling and never ending arguments. I remember stuffing my head under the pillow willing the noise to stop. I remember being relieved when it stopped and when the war came to an end and both armies withdrew from the battle, I remember being relieved that at least it was over.
The worst thing about wars-apart from the loss of lives, the weapons used and the waste of resources-is the collateral damage, those innocent bystanders whose lives become disrupted,  who have choices made for them because of the selfish needs of two overriding powers.  In the war that is Divorce, children are often an afterthought. They become just another pawn in the game, another piece to play; another way to ‘get at’ the other parent by whichever parent chooses to play them at the time. Their feelings are often not considered.  They will deal with it because they are not the first to be affected by Divorce and like others before them, they too will survive.
A few months ago I hit the big 30. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be (because I’ve feared the 30s for years) however it wasn’t as good as I thought it would be either. My dislike for celebrating birthdays came after my parents split. If I couldn’t have both parents at my birthday party then why would I want one anyway? My birthday became one of the many things I refused to celebrate along with Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter weekends, any and everything that would remind me of love or family. When my girlfriends dreamed of getting married and having children, I fantasized about traveling to distant lands and losing myself in places and people that knew nothing of who I was and where I had come from. To me, it was an opportunity to create a life and to sell a story of a life that didn’t exist. You see, I became very good at pretending to be ‘okay’ when deep down I really wasn’t.
My mother became happily married within a year and a half of the divorce and my father became a very bitter man. So bitter that after I moved in with my mom and my brother kind of drifted to my grandparents’ house, I got the feeling that he often resented us for not standing by his side. The inclination to believe this grew as I got older and his attitude towards my mother manifested itself in the way he treated my brother and I. The thing is, I understood the why. I just never could quite put my finger on the how. If I knew that my father would read this (and perhaps he will…I’ve heard he now has an email address and ting!) I would ask him this: How could you blame us for a battle that was not ours to begin with?
I used to think that I have ‘daddy issues’. And in a way I do. There are things that I am angry at my father for that I have never been able to say to him however I’ve also realized that I have mommy issues too. Not the typical-oh my mother doesn’t love me, woe be unto me in this big cold world- type of way but I have the kind that go hand in hand with the issues I have with my father. I spent 17 years of my life not knowing how to trust the people I love. I spent 17 years not knowing how to trust the people that love me. I have spent every day since then looking out for myself because there was no one else who could have done it for me. At 30 years old at times I feel so emotionally retarded that I question my ability to love beyond the things that are temporal. I choose loves that have no roots. I run from hearts that are warm. I end things before they are ended for me. My tactic in my own battle has become to use preemptive strikes and while I no longer seek answers from my parents for what seemed like a robbery of my childhood, what I do wish for is the conversation that we, as a family, never had when the shit hit the fan.
When the first shot is fired and the last sword is drawn, when the blood is let and bodies are left out to dry, when the mess is made and the damage is caused- everyone walks away. Some do it peacefully, accepting their fate while other encourage long, drawn out wars that serve no one but the egos of those hurt. What are often left behind, however, are broken children that never quite heal properly. They grow into broken adults with trust issues and anger issues and commitment issues that are often a reflection of or a reaction to or a choice in spite of their experiences. I’ve never had the luxury of an end of war conversation or a treaty or peace talks with my parents either collectively or separately. I guess I was expected to adjust and move on with life and I did. Except it still hurts and I still listen for the bombs at 2 a.m. Anytime I hear people arguing, when I hear people shouting, when persons raise their voice at me, the blood and the bodies become  too real and  17 years always feels like 7 minutes.
If both my parents were reading this, I’d want them to know that I understand the 17 years. I accept it. For whatever their marriage was, they needed to go their separate ways and I understand that. I, however, needed those critical hours, those few moments after their love bit the dust, that dialogue in the aftermath to make sense of it all, to learn that sometimes things don’t happen the way we plan them and that at the time, they didn’t know how to keep us safe and although love sometimes come to an end, life will always go on. One of the biggest casualties of my parents’ Divorce is my inability to communicate effectively with anyone that I truly love. I became too much an expert in being brave, in not showing how hurt or upset or affected I was, in hiding my feelings from the world by writing them down in my diary. I erased pain and replaced it with anger because it was a much easier pill to swallow and an easier cloak to wear.
Divorce never just happens. And when it does, it is never the easiest thing in the world to deal with. The truth is, by learning to live with something that we have no control over, we learn to adapt, to exist, to survive. The worst part, however, is that we often forget how to live. Regardless of how old we get and in spite of our own experiences as children and adults, we are sometimes just people whose lives have been interrupted and whose battles were inherited from those that taught us how to fight. In the end, we are soldiers who rarely get credit for a battle that was never ours.

Top 5 Neutral Eye-Shadow Palettes for Brown Girls

Top 5 Neutral Eye-Shadow Palettes for Brown Girls
Eye-shadows are an important part of any makeup collection and when it comes to purchasing eye-shadows one of the best investments that any makeup lover can make is a good eye-shadow palette. Palettes offer more you more bang for your buck as they offer you a variety of shades to choose from, often at a reduced price, than multiple shades of a single eye-shadow from most brands available on the market. If you tend to venture towards the more neutral shades and love wearing soft, natural looks as well as dramatic smokey eyes, I’ve got the top five neutral eye-shadow palettes that you must try in order to achieve those classic looks. 

An eye-shadow Palette in fifteen warm shades: Hey, Warm Breeze, Gingersnap, Dark Brew, Dance in the Dark, Brule Vanilla Extract, Honey Lust, Amber Lights, Saddle, Lemon Tart, Butterfudge, Creative Copper, Unwind and Divine Decadence. The highly pigmented powder formula applies evenly, blends and builds beautifully. 

Urban Decay Naked2 Basics Palette, $29.00 

The Naked palettes are a cult favorite and with good reason! Cooler in tone than the original, Naked2 Basics complements Naked2 perfectly. Urban Decay loaded this indispensable palette with six TAUPE-hued matte neutrals, including five never-before-seen shades. These shadows are neutral enough for anyone, from cool skin tones to olive complexions to darker skin.

Smashbox Full Exposure Travel Palette, $22.00 

This versatile eye-shadow set provides eight must-have neutrals in one portable palette. From nudes to blacks, these crease-resistant, long-wear shimmers and velvety smooth mattes are organized with shimmers on top and mattes on the bottom so that they are easy to use. 

Jaclyn Favorites Palettes by Morphe Brushes, $27.99 

From everyday to evening colors, create a natural or dramatic look with these deep, rich and intense natural colors. Perfect for the everyday girl or for your beautiful bride. These eye shadows are highly pigmented and a little goes a long way. Super soft and easy to blend.

Maybelline The Nudes Palette, $9.99 

The Expert Wear Palette by Maybelline offers great colors that are perfect for everyone. These shades have great pigment and will help you achieve the perfect day or evening look.
*Content curated for The COCO Magazine

Friday, January 23, 2015

Top 5 Mascara Picks!

If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then your lashes are the drapes that frame them beautifully. Don’t believe me? Ask the ancient Egyptians who first tinted their eye-lashes by using bone or ivory applicators to apply a pigment made from kohl, burnt almonds or lead mixed with honey or crocodile droppings. Yes, it was that serious! There was a time when I wouldn’t leave home without a full face of make-up. These days, I only throw on some tinted moisturizer, a slick of lip balm and numerous coats of mascara before heading out to face the world. While everything else is negotiable, I would never leave home without adding a bit of ‘oomph’ to my lashes. I’ve put together a list of ‘must have’ (or at least must try) mascaras that have allowed me to flutter my way through many makeup free days with complete confidence.

Revlon Grow Luscious Mascara: Revlon claims that this mascara would help your lashes grow longer, fuller and thicker with continued use. I’ve been using this for a hot minute and while I can’t attest to Revlon’s claims, I love how natural this product makes my lashes look. Definitely great for everyday use without making your lashes look fake (, $7.99).
Maybelline ‘The Falsies’ Mascara: If you’re not a wearer of false lashes but want the look of it, this bad boy from Maybelline is perfect for that. Being an avid tester of products, I usually never use too many items for too long as there’s always something new on the market. I have, however, repurchased this mascara every time I’ve run out. A true testimony; it lives up to its claims. No false hopes here ladies, it does what it says! (, $6.99).
MAC Zoom Lash Mascara: While MAC isn’t really known for their mascaras, this smudge-proof formula creates the ideal mix of thick, dense volume while adding a bit of length and definition to your lashes. Your lashes will remain clump and flake free until you remove this product with an oil-based cleanser. For those seeking a good waterproof mascara to add to their makeup arsenal, this is it! (, $16.00).
Benefit BADgal Lash Mascara: By far THE best all in one type of mascara that I’ve ever used. Lengthen, thicken, darken and volumize in one stroke. This product delivers on every claim that it makes. If you’re after a product that you can truly multitask with then this is the one for you. One application gives you soft, natural looking lashes while a few coats can turn good girl lashes into the ultimate lash vixen ( $19.00)
Maybelline Colossal “Cat Eyes” Volum’ Express Mascara: The best thing about this mascara is the brush! Thin lashes can finally revel in the plumpness this product delivers while still remaining soft and natural. The curved brush also allows you to be able to ditch your eyelash curler as it helps curl your lashes as you apply. Can you say, meow? (, $6.99)

*originally curated for The COCO Magazine

Monday, January 19, 2015

Ceola B- A Style Less Ordinary

COCO Blogger Spotlight: Ceola B- A Style Less Ordinary
Whether you need tips on how to create the perfect smokey eye, deets on a recently opened local restaurant or an honest review on the latest skincare product on the market, the internet offers a wealth of information suited to what you’re looking for.  My full on obsession with makeup and skincare related products began in 2010 whilst I was pursuing legal studies in London and had access to a variety of products from a diverse cross-section of companies. The problem was, however, that I didn’t know where to start. Instead of randomly purchasing an item, I did what any smart consumer would do. I hopped on the internet, read blogs and watched YouTube videos. The internet became my source of information and the bloggers and YouTube gurus became trusted friends whose opinions allowed me to make an informed decision.
Being a Caribbean gal myself, it became extremely important to me to find persons who were from the Caribbean or of Caribbean descent. My YouTube playlist and blog rolls are saturated with bloggers and vloggers who rep the Caribbean at every opportunity. This week, we focus on one of my favorite lifestyle bloggers: Ceola Belix from A Style Less Ordinary.
Ceola is a Trinidadian born blogger whose love for good eats and locally manufactured items shines through her blog. She spends most of her time blogging about local eateries, fashion designers and artists who would never have become known to the public had it not been for her blog. I came across Ceola a few years ago whilst browsing Trinidad Lookbook for bloggers to add to my blog roll and have been an avid reader of her blog since. I used to live in Trinidad and always declare that whilst I am Vincy to de bone, I am Trini to de marrow! Yes, I live vicariously through Ceola’s blog and enjoy her social media posts immensely. Get to know more about stylish Caribbean gem below!
Rep your heritage. Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m from Trinidad & Tobago – born in St. Joseph and bred in the borough of Arima located in the East of the island. I studied Communications at the University of Leeds and I’m currently employed as a Digital Content Producer & Strategist/Social Media Manager at one of the leading advertising agencies in T&T. I also am a freelance writer for Metro Magazine, which is circulated every Friday with the Trinidad Guardian. I love style, and food, and travelling. If I could find a job that encompassed all three I’d be a very happy girl, but for now, being able to write about those things where I can find them in my life is a great comfort to me.
What’s the mission of your blog? How did you get started?
The ‘mission’ of my blog is primarily to give exposure to designers, artists, artisans, musicians, chefs, events, etc, that otherwise would not have it or who I feel deserve more of it. I basically want to be seen as a source of information on local happenings/products/services. When I’m not doing that, I’m being purely indulgent and just writing about random things that cross my mind. That doesn’t happen very often though…I’m always trying very hard to keep it focused. I started my blog about two years ago. I posted much more erratically then. It was just as Anya Ayoung Chee was competing in Project Runway and there was this huge sense of national pride and optimism concerning Trinidad & Tobago’s creative output. I wanted to talk about some of the jewelry I had bought from a local designer, so I started a blog to talk about it. More and more I found more things I wanted to share – markets I’d been to, local designers I’d found at these markets or on Facebook. I started on Blogspot and eventually migrated my content to Wordpress. I’ve had many other blogs and writing outlets in the past, but this was the one I decided to stick with. My Twitter account, Instagram account and Facebook profile and page are all an extension of my blog.
How do you represent your heritage on your blog?
I think I’m pretty disciplined about representing predominantly local creatives on my blog. I suppose that’s the only way I can say I ‘represent’. I will feature regional designers, etc, but it’s highly unlikely that I spend a lot or any time promoting retailers and that kind of thing. While I do shop at retailers from time to time, I don’t necessarily see my blog as a space to promote them, unless they also carry locally produced items.  My blog is all about Trinbagonian experiences…not all of them of course; there are some things I’m much less experienced in than others and as such, won’t talk about as much, but I certainly promote the lesser known, but incredibly amazing things about my country.
Describe yourself in three words.
Honest. Passionate. Neurotic.
If you’re not blogging, what are you doing?
I am out to lunch/dinner/brunch/tea with friends, binge-watching TV shows with my boyfriend, reading random things online, online (window) shopping, exercising or attempting to sleep.
If you could eat one thing for the rest of your life what would it be?
I’m sure this will vary from time to time, but right now it’s Michelle’s Corn Soup (from the Savannah Strip on the Queen’s Park Savannah…in case ya didn’t know)
Do you have a Signature Fragrance?

Not really…at the moment I’m alternating between Marc Jacob’s Daisy and Miss Dior Cherie.
Describe your personal style.
Toughie. It’s hard for me to really describe it wholly since I bounce back and forth depending on the day. I’d say it’s very casual chic though, with a lot of oversized elements and emphasis on accessories – jewelry and shoes mostly, since my handbag rarely changes. I am still heavily influenced by the years I spent in the United Kingdom, as well as the time I spent in the Netherlands and other parts of Europe.  The colour palettes that are widely, and consistently popular there still dominate my wardrobe – lots of neutrals and black and white. I rarely do colour.
Where do you like to shop and why?
I shop online quite a lot, mostly on Otherwise, when I travel, I shop at Zara, Mango and H&M. I also recently started thrifting. Pretty much for the same reasons cited above – I love European style and those stores make it very accessible. Almost all of my jewelry I purchase from local jewelry designers like Koko Karibi, Cocoa Vintage, Denise Hendrie and many more. I also buy a lot from local clothing designer J. Angelique and have recently begun purchasing from Adrian Foster. My closet also includes pieces from Christian Boucaud, Afiya Bishop, Rhion Romany, Indie Swim and Chandra Maharaj. 
What do you splurge on?
I splurge on local jewelry and shoes. Those are probably the two categories I spend the most of my own money in. I love handbags as well, but I opt to ask for them as gifts for my birthday or Christmas.
Biggest pet peeve about being a blogger?
Keeping a schedule and posting regularly enough to keep readers and yourself happy. I suppose that’s just a peeve I have with myself. I also really dislike when people ask me to promote something that isn’t consistent with my content.
How have you managed to keep the creativity with your blog?
I try to cover a range of topics. So I won’t just stick to style…I’ll do a restaurant review, or share my experiences from an event I attended. Honestly, I have far more creative ideas for content than I actually execute. It’s a combination of busyness and laziness really. I’m hoping in 2014 I’ll be able to structure my time and my mind more effectively, so I can really start to produce interesting features.
Who are the other bloggers from the Caribbean that we should know about?
I really enjoy reading Kathryn Nurse’s blog Cities and Islands . She’s a Trinidadian who currently resides NYC but started the blog while she was studying for her Masters in Luxury Brand Management, which took her from Shanghai to Florence to Paris. Another blog I enjoy is Introvertly Bubbly . Another great resource is TriniChow.  Yes I like food blogs…a lot. And last but not least (though it’s not really a blog) is my friend Mel’s online magazine Trinidad Lookbook.
Best tip for other Caribbean persons wanting to start a blog?
Just go for it. But be prepared to do the work. Be prepared to spend your own money on products and services just for the sake of reviewing them. Be prepared to find yourself roaming Belmont or St. James, or Couva, looking for that one place where you can find a certain jewelry designer, clothing designer, homemade soap, homemade pepper sauce, or spoken word poetry night. Be prepared to be slick with sweat, pushing through a crowd so you can get your hands on a coveted, exclusive piece. Be prepared to make friends, and to be kind to the people you meet, because at the end of the day, you’re doing it for them as much as you’re doing it for your readers or for yourself. Be honest, because people like when you’re honest. Don’t feel pressured into being someone you aren’t…or to have a voice you think you have to have because you want to be a blogger and that’s how other people do it. Stick to what you know and what you love and you’ll be fine.
You can find Ceola on Twitter (@ceolab), InstgramFacebook Ceola Belix: a style less ordinary, Pinterest and her blog Ceola: A Style Less Ordinary.

Curated for The COCO Magazine 

Jamaican Blogger: Natalia Oh!

COCO Blogger Spotlight: Natalia Oh!

Natalie Outar is a fashion blogger from Jamaica with a knack for putting together extremely stylish yet affordable outfits suitable for the COCO Woman. A mother of two, living in Jamaica, Natalie started posting her pictures of her outfits and DIY projects on Instagram where followers encouraged her to start a blog and armed with this encouragement, Natalia Oh! was born. The rest, as we say, is blogging history.     
Rep your heritage. Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in Clarendon, Jamaica and grew up in a small and rural area of GimmieMeBit until I was three years old. I was later 'adopted' by my older brother and his family and moved to Mandeville and that is where I currently live. 
What’s the mission of your blog? How did you get started?
I started blogging at the request of followers on Instagram who loved my explanations of my fashion choices and my DIY projects. Also, the ability to stay fashionable on a budget has been a huge appeal to my followers and I show them how to save money. The mission of my blog has always been to share my fashion inspirations and to help to gain publicity for others. 
How do you represent your heritage on your blog?
My blog is international and I try not to pigeon hole myself to just Caribbean fashion- though I live in Jamaica, I try to maintain current fashion trends and make them suitable for the Caribbean weather. Also, I highlight local stores and local designers on my blog, so that is a way of maintaining Jamaican heritage on the blog. 
Describe yourself in three words.
Strong, resilient, unfiltered. 
If you’re not blogging, what are you doing?
Running behind my children, shuttling them to various after school programs, keeping them on task or probably drinking coffee somewhere. 
If you could eat one thing for the rest of your life what would it be?
The brick over pizza from Jack Spratt in Treasure Beach 
Do you have a Signature Fragrance?
I do, but I never share it, I don't think anyone should share their signature scents. It takes years to find one fragrance that gels with your body oils and I think each individual should find out what works for them and stick it. However, one fragrance that I love [but not my signature] is ChloĆ©. 
Describe your personal style.
Classic chic with a trendy edge. 
Where do you like to shop and why?
ASOS online because of their pricing, they ship worldwide and they are always ahead of trends. Forever21 for basics and Steve Madden for shoes. 
What do you splurge on?
I really don't splurge on anything anymore, in this economy I have gotten very frugal. However, when I splurge it would be on top shelf single malt whiskies. 
Biggest pet peeve about being a blogger?
The notion that you have to post everyday- I am very guilty of not posting regularly, and anyone with children and a job can understand that it affects your creativity. I would rather quality posts than 'empty' posts just to post every day. 
How have you managed to keep the creativity with your blog?
I read other international bloggers, not only the ones who have gained huge publicity, but those who are very good but not so popular. In fact I try NOT to be influenced by the bloggers who are too popular as I assume like me, my followers have seen them. So I look for the rare gems. I prefer tumblr to Instagram for fashion inspiration, seems less saturated. 
What’s the biggest fashion mistake that you’ve seen women (and men) make? 
Wearing clothing that fits poorly. Men wearing suits that are too big, and women wearing clothes that are too tight or too short. Comfort is key and tailoring costs in Jamaica is minimal; there's really no excuse for poorly fit clothes. 
The item of clothing that I currently wear the most is…
My skinny stretch black belt from Forever 21- I paid $2 for it years ago and it is my go to accessory because it is basic, just a simple small gold buckle. It does not compete with anything when I wear it. 
Who are the other bloggers from the Caribbean that we should know about?
I love Monique Solomon from because she's hilarious and also a mom blogger and I quite adore her. Also, everyone knows Lauren Dunn from laurenOLauren, she's so uncensored, always ahead of hot topics and she's just hilarious. 
What was the last good book you read?
The Alchemist from Paulo Coelho
Any guilty pleasures?
I love to spend hours in bed watching back to back TV shows, particularly House of Cards, Luther, Breaking Bad and Homeland. Catching up on the Oscar nominated movies of last year were fun to watch in bed too :) 
What’s in your makeup bag?
MAC studio fix powder, all over face brush, MAC Girl About Town lipstick and I love it more when I top it with a Khroma lipstick in pink. 
Best tip for other Caribbean persons wanting to start a blog?
Just go for it! Find a niche and utilize social media to get your blog out there. Don't be afraid to promote yourself, there's no modesty in blogging. Also, know that it is hard work and focus on the positives because there are always going to those who are negative, just ignore them and press on. 
We define a COCO Woman as a woman who embraces herself, her unique beauty and is not afraid to show the world who she is. Are you a COCO Woman?
I am! Unapologetically so! ;) 
Catch up with Natalia Oh! At the following:
  • Twitter: @imajumaican
  • Facebook
  • Instagram: imajumaican
  • Blog

*Curated for The COCO Magazine

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Tinted Moisturizers For Women Of Colour

It is safe to say that we’ve entered the months of the sun warming up our skin, the sand (hopefully) between our toes and the endless days of sandals and maxi dresses. As I bare my shoulders and put my hair up, I love keeping my foundation routine to a minimum. Enter the tinted moisturizer- with enough coverage to even out your skin tone but not so much that it leaves you looking like you caked on your face of the day. The best part about tinted moisturizers, is that they allow your skin to breathe which translates into sexy, healthy, glowing skin! Here are a few of my favorite tinted moisturizers for us brown girls and as always, let me know if you give any of them a go.

Cover FX Skin Tint Moisturizing Treatment and Tint SPF 20 $42.00 

*Original article curated for The COCO Magazine