Moving. For now…

I want a chance to explore a lot of different topics about hair and natural homemade products. I started feeling that the name of this blog was constraining so I transferred over to a new blog – same old me, new name. Come check me out at Locks & Knots!

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A History of the White Wedding Dress

As a little girl and later as a mature woman, when we imagine the day that we marry, most of us see a vision in frothy white gliding down an aisle. Why is it that most women and men associate wedding gowns with the color white? I am currently a member of a few different wedding websites and a very regular topic of conversation is the “White Wedding Dress.” So often women are concerned or confused as to why they look for and wear a white dress or even if they should. Other women feel constrained by the feeling that they are REQUIRED to wear a white dress rather than the bright colors they would love to wear. Reds, purples, greens, and blues all used to be regularly acceptable colors for wedding dresses that now seem forbidden.

Purity & Virginity
One of the major falsities of the idea of the white wedding dress is that the color white indicates some sort of purity or virginity. Some people try to make the color of the wedding dress important in regards to religious or sexual purity. This has not always been the case. In the past, women wore dresses that were practical and could be worn again. There was a poem that “assisted” young ladies in choosing wedding dress colors:

“Married in white, you will have chosen all right. Married in grey , you will go far away. Married in black, you will wish yourself back. Married in red, you’ll wish yourself dead. Married in blue, you will always be true. Married in pearl, you’ll live in a whirl. Married in green, ashamed to be seen, Married in yellow, ashamed of the fellow. Married in brown, you’ll live out of town. Married in pink, your spirits will sink.”

From this poem, we can see that white, grey, blue, brown, and pearl were all considered acceptable colors while having different meanings. Never once was it indicated that the wearing of white meant that the wearer was pure. In fact, blue was the chosen color of purity (due to its Biblical references) while white indicated joy. Blue was a quite popular wedding dress color for many years.

There is also a decided “creep factor” in supposedly announcing to the entire world a woman’s sexual experience or lack thereof. The man is not required to announce his sexual experience publicly. If we really wanted to make a public service announcement about the status of the bride’s virginity, why not just hang a sign around her neck? It seems it would be much easier and less controversial.

Traditional Wedding Dress Color
Another reason people give to the white wedding dress is that it is and always has been the traditional color of wedding dresses. This is also false. In the past, women have worn dresses that could be easily altered to be worn again. This typically included colors that were not white. Philippa of England, Queen of Denmark, Sweden and Norway from 1406 to 1430, was the very first documented woman to wear white on her wedding day. Both previous and after Philippa would wear dresses that were easier to clean and re-wear. White was worn again as a wedding dress by Anne of Brittany in 1499 for her marriage to the French King Luis XII. Even though white had been worn by a few royals, it was not a typical wedding dress color.

Black Wedding Dress

In 1840, white became a popular wedding dress color after the marriage of Queen Victoria to Albert of Saxe-Coburg. She wore a white wedding dress so that she could incorporate some expensive handmade lace she owned, as well as to show how fabulously rich she was (she would never wear the dress again, a huge waste during the time period). The official photograph of the wedding was widely circulated, thus many other brides who were rich enough to afford a white dress during this time period wore white dresses in honor of the Queen.

Queen Victoria's Wedding 10-Feb-1840

After 1840, white became a staple color for wedding dresses, especially by the 1890’s and the arrival of the department store. Now the white wedding dress could be afforded by more than just the noble rich. In 1890, Ladies Home Journal wrote: “That from times immemorial the bride’s gown has been white.” The truth was that white had only been a popular wedding dress color for 50 years, and this was only amoung the rich. A typcial bride would never imagine buying a dress she could not wear again. White stayed a popular wedding dress color choice until the start of World War I in 1914, 24 years laterr. During this time most women wore much more practical dresses – whatever their best dress was at the time.

Ivory Wedding Gown 1870-1880 (front)

Ivory Wedding Gown 1870-1880 (back)

Olive Silk Taffeta Wedding Gown 1883-1884

Olive Silk Taffeta Wedding Gown 1883-1884 (back)

In 1920, Coco Channel introduced the short (knee length) white wedding dress – and so white again became a part of the culture of weddings.

1920s Coco Chanal Inspired Wedding Dress

1920s Flapper Wedding Dress back

1920s Wedding Party

The Depression after WWI and then the following WWII made the white wedding dress simply a dream for the majority of women. The elaborate white wedding dress was still for only the fabulously rich so everyone else made due with the best that they had. Even the majority of women who could afford a white wedding dress would chose something that could be easily dyed to a different, wearable color.

1950 Cecil Chapman Wedding Gown

1940s blue Wedding Gown

In the 1950’s the world got a lot smaller – there were over 10 million TV sets in the United States alone. People across the world were able to watch royalty and movie stars get married in elaborate white dresses, so the tradition of the white wedding dress for everyone was born.

Today, brides are slowly throwing off society’s pressure to constrain their imagination. Weddings are becoming more “offbeat” and individual. No longer are traditional weddings and wedding dresses the norm. If a bride wants to wear white, no longer do we try to figure out if she is “eligible” for the color based on her sexual experience. Brides are wearing colors – by personal choice – again, and while white is still an option it is no longer the only option.

Freudian Slip Vintage (Vintage Inspired)

Vera Wang

Kindred Spirits

Vera Wang

Aimee Atelier Wedding Gown

Vera Wang

Photo Credits:
Posh Girl Vintage
Timeless Vixen Vintage
Antique Dress.com
Decolish.com
Freudian Slip Vintage
Kindred Spirits
Atelier Aimée

Notes:
“Wedding Dress” Wikipedia
“The History of the White Wedding Dress” By Kelsey McIntyre
“The History of the White Wedding Dress” By Reno Charlton

October is Olive Oil Month!

Well, not really, lol. But it is here in my blog. I use a lot of Olive Oil on a very regular basis. I use it in my food, I use it on my skin (sugar scrubs), and I use it on my hair (hot oil treatments). All of this got me thinking… What else can I do with Olive Oil?

Well, I did a lot of research and decided that I would share a lot of the information I’ve learned with you! Coming soon will be new recipes for body scrubs (or a recipe remix), Olive Oil body moisturizers, Olive Oil hair treatments, and maybe a recipe for a meal or two 🙂

Types of Olive Oil

Regular or Pure Olive Oil

Regular or pure olive oil has been chemically refined and filtered to neutralize both undesirable strong tastes and acid content. This olive oil is of lower quality and usually the least expensive.

Virgin
Virgin means the olive oil was produced without any chemical additives, so it contains no refined oil. It has an acidity that’s less than 2%, so it tastes better. Virgin refers to the fact that the olive oil has been less handled or manipulated during processing.

Extra Virgin
Extra virgin olive oil comes from the first press only and is the highest quality olive oil with perfect flavor, aroma, and balanced acidity. This olive oil is less processed than Virgin olive oil and is very delicate in flavor. It’s perfect for salad dressings, marinades, and for dipping bread.

Cold Pressed Olive Oil
Cold pressed olive oil is an unregulated label description. Back when olive oil was pressed the second time using hot water and steam to extract the last drop, the heat during the second pressing took away the delicate flavors. Today, premium olive oil is cold pressed, which means the olive paste is gently warmed to room temperature to avoid losing taste and pressing is done in winter, when it’s cold, to further retain flavor.
—-From http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/benefits-of-olive-oil/

In Tribute to Rudy

On Saturday, July 10, 2010 My baby brother left to go to war. Again.

My brother, Rudy, is the epitome of a gentle giant. Rudy is about 6’7” tall, 250-300 pounds, and the nicest person I know. Artist and author, Rudy has always been more the bohemian artist than a military man, but he is, at 23 years old, already a veteran of one war and about to become a veteran of another war. I never expected to see my brother in uniform, even though my family has a very strong military background. Aunts, uncles, and cousins all have joined and our grandfather served in WWII.

Rudy & Me at his Basic graduation

Rudy is the creator in our family. He is an artist and a writer. He’s never been published (but give him time!), but has done a lot – definitely more than I have (though he always encourges me to write more, too). He’s created and drawn multiple characters and he’s written several stories by himself and assisted several people in collaboration. He’s currently working on his first full length book.

When I was 7 my baby brother, Rudy Johnson, was born. While my mother was pregnant, I was kinda nervous that she would not have any love left for me after the baby was born. Right before my mother went to the hospital to have Rudy, a friend of her gave me a tiny little Pound Puppy named Spike. When he gave me this puppy he said to me, “You have a lot of responsibility coming up. You’re about to become a big sister. You’re going to have to teach your little brother a lot. Since he’s not here yet, I got you this puppy so that you can practice. Remember, he’s a puppy so you have to keep him safe.” That was when I honestly knew my life would change – and it would be for the better. I still have that Pound Puppy named Spike. He sits on top of my dresser in my bedroom and reminds me that I’m a part of something special. I’ve had that stuffed animal for over 20 years now.

After my mom came home with Rudy, I was fascinated. I never had that jealously that usually plagues sibling relationships. He was like my very own living and breathing toy. He was cute and cuddly, laughed at my antics, thought I was wonderful, and smelled like baby powder. The minute I held him, I lost my heart. Whenever we went somewhere, I wanted to be in charge of Rudy. I pushed his stroller and I held his hand. We gave him a nickname – Rudy the Pooh Bear, Pooh for short – and my mom and I wrote stories and recorded songs about all the adventures that Rudy Pooh got into.

Rudy at 16 and mom

When Rudy got to be old enough to crawl, I had been regulated to doing the dishes by myself for the whole family. The amount of dishes a family of four can use in the course of a single day is outrageous – so doing the dishes by myself in the kitchen was very lonely. I think Rudy could sense how sad it made me. He would crawl into the kitchen and sit with me for a while. Eventually we turned it into a game. Every night as I washed dishes, Rudy would sit on a little stool in the kitchen with me. We would boo the dirty dishes and cheer for the clean dishes. He would clap for me and make me feel special. It made being in that kitchen so much easier, cause with Rudy I was no longer alone.

Once, when the family was snowed in during a blizzard, I drug a little pallet out of my room to place by the stairs (my bedroom was upstairs) because it had gotten very cold in my room. The next morning when I woke, I found that my brother had toddled out of his downstairs bedroom early that morning to go find me. He’d pulled himself up the stairs and when he found me at the top of the stairs, he sat down on the stairs by my head and went back to sleep. Horrified and amused, in order to keep me warm and my brother whole during the blizzard, my mom moved me downstairs to share Rudy’s room that same night.

By the time Rudy got to be old enough to start kindergarten, I’d already taught him how to read. Always a voracious reader, I had a few old text books in my possession. At first, I had no real intention of teaching him how to read. I used to read him a lot of stories – but I was a kid myself so after a while the stuff he had got a little boring. I wanted something with a little more meat in it. But I couldn’t read my baby brother the romance novels I snuck from my mom! So the next best thing was to teach him to read my old text books. I had a 2nd grade spelling book and several old reading books, so we started with the spelling book. I taught Rudy his ABC’s and then how to spell. As we progressed through spelling he slowly learned to read. Of course, this brought him issues when he started school cause the teachers had nothing to teach him at first!

I was extremely possessive of Rudy. He is MY brother and I dared anybody to mess with him. Only I had the right to piss him off or annoy the crap out of him. Just because I was enamored of him didn’t stop me from being a kid. I certainly had the being an annoying sibling part down pat. But even then it was in a friendly way. We have what we call the “Big Sister Handbook” and the “Little Brother Handbook” (never written, of course – maybe that should change) in which was described all the extremely annoying things we were allowed to do to each other. I even complained once that he was breathing too loud, lol! At the time Rudy thought I was serious (I was), and he sadly started to go play somewhere by himself. But being annoying was his job, too. Mom told me that as he turned away I got upset and said, “Where do you think you’re going?! We got stuff to do!” And we went off – happily together. But it also meant that we protected each other, too. I once tried to ride to school on his school bus (he was in elementary and I was in middle school) because there were some kids who were messing with my brother and making him cry. I was going to ride with him and kick ANYBODY’S ass who would dare mess with MY brother. Suffice to say, the bus driver was not amused.

Not to say Rudy hasn’t spent time protecting me, as well. When he met my fiancé for the first time (Rudy was visiting on leave from Korea), he threatened my fiancé’s life! God, I love my brother.

Years and years later, my brother is now an adult. He’s married now – in fact, his engagement was the first time I ever felt jealously towards my brother. But not at him – rather at this woman that was taking my brother away. He’s MY brother, damn it! He was married in April 2009, only a few months before he had to leave to begin his tour of duty in Iraq. He was gone for a little over a year. His wife, Samantha, is pregnant at this moment, so my brother will soon become someone’s father. And a great father he will be.

Rudy on his wedding day

My brother is a member of the US Army. He has completed one tour of duty in Iraq. When he came back, he was told he’d get a full year stateside. Unfortunately the troop surge made that a pipe dream. Even though his first child is due sometime in January, he just left the US to begin a tour in Afghanistan. He’ll be there for at least one year.

His time at war really hurts. Both my family and his new family. I’m sure his wife is not excited about having her first child while her husband is half the world away. The military has him based in Texas, so he was already far away. I only had about two days with him before he left.

Rudy being sent into harm’s way really makes me feel powerless. And sad. And angry. I’m his older sister. I have always felt it was my job to protect him. I may not be able to do everything, but I’ve almost always have been able to do something. But in this instance, I can do nothing. Nothing except watch and wait and pray. Pray that my brother soon comes home to us – sound in mind and body.

Every morning when I get up, I look at that Pound Puppy named Spike. I think about what it means to be a big sister. I think about how much I want to be able to protect my brother from the terrors of this world. But I know I can’t. I can’t wrap him up in tissue paper and put him somewhere safe. I can’t keep him on top of my dresser. But that doesn’t stop me from want to do all those things and more. It doesn’t stop me from crying and feeling depressed about my baby brother going off to war. It doesn’t stop me from feeling like a failure as a big sister.

I’m proud of my brother. Prouder than words can say. I support our military men and women. Like Rudy, all of them are sacrificing a lot to accomplish their mission. Like Rudy, all of them are leaving someone at home. And those of us who are left behind? Guilt and frustration and sadness, loneliness and pride are our share in abundance. But when we talk to our soldiers we try our best not to let that pain show. Not to increase their already too heavy burden.

Rudy Johnson, I love you. Come home soon.

Rudy & Me at Christmas

Pictures Needed

Help!

I’m looking for photos of people (men, women, and children) with their dreadlocks in formal styles. Up-do’s, down and loose, it really doesn’t matter. I’m looking to create a photo gallery of pictures that represent the range of options people with dreadlocks have when getting ready for a formal event.

If you do have photos, please send them to: thenaturalbride@gmail.com. Please remember: if the photo has been taken by a professional photographer, I will need the name of the photographer (and if possible the website) to give photo credit.

Remembering Annette

Annette's Homecoming

I had to attend a funeral – or “home coming” – today. The funeral was for a friend of my fiancée and I, Annette Turner. I say “had to” because I don’t do well with funerals (though that is true for a lot of people) and I have decided that when I pass (if I have the opportunity) I would like to be cremated – and have the money that would go to having a funeral for me go to a party for my family and friends. I mean a real party with cake, ice cream, food, drinks, lots dancing music and tons of laughter. That’s how I try to live my life now, how I hope to live my life in the future, and how I want to be remembered.

Annette was a very loving person. She could be very annoying and a bit of a know it all – but she was extremely kind and likeable. She was a single mother of two – and both of her children attended (or are currently attending) college. She spoke of her children often, with love and pride. She tried to mother everyone – and wanted the best for her friends and family.

My fiancée and I were both lucky enough to be a part of Annette’s circle of friends – she was to attend our wedding in September – and she joked and laughed and picked on us as if we were her children. She scolded and gave advice in equal measures – and this is very difficult for me. It’s hard to quantify someone’s effect on your life in simple words. Quite frankly it’s almost impossible. All I know is that Annette was important enough for me to get up early this morning and go to a funeral. Honestly, in some ways my attending her funeral was very selfish of me. I didn’t want to believe her gone and so part of the reason I went to her funeral was to verify for myself that this wasn’t some sick joke. There I sat, surrounded by people in mourning, and with them I cried. I cried for her children and I cried for my fiancée and I cried for myself.

Annette's Obituary