Category Archives: Beauty

I love you Facebook! Thanks for including me by adding image recognition software!

Today I’m so excited it’s ridiculous. Because today, I am one big step closer to being fully included in the full Facebook experience.

 

I loved Facebook in its infancy. All statuses were chronological and even though there were photos, they didn’t clog up my newsfeed to the point where I felt more frustrated than informed. Then, things started changing. And by 2011, I was seriously sick of Facebook because I could no longer choose not to get photos in my newsfeed on a permanent basis. I don’t know if people also started to post more photos, but to me they seemed to increase.

 

Eventually, I learned to live with it. I’m a minority group and accept that most people cherish photos. It’s not that I don’t, but I much prefer a video with good audio or just audio because it’s the best way for me to relive saved memories.

 

But captions on photos help a lot. They don’t have to be longwinded, but something like “My cat fell asleep on my newly ironed work suit” is enough for me to understand and click like.

 

But not everyone writes good captions all the time. Even I am guilty of this. See, I’m conforming to the majority, so I was excited when I heard that soon, Facebook would have recognition software that could describe photos for blind people.

 

And today, it has finally happened. I was browsing through my newsfeed as usual when I heard Voiceover on my iPhone read out a description of a photo someone had published. I couldn’t believe it at first, so I kept scrolling. And sure enough, there were more image descriptions.

 

The biggest smile you can imagine crossed my face and I did a little dance, in my feverish flue state.

 

The image recognition today is very basic and will only describe in general terms. “This image may contain one person and tree outdoors.” An Interview with the blind engineer, I think his name is Matt King, who is the main man behind this great development said that it could potentially recognize a lot more, but that it would take some more testing and developing before it’s possible to get more detailed descriptions. He added that some are raising concerns about data protection safety. But as he pointed out, we only want the data that’s already there.

 

I hope that soon I’ll be able to hear descriptions like “Jane and John at outside table drinking coke,” but for now I am happy. Because this is an extremely important step towards including blind people into the vast visual world of social media. I already feel more included and I can’t wait till this feature also comes to Instagram. And perhaps Twitter soon will see the sense to not just to rely on users writing good captions for their images. Captions are not dead though. Because even though it’s possible to see an image, or hear it, a caption can still tell a good story.

 

Well, that’s me off to look at some more Facebook photos. Laters! Xx

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Change 9: Final days plus my verdict

I’m done with C9 and I’ll tell you how the last days went as well as my verdict on the program.

Just to recap, if you haven’t read my other posts, This is a nine days program where you eat nothing except a protein shake and certain fruits and vegetables for the first two days. You also take suppliments and drink Aloe vera. From days 3 to 8, you can have two shakes and a 600 calories meal. On day 9, you substitute Your lunch shake for a 300 calories lunch. The suppliments you take in the Norwegian Version of the program are fibre and lean which is a suppliment that contains among other Things, figue extract and chromium which curbs hunger and kills sweet cravings. In most other countries, you also get Forever Therm which is supposed to help you burn fat quicker. But since the Norwegian government is very strict on suppliments, Therm isn’t allowed to be sold here. You also have to drink a lot of water on C9. If you don’t, you’ll get headaches. I speak from experience!

 

As far as diets go, I think it’s a good and safe one. It’s only nine days, so relatively short. And you get all the nutrients you need. The shakes which come in either chocolate or Vanilla taste remarkably good for proeting shakes and are filling. I didn’t have any sweet, or crisps cravings at all. And I don’t have them now either.

 

My main issue with the program was being on only 1000 calories for so many days. I was perhaps working out a little bit more than what the program was recommending, but its winter here and not much to do. So if you can’t sit at home and over eat, then it’s working out instead. LOL. So this may not be a problem for you if you’re sensible and don’t work out too hard.

I actually realized though that I could have been eating a 300 calories lunch on the last day as well as my dinner. But only when I had a Skype meeting with my sponsor that evening. The PDF had been converted such that I didn’t pick it up. Not the most screen reader friendly pdf, in other words. You should have seen how quickly upon hearing that news I killed a protein bar.

But having said that, I do really recommend C9. It’s a good program to use after festive seasons where most of us over eat, or just before a holiday. I felt that most of the time I had a lot of energy. And the virtual fasting on days 1 and 2 really taught me the value of food. A lot of People report improvement in skin and hair on C9. I didn’t have that, but that’s because I’ve already been drinking aloe for some time.

I lost only 3 kg or 7 LB on this program. It’s not meant to make you lose a ton of weight, only to jumpstart the weight loss process and get you thinking differently about what you put in your mouth. I lost quite a few centimeters though and my jeans fit me a little better. We all know centimeters or inches are the real thing you wanna lose since muscles weigh more than fat, but take up less Space.

As I mentioned on day 1 of this program, I love the Norwegian name Change9 so much, because it implies that something will change for you during and after this program in terms of your health. In England, the United States and many other countries, this program is known as Clean9 which sounds a lot less appealing, at least to me.

So what now? Nine days is not a lot of time to learn new and good habits. But luckily, forever has the F1 and F2 programs. You’ll take the supplements you did on C9, but you’re allowed more calories from healthy foods. Basically, it’s just healthy eating plus supplements and exercise. Should be quite straight forward really.

But the good thing about being on the forever Fit programs is that you will learn things like portion controls and regular eating. Both of which I need to work on LOL, so that’s why I went on it rather than just eating sensibly. The supplements are good for me anyway and those protein chocolate bars are delish!

F1 and 2 also focuses a lot on exercise. I do a lot of that already, so won’t follow the program entirely on that one, but it may have some handy things I can learn so I can exercise better when I’m travelling.

If you live in Norway and would like to try C9, you can contact me by going to the contact link on my page, or through facebook or twitter.  If you don’t live in Norway and want to try c9, contact me anyway. I’ll be able to help you in the right direction of where to get it. C9, F1 and F2 is a program for everybody whether you want to lose a lot of weight, a little weight, or just learn new good habits. And if you’re not happy With the program, Forever does have a customer guarantee. So it’s free if you didn’t like it. 🙂 In Norway this guarantee is 90 days. I believe it’s 60 in the UK, so it varies from country to country.

Disclaimer: I have not been paid by Forever Living to write this post.

Change9 Day 6

This is technically day 7 of my change9 program. I meant to post yesterday, but was feeling a bit unwell. Nothing related to this program though.

I’m feeling great! I’m full of energy and I’ve lost in total 3 kg, or 7 LB so far plus centimeters. I’m trying out some new recipes and I’m actually quite chuffed to find that a lot of the foods are things I naturally made and ate before. My friends always told me I was healthy, but I never believed them LOL. My challenge is the portion size. I like to stuff an entire plate of rice in my mouth during a meal, but I have to learn to reduce it and eat more veg. But that’s details. I’m looking forward to being able to eat more than 1000 calories per day though since I’m very active and could do with some extra protein now and then. But my longing for potato chips and chocolate is absent! Hurray!

It wasn’t really until day 4 I started getting lots of energy. I fell into some kind of food coma after my meal on day 3. Probably my body’s shock reaction to getting such a big meal after days without proper food.

I’ve only got two more days after today. Bring them on. I can do this!

Change 9 days 2 and 3

I suppose I should wait till after my evening meal to write this post, but I’m in a good work flow now, so decided not to.

It’s day 3 on my Change9 plan and I feel amazing! As I’d feared, day 2 was the worst. You haven’t eaten in one day and you won’t be eating until the next day. You’re supposed to do light exercise the first two days, but I was too grumpy and lacking in energy to do anything at all apart from the necessary stuff to get through the day. I even slept badly and actually had dreams of getting up and making my smoothie.

But the two days have been worth it. It got me thinking how lucky I am to be able to access pretty much any food at any time. And it also made me realize that apart from the obvious hunger, I didn’t miss actual food as much as I missed being able to eat whatever, whenever.

I lost 2, 5 kg which is 5 LB and 5 cm or 1 inch from my waist. Having had protein smoothie, fiber and protein shake, I’ve felt full all day and I’ve actually managed to do a lot of house work and business presentation planning at the same time. Who knew protein shakes could be so filling_

As for my meal tonight, I look forward to it, but not as much as I’d thought. I’m happy I can finally eat though and I hope I’ll keep losing weight and inches. I’m not really a big girl by any means, but I feel that the loss I’ve had was really quite needed.

Change 9, day 1.

So today was the first day of my C9 challenge and I thought I’d blog about it since it’s a Forever Living thing and as I’m sure most of you know by now, I work with it.It’s also the first time ever I do any kind of dietary challenge, so I want to share my experiences on it since it’s becoming a very popular program.

C9 is called Clean9 around the world, but in Norway it’s called Change9. But though the name is different it’s exactly the same program as everywhere else, except the government is kind of strict on supplements, so we don’t have a certain supplement that’s supposed to help you burn more fat, but I don’t mind because it means I can drink more tea and coffee, though the idea is that you really should limit the consumption of caffeine for the duration of the nine days. .
Anyway, I love the name Change9 a lot more than Clean9 because it at least to me implies slightly different things. Whilst Clean9 sounds like a pure cleanse, Change9 sounds like the beginning of changing yourself. And that is what the program ultimately is. Sure, you may lose some weight and inches on it, but the idea is to get you thinking about food differently. It is the first step in a 69 day program, and it’s followed by Fit1 and Fit2 which focuses more on healthy eating and exercising habits.
Truth be told, I’m glad the first day is nearly over. The first two days on this program are quite tough. You are allowed only one protein shake at lunch time and mainly water, Aloe Vera gel, fiber which is a little filling and supplements for the rest of the day. However, there is a free list of fruit and vegetables you can eat from and I’ve been using it throughout the day including in my shake to make a smoothie. The day has actually gone very well and I was even able to go to the gym. The key for me was lots of flavours. Tangerines, blueberries, my favourite white tea, cherry tomatos etc, made it more bareable. I’m getting to the point now though where I’m dreaming of all kinds of food and large plates of it!

On the remaining seven days of the program I’ll be able to have two shakes and a 600 calorie meal, so I’ll be holding on for Tuesday and do and update on my progress then.

Side Business

OMG! What have I done?

I’ve been asking myself this question constantly for the past two weeks and I guess only time will give me the answer.

So what have I done?

I always talk to young artists about the importance of doing something besides music. Especially when you’re up and coming and don’t have a stable income from your music. But having a side hustle is also good because it gives your mind fresh impulses and you can use the inspiration for your music.

I was in the situation where I needed to find that side hustle. I write. But like music, it takes time and establishing to make an income from writing. Many other artists I know work in shops or cafes to finance their music career. But because there’s a lack of these opportunities for blind people, I have never seen this as something I can do.

Then, I came across a company called Forever Living. I was initially extremely skeptical, because I’ve known people who sell products from home before to usually give up on these things because the initial investments and the constant need to recruit people for them to make any profit have exhausted them. But after some extensive research, I found that Forever Living is slightly different in this regard.

First of all, let me tell you what Forever Living actually is. It is a company founded in 1978 in Scottsdale Arizona by Rex Maughan. It sells health, wellness and beauty products based on Aloe Vera and it has a presence in over 155 countries on five continents and it’s growing.

Apart from really liking the products, I liked the fact that it was free to join, that there was no pressure to recruit people and that I can do this in any country in the world. So if I move to the UK or Nigeria full time, I can still sell these products just like I do in Norway.

The ethics of Forever Living is also one I support. For example it helps disabled people through the charity Forever Giving. And on both a local and global level, there is great network support and I am already making new friends.

Since Forever Living buys your products back for 90% of the retail price should you regret your decision to join, I figured that I really had nothing to lose from trying. And when I see people have success with it, it encourages me to want to work hard.

I have already had 2 customers in my first week and I’m having a business launch in two weeks. I really hope people will show up! I soon even qualify to have my own online retail shop.

I have had some really crass negative response to my new venture, but mostly people are positive. And I hope and feel Forever Living can empower and enrich my life.

My Naijalife part 2. Lagos salons

“Is your hair real?” I have to admit I still find that question strange, but in Nigeria I do get it from time to time. People usually ask just before they ask if they can touch my hair, or just after they’ve touched it. The reason I react surprised every time someone asks, is that everywhere else, everyone assumes my hair is my hair, though since my hair colour is not very common, I do get questions asking how much I paid for it, which are equally amusing to me.

Real hair or not though, I love going to hair salons in Lagos. I like getting braids. And though my hair isn’t yet long enough that I can just use it to get the style I want, I can use extensions. Funnily enough however, when I do that, I’ve had women come up to me to tell me how lucky I am who has so much hair naturally. The irony.

Having my hair braided at a salon is a bit of an experience if that’s not what you grew up with, which I certainly didn’t. I love having my hair done, so that alone is my reason for going there. It just feels nice to sit down while someone else takes care of it and then come out looking and feeling great afterwards.

Then, it’s the atmosphere in the salon and the strange kind of bonding that happens there. Braids take long, though I’ve been lucky since my first set of twists only took 3 hours while the box braids took 4. I’ve known girls to sit in the chair for a lot longer than that. Still, it’s longer spent in a hair salon than what I’m used to.

The TV and radio are usually on at the same time, though not always. But it creates a very interesting mix of sounds. It also makes me feel like I’m at a party. That feeling is increased by the running around and loud chatter of women and men in different languages.

Often, my hair stylists have not spoken more than basic English, so we can’t talk very much, but we bond over singing instead. The last time I had my hair braided in Lagos, me and my two stylists where taking turns singing verses and parts of choruses to every song that came on the TV. I might never meet these women again, but for as long as I was there, it felt like I was among my best friends. It was so informal and fun. And you get quite comfortable with someone when they’ve done your hair and you’ve been singing together for four hours.

It’s not just the hair part I like about the Lagos salons. I love how you can get pretty much anything done there. At least in some of the big ones. Nails, tattoos and hair for both men and women.

If you’re planning a trip to Nigeria, go to a salon and experience it for yourself. No need to get your hair done. A refreshing manicure and pedicure is enough to experience the salon mood.

Why I love and identify with L’Occitane en Provence

Disclaimer: L’Occitane is not paying me to write this post. I do it out of love and gratitude.

L’Occitane en Provence is a French personal care, beauty and cosmetics brand founded in 1976 by Olivier Baussan. However, in those days it was a far cry from the International stores which are so popular today. In fact, Olivier Baussan started his business selling essential oils in an open air market in Provence. The first actual store opened in 1978 in Provence and in the 1990s L’Occitane saw International expansion. Today L’occitane shops can be found in over 90 countries in North and South America, Africa, Asia and Europe.

The products are organic, not animal tested and plant based except for beehive products that are used in the manufacturing process. L’Occitane is also practicing traditional ways of cultivating and harvesting ingredients and in the making of the products themselves.

Most ingredients are sourced directly from Provence though the popular shea butter series containing shea butter is purchased directly from women groups in Burkina Faso as Fair Trade.

I love L’Occitane for several reasons. First of all, the products are nice and my skin loves them. And using them makes me feel beautiful and refreshed.

Secondly, L’Occitane makes their products accessible to blind people. I remember the first time I was in a L’Occitane store in London getting quite emotional because picking up a product and being able to read what was inside it was a completely foreign and beautiful experience to me.

Thirdly, I support what the L’Occitane foundation (La fondation D’Enterprise L’Occitane) is doing. Namely to support visually impaired people and the economic emancipation of women.

L’Occitane works with NGOs to reduce avoidable blindness, particularly, but not exclusively in Burkina Faso. But they also do other things to empower visually impaired teens, such as running perfume schools every year for visually impaired teens from all over the world in Provence. If only I had known when I was a teenager…..

I have always loved the brand because of their accessibility efforts, but I’ve only recently started using it for almost every part of my beauty routine. I wasn’t aware of just how good all the products where, how much the company supported causes I have passion for and I thought it the price tag was high. However, having recently been to an L’Occitane members evening at the L’Occitane store in Oslo, I found out that it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Plus I really don’t mind my money going to this company.

I also like the friendly treatment I received from the L’Occitane staff at this member’s night. They advised me on what my skin needed Rather than telling me I needed a million products because they needed to sell. I came away with a lot of shea butter products.

As an artist who works in Africa, is blind and working on setting up a foundation to help blind people in Nigeria with education tools, L’Occitane is the kind of company I dream to one day be one of the faces of.

My biggest Challenge as a white artist in Nigeria is…

When I give interviews in Nigeria, I often get asked if I face any challenges being a white artist. I reply that I have been received with open arms and hearts and that people don’t seem to see my colour. And I stand by that. However, after a really silly disagreement with a makeup artist, I realize that I do face one minor, but nonetheless annoying challenge being a white artist in a black music industry.

It’s got to do with makeup. A very common phrase among my friends back in Norway and the UK is
“You did look amazing in that photo shoot/video. But can’t they give you a better foundation? You look paler than normal.”

Though a minor thing, I do find it frustrating when I learn that more often than not, I have been given a lighter skin tone than I give myself when I apply my own makeup.

I have come to understand that the makeup artists, who style me, don’t do this out of malice. More than anything, it has to do with unfamiliarity with skin colour. Unless you are a real pro with lots of experience making up different people, choosing foundation and powder for someone who has a different skin colour to yourself is a challenge. That goes both ways. I think it’s hard for a white person to find a perfectly matching foundation for a black person and vise versa.

We all have skin overtones and undertones. And the two don’t always match. The overtones in your skin is what people can see with the naked eye, while the undertones may not really reveal itself until we’re talking about cosmetics.

A black person can have dark overtones, but light undertones, while a white person can have fair overtones and dark undertones. Two people with the same looking skin may need completely different makeup because of the undertones.

I have a friend who, at a glance looks as if she has the same skin colour and makeup needs as me. So, we went out to buy makeup one day, and she gave me the same bronzer she used. Only I used up mine in six weeks whereas hers lasted a year. It wasn’t a cheap bronzer and I was frustrated at the crazy amount I had to dump on my face for it to even show. So we pondered over this for a while until she came to the conclusion that I needed to go two shades darker as well as a slightly different colour. Her undertones are blue. Mine are yellowy brown.

So I went and got a quite brown bronzer which is still going strong after almost daily use for a year and nine months. And it looks natural on me.

But it was this brown bronzer that got me discussing with a Nigerian makeup artist.

This was a very unprofessional girl to start with. She knew she was going to work with a white girl, but had seemingly made no preparations for it, so asked if I had bronzer. I am getting used to this situation, so luckily I had brought it with me. I also wanted to make sure I got the right colour skin this time. However, she thought it was way too dark and complained that I didn’t have anything lighter., to which I replied that if my daily bronzer was too dark for her, I found it strange and that I wouldn’t use anything lighter.

I think the reason for this misunderstanding was her unfamiliarity with me as much as her preconceived idea of what white skin is. I know I was the first white person she ever made up, so perhaps she had ideas of white powders and pink colours. She’s not the first and she won’t be the last.

Likewise, the average white person has preconceptions of what black skin is and thus what makeup black people should wear.

But it’s not all bad news. As I said previously, true professionals have no issues with colour. I have had two amazing black stylists. And one of them hadn’t even met me before making me up. And they got it right. The fact that one was Canadian African and one African American may have helped since they were used to seeing and working with a greater variety of skin colours.

It’s not as if the Nigerian ones got it all wrong though. Lipstick, eye shadows etc. is not that colour bound. And if I don’t get light strawberry pink on my face, I usually look okay. It’s just the foundation that tends to go wrong.

Funnily enough, once when they did get it right, someone in Nigeria commented on one of the music blogs and said they hoped I wasn’t trying for a coloured gimmick. A la Rachel Doleza.l Hilarious!

Solution: When in doubt, ask. I may not be the makeup stylist. But I know my skin enough to know what works as the base. And with that, I hope for no more foundation and bronzer mishaps again.

And as long as that’s my greatest challenge as a white artist in Nigeria, I really can’t complain. Because my fans, you are lovely and I love you!

Take charge of, Your makeup

This is the final post in my miniseries on taking charge of your looks. And today we’re talking about makeup.

Makeup is so much more than just a visual thing, although it took me quite a few years to realize that. So for many years, I didn’t really care about makeup, because what was the point really. Except for a short spell in my early teens when I really wanted to blend in and heaped blue eye shadow and way too brown foundation on. They completed the tobacco jeans and buffalo shoes look. And I wore it because it made me into an average late 90s teen.

It was when I changed my clothes and hair that I stopped wearing makeup. Well, not completely. I tinted my eye lashes black every eight weeks, because somehow I understood that it made me look more beautiful, though how, I didn’t quite get. And I wore lipstick or lipgloss. But that was it.

I recently had a conversation with my secretary about makeup and I remember asking if makeup really had changed a lot since the 90s and early 2000s, because I remember makeup back then consisting mainly of powders. This was another reason I found makeup to be unnecessary. I have little or no control over powders and I didn’t feel confident doing it by myself.

Apart from the very basic, including eye shadow, which I realized existed as creams, my makeup was very minimal up until only a couple of years ago. Said secretary, who by the way said that yes, makeup had changed a lot in the past few years, introduced me to a whole set of new products I knew little or nothing about.

First up was CC cream and foundations that actually matched different skin colours. Whereas before I thought the whole point of foundation was for your face to be five shades darker than the rest of your body, I now understood that the purpose was to even out the colour of your face as well as possibly give you a natural glow. That slight tanned look, if you so wished.

She also introduced me to various cream make-ups. It wasn’t as if I didn’t know of their existence, at all, but finally I was explained why makeup made a difference and the point of wearing it. Not only that, but I did learn to work with powders, eye liners and mascara. Things I previously stayed well away from.

Now that I understand makeup to mainly be a tool for bringing out your original beauty, I find it a lot more fun and useful and wearing it makes me feel good about myself. I still prefer working with creams to powders, so I opt for cream eye shadows, blushers and so on. They are easier to apply with your hands and I like that since it gives me more control.
I still get my lashes tinted, but I’m no longer scared of mascara. My daily routine usually consists of foundation or CC cream which gives me a slightly tan look, brown eye liner, blusher, mascara and lipstick or lipgloss. My party routine involves a lot more. I have in fact shot a video where I apply makeup. And I’m planning on posting it here as soon as it’s up on YouTube.

If you’re looking to start wearing makeup or advance your routine. Find out what works for you. Creams or powders. Ask for makeup lessons of guidance from a friend or in stores where they often do them for free. The hardest bit if you can’t see at all is to identify the right colours. And I am a lot less experimental with new colours and ideas when it comes to makeup than when it comes to clothes. But don’t be afraid of doing so when you know your colour scheme and what look you wanna go for. Perhaps ask a sighted person you know and trust the first time you try to pull off something.

Another important point is not to despair if you’ve been out buying makeup alone, the sales assistant has told you how amazing it looks on you and then, when you get home, someone tells you it’s ok, but little out of colour. This happens to me a lot, especially when it comes to foundations, because some people think I look fair skinned and gives me a fair foundation which either is invisible, or pales me. Despite looking fair, my undertone is quite dark, so I have to go for medium to dark foundations. (Dark in a white skin context. That is.) This happens to sighted people too. Makeup is tricky for everyone who isn’t a total pro of course. So have fun with it and enjoy experimenting.

Lastly, I just need to point out that though blindies get praised up and down for finding the way to their local shop, getting degrees etc., they don’t get praised enough for laying the perfect eye liner. Trust me. It’s harder than crossing a busy street. LOL