riding 'round in it — flossin' on that —

flawless, because i'm man enough to embrace my flaws and commit to working on them. cherry: issue #008 ✧

fresh-baked idea: letting go and letting god

trigger warning: [covid-19] trauma mention

As I embark on my fully vaccinated Hot Boy Summer, I’ve been doing a lot of meditating on what I’ve learned during this traumatic phase of self-preservation and hibernation. The questions I asked myself were:

  • What has the pandemic taught me about myself?

  • Things have changed for me since Summers 2019 & 2020 — do I see this as “for better” or “for worse?”

  • Every W & L can be a lesson. How will I adapt these lessons going into this next season of my life?

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If you, too, are embarking on a Hot Boy / Gxrl / Enby Summer, I invite you to journal these questions as well. I’ll go first:

  • What has the pandemic taught me about myself? That I’m incredibly resilient, but not in that unmetered Strong Black Woman way. And not just because I’m not a woman.1 I’m resilient because I let myself break down, be vulnerable with my loved ones when I’m not OK, communicate my needs clearly, and take the time to nurse my brain back to health. I’m far from perfect at doing any of these things, but I’m impressed with the way I’ve prioritized my mental health.

  • Have things changed “for better” or “for worse?” Let’s itemize. I am medicated. Check. I have a full-time job with benefits2 — about to turn TF up. I have a strong relationship with my primary partner, I remain pretty comfortable in my skin, and I’m not afraid to put a fuckboy on notice.3 Check, check, check. I’m incredible at advocating for myself and gracefully removing myself from situations that no longer serve me. Not bad.

  • How will I adapt these lessons to this next season of my life? I’m going to fiercely advocate for myself, point-blank, period. But I won’t be concerned with “earning” that advocacy. I’m going to start giving myself and others ideal grace. Thoughtful grace, patient grace, long grace, New Testament grace.

Time for a bit of honesty with that last point. Lately, my biggest toxic trait has been that I get so annoyed and impatient at people for being “lazy,” unmotivated, or for flopping in certain areas of their life — where I presume to “know” that they can “do better.” Against my will, I find myself thinking:

Well, I had a traumatic childhood and all these marginalized identities, and I got my shit together with zero institutional support. They have more resources as an adult than I did as a minor. What gives?

After some reflection, I now know that this line of thinking is goofy as hell. OK, so I succeeded with institutional support and but not the emotional warmth in my life I desperately needed. And? I can cook, wash my drawers, pay my bills on time, and I’ve always risen to the top academically and professionally. But at what cost? Constantly over-working myself and refusing help as a trauma response.

I’ve recently realized that I probably wouldn’t be so hard on others if I could just be soft with myself. Heal my inner child.

This is why, among other things, I’m spending this summer eating fresh fruit, drinking water and iced Japanese green tea, spritzing my mug with hyaluronic acid, and kissing gay nerdy niggas on the mouth.4

from the medicine cabinet: starface

★★★★☆

For this issue’s Medicine Cabinet, I’m giving you the real on Starface stickers. Let’s start with the basics: What are pimple patches? They’re little stickers with a secret sauce of hydrocolloid. As Healthline explains, this moisture-absorbing dressing is actually used to create treat chronic wounds.

Each patch heals the little wound that is a zit. However, as a board-certified dermatologist Dr. Lavanya Krishnan warns, know that pimple patches are meant to heal surface-level infections — nothing deeper.

“They’re aimed at treating the superficial kind of acne, like pus-filled bumps, blackheads, and whiteheads. It’s unlikely these patches penetrate to the level that will be able to help cystic acne,” Krishnan told Healthline.

Traditionally, pimple patches have been translucent dots, subtly and demurely nursing our skin back to health. Modern skincare companies, including Starface, have made their pimple patches supremely ostentatious, in order to de-stigmatize the fact that acne exists.

After wearing the HydroStars for the better half of 2021, I’ll just go ahead and say that Starface is romanticizing acne. The stickers really do be pulling the sebaceous fluid to the surface and gently healing my skin.

I’m giving them 4/5 stars because they get the job done. But I wish there were more color options, so I can match them to my ‘fit. I also found it difficult to apply them evenly to my skin — oftentimes, the little edges of the Hydrostars would curl under and stick to the star itself. ✧

moodboard: right next to the steak

And since we’re all about supporting queer and especially Black queer businesses, now is the perfect time to flex on y’all and say that I finally secured a piece designed by the Telfar Clements.

1

at this point, I’m getting misgendered and correcting people in my sleep. literally.

3

this song never gets old to me — the bravado, the boisterousness, the grandeur

4

Crystal Raypole & Alex Klein, PsyD for Healthline: “Adulthood certainly comes with plenty of responsibilities, but relaxation and playfulness are both essential components of good emotional health. If your childhood lacked positive experiences, getting back in touch with your playful side and making time for fun can help heal the pain of missing out on what you needed as a child.

It’s also important to enjoy small pleasures, like ice cream after a walk, games with your partner or children, and laughter with friends. Whatever you do, making regular time for fun and lightheartedness in your life can help rekindle the positive emotions of youth.”