A Sustainable Life. Make Magick.


Untamed Style: Summer Hair

US Summer HaR Header!

Sunday was a good day. I was feeling good, my creativity was flowing and I had a fun visit with my favorite redheaded soul sister Ruby and her precious baby boy, my nephew Clovis, the most charming French bulldog you will ever meet. I promise.


My Untamed Style sisters and I are doing a post on hair! Not my first choice of subjects since I have a long and frustrating history with my own hair. My hair is the texture of cotton candy, it’s fine, but there is a lot of it. Managing it has always been pretty labor intensive in its natural state. So, I pretty much have been growing locs or shaving my head for the last 20 years. This post is about me keeping cool and getting my hair off of my neck! So I did a pipe cleaner set.

Styling and Protective Style Pipecleaners

I like to do a pipe cleaner set after I have washed my hair and conditioned it with coconut oil. Coconut oil and olive oil are pretty much the only products I use on my hair besides vegetable soap and or a conditioner for washing. The style is both protective style to keep my hair from being stressed or damaged as well as a cute easy hairstyle. After I take the pipe cleaners out, I end up with waves or curls. So two hairstyles for the work of one! Win/win!

Scarf Styling

Once I have my pipe cleaner set in,  I shape my coils thanks to the wire I can manipulate them. Afterward, I grab my favorite scarf and like to embellish with a bow to the back, doubled wrapped with a bow to the top, or a singular floppy bow tucked into itself turban style. And voila! My look is complete, for now. Stay tuned for part two, where I take down the pipe cleaners.


Check out how my Untamed Style Sister, Zadry rocks her hair!

Zadry Link!


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Happy Galentines Day!

When Margot suggested we celebrate Galentine’s Day for our February #UntamedStyle post, I was so in. I LOVE my girls! Friendship and Lady Love reigns supreme! This is my year of Love, Radical Self Love, The Joy of Love! Loving myself is about acting out of love instead of fear. It’s been a conscious journey and an amazing ride, and its only just begun.

We all have our good days and our bad days. On my bad days, I have found that the women I’v surrounded myself with feel my pain, lift my spirits, and help me rise.

So I want to spread a little Love to all my friends and chosen family, who make up my Feminist Community of Love! I’ve made some Inspired Galentines Day Cards for my real life Sheroes. Feel free to share the LoVE!

BadAssFeministQueen Patriarchy Kitty PicMonkey Collage Stardust

Galentines, Thanks for Supporting my Self Love Affair!

Sending you So much Love, Light, and More Love!

self love galentine

Check out my #UntamedStyle Sisters – You’re My Forever Girl Crushes, Happy Galentines Day!

Click on the Links below for More Smart, Sassy & Fabulous Galentines Day LoVE!

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Aarti Link!

Margot Link!Michelle Link!


Zadry Link!Veronica

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Hi, I’m a Fat Yogi.

StopDropAndYogaLast month I shared with you that I had found a yogi community on Instagram and that I was participating in my first Asana yoga challenge: #SizeDoesntMatter hosted by @mynameisjessamyn and @yoga_davana. It was such an amazing and fabulous experience that I am doing it again this month with new hosts @biggalyoga and @yogimj. I encouraged friends to join me last time, probably thinking that there is safety in numbers, but in the end it was just me, my phone camera and what became my yoga practice. As it was meant to be.

Revolved Triangle Pose

The idea is simple. A yoga challenge host, gives you a month or a week of poses for you to attempt and photograph. You post the pictures on your Instagram daily along with the host’s names and the hashtag and sometimes sponsors, for everyone to follow along, view and support one another. It was exciting and daunting. Being someone who had only dabbled and had no recent experience it was a bit intimidating. I spent a decent amount of time researching poses, prep poses and counterbalances and started to be really excited by the entire process, from research to taking yoga selfies. A skill in itself!

Day28 bal

As a woman period,  attention drawn to your body is generally relegated to the sexual or the critical. Being a fat woman in today’s society includes being expected to be relegated to the sexual or hypercritical judgments and presumptions about your body, your identity and your lifestyle. That being said – the idea of putting msyelf “on display” in awkward positions where there is nowhere to hide, mask or mirage my self perceived flaws, was scary. You know what they say, being fearful and proceeding anyway is the definition of bravery. So I opted to be brave.


“So, The two yoga challenges I am doing are an exercise in humility and courage. Feeling at home in my body has never been a problem. Seeing my body in action is another story. A grand lesson and a challenge that I am quickly releasing. My body does amazing things. Watch it happen. I realize in viewing the picture I was a reach away from my heels and I could not do it…but I will. To conquering fear.” – A post on my FB Day 3 of the Challenge.

Pigeon Pose

My bravery paid off. I not only quickly got over my fear of judgement or negativity, I began to love my own image for the strength it portrayed and the inspiration I was starting to provide to others! I have forged so many new and supportive relationships in this journey, been cheered on by friends, acquaintances and strangers alike and most importantly I have been able to truly start to embrace my body exactly how it is!

The fact is I am not doing yoga to change my body. I’m over the moon on having gained significant upper body strength in the last 30 days, something I have never had before, but believe it or not, this effort and these challenges have nothing to do with losing weight or transforming my body.  I am doing yoga to transform my life. To be present, patient, engaged and at peace. It’s already working.


Day 19 Dolphin1 Reversed Extended Side Angle Pose Revolved Triangle Pose


Inspired: Yoga for EVERYBODY!

So in the last couple of months I have been engaging in some serious Instagram time and serious Instagram community building. You see, I’ve Instagram yoga challenges and it’s pretty exciting. I have been dabbling in yoga for brief periods of time over the years when I would come across a new favorite YouTube video, but these yoga challenges have really inspired me. The images of everyday women and men in yoga poses or asanas of various shapes and sizes many of whom are large, fat, curvy and round bodied have inspired me to begin my own yoga journey.



It started with @Jessamyn who is a Black Fat Femme lesbian, beautiful and tall and clearly strong in her clean and simple images. She and her her friend Davina @yoga_davina initiated a yoga challenge hashtagged #sizedoesntmatter encouraging all body types to try join. Seeking out other fat and curvy yogis, I came across many participating in a #balancebasics challenge and joined that too.

I accepted these open invitations nervously. There may have been nothing harder than posting that first picture. My big round protruding belly, short chubby arms and legs and never noticed before pudgy faced profile center stage for all to see in the most odd positions were a bit of a shock. But I was hooked. Hooked on the yoga, on concentrating on the practice in my attempts to get that image worth posting and feeling and seeing my own progress while doing so. But even more amazing to me was the idea of transforming how I felt about seeing myself and putting myself on “display”. Transforming my awkward self conscious horror of what the world tells me my body should be to finding piece in mindful movement and strength and sharing that with the world. Ultimately celebrating my body in its ability and purpose and innately beginning to truly love it as it is. By participating in this challenge I have actually tested the limits of my mind more so than my body.  I have been catapulted into a journey of Body LOVE!

I wanted to share with you some instagram goodness from the women who ultimately inspired me to begin this journey. Jessamyn Stanley of @mynameisjessamyn, Valarie of @biggalyoga on instagram and tumblr and Brittany Daniel of @crazycurvy_yoga. Below are beautiful images of some wonderfully strong and empowering yogis. I love their power and that they are so diverse.

917201_834442689921068_874552466_n Brittaney Brittany Brittany0 Brittany3 brittany4 925259_1383749248580337_277474707_n 925936_1448166325446685_332546111_n  10369426_1482097878689734_1152883023_n10518185_1529519387269655_1779455557_n10576150_494267257373953_1777882656_n  10472042_565900456864803_2015113259_n Jessamyn1Jessamyn0Jessamynjessamyn3jessamyn2Jessamyna

Oh and let’s not forget my newest favorite fat fabulous yogi, me!


My Instagram account is @sweetvanessaleigh and you can find my yoga posts under the following hashtags, not to mention so many more amazing yogis! #curvyyogasistas #yogaforeverybody #yogaforall #yogisofcolor #blackyogis #bodylove4all #bodypositive #curvyyoga #yogabodyproject #fatyoga #bodylove


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CinePhile: Review of Only Lovers Left Alive


Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive is the tale of Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton). Two vampires, centuries old, on a mini break in their relationship of about 5 years. The film opens with the most delicious music, a record spinning and our two lovers in their respective abodes in a moment of ecstasy it seems.

Eve surrounded by books, a voracious reader seems completely at ease with herself and the world, she has seen it all before. She spends her time reading and visits with her darling friend Christopher Marlowe (AKA William Shakespear played by John Hurt) at the local cafe. Obviously all of humanity’s greatest artists are vampires. Adam makes music underground and has no interest in any rise to notoriety, his existence is solitary, save Ian (Anton Yelchin), his devoted “zombie” (human), Ian procures his every obscure desire from Gibson guitars of the 20th century to wooden bullets, no questions asked.

Eve of Tangiers calls Adam of Detroit from her iPhone while Adam, an analog kind of guy, receives the call on his corded phone. When she wants to see him, he puts his phone into some a DIY rigged up converter to see his lovers face on his mid 20th-century tube television. I am instantly won.

Adam is not doing well and Eve, sensing this travels to Detroit to reunite with her love. You get the sense that this has all happened before. Reunited the lovers are languid, lustful and a delightful to watch. The complexity of a diseased world and how that affects the feeding of our two heroes is brilliant. Safe feeding is serious business. Zenful Eve is the Ying to,  cranky ‘old man,’ Adam’s Yang. A visit from Eve’s wild-child little sister Ava (Mia Waskiowska) from L.A. – and Adam’s late night visits to the local hospital’s hematology lab tech (Jeffrey Wright) provide much comic delight. Somehow the lover’s find themselves back in Tangiers for unbeknownst to them, something perhaps, new.

Thank you for bringing the Vampire, not to mention Lovers back to adult fare Jim. Jarmusch. Lush and witty and deeply romantic is this film of a mature adult relationship. It is a tale of two lovers at a crossroads and the languid moments getting there. Sigh, I must see it again.

Oh did I forget to mention that I actually saw the film at an Academy screening at the LA County Museum which incuded discussion between Tilda Swinton and Henry Rollins in Mr. Jarmusch’s absence. Anton Yelchin joined them on stage. Henry was delightfully awkward, Tilda absolutely brilliant and Mr. Yelchin sweet and basking in her glory. I swooned the entire time. Did I mention how delicious it all was?



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Rick Owens, Paris Fashion Week and Me.

Rick Owens Spring 2014dDarlings, I am a fat Black woman. I am considered short (although I’ll argue average), I have large meaty thighs, muscular calves and a large round belly and not much of a waist. I an not conventionally considered beautiful in the western world that I inhabit. I have always been considered fat, even 100 lbs ago, as much for my body type and mass as for my fat. I have always been short with large thighs, muscular calves with a round belly, not so much of a waist, and I have concluded that at my most fit I will continue to be all of those things.

I have over much time accepted the reality of my unique body shape, as well as my dense bones, thick skin, stretch marks and the massive dimple in the right cheek of my bottom. Regardless of what society has ever had to say I have never let this stop me from being a glamour queen, a style fanatic and a snazzy dresser. So I never really viewed my love of fashion and lifelong pouring over the pages of Vogue and GQ as encumbering to my sense of self worth. But perhaps it wasn’t until today when viewing the slides from Paris Fashion Week that I truly realized that my love of style and styling and good design in the circus of fashion had indeed deeply affected my body image in some way.

For the first time ever, as I write this I am tearing, I saw women who in some regard looked like me on the runways of Paris Fashion Week. Rick Owens a master of “minimal” geometric design, chose to feature models who “defy” conventional standards of beauty. His models: average bodied, short and stocky, some with heavy touching thighs in their splayed stances, others with soft bellies gently protruding from beneath their fabulous clothing. They were mainly Black with wild, “undone” hair and skewed faces. They did not glide down the runway with pretty pouts, but were Stepping, an old African American college tradition. The models actual American college students who were part of Step teams on their campuses.

On his models, Owens says that fitting each woman was a good exercise for him on body types. Perhaps more designers will take the opportunity to stretch their skills.

Rick Owens Spring 2014b Rick Owens Spring 2014c

I won’t lie, it was a shock to the system to see. A shock to my expectations of Runway shows at fashion week. But a marvelous type of Shock and Awe it was. Because there is nothing but beauty in Rick Owens’ presentation. Aesthetics can have depth and meaning. The superficial valuing of beauty in the limited scope that the taste makers of society have showcased is something that we need to all be reflecting on.  And Rick Owens has won a whole new respect from me in his Spring 2014 presentation. Not for his clothing which as usual is fabulous, but from his conscious effort to reflect the beauty he saw in these women and their art form.

Rick Owens Spring 2014

Just a week ago I was ranting on my personal Facebook page about the absence of average shaped women and larger women among well known runway designers who actually make collections for plus size women. And how what they produce in those collections don’t in fact compare to their runway designs of their straight size women’s collections. Essentially how we are not worth selling the fantasy to. Here we have Rick Owens making US the fantasy. Less remarkable than long overdue. But still, it feels pretty remarkable.

I love and admire many traditional aspects of beauty in the world, but I see the beauty in so much more than what we are spoon fed. I think, the beauty in truth is what we should all be attaining for. What do you think?

Source material and Images courtesy : The Cut NY Mag

Rick Owens Spring 2014e Rick Owens Spring 2014f Rick Owens Spring 2014g Rick Owens Spring 2014h Rick Owens Spring 2014i

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Inspired: Stephen Burrows, The Optimist.

Vogue September 1977 Burrows

Vogue September 1977 Layout with Jerry Hall, Iman, Pat Cleveland and various models holding Stephen Burrows.

I have had major NYC envy lately. Public art installations, cherry blossom festivals and central park come to mind…. But my design loving heart is pining away for not being able to make the Stephen Burrows retrospective at the Museum of the City of New YorkStephen Burrows: When Fashion Danced. The exhibit encapsulates a grand display of Burrows designs from the 60’s through the 70’s.

 “The essence of Stephen Burrows — be happy when you’re in the clothes and have fun with what you’re wearing. I’m very simplistic about things like that. That’s just how I am.”                                                              –Stephen Burrows to WWD

Both of Stephen Burrows’ grandmothers, were sample hands for Hattie Carnegie in the 1920s. He went to art school then graduated from FIT in NYC. He started out making pieces for friends while working as the designer for a blouse company until he and a friend began a small boutique which closed in the late 60’s. He was then invited by Geraldine Stutz President of Henry Bendel to work in the Henry Bendel studio where he was mentored by Pat Tennant the head of their design studio.  In 1970 Burrows launched his collection Stephen Burrows World at Henry Bendel where his kinetic designs were well received.


Stephen Burrows World Collection by Henry Bendel Photo: Charles Tracy


Photo Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

In 1973 Burrows was one of the five American designers who participated in the historic  fashion spectacular at Versailles, a benefit event to restore the Palace of Versailles. Top American and French designers faced off for high fashion bragging rites, with the underestimated Americans coming out on top and leveling the fashion playing field.

A documentary on the event, Versailles ’73 will be screening at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) April 22nd. I hope to make it to the screening! The show broke color barriers in fashion with both Burrows invitation and its use of a dozen Black models in the American show in this international platform. Burrows won the Coty American Fashion Critics award in 1973, 1974 and 1977.

Known for his extensive use of jersey, viscose and other “touch friendly” fabrics, lettuce leaf hems, bright endless use of color, metallics and pattern mixing it should be needless to say Stephen Burrows is one of the pioneers of color-blocking.


Photo Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

1968 Evening dress

Photo Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art


Photo Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

In 1977, The New York Times called Burrows the “brightest star of American fashion.”  His style of clothing became a kind of standard uniform at Studio 54 and was seen on the likes of free spirited icons, Cher, Liza Minelli and Diana Ross. Stephen Burrows is still designing and has continuously reinvented his career, but the breadth of this retrospective on his early career is just jaw dropping.

Did I say how very sad I am to not make it to New York this spring!?I would have loved to see the extensive collection of photographs, drawings, and original garments. The exhibition will be on display into July.

If you can, go and enjoy. If you’re like me, and won’t make it, let’s revel over the exhibit’s coffee table book Stephen Burrows: When Fashion Danced. Le Sigh.


Photo: Charles Tracy 1973

stephen-burrows-1972 lettuce leaf wrap dress

Carol La Brie in Burrows’ 1972 Lettuce Leaf Wrap Dress


Stephen Burrows Fire Island Collection 1969 Photo: Chalres Tracy


Pat Cleveland and Stephen Burrows c.1972