Fei’s Rad Brown Grandmother

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“My favorite photograph of my grandmother. Dated 1957 in Hong Kong, when she was in a school play as the male lead.”

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“My grandmother with her best friend in Hong Kong. They’ve been friends for decades now, from being classmates to raising families together, and still call each other up frequently, despite living an ocean apart.”

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“My mother was a debate champion in university in Hong Kong. She loves to argue (still does). Her nickname back then was the ‘chili pepper’. This is a photograph of one of her competitions.”

-Fei via Tumblr submit

Laila’s note: Your grandmother was smokin’ in more ways than one! Rad photos Fei!!!

Vidyawatee

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“This is my Rad Brown Mom, Vidyawatee (aka Vidya/Vedo). Mom is originally from D’Edward Village in Berbice, Guyana. She immigrated to New York City with her family in 1981, she was 17. Mom says her favorite food is Guyanese sapodillas, which is a sweet fruit.

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Mom met my dad in Brooklyn that’s where their Bollywood love story started.

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I think my mom’s pretty rad not only because she is 6 feet tall but because she’s an amazing cook, opinionated, has a ginormous heart, smart and knows how to run things. My mom has always worked hard for her entire family and us, ensuring my younger sister and I were well cared for. I love her and she’s definitely one of my she-ros. ”

Submitted by Padmini

Laila’s note: I want to raid your mom’s wardrobe, that second outfit is RAD as hell ❤

Rad Brown Moms: A statement

As a Woman of Colour living in a predominantly white society, observing my mother go about life and face the odds stacked against her with passion and determination has been my soul fuel. Growing up with the whitewashed, vanilla Disney moms on TV, in magazines, in movies, I began to realise how little there was out there about women like my mother. Women with sharp wit and energy; ballsy and creative women; women from immigrant families, women from colonised groups; Indigenous women. Where were they in the media? Fast forward to modern day and while there is a greater presence of Moms of Colour in the media, they often get coated in venom or cloaked in invisibility.

This is an ode, a shrine, an offering to every Woman of Colour who has selflessly nourished the minds, bodies, and souls of others. You may never receive the accolades and thanks you truly deserve in this selfish world. But in this space, you are appreciated, you are loved and we salute you. Dedicated to all you Moms of Colour. – thanks for being rad.

Originally published on my tumblr Rad Brown Moms

DIY Setting Lotion

“Your hair is 90% of a good selfie”

– A friend, recently                                                     

A large part of completing a vintage-inspired look is the matching hairstyle to go with it. When I first adopted vintage fashion nearly a decade ago, it was at the tail end of my “goth phase”. I began experimenting with simple vintage hairstyles such as victory rolls and suicide rolls to compliment my outfits as I had seen on a number of Goth livejournals (Yes, LIVEJOURNAL). It was during this time I came across a recipe from another user for something called a “setting lotion”. The recipe promised soft, bouncy curls at a fraction of the price of commercial setting lotions. Not knowing what a pin-curl set or setting lotion was at the time, yet sensing the importance of the recipe, I wrote it down in one of my binders. In my mid-20s, due to the strain home dye jobs took on my hair, I decided to lop my long locks into a middy cut. It was too short to put into victory rolls so I had no option but to learn to set it in pincurls to achieve an authentic vintage look. That is when I dug up my old setting lotion recipe and had a go. It was a success!

Flashforward to 2018, where pinup fashion and hair has become a commercial success and vintage hairstyling is a lucrative business. I am finally at the end of my last bottle of Suavecita, an American brand that is notoriously hard to get hold of in Australia. Unable to order any more from overseas or my local salon due to financial constraints, I decided to dig up that setting lotion recipe once more. This morning when I brushed out my pin-curl set, I began to wonder why I ever strayed from this recipe. My curls were soft, bouncy and my hair somehow felt stronger than the night before.

I am currently going through a blonde phase and the sheer amount of processing has left my hair a tad brittle which is to be expected when you try to maintain sunshine blonde in naturally raven tresses. The recipe involves Flaxseed as its main ingredient and I am assuming that the protein content of this setting lotion has something to do with why my hair feels a lot softer than usual.

Here is what you need:

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You should end up with a colourless and odourless gel which I would suggest you apply to your hair in sections as you pin-curl. Some people have described the texture as similar to egg whites which makes sense as Linseed gel is often used as an egg substitute in vegan baking! Lest you enjoy picking out linseeds from your hair the next day or have your office pals think you have nits, I will stress that you need to strain the mixture well before it cools down! I like storing my gel in a little mason jar in the fridge but I have also seen people who pour the cooled jelly in an old lotion pump bottle. Keep a nose on the gel as it tends to start smelling sour at the two week period. Just a word of caution, when you remove your pins from your pincurls the following day, your hair may feel a little crispy but a good brush out will get it all soft again!

Linseed can be purchased from the health food section at your local Coles or Woolies and a single bag can last you nearly a year! I have tried this on my own thick, wavy hair with great success over the years and I am keen to hear what fine haired and straight haired girls have to say about this recipe! Please do drop me a line or better yet DM me a photo of your finished set on instagram so I can feature it on my Instagram feed. I am @thedesipinup on most social media platforms.

Until next time, stay foxy!

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Desi Pinup How to: 1950s

While the golden era of the Indian film industry started around the latter part of the 1940’s, its popularity began to peak only in the beginning of the 1950’s. The cinema of this time is marked with a distinct voice of country just free from clutches of a 200 year foreign rule. Spirits were running high and there was a taste of revolution in the air.

These were the glory years when some of the landmark films in the history were made and gained national and international fame. Examples include Raj Kapoor’s Awaara (1951), Shree 420 (1955), Guru Dutt’s Pyaasa (1957), Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959), Mehboob Khan’s Mother India (1957), which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, K. Asif’s Mughal-e-Azam (1960), Bimal Roy’s Do Bigha Zameen (1953) and Devdas (1955). Some key Actresses from this era included Madhubala, Meena Kumari, Vyjanthamala and Nargis Dutt. Much like their western counterparts, the silver screen sirens were influential when it came to fashion, particularly hairstyling. Here are some of the trademark hair looks of Desi beauty queens of the 1950s.

The Wave

While women in the west were quick to adopt shorter styles and perm sets during the 50s, Bollywood actresses kept their long hair, seldom cutting it any shorter than shoulder length. The natural wave of hair was embraced and often exaggerated through wet setting. My grandmother used to achieve this wave by tightly plaiting her hair in four to six sections around a middle part before bed. When the plaits were taken out the next day they would produce a beautiful wave in her naturally dark hair. The appearance of the waves were enhanced with a jasmine and almond oil hair tonic.

Bangs

Sometimes short forehead skimming bangs were added to frame the face. There were very few instances of actresses embracing full Bettie Page styled bangs common in America and the UK.

Spit curls

Little spit curls were also common. These were held in place using a water soluble powdered glue called Saresh (commonly used to bind books, similar in texture to crafting gum). The curls would be coated in the gum and shaped/stuck to the forehead. Multicolored styling gels became common place in the mid 50s.

Braided Buns

Wrapping a plait into a bun was another common hairstyle in the 50s. The back would often be decorated with fresh flower garlands and clips featuring roses and jasmine.

Side Plait

Long side plaits with curls framing the face and hair covering the ears was another common traditional look made popular in the 50s by actresses such as Madhubala

Centre Dupatta placement

Dupatta placement in the 50s was modest but stylish. Chiffon and net fabric were draped daintily at the centre of the head and wrapped across the shoulders.