One of the things I love about the Hip Hop Generation is our ingenuity, our willingness to reinvent ourselves, and to think anew about the traditions we’ve been handed.
When you mix that ingenuity with the kind of conscientious political critique that comes from Black and Brown feminisms, something remarkable happens.
With appropriate intention, mundane, everyday acts become hella political.
Oiling your legs can be political. In fact, as I think about the many summer days that my grandmother made me rub olive oil into my dark ashy knees, so I would look like I belonged to someone who loved me, I realize that skin care for Black women is never un-political.
Even my great grandmother was prone in her twilight years to insist that my mom and aunties buy her some cold cream! I think she fancied Ponds. Wrinkles be damned.
Perhaps because I come from a line of Mary-Kay wearing, knee oiling, wrinkle shunning women, I chose to keep it simple. Unlike many sisters I know, I am, in fact, not a product junkie. Ivory Soap and some lotion are usually good enough for me.
Over the summer, I got word that Joan Morgan had debuted Emily Jayne, a new line of body butters and fragance oils.
At her lovely sampling party, I was slightly skeptical, because in 30+ years of encounters with lots of body products, I’ve reverted over and over again to my simple Ivory Soap ways.
But go on ahead and call me a convert.
Perhaps it happened as I sat around the room and spooned small dollops of butters like Antilles Market, with its hints of dark chocolate, or Antilles Cimarron, that smells of cedar and frankincense.
Perhaps it was the fact, that after just a few minutes, my skin felt incredibly soft.
Perhaps it was the Wench.
As the tiny bottle with the prototype moved around the room, sisters inhaled ylang ylang, and exhaled naughtiness, hitching up just a corner of their lips, and meeting other sisters with looks of deep knowing. Of… the ish that would pop off with the lovers in our lives, should they get even a whiff …Scandalous.
I brought home Antilles Cimarron and Vetiver Neroli. The Cimarron, with its shea butter base, smells spicy and almost citrusy on my skin. I wear it as my day time go-getter fragrance.
The Neroli is my night time (and sexy time) fragrance. It smells balsamic but is toned down and sweetened with just a hint of orange.
The fragrances are unisex. One of my guy friends purchased some Driftwood 1838 fragrance oil. It is both light and strong, when you smell it on a man’s skin. My friend raves about it.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m telling you to cop you some Emily Jayne posthaste.
After a couple of months of using the products, I’ve already been back for more. And the thing is, you don’t need multiple products. I’ve used the butters on every part of my body from ‘fro to toe (sans face). My dry, cracked heels love this product. It doesn’t take much, and the scent lingers for hours.
Joan started this business in part to encourage Black women to do something so basic. Touch ourselves.
I’ve written here about the complicated facets of Black women’s relationship with touch.
Touching oneself is what Joan would call a pleasure principle, and it is a basic tenet of hip hop feminism’s move toward a new politics of pleasure. These pleasure principles are rooted in a reinvention of truths handed down to us long before we got here.
Emily Jayne is named after Joan’s two grandmothers. Perhaps our grandmothers knew about the power of touch, in ways that our virtual realities have allowed to escape us.
I’ve learned over these last few months that touching ourselves is essential. Essential for pleasure. Essential for health. To oil and massage one’s own skin is to affirm the beauty of the “skin we’re in” in a world that doesn’t love it. To touch one’s clitoris is to affirm that we are worthy agents and recipients of our own pleasure. To touch one’s breasts is to affirm that we are experts on our own bodies and advocates for the healthy life-saving information they often give us.
So oil yourself up, rub yourself down, and bring out your inner wench.
You deserve it.
For more info and to purchase products, check out the Emily Jayne Website.
To see what others are saying about the products, follow @EmilyJayne1838 on twitter.