LULU LINDEN

I get it from my momma



When you you're young and you hurt yourself, maybe with a skin of the knee or a bump of the head, your first reaction is to cry and reach for some source of comfort. For most of us, that was mommy. It was for me. Even when she wasn't around, I still knew she would have been a far better solution than a flimsy Band-Aid. As I got older, the ways I got hurt changed. Boo-boos turned into financial emergencies, missed career opportunities, and broken hearts—the kinds of things you don't necessarily want to run to mommy for.

"While there, I thought of how much I loved her, how happy I was she was even here for me to lean on, and then finally, her strength. And that was it."

This past weekend my mom came to New York and I was lucky to have her here for Mother's Day. Her visit also coincided with one of my strangest weekends in recent memory. I had a series of days that were a roller coaster ride of excitement followed by a crash of confusion, followed by a gray bout of sadness. Y'all, it was weird. I was covered by this cloud of feelings even as I pulled myself out of bed to get dressed for our Mother's Day date night.

At the banquet hall, in a room full of exquisitely dressed caribbean mothers laughing loudly, swaying in their seats to reggae and soca, I sat next to my mom, feeling entirely out of place. I wanted to talk to her about my weekend, but there was nothing I felt like I could share with her. Not knowing what words to say to ask for help, I laid my head on her shoulder instead. The childhood familiarity was comforting. While there, I thought of how much I loved her, how happy I was she was even here for me to lean on, and then finally, her strength.

And that was it. I saw myself moping about because of one weekend, a span of 48 hours, less even,  knowing full and well my mom has endured months and years of tough(er) times. I still had no clearer understanding of what had happened, but I knew then that it didn't have to matter. I have seen my mom go through some of the life's most unfortunate situations and come out at the other end still standing. Until I found my own, I let my mom's silent strength bolster me. I didn't feel comfortable enough to spill everything weighing on my mind, but her presence, the knowledge of her life, was sufficient a fix for me.


Okay, we're doing this, y'all


Alright, no pussyfooting around—I'm talking about sex. Specifically why it's been shelved until further notice. Our foremothers fought for us to be loud-mouthed, free-thinking, sexually-liberated women, and for that, I am eternally grateful. Sex has had an interesting trajectory in my life: it started off as just a normal part of my 5-year-relationship. Then, in the age of Tinder and after moving to a new city, it turned into a way to grow and find freedom after that relationship ended.

"In exchange for time, attention, decent company, affection, and a general level of care akin to what one would find in a relationship, there was sex.

Here's where it turned into an unfamiliar source of anxiety. Sex in loving relationships? Super great. Casual sex out of relationships? Totally awesome. Sex in that unsure, in-between territory? The absolute worst, and I've found myself here a few more times than I'd like to admit. In this annoying situationship place, sex became something to barter. In exchange for time, attention, decent company, affection, and a general level of care akin to what one would find in a relationship, there was sex. But you know what there never was? An actual relationship. 

When I realized that this was what I was doing, I wanted to slap myself. Had I really become the girl who thought that sex would equal a relationship if you liked each other enough? Let me tell you this: someone can "like" you all they want. They can answer your text messages back more frequently than the other people you're flirting with. Hell, they can even tag you in funny memes so you know they're thinking of you in some small way. But if they do not want a relationship—and listen to me good now—they do not want a relationship. Full stop.

After that beautiful wake up call, I decided I didn't want to have sex for a while. Then, my desire for human contact came back with a vengeance and I decided it was best to have someone around for sex and nothing more. I did not want to know bands he liked, what the last thing to make him cry was, or what his childhood was like. I just wanted to know if he'd be there at 11 PM when I texted. This worked for a bit, but I soon accepted that I just didn't like using people, even if to some degree they were using me too.

So with much deliberation and after asking all of my most trusted ladyfriends, I decided to temporarily close the door on sex and open the door to other options—a good old fashioned, super cute, super tiny and very pink vibrator. If I'm being honest, I'm still a little shocked that I even have one in my possession, but I try not to think of myself as "the girl with the sex toy" (though there is nothing wrong with that—no sex shaming on my watch). I see myself as more of a person who just doesn't want to muddy her life by using people for sex, or worse, using sex in the hopes of getting close to someone.

Who knew it would all be this difficult? They didn't teach me this shit in health and sex-ed, that's for sure. Since it helped me to talk to my friends and listen to sex health experts, I'm going to drop some of my favorite sources for you guys and gals wanting to know a bit more.

Sexy Time Sources for My Girls 

Nox Shop, lifestyle boutique for your sex life — use code LOVELULU for 10% off

Shan Boodram, sexologist, author

Ev'Yan Whitney, sexuality doula, sex educator 

We Will Teach Our Daughters About the Sacredness of Female Sexuality,  Cat Lantigua's latest piece


Not an open wound, just open 


You find out a lot about yourself after your first real heartbreak. I learned so much about myself that I hardly can recall who I was before it happened. In the almost 4 years since, I find myself sort of like a new friend. I live in a different city, I've met all sorts of people, I have a career, and I'm still learning more. One of the things I've discovered about my new friend (lol, me) is something I didn't have words for until I rediscovered this poem by Nayyirah Waheed: I am a brutally soft woman. That's it. One affecting line.

Reading those words put together a puzzle of old tears, regret, worries, and turned it into something that made sense. Post-heartbreak, I've felt too much. My anger made me feel like I needed to be a cold, detached skeptic, but I could not be those things no matter how hard I tried (and I did try). Instead, I was made soft. Once I saw how hard things could get for us out here in the world, all I wanted was to be a more compassionate person. I wanted to be the good I needed, and I thought that in doing this, I would attract the same.

"There was no world where he and I could exist together because he saw my softness as an opportunity, and not as a freedom to soften himself."

But that's not how it happened. I didn't realize that softness was something to make a joke out of, and worse, to be taken advantage of.  I tried to love a man who, by mocking my softness and learning to play with it, created a bitter woman out of me. His presence alone immediately put me on edge, and I never understood why. I thought something was wrong with me, but my intuition or some deeper knowledge had just caught on before I did: there was no world where he and I could exist together because he saw my softness as an opportunity, and not as a freedom to soften himself.

I will not crumble if pushed, I will not break if disappointed. I am no one's sad, heartbroken girl, but I refuse to harden. I will not play the "who-can-act-like-they-care less" game. It's a shitty game that stops people from actually making any real connection. I am not made to be hard, and I won't spend any more of my life around people who cause me to put up armor. I don't want to protect myself—I want to be around people who I don't need protection from. I like myself soft and exposed.


Let's Talk About It, Shall We?


In the midst of a world changing right before our eyes and trying to master each and every one of our life goals, it seems silly to think that whenever my friends and I meet up we end up in a long "love iz lame" or "ugh, boyz suck" conversation. All one person has to do is complain about a their last date or a misconstrued text, and the night becomes a full-on Iyanla Fix My Life therapy session.

We talk about work, we talk about our goals, we talk about our self-image, but something about love always strikes a chord, and I don't know why that is. Could the old song be right? Is love what makes the world go 'round? What I do know is that it's taken me a long time to say this out loud. Greater than my fear of not understanding everything about love is my fear of admitting I want to know. I feel like I've been whispering this my whole life, but fine, I'll shout it: I want to know what the hell is the deal with love.

"Greater than my fear of not understanding everything about love is my fear of admitting I want to know."

I don't care if it makes me look silly, like a 12-year-old girl obsessed with fairytales. Why is that even a thing I have to be worried about? Why is an interest in love seen as inherently female, and even further, why then does that make it something not to be valued? I am an accomplished adult woman who plans to continue knocking down every single one of my goals—oh, and also, I want to talk about tingly butterfly feelings and whether or not they mean anything.

Love has come up too many times in my life (especially in the past 4 years), and I can't not stare it down and ask it why it keeps knocking at my door. If you're one of my longtime Internet girlfriends you know that I'm very much an over sharer. In between my thoughts on wide-leg jeans and matte lipstick, you'll find real life sh*t sprinkled in, because, well, I'm a real person. I promise, I still have many thoughts on matte lipstick, but for right now I'm going to rely on my good sis Rihanna and admit—it must be love on the brain.

This week is LOVE WEEK on lululinden.com. I'll be talking about love, relationships, self-worth, and omg, sex. Stay tuned, bbs!


Initimate moments with your reflection

Photo: Eva O’Leary/New York Magazine

Hello everyone. I am in New York Magazine shaving my eyebrows off. That is all.

Kidding! But not. For The Cut's Self/Reflection series I was asked to share what my getting ready routine was like. Not for the sake of dishing the hottest tips (though, mine is obviously shaving the your "under-brows" in between threadings), but to share what the intimate moment between a woman, her mirror, and what she hopes to look like is really like.

For the final article—see here—only a snippet of was used, but the full interview is below.


1. First thing you put on in the morning:
A silky honey + propolis serum (after washing with cold water).


2. Tip(s)/beauty hack(s):
Cold water washing in the morning, and washing every night. I refuse to fall asleep with makeup on. Also, overdoing night time moisturizer & serum combos, but skipping one night per week so my skin doesn't get too used to the formulas to where they no longer have an effect. I don't know if there's a real science behind this, but I'm convinced it works.


3. What is your most defining feature and how do you feel about it?
I don't think I have one. I want to say something poetic about my eyes, but honestly, I think I just like my particular combination of features. When I pick apart my face feature by feature, each one becomes somewhat grotesque to me. Like a disorganized puzzle.

"Looking in the mirror forces you to pause and go, 'Wow, I'm really here, and if I'm going to be here, I might as well do something about it. Turn it out.'"


4. What is your "signature" makeup look/something you wear every single day:
I always go for winged liner and full lashes. I've grown comfortable enough to skip a day of eyeliner, but when I do apply it, it's game over. The one skill I'm proud of is my ability to do an acceptable wing on a moving subway car in under 5 minutes.


5. How long do you think you spend looking in the mirror every day?
It's disgusting. I would say maybe an hour or two if you count using a front-facing iPhone camera. If a surface is slightly reflective, I'll steal a glimpse. Maybe it's not so disgusting, actually. I feel like everyone does that, especially people whose appearances have been made a topic of focus—women, and especially women of color. 


6. Do you have a mirror mantra, or something you say to yourself when you look in the mirror?
Probably some variation of "alright bitch, let's go." The meaning shifts depending on where I am mentally. Sometimes, it's a pat on the back like, "alright bitch, you did a good job on your face. Fab. Let's move on!" Other times it's a reminder that I need to not care about my face at all and get away from the mirror because there are more important things I need to take care of.


7. How does looking in the mirror make you feel?
It reminds me that I'm a person. I exist. I am flesh and blood matter. It's not really a thing to acknowledge you're living as you're living, you know? We're just a consciousness in a body, too busy going through life to always be aware of it. Looking in the mirror forces you to pause and go, "Wow, I'm really here, and if I'm going to be here, I might as well do something about it. Turn it out." 


8. Have you found that you are treated differently in public when you wear makeup?
I'd say so. It's not so much that I'm shunned for being a hideous beast or anything when I'm not wearing makeup—I'm just ignored. No one looks twice, which is nice sometimes. The gross catcalling decreases dramatically.

"If a surface is slightly reflective, I'll steal a glimpse. Maybe it's not so disgusting, actually. I feel like everyone does that, especially people whose appearances have been made a topic of focus—women, and especially women of color."


9. What age did you start wearing makeup - and why?
I started wearing makeup very young, maybe 8? But that was without permission. I always saw my mom using her Mary Kay and Avon kits to get ready and I would sneak after her and play with them. My first "liquid" eyeliner was mixing vaseline and a black cake eyeshadow she had. I thought I was so clever. I was given permission to wear makeup at about 12 or 13 though. I think she realized she couldn't stop what was already happening. She let me have one frosty pink lip gloss that I used as eyeshadow on my lids to get around her rules.


10. Do you have a physical insecurity (and when did you start feeling that way)?

Of course I have physical insecurities! Not too many regarding my face though, except now that I can see like "oh, shit, I'm actually getting old," I'm starting to feel a pressing urge to use every hydrating cream ever. Aging in your twenties usually comes from dehydration and general crappy lifestyle, I read. As for the rest of my body, I've always been bigger, curvier, whatever word applies to someone a size 14. I think I got into beauty for that reason. I couldn't do anything immediately about the fact that I was bigger, but with makeup, I could be instantly more, prettier. Then I started hearing "oh, you'd be so much prettier if you lost a few pounds," which I hated. Still hate.


11. Do you feel vulnerable without makeup?

Not really. I just feel plain without it. Somedays that's fine, but if I have a day where I really feel like, "hello world, see me!" and I don't have on makeup, it does make me feel a bit out of place. Like I'm yelling out into a crowd but no one is listening...because I don't have on lipstick.

I do whatever I want (after learning life's valuable lessons)


Aries szn is over, but I'm still basking in my newly-turned-27 glory. Yes, your girl is now closer to her thirties than to her twenties, and I've been playing around with the idea that this now makes me a bonafide grown woman. Cue Beyoncé (surely you knew that reference was coming).

I don't think the act of aging is enough to warrant my feeling this way, but it did give me a reason to pause, step back from myself and go, "okay, Audrey. I see what you're working with here, and damn, you're kind of grown now." Slowly, and without my knowledge, I've been growing. Knocks that would leave me completely askew now leave me with lessons, and I'm learning them faster. Maybe it's because as a grown woman, life doesn't afford you the time sit in your perceived failures. Take what you can and go, go, go.

"There's no way I could've forced the hand of this growth into grown-ness."

In the go-go-go-going, I've also felt my womanhood level up. I'm happy to be in control. I'm happy to do! I'm working more to empower myself, which is honestly just giving myself permission. Yes, you can do that thing. Disregard the fear-based reasons why you can't or shouldn't and just do. There's no way I could've forced the hand of this growth into grown-ness. I sort of had to take my punches until they no longer felt like punches.

Ultimately, I'm finding that being a grown woman isn't about having all the correct answers or doing the right thing every time. For me, it's about opening myself up to learning what right means for me, using that newfound knowledge to make better decisions, and standing firm on the choices I make.






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