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ESSENCE Empowerment: Black Men Talk Romance and Natural Beauty

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Photo Credit: Michael Rowe

The audience in attendance got an earful on the rules of love and life Thursday evening from black male celebs like television personality Terrence J, celebrity chef Roble, Tyler Lepley of "The Have and the Have Nots" and actor Joe Warren. No topic was off limits as ESSENCE's Relationship Editor Charreah Jackson asked about everything ranging from music that puts them in the mood for romance to the difference between being a mama's boy and a man who loves his mother. 

The conversation flowed freely as the guys spilled the beans on what makes them tick, including whether or not a woman's salary left them feeling less than a man. Chef Roble elicited a round appreciative cheers when he said, "I wouldn't be intimidated; I would be invigorated." After pausing to letting the audience settle down, he admitted that the love of his life made more than he and it had no effect on their relationship. "It was amazing. She didn't need nothing from me and I didn't need nothing from her and we had a great relationship. If you've got a problem with that bro, something is really wrong with you."

Nodding in agreeance, Warren added that it all boiled down to one factor. "I feel like if she still lets me be a man, then more money really doesn't mean anything to me," he said to even more cheers and applause. "I feel like if she makes $100,000 to my $75,000 a year she tries to throw it in my face, then that's an issue; but if she lets me be a man, then it woudn't be a problem if she makes $100,000 more than me.

"As a woman we just want somebody we don't have to fight with, who we don't have to compete with. Just be two complete beings that live simultaneously. I hate when people say 'You complete me.' That's like I'm 50% of a person and you're 50% of a person. I want a woman that's 100% of a person and I get to be 100% of a man and when we get together, we're something even greater." 

The guys also fielded questions from the audience, including one from a member who wanted to know their opinion on plastic surgery enhancements. 

Taking a long pause, Roble drew laughter from the audience when he admitted that butt enhancements were not his thing. "I'm not doing that. Boobs, we're used to that. That's approachable. But you have to sit on that thing everyday. That's weird. That's the most important muscle in your body. If it's not official, referee blow the whistle."

Tyler took a more pragmatic approach to his response, saying that he took no issue to a woman wanted to enhance herself. It is only when the enhancements replaced her self-confidence that he saw a problem. "I understand the value of hard work. You can actually go to the gym and get the same result that you would get from an ass shot," the former personal trainer explained. "I'm all about women feeling better about themselves and wanting better bodies, but I just wish we didn't always go straight to immediate gratification." 

Whether or not the ladies agreed with each message that was relayed to them, one thing was undeniable. They certainly enjoyed watching the vessels who delivered them!