In honor of Black History Month, this week’s column focuses on redefining the concept of beauty for African-American women and celebrating who you are.
I have worked in the business for almost twenty years. And I must say, my perception of beauty does not fit with what the media or entertainment industry would like to portray.
When did it become socially acceptable to gauge beauty based upon what the latest popular actress or entertainer looks like?
I am pretty certain most of you would say since the beginning of the entertainment industry, (and even before that, when you think about the separation between light- and brown-skinned African-Americans during Antebellum America).
For centuries, society has reinforced an image of beauty that does not reflect a global outlook-- one that does not celebrate cocoa complexions, strong features, thick hair nor a curvaceous stature.
We are indeed an array of beautiful people, ranging in a multitude of shades, sizes and appearances. Yet, some of us still struggle with our own self-image. It pains me to witness how some women of color go through extreme efforts to identify with what is “culturally adequate.”
I am not saying that we as women should not have fun and switch up our look ( I get bored with mine very easily: Sometimes, I let my hair grow and relax it, or I cut it off and rock an afro).
However, when deciding to channel that inner chameleon, do it because it is how you choose to express yourself and not according to what society or another person dictates.
Physically altering procedures such as reconstructive surgery are becoming more and more common among African Americans, although in my opinion, they are completely unnecessary.
You're beautiful, just as you are. If you choose to lose weight, do it because you want to stay healthy-- not because you see an actress you admire in a size 2 dress.
For my ladies with weaves, add twelve inches of hair to your head because you want to bring out your “inner diva,” or experiment with a variety of looks-- not because you’re attempting to mask your true "self."
There is no need to try to make your nose appear smaller or your skin lighter. One thing I am completely against when applying makeup to my clients is contouring facial features or applying makeup several shades lighter to alter skin tones.
I’m all about bringing natural beauty to the surface, promoting individuality and self love, because your uniqueness is what makes YOU so special and separates you from everyone else.
We must remember that the people we see in the music videos, on television and in magazines are there to entertain. Photshop is their best friend.
...And often times, they don’t look anything remotely close to what you see behind the camera or on the silver screen.