2 posts back, I touched on the importance of having women like Viola Davis and Lupita N’yongo very present in the media. I wanted to expand on that topic because I think it’s something that needs to be addressed more than once. As a black woman, it is overwhelming and frustrating to see a lack of representation in mass media (and I don’t mean having the token black girl in a show or ad).
Seeing these features that is deemed “too much” on us all of a sudden being glorified on someone else is frustrating. Features like big lips have become “popular” in the past couple of years. And while anyone is free to do whatever they want to, I think it’s fair to acknowledge that this popularity sprung up when the lips were not on a woman whose ancestors share those features: the black woman. When something we were once teased and ridiculed about now becomes a “mainstream” and “in trend”, it’s difficult to not feel slighted. And even worse, we STILL get taunted for having these same features!
Example: I wasn’t a fan of my lips when I was younger. They were full and not symmetrical. It annoyed me that the left side of my bottom lip was just a smidge larger than the other. I strayed away from smiling towards the camera because I felt the difference was magnified through a lens. While I wasn’t necessarily teased for it, it still made me self-conscious of it. I strategically would wear only nude colors because I thought they didn’t amplify the size of my lips (don’t get me wrong, I still love a nude lip, but not for concealing purposes).
From a young age, we are programmed to believe that the features we are born with are too much for others to handle. On someone else, totally fine. On the black woman, no way. We have believed that just being black was too much, so to add anything extra would just make us stand out more. And this sort of thinking has taken years of reversing. We are now coming into our own. Believing that our beauty has no standard or definition. That our beauty does not have to cater to the masses. To all my black and brown girls out there, your features are worthy of praise. From yourself. Don’t get stuck on trying to get it from others.(this post is not meant to be divisive. As a black woman, I speak on things that directly affect me. Even if you cannot relate, please take the time to understand my position)
Until next time…
All Photography by Kristen Ashley