Is My Black Really Beautiful?
As a black woman there has never been a time I remember any representations of our natural beauty. For as long as I can remember I have felt like to feel/look beautiful in my own skin I would have to wear makeup it’s sad and a bit embarrassing but it is what I have been shown in the media my whole life. I can admit I have been trying to alter myself to fit into what mainstream thinks is beautiful and acceptable for a black women. Black women are oftentimes told our natural beauty is un-American. The problem has become so widespread I’ve noticed lots of black women believe our natural features, natural skin, and natural hair are something to be ashamed of.
We are told we cannot get a job we are qualified for because of our looks alone. We hear this narrative constantly and then once we wear makeup we are told we look like a monkey wearing lipstick. This need and want to fit into what someone else decides is beauty is finally catching the backlash it should have a long time ago. I have always gotten the “oh you’re pretty for a dark skin girl”, and it has always made me feel uncomfortable, unacceptable, and unattractive.
There was little to no representation of black women being allowed to show their natural beauty in or on major publications while we were growing up every show that was black or had a black women represented wore straight hair, makeup that didn’t really match, or was so light she could pass for white. Our dolls even wore blush and had straight black hair. I do not remember a time I saw a representation of a girl that looked like me, so at an early age I learned the only way I would fit in this world was if I wore makeup and wore my hair straight. I was conditioned early to believe since I couldn’t pass for a blonde hair, blue eyed, white girl I better cake it on as much as possible when I got older to be beautiful. I have been told “oh just put on some make up” you will look better, feel prettier for about as long as I can remember. I have made it a point to always catch or try the latest makeup trends in hopes of just one day being accepted for who I am but that in itself shows the issue because we are not being ourselves if we are conforming to what someone else sees as beauty.
No matter how beautiful people assured me I was, that wasn’t how the black celebrities looked and they were successful. The biggest issue amongst young black girls is the lack of visual representation. Whether it is a toy, model, performer, politician, doctor, lawyer, store clerk, etc. Growing up not seeing a representation of myself hurt my perception of beauty tremendously.
As a defense mechanism I would go the extra mile to make sure I have long flowy hair or in recent months big Diana Ross curly hair paired with makeup to make me feel confident. Why is me in my natural state not enough for me to feel my most confident? The fact makeup companies other than Lancôme and Make Up Forever have just began making makeup to match our skin tones, because Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty made it popular and they saw how profitable the opportunity would be is embarrassing and long overdue. It is a disgrace that multiple women goes above and beyond to be a black women and are praised for it, while we get backlash, negative representation, and the most commonly “you’re just bitter and ungrateful” phrase. It has taken me a very long time to find the confidence that I currently have in my skin with or without make up, and sometimes I still feel like i’m not pretty enough or mainstream enough for my opinion to be taken seriously.
Alicia Keys was bold enough to rock a fresh face and her natural hair to industry events and the comments were so nasty, rude, hurtful, and discouraging to anyone wanting to follow suit. Most of the comments were written by black women. Black women were telling her to put makeup back on. They were saying she looked horrible without it, and they were tired of seeing her natural face. Imagine the generational conditioning that has taken place where we see fit to tear each other down for daring to walk out of our homes the way God made us. Mainstream media has began profiting off the natural movement, but truly telling us our natural state is beautiful is still a blurred line.
The Black Girl Magic is real and until the movement I didn’t fully understand why I had to be trapped in this skin, why couldn’t I be lighter those are the girls that everyone wants, and the girls that the media pushes. This Black love movement has made me a little less embarrassed to be seen in my natural state, and I feel like it’s good for not only the children to see, but for adults as well that may have thought that it never would have happened.
Our natural beauty is profitable, newsworthy, and trendy. Celebrities have began posting fresh face photos maybe to show representation, maybe to get a positive headline, but the movement is in motion either way. Black women are learning it is okay to be themselves and are working to break the generational conditioning we were taught so our daughters can appreciate who they see in the mirror.