Where Has Our Beauty Gone?
How real is True Beauty?
Peace My Beautiful Fashionistas,
This past Saturday was well worth coming out; regardless of the on and off drizzles. Moderator Michaela Angela Davis sat along with Tricia Rose, Susan Akkad and Supermodel Veronica Webb to discuss Beauty, Bodies and Blackness at the Open Center in Midtown Manhattan.
Here's my point of view:
There are trends and opinions when it comes to what makes a woman beautiful. Then there are standards when we discuss Black Beauty. Who made fashion editors, designers and hip hop artists the oracles of opinion for they’re superficial reasons as to why Black women aren’t given rave status as being truly beautiful?
Music for African Americans was like a quick escape from the harsh reality of how we were treated and depicted. We’ve gone from field songs to gospel, to jazz, to the blues, to rhythm and blues all the way to hip hop. As our sound evolved, strange hands began to molest our craft in the name of the mighty dollar down to kicking in the backs of those who birth this planet.
Times ago when our music was played, we danced and celebrated the sound. Today, while we may still dance, there’s a celebration of the downplaying of our African American women as not being beautiful or just down right disrespected. What makes this concept amazing is that today young fans of the art are now settling for what’s in heavy rotation on our radio stations rather than having a voice for what is meaningful in the further development of the African American race , especially our Black women who gets dogged in so many ways. Even while they (hip hop artists) chant such lyrics as they do, the subliminal message still reeks of blatant male chauvinism and disrespect to not only Black women but women period, but harder on Black women.
There was a time when men sang of love, hope and the beauty of his woman. Today, when men rap, they glorify what they hate the most, their true lifestyles: The drama they get themselves into, the amount of baby mothers they may have and how much of a *itch their woman is. What happened to the ways of Teddy Pendergrass? Women felt their beauty when they listened to a man describe “them”.Have we become what they rap about? Has the respect for women or the lack thereof, come to this? What needs to be done now realizing love and respect is no longer an element to making music? As far as video casting goes, you may not get played in constant rotation if your concept consists of being too Black cast or as with any other television entity be it sitcoms, soap operas, commercials, etc.
Back in the times of antiquity, black women were trendsetters through the way they wore their eye shadow down to how and how much jewelry was worn. Their wigs were even copied by the common women. Style and Fashion has been in effect as far back as the days of Isis.
We have come so far toward modern civilization and have moved so far away from recognizing how beautiful we truly are. When the Afro was once the staple in defining who we were, it took maybe twenty or so years later for us to be told in so many words that to get ahead, you had to adopt the Caucasian appearance. For many African Americans, in order to get noticed for employment, you had to “look” the position to fill the position according to the standards of white America. That meant the straightening of our hair and numerous other things that influenced us to rid ourselves of our cultural identity, surgically.
Even in the fashion industry where black women were on the come up as role models for many little girls and sex symbols for men, their beauty was either underrated, doubted or ignored by many of the top fashion heads. According to Supermodel Veronica Webb, some make up artists wouldn’t have our shades of foundation, so models would get fewer pictures or get dismissed from the shoots early. Or they couldn't do our hair because they just didn't know how This was a major factor in how the famous Ebony Fashion Fair made its way to the homes of fashion forward African American women. This was due to the lack of resources for the African American models during fashion shows or photo shoots back in the 70s.
The beauty of African American woman has been shunned. We have been told we’re ugly in so many words or actions. Let’s call it being "fundamentally ugly"- a term as quoted by Susan Akkad, SVP Corporate Marketing/Diversity for Estee Lauder Cosmetics.
As we go deeper in defining how Black beauty had been ignored, we must also take a look at how we groom ourselves. There are different areas of beauty when comparing the white race against the African American race. While Caucasian women spend so much time trying to stay physically fit, African American women spend about the same time or even more on their hair. One can argue Chris Rock’s view on what is Good Hair while others say that that was once a discussion held only in African American homes. The one thing a lot of critics of his film say was missing was the history of how we have become disciples to maintaining and styling our hair. How can any young person find beauty in his/herself when there is either few or no one to represent natural beauty for them to see what they look like and to see how beautiful we can really be from how beautiful we really are.
While a lot of people hold fast to what defines outer beauty, Black Beauty still goes unnoticed in the eyes of major fashion houses and record labels. As soon as what was once noticed as an outlet to downplay the African American woman’s beauty and respect is annihilated, then can we liberate ourselves from the mold that never fitted us in the first place.
Here's to being fabulous, (with your beautiful selves)!