In the The Beautiful Ones, a Real Life Mag essay penned by poet Momtaza Mehri, the aesthetics of black beauty are described simply: “There are bodies, or beauties, that the world does not make space for. We know and live this.”
My first time purchasing makeup at a drugstore was met with an overwhelming sense of otherness. I wandered through the aisles hopelessly trying to find a foundation shade that would match my hazelnut brown skin. The majority of brands lacked foundation, concealer, and blush shades suited for darker skin women. It was the first time I came face to face with the deeply rooted issues in the makeup industry, an industry that hasn’t yet fully explored the rich, multifaceted backgrounds of women of color.
The idea that black women can’t or should not wear brightly colored lipstick is a type of imprudent beauty advice that has been in circulation for far too long. My insecurities and reluctances to make bolder makeup choices are attributed to the singular labels that define and caricaturize black women. A few years ago, I was introduced to a world of carefree black girls on the internet who were defining their own beauty standards. I saw black women wearing bright lipsticks, fun patterns, bold eye shadow, giant afros, and box braids in any color imaginable. In a world that tells black women we’re too much, it was revolutionary seeing these women becoming more of who they are, with an unashamed smile all the while.
This Fashionista is ushering in this season of rebirth, renewal, and reawakening in celebration of the countless makeup looks that darker skinned black women can rock. Inspired by Grace Jones, this Fashionista embodies the unapologetic spirit of a carefree black girl. Her makeup is imbued with pink and purple hues. She achieved her look using Makeup Forever HD, ABH Contour Cream Kit in Deep, ABH Modern Renaissance Palette, Too Faced Melted Matte Lipstick in Evil Twin and Sephora’s House of Lashes. Her look is perfect for spring and expresses the joy in being as bold as she wants, despite mainstream opinion.
The colorful style and eclectic makeup of women like this Fashionista have inspired me on my own journey to being carefree. I’m experimenting with hues and textures that have long been cast as unflattering for women like myself. There are a few cosmetic brands working to be more inclusive when it comes to ranges of color for women of color, but there is still a long way to go. Like this Fashionista, I’ve had to find ways to build a self-confidence that doesn’t depend on media for the validation of my beauty. We are each blooming in our own time—embracing our blackness while extinguishing the notion that we can only show one side of ourselves to the world.