I went to an event today, sponsored by the amazing brand African Pride, in D.C. It was a last minute attendance that I wasn’t expecting, and really had no true knowledge of what it would be about. Muffled within a call about the event, were the focuses of Black women who are striving to overcome the trauma and hard times they faced as a domestic violence survivor. Surreal for me. I’ve never been hit by the hands of a man before, but I have had slippers thrown in my face by a guy who got pissed at me because I asked him to leave my house.
But these women, had scars. Emotionally and physically. And yet, they were re-starting their lives, working towards a new future and focused on self-love. At this event, there were makeup artists, masseuses, a hairstylist and manicurists. The day was meant to celebrate the women through pampering and beauty. Because, what woman doesn’t want to feel beautiful?
As I sat in a corner, I caught myself dazing at this one woman preparing to sit in a makeup artist’s chair and get a mini-makeover. Her face was a little tense. It read to me, “I’m really afraid of getting my makeup done, because I don’t know if I really deserve this.” I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but there is an awkward fear that a lot of women wear on their faces when they are getting ready to get their faces done. I think partially, it’s from worry that the end result won’t look good, and the other part comes from this lack of understanding that wanting to feel and look beautiful is quite alright. There can sometimes be a bit of guilt that women carry when it comes to getting done up.
“Who am I getting this dolled up for?”
“Who do I think I am?”
“I’m no celebrity, why should I care about this type of thing?”
I do it, I think like this every now and then. You may too. But this particularly woman caught my hearts attention for a very specific reason.
When the makeup artist was done finishing her face, she asked a sure question that many women ask themselves everyday: Do I look pretty?
Do I look pretty? A question in search of confirmation for ones self worth, confidence and value. They way she said it, it felt like she was asking “Are you sure I’m good enough?”
This concern, lack of confidence or whatever you want to call it isn’t exclusive to Brown women only. This I know. But there is a reoccurring theme we keep seeing in media and amongst beauty ads that tell us we aren’t good enough. And it’s not because we see ourselves under-represented all of the time (many companies and brands are trying to do their best to appeal to the “multi-cultural” demographic of women…blah). The bigger issue is that when we are “represented”, it’s in one-dimensional ways. So now, it’s not about not seeing ourselves (even though, that issue is still at large), it’s not seeing ourselves in the many variations that we as brown women come in. And this affects us. This messes with our minds and creates this false idea that we don’t deserve to feel, beautiful.
One can argue that confidence and self-love is taught at a young age. It’s in your upbringing. If your parents, family and friends encouraged you to feel beautiful, smart and talented, than you more than likely grew up feeling beautiful, smart and talented. I’m probably an example of that theory. I grew up with nothing less than encouragement from my family, particularly my daddy who instilled the fierce force of nature in me to do whatever the hell I wanted because I could (well, not whatever, but you get my drift).
But then, we can’t forget that no matter how much confidence your parents, grandparents, besties, whoever, instill in you, the outside world still ends up mattering. And the outside world isn’t nice to brown girls. They’re playing nice now, because they see how much money they can make off of us. But, they’re not treating us good.
And that’s where the community of brown women comes into play. The digital space has created endless potential in celebrating brown women. From the Pretty Periods, to the My Brown Baby’s, to the It’s My Raye Rayes and Style By Cats, our community of brown women is growing increasingly important to the establishment of self-love.
When that makeup artist responded to the woman in her chair with the sincerest “Of course you look pretty, how could you not?” the woman smiled back without a reason to deny her confirmation.
So here is the thing: without getting all preachy and matyr-like, I’ll say this that more often than not, brown women are going to have to take care of brown women. We’re going to have to support each other, in solicited and unsolicited manners. Waiting on a beauty company, a man or a media franchise to tell us that we’re good enough is so circa 2014.
At the end of the day, Brown women just want to feel like they’re freaking beautiful, K?