Black Women From Around the World Share What Beauty Means to Them
With each passing day, I hope for us to move beyond the waves of racism and prejudice, and for the world to see us as we are, beautiful and important. Thick lips, long noses, several ways to shape our hair, and an extreme amount of melanin applied impeccably. It’s past time to write a new script for our story.
Her go-to beauty products: At the moment, Rihanna’s makeup brand Fenty Beauty is my favorite. Not only for the quality, but for the care in meeting our skin tone and also for the representation achieved.
Nontando Mposo, Editor-in-Chief of Glamour SA
Where she lives: South Africa
What Black beauty means to her: Black beauty means being yourself and proud of what makes you unique: your skin, your features, and your culture or roots. It is confident and beautiful.
How it’s viewed in her country: I’m based in Cape Town, one of the most diverse cities in South Africa and where the remnants of apartheid are still very visible. Racism is prevalent and as a Black person you still need to prove yourself five times over than your white counterparts in the workplace and in social environments.
Her thoughts on representation: There has been some great progress while at the same time there is a lot of work to be done toward bridging the racial divide. We have been spoon-fed the Western narrative for far too long and this continues to cause some damage—physical and mentally. We now see more of ourselves in the media, more than before, and that is leading to the change in narrative. Black women entering the beauty space such as Rihanna have contributed tremendously into fast-tracking representation as well.
Her go-to beauty products: My ultimate favorite beauty product remains Elizabeth Arden’s renowned Eight Hour Cream. I also swear by the Collagen Oil by natural skin care range, Healthway, and the Nivea Sun Moisturizing Sun Lotion SPF 50+.
Loyin Ogunbusola, Artist
Where she lives: England
What Black beauty means to her: I see it everywhere, from the aunties dressed in their gele on their way to the shops to the girls having a good laugh on the back of the bus. To me, Black beauty means loving myself unapologetically despite the perpetual white forces telling me that I’m not attractive. It’s unapologetic and it has lineage, heritage, and strength. I know that our beauty can’t be contained or put in a box.
Her thoughts on representation: When it comes to the representation in the media, we have made progress but there is so much work left to done. We need to start seeing more Black women with darker complexions in cinema, film, music, the works! Colorism is still a problem, and it continues to reinforces the dialogue that Black isn’t beautiful.
Her go-to beauty products: The things I can’t live without right now are Glossier’s Futuredew, Ayé Moringa Oil, Okin Epidermis Body Butter, and the Constellates Yoni Steam.
Funmi Fetto, Author, Contributing Editor at British Vogue, and Host of On Reflection
Where she lives: England
What Black beauty means to her: I think what is really important to note about our Blackness, our beauty and us as a people is that we are not monolithic. What makes us beautiful is a myriad of things from our hues to our mindset to our sisterhood and shared history.
How it’s viewed in her country: Black beauty and culture are very closely intertwined. I think Black beauty is celebrated in certain spaces whereas in other spaces it is fetishized, othered, treated with curiosity, or ignored. Black people in the UK still find themselves in numerous everyday situations in work and in life where they are the only one, and it can be quite difficult to feel appreciated when the subliminal messaging you’re bombarded with is that you’re different—and not in a positive way. That said, London is a melting pot so you can find your tribe and community and immerse yourself as much as possible in the solace, strength, and celebration you find within that.
Her thoughts on representation: While yes, there are signs that representation of Black beauty in the media has improved, it’s a total fallacy to claim it’s progressed significantly. Many beauty brands may show Black faces in their advertising, but look closely and you’ll see that a huge percentage of those predominantly featured fall under a type of Blackness that is “palatable” to a white audience. Lighter skin, narrower features, looser curls, etc.