International “Black beauty” is the backdrop of an awesome video series by un-ruly creators Abigail and Antonia Opiah titled Pretty. Their first installment spotlighted Black women in Paris and eventually will go into locations like, London, Sweden and Milan. Antonia exclusively shared with #TeamBeautiful how the idea of “Black beauty”exists and the way we subconsciously perceive it in levels:
“A few people we’ve spoken to stay away from delineating beauty by race, in a sense that there isn’t such thing as “Black beauty;” there’s just beauty. At the same time, and you’ll see this in later episodes, we had a chance to speak with pan-African feminist Minna Salami who explains in detail that she identified three kinds of beauty—artificial beauty, political beauty (which is where the notion of Black beauty might come in) and genuine beauty.”
Places like Japan and Northern Africa are so influenced by Western standards of attractiveness that the use of lightning creams and plastic surgery periodically increase. It’s cringe-worthy to watch cultures fall as victims to conformity.
Our representation of beauty, especially globally, has translated as store-bought satisfaction with our self-esteem. Odd perceptions exists that if you don’t leave the house looking like Kim Kardashian or a hip-hop spokesmodel (think: Instagram hotties), you don’t take your appearance seriously at all! With Black people, there’s the added competition of hair type, skin color and butt size–the latter two are extremely perpetuated by Black men. Black beauty in all its diversity is still not as appreciated as it should be.
It’s interesting Salami viewed “Black beauty” as linear to “political beauty.” In episode one, “What’s Pretty in Paris,” the title question was answered by various Parisians. And in episode two and three, Pretty featured solo testimonies from Black Parisians, Sarah and Carole.
Sarah, with her long braids, red lips and sleek glasses, is a headstrong personality that works in fashion. While she’s comfortable now, she acknowledged that impressions are almost always appearance first. The reality of that is both good and bad, “The first thing people see is not how good you are and how you are behaving, but how you carry yourself. It matters. There was a time I didn’t care for how I looked at all. I think it as because we grow up in an environment which makes you see certain types of people as perfection. And you’re just not included, so it makes you feel bad. It’s important to see your reflection,” Sarah said.
Carole, a natural-haired, Converse-wearing thirty-something articulated so naturally how her personal style could be counted on to represent her, but she’s also forever evolving. “I don’t focus only on appearances, appearance isn’t everything. I know some people to whom appearance is almost everything. And if their appearance isn’t right, they’re not happy at all. It directly affects every aspect of their life not only their appearance,” Carole said.
She continued, “I’d say that my style is quite simple. I like sneakers, flat shoes, jeans. But sometimes I feel like being more elegant, more feminine. So, I’ll wear some heels, a little dress…I think my style says a lot. I like to dress according to my mood. My style is pretty versatile. Do I feel pressure to look a certain way? Personally, no…because I do want I want. I don’t care what people say. That’s who I am.”
Carole didn’t come to that comfortable place she spoke of, it was years in the making and she’s never felt freer! She expressed her “why bother trying to be something I’m not” sentiment without having to knock down anyone else’s choices. We could all use some help with that!
Truth is, we all want to look good, but why is there a standard of beauty or pretty allowed, especially for Black women? Pretty co-creator, Antonia hopes that through Pretty, Black beauty is treated as a mosaic of cultures, shades and styles. She says, “I hope viewers come away with that (an enhanced way of looking at beauty) but I also want viewers to come away with something a little superficial too. I want people to be exposed to the different colors, sizes, styles, backgrounds, languages of these women.”
She continues, “I’ve seen a comment from someone saying that they hadn’t seen a Black woman speak French. We interviewed a Black woman from Sweden who constantly has to convince people that she’s Swedish, born and raised, because people don’t know there are Black Swedes. So just showing the diversity that exists within the global Black community has also become a big goal of the series.”
These episodes of Pretty are fantastically authentic because the girls represent only themselves and not what society, French or American, wants of them. I am one Black girl in America that is touched by seeing my reflection in women overseas and beyond.
Now that’s some inspiring beauty talk for ya!
20 Black Beauty & Style Vloggers You Should Know
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When you visit Jennie aka BeautybyJJ's page, prepared to be inspired in various ways. The makeup tutorials, hair how-tos and even outfit posts are there, but she also includes insightful videos about life like her "20 Mistakes and Life Lessons Learned in Our '20s" clip.
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With diverse content that includes fashion, beauty and tech, the ever-personable Maya Washington, or Shameless Maya, stands out from the overpopulated crowd of Youtube vloggers. Another feature that sets her apart? Thanks to her background as a photographer, her makeup tutorials and style lookbooks are visually stunning.
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Beauty Crush is the perfect name for Sammi's channel as it's hard to not crush on the London-based fashion styling graduate's supercool style and gorgeous curls. Her blog is a go-to source for product hauls, makeup tutorials and fan-submitted Q&As.
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Shirley's Youtube channel is just as dynamic as her personality with beauty secrets on wigs, bras and nails just to name a few, alongside cool features like her Olivia Pope stylebook and what's inside her London Fashion Week bag.
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Francheska Medina is as popular for her voluminous 'fro as she is for her commitment to clean living. She vlogs about haircare, DIY beauty, nutrition and fitness for hundreds of thousands of subscribers.
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Head over to Jackie Olayiwola Aina's page, or Lilpumpkinpie05, for the kind of stunning makeup tutorials you'd expect from a former MAC artist. But makeup is only the beginning: she also has covet-worthy outfit of the day videos featuring beautiful, one-of-a-kind garments from Nigeria, where her family is from.
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Subscribers come to Vaughn's page for her stunning 'fro: they stay for the in-depth product reviews and easy-to-recreate hair tutorials. Her fans are so loyal and supportive, in fact, they showed up in record numbers to support her sister, vlogger Meechy Monroe, who courageously opened up to the world about her battle with brain cancer. #GetWellMeechy
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From trendy outfits of the day to step-by-step hair tutorials, Lauren, who goes by MissLBailey, has a wealth of information available to her fans and a bubbly disposition to boot.
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Taren Guy needs no introduction. The vlogger is one of the most recognizable natural hair YouTube gurus in the industry. Her voluminous 'fro draws attention and praise everywhere she goes, but her subscribers love her for her inspirational anecdotes and her dynamic live events, like the Luv & Learn Your Hair Tour.
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Whitney became one of the premier natural hair vloggers on YouTube, thanks to her gorgeous mane and her everyday, practical approach to natural haircare. Her famed hair channel comes alongside a family vlog, where she opens up about life with her husband Felipe and daughter Olivia #AnOliveForYou.
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It's clear that beauty and fashion is Patricia Bright's forte, as evidenced by her hair how-to videos and fun product hauls. She also includes a fun series called "Girl Talk" where she opens up about life issues like never feeling good enough or dealing with loneliness.
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Ambrosia Malbrough founded xGoldn to give her subscribers everything from makeup tutorials to hair product reviews. With her flawless skin and full, shiny hair, it's easy to see why she's amassed a loyal following.
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For flawless makeup and defined brows, look no further than Anitra of NitraaB. Her makeup always looks photo-shoot ready and yet, she makes the process so seamless you won't shy away from trying it for yourself. And she's not all makeup: you'll find her aspirations for the new year and tips for meeting the parents right alongside her beloved beauty tutorials.
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No matter the hair or makeup tutorial you're looking for, you're likely to find it on LizLizLive. She covers every aspect of beauty from pink lipsticks for dark skin to teeth whitening to ombre hair.
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Whether she's getting ready for Fashion Week or installing her own "Kim Kardashian wig", Tiarra Monet of Teased Black Pearlz keeps her subscribers entertained with her beauty know-how and her creative makeup ideas (a tutorial inspired by Nicki Minaj's Anaconda video is a must-see).
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Possibly the youngest guru on our list, 17 year-old Emani won our hearts (and those of her 72,000 subscribers) with her bold and playful street style and her rants on friendship, body image and more.
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TheChicNatural doesn't just offer hair tutorials and fashion lookbooks for her fans: she also records must-see DIY videos that run the gamut from wig and lipstick-making to ombre hair and shorts.
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With skin that seems to permanently glow, it's easy to see why subscribers are flocking to Destiny Godley's YouTube channel. The beauty covers everything from flawless foundations to red lipstick to perfect eyebrows.
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Your resident expert in all things skincare, makeup and hair, Makeupdoll aka Keisha takes the skills she learns as a professional makeup artist and makes them easy for her followers to understand.
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Missy Lynn's YouTube channel is a one-stop shop for makeup tutorials, style lookbooks and hair reviews. From wig clips to Maybelline makeup looks to a behind-the-scenes peak at her experience with the NYX Face Awards, there's no shortage of beauty expertise for Missy Lynn's subscribers.
‘Pretty’: An Inspiring Series That Challenges The Idea Of International Black Beauty was originally published on hellobeautiful.com