this is the reason why subconsciously i'm always on the lookout for things that work specifically for me, beautywise. just about every sister i know constantly falls into the habit of interjecting tidbits about something they've discovered that works, no matter how casual or convoluted the conversation happens to be. and it's almost always a big fat wow moment. we're all so excited to find something, for us. clearly, we're behind enemy lines and we're dissecting information and sharing it and passing it along to help each other as best we can. it's like we're in a secret society of some sort. finally coming to terms with the way we look and finding ourselves beautiful on our own terms is a subversive act.
you know what? that's exactly what it is.
to be black and to dare to think of yourself as beautiful is to defy everything that this culture says that you are, that you should be. it's almost as though every single day, every black woman assembles herself visually in her own way and moves forward with this singularity of thought, somewhere in the recesses of her soul. i am beautiful -- not because of you, not in spite of you. i just am.
imagine my surprise when a survey from essence magazine confirmed all of this, and more.
last week, essence presented smart beauty V, which basically gave the beauty industry a glimpse into the mindset of the african-american beauty consumer. they decided to do this by presenting the four archetypes that their survey revealed in the form of four actresses that embodied those ideals. we were placed amongst the audience as they watched the presentation, listened to the panel, had breakfast and took notes. as the descriptions were given, we presented ourselves. to tell you the truth, it felt like performance art. what better way to get your point across than to have it come alive before you. and come alive, we did. it was fun!
here are the four archetypes.
the first is queen bea. her beauty motto: "beauty is a strategy." what does she want? brands with proven results, expert advice and organic and natural ingredients. her quote: "i am always willing to pay a premium for beauty products that have lasting results."
the second is sheree de la sol. her beauty motto: "beauty signals to the world that i have arrived." what does she want? prestige, innovation and anti-aging techniques/products. her quote: "i use my beauty to express that i've made it."
the third is amber b. free. (yep, that was me.) her beauty motto: "beauty is a celebration of me." what does she want? products (preferrably organic) specifically created for me, good price points and value. her quote: "I do not follow beauty trends."
the fourth is jane jones. her beauty motto: "beauty should be simple." what does she want? simplified options, inspiration and guidance. her quote? "i buy fragrances endorsed by celebrities i like."
although the facts they presented definitely raised my eyebrows, one thing was crystal clear: for african-american women, beauty is unconditional.
- a whopping 84% of african-american women agreed with the statement, "i think i am a beautiful woman" vs 41% of the general market.
- how about this one -- 58% of african-american women agreed with the statement, "i'm always proud of my looks" vs 22% of the general market.
- this really blew me away: african-american women spend a whopping $2.6 billion on beauty products. sisters, that is quite a lot of cheddar.
still and all, there are more special moments than i'd care to reveal. like traipsing past several beauty counters in greenbriar mall -- arguably the blackest shopping spot in the atl -- and having mpb ask rhetorically why did all of the ads at every counter have white women in them. or slathering on raw shea butter onto my backside in the gym and having some white woman remark to her white friend that if she put any of that grease on her skin, she'd have acne everywhere, and why was i doing that. or approaching a beauty counter and having the makeup expert not have any foundation for me. or not know how to contour my face.
oh, i could go on. but you get the idea.
as we left the w hotel that morning after the event, i murmured to my three compatriots, "i feel a little blacker, ladies. how about you." and they all laughed. because really, we all did. it couldn't be helped. for one bright shining moment, someone stood up and said it, and it all came together beautifully. i think i probably floated to my boxing session, high heels and all.
maybe someday i'll be rich and famous. maybe i won't. who knows. no matter what happens, i'm not going to believe that i've really made it until i'm on the cover of essence.