I visited the Tate Modern art gallery in London and this body of work hit too close to home. This is the 1965 print series by Ellen Gallagher. It depicts beauty ads for Black people from 1930-1970. Let's dig into the ugly history of the beauty industry and it's permanent blemish on Black identity.
Skin bleaching is a taboo topic of discussion in the Black community, yet so many of us and people who look like us strip ourselves of our beautiful melanin. This ad triggered my past feelings of not knowing the value of my own beauty and I felt the self hatred of my past brothers and sisters. 'Made for kisses'. So if I'm dark, I'm not worthy to be loved? Once the ugly passed, I was overcome by a feeling of love that I was born in a time where Black and Brown people embrace the treasure that is our skin. "Brown skin girl. Skin just like pearls. Best thing in the world. I wouldn't trade you for anybody else." - Blue Ivy Carter
Eurocentric beauty standards are real and I got to see how real once I arrived in Paris. I saw more than 10 Black men with relaxers. Y'all I was shook because we all know how damaging it is to our hair and how foolish you look with a relaxer in 2019. But again I was hurt at the idea that a Black man felt so ugly with his natural kinks and curls, that he decided to burn them out with the creamy crack. I remember when I was on the creamy crack. From five years old, being subliminally told that what grew from my scalp was not presentable. Thank God fro the natural hair movement that overtook America. Now we need to bring our energy to Europe and Africa.
Black and Brown people are constantly changing our hair, our "attitudes", and our skin to fit into a box that we were never meant to fit into. Over 100 years of being told we're ugly, not good enough, too loud, too angry, too this and too that and we're just now in the mid 2000s realizing the magic that makes us who we are. We are resilient, captivating, magical beings that are more than enough.