This past week I had the humbling honor to be a part of the second Queen B Ladies L.i.T (Legend in Technique) Ball. It was organized by my beautiful friend Januarie York, who is also a blogger you can find her at The I is Never Silent. She honored 30 women for excellence in art, humanitarianism, and sisterhood.
The ball honored black women who work extremely hard in their technique who may not have otherwise been recognized. All of this recognition was in the name of a wonderful woman Blanche “Queen B” Boone- Jackson an Indianapolis poet, friend, and all-around wonderful woman who died in 2014 from complications of a stroke. All of the proceeds from the Legend in Technique Ball went to Stroke Awareness.
I had planned to document so much more but I was just overwhelmed by the presence of tangible Black girl magic to say that I was overwhelmed was an understatement. The evening began when the DJ played Beyonce, Flawless, and it changed the entire energy of the room you could smell the confidence being passed through every woman. I thought does Beyonce know what this song does for Black women? To be in the presence of so many beautiful women that evening left such a warm and exhilarating feeling. I encountered women some of whom I knew before the ball and some that I meet for the first time who are legends in their own right. I share a connection with these legends and it created an unforgettable bond.
Photo Credit: Rana Carter
As I stood there holding my award with my peers I was overcome with emotion. I will now live with this experience forever. I will hold myself accountable for achieving my goals even more than before. I know that the possibilities are endless and that women can empower each other without malice or jealousy. We embraced our scars as a part of our beauty and we expanded our wingspan to soar to our highest potential. This moment was about more than slaying.
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It was just a regular lunch hour for me endlessly caught up in what I like to call “the scroll” it’s when I just mindlessly scroll through Facebook like a zombie. I came across an article, Alicia Keys Has Started A #NoMakeup Movement, And It’s Amazing. I see a picture of Alicia she’s not wearing any makeup, and this is my immediate reaction:
“Alicia Keys with no makeup.”
“She’s still beautiful.”
“A pretty girl with no makeup.”
“If Alicia Key’s has come into self-acceptance, that’s awesome!”
“This is a lot of praise for a pretty girl who is a celebrity that has been photographed without wearing any makeup.”
“A celebrity who can afford to go to the dermatologist and get regular facials.”
Basically, my first thought was that she looked beautiful. I hadn’t fully formed my opinion, but the disadvantage of a trending topic on social media is that people get cynical (myself included). I wasn’t going to bash Alicia Keys for her Aha moment, I just wasn’t about to give her a cookie for doing something I do all the time, show up to work with no makeup on.
Then I read the comments….
Women were not happy about #nomakeup because they said they didn’t want to stop wearing makeup. In the article. Alicia never stated that other women shouldn’t wear makeup. She only said SHE didn’t want to cover up anymore. Her statements were about her personal journey. How did this picture of a bare faced Alicia Keys turn into a brawl?
Then I had a lightbulb moment, DUH, because women are a minority and when a minority makes it into the public eye they now represent all of us. Alicia is no longer allowed the same privilege that I take for granted of showing up to work not wearing any makeup. Her job depends on how she looks. A perceived image can make people sensitive. I understand. I sometimes feel betrayed when an actress I thought looked perfectly fine loses weight. I feel like she’s falling into the ideals of society and leaving us regular women behind to join the stick thin Hollywood Illuminati. (If that’s even a thing)
Maybe the sea of makeup devotees felt left behind on a train they didn’t want to board because unlike Alicia; they can’t afford a dermatologist or get weekly facials. Alicia is a pretty celebrity who on the outside looking in doesn’t have much to hide. Hell, even without makeup Alicia is sitting under good lighting being photographed by a professional photographer. I thought to myself, “Alicia just doesn’t understand our struggle our everyday woman struggle. Kudos to you Alicia on the self-acceptance, but I won’t be throwing away any of my $60 eye shadow pallets anytime soon.”
Then I checked myself
I had just had a conversation with my best friend about how people try to pressure you into being the “old you”. When you truly experience growth you can’t go back to the “old you” and you don’t owe anyone an explanation on why you can’t live up to a past version of yourself. When things don’t change you get stale. Ready, ripe, rotten that is the process of fruit and people. Unlike fruit, we can’t force people into fermentation. (Alicia is a person, not wine! You can’t freeze her in time to make yourself more comfortable)
One woman’s journey does not represent us all and that concept needs to die. (period point blank). We can’t demand to be seen as multi-dimensional and then condemn women for evolving. In the great words of Queen Bey, Ok ladies now let’s get in formation. Form into a line where we support and applaud the change, growth, and evolution. As long as the next woman’s metamorphosis is healthy, I see no reason to take it as a personal attack on how you chose to be a woman. There is no one right of being a woman.
#NoMakeup For Real
The thought of not wearing no makeup doesn’t faze me. Ok, it does bother me I’m a confident person, but I prefer to control how people see me. I’d be a liar if I said the way I look doesn’t play into how I feel. As a matter of fact, my 7th-grade guidance counselor could expose me as the world’s biggest hypocrite.She could tell you a story of a student sent into her office crying hysterically. I mean full on tears, loud sobs from losing your breath while crying, snot, the works. You would have thought someone had died. When the student’s crying finally calmed just enough for the guidance consoler to ask what is wrong. The student shrieks, “MY HAIR IS NOT DONE!”
That crying student was me. I thought I could stay home sick (sick because my hair wasn’t done) from school. My mom didn’t care about my hair. She made me go to school the with the world’s stingiest, harden gel filled, deconstructed french roll turned into a ponytail. My mom just dropped me off at school like she didn’t care about my feelings. (I was thirteen. I wasn’t picking up on the whole school is more important than your hair concept.) Like she couldn’t understand that a thirteen-year-old can not show up to school looking anything less than perfect. That day I learned a valuable lesson, always wash and blow dry your hair the night before or things can get ugly in the morning.
As women, some of our identity is attached to being visually appealing to the eye, as though we have nothing else to offer the world other than the way we look. Like our unpolished, bare faced selves aren’t worthy of being considered beautiful. The societal beauty standard is continually being raised and what we find visually appealing is starting to look less and less like #nomakeup. Real is becoming the new ugly.
Maybe I will send Alicia Keys a cookie because women deserve a prize for accepting their authentic selves. Maybe #NoMakeup isn’t about never wearing makeup again but about embracing our truth. Maybe it’s about finding the beauty in celebrating “I woke up like this, no for real.” Maybe it’s the strength some thirteen-year-old girl needs, so she doesn’t deep breath sob cry in her guidance counselor’s office. Maybe if we all just got into formation and stood in line with Alicia, then we could create a norm where showing up to work with no makeup on is an option for every job, even if your job is being a world renown entertainer like Alicia Keys.
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