Over the past few years, the Black Girl Magic movement has exploded onto our news feeds and across social media. Whilst most may think this is a step in the right direction and society is finally recognising and appreciating black talent, black women know better. Why is the portrayal we see of black women across TV, film, the arts, entertainment industries, and mainstream media singular to one type of black female? The range of female blackness we see portrayed does not accurately represent the range of blackness in society today, and many black women aren’t able to relate. There are few opportunities for black women to recognise themselves, and it’s frighteningly easy for them to feel left out. It’s time to wake up and smell the roses, and start appreciating the diversity of black beauty.
When it comes to beauty, it often a feels as if we’re on a constant quest for perfection. Social media is filled with photos of airbrushed individuals leading ultra-glamorous lives, which we all know isn’t real. For black women and WOC what we see is not a fair representation of the diversity of beauty, and often leaves a lot of black women feeling excluded and undervalued. The skin positivity movement rejects conventional beauty ideals, and has the power to redefine our beauty expectations. This movement allows not only a person’s flaws to be seen, but to be accepted, and celebrated. But yet again, black women are left out of the conversation. The colourism issue cannot be ignored any longer. Colourism is a lack of representation of all forms of black beauty; and when we champion black women but exclude darker-skinned women and women from a range of cultural backgrounds – we reinforce the idea that they aren’t worthy of our attention and celebration.
We need to advance popular culture and steer it away from its stereotypically favoured whiteness, and towards more racial equality. Across all industries we need to challenge the status quo, and increase inclusivity so we see a fairer representation of black women. Society is finally recognising the value of black talent and black voices are at last being amplified. Imagine if more dark-skinned women were given larger platforms and began to be represented more fairly, what would it be like for young dark-skinned girls across the globe to finally be able to look up to someone who looks like them? A fairer representation of black women and black beauty can only be positive, and can have a huge impact on society now as well as generations to come. There are endless different lived experiences, and everyone deserves the right to be seen and heard – not just those with privilege. We cannot reach true inclusivity until we all receive the representation we deserve.
Representation and accurately portraying beauty of all types is a complex and loaded issue. As a society, we’re so used to seeing the same types of beauty over and over again it can be hard for us to see the beauty within ourselves and in others who aren’t represented so equally. When black women with a range of different body shapes, hair textures, and skin tones see themselves represented in all aspects of life only then will we have true diversity. The sooner we start breaking down barriers and seeing the full spectrum and diversity of black beauty, the better.
Written by J’Nae Phillips