2019 was a great year for black beauty and achievement. I rarely watch beauty pageants but last year I couldn’t help but pay attention to the fact that the major winners were all black for the first time…ever! Miss Universe, Miss America, Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss World were making waves with their #blackgirlmagic, with Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa vowing to wear her natural hair to promote natural beauty. This would have been unheard of a few years ago, so it was refreshing to see the diversity of beauty being celebrated and having black women win…several times!
My lack of knowledge about beauty pageants made me think that they were very superficial and purely based on Eurocentric ideals of beauty that many women of colour couldn’t live up to. Beauty Queens were deemed vain and 2 dimensional but after watching the Miss World competition, it did open my eyes to how much more is involved in the judging – although I did wonder what all the dancing was about!
Black Beauty Queens or Black Queens?
We as a society have broadened our definition of beauty, which is great, but I still feel that, as black women, we are placed on a ‘scale of blackness’. Women with the stereotypical beauty queen image i.e. straight hair, lots of make-up, straighter noses, well spoken and lighter skin are perceived as ‘less black’, whereas those with darker skin, broader noses, louder voices and natural hair are often portrayed as ‘real black Queens’. This is unfair and hurtful to many. I have even personally been told I’m “not that black” (despite having dark skin and natural hair/locs) purely based on the fact that I am articulate and softly spoken. It’s crazy!
We are blessed with a spectrum of blackness, so both ends and inbetween should be celebrated and respected as black women equally. We have the right to experiment with hair and make-up and still be considered black. Our complexions and music taste doesn’t definite or quantify our connection to our ancestry and whether we are beauty queens or not, we all still black and treated as such by people outside of our race.
The Black Spectrum
I understand that my illustrations represent just a tiny portion of black society. I endeavour to be fully diverse and inclusive, but it would be impossible to represent every shade, size, age and hair type of the African diaspora, so bear with me as my collection grows!
I take inspiration from my followers and the people I meet at events, so I hope that there is at least one item that you and your friends and family can relate to. The goal is to expand my range and empower women (and men) right across the ‘black spectrum’ one card at a time… because after all we ALL descend from royalty!
If you have any suggestions on the type of portraits you’d like to see on my items, please send me an email or drop me a DM on Instagram.
Thank you for reading and stay blessed!