deft with a sponge and wore the most intense expression while applying her face which let us know that, clearly, this was serious work. We were always fascinated by her many looks: those pinkish red lips, Cleopatra-lined eyes, the punchy layer of blush, pop of shadow and her perfectly curled and teased hair.
You know that as soon as she left the house, we were rifling under the sink and in the cabinets, digging all through her makeup bag and making each other up, with the earnest stone-face that was apparently required. My youngest sister was always the guinea pig, and hardly ever the makeup artist. I remember a set of particularly horrendous eyebrows that I once gave her, before I learned the meaning of a light touch. Let's just say that it was NOT becoming. She loved the attention though and the mandatory strut up and down the hallway that always came afterward. It obviously left a deep impression, since she has become the makeup expert among the three of us sisters today.
Like many black women may, I also remember the smell and the sizzle of the hot comb and that green hair grease that seemed to be the press-and-curl secret weapon. I can smell it right now, just thinking about it! And there was that unfortunate time when a small section of my hair was burned to a sickly yellow color by the too-hot hot comb. No good at all. These memories though, are not about fashion, or looking "foine" (except maybe for my sister's strut up and down the hallway/runway); they are about identifying with family/community and find space as a woman-to-be via the practice of beauty rituals.
Contributing to Mischo Beauty offers me an exciting challenge. In order to share my opinions, I need a full awareness of my take on the many aspects of what we call Beauty and the best and most empowering ways to enhance it. I was thinking about this a couple of weekends ago after I visited the Studio Museum in Harlem, a cultural treasure that is a must-see for anyone visiting New York City. Among the many works up for view is "Me Broni Ba," a short film piece by Ghanaian-American filmmaker Akosua Adoma Owusu. In the film she examines hair, not through the lens of fashion, but as it embodies identity and culture, belonging and not belonging. I think these are issues many, if not all, of us face in our day-to-day choices of how to present ourselves, and it really illustrated the complexity of finding one's own perspective on personal beauty and acceptance in the larger world. Eureka... an unexpected moment of beauty-related inspiration at the museum! Her rotation in the VideoStudio will end on December 11th, so hurry if you want to check it out. I would truly love to hear what you think!
I've often heard that beauty is as beauty does. I think that statement relates deeply to what it means to be consciously beautiful. Consciousness is not necessarily all-natural, but knowledgeable. For me, it means making informed choices and being purposeful in our actions. It means thinking about what motivates each of us as we transform ourselves into the characters that we want to present to the world. What is it about a well-made face and laid out hair that takes our confidence and performance to another level? What is the source of that power? It has to be more than product. What I want to know is, what kind of Conscious Beauty are you? -Zee