Many view the differing shades of melanin in physical form and do not disturb what is beyond the naked eye. I however, always feel all of my senses awaken at the celebration and acknowledgment of a wide spectrum and the varying hues that black women exist in. This awakening has been more recently coined simply and eloquently as “Black Girl Magic”. You see chocolate. I see mud speckled with 14 carat gold trudged upon lightly by a Ghanaian woman soaking up the sun. You see honey. I taste the sweet bitterness of a perfectly aged Brazilian whiskey in the midst of sambistas. Maybe you see cafe au lait. I hear the majestic bravado of laughter escape the lips as an African French woman greets her friends, “Bonjour! Ca va?” Perhaps you see the finely bloomed flowers Alice Walker discovered a la “In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens”. I see a rainbow of feathers jewels during Mas adorning Caribbean women celebrating Carnival. Insert The Colored Girl Campaign.
A couple of months ago, Tori Elizabeth and Victory Jones introduced us to The Colored Girl Campaign. The aim of the campaign was to bring to the forefront the beauty of black women in varying skin tones. The campaign came after what felt like a tsumani of cultural appropriation and swagger jacking. Many traits associated with black women worldwide such as large lips, juicy derrieres, afros and cornrows have been plagiarized, manufactured, repackaged and delusion-ally marketed to the same group of people that shunned those same characteristics when we rock them. On the contrary, we effortlessly surfed that wave by perfecting our twist outs, starting businesses, winning gold medals, flavoring lemonade with melanated struggles and triumphs and blending those contours proper and becoming a prodigy of Iron Man. Elizabeth and Jones brought to the forefront what remained in the background. They personally selected women of different shades, body types, hair textures and bone structures. One will not find these women on the cover of Vogue or in the latest L’Oreal commercial. These women represent the carefully curated lives we yearn to see celebrated and lauded for.
In Part 2 of The Colored Girl Campaign, Jones and Elizabeth styled the models in all white contrary to the original campaign where everyone was dressed in nude. We are bombarded by social injustice on a daily basis and the campaign helps us visually re-calibrate and reinforce the notion that we are more than the harmful elements impacted upon us on a daily basis. The beginning of the campaign description on the website states, “This is the REBIRTH of the black woman… she stands before you awakened and ready, in all her crowning glory to reclaim her regality and be celebrated in equality. Through her journey of self-affirmation and self-love, she is no longer an afterthought. She has rightly taken her place at the table and shall not be ignored. No longer will she be relegated to sub-par treatment. She stands up for herself and others in strength and love, to uplift those around her.”
Sure, there comes with this skin a lot of struggle, but why focus on the consistent negative connotations that have been fed to us for years now? After all, a seed’s sprout must break through the dirt’s surface to eventually blossom into a flower. All in all, Pt. 2 of The Colored Girl Campaign pushes the very fragile and deteriorating envelope that is societal standards of beauty. I would take it a step further and say that Jones and Elizabeth push the envelope of societal standards of simply being. We have to continue to put ourselves out there and uplift ourselves. We must continue to scratch beyond the surface of black women’s skin color. Cultural awakenings such as The Colored Girl Campaign elegantly illustrates the beauty and variety of black women beyond our skin color and more so beyond our resilience. We are delicate, happiness, girly and glamorous too. Our melanin, experiences and come ups are not to be picked apart and dissected separately, but together admired as those elements collectively contribute to our unwavering beauty and overall being. Preview the other campaign images in the slideshow below:
Founders & Creative Directors: @stylebytori & @srvj