We’re taught that we shouldn’t look to other people to validate or affirm ourselves, including our appearance. But so much about beauty is a matter of how people respond to you. It feels good to be adored, desired or simply complimented. While it hurts to be invisible or ostracized because of how you look.
Humans are social creatures and our appearances play a role in how we interact with one and other, as they give people an idea of who you are. Often times, your appearance speaks for you without you ever opening your mouth. But that’s the best part of beauty because it’s the part that we have control over. Just as we’re architects of our own destinies and stories, we’re illustrators of our own book covers. So how do we illustrate ourselves, especially when we have so much choice? And how do we know that our choices are our own?
This month at Un’ruly we’re all about beauty, specifically the idea of self-fashioning and constructing/expressing your visual identity. We’ll be taking a look at whether natural hair is here to stay, and under our larger exploration of the Many Shades of Black, we’ll learn about the skin lightening craze outside of America.
The choices we make to express ourselves physically are so much more important than how people respond to those choices. It’s like finding exactly the right words to articulate a very important thought. Whether or not people interpret what we’re saying correctly or take notice at all is beyond our control but there is certainly comfort and happiness in having an understanding of who you are and being able to express it.
2 thoughts on “from the editor: the beauty of choice”
I think beauty is a very tricky subject, very often you hear people preaching about loving the skin you’re in and loving yourself which is true. However as you stated, this is not an easy task when all around we see a different version of beauty shown, a more acceptable version that is very well not us. I think the problem with black women especially is that many years of being regarded as not an epitome or example of beauty has become ingrained in our minds and subsequently has made it hard for us to see ourselves beautiful the way we are. This unfortunately, will not go away because at the end of the day our outside appearance is our first communication to the world, to attract other mates and fell a sense of content, and if negative perceptions deter us from witnessing such human content then it will be hard to see our beauty without doubting ourself. I sound confusing but I hope you get my drift lol
It’s definitely an ongoing battle and those who are further away from the dominant standard of beauty have to do more and work harder to not get caught up in it.
I perused some 19th century African art recently to see what sort of beauty ideals I might find during a time when a Western standard of beauty hadn’t yet fully penetrated the continent. I took away something interesting from the visit: https://un-ruly.com/what-the-baoule-taught-me-about-beauty/