I have always loved fashion. I have a mother that made sure I remembered to (in her words) “Look as best your can when you leave the house; you never know who you might meet!” I couldn’t wait to wear makeup, I couldn’t wait to carry a purse, and when I was allowed to cut my hair?
Oh, it was on!
Part of the rite of passage as a Black girl is to find your own style! To make your own way in the world through finding what you like, and make it your own. That’s what we as Black girls do! Whether it be high-top Chucks that we customize, or a bag we make, or a coat and shoes we rock from Old Navy–we make trends.
We have always made trends. This is the part of Black Girl Magic no Kardashian, no White girl who wants to touch your hair, or no IG copycat with body implants can take from you. Black women are some of the most creative on planet Earth! From the Academy Award winning costume designer for Black Panther, Ruth E. Carter, to my good girlfriend, Tiara Chantal who makes jewelry, Black women literally make it happen.
The thing that grates on my nerves has its basis in the Jesse Williams quote:
From how we wear our hair, to how we get out nails done, to the shoes we wear! I have always maintained that fashion houses bite style from the Black kids in the inner city! I’ve seen it! I have seen little LILY WHITE girls trying to dress like the SAME girls their parents say they shouldn’t even breathe the same air as! I have seen women be denied jobs because of their locks or have to contend with the coded language of an HR Manual; something like “having an appropriate hair color naturally occurring in nature.” Now, my Torches, y’all are far from dumb! You know who their targets were when that was written!
But yet, what do we do? We still find the flyest shoes. We still wear our hair close cut or a Brazillian sew-in down our backs. We still find ways to express ourselves–and it is marvelous to witness. I love being able to tell my daughters they can wear what they want, to learn how to dress their bodies, and what they can do better. I love when I go to my local nail salon and get my skinny coffin shape nails-YES, SKINNY COFFIN!-with my signature lavender gel polish; my big hoop earrings; either red and black box braids or blonde/brown wig, with my dual college degrees! Feeling like the goddess I am! TUH!
I love when I take my daughters to the same salon and I let them pick their color also. I have made it my mission to remind my daughters that swag is a Black girls’ birthright–no one can take that from you.
The thing is, and the open secret is, Black girls have been the classic standard of beauty. We have! Just look through history! The thing about these non-melaninated women is they wanna try us out. They want to try out being Black–but with the freedom take it off.
Example: White girls with ‘boxer braids’. No, bih. Those are cornrows.
Example: Kylie Jenner. Now, y’all tell ME why she went from this (left) to a the aesthetic of a light skinned Black girl (right)?
Black girl fashion is art. Black girl fashion is expression. Black girls move the needle of fashion daily–never the same thing, the same way twice. Respectability politics phrased as ‘why do you dress like that?’ have no place here. I put this on, because I want to put it on. My nails are this long because I need you to see what I’m saying! My hair is the color because I need you to see me coming and owning every piece of the ground I cover: in Louboutins, Jordans, or these heels I bought just because they were on sale at Rainbow!
My Black is undeniable. My melanin is evident. My presence is a present. You can look at my shoes. You can ask about my outfit. You can even compliment my bag. Just don’t touch my hair.
[Images from (1) wonderwall.com (2) latimes.com (3) Pinterest.com, (4) Hollywood Reporter