by Kimberly Foster @KimberlyNFoster
After MAC cosmetics posted a close-up photo of Ugandan model Aamito Langum's lips yesterday, the racist trolls swarmed.
The photo was taken backstage at the Ohne Title fall 2016 show in New York City.
MAC meant to highlight the beautiful, yet-to-be-released deep purple shade they're calling Royal Romance. Instead, they inadvertently exposed the bigotry of their followers.
And Black women are using the same platforms on which the racists emerge to uplift one another.
Within hours of the cruelty making headlines, Dr. Yaba Blay, Professor of Political Science at North Carolina Central University, and Thembisa Mshaka, a producer/filmmaker, came together to start the #prettylipsperiod hashtag.
So far dozens of women have supported #PrettyLipsPeriod by sharing photos of their lips with the hashtag.
|L to R: Yaba Blay (Courtesy Yaba Blay), Thembisa Mshaka (Courtesy Thembisa Mshaka)|
"It's less about addressing the cultural appropriation and racism in this particular moment," Blay told For Harriet. "And it's more about making sure that we are affirmed in ourselves—that we don't accept what other folks and the mainstream are saying about our features and what we look like."
According to Blay, reclaiming our beauty requires that we have spaces to celebrate outside of those mediated by corporate voices. "It might be difficult to find affirmation in that space, so we create our own space."
Create is what Blay has done with the #Pretty365 campaign, launched in 2015, and the Pretty Period website. She stresses that this work is about redirecting some of the energy we spend reacting to racists back to edifying ourselves.
She explains, "That shift in the gaze...to the way we're only seeking out the positive in certain spaces, I think, is critical for our mental and emotional health when it comes to our identities"
No matter what is said in the mainstream, Black women will be ok as long as we hold tight to a truth Dr. Blay underscores. "We're beautiful as is, and Black is most beautiful when it's on Black bodies."
Header photo: Instagram/OhnoTitel