Black Women’s Beauty Related Experiences

Updated: Apr 5, 2019

Black women's experiences are diverse but one string runs through them all; having black or mixed skin means you have to deal with blatant or nuanced racism that black people in general experience.

Aamito Lagum, international model

“Growing up in Uganda, I did not fit into the ideal. I was too dark. I was too tall. But I didn’t really notice I was black until I came to the U.S. Here I’m black, whereas I was just a person in Uganda. [Last year, there was a close-up of Lagum’s lips on the M.A.C. Instagram feed that triggered racist remarks in the comments section.] It wasn’t that big a deal to me — haters gonna hate — and I was able to brush it off. I posted back, ‘My lips are giving you sleepless nights.’ I grew up loved by my family. That love enabled me to love what I saw in the mirror. I learned to love my skin too much to fit someone else’s script. It is the same love that keeps me safe from comments that would otherwise offend me.” - to Allure

Princess Onitilo, Founder, Tress Free

"I had (an) incident when my local beauty spa had an offer for laser hair removal and it was insanely cheap. I walked in to book an appointment and was told the treatment was not for black people. I didn’t know what to say, so I quickly left.' -  to The DEBRIEF

Viola Davis, actress

"Nobody uses those two words in a sentence: beauty and Viola. I didn’t grow up like that. I didn’t have boyfriends until I was in my 20s. Part of that was because I was extraordinarily shy, but, um, no. And especially, women of my hue are historically, traditionally, not associated with beauty. I think that’s part of the reason why I did take my wig off is because I felt that I was just addicted to the wigs … I felt like I was using it as a crutch. And I wanted to show people that despite all these things, I’m still cute. So look at me. Aren’t I cute? And I just felt that I needed to stop doing that and I needed to stop apologizing for that and I needed to step into who I was." — to

Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, writer

I didn’t wear makeup in the U.S., I wore makeup in Nigeria because I wanted to look my age and not too young. In Nigeria, in particular, it was easy for men to dismiss what I said because they thought I looked like a small girl. I remember seeing a man at the airport after my first novel was published, and he looked at me, quite quizzical, and said, “You look like the writer.” And I said, “Well, I’m kind of her.” His face fell. And he said, “I didn’t think the writer would be such a small girl.” There was such disappointment on his face." - to New York Times

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