African-American women spend more money on makeup than their white counterparts, yet writer Britt Julious, in a piece at WBEZ91.5, finds that black women’s attempts to put on “a new face” are rarely recognized by white people. She also laments how few options there are for her — still — at the beauty counter as a darker-skinned woman.
According to Essence’s 2009 Smart Beauty research study, black women spend $7.5 billion annually on beauty products, while paying 80 percent more on cosmetics and twice as much on skin care products than the general market. Reading this was affirmation of something I’ve always known: we want. We want to play and protect and hide and and comfort ourselves in the same way that a “new face” can for others.
In high school, a dance teammate asked, “Can black people even wear eyeshadow? Does it even show up on your skin?” And so, although I want and we as black women want, what remains is a blissful, perhaps even deliberate ignorance to those desires. They can’t possibly want, they think. And if they do, does it ever even matter? …
We were left with few options in my childhood. There was one foundation color for black skin in youth theater and it did not match my skin. When at first our faculty sponsors did the make-up, they covered me from limb to limb, leaving no surface bare. “We can’t have you all mismatched,” a woman said.
Read Britt Julious’ entire piece at WBEZ91.5.
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