FIRST THOUGHT: Speak Up
I sat in the chair to get my hair washed at the salon yesterday. The stylist’s nails scraped and poked as she vigorously lathered and rinsed. It was far from enjoyable and I was getting annoyed. But, guess what? I didn’t speak up. She even asked if I was doing OK, and I grimaced and lied. Now, my tender head is livid…at myself.
Why is it so hard to speak up? If you’re in the camp of “can’t we all just get along?” like me, think ahead of time about what your limits are. Make it a rule to stick to them, so in the moment, you don’t feel caught in the “should I?” or “shouldn’t I?” dialogue. Physical discomfort or pain is a clear limit for me, and guess what? Now, I know. (Side note: My hair looks amazing, thanks.)
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 40
You’ve been there: You get one of those free department store makeovers, look in the mirror and see a caricature of yourself looking back. “I’ll definitely keep this foundation in mind…” you say, as you flee the scene in shame.
Makeup can be extremely inaccessible. Everyone’s skin tone is different, and up until, like, yesterday, the word “nude” elicited Snow White-ness. But when Rihanna launched her beauty line, Fenty Beauty, she made waves by starting off with 40 shades. That means other companies no longer have an excuse to whitewash.
WOMAN TO WATCH: Jackie Aina, Youtube Personality & Beauty Influencer
Discovering your perfect shade is as easy as finding your soulmate. Like your soulmate, once you find it, you’re theirs for life. Everyone’s pretty over exclusivity when it comes to beauty, and Jackie Aina is one of the driving forces for beauty inclusivity. She’s got nearly 3 million followers on YouTube and has helped catapult a call to action.
Kim Kardashian (have you heard of her?) invited Jackie and other beauty influencers to take a look at one of her beauty product launches because, well, Jackie’s that big of a deal. Jackie earned the NAACP Image Award for her mission-driven influence. The Washington Post called her a “crusader for black women.”
Jackie identifies as dark-skinned and has spoken about issues like skin bleaching and shadism. Her unapologetic-yet-measured take on black culture is what has helped amass her following. (That, and her on-point glam looks).
It’s not just foundation that’s needed a diversity overhaul. Lipsticks, eyeshadow and other beauty staples are often created without a range of skin tones in mind. What’s crimson on one woman might be mauve on another.
Jackie’s rise to beauty influencer didn’t begin in a traditional way. She studied medicine for a couple years before joining the Army Reserve and being stationed in Hawaii. Her practice and talent of killin’ it at makeup took her skills to YouTube. Now, Jackie has partnered with big brands like e.l.f. Cosmetics to create a jewel-toned eyeshadow palette.
Influence seems like a pretty difficult quality to measure. But for Jackie, it’s real. When she questioned cosmetics company Too Faced for its lack of shades, the company developed nearly a dozen more shades, some formulated by Jackie herself.
Jackie says the military influenced the choices she’s made in her YouTube career: She now sees the big picture, choosing to brush off annoyances or complaints. Still, would she rather be in boots and camo? Nah. Heels with a side of advocacy will do.
QUITE THE QUOTE
Another outspoken advocate, Meryl Streep, said:
"What makes you different or weird, that's your strength."