A big thank you to Jo for being the next entry of Birds of a Feather! Joeshanay’s entry focuses on the relationship between the fashion/beauty industry’s representation and women’s self-esteem. This piece really hones in how positive representation and reinforcement is necessary in terms of societal standards!! Joe, thank you so much for writing this wonderful entry! It does not stop there though, I also will have an entry publishing next Monday with a similar take on society’s beauty standards and Black women’s self-esteem. I hope y’all enjoy! ~Cheyenne
Heyyy Everybodyy!! My name Is Joeshanay aka “Aaliyah” and I am heading into my sophomore year with a major in Philosophy and a minor in History. I was born in Fresno, California where I was raised in a beautiful household with my mother and five siblings and as of now, I reside in Los Angeles. Before I begin my story, I would like to take time to thank Cheyenne for allowing me to take space and share my view and opinions on the challenges we are currently facing in the world.
Growing up with a mother who was very into fashion and the beauty industry, I often had the opportunity to see what was being forecasted as “beautiful” or what trends were in style. Back in the early 2000s, I can think back to when black women have often portrayed the “video vixen” look or used merely in a negative narrative on television. Of course, there were a few actresses or supermodels who set a different narrative but often times it was the unfavorable ledge that was broadcasted amongst the world. Watching my mother’s response to those projections I can tell took a toll on her self esteem. Even at one point in time, she told me she wished she favored a woman like “Ashanti” who is a Black singer known for her beauty and her “grace.” Instead of considering herself to be Ashanti, she saw herself as a Tanisha Thomas a Black TV personality from the reality show Bad Girls Club. Listening to her words and fully understanding what they meant, I knew my mom was genuinely unhappy with the woman she was. It was that moment I knew that there was an issue on media projection of women more so Black women.
TV shows such as America’s Next Top Model or Keeping Up With the Kardashians projected the image that women should be perfect and that it’s highly important that we as women should do “ANYTHING” to make sure we are seen by others that way. Even though I was young, I still knew that that message wasn’t a healthy way of thinking nor was it the way the average woman would want to be perceived in life. Therefore, “We Need A Resolution.”
Now. I recall my early-mid teenage years when I started to develop or in society’s term.“Become a woman.” Living in a Black household, young girls are often adult-ified, which is the ill-treatment of being treated as an adult at a young age. I was always told I couldn’t wear certain clothes because they “shown too much.” or even the hairstyles that were seen on other races such as my hair being worn straight would be seen as “too fast.” I was always seen or treated much more than the age I truly was/am. As I speak to more young Black women similar to me, I can acknowledge that this is a serious issue and needs to be stopped. It is more than unfair that we are treated and seen as much more developed or mature than others. SKIN COLOR HAS NOTHING!!! ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! To do with our maturity level! “We Need A Resolution.”
I can recall still seeing those critical messages but in addition to those harmful messages, I remember them being more aggressive and negative toward women who were “natural” and lived flawed lifestyles. Versus the women who were obviously not, They instead were put on the pedestal of what would be “ideal” or “the most interesting to look at.” Seeing stuff like this hurt me because I considered myself to be one of those “flawed” women and seeing how the media reacts to the sights of those women back then hurt me as one point in time I began to wonder. “Am I really not the ideal woman?” and “Would anyone care to see me as interesting to get to know or want?”
And obviously, things have changed now, as people are more progressive and open to the normalization of many things, things that would be considered back then “unnatural”. But we as a society definitely need to not only do but BE BETTER! As not much has changed but people are more critical to watch how they comment. It's still an issue and I’m just fed up!!! As the late Aaliyah would say, WE NEED A RESOLUTION!
~Joeshanay aka Aaliyah