Introducing: The Queens of Color Series

janelle monae q.u.e.e.n.

This week, the internet is teeming with fashionista photos, beauty product buzz and red carpet glamour. Weeks like this also open up the floor for conversation about the elephant in the tent (if you will), which is the lack of diversity in fashion. For an industry that relishes cultural influences like tribal prints and exotic colors, the runways still appear pale white season after season. Some designers are better than others, but fashion is still lacking as a whole. During the Fall/Winter 2013 NYFW, 82.7% of the 4479 looks were worn by white models. Now, I understand that designers may have a certain aesthetic in mind when designing a collection, and that aesthetic is often reflected on the catwalk. But the problem arises when you have a young, African-American or Indian-Australian girl watching a “ready-to-wear” show on her mother’s computer and feeling like no designer is ready for someone like her to wear their clothes.

Now I was blessed. While I surely struggled with accepting my skin tone, and spent much of my adolescence as the single Cocoa Puff in an overflowing bowl of milk, my parents made sure that I appreciated my blackness. They reminded me often how special I was and ensured that I spent time around other people like me, who would make me proud to be African-American. And when being that wasn’t enough, and I felt self-conscious about my deep-brown hue, they reinforced the respect by pushing me to admire other people my color (i.e. Kelly Rowland, Venus Williams, Oprah). I believe that it was these practices that saved me from a lifetime of self-hatred, shame and confusion; and for that I am eternally grateful.

But, sadly, every little Black or Brown girl does not have that experience. Some are left to find their beauty (or supposed lack thereof) in the checkout line at their local grocery store, in between photoshoots with Lauren Conrad, Kate Hudson, Jennifer Lawrence and Olivia Wilde. Or in their Instagram feeds, underneath Gal Meets Glam and Sequins & Stripes. Or on the runways, falling in line next to Karlie Kloss, Miranda Kerr and Cara Delevingne. (NOTE: I am in no way knocking the beauty, value or credibility of any of these celebrities, bloggers or models.) This thought inspired me to, first go on the corresponding Twitter rant, and second, start this series.

My mother made it her duty to expose me to all of the beauty there was in my brown skin. And since then I have continued the search. If you don’t feel like you see enough of something, it’s up to you to surround yourself with it. If you don’t see us getting the exposure, expose yourself. Search names, follow blogs, read books, learn history.

I chose to use this blog as my platform to highlight celebrities, bloggers, models, activists, historical figures and the like who represent positive examples of women of color. Each week (or so), I will present a new Queen, along with a brief blurb about them, and some other tidbits of information. It is my hope that these posts will be shared for the purpose of uplifting and enlightening little girls who are just like I was, as a way to carry on my parents’ mission.

I hope you’ll enjoy. I’m excited! The first post is coming shortly! Also, if you have an idea for someone who you’d like me to spotlight with this series, please let me know in the comments below!

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