When you were growing up, did you find a lot of women who looked like you on magazines and beauty campaigns?
Not really. Growing up, Britney Spears and Avril Lavigne were huge and considered these hot girls that everyone wanted. Beyonce wasn’t at the status she is now, but if you wanted black skinned beauty, you had to go to media dedicated to black skinned people.
How did that make you feel?
It was difficult. It was as if I was told that I was only beautiful in my minority, but never to the majority. But even the women celebrated there were usually on the light skinned side of the color spectrum and didn’t have many curves going on. The late 90s and early 2000s were difficult for women with a bit of body to work with.
Do you feel more represented now than you did when you were growing up?
I do! Right now there are people like Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o, Serena Williams! People who look like me. And right now, everyone is all about hour glass figures, being a bit more curvy and being proud of it. We live in a time right now where we celebrate all body types and women are so encouraging of each other. I’m really happy for this new generation to be growing up right now in a time where they can be empowered rather than shown their imperfections.
Can you name 3 women that you admire and why?
To stick with the theme of media: Serena Williams, Danai Gurira, and Lupita Nyong’o without a doubt! Here are three Strong. Beautiful. Black women making things happen for themselves and being fabulous along the way. When I saw Danai Gurira in The Walking Dead I remember thinking Yes! This woman is incredible! And dark like me! At the time, I had locks, and she portrays a character with locks on the show, and I just felt so incredibly bad ass and that I could be like her! And then seeing both her and Lupita Nyong’o in Black Panther serving some black girl realness was breath taking! And for it to do so well!
I wish I could show that movie to 10 year old Autumn who tried to hide herself in any way she could. And then there was Serena Williams. I played tennis in high school because I wanted to be her. Here was someone black, muscular and thick, kicking ass and being fashionable in a sport that doesn’t have a lot of black people. These women all mean a lot to me with what they have accomplished and the world they are shaping within the media. They are expanding the boundaries of beauty and showing that black women have always been gorgeous and powerful, it’s everyone else who wasn’t paying attention.