Black BeauTEA Talk // When Diversity is Cool, Black Women Are Still Ignored, Tokenized, and Used

Black BeauTEA Talk is a monthly column especially for black brides to find inspiration for bridal hair and makeup hosted by one of the best in the industry, Brittney Taylor.

Hey beauties, did ya miss me?! This time I'm sitting here on a Saturday evening doing this write up (which I wouldn't normally do), so I'm actually having a glass of wine. I'm sure that you have all seen this photo and the many think pieces on it.

Black BeauTEA Talk Brittney Taylor

So things just haven't been sitting well with me about this, so I decided to let all of my beauties know why over some tea (wine this time). Shall we?!

So let's be clear, this is nothing new. It's not the first, nor is it the last time this will happen, but we absolutely have to stop condoning the bullshit.

I'm gonna be frank when I say that I wouldn't have given it a second thought had he not attached a full dissertation under his post claiming he did it to celebrate black women's beauty.

Black BeauTEA Talk Brittney Taylor

Telling a lie about claiming to celebrate or appreciate my sisters is what we not gonna do! While having a discussion with some other makeup artist, I asked “well how many actual black women does he have on his page?” The response was “one.” So let me make it plain, this man that claims to have turned a white woman black for the sake of celebrating our beauty has one actual, real life black woman on his page. (Yes, she passed the paper bag test.) Sounds about white to me.

So I’ve seen other makeup artists saying it's art and well, art pushes the boundaries. So let me tell you all the ways this is NOT art in the slightest. Had he not tied the headwrap on her (because well, that's the black girls' thing, ya know?), you nor I would have been able to tell his intent was to make her a black woman. She would have been just another overly filtered makeover amongst the slew of Kardashian look-alikes on his Instagram. Oh, and he was too lazy to do her hand to match, so miss me with the "this is art" BS. What this is, is simply modern day BLACKFACE!

Black BeauTEA Talk Brittney Taylor

1. Theater.
an entertainer, especially in a minstrel or vaudeville show, made up in the role of a black person. By the mid-20th century, these entertainers had declined in popularity because their comic portrayal of negative racial stereotypes was considered offensive.

2. the facial makeup, as burnt cork, used in this role:

During the time of original blackface, black people were not allowed to be in theater. This relates now because there is a serious lack of representation of our people still today. So instead of waiting around to be included, many of us have decided to create spaces where we are celebrated—spaces, movements, and terms where we can celebrate one another in all of our glory. Now that #Melanin is a movement, people are trying to get in where they don't fit in, like my grandmother would say. It's simply cool to be trendy, but they don't REALLY appreciate us. This is why their way of showing love is to take everything they can that makes us who we are and co-opt it. They start doing blackface, they start wearing “boxer braids” and baby hair, etc. The coldest part of it all is that they don't even want the black body that brought life to these trends. They have to find a white model to don all of these things to make it more palatable for them. They don't want it to be too ratchet, ghetto, hood, or BLACK. They like theirs trendy, hip, new, or WHITE. Don't ever let them tell you it's celebration or appreciation of who you are; it is everything but that. That's why we have to support and uplift the artists that genuinely celebrate us. Check out one of my favorite makeup artist that represents for us unapologetically and displays our beauty in a way that only another sister knows how!

Mali Magic is absolutely flawless in her skill, with a huge heart and amazing personality. I am always inspired by her and challenged to continue to find ways to tailor techniques to suit black women. Check her out for yourself and be sure to show some love @kingmalimagic.

Mali Magic

Moshooday Sanni is so amazingly talented and inspiring, I don't think I'd be able to put into words how much I appreciate her. Check it out for yourself below, and find her on Instagram @moshoodat or on her website.

Moshooday Sanni

So instead of waiting around to be included, many of us have decided to create spaces where we are celebrated.

Let's move past that now because we are living our truths unapologetically, using our platforms to say hey, we're onto your bullshit, and some people are stepping up. I know you've seen it if you're in this industry: the numerous model calls for black models, couples, babies. Now they want to “diversify their portfolios,” which should be a no-brainer, right? But let me warn you that not many of these people are genuine; they want diversity in their portfolios simply because they want your coins! That is it, that is all, so be leary, and always consider what you'll gain from these model calls. I recently began noticing that a few local photographers would reach out to me to do trade work. (Trade work is where everyone involved works solely for the images from the shoot.) They would want me to find black models for these shoots and do the makeup, which was always a joy for me because giving black women a platform and opportunities is extremely important to me. But as I got to know these people and see how they handled life, I began to understand that they weren't doing it for the reasons I was. They were doing it because having a diversified portfolio is a wise business move. These same photographers wouldn't book me for their paid photo shoots; for that they'd use their friend. So I had to understand that I was being called on solely because of my reach with black women, and it honestly makes me feel disgusted. I saw a black woman online share her experience as a bride, and this is what she said about that experience.

“I just realized something. When I got married a few years ago, I had a diverse set of vendors. My photographer, videographer and DJ were all white. We paid $5K for the photographer, $3K for the videographer, and $2K for the DJ. We had a beautiful wedding. The pictures and images were stunning.

None of those vendors reposted our images on their Facebook pages or personal websites. When I go back and look, it's clear the type of individuals/couples they post. They are overwhelmingly white. Those are facts.

I share this to say—I gave these people my coins and had a lovely experience, but if you're willing to take my money but not share me and my family as a part of your portfolio, then that's probably due to some internal stuff going on. I won't try to get into their heads and make sense of it, but the impression I'm left with is one of a bad taste in my mouth.”

I shared these example with you all so that you can understand that not everyone really truly understands why representation is important; most of them don't give a fuck. So to you, my beauties, please, go where you are celebrated, not where you are tolerated, and that's TEA!

~Peace & Light~

So I want to do something that I don't do and won't do again. I want to talk to the white creatives that may come across this and those that regularly read Black BeauTEA talk.

Diversity and representation are important, but before you send out that model call, stop and ask yourself these questions.

1. Why is diversity important to black women?

2. What do I do regularly to help fight against the white supremacist world we live in?

3. What will this black woman gain from doing my photo shoot?

If you don't care about all three of these things, keep your bland-ass portfolios and websites.  


Meet the author Brittney Taylor: I am a freelance makeup artist located in Cameron, North Carolina. I have been working in this area for three years doing event makeup, as well as print and some runway. This year I will be working to build a bridal artistry business that will be fully mobile. I studied makeup artistry at makeup artist studios in Richmond, Virginia, and from there developed my aesthetic. I spend a lot of time studying past artists, as well as trends today. I believe that everyone is beautiful, and my job is to enhance that!