“Dipped in chocolate, bronzed in elegance, enameled with grace, toasted with beauty. My lord, she’s a black woman.” –Yosef A.A. Ben Jochannan
Ever since primitive times, it is no surprise that women have struggled to gain equality. Breaking prejudices,achieving respect, and proving themselves worthy, amidst the intensive patriarchy that surrounded them. The boundaries that were once created for women have faded but nevertheless, they still exist. Even in the 21st century, women have to face a lot of obstacles – female feticide, dowry, less wage, sexual harassment, and disparity in education to name a few. They are held more responsive than men in all aspects of life. To look back although women empowerment and equality has taken uphill but patriarchy still prevails.
Color has been a prime factor for classification among the human race. To say one is a certain color might have just been established to give an idea about their ancestry but it has rather seem to take an ugly form. The civil rights movement had first opposed this oppression that the African American faced in 1960’s through some of the greatest leaders, like legendary civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela and Rosa Parks. This was one of the most influential events in history and had successfully managed to give fundamental human rights to the black people in the United States of America. This time, the world has realized many things and although the constitution, law, and justice have become blind to the colors, society never fails to remind us that we still live in a world which is mainly driven by the bourgeoisie and the media mainly, who are influenced by the needs of the powerful races.
The media, undoubtedly, has been a career platform for several people. Everybody from fashion divas to photographers, social media has been a way to express one’s ideas and opinions. Not to mention, it has influenced the beauty standards, globally affecting women; especially of color. Although rights might not be a problem anymore, society’s construct is. Idealistic traits have been penned down to categorize what is now powerful and beautiful.
Considering the worrisome state of thought that people have towards people of color, rapper Young Paris brought about a unique idea to showcase the beauty and diversity of people of color. Thus, this trend that has lately been blooming are, #melaninmonday, #melaninpoppin or #teammelanin, hash tags that are used on photographs to support the idea of equality when it came to beauty. This tag is to promote brown and black women with African ties and also people from Asian countries such as Nepal, India, and Bangladesh, having deeper skin tones. Graphic T-shirts are customized with this tag and has managed to spread not just a smile on faces but also a message that is very strong. Melanin is an intricate biological compound that is present in our skin which provides protection against harmful sunrays and also makes a person less prone to the growth of cancerous cells. It also happens to be the compound that makes our eyes, hair, and skin pigmented. People who have larger quantity of melanin have darker complexions than those who don't.
We live in an age where we think we have come far with development and civilization. But the way I see it we have been walking the same footsteps since the beginning of humankind. Black and brown girls are suffocated with criticism because they are seen as people who have failed to meet up with the fundamental expectations of the society. Oppression of the minority or any person who might now fit the ‘idealistic beauty’ is often represented little by the media and the society.
The definition of beauty and fashion has evolved with time. Beauty is no longer confined to light-skinned people with long lashes and perfect waist size; it has become more flexible. This tag proves that being brown or black doesn’t mean you are any less beautiful or incapable. Celebrities such as Shay Mitchell, Beyoncé, and the Gabrielle Union have also been promoting the idea of equality between white and people of color by taking up different initiatives on social media. This kind of ideas which have put effort to revolutionize the way we see beauty has been supported by renowned makeup studios such as M.A.C cosmetics and magazines like Teen Vogue. Bloggers and activists have created photo stories with ' melanin' as its core topic. These are statements and images of gratification have stirred consciousness among people.
This revolution has started again, not because there is a need for equity in the entertainment and beauty industry. It is to prompt that being of a certain race and color doesn’t add up to a woman's, or anybody’s, strength and pride. Baby steps like Melanin Monday is to us that color should stop anybody from achieving their goals. It is to make us realize that they shouldn’t have to hide who they truly are. Beauty doesn’t dwell our hair color or your skin color, you are the positivity in your mind, the security in your heart, the integrity that you show and the soul that resides within you so make the women in doubt disappear.
Sureka is an intern. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org