Monday, August 13, 2012

Beauty is...

What is beauty? Who is beautiful? Growing up in the midwest all of my life, I have never been the embodiment of what is considered beautiful. (Thank goodness I had a decent sense of humor so as to draw others to me). As a small child, this had a tremendous effect on my self esteem. I remember rubbing lotion on my arms after bath time and hoping that the white cream would stay on top of my skin and not absorb so that I could stay white.

Growing up with parents who struggled through the civil rights era, saved me from drowning in self defeat when it came to matters of racial equality. Heading into adolescence, and even my teenage years, I had a much more well rounded sense of pride for my heritage and my "beauty".  I enjoyed defining my own sense of style. I stopped looking to society to define what was beautiful and decided to carve it out myself. I distinctly remember being studied by other girls and then watching them try to emulate what I was doing.

In my travels abroad I am always so impressed by the Caribbean society's pride of their own beauty. They flaunt their own black and brown people. Their natural hair styles celebrate their desire to conform to no one, but who they are. It warms my heart and makes me smile to walk into an environment that celebrates who I am and what I look like.

Here are 2 pictures that were in my hotel room in Montego Bay. This is an area known to receive visitors from every corner of the earth. I am so glad the hotel owner chose to highlight beauty according to the Jamaican cultural standard. And let's face it, these two lovely depictions deserve to be viewed, admired, and celebrated.

Monica Stewart

J.C. Bakari 2001

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