Proctor & Gamble has utilized their “My Black is Beautiful” campaign to celebrate and share the diverse stories of women of color in black bodies. P&G describes “My Black is Beautiful” as a movement that “encourages black women to define and promote our own beauty standard — one that is an authentic reflection of our indomitable spirit.”
The description continues:
“Recognizing that beauty and self-confidence are intrinsically linked, My Black Is Beautiful Is designed to ignite black pride and to support a sustained national conversation by, for and about black women — the way we are reflected in popular culture and how we serve as the catalyst for a movement that effects positive change.”
The “My Black is Beautiful” campaign partnered with Beverly Bonds’ “Black Girls Rock” to continue important dialogue about the inextricable-link between self-esteem and Western perceptions of beauty. “Imagine a Future,” a documentary executive-produced by Bonds, premiered on Black Entertainment Television (BET) last week. The film was a true celebration of black women, with Lisa Cortes – an Academy Award-nominee – producing and Shola Lynch – director of Free Angela and All Political Prisoners – directing the film.
“Imagine a Future” was also a needed reminder of how beautiful blackness is. This theme is captured as the cameras follow Janet Goldsboro, a high school student struggling with embracing who she is in a culture that tells her she’s never enough.
Goldsboro travels to South Africa, where she learns the origins of black beauty and is able to make viable comparisons between how idealistic notions of beauty are peddled in South Africa compared to the United States. One of the women she encounters tells her that thinner isn’t better in South Africa, but colorism is still invasive.
Goldsboro realizes how detrimental pining for lighter skin is when she visits a market and sees an abundance of bleaching creams. These comparisons boost Goldsboro’s self-esteem because others experiences afford her the opportunity to see how complex and beautiful blackness is.
The teenager realizes the strength of her ancestors when she visits the grave of Sarah Baartman. Baartman was a South African-native born before 1790. She was enslaved by a Dutch farmer who negotiated with English colonizers to exhibit Baartman in London.
Her large buttocks and elongated labia kept her caged and displayed for white men from England to Ireland. After her death in 1815, Baartman’s remains were kept on display in a Paris museum until 1974. Nelson Mandela requested the return of her remains to South Africa in 1994. She was transported to her final resting place in the Gamtoos Valley of South Africa in 2002, more than 200 years after her birth.
Learning the tragic tale of Baartman awakes Goldsboro to the travesties enacted against other women of color in the diaspora and how these same oppressions are reproduced in her life. She begins researching African-American history when she returns home, and finally finds comfort in her own skin. The genuine beauty that rests within her and all of her ancestors elevates her self-esteem.
Michaela Angela Davis, Melissa Harris-Perry, Gabrielle Douglas, Gabourey Sidibe and other black women offer their perspectives on self-esteem and confidence as we witness Goldsboro’s transformation.
“Imagine a Future” was powerful and special because it highlights the complexities of blackness through stories of struggle and triumph. All women of color can’t travel to South Africa to visit the grave of Sarah Baartman or trace the figurative steps of our ancestors, but knowing that black is beautiful breaks the cycle Goldsboro and others are trapped in.
Did you watch “Imagine a Future?” What were your thoughts, Clutchettes and gents?