That’s a question that was asked at the Brooklyn screening of Pretty, a docu-series looking at what’s defined as beauty across the globe.

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After viewing the documentary which has insights from black women in London, Paris, Milan, and Tel Aviv, a group of black women in New York were brought together by Hairfinity to discuss our representation, or lack thereof, in the media. That’s when one participant brought up the idea that most of us have gotten used to not being seen on TV or in movies or in ads, but when we say we don’t care about seeing ourselves, is that the truth of simply a defense mechanism?

“I think that such a part of being a black woman is knowing that you’re not included…and there’s kind of this acceptance about that,” the guest said speaking on a woman in the docu-series who mentioned knowing that she’s not represented in the media and seemingly not caring.

“Partly, I was wondering are we nonchalant or are we just numb as a self-protecting mechanism?” she added. “I think a lot of us are taught to say that we don’t care or that we don’t need it, ‘I’m so fine’ or whatever, but the numbers don’t say that. The numbers say that we care three times more than other groups.”

The numbers the woman was referring to are the dollars black women spend on hair and beauty care each year. Most recently, the black hair care industry was estimated to be worth $500 billion dollars, which means when it comes to looks we care. And we can deduce that when it comes to seeing people who look like us selling us these hair and beauty products we also care, very much so.

While many of us have given up on mainstream companies like say L’Oreal or Revlon highlighting our beauty, which is where the nonchalance may come in, we think it’d be fair to say we’d all like to see the small black businesses putting our hair and beauty needs first achieve the same success as these traditional white brands. It goes without saying that none of us is numb to that need.

Clutchettes, do you think we’ve become numb or nonchalant to out inclusion in the mainstream?

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  • FromTokyo

    I don’t nonchalant is the word so much as apathetic. I don’t care, in part, because now I know good and well that they really do want us to care, and time and time again they’ve proven just how obsessed with us they are. Even if we do our own thing, and celebrate ourselves as we do it, they always break in, having to partake or steal because they cannot handle the focus not being on them. They’ve done this since black people ever started to express themselves freely in America. I don’t want to be a part of people like that. Eurocentric beauty standards have absolutely nothing to do with me, and that’s the way I like it. They don’t care to tell our stories correctly because they don’t understand us; they don’t even want to cast us in “universal” roles because they think “universal = white,” so I have long-since started being more selective in media consumption. I believe in making our own. I have my goals towards this and the work has been in progress.