Beautiful Black Britain

Happy New Year!!

I am so excited about the year ahead.  There will be no other place to be than in London this year! So you will see that I have updated my blog name to BeautyPulseLONDON.  I will be bringing you more beauty and fashion news and views from this incredible city in 2012.

As we look ahead to all that 2012 will unveil, I thought that it would be apt to first take a look back.  As 2011 drew to a close, I felt immensely proud to be a Black woman in Britain – our beauty, intellect and talents really shone for all to see.

Here are some of my highlights:

Jourdan Dunn – RELOADED

Jourdan Dunn for YSL Beauté

At just 21, West London born supermodel Jourdan Dunn had a stellar 2011.  She was the face of the YSL  Touche Éclat campaign that launched the iconic product in 2 new shades – suitable for darker skin tones.

Dunn and Delevinge

Her relationship with British superbrand Burberry continued to blossom.  She featured in both the S/S and A/W campaigns and also was the face of the 2011 Burberry Beauty campaign (alongside Cara Delevinge).  I love this tutorial that can be found on the Burberry YouTube channel showcasing how Jourdan’s nude look can be recreated.  Can I just say I *heart* the powder brush!!

Another strong  partnership that Jourdan has forged is with the cult British  fashion and culture magazine i-D…I will say no more about this image – as a picture speaks a thousand words!

Stunning!

Jourdan proved that she is more than a pretty face last year, she was very vocal about the way young black people were being portrayed as the main perpetrators of the summer riots that revenged many of the nation’s major cities.  In an article in the London newspaper The Evening Standard, Dunn stated that she was “annoyed by claims that all the rioters were young and black, adding: “Not all young people are criminals”.

I am looking forward to seeing and hearing more from Miss Dunn in 2012 as she continues to do a stellar job representing British Black women in a positive light.

Positive Hair Day

Sarah Naomi Lee (Image: Plenty Productions)

I was having a lazy morning in late November,  listening to Women’s Hour on  my favourite radio station, BBC Radio 4 and my ears pricked up when a lady of mixed  heritage discussed the ‘issues’ that British Black and Mixed- Raced women face when dealing with their hair!  Her name was Sarah Naomi Lee and she is a playwright, former BBC producer and Creative Director of Plenty Productions – a community interest  company that facilitates high quality, collaborative, community-based arts and media projects.

Sarah recounted her experience of growing up in Brigton and coming to terms with her own cultural identity which was expressed in many ways, including in the way she wore her hair.  She went on to found the Postive Hair Day workshops  – a fantastic project  based in Brighton which uses hair as a focus for building a greater understanding of  Black and mixed heritage people’s identity and culture.  The project runs free workshops and activities including  a regular Hair Care workshop where free  advice and tips are offered on how to care for Black and mixed heritage hair.  She was on the radio program to promote her latest venture – Snakes and Ladders.  Snakes and Ladders is a bold and powerful comic drama about race, identity and the testing of family loyalties and waspartly inspired by stories and memories collected form the  Positive Hair Day project.

The work was showcased in November of  last year – and unfortunately I couldn’t make the the performance …so I delighted to find a couple of videos of the play on YouTube.

Got It Covered

Black women graced the covers of numerous UK glossies last year. Leading the pack was none other than Miss Rowland – who featured on the covers of Cosmopolitan, Stylist, Health & Fitness and Marie Claire to name but a few.   Kelly’s make-up for many of these shoots and her X-Factor appearances was the handy work of  the talented British  MUA, Pauline Briscoe.

Celebrity MUA - Pauline Briscoe

 

Recreate Kelly’s celebrity looks with tips from Pauline featured on the glamourmagazine.co.uk website.

 

 

 

 

 

Stylist also featured supermodel Alex Wek on the cover of the special London Fashion Week edition of the magazine….

Incredible! (Image: blog.fabmagazineonline.com)

…and even John Lewis (yes – John Lewis – the epitome of middle England) featured the stunning black model Aba (of Zone Models) on the cover of the Christmas issue of their consumer magazine Edition.

Fabulous.

Never knowingly under sold or fashionably upstaged!

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My Black is Beautiful Too

It’s been a while…

So much going on…but it’s all good!  Those of you that follow me on Twitter (that’s you right??) will have seen that I recently completed my number 10 speech  from the Competent Communicator manual – which leads to the first accreditation on can achieve as a member of  the global public speaking organisation that is Toastmasters International.

Being able to communicate and make your point heard is critical to ones success and apparently speaking in front of an audience is something people fear so much that it is trumped only by death itself!!  Your local Toastmasters club (there are over 13,000 clubs in 116 countries) is an ideal place  to develop your speaking skills and build your confidence.

I joined Toastmasters because I am as passionate about personal self development as I am about beauty – in fact I believe that the two go hand in hand – looking good on the outside plus feeling great on the inside does wonders for ones self esteem!  This was the topic I chose to speak about in my 10 minute speech which I entitled Beauty and  the Best.

I showcased the behemoth that the beauty industry is – according to the market research agency Euromoniter International it is estimated that it worth a staggering $350 billion US dollars a year (!) and how much I LOVE  the industry  – the glamour, the fantasy and its power to transform are just a few reasons for my adoration.

However,  sometimes I am plagued with a tension – because the tyranny of the beauty industry is that whilst it promotes style and well being, it generates the vast majority of its revenue from products that exist to remind the user of her supposed ‘ imperfections’.  “Youth”, “vitality”,” radiance”, “revitalise” – words such as these pepper the advertising copy of beauty brands and many of these adverts are heavily doctored and have undergone extensive airbrushing.

This Lancôme ad,  featuring the Oscar winning actress Julia Robert is now banned in the UK – the Advertising Standards Agency upheld complaints made by the  Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson that the images were overly airbrushed and did not reflect reality.

Irrespective of such challenges, the industry continues to be a source of delight and one of the reasons why we happily part with our hard earned cash to ameliorate our outer appearance seems to be linked to our self – esteem.

A study commissioned by the Cosmetics, Perfumery and Toiletries Association entitled the ‘Self-Esteem Society’ stated that of the people polled, an overwhelming 93% thought feeling confident about their appearance was an important factor in building self-esteem – and I certainly attest this finding–  as I have experienced firsthand the very tangible effect beauty products have on the self–esteem of myself and on that of others.

Whilst I advocate caring for ones outward appearance, I  sincerely believe that one’s inner beauty requires just as much – if not more –  meticulous attention.

We must learn to love and value ourselves and to appreciate our intrinsic and inherent qualities –the qualities that make us unique.

This notion is echoed by Proctor and Gamble (owners of brands such as Dove, Olay, Pantene and Max Factor) who launched the My Black is Beautiful movement in the US , in 1997.

The brand managers state that “My Black is Beautiful, celebrates the diverse collective beauty of African-American women and nurtures black self-esteem. The movement encourages black women to define and promote our own beauty standard — one that is an authentic reflection of our indomitable spirit.  Recognizing that beauty and self-confidence are intrinsically linked, My Black is Beautiful is designed to ignite black pride and 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”.

It is still very much an African-American program – it would be fabulous to see a similar initative launched to serve the UK and Ireland – because our Black is Beautiful too!!


In the Mix

I am really looking forward to the 3-part BBC series Mixed Britannia, which will unveil the untold history of Britain’s mixed race community.

A mixed couple on their wedding day in the 1940's (Image: BBC)

Race relations have not always been rosy here in the UK – riotsmarches and even murder leave an indelible blemish on the history of the nation – but as a young, black woman, who was born and bred in the UK, I am proud to call myself British.  I am proud to be British because I know that fundamentally the core values of tolerance and acceptance are weaved into the very fabric of society and are upheld by the vast majority of citizens.

According to the BBC News website, the mixed-race (or multiracial) demographic is the fastest growing ethnic minority in the UK and the number of mixed-race people in Britain is expected to double between 2001 and 2020, when demographers predict it will reach 1.3 million people.

I thought that it would be fitting to pay tribute to some of the leading British women of mixed heritage, who are making an impact in our nation and around the world.

Jade Thompson for Revlon - The winner of Britain and Ireland's Next Top Model 2011

Thandie Newton - Cambridge educated, A-list actress

Zadie Smith - award winning novelist, essayist and Professor of Creative Writing at the University of New York

Oona Tamsyn King, Baroness of Bow and former Labour MP

Dame Kelly Holmes, DBE, MBE - Double Olympic Gold medallist

Dame Linda Penelope Dobbs, DBE, styled The Honourable Mrs Justice Dobbs - the first non-white person to be appointed to the senior judiciary of England and Wales, being appointed a high court judge in 2004

Leona Lewis - Hackney born, mega songstress

Mixed Britannia will begin tomorrow (6th October) on BBC 2 at 9pm.