|A Tuliart Creation|
I have taken to calling cocoa-coloured dresses, shoes, lingerie and accessories nude in public (like in shops with friends and salespeople) while the tan, beige, sand, and cream ones are just that; tan, beige, sand and cream. If the traditionally nude hued person I am with squirms just a little, my point is made. If not, I’m simply re-affirming to myself that fashion accessories in my skin tone, limited as they are, are just as flesh-coloured or nude as any other on the coffee to champagne spectrum.
Likewise I stopped browsing through women’s magazines in high school when it was clear that the makeup tips for all (pale to olive hued) and hair tips for all (straight to curly) were not inclusive of me. All was not inclusive of me. All continues to not be inclusive of people like myself. And that’s not okay because it’s damaging to our pysche and insulting of our beauty and to our intelligence. No wonder I march to the beat of my own drum in more ways than one.
Instead of sitting around though and waiting for the mainstream to include us, I think it’s up to us to redefine images of blackness and create new ones that are truthful to our experiences. Just like how Christian Louboutin, himself of darker hue, has created a line of his famous red-soled pumps called Les Nudes which features to date 5 shades of nude let us also not forget how the Johnson & Johnsons and Unilevers of the world have come around to creating haircare products for the kinky-headed, after enterprising women took to their kitchens to create butters and creams better suited for us. Only then did the mega-companies start to notice that there was a very sizeable market that they had been ignoring all along. Even Oprah’s Andre Walker, who despite being Black, was very dismissive towards kinky hair, what he called Type 4 on his now popular hair classification scale, stating it’s “the only hair type that I suggest altering with professional relaxing” since it has “limited styling options” has now created a line of natural hair products. The irony.
So it’s with great pleasure that I share with you my readers the latest creations of a dear awesomely multi-talented friend who exasperated with her search for black ballerina artwork to decorate her daughter’s room with decided to create her own. With gentle prodding from friends and family she has now decided to share her beautiful pieces on her website Tuli Art. I love that she and so many other talented daughters and sons of Africa are not waiting for mainstream anything to give us voices or to give us space. I love that we are declaring in our own individual ways that we are here, front and center.