Finally Mama Africa has arrived and is making bold impacts on the run way which was long dominated by “the skinny white girl” in dots and stripes. Little black girls are donning the covers of major magazines, “they still skinny but it’s all good – we gonna be grateful for what we have accomplished and just tek it one step at a time”. But the African influence on the current fashion scene is breath taking - the bold colors, the tribal prints, the wonderful cuts – it’s a cutting edge spin on the fashion industry. We are tired of these so called designers, re-cycling the same look year after year. How many times are they going to re-introduce us to the palazza pants, the tuxedo pants, the midriff and the boyfriend shirt (jacket or jeans)? Lawks, wi tiad a dem! Can we see originality for a change? Can we take stock of other cultures besides American and European please?
African inspired fashion is all the rage now, so much so that African fashion week is actually held in all major cities around the world, including New York, Los Angeles and Paris. Old School fashion designers such as Kofi Ansah, Joyce Ababio, Abba Folawiyo, Olujimi King paved the way for the many new schools like Deola Sagoe, Aisha Obuobi, Ozwald Boateng, Duro Olowu and Lisa Folawiyo. Today, Deola Sagoe and Duro Oluwo have created a reputation for themselves in the fashion industry so much that Lydia Hearst and Anika Noni-Rose have been spotted wearing their ingenious designs. Duro Oluwo’s impeccable designs have even won the heart of the first lady Michelle Obama. Ghanaian designer, Aisha Obuobi who is not only in the business of making clothes, has also recreated African accessories and jewelries. Her recent feat being the Vibe magazine shoots which had Alicia Keys wearing one of her spectacular necklaces.
These African designers have not only inspired themselves but have also inspired international designers and clothing lines. Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, Eley Kishimoto, Jean Paul Gaultier, Thakoon, Louis Vuitton, Diane Von Furstenberg, Gwen Stefani, Dries van Noten, Kenzo and Paul Smith to mention a few have also caught the African prints fever. They have included them in their collections and have made clothes, accessories and jewelry out of the fabrics. Celebrities and public figures are loving and wearing African Designs, fashion icons like Beyoncé, Fergie and Rihanna have been seen rocking these prints.
But its more than just fashion isn’t it? It’s about restoring our image. It’s about letting the world know that beauty is not just “dull and faded” but “bright and bold”. It’s really about reversing what we have been forced to accept for so long. It’s so every little black girl will know to accept the uniqueness of her culture, heritage and history.
Mama Africa; stand-up, we see you…………..
The curvy girl was always celebrated in the Jamaican society. Women used to kill themselves to gain weight to appeal to the men who demanded a certain thickness in the female body, remember the "Chicken Pill"? . We all grew up with that one weird couple in our neighborhood, remember the real skinny man with the real fat woman around the corner? On my street it was Delroy (6 "2", 110lbs) and Doreen (5 '6", 350 lbs). But Doreen came with a certain confidence didn't she? She had a certain "swag" and we all wanted to be her. I remember wearing clothes under my clothes to appear thicker, Dancehall Queen Carlene thick. But the curvy woman has now left the building and every black girl is now striving to be a size "2". I actually believed that the Jamaican woman, as confident as we are, would never fall for this bullshit but unfortunately it seems we have.
I don't know what kind of drugs you're on black girl, but you better snap out of that shit fast. Cause if you never was a size "2". you will probably will never be a healthy size "2". What has gotten into our heads black women? What are we trying to prove here? News flash, you are not Chinese, Asian or White, you are built differently. We come with tits, hips and ass, some of us have one or two of the above and others, and yes I am among these lucky few, are blessed to have all three.
Let me state for the record unapologetically that the sexy size for a black woman is a size "6" plus, point blank to the period! When I see a skinny black girl, I am not moved. I just want to feed her. And I am not hating on the skinny girls, my best friend is a skinny girl and I love her. But I don't want to be hated on or made to feel like a freak of nature either. Real talk, the skinny girl is the exception for black women, curvy girls are the "rule". So why do we allow society to dictate to us? Fuck Barby, she was not made in our image so why do we aspire to be her?
The moral of this story is - find the clothes that fit your size and shape and swing your hips with confidence as you make your way to wherever life takes you. Accept your self for who you are, because you are beautifully made little black girl.
Many black women have enbarked on the wonderful journey of self discovery. It is a fascinating and exciting new trend that has taken over many of the largest cities in the United States and is being filtered down to countries heavily influenced by US culture, including our tiny island of Jamaica. We are "Returning to Natural", we are finally discovering what the world has known all along - black women are truly the most beautifully diverse and exotic creatures known to man. We come in a variety of shapes and colours and that is what makes us unique. Yet nothing has been adjusted with more frequency than our hair, to transform our presence to fit into a culture that never accepted us. Therefore, it is wonderful to witness such large pockets of black women taking such an important stand and letting society know that we are who we are - black and hella beautiful. When I stroll down the streets of Manhattan I am dazzled by the transformation, the rebirth of little black girls "Returning to Natural".
Haven't you noticed the change? Black women are increasingly making efforts to manage their natural hair textures, they are saying no to relaxers and hair extensions. While flipping through your favorite magazine, stop to pay attention to the increase in advertisement featuring African-American models and celebrities who've opted to go relaxer free. "Natural hair is making waves among black women" says USA Today. The internet too is buzzing with the influx of websites dedicated to natural hair care for black women such as "www.CurlyNikki.com", "www.Nappturality.com", "www.BlackGirlLongHair.com" and "www.TribeCalledCurl.com" among many others. There are over 1 million video blogs on youtube dedicated to the black hair transformation. Everything from "How to do the Big Chop (BC)?", "How to get off the Creamy Crack?" to Protective Syling Techniques and Natural Hair Maintenance. Many videos will even teach you how to make your own organic hair care products. .
On recent trips to Jamaica, I am seeing that many women are opting out of societal norms and staying true to themselves. Early this year, I stopped at a Juicy Beef restaurant on my way to Ocho Rios. But It was a bad time, school was out and an influx of students were making their way into the tiny restuarant. But as I looked around me, I was amazed by this particular group of high school students because I noticed that many of the girls had naturally beautifully maintained hair in a variety of styles.
I am excited about this new trend, being one year natural myself I am finding new ways to reinvent myself. As I told one girl who complemented me on my hair and expressed her fear and anxiety about the big chop. "The moment the scissors touched my 15 year long relaxed tresses, I immediately felt liberated. It was like I was being held prisoner and I was finally free to be loved for the person I was meant to be."
I am a black girl on a journey "Returning to Natural".
The Black Woman by Marcus Garvey
Black queen of beauty, thou hast given color to the world!
Among other women thou art royal and the fairest!
Like the brightest of jewels in the regal diadem,
Shin’st thou, Goddess of Africa, Nature’s purest emblem!