September 26, 2022
For our distinct styles, Black Women are questioned, attacked, and labeled as ghetto. Websites and blogs frequently make jokes about black women, encouraging us to quit having “unnecessarily” long nails and wearing special designs. Employers advise black women not to wear braids due of the unprofessional appearance. Despite this connotation, black women’s fashion has been appropriated and has made its way into mainstream culture, from rock and roll to 3-D movies. Celebrities like Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, and the Jenner and Kardashian sisters now sport the long, intricate acrylic nail designs and braided hairstyles that Black women pioneered.
Dr. Mia Moody-Ramirez, a professor in Baylor University’s Department of Journalism, Public Relations & New Media, says,” “People have embraced some of the things Black people do throughout history. But when other people do it, they’re praised for not being afraid to take a risk, and it’s considered high fashion. The sad part is that when Black people do the same thing, it’s ‘ghetto.’ There’s a negative connotation.”
Let’s go back to Florence Griffith-Joyner (Flo Jo) for a moment. At the US Olympic track and field trials, she broke the 100 meters world record three times. The media, on the other hand, was more interested in her nails,
“Regardless of intention, French manicures and pastel colors signal white, middle-class, heteronormative beauty. Long, sculptured, airbrushed nails, on the other hand, are markers of blackness, sexual deviancy, and marginalized femininity,” wrote Lynchburg College Sport Management Professor Lindsay Pieper in a 2015 essay. “Writers highlighted Flo Jo’s fingernails as both a source of intrigue and revulsion, subtly emphasizing racial differences. Because she preferred long, colorful nails, the runner was depicted as abnormal, deviant, and different.”
The Royal Painting takes that beauty and places it where it would not be usually seen, like 17th-century royal paintings. When African American beauty and style are constantly scrutinized for our aesthetics, I believe it is vital to portray blackness in a different light.
Photography by Sage Causie
Models Gaelle & Rose
Hair by Anthea
Styling by Sage Causie
Ceative Direction by Sage Causie
Support for The Royal Painting is provided by Locust Projects through WaveMaker Grants, part of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts’ Regional Regranting Program.