Back when I wrote this article about Viola Davis and her big beautiful afro at the Golden Globes, I was super excited. No one had dared to wear their natural hair so OUT and so BIG before, and she absolutely stole the show. It shouldn't be a big deal, but because it was so rare to see, it was. And not just for me, for everyone there.
Now Viola Davis has done it again. She has been named the Face of L'Oreal Paris Age Perfect line. At 54 years young and with the skin and hair the envy of women half her age, she said to PEOPLE that it feels "surreal" because she had never associated herself with "beauty and femininity."
She said "When I thought of beauty and femininity when I was a young scrappy girl growing up in Central Falls, RI, I didn't associate it with myself. I didn't think that I had all those attributes that women who are seen like that should have."
That quote struck a chord with me because not only did I grow up in RI at the same time as Viola, I also did not associate the beauty of Black women with the type of beauty that was envied by all. Not because my family did not instill the value we all had as little girls of color, they did. But we just didn't see images of ourselves in places where beauty was celebrated. Not on mainstream TV. Rhode Island wasn't exactly a hub for the promotion of Black beauty in the 70s and 80s. Especially where natural hair and dark skin were concerned. Mostly the Black women we saw modelling had what they call "good hair" and light skin. Chocolate skinned women were relegated to specialty magazines, played a typecast role or was featured in skin-specific ads. And natural hair was just not seen around much. We were all relaxed or straightened, wigged or wrapped, sometimes braided and beaded.
We saw no beauty queens, no faces on perfume bottles or on the runway, as supermodels and spokeswomen for beauty products. And probably, neither did Viola.
Se we buried our heads in Ebony Magazine, Jet and watched Soul Train. That's where our idols were.
That's why when we see ourselves now, being appreciated and recognized for our unique form of natural beauty, it's a big deal. It wasn't always this way. And every time it happens, take a moment to appreciate what you are seeing.
Congratulations to a woman who epitomizes accomplishment, beauty and femininity for so many of us.