On a Tuesday afternoon my Instagram timeline was flooded with afros, locks, and pops of color as Essence Magazine premiered their covers for the May 2014 issue of the publication. Essence, a premiere lifestyle, fashion, and beauty magazine for Black American women, has already made waves with its "Natural Beauty" issue featuring three different covers with today's leading female R&B powerhouses -- Erykah Badu, Solange Knowels, and Ledisi.
The uniquely stylish women have created a buzz promoting natural style and confirming that standing out is indeed popular. As a young woman with a head full of curls and brown skin, it is both refreshing and inspiring to have such celebrities showcase a new, improved, and unique definition of beauty. Each songstress has an undeniable ability to create her own light rather than standing in the shadows of others.
"We all have the option of how we want to express ourselves through our life, hair, style, or whatever we decide," Solange said on her evolving style. "We shouldn't be pigeonholed into any one category."
The issue's three covers effortlessly appeal to the many tastes in music that Black women may have. From Erykah Badu's evolving neo-soul sound, to Solange's funky electric beats, and back to Ledisi's jazz influenced vocals and lyrics -- there's a woman for everyone on Essence's May 2014 covers.
I applaud the publication on its endeavor to begin the conversation on natural beauty. "Pretty" goes beyond European style features and Brazilian imported tresses; it starts with a Black woman's kinks sprouting from her roots and raw individuality. More often than not do Black young women see only one perception of beauty, one that features blue eyes and long blonde hair. To type in "beauty" on a Google image search and see someone who does not look like you is not only discouraging and untrue, but very effective and influential. So many woman of all shapes, sizes, and hues battle with self-identity and confidence because of the combative portrayals of beauty in today's media. These women in conjunction with Essence are working to combat that.
As a proud naturalista, I think this issue is amazing and needed in not only the Black community, but in all communities. I will be picking up my copy (perhaps one of each) and hope you will too!