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Sincerely Brooklyn is a lifestyle blog that provides cultural commentary of my life in Brooklyn. With cultural insight and perspective, this is a creative outlet for the beauty obsessed, social and political observer in constant pursuit of great food, great company and fun times. 


Filtering by Tag: beauty

Lupita and the Politics of Beauty


Lupita is hella fine but this picture is not mine.

Lupita is hella fine but this picture is not mine.


And now, at coffee shops and in grocery store lines all across mid-America I have to overhear conversations about how…well, you know, drop dead gorgeous Lupita Nyong’o is.


Lupita Nyong’o is best known for her role in 12 Years a Slave. Lupita is a Brooklyn transplant born in Mexico City to Kenyan parents. She studied at Yale School of Drama and like President Obama, she is of Luo ancestry. And yes, she is drop dead gorgeous. But why is mainstream media so surprised that she’s so goddamn fine?

You know, it’s that racist, patriarchal, capitalist (thanks, bell) unconscious attitude that frames even how we process how we see obviously beautiful people. Lupita is obviously beautiful. Seeing her shouldn’t send your mind into a surprisingly and unexpected reaction of lust. Because she was already lust worthy before you got here. The image of her deep dark skin, button nose, slim frame, short natural (most times) hair and wide eyes, is now sending imperialists into a mental juxtaposition of wanting to re-adjust their feminization of beauty (because, it’s been clearly challenged) and wanting to openly validate it in this post-racial America. Save it. Seeing the objectification of feminized celebrity for what it is would have freed you from feeling ‘some type of way’ about Lupita’s beauty.

Our unconscious commitment to mainstream media’s current polite acceptance of Lupita Nygon’o as a thing, a beautiful thing to be openly seen, has us thinking we’ve moved passed our patronizing relationship with dark skin as an occasional beauty marker. We haven’t. Beauty is so intertwined with celebrity and ones success at times it is painfully trapped in the identification of “gorgeous.” Our standards of beauty as an Eurocentric culture has always allowed us one. Or maybe a couple. We always get a Kelly Rowland. We can get by with a Tika Sumpter. We can cruise into a movie and applaud even a Gabourey Sidbie. And don’t you just love Gabrielle Union in Being Mary Jane? Our deep dark skin always conveys this dangerous superhuman message that we are exclusively strong and almost secondarily beautiful. As if the two can’t occupy the same space. Insert the instant shock.

This picture is not mine (

This picture is not mine (

I’m very happy Lupita is being celebrated as another example of the beauty of humans.

But I am not at all grateful for mainstream media’s shock given the ideological terrain on which they operate from is inculcated with the premise that deep dark skin is ugly. But let me just be all the way real and tell you why these jaw dropping, lustful eyes don’t bring me to tears of validation. Despite the more negative qualities we have been conditioned to associate with being of African descent, the media manages to go through phases of highlighting black as beautiful. But doesn’t it seem so forced right now? Like beauty affirmative action. Some mainstream magazines are calling it Lupita’s style. Some blogs are raving about her “unique beauty.” And some pundits are just acting like the rude tourists gawking at ‘round the way girls on subway trains. Speechless and paternalistic admiration.

Standards of beauty in this country are obviously flawed in concept and application, so quite naturally seeing someone who doesn’t actually meet that standard but appeal to you anyway sends you in to shock. Stay shocked. It sends folks into ideas of otherness, objectification, and wonders of foreignness. Lupita is not some unique, need to be gawked at creature. She is  not seeking public paternalistic validation. There are countries full of Lupitas, and Gaboureys and Tikas. THIS country to be exact. And yes, yes she is BEAUTIFUL. 

Beyonce and the politics of Makeup




Somewhere in the depths of Regular, Illinois there is a plainly spoken person, in a regular ass blazer, with some regular ass jeans and some regular ass shoes, living a totally regular existence….hating on Beyonce.

I’m no Beyonce stan. It’s 6:36PM on Friday, December 13 and I have yet to download her mysterious, surprise, self-titled album. Although my twitter feed and instagram is full of Beyonce pictures and song lyrics, I have not been tempted enough to purchase her album. Yet. Let’s be clear: I think Beyonce is good. I love to run to her music on the treadmill and I know the words to “Single Ladies” like every good American. I remember vividly standing on the street corner of Union Square in Manhattan watching Beyonce exit a Black SUV just 10 feet away from me on a warm, summer night two years ago. She looked like a jar of smooth peanut butter. I literally wanted to leap over and bite her leg; she was beautiful.

As I begin to scroll through these social media memes, I am reminded of how ugly people can be when we begin to talk about beauty and Beyonce.

After scrolling through a friends' twitter picture discussing their over joy for her physicality someone commented, “ I wonder how she would look without all that makeup? I wish artists could look more like Aaliyah. #natural beauty”

While I used to believe that there was too much hype around Beyonce’s beauty, I have to admit: There are some Beyonce haters out there.

Does beauty lack intersectionality? How do you know so matter-of-factly that you’ve never seen Beyonce without makeup? And what non-makeup face are you waiting to fawn over as approved by the hormone Gods?  And what makes you think Aaliyah's no-makeup makeup look required less hours of application than a full faced Grammy Awards show attending Beyonce? How petty and nuanced are you actually about to be about her highlighting and contouring job before you realize you've just waisted 10 minutes of your life looking at her real-life cheek bones? Hashtag No Makeup. 

As a beauty junkie and makeup nerd, this obviously struck a chord with me, as I’ve too heard people say things like this to me. Why is my makeup making you feel like I cheated in some competition of beauty? Get it together.

There’s the perception that some people have that ‘beauty’ has a purity to it that requires one to appear to be makeup less, weave less, filter less, etc. I could break your heart and tell you how much makeup your favorite natural artist actually has on but makeup shaming is not my thing. You can have your dreams. Hashtag Natural Beauty.

"I woke up like this. We flawless."-Beyonce. 

So you want to see what exactly? And who decides what is ‘natural enough’? Would you like to see Beyonce without her eyebrows waxed or without a relaxer? Would you like to see Beyonce before her vegan diet? Would you like to see Beyonce before she tans or without fake lashes or without whatever alteration to her physical appearance you think she’s had that has tricked the general public into thinking she is beautiful?

Let’s face it: You are a hater. 

Not because you shouldn’t be validly concerned about the media’s continual display of their ideas of perfection and billion dollar cosmetics companies profiting from our own insecurities. Not because you shouldn’t be validly concerned about what that message, and Beyonce’s unknowing role in that message, sends to our daughters about their natural appearances. Not that you shouldn’t be concerned about the over emphasis on women’s physical appearance as a measure of their success, because you should. Not that you shouldn’t be concerned about what message the over emphasis on Beyonce’s complexion or waist size or eye shape or cheek bones sends to young women and girls who don’t share her looks. You should. Not that you shouldn’t be concerned about the binary that we continue to create with Beyonce’s type of beauty and those whose nose isn’t as slender as hers is, because you should.

I have a feeling this isn’t what this is. This is another attempt at people trying to once again tell women how they can and can not be beautiful.

How did we get into this rabbit hole of judging women’s beauty based off of their ability to apply makeup or not? Many women that I encounter who have an unhealthy disdain for other women who wear makeup, tend to be women who are trying to figure out how to apply it correctly. I’ve also found that some men who have a disdain for makeup tend to want to control the appearance of women in their lives. I’ve also heard people judge women’s makeup based on how much they can tell they are wearing makeup. Because in their homophobic minds, the more makeup you wear the closer to a trans woman you are, which for them is the ultimate form of trickery. I’ve also found that many women who have an unhealthy disdain, not just a mild criticism, to other women who wear makeup tend to lack the ability to recognize when others are actually wearing makeup and when they are not.

I love makeup. In the way that I love scrapbooking and writing. It is a creative outlet. It is a pastime for me that I’m not necessarily an expert at but I do well enough that some people take notice. I could spend any given day in what a real regular person would consider “a lot of makeup.” Some people are so used to seeing me with foundation on that when they see me without foundation, they don’t know.  I’ve received compliments in both occasions. I’ve felt equally uncomfortable and comfortable with and without makeup but I always feel like my beautiful self.

There is one place I can think of, where I have never worn makeup: the braid shop. I get my hair braided pretty regularly and one day I was showing a picture of myself and my stylist said, “Did you do your makeup in this picture? I didn’t know you wear makeup. You don’t strike me as someone who wears makeup.” Me? Anyone who knows me, would be shocked to hear anyone say that about me.

I don’t believe Beyonce or women like her who wear makeup are hiding under a mask of insecurity.

And we can talk about what dictates beautiful in this society-which is an equally valid concern. But it’s makeup not magic. You should stop following these makeup artists on Instagram because you are clearly carried away by what you think non-theatrical makeup can do.

Just know this:

Beyonce with no makeup

Beyonce with no makeup

Stop trying to dismiss Beyonce's beauty or anyone elses.

She can dip her face in blue paint and any reasonable person who subscribes to that standard of beauty would say she is beautiful.

She can wipe off the makeup and does. At the end of the day that is her bone structure. And you can’t change that. You are giving makeup too much credit for Beyonce’s beauty.