Fashion

fashion month- when it comes to black beauty, do we sleep on the hood?

September 13, 2010

“In my own middle-class world, I don’t see or hear many acknowledgments of the beauty that exists in low-income urban communities. Yes, every now and then a rapper will give a shout out to hood chicks. But in terms of being a beauty muse for black culture, we tend to look elsewhere.”

When it comes to black beauty, do we sleep on the hood?

By Leila Noelliste for BGLH.com

The hood is known for many things; poverty, violence, colorful weaves and big women who reveal way too much…. but has anyone noticed how many beautiful black women reside there?

In Chicago (one of the most segregated cities in the U.S.) the West and South Sides include large swatches of uninterrupted, low-income black neighborhoods. When I worked as a reporter for the Chicago Defender (a historically black newspaper) and later as a freelancer for a non profit, I spent a lot of time in local hoods and found myself increasingly surprised by the diversity of beauty represented there.

From dark to fair skin tones, curvy to slim figures, short to long hair, these communities showcase pretty much every point along the black beauty spectrum.

Despite this fact, in my own middle-class world, I don’t see or hear many acknowledgments of the beauty that exists in low-income urban communities. Yes, every now and then a rapper will give a shout out to hood chicks. But in terms of being a beauty muse for black culture, we tend to look elsewhere.

Perhaps we feel we shouldn’t applaud the hood in any way, given its generally negative effect on black people. Maybe we feel that once you leave the hood you should never look back. Maybe it’s classism. I don’t know.

The irony in all of this, of course, is that trends in fashion and beauty often start with low-income black women. Think door-knocker earrings, candy-colored sneakers, skin-tight jeans, short/cropped jackets — all hood trends that went mainstream. Even the recent Booty Pop craze was undoubtedly inspired by the booty-oriented aesthetic of hood fashion. (Click HERE to check out The Fashion Bomb‘s series on trends inspired by black people)

Of course, I am fully aware of the ‘hot ghetto mess’ pictures, ‘Jesus Take the Wheel’ moments and general ratchetness that hood culture often produces. But is that enough for us to dismiss it wholesale?


What are your thoughts?

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