‘The Black Beauty Effect’ docuseries examines Black women’s impact on the beauty industry
On Monday, beauty, skincare and hair enthusiasts from all different backgrounds gathered in the theater of New York City’s Whitby Hotel for a private screening of “The Crown Effect,” the third episode from actress Andrea Lewis’ new docuseries, “The Black Beauty Effect” (Dove, SheaMoisture and Vaseline sponsored the screening).
The three-part docuseries examines Black women’s impact on the beauty industry and each hourlong episode focuses on a specific aspect: makeup, skin and hair.
Through interviews with some of beauty’s biggest game-changers, including Whitney White, Mikki Taylor, Esi Eggleston Bracey and Cara Sabin, as well as through vivid historical context, “The Black Beauty Effect” spotlights the power, influence and versatility of Black women. It also empowers them to embrace who they are, live comfortably in their skin and fight for their long-deserved recognition.
During a discussion held after the private screening, panelists Lewis, Bracey and Sabin shared with the engaged audience some of the personal experiences that led them to embrace self-love.
Lewis, who started acting as a young girl, said she felt that she was always trying to get people to see her and convince them of her worth. Eventually, she instead started seeking projects that made her feel good and excited. The process of creating “The Black Beauty Effect” was a form of healing for her younger self, she revealed.
“The entire thing was healing for my teenage self because it [featured] all these people that really were game-changers in their own lives, but very much so in mine as a Black girl that just needed people to see that she was pretty,” Lewis said.
The third episode of the docuseries focuses on Black people’s impact on the hair industry. It details everything from the different meanings of certain hairstyles in Africa before transatlantic slavery to the fight against discrimination through The CROWN Act (“Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair”), which has been passed in nearly 20 states.
Although Black people have come far and much has been accomplished in the fight for hair equity, Bracey believes there is more work to be done. “The gold standard is for every state, every municipality and federal legislation to make sure every Black person — every person with textured hair — doesn’t have to worry about legislative nonsense,” she said, drawing agreement from the other panelists. “It is our right and our hair, so we’re gonna keep on moving until everyone in this country has rights and then some.”
As the documentary demonstrates, the conversation and its impact are about more than hair. As Sabin recalled the weeks following her own transition from relaxed hair to its natural texture, she described it as a “step into the fullness of who you are.” She further described it as an energy shift, not only in how individuals personally view and treat themselves, but also in the way others do.
“The Black Beauty Effect” is currently streaming on Comcast’s free streaming app, XUMO, and Xfinity Stream. For more information, visit @BlackBeautyEffect
Kayla Grant is a multimedia journalist with bylines in Business Insider, Shondaland, Oz Magazine, Prism, Rolling Out and more. She writes about culture, books and entertainment news. Follow her on Twitter: @TheKaylaGrant.
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