Written by on June 10, 2018

Many times, I have heard clueless boys and men making reference to girls and women who wear make up as “not simple”. Make up is not a modern day phenomenon, especially in Africa (ancient Egyptians, West and Southern Africans, anyone?), neither is body enhancing for beauty purposes (Maasai, Sudanese and the council in Black Panther) so I don’t know why the mostly ashy opposite sex is hot under the collar. Help me understand, what does the desire to accentuate one’s natural beauty have to do with their simplicity? Isn’t that simplicity meant to be descriptive of character and not appearance? Anyway, what do I know; I wear make up from time to time. Perhaps my lack of simplicity has clouded my judgment. Or has it?

Growing up in post colonial Africa, our standards of beauty were greatly influenced by the colonizers. For instance, there was a time when having a large posterior was an attraction of the demeaning kind; Saartjie Baartman, one of two Khoi Khoi women was exhibited in 19th century Europe as a freak show attraction due to her large bottom. Fast forward to the 21st century, large bottoms are all the rage and cosmetic surgeons are making a killing creating these enhancements. East and West Africans were labeled barbaric because of their concepts of beauty. Colonizers simply boxed up what they could neither comprehend nor explain and labeled it barbaric yet it was part of our vibrant African culture long before they set foot on our shores. And now, here we are again in the 21st century, demeaning women for accentuating their natural looks using make up. The double standards!

Africans have never been a simple people in the looks department. We are the most vibrant, most flamboyant and most extra of the lot; look at how vibrant and colorful our cultures are. Simplicity is a foreign concept (quite literally) so on matters setting beauty standards, pipe down, do your research, hydrate and moisturize before you point your ashy fingers at a woman who cares for her appearance. The same guys screaming for “simplicity” and “no makeup” are the ones with ashy feet, hands, elbows, knees and lips, with no concept of good grooming to speak of. You don’t like makeup? That’s okay, don’t wear it. But invest in lotion or petroleum jelly; Arimis can do you a world of good.

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