‘Black women are particularly vulnerable to the effects of Euro- pean standards of beauty, because these standards emphasize skin colors and hair types that exclude many black women, especially those of darker skin.‘ (Susan, pg.1). Our job was never to find a conclusive answer to some of the historical and cultural questions into why black beauty is scrutinised and looked at as inferior, our goal was simply to stretch the minds of others and highlight the cracks we seem to passively over look. I say passively because many young black women don’t realise there is a problem. In this post I will briefly take you through Artefact 3.1 (part 2) as I have explained many things already in previous posts.
As previously mentioned we created the 3rd artefact and we were extremely happy with the content but not so happy with it’s production values. I had difficulties lighting the moving and spontaneous subjects which reflected in our piece. After showing our lecturer we were informed that our work was more than good enough, but as media production practitioner we were not as pleased or convinced. So we decided to reshoot. We went back to the brainstorms and decided to renovate one of our prior ideas. We knew time was against us but we persisted and began writing the poem and concept for the shoot. As the writer and the director it was important to draw on my inspirations and quick. I first watched George the poet’s poem My city. It helped me to create an image of how our video was going to look, the shot compositions, the pace and feel of the piece. We also looked at the ending of ‘AmeriCan‘ a short film by Nate Parker which harbours a similar style, and again focuses in on close up and intimate shots. I wanted to shoot this video as a music video, so we got our black female ‘video vixen’ which normally has negative connotations around such as selling sex with their bodies, but instead we defeated these notions by having fully clothed women sending a positive message to the world. Displaying that you don’t need to take off your clothes to be powerful or have a message. I was reading this study and it said ‘In a sample of 176 black girls ages 13 to 17, Gordon (2008) examined associations be- tween the amount of media that black girls’ consume— particularly media containing sexual images—and their focus on beauty and appearance. (Susan, pg.83). This suggests that many of the images viewed by young black women are harsh and corrosive which helps create this negative ‘discourse – social power’ (Teun, pg.1) in their minds between who they are and what they should be. Nicki Minaj’s ‘Anaconda’ is a clear example of how women are over sexualised in the media, and how females are taught that sex equals power. Furthermore ‘Gordon (2008) found that black girls strongly identified with black music and television and that hair texture and skin tone were central in many of the girls.’ This could be the reason why many black females don’t feel comfortable in their skins, and why many opt for whitening and altering their skin pigments because the women they see on television are lighter and are created at the hands of western ideals. In my previous post I went into detail about the context and the meaning of the poem I created, and where we got some of the power and authentic words from.
Breaking down some of the production values:
- We used many close up’s with the 50mm to pick up on the emotions on the faces of the ‘video vixens’. To truly bring out the importance in some of the key words use like ‘vindictive’ for example.
- The lip sync with all these individual beautiful women was to create some sort of unity, almost a stance and pledge against all of the negativity which comes their way. Similar to the Suffragette movement in 1903 which saw females stand up for their rights and not taking ‘No!’ for an answer.
- We purposely used many different faces from different countries to represent all the black women in the world we are speaking on behalf of.
- We also shot each female in a different location to show their individuality and to show each of their interpretations.
- The sirens was used to show how black women are policed by westernised culture, upbringings, the media, by their peers and so fourth. Dale Carnegie a famous author once said ‘Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied.’ Even though there are many issues around black beauty if women understand the problems it gives them power in understanding how to deal with them.
- We also used the slave bells to give the narrative some historical context, stating that many of the issues today stem black to the slave ships.
I’ve been on social media a lot recently looking at different pages surrounding black beauty. Here are three examples of what I saw. The first post is of Maria Borges who was the first black women to wear her natural hair to the ‘VS runway’. On the surface this seems like really good news as these sorts of events open up the door for others to embrace natural even though we had to wait until late 2015 for this to happen. The second is about a young girl who got sent to the principals office because her hair was ‘too poofy’ essentially saying her hair was so natural and black that it caused offence. If you think back to the poem I wrote there was a comical sarcastic line that read ‘I promise you our natural hair won’t be offensive’. This was the post that gave me the inspiration. This post also poses questions like what message are we sending to our black daughters if they can’t wear their natural hair? and implications does this have on their lives?. The final post is of a twitter personality examining the fact that many vloggers post make-up tutorials which highlight (excuse the pun) ways to make yourself glow and have a cleaner lighter look. I agree with this but when looking at the comments many other black females felt aggrieved at the post saying ‘she looks fine to me, when people are bored they post nonsense’. Is that it’s hard for people to see the truth? Or is the truth still up for debate?. All of three of these posts helped shape artefact 3.1 (part 2).
We also became social media friendly by posting small 30 second clips from artefact 3.0 (part 1) on Facebook and twitter with the #beautifulnotions. We got friends and random people we met in the library to post these videos with small messages to draw catch peoples attention i.e ‘People used to say don’t bring your dark skinned friend’ heightened with emoji’s to emphasis each point. We did not get the responses or interaction we aimed to achieve although we do know many people watched and retweeted the clips… which I guess is some sort of consolation. I don’t think we spent enough time planning and organising how we were strategically going to exploit social media to get the sorts of responses we craved. In the future we will be more conscious, aware and strategic in our efforts.
Finally I just want to reiterate that artefact 3.0 and 3.1 come together as a pairing. It is an example of development and progression. To fully understand part 3.1 you have to first break down 3.0. I want both to be marked as my final artefact 3. Thank you for following me through my journey of thoughts and ideas. It’s been a bumpy and tedious ride, and this is only the beginning.