“Pretty. Period.” is a trans-media project created as a visual tribute to brown skin. The blog features portraits submitted by women who see themselves as part of the movement, it also includes contributions from photographers all over the world. Doctor Yaba Blay‘s project is a response to the current colorism dialogue, celebrating beauty in every shade. Dr. Blay’s states, “While there is so much to say when it comes to dark-skinned beauty, I really want to focus on the PERIOD in ‘Pretty. Period.’ No explanations. No defense. Just pretty.”
Much conversation has transpired after Lupita Nyong’o’s Oscar win for Best Supporting Actress in 12 Years a Slave: “What it means, and what it should mean. Does Hollywood finally see us? Will Lupita’s success open the mainstream gates for dark-skinned Black women everywhere?” It’s almost impossible not to ask these questions when discussing Lupita’s media attention. When her name is mentioned, so is her dark skin. And while it’s always addressed positively, what’s problematic about the trendy nature of the discussion surrounding Lupita’s skin tone is that trends are fading, and while they do make a come back, the word itself indicates that it is only relevant now.
While Lupita is praised as a trendsetter, she is not the first woman to sport dark skin and she certainly will not be the last. As Dr. Blay articulates, “I see Lupita every day. I see her as often on the streets of Philadelphia as I do on the streets of Accra. I see her in my classroom. I see her at the corner store. I see her at the mall. I see her everywhere. And so do you. Only you don’t know it. If it took the media’s fixation on Lupita’s otherness to introduce you to the beauty of dark skin, then you don’t know what you’re seeing when you look at dark-skinned women. Or maybe you don’t even see us.”
“Pretty. Period.” highlights beauty in every shade in which it appears. “We Are Midnight Black, Chestnut Brown, Honey Bronzed, Chocolate Covered, Cocoa Dipped, Big Lipped, Big Hipped, Big Breasted, and Beautiful all at the same time.” “Pretty. Period.” reiterates that we are not a trend or an obsession to fetishize or eroticize. We are not attractive because of, or despite our skin tone. We Are not “just Black.” We Are Pretty. Period.
By Toni Akindele