What It's Like to Be Young, Black, and Hungry In the Beauty Industry

What It’s Like to Be Young, Black, and Hungry In the Beauty Industry

Victoria Folusewa, 25, never had her ears pierced before last year. She decided to take the plunge during a casual trip to the mall one day after coming across some inspiring imagery at her local Piercing Pagoda. “They had this ad up of this very beautiful dark skin woman with an afro — she literally looked just like me,” Folusewa told POPSUGAR. “She was so happy; she was smiling, her teeth were out. I saw it and was like, ‘I’ve been thinking about piercing my ears, maybe I should do it.'”

At first, she was almost discouraged from getting the piercing — the shrieking baby in front of her in line was giving her second thoughts — but it was the photo of the woman with the afro that pulled her back in and, ultimately, motivated her to go through with it. “If it was someone else [in the ad] who didn’t look like me, I wouldn’t have been able to relate,” she said. “I wouldn’t have told myself that I could do it, too.”

Folusewa, a dark skinned Nigerian woman with immigrant parents, has spent six years working as a model with hopes that her work will help other young Black women who look like her feel seen, just like she did in the mall that day. It’s those experiences that fuel her, and it’s just one example of why so many young Black people are attempting to leave their marks on the beauty industry right now.

17-year-old Khalil Battle, for instance, launched his own hair-care brand, KingCurls, as a high schooler after growing tired of borrowing products from the women in his family. While hair products aren’t technically gendered, they’re traditionally marketed toward women, which is why he wanted to create something for young men with kinky and curly hair.

“I just wanted something for myself,” he told POPSUGAR in a previous interview. “I never got to see myself on the marketing side of things when I was in the stores. I never saw something that I could relate to and I wanted other boys to feel empowered when they walked in the store and saw themselves.”

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