What did beauty mean to you when you were in your 20s?
The way you dressed made you feel beautiful…mini-skirts was one of them. I liked to wear mini-skirts. Some people say that women dress for men, but I (have always) dress for myself. When I did dress up, I knew when I looked good…well, at least I thought I did. I knew I would get men’s attention. In my 20s, the Afro was in style. I don’t know that I thought it was beauty, but it was stylish. So I wore one sometimes. I didn’t use a whole lot of products – I still don’t – because to me that didn’t make you beautiful. I always liked some type of cologne. I would use products like Noxzema for acne.
What are your ideas of beauty now?
It’s more about what’s on the inside than on the outside now. Some people can really be very beautiful on the inside and not so much so on the outside. I think you have to get to know a person to know what beauty they hold. I can remember a time when I was probably in my 30s. There was a woman who worked at the shop where my husband and a bunch of other men worked. Everybody talked about how beautiful Betty was, and I thought Betty’s a dog. (laughs) Betty did not look good at all, but all the men thought she was just wonderful. I wondered what Betty had that the rest of us didn’t have. Talking to the guys, it wasn’t her outer beauty, it was her inner beauty. I’m surprised that the men saw that.
I don’t do any routines to be beautiful, maybe I should. I always use lotion or some type of moisturizer. I don’t necessarily do it for the sake of beauty. I don’t really have dry skin, but you know, you get ashy. That’s why I use it. I just make sure I take a bath, brush my teeth, comb my hair, try to look well. But I don’t care that I’m not the striking beauty.
Is there a change in your ideas of beauty?
There’s not really a change in how I think. I don’t think my thinking was the norm even when I was in my 20s, especially being black. From the images that black people see on TV and in ads and the things black people were told by their families or by white people, many of them started believing if you were black, you weren’t beautiful. On TV, you see blond hair and blue eyes. I think people think that that’s beautiful. Black people themselves thought that lighter complexions made you beautiful. That never bothered me. I never thought that, but the idea was prevalent. People say Oh, I don’t believe it, but then you look at TV and the ads and see it there. So people think, Oh, it must be true.
Editor’s Note: I found the above Elle image in an interesting related blog post