Around this time of the year, I typically do a “best of” post that overviews the greatest beauty moments of the previous 365-ish days (in my humble opinion). In the past, they’ve been some of my most viewed posts and they’re really fun to put together because I’m normally so excited about trends and all the surprises we’ve witnessed throughout the year.
This time around, however, I honestly had a hard time putting together a list of groundbreaking trends or happenings in the beauty world. My Little Pony-colored hair took over the world, you can now wear black or blue lipstick without being stared at like a freak, blah, blah. I guess what happened in 2015 was a lot of normalizing of things that were formally seen as fringe behavior. But we didn’t have a lot of brand new, I think is what I’m trying to say. Jennifer Lawrence grew out her pixie cut into a versatile lob, Adele also debuted an amazing lob that had me gasping and proud to be in medium-length territory, long-wearing liquid lipstick sealed its reputation as the most covetable formula on the market, and Kim Kardashian went platinum for a week. Honestly, nothing that notable.
I only have one real “Best Of 2015” moment, but it comes heavy with significance- In 2015, Victoria’s Secret featured a black model with completely natural hair (read: no extensions, no weave) for the very first time during their annual fashion show.
This, actually, is a huge deal. Maria Borges, of Angolan descent, literally made history as the first black Victoria’s Secret model to eschew the famous “bombshell” waves in favor of her own hair. And you know, when I think about it, Maria might actually be the first Victoria’s Secret model to wear her hair cropped this short, period.
One of the things that has bothered me about VS over the years is that try as they might to diversify their models by ethnicity, we still see them all with the same bodies. But more along the subject lines of this blog, we still see them all with the same hair. There are no other hairstyles featured on Victoria’s Secret models besides long, shiny mermaid waves. Do I like this hairstyle? Yes, of course. I am constantly wearing my hair wavy, and you know I love length. However, one hairstyle isn’t exactly a fair representation of all women and hair types in the world, or even in this country. And yet Victoria’s Secret, in their fraudulent kind of “girl power” way, has continued to depict long, wavy hair as the most aspirational and desired hairstyle on every model, no matter their ethnicity. Because in all our pink-infested, bow-and-lace-adorned, diamond-encrusted push-up fantasy dreams, this is apparently the hairstyle every woman should have, no matter what their hair looked like originally.
But not every girl needs to have long, wavy hair. Not every girl can have long, wavy hair. And not every girl wants to have long, wavy hair. That’s why Maria’s choice to wear her own hair for this particular show is such an important move (and it was her idea, just so we’re clear and giving proper credit). It is significant in terms of body image, in terms of race, and in terms of women (especially minority women) being able to collectively say “no thanks” when time and again we are presented with a billion-dollar business’s take on what perfect hair is. There seems to be this underlying assumption that if the Victoria’s Secret body is what an ideal body looks like, well, then a head full of Victoria’s Secret bombshell waves must be what an ideal head of hair looks like. For the first time, we are shown that that’s not always the case.
It’s taken way too long for Victoria’s Secret to get with the program in terms of hair. It’s kind of pathetic that this had to be such a big deal in 2015 and not, say, 2000, that it was still only one woman, and that it wasn’t Victoria’s Secret’s own initiative (along with the myriad of other issues I may have with the company). However, this still deserves celebration . And even if it’s just one woman, it makes a difference. xo, MR
Image credit to Dimitrios Kambouris of Getty Images for Victoria’s Secret, 2015