Grace Jones: Colorism & Confidence

Grace Jones is a Jamaican singer, songwriter, lyricist, supermodel, record producer and actress. She partied during the heyday of Studio 54 in the 1970’s and the number 54 is symbolic to me. It is the year that my mother was born and a key inspiration for the name of this blog 54 du Rhone.

Grace Jones and I have a few similarities.

  • We are both the same height (5’10 1/2″)
  • We both have rich, deep complexions
  • We are both Jamaican(I was born in Canada though; both of my parents are born and raised in Jamaica)

Grace is brazen, unrestrained and uninhibited. She does not fit the pervasive standard of beauty. In a like manner, I do not fit these beauty standards either.

Grace Jones & Patra

I was raised in the 1990’s. I remember another chocolate complexioned Jamaican woman, singing and dancing to the song “Pull up to my bumper”.   The track is a major hit by Grace however, I did not know this until many years later that Patra’s video was a cover. What I love about the song and the videos are that they singularly showcase what it is to be a confident Jamaican woman.

Confidence

Sadly, many think, I shouldn’t be confident because of my complexion and body type.   I have received many side-way compliments that contextualize and limit in what instances I am deemed attractive. If I am not attractive, I cannot be confident so as a result, I shouldn’t draw attention to myself.  My clothing and makeup should only include neutrals. I am subtly as well as overtly told that I should tone down, blend in or cover up. Instead, I wear neon colors, patterns, textures and crop tops.  In the media, having dark-skin or being plus size, does not equate to being beautiful.  To some, it is unfathomable to be dark, plus size and beautiful.

 

Colorism: prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.

 Colorism vs  Racism

Colorism is prevalent within the Caribbean and the diaspora.  The media perpetuates colorism by  limiting  the representation of black women. As a child I was aware of colorism before racism. I was bullied because of my complexion and I now have to to prepare for cyber bullying. Firstly because I am dark and secondly because I am plus size. Nothing is sexier than confidence coupled with with an amazing outfit. Add some lipstick and that is my elixir for self esteem. It has been a journey to become the confident woman I am now. I am beyond just embracing my womanhood.  As a matter of fact, I am a unapologetic,  bold and defiant woman.

This is the second of a 3 part series dedicated to Studio 54. Check out part one here.  

Photography by Rinath Maman.

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