It is not uncommon for artists to reinvent their appearance in order to maintain relevancy or to heighten the buzz around a new album. In many cases, such as Bow Wow dropping the “Lil” and cutting off his braids, artists claim that maturity or change in flavor influenced their new-found signature looks.
America can easily recall when Barbados beauty, Rihanna created a name for herself in the music industry in 2005 with single hits like “Pon De Replay” and “S.O.S.” However, since then she traded in her light brown locks and good girl reputation for the dark side with a jet black short cut, and a spicy long red weave. Speculators often question whether fame and fortune has the potential to strip artists of their natural looks and image.
However, it is only fair to consider the many people who have a say in an artist’s appearance behind the scenes. These are the men and women who are makeup artists, stylists, or even production managers who handle and edit lighting during music videos and photo shoots as well.
However, once an artist is established he or she gains more power over his or her image, which brings us to hugely successful singer, dancer, and actress, Beyoncé Knowles.
Beyoncé has come a very long way from the image of a 16 year old dancing and singing in the “No, No, No” video in 1998. As a solo artist, she has established herself as an iconic figure in the music industry, not only because of her voice and her moves, but also the fact that she is curvaceous and unapologetic about her figure, as many African American women are. It is no question that she has a large following that includes young African American girls, which is why I am never surprised that Knowles speaks highly of African American women and the power and potential they possess.
Recently, there has been speculation that Knowles is undergoing dramatic physical alterations. It is obvious that her legendary curves are still kicking, but on a slimmer frame and her skin tone is appearing to be shades lighter. Naturally, dyeing her hair blond makes her resemble a Caucasian more than an African American woman. However, it is apparent that her skin tone has lightened regardless of the hair change.
These two “enhancements” alone in a woman with such a following is alarming, because the African American community, and young girls in particular, looked to her as someone loved internationally by all races, but represented by one–the phenomenal Black woman.
The idea that a woman of such stature and success is struggling with a racial complex behind closed doors is a slap in the face to African American girls across the globe who bought the dream Beyoncé Knowles sold so well: the idea that her Black was beautiful.
As a young Black girl, I watched Beyoncé develop and mature into the cultured artist she is today, and I was a little shocked at rumors of her lightening her skin when they originally surfaced. However, after eliminating the factors of fortune, fame and success, it is evident that “Bey” is human and struggles with the same insecurities that African American women around the globe are faced with. Is it possible that she too, occasionally feels her natural appearance falls short of the American standards of beauty?