This is a love letter to my little cousin Melanie Yvette and Beautifully Brown, her new beauty blog for women of color.
This is a kiss for both her beautiful cheeks, high and flawlessly finished with the perfect rouge, every bit as playful and flirty as her style.
This is a hug for her shoulders, squared and strong—solid as the Millner and Martin names on which she stands.
This is a Black girl pound for her hands and fingers, as perfectly manicured as her incredible words, full of encouragement, beauty and truth.
This is a dope MyBrownBaby beat for her heart, every bit as passionate and committed to her people in general and Black women specifically as a Badu song and a Catlett sculpture and a Nikki Giovanni poem.
This is a booty bump—thick and jiggly and curvy and delicious, full of that Black girl goodness Click To Tweet This is a booty bump—thick and jiggly and curvy and delicious, full of that Black girl goodness she celebrates with abandon in everything she’s ever done, from Fabulously Focused, the radio show and blog she created at her alma mater, Temple University, to Beautifully Brown, the celebration of the exquisiteness of dark skin that she conceptualized, birthed and gives life to with a deep knowledge of the beauty industry and an abiding desire to help us love ourselves from the top of our gorgeous heads to the bottom of our pedicured feet, no matter the foolish mainstream standards that would have us believe otherwise.
On Beautifully Brown, Melanie writes authoritatively about everything from the perfect foundation and powder for dark skin, to the best nude and hot pink lipsticks to pair with our chocolate, to great hairstyles, nail colors, moisturizers and other beauty essentials we adore. She answers beauty questions in a non-judgmental, confident manner and sprinkles her line-up with interviews of fashionistas that share her passion for pretty things. And when she’s not introducing us to great products, she’s introducing us to ourselves, with notes on self-love and affirmation—the kind that makes you lift up your chin and high-five your damn self for being so effing fly.
The truth is, Melanie and her Beautifully Brown speak to me—minister in a way that makes me puff out my chest, not just because she’s my little cousin but because she’s shining a light and clearing a path for those of us who may not have been as confident and unabashedly proud of alla this. Where it took me years to appreciate my own beauty, Mel been on. She gets it from her mama (that Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate skin that runs all up and through the Millner family) and her daddy (that bold, brazen, good-good love of self), and she’s made it her life’s mission to uplift, educate and encourage us to believe the hype—that we are more than good enough, that we are more than beautiful enough, that we simply… are. Witness her words:
I woke up about a year ago, and found myself exhausted from this thing we women do in regard to our beauty. You know, the ups and downs of one moment being really happy with the way we look, and then the next wanting to just…cry. And while it’s a normal ebb and flow of life’s natural highs and lows, I don’t believe that there is anything natural about not sincerely loving the skin you were born in. This has been taught. We aren’t born insecure. We aren’t born hating ourselves. I don’t care what anyone says to challenge that.
So here’s a thought: with the official launch of BB, the fears, hopes and dreams that I have put behind the brand, I figured that for the rest of my life, starting now, I’m pretty much uninterested in being insecure, sulking at my imperfections and unhappy with who I am and the way I look (even if I only feel that way 10% of the time).
I decided that I’m done wishing for mainstream America, beauty companies, men, women and whoever else to acknowledge the beauty that is attached to my complexion and my background. And I’m also not interested in any of the “stereotypes” that come with being a brown girl (i.e, we’re not pretty enough, desirable, etc). I’ve had plenty of boyfriends, lots of sex and enough self-encouragement to remind myself that these “stereotypes” are pure bologna…
I’m not interested in any of the B.S. that plays boyfriend to insecurities’ girlfriend. And I hope that you women will also become uninterested in that B.S. as well. And if Beautifully Brown can be a gateway to the freedom of just loving your damn selves, then I’ve done my job here on Earth. Yes, I’m naturally invested in the stories of brown women and their beauty journeys. And yes, I care about the women who still look at themselves in the mirror, see themselves and wish they fit into the mold that they’ve felt they’ve supposed to fit into. I care. But, I’m all about solutions. Always have been.
My biggest hope is that Beautifully Brown can be at least one of those solutions to our self-love…
It is, for sure, Melanie. Congratulations on your Beautifully Brown journey, cuzzo. I’m so excited to watch you fly.
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.