BOLD, VIBRANT AND UNAPOLOGETIC:

4 IT GIRLS TALK THE AUDACITY OF COLOR

FOUR BLACK WOMEN DISCUSS HOW GRACE JONES, LIL' KIM, AND MORE TAUGHT THEM TO EMBRACE COLOR IN THEIR BEAUTY ROUTINES

By: Kiara Shardé

Grabbing a hold of the taboo and breaking the rules is oh so liberating, and for women of color, this victory is as simple as picking up a vibrant eye or lip shade from the makeup counter. After all, unabashed blues, garish pinks, and brazen purples may seem intimidating for most, especially given securing the perfect neutral within our dense spectrum of complexions is a task within itself. Mahogany browns and prismatic golds are delicate whispers whereas bold hues scream, silencing the misplaced guidance which dictates who can wear what, which shades are hideous, and so forth. If you journey through the many album covers and style phases of icons and iconoclasts like Diana Ross, Grace Jones, Lil' Kim, and Kelis, you'll find that these "rules" are simply nonsense.

Women of color have been donning themselves in bright hues for decades and sure look damn good doing so. Perhaps what makes bold color truly taboo is its accentuating power. In a world that constantly signals us women to hide, color dares to underscore the already bold and otherworldly. Though we are constantly told what we can and cannot have, color encourages us to illustrate our stories as boldly as we want.

Below, four creative women across various fields and shades share their favorite colorful beauty moments along with how wearing color makes them feel.

Ofunne Maka, @offuneamaka

Founder of Cocoa Swatches

"Diana Ross's makeup from her 1971 Surrender album cover really stands out to me. That bold pop of blue is everything! When I choose to wear something, like a red lip or bright eye shadow, it makes me feel confident--like a bad ass! I know that it's a look that commands attention. Bright colors really pop on my complexion and let the world know, 'I am here, I have something to say, and I look amazing doing it.'"


Stephanye Watts , @iso14below

Travel blogger of iso14below and R&B aficionado

"'The Queen Bee', rapper Lil' Kim, is my favorite, of course! From 'Crush on You' to her shoots with David LaChapelle, Kim always pushed the boundaries without it looking like a costume. She can literally splash any color on her face and it'll look good. I only wear black or deep purple lipstick because it brings my true self to the surface: edgy, a little dark, and a teensy bit demented. Peak femdom and Nancy Downs vibes!"


Monroe Steele, @monroesteele

Fashion blogger at Fashion Steele

"I would have to say it was in the '90s when I first watched the movie, Boomerang, and seeing Grace Jones's character, 'Strangé' ride in on a horse and carriage with the most extravagant black and red eye makeup. The whole look was magnificent. I definitely feel more powerful and confident and just badass when I rock a bright lip or eye. I love the boost it gives me and I think it draws people to you as well. It's a whole feeling and aura that bright makeup can bring. I feel more outgoing and fun."


Sage White, @sage.white

Makeup artist

"One of my favorite beauty moments is Aaliyah's orange and blue makeup in her 'We Need a Resolution' video. It's one of those makeup looks that's very simple but timeless. When I have a bold lip I feel super sexy and powerful. I love accentuating my lips and learning new techniques on how to shape them. I feel when you have a bold lip people pay attention to what you have to say.