Breaking Beauty Standards as Black Womxn


Writer: Aphiwe Khambule


Nothing excites me more than seeing fashion pushing its boundaries. And with the Smith children taking over the fashion industry I couldn’t be more proud of being a lover of fashion. Earlier this year Jaden modelled for Louis Vuitton’s womenswear while Willow has recently been appointed the new ambassador for Chanel. It makes it even more exciting seeing such pivotal moments in fashion coming from young and innovative people of colour, challenging the ideologies and viewpoints of society.

I love how fashion designers such as Karl Lagerfeld are aware of the different types of beauties in the world. Not only is Willow the youngest ambassador of the French couture house, but she has also become the first womxn of colour to represent the brand.

MELENIAL: Willow and Karl Largerrfeld at Chanel 2016 Autumn/Winter Paris show

(source Karl Lagerfield (left) and Willow Smith (right) posing for cameras at the Chanel 2016 Autumn/Winter show in Paris.

Seeing young womxn like Willow invading predominately white spaces can only mean that we are to some extent finally being recognised as womxn of colour. It is changes such as these that allow womxn of colour to slowly grow and accept themselves as individuals. Ariel Williams, a freelance writer and author based in Florida spoke about the importance of having different representations for womxn of colour, sharing:

“The media paints a rigidly stereotypical picture of black women that consistently overlooks those passionate about various topics from technology to rock-and-roll to crafting. No matter the front, when these subjects are discussed, black women and girls are left out of the conversation.”

Chanel may not be aware of the impact it has done by appointing Willow as its new face and we as womxn of colour can applaud only this change. One of the outcomes that it has created is finally including womxn of colour in the conversation of high fashion and we only hope it will continue so in the future. As black womxn we are allowed to rewrite and reinterpret ourselves as individuals. Which is why the fashion moment of Willow Smith being the new face of Chanel is so important. It has given a voice to the alternative black girls and womxn; such as Willow to being acknowledged by society. Showing that there are many varieties to beauty and personality in the world amongst womxn of colour.

The representation of the alternative black womxn is important. Not all of us are the Kerry Washington’s or the Terry Pheto’s of the society and that is something that needs to be changed. So often there is a certain accepted view on black womxn in society and the idea of the alternative punk, nerdy and tomboy black womxn is sidelined. People tend to forget that there is more than one representation of the black womxn and as black womxn we need to show people the other personas of ourselves; instead having people accept certain ideas of us as black womxn.

MELENIAL: ( source Willow Smith striking a fierce pose wearing a black and silver futuristic-inspired bodysuit by Chanel.

( source Willow Smith striking a fierce pose wearing a black and silver futuristic-inspired bodysuit by Chanel.



Williams, Ariel. C. “Alternative Black Girls Need Representation Too”. For Harriet | Celebrating the Fullness of Black Womanhood. 2015. Accessed on: 09 Mar. 2016