Beauty may be one of the only industries that is gender neutral—there is no male or female section in Sephora’s makeup section and there is no label that states which foundation or lip kit is made strictly for men or women. Even when analyzing the history of makeup, it has been worn by all genders for centuries—such as powdered wigs and rouge worn in Europe during the 18th century. AFROPUNK is one of the spaces that expels gender norms and encourages attendees to embrace their Afrocentric beauty.
From their radical digital space to the festival that has expanded from its roots in Brooklyn to several worldwide locations, the latest additions including Dakar and Brixton, AFROPUNK is a space of celebrating the beauty of Black people. What the festival has come to be famous for is highlighting the multiplicity of Black culture. The gender binary is liberated from the festival space, and attendees show out in their carefree Black style. This is likely because they have made their rules very clear: NO SEXISM, NO RACISM, NO ABLEISM, NO AGEISM, NO HOMOPHOBIA, NO FATPHOBIA, NO TRANSPHOBIA, NO HATEFULNESS.
AFROPUNK is one of the few spaces where cultural beauty practices are gender neutral, as well as rooted in the empowerment of Black people. Some of the themes that were central to many of the styles seen at this year’s festival were Afrofuturism, playing with masculinity and femininity, and of course punk. There were florals used in fros and beards, African diasporic tribal makeup, braiding techniques passed down from generations, and body adornment that had absolutely no limitations. Black beauty practices are not restricted to gender norms—anyone can have smooth waves, a fresh line up, and glowing skin.
These generational beauty practices and traditions are shared amongst the Afropunk community, and showcased in a unique way that is not seen in high fashion. The creativity that is seen at AFROPUNK is unlike any other festival, and its platform serves to uplift Black, queer, trans, nonbinary, and all people who fall into the category of “other”. At AFROPUNK, style and beauty is an outlet for creative expression and the individual curation is deeply meaningful. From making political statements, reclaiming beauty standards, embracing flaws, channeling alter egos, to challenging gender norms. AFROPUNK is rooted in resistance, revolution, and rebellion, and attendees use beauty and individual style as a way to communicate just that.
Keep scrolling to see a few of our favorite looks from this year’s festival.
1 of 7 Dee Williams
“There’s this stereotype that guys can’t get their eyebrows done, like it’s not masculine to put so much effort into how you look. But I just like taking care of myself, I like looking good.”
2 of 7 Dee Williams
“This is my interpretation of a Black unicorn. It represents a fantasy, something unreal, but beautiful at the same time.”
3 of 7 Dee Williams
“I put sunflowers in my hair because they’re my favorite flower, and yellow on melanated skin looks amazing.”
4 of 7 Dee Williams
“Flowers are usually associated with being feminine but I want to break that society’s standard and I always go against the grain, so I just pop a few flowers up in here and I feel mad beautiful. My hair is a sweet mint, inspired by Mint Condition. I’m a colored boy with colored hair.”
5 of 7 Dee Williams
“AFROPUNK means freedom, tearing down this idea of a system and replacing it with our true selves, our true expressions, and what we want to see in the future.”
6 of 7 Dee Williams
“My makeup was inspired by my hair, so space buns, outer space, out of this world.”
7 of 7 Dee Williams
“I don’t follow a gender binary, I love being soft and hard at the same time. I love the intermingling of masculinity and femininity and breaking all of that.”
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