It’s hard to imagine that in a world where smart cars have gone electric to reduce our carbon footprint, and most of the futuristic elements of The Jetsons have come to fruition, Black models still have to bring their own makeup to photo shoots to ensure they’ll get a proper beat. It’s the reason why shows like VH1’s new Black Girl Beauty are still necessary and appreciated.
Launching on November 2, Black Girl Beauty is a six-episode series on VH1 YouTube hosted by journalist and TV personality Gia Peppers, that discusses the experiences that Black women have when it comes to their beauty.
The show features guests such as reality stars Amara La Negra and Sierra Gates, beauty influencer René Askew, and even ESSENCE’s own Global Beauty Director Julee Wilson. The format is a roundtable style, and feels like being able to watch a group of girlfriends have candid conversations about colorism, appropriation, hair journeys, makeup, and all things pertaining to their beauty.
“We have truthful, beautiful conversations. And I think it’s going to open up a whole new dialogue for Black women in the beauty space,” says Peppers. “And I think it’s really important that there’s representation in these spaces. As a Black girl who loves beauty and has had to do her makeup by herself for years, I really appreciated just being a part of a place where it just felt so right.”
The show launches just a little more than a month after BET launched its digital series The Glam Gap, a documentary style show which focuses on the discrepancies in the beauty industry as Black consumers are concerned. Many of the experts and influencers from that series will crossover into Black Girl Beauty, as they’re two different parts of a much-needed conversation about Black beauty and the industry that failed to cater to it for so many years, despite how many dollars Black consumers continued to funnel into it.
“I learned so much from being on The Glam Gap, and lot of my friends were featured on that,” Peppers told ESSENCE. “One of the things that I always love about being a journalist is sitting down and talking to women, and just telling their stories. I’m here for all of Black beauty. So whatever gives us a light on what we need to do, I’m here for it.”
And the show’s creators agree. For creator Sarita Nauth, social strategy manager Bianca Kea, and producer Felicia Stevens, allowing Black women to tell their stories and have these sometimes-uncomfortable conversations in a safe space was key.
“This project was to honor Black women. I still watch a lot of brand and photo shoots and different projects that I work on sort of put Black women in a corner,” says Nauth, Creator of Black Girl Beauty & VH1 Manager of Social Media. “We go through a lot of these different topics in the show and it sort of shines a huge spotlight on that and says, ‘Hey, Black women are here. We contribute the most amount of dollars to the beauty industry and it is time that you guys focus on us and also make sure that we are given the attention that we deserve.’”
“It is just wild that we are still on these sets and we could be the only Black or brown girl there, they do not have hair products for us, they do not have makeup for us” added Kea, VH1 Senior Manager of Social Strategy, who worked closely with Nauth on the show.
“It is wild that we are making all these strides in technology, but in terms of Black women and the beauty space and entertainment, we still have a lot of hurdles to overcome.”
For host Peppers, who’s hoping that the series gets renewed for a second season, it’s already been a big learning experience. From experiencing Black girl beauty through drag queens, to hearing different hair journeys, it has been a welcomed ride.
“[This show] has strengthened my view of my natural, beautiful, flawed self. You could talk to any girl, and even if she’s not wearing any makeup, she’s beautiful,” she says. “If she’s wearing 14 pounds of makeup and that makes her feel beautiful, then that’s what is beautiful to her. So for me, it just gave me a deeper appreciation for my expression of what Black girl beauty is.”