“Pretty…period,” says Yaba Blay. And so do the scores of women who appear on her Tumblr site Pretty. Period., as well as the ones who have been spreading it around on social media since its debut.
The enthusiasm and excitement comes from the fact that Pretty. Period. is both a response to a common insult thrown at browner-skinned Black women and it is a declaration, a simple fact. Blay, who is a professor of Africana Studies at Drexel University and the author of (1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race, explained the genesis of the site this way: “Enter ‘Pretty. Period.,’ a (soon to be) trans media project created as a visual missive in reaction to the oh-so-popular, yet oh-so-offensive “compliment” – “You’re pretty for a dark-skinned girl.” Our collective response is, “No, we’re pretty. PERIOD.” There are photos submitted by women and some that were taken by photographers specifically shooting for the project. Some of the women are famous, like Grace Jones and Nina Simone; but most are images of people who may not be famous but are undeniably confident, brown and pretty…period.
To some, this kind of declaration might seem unnecessary now that Hollywood is having a love affair with Lupita Nyong’o, shouting from every available rooftop that she is stunning and amazing, including her in the pages of Vogue and on the cover of Vanity Fair. Yet while no one is denying the actress’s beauty, it does not erase the countless years of entrenched thinking that continues to devalue or dismiss all shades of Black beauty.
The site is just a week old, but its message is one that the world needs to hear — stop qualifying the levels of someone’s attractiveness, stop downgrading brown skin, stop being surprised or taking exception to the fact that brown can be as beautiful as everything else. Blay calls it a “movement,” as well as a “vision board for healing” and is focused on showing images from around the world, to emphasize that “[dark-skinned beauty] is everywhere…We stand as the rule, not the exception.”
(Photo: Pretty. Period.)
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