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5 min read

Opinion: Barriers to Creative Freedom, Being, and Living As An Artist

Director, Creative Director, and Art Curator Raven Irabor shares a dynamic opinion piece on barriers to true creative mobility as an artist.

There have been three main barriers [to flourishing freely as an artist]: time, information, and life. In regards to time, having to balance a corporate 9-5 while building my brand as an artist & creative entrepreneur is taxing. Living in a capitalist society creates an incredible challenge for imagining living a life where I can solely create. Instead, I adapt by creating balance in my life to make time for working to survive, and time for creating to thrive. I believe one of humanity’s biggest challenges is time. I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing I had more time. The reality of time on this planet being finite creates an immense pressure of yearning to create your greatest work while you’re here. It is a pressure that demands incredible focus, but also adequate room to live. You need to live in order to have something to say in your work, which is another thing that needs to be slotted into this balancing act that we’ve become subjected to.

When it comes to information, the ideal is the old adage, “if you knew better, you’d do better.” One side of the current issue surrounding information is transparency. There is information that is gatekept and considered taboo that can be incredibly helpful, and simply life-changing for young creatives–such as salary, rates, fundraising, pitching, and other aspects relating to the business side of the art industry. Having transparent access to such fundamental and crucial information would give young creatives an extreme advantage in navigating their paths within this industry. On the other hand, we face information overload. The internet is a powerful tool, but because of it, we have direct access to a vast amount of resources (blogs, YouTube channels, podcasts, newsletters, ebooks, social media, nonprofits, the list goes on.) While most of these resources work to inform and amplify the voices of young creatives, it can be difficult in deciding what is true, where you belong, and what is necessary to you. It is simply overwhelming. Information is only useful when it is digestible. Over the years, I have joined many different communities, subscribed to many different newsletters, and followed many different pages–but I haven’t found many that made me feel like I truly belong. I didn’t feel like they spoke to me on a level I could understand, especially within the art world. The creative professional world has done a decent job in helping all types of creatives, but I think the art world has a long way to go in developing communities and providing information and resources that are easily digestible and not intimidating.

And then there is life. In all of these websites, YouTube channels, blogs, podcasts, social media pages, etc no one really talks about how to actually deal with this roller coaster of life while trying to create. There is clarity in movement, but it gets complicated when figuring out how to move. We see inspirational quotes about not giving up, but when life throws a curve ball how does one still continue their pursuit? If you’re a full time artist or creative, you need to create work to live– but you also need to live to create work. If you’re in a stage where life is knocking you down, how can you possibly create? And if you don’t create, how can you possibly survive? Life is truly a balancing act.

15 AAPI Women Artists You Should Know

During AAPI Heritage Month, we're highlighting some women artists you should know.

We've curated a list of 15 AAPI Women Artists You Should Know:

#1 Actress, Lana Condor

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#2 Visual Artist, Christine Sun Kim

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#3 Poet & Writer, Jenny Zhang

#4 Designer, Rei Kawakubo

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#5 Actor, Writer, Producer, Mindy Kaling

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#6 Singer & Songwriter, Mitski

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#7 Visual Artist & Animator, Uzumaki Cepeda

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#8 Actress, Rapper, & Comedian, Awkwafina

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#9 Designer & Sculptor, Maya Lin

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#10 Singer, Rina Sawayama

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#11 Visual Artist, Yayoi Kusama

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#12 Musician, Michelle Zauner

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#13 Actress, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan

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#14 Artist, Sue Tsai

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#15 Actress, Park Run Bin

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Remembering The Unstoppable Force of the Queen of Rock 'n' Roll

Queen of Rock 'n' Roll, Tina Turner was a magnetic force. On Wednesday, May 24, the beloved singer died at her home in Switzerland.

Forever leaving an indelible mark on the genre with hits like "River Deep - Mountain High" and "Proud Mary," Queen of Rock 'n' Roll, Tina Turner was a magnetic force who shook up the industry for nearly 60 years. On Wednesday, May 24, the beloved singer died at her home in Switzerland after battling a longstanding illness.

Born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939, in Nutbush, Tennessee, to a family of sharecroppers, Tina Turner started her music career in 1960 after catching the attention of musician Ike Turner.

After enduring a tumultuous and abusive relationship with Ike, Tina Turner summoned the courage to break free and rebuild. Her solo career took flight in the early 1980s, and she released her first solo album, "Private Dancer," in 1984. This album became a global phenomenon, spawning hit singles such as "What's Love Got to Do with It" and "Private Dancer" and earning her numerous awards, including four Grammys.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Tina Turner solidified her status as a musical icon with a run of successful albums. "Break Every Rule" (1986), "Foreign Affair" (1989), and "Wildest Dreams" (1996) showcased her vocal range and enduring talent, cementing her position as one of the greatest performers of all time. Tina's live performances were awe-inspiring, captivating audiences with her boundless energy and unmistakable charisma.

Her story has taken center stage in many forms. In 1993, actress Angela Basset played the star in the film "What's Love Got To Do With It," documenting her rise to stardom. "Tina: The Tina Turner Musical" premiered on Broadway in 2018, celebrating her life and career. It garnered critical acclaim, showcasing the power of her music and the resilience of her spirit. In conjunction with the musical, Tina released her autobiography, "My Love Story," in 2018, giving fans an intimate look into her journey.

Her unique blend of rock, soul, and blues transcended genres and inspired countless artists. In recognition of her unparalleled contributions, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. She later received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018. Her influence continues to resonate with new generations of musicians, ensuring that her legacy will endure for years to come.

Tina Turner's career is a testament to the power of resilience, talent, and unwavering determination. From her humble beginnings in Tennessee to becoming a global icon, she has overcome immense challenges and triumphed in the face of adversity. Tina's magnetic stage presence, soulful voice, and electrifying performances have left an indelible mark on the world of music. Her journey inspires us to believe in ourselves, to push boundaries, and to never give up on our dreams. As we celebrate Tina Turner's unparalleled career and life, let us remember her as the unstoppable force of rock 'n' roll, forever etched in the annals of music history.

Are We Really Doing Better by Women in the Arts?

Do you feel like we're making real progress toward equality in the arts? Are you aware of the barriers that still exist in arts and entertainment?

On January 7, 2018, women made history in the arts community. The internet was ablaze with talk of Oprah Winfrey running for president after her Cecil B. DeMille Award acceptance speech went viral. Many attendees at the Golden Globes wore black to support the #MeToo movement.  

Reports in the media hailed the event as a triumph for women, but was this really the case? In that year, there were only four female nominees for the Golden Globes. According to women and Hollywood, the 325 nominees for the 2022 awards were almost entirely male (91.1%). There were 29 nominees, but only nine were women, and only three were women directors from traditionally underrepresented groups who took home awards.

It is our duty to work towards a more just and equitable industry. This is especially true in the arts and entertainment fields, where discrimination is still common due to deeply ingrained cultural and social norms. Let’s talk about the current situation of women in the arts and call attention to the gaps that still exist. We will continue to emphasize the role of women in the arts, and we'll talk about how you can get involved. We're hoping this helps you understand the gravity of why advocacy and allies for women artists is critical and moves you to action.

How Have These Disparities Persisted for So Long?

Since the early days within the arts, women have been working diligently in various capacities. Yet, they continue to face disparities in pay and recognition. Researchers at Williams College recently looked at the collections of the most important art museums in the United States. They found that only 13% of the artists in those collections were women. But according to information from the job site Zippia, about 55% of artists who work in the museum are women.  

This is a problem that needs to be addressed. Art spaces should have collections representative of the women who are also working in those museums. We need to have more discussions about the role of women in the arts and how to best support them from the curators to the artists. This includes encouraging girls and women from a young age to pursue an artistic career. By raising awareness around these issues, we can progress toward a more equitable future for women in the arts!

What Are the Disparities in the Arts and Entertainment Industries for Women?

According to FORBES, Between 2008 and 2019, an estimated $196.6 billion was spent at art auctions, but only $4 billion went to women artists.

Men largely dominate the arts and entertainment industries. This is true not only for actors and directors but also for stage managers and production assistants. As a result, women face many disadvantages within these industries. These disadvantages can dramatically impact their careers - even when they reach the top levels. Lack of visibility is one of the main problems women face. This is because women are often underrepresented in the media, reviews, and ratings.  

Gender bias and sexism are also big issues, as women often experience discrimination and inequality. However, there's still a long way to go before parity is achieved in the arts. We must continue working hard to achieve it, starting with awareness and understanding.

The Strides Being Made by Women in the Arts

The world of the arts is complex and diverse, and it's no wonder that women have had a hard time breaking through the glass ceiling. However, there's been some progress made in recent years. The Center for Women in Television and Film reports that women have made great strides in the entertainment industry, with more women working in behind-the-scenes roles and more female artists achieving mainstream success.  

Women comprise most professional art museum staff; but despite recent gains, they remain underrepresented in leadership positions. Again, there is still a lot of work to be done. The importance of women in the arts cannot be overstated. They have been essential in shaping our society and culture for generations.  

They continue to make valuable contributions to art, dance, music, literature, and we need them more than ever. It's time we started taking action and supporting women in the arts. Women need more opportunities to get exposure and gain recognition for their talent. We need to support their work intentionally so they can make even more progress in the future.

The Challenges That Remain for Women in the Arts

The arts is important for both individuals and society as a whole. Art can help us express ourselves in ways that are unique and can offer therapeutic benefits. However, many challenges remain for women artists.

  • According to Billboard. women are undervalued in the music industry and do far too much work. 57% of those polled work more than one job, 24% work 40-51%, and 28% work more than 50%. Approximately one-third of those polled earn less than $40,000 annually, and nearly half believe they should be further along in their careers.  

  • One of the hardest things for women to do in the design industry in 2022 is to find strong role models. According to the National Museum Women's Association, Women make up a majority of professional art museum staff; despite recent gains, they remain underrepresented in leadership positions.


To make real progress, we need to be more aware of the challenges that exist and take action to address them. We need to support women artists and help them reach their full potential. This will be challenging, but it's essential to see real change in the arts industry! Thankfully, people are working collectively to change these things.

The arts are a part of our history and culture and should be inclusive for everyone. Arts are a powerful medium for expression and can help break down barriers. Unfortunately, women have been largely left out of the arts scene -more specifically in equal pay and opportunities. That's why it's so important that men play a significant role in advocating for women in the arts.  Here’s how men can help to support women artists.

  1. Realize that there is no one cause of inequality but many. Do your research and learn the space you wish to influence.  

  1. Address toxic masculinity in creative and work spaces.

  1. Spread the word about and pay for the work of women artists.

  1. Cultivate the talent of skilled women artists by offering opportunities.

  1. Work alongside women in the arts. If we work together, we can give everyone a place to share their ideas and make sure that everyone can also enjoy great art.

The art world is full of women who have worked hard and succeeded at the highest levels. These women are leaders in their fields, reaching new heights every day. But we still have a long way to go before women are treated equally and fairly. Despite all the progress we've made as an industry (for better or worse), there's still more work to do regarding gender parity in Hollywood and beyond—and now more than ever, we need your help! We would love to hear from you!  

If you’re a woman artist, let us know how we can support you by taking our survey. If you want to learn how to support women artists, join the conversation by subscribing to The State of Fem Art podcast.

How to
5 min read

No More Starving Artists: Ways to Turn Your Creativity into Consistent Income

There are ways to turn your creativity into consistent income; women artists can be successful, and they can define what that success looks like.

Imagine a world where the starving artist mentality was a thought of the past. 

Imagine a shift where imposter syndrome and toxic stereotypes didn’t prevent women from boldly sharing their creativity.

Imagine a reality where women were empowered to embrace their creative femininity and make a consistent and viable income while doing it. 

There are ways to turn your creativity into consistent income; women artists can be successful, and they can define what that success looks like. You do not need to choose between fulfilling your calling as a creative and choosing a career that pays the bills.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a woman artist, a performer, a creative, or a combination of all of these, through traditional and non-traditional ways, you can make a consistent income that falls within your passions.

Turn to digital spaces as an artist.

Now, we know that you didn’t click this blog to be told to post more content online. You started reading this blog to find new and enriching ways to generate an income from your creative passions.

Digital spaces are more than just “post on TikTok and hope you go viral.”  

When we say, “turn to digital spaces,” we encourage you to  think outside of just posting on social media. Consider how you could share about your art in an online class setting—maybe teaching a course about your specific passion could be a viable stream of income.

Whether it’s a Masterclass, or a Zoom class, are you able to teach other people about your passions? 

Can you use the digital space to build a community? You don’t need to constantly be creating to generate consistent income as a creator—are there things that you’ve already created that you can sell as is? Templates? Tutorials? Something else?   

There may be online freelancing opportunities in your art that could contribute to a sustainable income. You don’t need to be an illustrator or writer to have a service that people want—you never know when someone may need a piece commissioned, something performed, or have a vision they need your expertise to bring to life. 

More traditional routes to turn to as an artist.

If the online world isn’t your preference, there are always more traditional opportunities to create income. You may find that people in your community are interested in taking lessons from you, having you host parties, or hiring you to complete a project for them. 

Local businesses may be interested in collaborating with you to commission something.

You may find it helpful to contact your local community center to get started. Ask them about what opportunities they may know about. 

The biggest thing to remember.

There are opportunities for you in creative spaces. No market is too saturated. No industry is too dominated. You are a unique woman artist with your own abilities who is capable of creating a consistent income stream.

Do not let your fear of failure prevent you from stepping out of your comfort zone and embracing something exciting. Do not let that one voice tell you that you’ll never make it. 

You are capable of more than you could ever imagine. 

Where would you be in one year if you started taking your creative career seriously today? 

SheROCKS Event Partners with Americans For the Arts
5 min read


In its 10th year of celebrating women artists and entrepreneurs, SheROCKS will feature multicultural artists from across the nation.

Washington, D.C. — In celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, Americans for the Arts announced that they’ll be joining the 2023 SheROCKS Event as an official Awareness Partner. SheROCKS is one of the fastest growing events for emerging multicultural women artists and entrepreneurs. The event will be held at Capital Turnaround, 700 M St SE, Washington, D.C., on March 25, 2023. Tickets are on sale at Eventbrite.

Created in 2013 by The State of Fem Art, SheROCKS honors women making strides in visual and performing arts. It aims to encourage the growth and preserve the futures of women artists and creatives who don't often have access to arts education, funding, and opportunities on par with their male counterparts.

Throughout the year, Americans for the Arts will spotlight SheROCKS’ work and artists to create national equitable awareness about women in the arts and educate other emerging artist on resources available to help guide and support their careers. In addition, Americans for the Arts will host a series of community conversations across Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, to explore topics impacting the arts and culture community.

“We are excited to partner with SheROCKS in this vital work to empower female multicultural artists,” stated Americans for the Arts President and CEO Nolen V. Bivens. “This year’s International Women’s Day theme, #EmbraceEquity, aligns with our vision of the cultural, social, educational, and economic power of the arts to help solve some of the greatest challenges in America. In order to overcome barriers and achieve inclusion and belonging, equitable action is required. We strive to advocate equitably for the power of the arts across the nation and SheROCKS is an excellent opportunity to do just that.”

Now in its 10th year, the event will offer an array of activities, including live performances, exhibits, dynamic workshops, rousing talks, educational panels, a women-owned marketplace, and a power brunch to advance connection and collaboration. The celebration kicks off with the ultimate girl’s night out—a pamper party & mixer with luxe treats to launch an exhilarating weekend that provides a magnificent opportunity to experience women’s artistry up close and personal.

“We are grateful to collaborate with Americans for the Arts to drive awareness around the importance of elevating artists who are often under-resourced. Amplifying their work and stories helps us continue to work towards a more equitable art world, one that considers the cultural and lived experiences of all women artists,” said SheROCKS Founder Timea Faulkner.

The event’s lineup will showcase singer Bobbie Michelle, singer/musician Shan Dae, singer PatriceLIVE, visual artist Michaela Baldwin, singer/songwriter Kyaira, Filmmaker of the Year honoree Debbie Vu, musician Roella Orolo, dancer Nya, singer Janai, photographer Kourtney Iman, Poet, Ashley Cruel, Visual Artist, Cherrelle King, Photographer of the Year honoree Olivia “Lit Liv,” and photographer/visual artist Dawn Bangi. For a complete list of showcased artists, visit

This year’s event sponsors include: Chaise Management Group, Destiny’s Pops, PXL Booth, Zen in A Jar, An Xquisite Beginning Event Design, among others.

For more information, please follow along through our social media platforms at @Americans4Arts.

Mariaesmeralda Paguaga

5 min read

SOFemArt's SheROCKS Event joins forces w/ The Better Give Giveback Foundation to Support College Creatives & Alumni Artists

The State of Fem Art’s SheROCKS Event has joined forces w/ 501(c)3 The Better Give Giveback Foundation through their Creatives on Campus program.

The State of Fem Art’s SheROCKS Event has joined forces w/ 501(c)3 The Better Give Giveback Foundation through their Creatives on Campus program to create an annual programming initiative called “SheROCKS w/ CROC.” This program provides immersion, education, and opportunities for women of color in post-secondary education to learn about the arts and creative business careers with specialized programming starting at this year’s SheROCKS Event on March 23rd-March 25th.

According to research by Americans For the Arts, Students engaged in arts learning have higher GPAs, standardized test scores, college-going rates, and lower drop-out rates. However, the Department of Education reports that access to arts education for students of color is significantly lower than for their white peers. In addition, 72% of business leaders say that creativity is one of the top 5 skills business leaders seek when hiring.Did you know the nation’s arts and culture sector (nonprofit, commercial, education) is an $876.7 billion industry that supports 4.6 million jobs (AFTA, 2020)?

If women of color are not provided with equal access to arts learning and cultural experiences that foster the creativity needed to develop future business leaders and innovators, then how can they benefit from the jobs and opportunities created by individuals in the arts and industries where creativity is a core skill needed for various corporate sectors?

This annual program will:

✔️Immerse participants of the Creatives on Campus community program within one of the fastest growing event weekends for emerging women artists and entrepreneurs, SheROCKS Event.

✔️Provide participants with training and educational opportunities to learn about careers and entrepreneurship within arts & entertainment, marketing, consulting, health and wellness, and more.We’re thrilled about this partnership as our goal is to continue to increase equity in the arts for artists and creative students while providing immersive experiences that foster creative and business skills, a knowledge and appreciation for the arts, and encourage creativity in post-secondary educational settings.

Link to donate: SheROCKS w/ CROC Campaign

The State of Fem Art Teams Up With DiscoverU Health
5 min read

The State of Fem Art Teams Up With DiscoverU Health to Bring Affordable Healthcare and Wellness Programming to Artists

The State of Fem Art (SOFemArt) and DiscoverU Health have partnered to provide affordable healthcare for freelance women artists and artpreneurs .

The State of Fem Art Teams Up With DiscoverU Health to Bring Affordable Healthcare and Wellness Programming to Artists

(WASHINGTON, DC) –– The State of Fem Art (SOFemArt) and DiscoverU Health have partnered to provide affordable healthcare for freelance women artists and artpreneurs in D.C., Maryland, and Northern Virginia. DiscoverU Health is a nurse-led healthcare management firm that provides inclusive concierge medicine to pediatrics and adults through virtual and concierge in-home visits by board-certified professional providers.

Starting March 24th until April 24th, SOFemArt members will receive 15% off DiscoverU's monthly health plan and services, providing access to Primary Care, Urgent Care, Chronic Care, Mental Care, Sexual Health, Women's Health Care, Dermatology Care, Dental, Vision, Labs, and more. After the initial launch of their partnership, SOFemArt members will continue receiving 10% off services through 2023. The two organizations have also partnered to provide health & wellness programming for artists education and awareness to encourage creative entrepreneurs and artists to integrate health and well-being into their daily lives.

"Many of our artists have shared how hard it is to find affordable mental and health care services and coverage. That truth is even greater for BIPOC women artists who work full-time in the arts & entertainment industry. Not only are the health and well-being of artists a necessity to us, but it is vital. We're happy to partner with DiscoverU health because they truly care about providing person-centered, equitable care," said Timea Faulkner, Founder of SOFemArt.

The partnership announcement comes on the forthcoming launch of the SOFemArt app, which will happen during the SheROCKS event in Washington, D.C, at The Capital Turnaround. At the event, SOFemArt and DiscoverU Health will share more about their blossoming partnership and why it's a game-changer for full-time artists.

“Everyone should have the liberty to pursue their passion and purpose without the risk of losing access to healthcare. With the SOFemArt and DiscoverU Health partnership, artists, creatives, and entrepreneurs can participate in preventive health while enjoying the pursuit of their dreams. Following your passion presents significant risks, but healthcare should not be one of them,” said DiscoverU Health CEO, Pamgrace Gachenge.

Register here to join the SOFemArt directory for access to DiscoverU healthcare services and to attend wellness events fueled through this partnership:

About The State of Fem Art

SOFemArt is a community-driven platform + app of artists and advocates committed to amplifying the voices and work of women artists through mentorship, resources, opportunities, funding, and curation. We aim to reframe gender biases and false perceptions about the education, skill, intellect, or talent of women creatives across the arts and entertainment industries. We do this by putting a lens back on raw talent, putting the resources in the hands of artists, and putting the power of amplification back into the hands of fans to work towards a more equitable arts, entertainment, and tech industry.

About DiscoverU Health

DiscoverU Health tech-enabled healthcare is changing the narrative and standard of care. Evident in our motto, 'bringing care to you,' we're making concierge medicine affordable and accessible to underserved or uninsured individuals. Our preventative health services are anchored in partnership with small businesses and individuals. We aim to leverage healthcare, hospitality, and technology so every client has quality care with tangible outcomes.


Photo of celebrity Monique Coleman

Representation Still Falls Short For Black Women in Hollywood

Many questions come to mind when I reflect back to when I was a young little Black girl. I would watch Disney Channel TV shows from ICarly

Many questions come to mind when I reflect back to when I was a young little Black girl. I would watch Disney Channel TV shows from ICarly to Hannah Montana, and the only resemblance of something close to home was That's So Raven.

A great show in its entirety, though I've come to realize that I didn't have much representation in my youth of myself or my culture.

What started off as the best shows on television turned out to be the only shows on television.

There was never an option to switch between channels or movies of black families on Lifetime Movie Network or ABC Family. Instead, it was only on BET.

I would turn the channel to BET and watch the Awards with my mom and sister, watching Beyonce perform Deja Vu at the Grammys and Jennifer Hudson delivering powerful vocals from the film DreamGirls. Though BET had it all: live performances, black movies, and even hilarious rerun episodes of Martin and The Jamie Foxx Show - it was the only source of Black television.

And that came at a cost for Black women.

The provocative outfits of women wearing long v-neck slits across their chest dress outline or the too-tight fitted dresses that complimented their curves set a poor standard for the image of Black women.

Take, for example, R&B music videos like 50 Cent's "Candy Shop," where black women could be seen dancing sexually and acting out the submissive fantasies of men. Dancing blindly to the subliminal messages covertly intermingled with fancy cars and witty lyrics - it continues to be hard to overcome what society has deemed to be the archetype black woman.

The depiction of Black women has been hyper-sexualized for so many years throughout the media scene.

Surgically produced bodies, larger-than-life boobs, and even longer wigs, becoming the next black Barbie–THAT became the version of the Black woman most often seen in the media. No longer seeing the diversity or range that represents Black women in all our different flavors - the depiction is starting to fall far from reality.  

We still don't have enough diverse representation of us in the media, and the little we do have prioritizes hypersexualization.

The management teams responsible for casting black women for roles are predominately white men, according to The study also found that about 92% of CEOs in the entertainment industry are white, and 68% are white men.

It's already a slippery slope when the selected depiction of Black women is decided amongst a group that does not represent them in any way.

How do we go about this issue?

I've read numerous articles and watched countless interviews where Black artists in the entertainment industry share their frustrations.

They face encounters behind the scenes that they've expressed as "too damaging to their authentic selves."

Disney star Monique Coleman, known for her role as Taylor in High School Musical, shared in 2021 to Insider Entertainment in an article Monique Coleman reveals her High School Musical character wore headbands because the crew didn't know how to style Black hair that "We've grown a lot in this industry and we've grown a lot in representation, and we've grown a lot in terms of understanding the needs of an African American actress. But the truth is, they had done my hair, and they had done it very poorly in the front."

Monique Coleman as Taylor in the movie High School Musical

She then went on to mention that while playing Taylor, the team of hair stylists always insisted that she wear headbands to "maintain" her hair. Her character was always presented with straightened hair. In order to "define" her look to appear more naturally pleasing, a headband was granted by executives on the show.

Why are so many young Black women taught at a young age that their hair is "too difficult" to handle?

Gabrielle Union, well known for her role in Bring It On, stated in a discussion with Glamour that she realized too early on in the industry that "there were many people in hair and makeup trailers who were totally unqualified to do my hair." She openly shared that hairstylists would use products dedicated to white hair that would leave poor results on her black hair. Union recalled an encounter where a hair stylist used Aqua Net too frequently on her hair, causing chunks of her hair to fall out while on set.

Rather than accepting the distinction between natural black hair vs. white hair on screen and off, the "favorable" look always ends in the way of the white image.

Accurate representation and management of authentic depictions of Black women aren't just stripped away by dumbing down our appearance to meet misogynistic stereotypes or not allowing us to wear our hair in all its many textures and styles, but it's also historically lightening our skin post-edit or not having our shade of makeup on set to begin with.

Often while watching films that feature a far from diverse cast or even in magazines, Black women are seen with slight color distortions that do not match their correct skin shades. As Black women, we range in all different sizes and colors, and how we show up in films, on stage, and in photos should reflect that.

Leomie Anderson, a model for Victoria's Secret came forward in a recent Live stream via Instagram. She spoke with Insider Magazine, showing the makeup completed on her face after a day's work. What caught everyone's attention was the drastic discoloration from her normal skin tone and the orange shade that was added to her complexion. Anderson expressed her embarrassment by explaining the original look that the cosmetics team had completed on her and told the viewers that she had to fix the makeup to prevent walking out in such a disappointing way.

Leomie Anderson with (left) and without (right) makeup

Since when did it become the models' or actresses' responsibility to "correct" their glam due to the lack of hair and makeup teams not being culturally fluent in their craft?

It is beyond disappointing to hear more stories about how black beauty and the representation of women who look like me are not widely recognized, understood, or embraced.

How many women will have to share their stories?

The pressure that black artists already face in the industry is overwhelming. But it becomes an ever more significant issue when many people in positions of influence have yet to acknowledge and address that this is, in fact, STILL an issue.

But, rather than pass the issue to someone else, why not strive to change it? Educate yourselves on Black beauty and the entire essence of who we really are, not what society has depicted us to be.

Illustration of Bisa Butler

Bisa Butler Creates Portrait Quilts That Shares the Black Experience

This Women’s History month, we commissioned artist Aniko Aliyeva to celebrate the work of incredible women in visual arts.

This Women’s History month, we commissioned artist Aniko Aliyeva to celebrate the work of incredible women in visual arts.

Today, we recognize artist Bisa Butler. Her intricate portrait quilts tell the stories of the Black experience in technicolor. Each fabric is carefully selected as she translates historical photos into brilliant works of art.

The fiber artist has shared it can take hundreds of hours to complete just ONE quilt.  

In an interview with Print Magazine, Bisa shared, “Quilts are tombs of history. Printed fabrics give you a date and time. If I’m using oranges and blues and dayglow flowers made of polyester, you know that fabric is from the 70s because they’re not making fabric like that anymore.”

The New Jersey native holds her BFA from Howard University and a Master’s in Art and Education from Montclair State University.

This April, she will be honored by the American Folk Art Museum (AFAM) alongside Faith Ringgold and Brian Donnelly (KAWS) for their 60th Anniversary Gala at Gotham Hall in New York.