‘Pretty’ A Much Needed Conversation on The Media’s Representation of Black Women



Nov. 30 2015, Published 2:30 a.m. ET

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What if I told you that beauty isn’t defined by your physical appearance but instead your state of mind?

It may seem obvious to someone who has tackled this ideology, but for many of us who are still grappling with beauty’s concept, it presents a new shift in the paradigm.

“I’ve been saying a lot lately that beauty is something that you listen to more than something to see” shared Filmmaker, Antonia Opiah.

On October 29th   in Brooklyn, NY, Antonia held a private screening of her famed documentary series, “Pretty” to do just that. Pretty is not just a documentary series, but a digital postcard from women to women around the world that explores just how nuanced beauty can be.

Ranging from cities like Paris, London, Milan and most recently Tel Aviv, the series looks beyond the physical appearance and explores the beauty in the hearts of Black women. To them, beauty is defined by sisterhood, purpose, imperfection, acceptance, growth and several other facets that expand into a conversation about “being” rather than existing for observance.

Her Agenda: How has Un-Ruly changed your perspective on life?

Antonia: In a couple different ways: I feel a lot more connected to women… strangers even. Through the site, whether it be through our videos or our written content, we’re connecting with our readers, exploring issues that matter to us, we’re relating to each other or learning new things. I’ve had the opportunity to see how much of our experiences are shared experiences and so because of that, I can more quickly relate to, empathize or see myself in a perfect stranger.

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The second way Un-ruly has changed my perspective on life is through the challenge of building a business. You can read article after article about the traits successful people have or the first things they do in the morning, but there’s nothing like being in the thick of it. There’s nothing like actually trying to make something out of nothing. We’re building a brand, a platform from scratch and doing so requires a lot of courage and patience and determination. So seeing this now has given me new respect for those who have already done it.

Her Agenda: Are any two stories alike?

Antonia: Definitely not, but there have been some recurring themes. For example, how women are represented in the media as we discussed during our Watch + Chat with Hairfinity. Across the board, Black women are presented in the same stereotypical ways and we’re all tired of being represented so singularly and narrowly, but on the upside to that there’s a lot of women doing a lot to counteract that by creating their own content.

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Her Agenda: What has been your favorite part in piecing things together so far?

Antonia: It’s been really nice meeting women that live in different countries, getting to know them and forming friendships with them. That’s really been the most rewarding part. I’ve started to really feel a stronger sense of the global community that we’re all part of.

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Her Agenda: After just one episode, it’s easy to feel so satisfied and full. What inspires you to keep going?

Antonia: If I could, I’d talk to every woman on earth. I really love hearing people’s stories. Everyone has a unique story and there’s always something to learn from each individual. So I think my thirst for learning keeps me going.

After the screening, the audience engaged in an insightful discussion on what beauty means to them and how this effects the way Black women perceive representation in the media. Watch the video recap of the Brooklyn Screening below:

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