I attended a “My Black is Beautiful” event in New York recently. For those of you not familiar with “My Black is Beautiful”, it’s a marketing campaign by Procter and Gamble spearheaded by two African American women, Kisha Mitchell Williams, (Multicultural Brand Manager) and Pamela Rhett (Assistant Multicultural Brand Manger) targeting black women.
This campaign originated in response to some data that suggested 80% of African American women do not feel they’re accurately depicted in media. So Procter and Gamble stepped up to the plate and created a multi-tiered approach to not only getting their products to black female consumers, but to truly celebrate them and their beauty, which includes television specials and events across the country featuring beauty, well-being services and entertainment. The event I went to featured Leela James and MC Lyte, both of whom I love! I got an email from a friend containing an invite to this event. I was broke and wanted a free manicure. I just needed a little pampering, (you know how it is ladies) but I wound up getting so much more!I walked in and was greeted by a lovely young woman who escorted me down the red carpet as I viewed the various stations where ladies were getting makeup and hair services and receiving massages. There was also a DJ who was really keeping the mood going with some good R&B. I was taken to the manicure station. Here’s my cutie pie nail technician
Ajenee! (Hope I spelled her name correctly!) She was fabulous, as were all the ladies who helped out with the event, as they greeted everyone with a bright smile! (They must be using Crest, LOL!) It was going to be a few minutes before I was seated for my manicure, so I decided to walk around and come back.Tracey Ferguson. After I got a nice photo op, I thought, Oh, I’ll see if Kisha Mitchell Williams is here so I can say hello. I’d written about a panel discussion she participated in earlier in the week, but had no idea about the event at the time. I looked around and bumped right into her. She turned around, I introduced myself and all she said was, “Oh my God, you’re beautiful! You should enter the model search.” What? My head started spinning. I just wanted a free manicure.
Ms. Williams called one of her colleagues over and told him to enter me. He told her he thought the registration was closed. She told him to get me in. Meanwhile I was just standing there in a daze, watching them as if it was a tennis match. So I was whisked to the registration desk. But of course I was still worried about my manicure and didn’t want to miss my turn. (I know there were bigger things at stake, but my nails were JACKED!) It was just hard for me to really digest what was happening. So, yes I got my nails done. Afterward I went back to the registration desk and a really nice young woman filled out the application for me-because my nails were wet! I then was given a number, the last number-200.
(You can see part of my manicure there!) They were only accepting 200 applicants. I then had to get a head-shot and do a brief interview with Ms. Williams and Ms. Rhett. The whole crew was really cool as we waited a good amount of time to be called in to meet the women. After that we all had to wait to hear the announcement of the 8 semi-finalists. I figured instead of just sitting around I’d look around some more and I saw
Okay, it was getting down the wire, and to be honest I was getting tired, but something told me to continue to just be patient. I hadn’t come to this event to enter the model search, didn’t even know about it, but when God moves, you gotta move with it! So I grabbed a seat and waited for the announcements to begin. As I sat there I tried to relax and accept that if I don’t get called, it’s cool.
But then I said to myself, Okay, let’s be real. I do want my name to be called. Things have been very challenging for me for a while now and I would like something pretty extraordinary to happen in my life. (A friend sent me a little book for my birthday and one of the passages said, "Tell God the truth.") So I spoke my truth, and surrendered to the fact that what’s yours is yours and nothing can get in the way of something that belongs to you. The announcements began and they had called 5 contestants.
I began to feel okay with going home and going back to my life. I figured I'd go home, fry some chicken and eat some cookie dough. Then my number and my name was called! I made my way up to the stage and stood next to the other women as they called the last 2 semi-finalists. I was STUNNED. I just stood there holding my number-the last one-200, on the stage as flashes went off and cameras rolled.
This was a completely unexpected experience. I just wanted a free manicure. Even that day I was going through my closet for something to wear and I thought, I need a "zhuz", but you know what? We’re going to do the best we can with what we have. And it turns out, what I had was all I needed to at least get through the first round. I felt vindicated. Life hasn’t been easy lately but I’ve marched through each challenge with my head up, and I’m proud of that. It feels good to validate yourself, and to get it from other sources is a great bonus.
So all I can say is do the best you can with what you have, no matter what life may put before you. Your best, whatever it might be on any given day, is good enough. You are good enough. The acknowledgment of your strength, courage and grace in the face of the storm will arrive right on time. Follow your heart, follow your gut and hold on to your faith.
Thanks to P&G for the “My Black is Beautiful” campaign; for the commitment to the celebration and empowerment of black women. And thanks to P&G for providing me with a much needed moment of appreciation. We’ll see what happens. : )
Have any unexpected fantasies ever come true for you?