Dawn Richard

When it comes to plastic surgery, there’s a thin line between Kelly Rowland and Lil’ Kim, any face after the La Bella Mafia album. The general consensus is that some cosmetic work looks better than others, but far too often and more frequently than ever do we forget than it’s about choice and no matter how we feel about it, there should be some level of respect for people choosing to do as they please with their bodies. For Danity Kane standout turned solo artist Dawn Richard, she unfortunately finds herself routinely ostracized for her noticeably slimmer nose.

Last month, seemingly fed up with it, she took to Instagram and posted: “Same people saying this ‘she was prettier before’ crap are the people that said I was a tranny in 2009. Make up your mind lawd. Meanwhile I’m really a cyborg ( I see this post went over damn near everyone’s head) lmao.”

And on Twitter, she responded to a fan who wrote “God don’t recognize you,” with “as long as the checks still recognize me we good.”

Amen.



Her clap back has not stopped the criticism. With every new Instagram upload comes a virtual back and forth about her new nose. One user left the comment, “The fuck u done to your nose?”

The answer is simple: what she wanted to do with it.

But, when it comes to surgery, particularly when a Black person does it and the target is their nose, the projections creep in. On some level, it’s understandable. One of the most famous Black families ever – the Jacksons – saw an overwhelming majority of its members chop their noses down substantially. Their father, Joe Jackson, beat it into their psyches that their broad, especially Black noses was a trait to cry over as opposed to celebrate – sending them all running to surgeons at light speed.

Some got noticeably carried away and now the stigma applies to any famous Black person who follows suit. And as previously mentioned, Lil’ Kim has remixed her face to the point where she is completely unrecognizable from the woman we met in 1996. Yes, many of us have stigmas about big noses, but maybe it’s time we learn to give our peers the benefit of the doubt.

I don’t know why Dawn Richards decided to change her face. On some level, maybe the criticism – transphobic and audaciously ugly – got to her and sparked her desire to change. In 2012, Dawn was asked about the hardships darker skinned Black women face in R&B (in a very bleak period for the genre at that) and while discussing major labels liking her work but weary of signing her noted, “Why would you take a risk on a brown girl? There’s no brown girl considered pretty right now poppin’ in the game. A dark skinned game. Kelly Rowland? There are, but I’m talking about in that crossover world. They’re not allowing it.”

I don’t know if the new face is in conjunction with the promotion of her new album, Blackheart, out this week, or if it’s mere coincidence.

I am sure of a few things, though. Her work appears tasteful; she looks pretty, though she was a standout before the smaller nose. Even if the work is connected to the pressures of being a Black woman trying to excel in the entertainment industry, she should not be attacked relentlessly for doing what she thought was best to deal with the burdens of a disease she didn’t create. There’s also a difference between sending someone a positive affirmation in the name of promoting self-love and policing someone’s body.

More importantly and most of all, she seems to feel great about the choice she decided to make.

Some people want smaller stomachs; others want bigger butts (though they definitely shouldn’t look to cement for plumper cheeks); other folks want fuller lips; more than a few want the scars and bumps on their faces to be cured, even if it means going thought the pains of a laser.

We have  the right to do what we think is right to feel better about themselves. It’s not always that simple, but perhaps more often than we realize it very well is.

Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem, and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him @youngsinick.



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