issue three : fear thy neighbour


We interview Luanda as part of our "Melanin" beauty series. 

What is your ethnicity?

I'm Black British and my whole family is Jamaican. 


What culture do you identify most with?

That's a hard one! I've lived in England my whole life, I was born here. But there's been a lot of times when I've felt very disconnected. As a black woman, white England see's you as "other". And that's how I feel. But I've been to Jamaica and when I was there I felt like an "other" also. I identify as black and I love the black community but as far as British vs Jamaican culture goes, I'm at an awkward in between.


Do you still practice any of the traditional practices of your heritage at home? If so, what are they?

My Nan and Mum always cook ackee and fry dumplings every New Year. That's not a Jamaican tradition but ackee is the national dish there and it's my favourite meal. Probably because of how much I ate it growing up. 


Do you know any traditional beauty practices from your culture? Could you share some with us?

Jamaican women wrap their hair in beautiful materials. Sometimes for occasions and sometimes day to day. The materials usually have African prints so I see that as a way of connecting to your roots. Because all Jamaican people are part of the African diaspora. But I can imagine they probably feel as close to the countries in Africa as I do to JA. 


What is the most frustrating thing about being a model and having your makeup done?

White is the default and the beauty standard. The problem with it being the default is that MUA's have two suitcases full of make-up that perfectly caters to white skin. They'll give me foundation lighter than my own tone because they're not equipped. 

And the problem with it being the beauty standard is that I am now the "other" again. My skin, my lips and my hair confuses them and the features I love now make me feel alien. 


What are some of the misconceptions other people might have about your culture/heritage? 

People see Jamaica as the island where no ones worried, we all smoke weed and nobody goes to work. But just like anywhere else, there are political and social issues (almost all as a result of colonisation) and there are real motivated people in the community responding to the problems. 


What has been the best part of being part of this beauty project for you?

Seeing people of all races recognise a problem and do something about it! Beautiful art, memories and moments can be created when we think intersectionally. That's what's happening here. 


If there was one thing you could make others understand about your culture, what would it be?

My culture is beautiful and complicated. And I don't bite.