As her warrior dreads and trifecta of nose rings state, Shine Blackhawk is a woman who is ferociously herself. A StyleLikeU original, what I have always loved about Shine is how she kicks some serious ass in the body image department. Unlike a lot of girls, including myself, Shine never tore her body apart to try and fit into the fashion body type. While I wanted to look like the white, skinny models I saw in magazines, Shine saw their beauty without it letting diminish her own. Though her classmates called her the N-word for being one of the only African American kids in her suburban LA school, Shine never let the malice bring her down. Her story is as powerful as her armful of cuffs and as warm as her pink and purple bedroom. For some body image positivity, read on.
ON GROWING UP IN ORANGE COUNTY : "My dad gave me a sense of pride in myself and encouraged me to be different. He celebrated my skin and my hair by calling me the Queen of Sheba, which made me think that I was the most beautiful thing on the planet. But then I went to elementary school, where my brother and I were the only back kids. I was teased and called nigger a lot. The weird thing is, the hatred didn't make me feel bad. I had a secret power and thought, 'You must be out of your mind. My dad said I am the Queen of Sheba.'"
ON BEAUTY STANDARDS: "I rejected the white man's ideology of beauty because I could never achieve it. I will never look like Kate Moss or have her waifish body, straight blond hair, and blue eyes. It's just not in my DNA. Everyone, though, is dying to possess those genes and to be accepted into America's standard of supreme beauty. But if I know that that's never going to be me, does that mean that my life has no value and that my beauty doesn't exist -- that it's less-than and that I'm a shadow behind a white woman? I won't tolerate that kind of thinking. I admire so many woman -- Angelina Jolie is phenomenally gorgeous. But my admiration for her beauty doesn't mean that I have to deny my own. To recognize my beauty doesn't mean that I don't appreciate another woman's beauty. I do, but I don't have to assimilate it. Every women is beautiful, and what makes us even more beautiful is dancing in the diversity of our magic."
ON "WOLF SKIN": "I live 100-percent in my authentic 'wolf skin,' which, for me, means to be completely and ferociously yourself, and to just shred all of the other crap away. When I worked at MAC in LA, people would come in and laugh at me because I had this huge afro. Now, they're so popular that you can buy one for $5.99."
A SUBWAY ENCOUNTER : "A couple of days ago, I was as on the subway and this sad, beautiful homeless woman couldn't stop talking about how beautiful my jewelry was. From her skin and the way that she dressed, I could tell that she experienced hard times. I ended up giving her a couple of my bracelets, which totally altered her energy. She told me that she was going to marry her boyfriend of 15 years. Sharing part of me with her made me feel good."
ON HER SNAKE VERTEBRAE EARRING: "My good friend gave it me while I was moving from LA to NY. The snake constantly sheds its skin and experiences rebirth as it fluctuates between creation and destruction. During my move, I, too, was shedding and growing skin. I will keep this earring forever. It represents being a renegade and staying relentless. Every time I put it in my ear, my level of frequency shifts and my consciousness goes to another level."
ON HER NOSE: "I've been told that my nose is too big and too African-looking -- that I should cut it off and make it smaller. But I am so happy to be adorned in this African blood. When I wake up in the morning and look in the the mirror, my nose is the first thing I see. The women of so many cultures -- from Indigenous African tribes to Native Americans to Tibetans -- walk around with their noses decorated as a symbol of their beauty. I love walking in that ancient blood. What I look like is a big FUCK YOU to the conventional ideology of beauty. I go out of my way to say FUCK THAT."