Kimberly Sumner

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I remember a moment not far into the shoot with Kimberly in which I realized this is about the tenth African-American woman that we have featured who has spoken about the issue of their hair and the torment of attempting to assimilate into our Eurocentric culture growing up. Not too long afterwards, CNN reported on a Sesame Street skit about the same subject, obviously aimed at children in an attempt to nip this ignorance of the masses in the bud. Have I missed something? Didn’t we have a liberation of sorts in the ’60s and ’70s where gigantic afros à la Angela Davis and Jimi Hendrix were the rage, and you wouldn’t be caught dead on Madison Avenue?

Ironically, when Kimberly made the decision to let her hair grow “towards the sun,” as she says, it had the effect of a halo or crown, as if nature is anointing her a queen. That, in combination with her avant-garde taste in spectacles and the brilliant array of patterned clothing and handmade textiles that she designs, makes me want to bow down. Daphne Guinness, renowned for her strong sense of personal style, was quoted in the New York Times this past Sunday as saying that what drives her is the idea of “something against the world.” Kimberly’s equivalent self-acceptance also makes her a poster child for not accommodating a norm that does not speak to them personally and deeply. It’s never a good look. She’s been digging deeply into the rituals of the Maasai tribe for inspiration and ponders, “It’s not about who can wear the shortest skirt or the highest heels, it’s about how big can I make this headwrap to signify my status in this tribe.” Case closed for shedding the shackles of colonial or otherwise limited thinking – let’s move on for good.

If you love Kimberly, you may also like Joanne Petit-Frere, Ariel Adkins and Trae Harris.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sarah.akuadede Sarah Akua-Dede

    Great post…love seeing women of color on here..represents my style philosophy…”being urself”. love how she embraces her hair, color n patterns.

    http://www.jemappelle-dede.blogspot.com

  • afictionalblog

    I’m obsessed with her glasses!

    A Fictional Blog

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001224262977 N’dazeba B. Amihere

    love love love her hair

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1112691186 Marisa Pool

    sweet and smart

  • http://www.facebook.com/enidperalta Enid Peralta

    complete awesomeness!

  • sabontu

    I wish they did not edit the original video they posted. She mentions a lot of interesting information, like the book she read “Unthinking Eurocentricism”, or something like that. I hope she has a blog I can follow :-).

  • TrendySocialite

    I love her style and will continue to look out for her. Thanks for including representation that looks like all of your readership.

  • Irene Kim

    Hey Sabontu you can check out her extended video on the StyleLikeU’s vimeo page: http://vimeo.com/18202649

    Thank you for your support and keep checking back for new SLU muses!

    xIrene

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1223940075 Jaimey Howard

    So proud of you Kimmy!! I am so happy that you have found a style that celebrates everything you believe in. Like I always tell you, you’ve been standing out since I first met you in middle school and I know you will never conform…keep it up Queen

  • sabontu

    Oh hello, I checked out the link Irene, but found that the longer version is still different from the original video that was posted. I really liked the original video because it was more fascinating. It gave depth to Kimberly, and I could relate to it.
    I wish the original video was posted back :-), it was so inspiring. Why was the video changed all of the sudden, Irene?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=7600814 Ariel Adkins

    She ROCKS! I love the way she’s embracing her culture and I’m swooning over her prints. Perfect.

  • Staceyeva

    i love her life philosophy. this website is one of my favorites–i feel like there’s something to learn from every single person featured here. thanks so much for keeping this up :)

    xo

    youareashootingstar.blogspot.com

  • Ramona Canino

    Hey Ariel!! Thank you and glad you love her :)

    StaceyEva- so glad you love it! Thank you for following and appreciating stylelikeu! You’re keeping us going

    x Ramona

  • LoveBrownSugar

    KIM is FABOOOSH! We used to be roomies back when she lived in Harlem, and her style is everything and MORE. Love this feature! It’s so amazing to see beautiful black women highlighted on StyleLikeU. Looking forward to seeing more of it :)

    Cece from LoveBrownSugar

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001113977228 S.f. Perrius

    Sweet pea :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/kristin.brooks Kristin Brooks

    Great feature! Kimberly has some great style, and talent! I’m also glad she spoke about embracing her natural hair. Just because the Civil Rights Movement happened in the 60′s and change did occur, doesn’t mean we don’t have a long way to go. Wearing your hair the way it grows out of your hair (specifically Black women) is a deeply rooted issue in the Black Community that is fortunately being exposed more and more each day. It’s not as simple as being free and liberated, especially when you work in corporate America, and you are to look a certain way. Wearing your hair natural can and has affect one getting a job, being overlooked for an opportunity etc. Furthermore, a lot of these Black ladies don’t even realize the root of why they’re aiming to straighten their hair. A lot of them don’t see it as trying to emulate the European look, which is why we started straightening our hair in the first place. To try to blend in with the majority as much as possible. People don’t realize all of the stifling and discriminatory standards to which every person is supposed to follow.

    It’s great that you guys feature people that can bring to light some of these important issues, while showcasing how talented and creative they are as well!

    I’m a fan of Stylelikeu, and look forward to each one of your features!

    -Kris

    http://thekrisbliss.blogspot.com

  • mary judge

    Hey Kimberly, great seeing you here, love the glasses! I don’t remember those from your Parsons days

    peace and love

    Mary

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=605000880 Maureen Garconius

    Hey all,
    I’m feeling what Kimberly is saying about wearing what you want to wear as an expression of who you are. People have made fun of my hair and clothes as well, and that’s fine. I don’t dress for them, but for myself. I recently started wearing head scarves, the negative attention became even worse then. Still don’t care. Be you, if you can’t be you, who else can?!

    Also, I love Kimberly’s hair and glasses! And those colors and patterns, so beautiful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Lagelle Tye Crawford

    I luv her spirit, so easy going and just sharing her heart! This is great!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1143291131 ‘Funminitemi Oluwadare

    *sigh* <3 :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/sdrapeau Sharon Drapeau

    I’m loving the hair, dressing for expression, and want to steal her glasses.

    -(Newly) Naturally Nappy

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=39106397 Ashley Jeanntta

    She is clearly wonderful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001596900799 Charlana Quiovers

    Fantastic presence…Beautiful Crown of Lush hair. >:)

  • stephieb
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=650707362 Joseph Obukowho

    “There is a point of acknowledging and realizing that you are trying to assimilate and be something you will never be… What’s wrong with being yourself?” -KS

  • Sylvia

    I love your glasses and your sense of fashion. Just a point of correction though, I am Kenyan (East African country)and the Maasai tribe is found in my country and Tanzania.Maasai women and have never worn headwraps and do not culturally wear them to date. Traditionally they have always had a clean shaved head. In fact very few tribes in Africa had women wearing headwraps, they either cut all their hair or plaited it. Hope this information helps :)

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