Rashod + Elle Harris
There have been so many stipulations put on what is defined as beauty that we have decided to take them all away. There is beauty in each skin tone, tint, and complexion. Every freckle, birthmark, curve, and rolling hill of a woman’s body enhances their beauty. Deeper than that, beauty extends beyond the surface it’s in our hearts, our minds, and our souls. That inner beauty is captivating and it radiates, it shouldn’t be hidden any longer. So Rebelle is just that, it’s beauty in all of its facets, untamed and uncultivated. There are so many people destined to take away the liberties we have fought so hard to have: the right to choose, the right to fair wages, the right to be treated as equals of our male counterparts in society. So there is no better time than now to rebelle because our lives depend on it, and so does the lives of the generations we will birth.
How We Describe Ourselves
When someone asks you the question who are you. I am sure you reply: mom, wife, sister, friend, insert job title here, and all the other titles that you bare. But who are you really? I think that for so long we have allowed stigmas in society and images of what defines a woman to stifle us. It has put us in a box and so without those titles we feel we are not an authentic woman. How many times have you asked a woman in her late 20s to early 30s when were they going to get married or how long are they going to wait to have children? Because that’s what we’ve been told we are right? Helpers of men, child baring machines, and nourisher’s right? Now there is nothing at all wrong with a woman that is a mother, wife, nourisher, because these are all beautiful and significant roles we play. These roles leave many of us satisfied. They give us a sense of accomplishment, especially when we are able to see how we are the center and foundation of our families. But let us not forget our sisters who have not found love just yet, or who may not be able to bare children, and sometimes ladies none of those roles may even seem appealing to some of us. There are some of us who prefer to be completely career centered with freedoms and liberties that allow us to wake up in Denver today and Beijing tomorrow, just because we can. Our roles. They are all important nouns that describe just how multifaceted we are, but it does not define who we are. So dig deep, who are you, go deeper than your Instagram bio and your resume, who are you? Are you the free spirit who dances to the beat of her own drum? Are you strength firmly planted and unscathed? Describe yourself.
If you really think about it what is a flaw or a blemish but a beautiful story of triumph you are blessed to adorn. Dimples are actually genetic defects that are caused by shortened facial muscles. They are caused by a fault in the subcutaneous connective tissue that develops in the course of the embryonic development. All stuff we don’t care about right, because it doesn’t stop millions of us from wanting them. So why don’t we acknowledge our flaws in the same manner that we acknowledge dimples. We look at gap teeth as an unfilled space or a break in continuity. Can I suggest that it may be a sign of tenacity, because in some cases when we try to fix them they come back, they don’t back down!
Another society deemed flaw that has received a lot of attention lately is vitiligo. Supermodel Winnie Harlow has made this feature widely accepted and sought after in the fashion industry. She challenged beauty standards and refused to cover up with make up as many people with vitiligo choose to do, to stop the unwanted stares or make their body one continual color. There are many courageous and bold stands used to defy beauty standards and I am here for it, we all are. Winnie’s story may not be yours and you may not be ready to fully embrace what makes you unique just yet, but just know, when you are the Rebelle’s are here to support and chant you on.
What Is a Rebelle?
When we say rebelle we do not speak in the sense of one who rises in opposition or armed resistance against an established government or ruler. And when we are speaking in that sense it is only metaphorically- we support only nonviolent movements!!! Our definition of rebelle is a woman who is not afraid to go against the grain, she stands up for what’s right even if that means it singles her out, she fights for what is right and not against what is right. She rebels because she knows her life and the lives of her sisters, daughters, and all other women depend on it.
Why Should We Rebelle?
I am pretty sure that someone asked Susan B. Anthony what’s wrong with women not having a voice. Do we really need one, and I am quite sure she replied real “nice nasty-like.” At least I pray she did. Just in case she didn’t this is how I would have responded:
Hey sweetie, have a seat, there are several here to the left. (Ushers sweetie to a seat). Why do I need a voice? *puts left index finger on my chin and looks up to heaven* (where my help comes from). I need a voice because I am the backbone, influencer, nurturer, ghost writer, fertilizer, sound-judgement, peace keeper, harmony, light, intelligence, and giver of life- just to name a few things. Without me NOTHING flourishes. So why do I need a voice you say because there are people who believe though I am the center of reproduction, that they can decide when and how I produce. Yet they forget that the only way they can enter this world is through me. There are people who believe that I am a second class citizen that should be happy about what’s given to me no matter if that means it is not of equal consideration to my male counterpart. There are people that believe that I am a ball of emotions and that I am not capable of holding certain positions or making decisions without my feelings being considered. They forget that I am the prolific writer that designed speeches orated by men to captivate audiences. I am the ear that many men pour out their deepest fears to in hopes of solace. I am the glue to the familial unit, the cook, the counselor, the love maker, the accountant, attorney, doctor, politician, judge- it all begins and ends with me. I am the face that quiets the storm and anxiety in the hearts of men and children. And you ask why I need a voice. You ask why I rebelle because plagiarism is real and I am tired of doing the work without the right to decide how, when, why, where, and for who I choose to do it. ♠
Interview + Editorial: Elle Harris of World Wide Women Group
Photography: Rashod Harris of The Rebel Society
Models: Porsche Carter, LeAnn Taylor, Shelithia Carter, Yum Yum Daniels, Chantal Paddyfoot, Charmane Williams, JaLauna Anderson, Kamryn Tyndall, Rhian Nahrwold, Samariya Hall, Ciara Scarborough, Jocelyn Lewis, Monique Nahrwold, Cetera Jones, Amiyah Scarborough & Meshon Davis.