Pause On The Play Ep 2
Hello beautiful people! And I’m back for the next episode of Pause On The Play. Again with me is India Jackson, the mastermind behind India Jackson Artistry, my business partner, and a woman with something to say. We always talk openly, honestly, and give you some real things to think about. And I’m here for it.
The episode is below in multiple formats for your convenience😉
Below are the audio and transcripts of the interview. Pick the one that works for you and enjoy!
EC: Ladies and gentlemen, we are back. And myself, Erica Courdae, here on Pause On The Play with India Jackson again.
IJ: Hey guys.
EC: So the last conversation we had, we kind of ended up talking about what does the responsibility or danger look like around this perception of perfection? And you know kind of, what do I think as a coach, but also I think there's some life things that come up for you, and yeah you mentioned being a millennial and how things are very curated. You know when I grew up, you didn't have social media. So people lived out loud in a different type of way because their life was not being captured for the camera, and it wasn't about you know, "I'm on vacation, I gotta take this selfie." Or you know, "I'm on a date, and I have to capture every moment of this date to show how perfect my relationship is."
EC: So those types of things were not there. Where the perception of perfection kind of came up for me in some ways, it would come up in the sense of racially or culturally, or socio economically you not being good enough if you didn't have a certain type of money. You know, for me I grew up with a lot of the light skin long hair thing within the black community. And then there's just the whole, "Well we're not as good, and we're carrying these stigmas because of the standard of beauty that is set by white women." And I ain't gonna say just white women, but it's set by society or people that are not of color, and it didn't include people of color.
EC: You know if you looked at ... Like I grew up when being a super model was a big thing, and the Beverly Johnsons, or the Naomi Campbells, I mean they were the minority. It was Christy Turlington or ... Oh my gosh I can not remember her name, one the main ones. But either way-
IJ: Cindy Crawford.
EC: Thank you, that's exactly who I was trying to reach for, it was right there.
EC: So, you know the standard of beauty did not look like me, or you know some of the people that I was around. Now in a lot of ways I was fortunate, and that's part of my privilege in growing up with a certain amount of diversity. But I also attracted that, I listened to the music I chose to listen to, I dated who I chose to date, I was friends with who I chose to be friends with. So while I had that, that still was not something that was lost on me, that there were some things there that gave this like, "Oh, well I'm never going to be at that level." At least that's what was tried to be given to me. That doesn't mean that I necessarily picked it all up. But that was the standard.
EC: And so I think that it just looks different. So now a lot of it is social media, it is this ... And I'm gonna use a term that I've heard Demetria L Lucas use that I love, and it's this Frankenstein-ing of the female body. And your hair needs to be like this, your skin tone needs to be like this, your boobs need to be like this, your waste needs to be like this, you know your butt to boob ratio needs to be like this. And it's very much this, "I'm going to take the pieces that I want, and I'm going to create it."
EC: Again, that's dangerous because it's not reality, and you are now making people feel less than because they don't see themselves represented. And I think that whenever you hit this place of, "I'm not representing the whole," then you have a lot of people that can slip through the cracks and feel as though, "Well, I'm not showcased, I'm not put in the limelight, I'm not put in the forefront, I'm not heralded for anything positive. So therefore I'm not as valid." And it shows up in the business community from you know, "I'm either not showing enough personality because I'm afraid to not be perfect, or I'm showing too much personality out of fear of hiding. And I have now had like verbal vomit and shared way too much because I don't know where that balance is."
EC: And that's kind of to me the danger of social media, there's a very you know, kind of fine line that you want to try to stay in that zone because sharing too much, you know you have a hard time being able to connect with people, and they can't see you. So it's hard for them to know you and actually connect with you and utilize your services. But then if you do too much, it can be off-putting.
EC: And we've talked recently about a business leader for example, who we used to follow and really liked her stuff, and now it's like, "You are showing way too much, and this show's very vertuitive. And it feels very self-serving, and it doesn't connect with us anymore as we have gone on our journey. But it's very obvious that if she didn't look the way that she looked, she probably wouldn't be able to get away with it. Nobody would see her, and it wouldn't happen.
IJ: So giving some context to what you just said, for those of you that don't know Erica personally like I do. What she means by listening to what she wanted, and hanging out with who she wanted to, you know you listened to rock music, alternative music, pop music. And I did too. And that is not the norm for people that look like us, or at least it wasn't then in our communities. Especially for you being in the Baltimore County area. Me mostly being on the DC side of Maryland.
IJ: And then having friends that looked like the rainbow, but in particularly having, for me white friends.
EC: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Same.
IJ: You know, and that being a thing that was not necessarily the norm. And then just going into you know the super model complex. Yes you did have the Beverly Johnson, you did have the Iman, or the Naomi Campbell, and they're beautiful women. However, they all had bone-straight hair. They all had the ideal as you said, Frankenstein body of you know, the larger breasts, but the more narrow nose that is just not necessarily the standard for women who have African ancestors. The smaller more almond shaped eyes, you know, a particular shape to their eyebrows, you know instead of the bushier hair.
IJ: So there's a lot of ... Yes they were black women, and they're beautiful black women, but is that the norm for black women even? Or did you pick black women that had the features-
EC: More palatable. They were more palatable.
EC: You didn't ... Alec Wek was about the darkest model that I had seen for forever. And when she came out it was a thing, but I also felt like she was fantasized.
EC: But even with her, they cut all her ... I don't if it was her or the image that they portrayed of her, but she didn't have hair. So natural hair, absolutely was not not put into any type of spotlight as far as you know, not just on the runway, but modeling as whole in a magazine or anything like that. And I might be wrong, so correct me India, but if I'm not mistaken, the first time that Vogue ever had a black woman on their cover was last year when Beyonce on the cover. And she did that edition, like she took over that month. And I could be wrong, so if I'm wrong, just correct me.
IJ: I know for sure she was the first black celebrity. The first black person, I'm not 100% sure on that. But I think that you know, what comes to mind is this idea of needing to be perfect. So when you've never seen a woman with natural hair, you know being featured as model, but you want to become a model, it can instill this though into you that you have to go relax your hair and put a toxic chemical onto your skull, that is absorbed into your skin. You know? But if that's your choice, that's your choice. I've relaxed my hair before. It's currently relaxed. But that pressure should not come from our society to say, "Well if I don't do this, I can't be a model." You know, 'cause I've never seen it before. You know I've literally had people make comments about that.
IJ: But then on the other side of that, you know the piecing together the body parts that you wanna keep, the Frankenstein human, so to speak. Like, I feel like at one point the standard to be like the hot beach babe. Now I'm telling my age. But Pam Anderson.
EC: The Pamela Anderson, yes. Exactly, yes.
IJ: You know, and that was not a normal body for your average white female, like this is not realistic. You know her hair wasn't necessarily realistic, her breasts weren't necessarily realistic either. And the fuller lips, I mean your average white woman just doesn't have that without Botox. And that's okay, but I don't see that at all in a black woman. A black woman just doesn't look like that.
IJ: And so I feel like fast forward now, and for a while that had been Kim Kardashian.
EC: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
IJ: You know, and so it can make in the social media world, especially with millennials and younger feel like, "I need to go get the boob job, I need to go get the Botox, and I need a perfect hourglass figure with this unrealistic size butt on this tiny waste that even a body builder can't get in the gym."
EC: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
IJ: And so I remember a period ... Wow, I wanna say it was around 2008, where all these girls were going and they were getting injections in their butts, you know. Or if they had money, or could get money from a man, which is a whole nother conversation ...
IJ: They were getting the Brazilian lift where you literally got the fat sucked out of your abdomen area and put into your butt. You know? And I watched so many women in the industry that I was shooting at the time, which was music video girls who couldn't afford it, but they needed to get the next level up from being the background girl, to being like the girlfriend in order to make the money in what they were doing. And so you saw all these stories of women getting like these in-home butt injections from some random person, and come to find out some of these people are injecting like the calking that goes in your bathtub. And they were getting all these infections, ending up in the hospital, almost dying just to have a bigger butt.
IJ: And it just makes me take a step back to say, "The power that we have over how people see themselves when we lead with this unrealistic idea of what perfection is, and that we need to be perfect."
EC: And I think that that's the thing that carries over into multiple areas of our lives. I think it exists being a mother or parent, with having these picture perfect you know, "My kids don't get sick, my kids didn't cry or give me trouble with trying to sleep train at night. Or they're always ready to go, and they're never messy, and their temperament is ideal." No, that's not real. I have two children that are extremely intelligent, which means that they can tend to be a little mouthy because they think they know better than me. They've been here before, they've done this before.
EC: And you know, but that goes against what they try to teach you to be as a mother, because it's like you can't be frustrated. Like everything has gotta be perfect, your house is perfect, you know everybody's eating these perfect meals every day and there's no help. And it goes into being a wife. You know, you are perfectly put together at all times, you know all your body parts are in the right place, aka you never actually had to push a child out and have them rearrange your organs and put stuff back in the wrong place like you a Mister Potato Head. Why are my eyes there?
EC: You know, so you're not given this space to be able to be these things if not. And then when you go into the business realm, you have to be exactly who you're going to be as this business owner from the word go. The progression you're not seeing, you know the possible long nights, or the early mornings, or the frustration, or the, "Holy shit. This is way more than what I thought I was signing up for." Or how lonely it can be, or what it looks and feels like to find your tribe on the challenging end when you're looking for them, but then the beauty of when you do. And what that connection looks like, and what it is to connect with and support other woman.
EC: As opposed to the cattiness that is showcased in soap operas, whether it's daytime soap operas, or even the nighttime types of soap operas of what women actually interact like. And I hate to tell you, but that's all a lie. That's another one, 'cause I was raised to believe that, and that's not true. That's been the farthest thing from the truth for me. And again, that's a whole nother conversation.
EC: But you're told that all of these things are Frankensteined into this perfection. And it's such a lie, and people feel afraid to show the process, the progression, what it looks like to truly be any, or multiple, let alone all of these things. I'm a wife, I'm a mother, I'm a business owner, and I'm a person. So all of these things don't always land perfectly together when you throw it in the air and it falls on the ground to make the puzzle of how they fit together.
EC: And to sit here and tell somebody that like for ... I'm sittin' here right now in my sweaty gym clothes because I got my workout in, and we wanted to get this conversation set before I have amazing calls with women that you know I love and respect today, as well as business calls where I'm making money. But you know, this is the stuff that you're not seeing, 'cause this is real. And nobody wants to give you real, they wanna give you pretty, and curated, and easy to digest. I call bullshit on all of it.
IJ: I agree with you 100%. I think that when we live in a world that has so much fear, and so much pushing for perfection, or perceived notion that you have to be perfect, it's no wonder that mental health will be one of the largest health concerns of our future. You know-
EC: If we could ever decide that it actually is a health crisis. And the thing with it right now, opioids are a problem, but mental health is a problem.
EC: And we don't give it enough attention, we really don't. We put too much stigma around being perfect. So people can't acknowledge when they're not. And that's feeding the beast.
IJ: Yes. And you say feeding the beast, but that is exactly why ... I feel like I need to clap, it's exactly why at India Jackson Artistry, we focus on working with clients and getting them to the point where they are ready and willing to showcase the unseen, the unperfect bits unapologetically. Because when we live in a machine of feeling the machine of perfection, that is how you start the change, that is how you start to show what is real. You know, this is how you create the change.
IJ: And when you begin to do that, I find that my clients go from a phase of, "Oh shit, oh shit, I am so scared to do this." You know, "I'm so scared to show the long hard work, the sleepless nights, you know, everything that goes into being a business."
IJ: But then it goes from, "Oh shit," to now that we've done this, and we put it out there, "Oh shit. The business is rolling in because people know, like, and trust us. We disrupted the system."
EC: Disruption. So, I'm actually gonna pause us there, and I want us to come back and talk about disruption because that's a huge thing, and that's exactly what is a cornerstone for us. And everything we do in life and business.
EC: So, I am going to hop off with India Jackson of India Jackson Artistry, so when you feel as though you're at that point, and you need to decide how to bring that authenticity, and disrupt your peace into your business, that's when you need to seek her out so that she can begin to help you with your imagery.
EC: And we will be back. I am here for Ask All The Things calls of course, if you want to talk about this. But we got a whole lot more. So we'll be back.
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