Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey are in Ireland – and of course, there’s a Jedward connection
Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey are in Ireland – and of course, there’s a Jedward...

Sarah Finnan

Extra chewing gum vibes off Harry Style’s ‘Watermelon Sugar’ in their post-Covid ad dedicated to touching
Extra chewing gum vibes off Harry Style’s ‘Watermelon Sugar’ in their post-Covid ad dedicated to...

Sarah Finnan

The step-by-step guide to laying a chic summer tablescape
The step-by-step guide to laying a chic summer tablescape

Holly O'Neill

According to science, there is one way to upgrade your biscuit break
According to science, there is one way to upgrade your biscuit break

Shayna Sappington

5 mobile apps to help you save money now
5 mobile apps to help you save money now

IMAGE

Here’s exactly what to look for in your eye cream depending on your issue
Here’s exactly what to look for in your eye cream depending on your issue

Melanie Morris

7 new must-sees we can’t wait to watch this year
7 new must-sees we can’t wait to watch this year

Jennifer McShane

Image / Beauty

Emma Dabiri: ‘People would say “it’s a good thing you’re pretty because you can kind of get away with being black”‘


by Holly O'Neill
25th Nov 2019
blank

From the November issue of IMAGE, six Irish women reflect on what beauty means to them.


What is beauty today? For the last three years, photographer Lee Malone’s passion project has been to challenge perceptions of beauty by capturing women in their most natural, make-up-free state. In the November issue of IMAGE, he photographed six women who opened up to Holly O’Neill about what beauty means to them. Here, Emma Dabiri tells her story.

PORTRAITS BY LEE MALONE

Emma Dabiri, writer, presenter and social historian

“Once upon a time, I couldn’t leave the house without make-up, let alone be photographed.

I had so many hang-ups about weight until my thirties. It really dominated my life. The changes that pregnancy brings… I’m a good few stone heavier than I am normally, and it’s not just the bump – it’s the size of my arms, the size of my legs, the roundness of my face. I wouldn’t have been able to pose, to have my photograph taken, with that weight, no make-up and my hair, before. Now, it’s crazy for me to think of how easy it was to do. It would have been impossible for me to do when I was younger.

When I was first pregnant, I cut all my hair off and went back to having natural hair. Being pregnant and breastfeeding really changed my relationship with my body. Now that I’m doing it all over again, I am a lot more comfortable with it.

Recently, I sat on the edge of a bench and the other side of the bench went flying up in the air because I’m so heavy. Even the thought of that happening to me at any point in my teens or twenties – I wouldn’t have been able to recover from that! I’m a lot more in tune with my body now. When I was younger, I was always fighting against my body. Now I feel more connected to myself and my body. It knows what it’s doing, I’m leaving this in its hands and all will be well.

I am more confident now than I have ever been. I don’t feel like I owe the world perfection.

I think a lot of that has to do with self-worth. When I was younger, I was very insecure and felt so much pressure to conform to a certain type of prettiness, a certain type of femininity. People would say things to me like, “It’s a good thing you’re pretty because you can kind of get away with being black.” That put a lot of pressure on me from a young age; it made me really obsessed with my appearance, and my self-worth was really tied to it. I still love make-up, and when I’m going out, I enjoy wearing it.

Before, though, it was like a crutch, a mask I was hiding behind, and I couldn’t bear the thought of anybody seeing me without it. I enjoy a more natural look now, whereas in the past, make-up was my war paint. And on special occasions, I can really enjoy make-up, rather than panic that a bit of my lipstick might rub off. I wore winged eyeliner every day from the age of 14, and I’m only weaning myself off it now. I’m really good at eyeliner now, after many years of practice, and often on public transport – my precision is good!”

Lee Malone is hoping to publish his Perceptions of Beauty book of portraits next year with money raised going towards various women’s mental health and domestic abuse charities. @lee_malone_photography

This article originally appeared in the November issue of IMAGE Magazine.

Read more: We need to talk about Trilogy’s €15.95 Everything Balm

Read more: Hair Stories: Mary Dunne on how her grey hair has made her more confident now than ever

Read more: Can we talk about… the 25-year anniversary edition of MAC Viva Glam Lipstick

Also Read

blank
BEAUTY
Check out everything coming from Zara Beauty

Zara is delving deep into the world of make-up with...

By Holly O'Neill

blank
BEAUTY
It’s time for the spring beauty switchover

A game-changing SPF, resurfacing body polish and glow galore - here are the new products to know for the change of season.

By Holly O'Neill

blank
BEAUTY
The must-have products behind the standout Oscars beauty looks

The Oscar-worthy beauty heroes behind the red carpet’s most standout...

By Holly O'Neill

Elle Fanning
BEAUTY
How to recreate Elle Fanning’s glowing skin from the Golden Globes

The heroes behind Elle Fanning's gleaming skin - huzzah!

By Holly O'Neill

blank
BEAUTY
Grammys 2021: the best beauty looks and the must-have products behind them

By Holly O'Neill

Gender fluidity, is not merely a passing trend or a lifestyle choice, but an evolving phenomenon.
premium FASHION, BEAUTY
The future is fluid: Are we heading for a gender-neutral society?

Will the future see us unifying elements of our humanity rather than the distinctions of gender?

By Rose Mary Roche

blank
BEAUTY
How to shape and tidy your brows at home

Planning an at-home brow shape? Kim O’Sullivan shares her expert...

By Holly O'Neill