Friday, July 15, 2005

Meet Iman: Supermodel, Entrepreneuress, and SYB Guest Editor!

I’ve always dreamed of being a glamorous woman. It all started when I was eight years old and told my Aunt San that I was ugly—and she told me to hold on through the awkward phase because when I grew up I’d look EXACTLY like early 80s actress, model, and former Miss Ohio,Jayne Kennedy. Jayne Kennedy!!! She wore a sexy candy-cane striped leotard in her own workout video!! Could my life one day be tinged with such fabulosity? At that tender age, I began reading all of Judith Krantz and Jackie Collins’ books, those shoulder-pads-and-sex-filled epics starring gutsy, lusty broads and the rich, rakish scoundrels who loved them. I’LL TAKE MANHATTAN, SCRUPLES, CHANCES AND LUCKY, are the reason I moved to New York City! I wanted to be one of those glitzy glamour queens with careers in magazines, photography, or fashion. Of course, these characters were all white, so I was going to be the “black version” (one of the main reasons I’m writing novels about black It-girls…why should the next generation have to dream of being anybody’s “version” of fabulous?).

You can imagine my glee when I actually made it to Manhattan and landed the glamorous job: Elle’s associate beauty editor! And it was a VERY good look—fashion shows, industry parties, free blowouts at the swankiest salons on Madison Ave. I saw my byline in the world’s biggest fashion magazine every month (not to mention, I finally resembled Ms. Jayne Kennedy). What? You couldn’t tell me SHIT.

But inside, I was a tad lost. As the only black beauty editor at a mainstream publication, I ran into some...situations. Like, I’d have a phone relationship with a publicist, and when we met in person I'd get the "oh, she's BLACK!" face. Like clockwork, the “you go girls,” and “uh-huh girlfriends” would tip-toe into conversations. Or once, a celeb colorist ignored my protests and left my highlights on way too long (hello? relaxed hair?!). I was horrified, not only that this uber-famous salon hired a chick unskilled at treating a variety of hair types (do we not have money for $300 highlights? okay, mine were free, but still)--but because I WENT BALD. Oh, and then there was the drama about my spring makeup story, where I'd included shades for each skin tone instead of saying, for example: "get the new red lip with Revlon Cherries in the Snow"--advice that would leave anyone not Cindy Crawford's complexion resembling H.R.Puff 'n' Stuff or wasting forty-five minutes in Sephora figuring out the right red for them (of course, these days most women's mags have caught on...duh). At times, I thought it would be easier to just be a “ version” of a white beauty editor—you know, sans any issues or distinguishing features. Like the white girl’s token black friend in the movie. Like Lisa Turtle on “Saved By the Bell” (she never made a fuss about having to always take Screech to dances, while all the others had dates). Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time, and God knows making change ain’t easy. Looking back, I just needed guidance and inspiration from a black beauty chick who’d done it pre-me.

Folks, it blazed into my life in the form of my first MAJOR story assignment—a profile of Iman and her new product launch, I-IMAN Makeup! I’ll never forget the first time I met her: I was an anxious 24-year-old sweating through my brand-new Chloe blouse, over-the-moon and terrified. Iman flung her office door open and as God is my witness, at 10am on a Tuesday, she was sporting the vampiest scarlet lipstick, an oversized leopard print hat, and skin-tight black leggings that would flatter roughly three people in the world. Friends, she was four months pregnant. “You look Somalian!” she trilled, kissing me on both cheeks. I fell in love. Here was a real-live, high-powered, glamour goddess of Jackie Collins proportions—AND SHE WAS NO “VERSION.” The real epiphany came when Iman pointed out that as black women in beauty we had the unique power to change America’s beauty standards—as a model in the Breck Girl Seventies and by creating makeup lines for women with skin of color (from African and Middle Eastern to Asian and Latina), she certainly broke a gazillion barriers. Power. My job, my words suddenly had PURPOSE—no more of that Lisa Turtle shit. And power, well, that’s real glamour, no? I finally felt like the woman eight-year-old Tia wanted to be. From that moment, I claimed Iman as my Fairy GodModel, and she’s been the sexiest mentor a girl could ever hope for.

And this week, she’s “Shake Your Beauty’s!” Guest Editor!! In place of Tia’s Top Ten list, I begged Iman to give us an insider peek into her five favorite products from her IMAN Cosmetics collection (for stores and more info, click on So sweet, right? I’ve tried them all…here, in her own words, she explains why you should, too.

Your Faithful Beauty-Shaker, who, after this lengthy post, has developed carpel-tunnel syndrome.

1. TIME CONTROL SLOUGHING GEL: "This exfoliator is divine! Gentle enough for the body and face, it leaves even the flakiest skin impossibly silky—essential to achieving the smoothest, most streak-free faux or real tan."

2. CORRECTIVE CONCEALER IN SAND, CLAY, EARTH (light, medium, dark): "A heavy face of foundation is incredibly dated, plus it’s way too hot for all that drama! Its all about swiping this flawlessly blendable cover-up on problem areas and calling it a day. So clean."

3. SHEER FINISH BRONZING POWDER IN SAND, CLAY, EARTH (light, medium, dark): "I use Clay all year round, but absolutely nothing beats it in the summertime. Brush it along cheekbones, forehead and chin for a hint of sunny sparkle."

4. LUXURY LIQUID BRONZER: "Nothing says “I’m rich and fabulous and do nothing but sunworship all the livelong day” than sunkissed shoulders, legs, and everywhere in-between. Brilliant on all skin types".

5. LUXURY LIP SHINE IN SANGRIA: " This glimmering, golden-orange gloss will have you and everyone else positively tipsy. And it looks stunning on virtually every skintone. Ole!"


Blogger Glam Mama said...

I completly understand how you feel. I am a young college student and I am searching for my fairy. I live in Chicago and I wish that I could find someone that can be my mentor. I want to be glamorous and successful in life. Knowing someone that has been through it all makes the dream seem more reachable. Wish me luck...

2:30 PM  
Blogger Funkeedva said...

I LOVED this post! I work for a cosmetics company part time and they have NO PRODUCTS for black people. Sadly, (as wonderful as they are) the only makeup line offered for black women is Iman. Women come in all the time asking....where are the products for black women? I cannot answer because there really are none.

I like Bare Escentuals because they have great shades, but it is not marketed to specifically black women. I mean, I love Patti Labelle, bt what twentysomething wants to wear Flori Roberts? I have always wanted to develop my own line. :(


5:22 PM  
Blogger cynikalone said...

I never wear makeup mainly because I always felt "why do women of color need more color?" But, I have to admit when I saw Iman come out with her line I was quite please - finally someone looking out for "US"! So now if I do decide to ever wear makeup, I now have a line that will work well with my skin. Thanks Iman!

lol at Lisa Turtle........that is so true!!!

oh yeah, anyone who loves Prince is alright in my book!!

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Singing said...

Ok...I can't begin to tell you how excited I was to see that Iman was your guest editor this week!! I can't being to tell you how much I love her!!!!!!! LOL

Iman was the first makeup line that I used and I didn't look like I was grey (to quote my mother).

Thank you for inviting her to come and share with us. (By the way, I am so addicted to your blog. LOL)

2:50 PM  
Blogger Charlotte said...

Wow thats some guest editor! Loving your blog, can't wait for the next instalment.

2:03 PM  
Blogger Shelia said...

Iman is beauty. I was the first one of my friends to use her makeup...not dissing the other one that was made for women of color...but I couldn't always wear theirs because it would break me out.

Thank you for this post and reminding me of a product that I still think doesn't get as much prop as it should.

Thank Iman for using her influence to bring a product that's complimentary for our skin tones.

2:37 AM  
Blogger LUXE_DivaSoulSistaHuneyChil said...

I felt the same way as A struggling princess did till I read Accidental Diva.

Tia is definitely my mentor and I will continue to read anything and everything she publishes.

I am a junior PR major attending Howard. I want to be a designer and involved with the fashion/beauty/writing world. I find inspiration reading books about black women who have true careers in those fields and they are being respected for what they do.

11:02 PM  
Blogger LUXE_DivaSoulSistaHuneyChil said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:07 PM  
Blogger Dee said...

she is soooo beautiful!!

great post!!!

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Great post - - really!

Now, who must I sleep with to get Page Six to acknowledge the greatness that is Shake Your Beauty?!?! Today's edition mentions blogs by beauty editors at Ladies Home Journal & but has nothing about YOU! Shameful.....

Speaking for the straight guys who read your blog (all three of us), I have a request. My anniversary is next month - - we'll celebrate 7 years of married bliss. How about a "Tia's Top 10" list of beauty gift ideas for guys to give to their S.O.?

Todd from Mom's office

2:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also understand how you feel, being a black female engineer in a world of white men, it has been a very interesting ride. Some good, some bad, and some way ugly!

I was lucky enough to meet Iman when she first launched her line. I still have pic that she signed.

She was divine.

5:55 PM  
Blogger rlgirl said...

I ran into Iman years ago on a flight from Chicago to New York when she was launching her Iman cosmetics line. I was just in awe at how beautiful and elegant she was (flying commercial but business class of course!) I like many of her products and I've also seen some great reviews of some of her items on a site called, which reviews beauty products specifically for women of color!

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


9:47 PM  
Anonymous Tanning Lotion said...

I am in the indoor tanning industry and we are actually starting to see more and more black people tanning.

1:23 PM  
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