Jessica Rice, dancer and advocate, talks about beauty standards, communication, and the importance of a good eye shadow.
Where are you headed next year and what do you plan to study?
I am attending Tulane University next year. I plan to double major in Political Science and Public Relations with a focus in Sports Marketing.
What's the most important thing you learned in high school?
The most important thing I learned in high school was probably to trust my learning style and myself. I learned to not try to force myself into any particular molds set by other people. I think that throughout school I kind of worried that the way I learned wasn't the way other people learned. However, it’s important to stay authentic when it comes to you trying to get things done and learning. No one knows better than you how you learn.
What's one thing you want to take to college with you?
I definitely want to take some clothes. Laughs. However, over the course of my high school career I’ve definitely gained a lot of confidence. I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with being authentic to who I am. So, I want to continue being comfortable with myself and continue feeling good about myself. I’ve definitely grown in appreciation of myself more, so I guess I want to bring that to college. Freshman year of high school, I didn’t feel comfortable with myself. I didn’t feel like people liked me very much. Sophomore year, I decided that I wasn't going to care if people liked me or not. I was going to do what felt natural to me. I wasn't going to act a certain way so that people would like me. Literally, the moment I decided to do that, I gained friends who really appreciated me for me, instead of me trying to fit in the molds other people wanted me to fit in. I made a space for myself.
What’s your passion?
That’s a big question. I'm passionate about a lot of things, but I guess my passion is interacting with people. I love talking to people, meeting new people, and finding ways to communicate with people more effectively. When people asked me what I wanted to be when I got older, I tried to narrow it down to an answer that made a little more sense to others. I'd say, " I just want to meet a lot of people, and talk to a lot of people, and communicate with other people!" That’s all I really want to do. So, I guess my passion is communication and finding effective ways to facilitate conversation with people.
What is beauty to you?
Honestly, I'm going to sound like a broken record. I find beauty in authenticity. I don’t know, there's just something about being the truest, most raw version of yourself that is so beautiful. Not in a physical sense, like makeup or clothes, but it's simply being who you are. A raw version of who you are inside. Also, being a dancer, one of the places I find beauty is in dance. Dance is one of the most beautiful things in the world to me.
Do beauty standards effect you?
Absolutely. I mean, completely. We live in a society where there's already an accepted norm of beauty put in place that isn’t made for women of color. Very honestly, it's a eurocentric, generalized standard of beauty. When I was younger, I didn’t really notice that I was different. No one had brought it up to my attention. But when I started going through middle school, I was like, "Oh, there’s something different. " I would go out with my friends to the mall and at the stores, the models seemed to never be black. Of course, it wasn’t like that was a new thing, but it was the first time I actually noticed it. Even today, I still have some insecurity in the way people see me. It definitely varies between every woman of color, because obviously everyone's experiences aren’t uniform. But, it's definitely an ongoing battle. At then end of the day though, I think that many women of color are met with beauty standards that are almost impossible for them to uphold.
What’s your favorite kind of beauty look?
I love a good, coppery eye shadow. I love a rose gold warm tone. I feel these colors really work well on my skin tone. I love the way it makes me glow. It makes me feel like an Egyptian queen a little bit. Laughs. I love a good shimmery tone on my eyelids. I also love highlighter.
What is some advice you would give your younger self on beauty?
You will never really like the way that you look unless you like yourself. I mean, everyone has days where they look in the mirror and think, "I don’t look good." But, you will never ever like the way you look in the mirror if you don’t like the person you are. You will never love the way that you look unless you love yourself. So, I think I would tell my younger self to work on loving what you see in the mirror before worrying about putting makeup on.
- Interview by Satchel Bell
Jessica photographed by Satchel December 29, 2016 on location.