By Paola Bassanese
African beauty secrets revealed: the book on beauty tips African Beauty (Beautifying The Body In Ancient Africa And Today) by Christelle Kedi (twitter: @christelleKEDI) is an anthropological study on beautification rituals in Africa which is well researched yet accessible.
Award-winning make up artist and beauty historian Christelle Kedi is clearly passionate about her heritage and natural beauty. This book analyses the over-reliance on chemicals from beauty products manufacturers and provides alternative, natural solutions based on historical traditions.
The book is divided into sections covering hair, skin, colour, textiles, body modification and accessories for easy reference.
Beautification rituals are grouped in an all-encompassing category that includes body art like tatoos and scarification, the latter a practice that in the Western world is not considered as enhancing beauty. Christelle puts all those rituals into an historical and cultural perspective without judgement. When she launched her book earlier in the year, she handled difficult questions with elegance and poise, while presenting a compelling argument for a more democratic view of beauty within society. Black models are still a minority in fashion and the Barbie doll stereotype of blonde, white models in magazines still prevails.
This book is not just aimed at professional beauty therapists; its appeal is much wider for its clear sociological focus. We identify ourselves in society by the way we dress and present ourselves. While modern society is not based on a caste system or on a clear division between slaves and free citizens, clothing, hairstyle and make up still associate the individual with a specific social category (upper or lower class, etc). Knowing more about African traditions may also avoid some faux pas like copying African hairstyles that carry a specific message (in some countries, hairstyle can represent that a woman is pregnant; the same hairstyle copied by a young man in the UK or US would just be inappropriate).
Christelle Kedi brought her experience from the fashion industry into a book that goes beyond fashion and beauty. Her knowledge of ethnic beauty is impressive and she dealt with cultural differences in African Beauty: Beautifying The Body in Ancient Africa and Today with skill and intelligence.
Links: Christelle Kedi on tumblr
Christelle Kedi’s website