The Beauty Looks in Black Panther Will Go Down in History—Here's Why

Updated 03/01/18

It's impossible to explain the magnitude of Marvel Studios' latest film, Black Panther. The words revolutionary, empowering, and transformative come to mind when recapping the importance of this movie. The film sparked an onset of cultural conversations that are so incredibly necessary in the racial climate we are in right now in a way that has not been done before. It portrayed a raw portrait of the ongoing fight of race, power, and representation of being black in America. Hence the rapid response it achieved on social media.

It's not just a movie—it's a movement.

I appreciated many aspects of the movie—most importantly, the black representation that isn't normally shown in mainstream movies. However, the beauty looks were truly transformative. The women in Wakanda were portrayed in the most fearless ways. Lupita Nyong'o's character, Nakia; Angela Bassett's character, Ramonda; Danai Gurira's character, Okoye; and Letitia Wright's character, Shuri, all display stunning renditions of tribal beauty through their makeup and hair looks. The film takes Afrocentric beauty to the next level—it's an essential aspect of the plot of Wakanda. The Afrocentric beauty in this movie is not an accessory. Instead, it is raw representation.


The diverse array of African tribes and cultures that were represented in each beauty look is what makes it so incredible. "We were inspired by the women warriors of Senegal, the Himba from Namibia, the Ashanti tribe from Ghana, and the Zulu people," hair department lead Camille Friend told Teen Vogue. "We used many authentic African hair styling techniques and products like mud, ties, grasses, and beads to create the world of Wakanda."

Groundbreaking facial and body art were used in each scene as well. "[We chose] facial painting designs of the Masai (Maasai, Tanzania, and Kenya), Turkana (Kenya), and Nuba (Sudan)," makeup department head Joel Harlow told Teen Vogue. "The Mursi and Bumi tribes (Ethiopia) were instrumental in the look of our Border tribe scarification looks, just as the Himba tribe influenced our Mining tribe look. The Mursi tradition of lip plating was also very integral in designing the look of our River tribe."


The locs, braids, natural styles, tribal makeup, and body art are all symbiotic expressions of the African diaspora. 

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