Wife, mother of five – which includes her trans child Penelope, author of the bestseller The Bold World – A Memoir of Family and Transformation, beauty explorer, activist, and a fierce supporter of the LGBTQAI, Jodie Patterson is wisdom packaged beautifully and almost perfectly. A rare gem who believes that the self truly has many identities, Jodie Patterson is unapologetically Black and unapologetically woman. Just the way we like it at MadameNoire.
Featured as part of our exclusive beauty series, powered by Sephora, we connected with Jodie before her flight to discuss her thoughts on what she sees when she looks in the mirror, traditional femininity – if that still exists, and of course her favorite beauty products. Booked and busy, Jodie found time to also discuss what a courageous life is, the flow of her body, and her daily beauty rituals.
When you look in the mirror what do you see?
I spend time each day in front of a mirror. I like mirrors. Especially big ones. I notice my teeth – they remind me of my grandmother Gloria’s. Crooked, gapped. Big and strong. I see my lips – which are like upside down bananas. My mama has similar lips. I study the curls in my hair- the patterns they make and the two peculiar grey strands I now have. If the mirror is tall enough, I look at my hips, which change size depending on my monthly moods. Some months they’re rounder and others they are more lean. I like the way my fingers dangle just above my knees. I have long arms.
I like to see myself, my physical form-self. I practice my strength and my grace in front of my tallest mirror. Standing on one leg while I lift the other while I sway my arms from side-to-side like a tree. Some call that exercise. I call it meditation and prayer. My house is full of mirrors.
What are your thoughts on traditional femininity?
I’m not sure what that means, traditional femininity. I know what my mother’s and her mother’s and her mother’s femininity looks like. They are thoughtful, steady, and graceful women. Sometimes they smile, but not always. They build homes, churches, and classrooms and mostly they care for the people in those spaces. They make babies and nurture the roots of their children – even those who didn’t come from their bodies. They read many books, study words and they do language – as Toni Morrison says. They design communities. Femininity, in my family – both past and present – builds infrastructure. It forms leadership. It crafts social architecture.
I can’t say femininity has anything to do with hair, or dress. Neither does it speak to tone or posture. It is definitely not linked to anything demure. Femininity as I experience it is the attribute of builder.
How important is it to live a courageous life? Can you share any examples where you had to look adversity in the face and conquer it?
What I’ve learned is that life is full of collisions. The self has many identities, many of which collide causing internal strife. Then there are needs -mine vs. yours. What I want VS. what you want. We smash up against each other, against our own self, and our neighbors all the time. Even the religious and faithful stories we create to make life manageable – those stories all smack against each other. And when these collisions occur – we must make a choice – to hold onto your small definitions – or, and this is when we really live, we can say Yes. Yes, is the most courageous action.
Lastly, can you share your favorite beauty regimens? Are there any products from Sephora that you absolutely love?
I really like my bathroom time. I have art, keepsakes, and places to sit and think in my bathroom. Washing my face is one of my best rituals and I’ll do it throughout the day as a reset. When I have makeup to remove, I swear by Farmacy Green Clean. Apply liberally. Massage gently. Watch it melt-away makeup. Another product I use, Drunk Elephant Night Serum. After using it, my skin is several octaves happier. I really like the way Drunk Elephant Exfoliating Bar takes all the gook away without stripping. The exfoliating properties makes me feel like I’ve had a mini face massage. Caudalie Beauty Elixir has been my go-to for the past 6 years. No doubt the golden touch to vibrant, glowing skin. The elixir resets my pores after a good wash. Caudalie Pore Minimizing Serum takes off a good decade of obligation and worry from my face. Presto, I’m renewed!