Don’t Leave Home Without Earrings And 9 Other Beauty Lessons Every Black Girl Was Taught

June 10, 2013  |  
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Ever wonder why you feel unclothed if you leave the house without earrings or a watch? Or why you still shy away from red lipstick? No it has nothing to do with A$ap Rocky and his recent comments. Your apprehension is most likely due to something your mother taught you when you were a little girl. Black mothers tend to have the same philosophy when it comes to what’s presentable for their little girls, which is why virtually every African American woman can say these beauty lessons were handed down to them — and they most likely still abide by some of these rules. Check out the list and tell us which ones you were taught to live by. Did we miss any?


Don’t leave home without earrings

This is by far the most universal black girl beauty lesson ever handed down from generation to generation. As someone whose ears were pierced at 2 months, I cannot tell you how many times I could be having a conversation with my mom about world peace and she would stop dead in her tracks and ask me, “where are your earrings?” if I forgot to put them on one day.

For some reason, every mother has a fear her child will look like a little boy — despite all the other features that indicate the opposite — if her ears are bare for 24 hours. And this is a complex that never leaves us women. Just two weeks ago I was at a BBQ and one of the girls busted out the host, asking, “girl where are your earrings?” as she was slaving away grilling hot dogs and chicken. We’ll never let this one go.

…or your hair done

And while we’re on the subject of things you shouldn’t leave the house without doing, I bet you never step out without your hair done either. I don’t mean done, as in you put it in a little bun or socially acceptable ponytail, I mean greased, pressed, or braided into a hairstyle. If you didn’t have that going on, it was a clear indicator you wouldn’t be leaving the house today. Unfortunately, once you had all that primping and pressing done to your mane, you were then told to go outside and not mess it up. Grown women still follow this mantra. If a black woman’s hair isn’t done, don’t ask her on a date, to the club, or even the grocery store. She’s not coming.

If you’re toes are going to be out, they better be painted

You know how people still wear open toe shoes even if they don’t have a pedicure? Count how many of those people are black? We’re sure you’re done already. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t until college that I ever stepped out in a pair of Old Navy sandals on my way to class with nothing on my toes but lotion. Black mamas do not play that bare nail game, if your toes are going to be out, they better be painted — and not with clear polish either!

If your nail polish is chipped, it’s time come off

Oh and don’t think you’re going to come up in somebody’s house with chipped nails. You will not-so-politely be told there’s some nail polish remover under the bathroom sink and some cotton balls in the jar around the basin for you to go ahead and handle that. Most likely you’ll also be told there are a few polishes you can use because just like we don’t play bare toe nails, you only get a slight pass for plain fingernails as well.

No red lips or fingernails

But don’t grab that red polish! Who’s mom ever let them wear red lipstick, lip gloss, or nail polish before 18? Nobody right? Oh you could wear light pink until you wanted to throw up, maybe even fuschia, if it was a special occasion, but red was off limits because it was way too grown of a color. You probably couldn’t even touch orange before your teen years, lest everyone consider you a fast little girl. Some women have said they weren’t even allowed to wear red clothes because it was too sexay of a color.

You only need a little lip gloss

Remember roller ball lipsticks and how you would end up looking like you just ate a piece of Popeye’s chicken after applying “just a little” like your mama told you to? Out of all the beauty lessons bestowed upon us, this is the one where we can really say our mothers were looking out for us. I guarantee someone could have possibly mistaken the gleam from my lips as the North Star back in high school. I use to O.D. I can’t even deny it.

Tuck in those (clean) panties

For some reason, teen girls started thinking it was cute to let their panties hang out a little bit over their pants, which is why whenever your jeans accidentally rolled down and your underwear waistband was showing, you probably got pinched super hard and told to go put on a belt. The low-rise struggle was super real.

But on top of making sure your panties weren’t showing, we all know you best have on a clean, non-wholly pair just in case someone like a paramedic or police officer might have to see them under the worst of circumstances.

…and those bra straps

Mothers everywhere have to be freaking out about this new trend among women who somehow think it’s now somehow OK to have your bra completely hanging out the back of your shirt. Yes, we can blame the designers for making tops like these, but when I see a shirt that doesn’t allow me to wear a bra, I think “Oh, OK that’s not for me,” not “let me get a matching purple braziere to wear under it.”

Back in the day, we would’ve been slapped silly for that move, not just because it’s too suggestive, but because it’s plain tacky. If a quarter of your bra strap even poked out from that tank top you were getting the side-eye — and a stern strap pop to the upper shoulder.

Keep those knees and elbows greased

And the simplest beauty tip, which was more like a request, was simply keep those knees and elbows greased. I don’t know why this is so hard for kids, especially when you think about the teasing that ensues any time a white, flaky, buildup appears in either one of those spots, but one thing mothers cannot stand to see is an ashy child. Oh and while the lotion is out, you might as well hit those feet!

What other beauty tips were you taught?

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