What Issa Raye is Doing for Black Girls (and black hair) Everywhere

The hot news at the start of this week was the Insecure season finale. After a season of hoeing (and I use the term lightly) and career drama, Issa and Molly ended up in the very comfortable and unsurprising arms of Dro (for Molly) and Daniel (for Issa). Just like our real friends, we want both of them to do better, but eh, they ain’t ready.

While we as black women have texted, talked, and laughed about seasons 1 and 2 with much pride and admiration for someone FINALLY putting our plight on the small screen, we have also done something else – catapulted Issa Raye to the top of Hollywood’s “it girl” list. We did it and we’re here for it.

I’ve been following her since her “awkward black girl” days and she’s successful because she’s done what all of us are trying to do, brand ourselves successfully and make money off of it. It is with much hard work that she’s succeeded and is a lesson to women everywhere. Be yourself and hold out for the big HBO deal.

Issa has quietly become a Hollywood darling in the midst of it all and it was announced this week that she is the newest cover girl for Cover Girl cosmetics. Cornrows and all. Dark skin and all. Black features and all. This is not Beyonce or Halle Berry getting a Cover Girl contract. This is Issa ya’ll and it’s a win for around the way home girls and awkward, only black girl in AP History class black girls everywhere. Why you ask? Because Issa, well, she looks like a black girl. There are no red bone aspirations, no big booty Judy aspirations. While Issa’s striving to be better she never strives to be anything other than Issa.

The implication for naturals is huge too. We have, in a way, arrived. The mainstream beauty image has embraced curly, Tracey Ellis Ross-textured hair for a while. It gets that. That’s EASY! But Issa’s hair is hair you need to put to bed every night, it’s hair that isn’t bouncy, nor is it ever going to naturally fall in loose ringlets. And apparently, after years


Credit: Robin Marchant/Getty

of choosing models from popular entertainers, Cover Girl is ready to accept this. While more luxurious brands like Lancome have embraced entertainers like Iman and Lupita Nyong’o, the difference is that there is nothing especially exotic about Issa. Lupita reads editorial. There’s not a high fashion photographer who probably wouldn’t die to shoot her. Issa, however, is a win for the everyday woman. In other words, a win for us all.

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