Author and style maven Jenyne Raines wants to school young people -- especially assertive black women who play into bloodthirsty, power-hungry stereotypes -- about the ways of acting like a lady. Don't even get her started on The Apprentice's Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, who Raines feels devolved into "the angry black woman" on the NBC reality show.
"You want the biggest bitch going? That's what's selling tickets? Oh, okay," says Raines. "But she fell into what seems to be the narrow role we're always cast on TV."
Raines champions a different role in her new book, Beautylicious. It defines the modern black woman as smart, classy, stylish, spiritual, health-conscious and strong. At first glance, the bubble-gum-pink cover and subtitle, The Black Girl's Guide to the Fabulous Life, may suggest a shallow read. But Raines's blend of mother wit and lush beauty tips entertains, inspires and enthralls the Barbie in us all.
As the former associate beauty editor at Essence, Raines knows her game, having written about style and beauty for more than ten years. Her fashion inspiration comes from women she calls the Dolls -- Diahann Carroll, Eartha Kitt, Grace Jones and Pam Grier -- referring to them as "living legends of black beauty and strength." She wrote the book as a testament to the power of these women and others like them. "I wanted the book to be fun and light, and also tied in to the times," she says. "We're all runnin' around here in our Manolos. It's not just Sarah Jessica Parker. We have disposable income. We can have the best of everything."
The lightweight world of beauty often glosses over important topics, like health and spirituality. But Raines touches on these more serious subjects with class and panache. "I tried to look at some of those issues that we really don't like to talk about," she says. "If you need to go get [psychological] help, then go get help. I'm gonna support you in whatever you do."
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Raines signs Beautylicious from noon to 2 p.m. Thursday, October 21, at the Tiger Room, third floor of Sterling Student Life Center, Texas Southern University. She makes another appearance from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, October 22, as part of TSU's annual Yardfest event at University Plaza, 3100 Cleburne. For information, call 713-313-1111 or visit www.essence.com. Free.