The Beauty Project at Selfridges by Amerley Ollennu


Amerley Ollennu, Beauty & Wellbeing Editor at Psychologies UK

“We have to confront ourselves.  Do we like what we see in the mirror?  And according to our light, according to our understanding, according to our courage … we will have to say yea or nay – and rise!” Maya Angelou

Amerley, it took one short phone call while driving (yes-with the headpiece) from my home to the gym to realise that you were the one to both LiveTweet and write a piece on this event-which you popped out on a plane to Miami! Thank you AMERLEY! XX Kay

I can’t think of anything I’d like to put on a bit of mazza for more, than to have sat on a panel with these terrific women as part of the Beauty Project.  Sali Hughes did a fantastic job in bringing people together for the six week string of events.  In our 90 minutes, I felt that we (the panel) and the audience went on a brief journey together. It felt like a circle of invested, sassy and trusted friends. Contributions from both the panel and the audience made me feel like we could remedy our frustrations with confidence and enthusiasm. It didn’t devolve into griping and moaning – instead we landed on problems and discussed potential ways to overcome them. TBC!!! And Amerley did a fantastic job live tweeting; old school journalism meets high tech global distribution! (Thank you Twitter) So, for those of you who weren’t able  to be there,  Amerley very kindly summed it up for you here    XX Thandie

‘What’s your definition of beauty?’

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 11.14.25

This is not the kind of question you’d expect from a U.K. flagship department store, but this was the exact focus for six weeks of pioneering talks held all over the country led by top British beauty writer Sali Hughes and in association with Dove.

Titled ‘The Beauty Project’, this trailblazing event has been a truly inspiring experience, with a variety of top industry insiders invited onto the panels, (read about them here all ending with an audience Q+A.

‘Pretty White Female. How Beauty Can Appeal to Every Woman’

The talk that caught my attention the most was the very one Thandie and Kay had a hand in and it could have gone on for hours such was the passion surrounding the topic. The ‘Pretty White Female’ panel – which also included my good friend and beauty journo extraordinaire Anita Bhagwandas, Women’s Health and feminist Radio 1 DJ Gemma Cairney – shared personal anecdotes from their embarrassment as teenagers for feeling ‘other’, to still feeling alienated and sidelined by mainstream media and multi-billion pound beauty brands today.The Panel Selfridges800

As Beauty & Wellbeing Editor at Psychologies Magazine UK and as a woman of colour I consciously feature images of women and quotes from experts from all ethnic backgrounds alongside beauty buys for every shade.

But as women in the audience complained about how little they are represented in today’s women’s magazines I wondered could I be doing more? As Thandie talked about growing up being the only black in the village it hit a nerve with me, as a mixed race person I have tried my whole life not to be part of one specific ‘tribe’ but to be inclusive. So, when asked as a young adult if I would solely focus on black beauty in my work I scoffed, and believed those that asked couldn’t see the bigger picture. Why should we (in my opinion like the US is now) silently segregate ourselves, we don’t need our own beauty page in a mainstream glossy or our own magazines, what we need to be doing is forcing the media to truly cater to all.

Now in my attempt to prove to society that we (people of colour) are no different to anyone else I fear I might have forgotten the wonderful things that make women of colour unique.

I shall endeavour to not just feature products that we can all use but products that solely cater to the beautiful nuances of women of colour too.


Amerley Ollennu, Beauty & Wellbeing Editor at Psychologies UK

photo Sali Hughes instagram

photo Sali Hughes instagram

Follow Amerley on twitter, and as @amerleyo on instagram

See Sali Hughes site here, on twitter, on instagram

Follow Anita Bhagwandas on twitter, on instagram

Read the hit article Anita Bhagwandas wrote on ‘The Changing Face Of Beauty’ here.

Follow Gemma Cairney on twitter, on instagram

Lovely make-up artist Adeola Gboyega filmed a little clip of Thandie-thanks Adeola! Follow Adeola on twitter, instagram

Click here to watch Adeola’s clip of Thandie



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