Tell me about yourself.
Khandice: My name is Khandice and I am a recent college graduate. I double majored in theater and studio art with a concentration in graphic design. I am in the process of interviewing for jobs and transitioning from school into real life. My passions are in the arts and keeping myself informed about issues that concern women of color. I am Jamaican-American and my culture really influenced my values and the work I want to do in advocating for diversity. I like to dabble in anything that allows me to be creative– singing acting, drawing, but in 2018 I am focusing on launching and growing my blog. My blog is an outlet for me to share my story. I was diagnosed with cancer when I was 19 years old and that experience put things into perspective. I went through a bad bout of depression because I spent a whole year not dealing with people my age. I had to learn about myself again; I would question whether I measured up because of my condition. I didn't want to be seen as someone with a disability. I neglected what I enjoyed because I felt like I was going to be perceived a certain way. I tried so hard to convince myself that I wasn't passionate about art and theater because I was struggling with my identity. The past 4 years have been about me finding myself again. I’m learning that it's okay to be multidimensional. You don't have to have it all figured out.
What are your beauty struggles?
Khandice: My beauty struggle was two-fold. First, I felt like I got into beauty very late. I wasn't allowed to wear makeup growing up, but I remember getting my first L.A. Color's eyeshadow palette. I went through a phase where I would match my eyeshadow with my outfits. [laughs] The makeup game is rapidly changing. The way makeup is now wasn't like when I was getting into makeup. There was also not many women of color influencers I could look up to for inspiration or guidance. That was a huge challenge. I lacked accessibility and knowledge.
The second challenge is having sensitive skin. For the longest time, I couldn't wear full coverage so I would focus on eyebrows and eyeshadow. The only foundation that has worked for me is Fenty Beauty. It’s the only foundation that doesn't break me out. I'm so excited because now I get to participate in the full coverage makeup game. I pretty much bought everything because for the first time there was a product that worked for me!
Growing up, how did you come to understand the concept of beauty?
Khandice: My first understanding of beauty was my mom. Whatever products my mom had, I wanted too. My mom was my first beauty standard, but growing up that transitions as you go into the outside world. I have the kinkiest hair type out of my family. I remember always asking my grandma “Why can't my hair be straight like all the other girls?” There is a big obsession with black women's hair. Men feel like they have a say in what we should do or your co-workers probe you about your hairstyles.
I grew up in a town where I was one of the few black girls and I didn’t notice it because colorism granted me privilege. I didn't even know there was a word to describe the experience of preferential treatment because your skin is lighter until I got to college. Guys would say “You are cute because you are light skin.” My sister is of a darker complexion than me and I remember growing up and people always asking if we had different dads. As a child, I didn't understand the microaggressions. It makes me sad to think that people treat my sister differently because she is a darker skinned woman. I can only imagine how much harder it is for her and it upsets me to know that she has to go through that because of the color of her skin.
People would always stare and ask me what I am and it led to identity issues because I didn't fit in with black kids but I was not white. Because of my experience growing up, I have always been uncomfortable around people of color because they would say that I thought I was better than them or that I talked “white”. I remember the first time someone called me the n-word and I was so shocked because I wasn’t used to racial hatred.
What’s the best advice you have ever received?
Khandice: “Learn to live in your truth and be unapologetically you.” I used to be so apologetical about who I was or tried to make everyone else around me happy. I would try to vocalize what I wanted then I would take it back as to not offend anyone. Now, I live by the saying “I said that sh*t and I meant it.” Especially in the context of relationships, I have realized censoring yourself for someone else is not healthy. I no longer put my needs last. I came into this world alone and I’m going to die alone. I am stepping into my truth and being okay with being different. You don’t have to make yourself digestible for anyone else. I have been living by this for a while now and I feel like a burden has been lifted and now I understand my self-worth.
What is your favorite quote?
Khandice: When speaking about yourself, whatever you say after “I AM” becomes your reality.
Keep up with Khandice on her journey:
Personal Twitter: @sweetsourkhandi
I am also in the process of launching my own blog titled, Late Bloomher, where I will be discussing my journey as a cancer survivor and post-grad life.