If you grew up a Black girl in America in the last half-century, there’s a good chance you grew up in tandem with Essence magazine, the pioneering publication for Black women which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2020. For over 40 0f those years, Mikki Taylor has been part of that storied legacy, helping to craft images of Black womanhood that inspired and affirmed generations as the magazine’s Beauty and Covers Director.
The story of Essence may be one filled with what we now fondly call “Black Girl Magic,” but it pales in comparison to that of the current editor-at-large, who is also an author, motivational speaker, and beauty activist who has always placed Black beauty front and center. Now, with help from Audible Originals, Taylor is giving us a lens into her own beautiful life in Force of Beauty: A Girl Comes of Age in Newark, which chronicles the early influences on her journey from a mid-20th century girlhood in Newark, N.J. into the country’s leading authority on beauty and style for women of color.
Per a press release provided to The Root:
In this first person-narrative, Mikki reflects on her 1950s childhood in Newark and her first-row seat into the rising power and true glamour of black culture through her parents’ lives in Brick City. Mikki introduces us to her gifted grandmother, Bessie, and her glamorous mother, Modina, and shares how Modina’s friendship with the legendary Sarah Vaughan shaped Mikki’s childhood. Mikki’s mini-memoir is a tribute to Newark in the ‘50s and ’60s, cool jazz clubs and close-knit neighborhoods, a handsome house on Avon Avenue, and one family’s tale of perseverance and ingenuity in a city they all loved.
Taylor joins The Glow Up this Big Beauty Tuesday to discuss her newest offering and her ongoing commitment to upholding inclusive beauty in every space. Arguably, she paved the way for beauty and fashion editors like myself, providing a rare prototype for Black women working in the publishing world, which she helped transform from the inside out, creating a ripple effect we continue to see today, from Fenty through the pages of mainstream fashion magazines.
Accordingly, this conversation was a profoundly special one for this writer (I may have even shed a tear). Join The Glow Up and the legendary Mikki Taylor as we discuss Force of Beauty: A Girl Comes of Age in Newark, “the story of three generations of Black women, one extraordinary friendship, and a not-often recalled history of the city that made them,” available on Audible now.