The Buzz recently interviewed Areisa Peters, a student at historically black Oakwood University on her project called “Project Chocolate” which questions the stereotypes facing young Black women and what beauty is.
Robert: Tell me more about this project that you have started called “Project Chocolate”.
Areisa: Project Chocolate was started as an initiative to promote realization; realization on a small HBCU campus that there is more than one type of beauty. There are many different types of beauty. Our Motto is: “Sisterhood, Strength, and Self-Love”
Robert: Black women are portrayed as sexual toys in the media. Tell me how this project seeks to rewrite the script that has been written in America.
Areisa: Because Black women are constantly portrayed as toys, this leaves the world to forget that we are more than sex. We are human beings, functioning, becoming doctors, lawyers, moms, artists, just to name a few. This sexualization strips us of our humanity. Project Chocolate attempts to give it back to us. Reclaim our humanity. We are beautiful multifaceted beings with other qualities that make us beautiful and “sexy”; and those qualities extend further than just our bodies. ie: Strength and genuine happiness can be extremely attractive.
Robert: What was the impetus of creating this dope project?
Areisa: What’s interesting is that I grew up in Indiana, and for a majority of my life, in certain circles, I had heard various forms of “harmless” slander. “Oh you’re so pretty for a darkskin girl” “Oh wow. Is that a wig? Your hair is so long for a darkskinned girl” “Now I wouldn’t normally date your complexion , but you’re so beautiful” and these are micro aggressions. Things that are meant to be compliments, but left me feeling worse than before. Then I came to an HBCU and realized that it really DOESNT matter. Humans are humans. People are people. And black is black. And in that realization, it came to me that I had to uplift other girls and women who might not know that their beauty is just as magnificent as our lighter skinned counterparts. The process of self acceptance can be slow. I wanted to expedite that. A photoshoot with direction. A day of bonding an mentoring can do a lot for a freshman who didn’t realize she was stunning. That’s the idea behind Project Chocolate.
Robert: What are this misconceptions of this project?
Areisa: I don’t want this to be seen as “anti-white” or “anti-light” . Because people have jokingly and not-so-jokingly brought that up to me. I want this to be seen as an expansion of a definition. A definition of “beauty” that has remained stagnant for years but truly, it is time for it to change.