20 Photos That Show The Power Of #BlackGirlMagic

Photographed by Wayne Lawrence at Jed Root.
Afropunk isn't your typical music festival. Now in its 11th year, the gathering is a two-day celebration of community, self-expression, and music rooted in appreciating art and culture — and eradicating hate. And that message resonates as loudly as the headliners. Signs flanking the stages and main areas remind attendees: "No sexism, no racism, no ableism, no ageism, no homophobia, no fat-phobia, no transphobia, no hatefulness." Posters above the Porta Potties state, "These bathrooms have been liberated from the gender binary." Basically, Afropunk is the most woke festival on the planet.

As a result, the beauty looks are out of this world and equally refreshing. The people who attend Afropunk go to town with their beauty, and not in the hopes of getting their photos snapped. Instead, it's a way to celebrate their culture and identity, embrace their individuality, and promote better representation in media and the world.

We spotlighted a few of these inspiring women, giving them the opportunity to discuss beauty on their own terms. (And steal some serious product picks and makeup advice along the way.) One thing is for certain: #BlackGirlMagic is alive and well. Check it out in all its glory, ahead.
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Photographed by Wayne Lawrence at Jed Root.
Chanta Patton

What makeup are you wearing?
"I'm wearing Lime Crime on the lips; [it's] a mix of purple and gold. I have L'Oréal Paris eyeliner, and the blush is something I picked up from a Korean beauty-supply store when I was in Thailand. The highlighter is Urban Decay Aura."

Where do you find beauty inspiration?
"Zoë Kravitz is a huge inspiration to me. I love how she does her makeup very natural. She always has dewy skin and a natural look, and I try to replicate that."
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Photographed by Wayne Lawrence at Jed Root.
Rushelle Peterkin

Tell me about the makeup you're wearing.
"I feel like every Black person throughout history is connected on a wavelength... So I woke up and I started doing my makeup like this today, because I feel like there’s a woman in history that’s doing her makeup similarly to the way I have mine today, and we’re connected in that way.

"I'm wearing Makeup Monsters on my eyes, face, and lips. It’s a vegan line. I have every color."

What made you want to come to Afropunk?
"I didn’t even look at the lineup. I just thought I should be here because there are people here who look like me, and that’s just always fun — we could be listening to nothing or listening to music."
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Photographed by Wayne Lawrence at Jed Root.
Fedra Canales

How long have you worn your hair in braids?
"I did the braids for Afropunk. I wanted to be colorful and flashy because it’s summertime."

Where do you find inspiration?
"The rainbow!"
4 of 21
Photographed by Wayne Lawrence at Jed Root.
Malyia McNaughton

Why did you come to Afropunk?
"I love being here because you see so many representations of what beauty means to an individual. Beauty is about inclusion, and representation is so important. Beauty is power. When I feel comfortable and beautiful, I feel powerful."

Tell me about your hair.
"I've been natural for four years. I wanted to do something very unique, different, and editorial, and embrace the fact that I am a natural girl."
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Photographed by Wayne Lawrence at Jed Root.
Nthabiseng Lethoko

What inspired your look?
"The straw hat is a modern rendition of a Basotho hat, which is actually my cultural group, and makes up a large proportion of the various cultural groups in my country [South Africa]. I was representing my country in a subtle, modern way."

Tell me about the gold beads.
"I've worn my hair natural for about five years now. I'm in love with changing it up, so you'll often find me with a new hairstyle. I've chopped it, dyed it, braided, and cornrowed it for a long time. This is my birthday month, and I really just wanted to showcase my 'Queendom,' hence the golden beads."

When do you feel most beautiful?
"I am most beautiful when I am happiest; it calms me, protects me, and keeps me level-headed, which makes me feel confident and empowered."
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Photographed by Wayne Lawrence at Jed Root.
Terrence Walls

What was behind your decision to go natural?
"I didn’t like perms anymore. Once I hit eighth grade, [my aunt] put a perm in my hair and it just became too much to deal with."

Where do you find inspiration?
"Everybody, everywhere. I’m on Instagram a lot — on the Explore page. I love everything and everybody!"
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Photographed by Wayne Lawrence at Jed Root.
Aria Merritt

Tell me about your makeup.
"I don't usually do makeup. But I thought the orange shadow looked great with my skin tone. It's from a [palette] with 100 different colors."

What about your hair?
"I've had the rings in my hair for about two weeks. I got them from Michaels. The braids were inspired by a model in Vogue. She had this crazy hairstyle with these braids and Bantu knots, so I decided to go for it."
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Photographed by Wayne Lawrence at Jed Root.
Amanda Moreau

What inspired your look?
"Carrie Bradshaw and The Fifth Element. It's a sci-fi Carrie Bradshaw. I got the baubles at a beauty-supply store. My lip color is not a name brand; it was $4 at a beauty store. It's cornflower blue."

How does it feel to be at Afropunk?
"I feel very proud and that I'm with the family. I'm always coming to a party when I'm here [in New York]."
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Photographed by Wayne Lawrence at Jed Root.
Robin Williams

Tell me about your hair.
"I’ve had my hair in a flat top like this for four years. It was actually higher, and I cut it."

Where do you find inspiration?
"From my culture. My parents are from Jamaica. I love color. I love the sun. I love Black folks, white folks, and people. Jamaica is a small island with a lot of different people, so I draw inspiration from that."
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Photographed by Wayne Lawrence at Jed Root.
Mykeyla Brown

Tell me about your makeup.

"I wanted to do something fun and funky. I love yellow. I’m a fire sign, so it drew me to that color. I did a little orange and red on my lids — they're Kat Von D shadows. My mascara is blue, and it's from Benefit. And I drew on some freckles!"

What do you do when you want to feel powerful?
"I change my hair up a lot. Today, I have a little Cruella de Vil going on. It’s half-black, half-white. But most of the time, it’s in an Afro and it's different colors. Or I’ll have pigtails — that's why my nickname is Mykey Mouse."
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Photographed by Wayne Lawrence at Jed Root.
Khadija Omar

How long has your hair been in braids?
"About four weeks. I was tired of the Afro, so it was time for a good little change. It’s a protective style, so my hair is growing underneath. I’ve been natural all my life."

Do you think the beauty industry is becoming more inclusive?
"I feel like the beauty industry is changing completely; our generation is doing it. I wish there was more representation of people of color, but I feel like the social media I’m exposed to now...I see a lot of people who look like me, and I appreciate that. I do see the change coming."
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Photographed by Wayne Lawrence at Jed Root.
Brittany Allen

You and your mother both have shaved heads. Who did it first?
"I did it first, right before my senior portrait in high school. When I was younger, people who went against other people’s standards of beauty, especially women of color, really empowered me. When I got older, I started seeing women of color shaving their heads, so I thought, Wow, if they can do it, I can do it. And when I do it, I can empower other girls. I don’t have to fit into this box of femininity, and I can define it on my own."

What frustrates and excites you about makeup?

"The frustrating thing about makeup is that it sometimes makes your skin look bad. You want to put on makeup and feel amazing, and then you take it off and it has a negative effect on your skin. It's also frustrating trying to find the perfect shade.

"But I’ve seen a lot of people doing wild makeup. I love it — people who will shave their brows off and then draw it back on. I love the creativity — that's really exciting."
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Photographed by Wayne Lawrence at Jed Root.
Akua Shabaka

What inspired your look today?
"It feels like it's a Mardi Gras look. I was thinking this could be in Lemonade. They were in Louisiana, and my family's Creole, so that makes sense."

What inspired your hairstyle today?
"I'm going through a change of braiding styles. I haven't straightened my hair with a flat iron for four to six years. I definitely love various styles, but I am a fighter for wearing your hair natural and figuring out what you can do with it."
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Photographed by Wayne Lawrence at Jed Root.
Janae Sumter

How long has your hair been purple?
"I’ve had this for a month now. I’m a huge fan of colored hair. I’ve done blues and greens. I’m always [going] for the crazy colors. I’m an artist, so everything that falls into the category of artistry is something I’m into."

Where do you find inspiration?
"Everything. I’m a huge nature freak. So I pull a lot of inspiration from nature — which is pretty obvious with my look today. But since I’m an artist, I also am inspired by other artists; I can look at a painting and pull some ideas out of that. So I really find it everywhere."
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Photographed by Wayne Lawrence at Jed Root.
Maureen Powel

How do you feel empowered by beauty?
"I think through beauty and self-acceptance. That's why I like this festival — because people can be themselves and walk around with pride."

Tell me about your hair.
"When I go to festivals, I like to go all out. I've been natural for years, even before the whole 'natural nation' started. I just never felt like perming my hair, and I love the '70s. I like Foxy Brown."
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Photographed by Wayne Lawrence at Jed Root.
Imani Palmer

What inspired your eye makeup?
"So my eye makeup was actually inspired by the fish emoji! The blue is ColorTattoo from Maybelline, and the lime green is Citreuse by Lime Crime. I also have a purple liquid liner on."

How do you feel about representation in the beauty industry?
"We have come a long way. But there's always more ways to go. I'm seeing a lot of beautiful girls who look 'real' these days — Black, plus-size, everything. And that's always great."
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Photographed by Wayne Lawrence at Jed Root.
Briana Almeida

Where did you get all of your face and hair jewelry from?
"This is mostly my grandmother's jewelry. I strung it together and looped it. I just love jewelry."

What product can you not live without?
"I've had my hair natural for seven years, so shea butter is my holy-grail product."
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Photographed by Wayne Lawrence at Jed Root.
JuNé LeJoí
We can't get enough of this intricate body-painting, which was created by Laolu, an artist who attended the festival.
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Photographed by Wayne Lawrence at Jed Root.
Paulasia Coston

What does beauty mean to you?
"Beauty means uniqueness and individuality. Remain yourself, and don't let anyone change that."

What inspires you?
"Other women walking down the street inspire me. Seeing how far we've come since the 1920s and into 2016, and how we're still growing."

Tell me about that amazing crown.
"The crown is a collaboration with another designer, Crown by Colin King. We always like to represent ourselves as kings and queens."
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Photographed by Wayne Lawrence at Jed Root.
Shae Roberts
Shae's teal curls and purple lipstick are ultimate mermaid goals, don't you think?
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Photographed by Wayne Lawrence at Jed Root.
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