Talking beauty and self-esteem with NYC model Seynabou Cissé

Seynabou Cissé is a Fashion Model who was recently featured on the Oprah Magazine. In March 2018, I discovered her through a video on Facebook. It’s a pretty short video (see at the bottom of this page) in which she addressed the lack of representation of black women in the magazines and runways. I loved everything about that video and absolutely wanted to interview her on the Blog.

Few months later, here she is!

Describe yourself in few lines: 
My name is Seynabou and I’m 23 years old. I am sarcastic, introverted, incredibly sensitive (contrary to popular belief), and a lighthearted smartass to those who truly know me. I am obsessed with words (Love both reading + writing), design, women who run with the wolves, and my siblings.

What makes you proud to be the woman you are today?
Being aware of where I have been and where I am now, and knowing I laid every brick on the road in between. Accountability makes me feel good.

What is the greatest challenge you faced during your modeling career?
I haven’t been in this lane long enough to have faced great challenges, but learning to get out of my own head and just be my authentic self instead of modeling (ha!) myself after anyone else who came before me has been a learning curve.


What is your perception of beauty? 
I’m a core believer of/ 7 billion people = 7 billion perceptions of beauty. So i can answer for my perception of my beauty: a collection of what makes me feel outstanding. The depth of my skin, my smile, the slant of my eyes, my personality, my obnoxious laughter, my warmth, my talents, actions I’m proud of, etc.

On which media did you recently feel the most beautifully represented and how did that make you feel?
I’m sure this is the umpteenth time that you’ve heard this, but: Black Panther. It’s the only film, in recent memory, where I have seen women who look like me take center stage in ways that we’re not used to. I went to the movies three times to see the film- That’s how I feel about it. It’s not even the joy of seeing myself reflected on the big screen, but more so the gushing pride I (still) feel seeing these women- Danai, Lupita, Letitia & co.- take up so much space in a lane where there is this huge disparity. I am so proud of them.

Do you find that dark-skinned women are represented enough in the media channels ? Generally, no.

And what would explain the lack of representation ?

It boils down to the decades-old interpretation that society has certain standards of beauty, and those standards are what’s largely reflected in the media.

The industry of skin bleaching products is worth billions of Dollars, do you have anything to say about it ?
I am not in the business of policing what people do with their bodies/skin. However, I think we should reflect on where these products are made, and in comparison, where they are marketed and very high in demand.

What do you have to say to all young girls and women who end up feeling bad about themselves because of an environment that viscously tells them that their dark skin is not “beautiful”?
I think part of the picture that most ppl don’t talk about is the assumption that dark skin is an instant insecurity for those of us who are dark. A dark skinned girl will literally just exist, and people will yell “confidence!”, “#melanin queen!”, “chocolate goddess!” at her. It’s incredibly patronizing and I wish for dark girls to not fall for any of that nonsense. It goes without saying that dark skin is beautiful and I do pray that dark women celebrate themselves when they’re constantly being told otherwise. It is not an obstacle we should recover from or a trait to be exoticized for. It is important to never allow ourselves to be reduced to it, defined by it, or be patronized/dehumanized for it. It’s part of your beauty, it is not your beauty in its entirety.

What makes you feel the most comfortable in your skin ?
Honestly, the full, grown-up knowledge that I shouldn’t have to find what makes me comfortable in my own skin; it’s unnatural. Discomfort in our own skin shouldn’t even be an option, it’s not like we can abandon it. I find comfort in knowing there’s nothing to be uncomfortable about because I cannot be reduced to it- this has been a HUGE learning curve.

What advice would you give your 14 year old self about confidence ?
“if you live by their acceptance, you will die by their rejection”. It is contradictory to seek confidence in external gratification.

Thank you Seynabou !



THE Video :

~Model Seynabou Cisse~ European Beauty Standards

Posted by African Diaspora on Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Instagram : Seynabou Cissé


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I'm a thirty something years-old woman trying to inspire other women and get inspired myself.