Jordin Sparks on Black Women and Beauty: "We Set the Tone"

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Jordin Sparks's relationship with beauty — specifically with her naturally curly hair — is complicated. Like so many of us with textured hair, the singer and American Idol alum didn't learn to appreciate her curls until she was well into adulthood: "It took me forever to really, truly enjoy my hair," she told POPSUGAR. "I came to appreciate it in my 20s. I was like 'Wow, I really have the best of both worlds. My hair can be free and bouncy and curly if I want it to be, but on the other hand, I can straighten it and it can be sleek.'"

Learning to accept her natural beauty isn't so different of an experience than those of the thousands of other people, so her participation in Barefoot Wine's newly-premiered web series, We Stan For Her, is more than fitting. In the four-part series that explores the Black experience as it relates to beauty, Sparks stars alongside dancer Ashley Everett and founder and CEO of The Lip Bar, Melissa Butler. In each episode, the three women connect with each other via virtual wine downs to discuss everything from their experiences with styling and getting to know their hair to self-acceptance and how their upbringings may or may not have contributed to their own standards of beauty.

"It's awesome because you see the three of us talking and really being able to have these conversations about beauty, self-love, and all of those different things," she said. "The main reason I wanted to be a part of it was because I wanted to encourage people. Any time I can encourage someone to rise up and live out their dream and love themselves, I always want to be a part of it."

"Any time I can encourage someone to rise up and live out their dream and love themselves, I always want to be a part of it."

Despite what they've given to popular culture, Black men and women's experiences are often overlooked, which is why having these conversations is more important than ever. Sparks's perspective on beauty has changed over the years, but as a Black woman, she recognizes that many of the trends start with us.

"We set the tone. Our beauty innovation that we have as women of color sets the tone for everything else that follows, at least that's what I feel like," Sparks said. "It's nice to know that the things we do get acknowledged in a lot of different ways. We're still very far from it actually being acknowledged in all of the rooms like it should be, but we're working our way up and we're much further than we were five or 10 years ago."

Being in an industry where people's appearances are always placed under a magnifying glass, Sparks jumped at the opportunity to participate in We Stan For Her. She, of course, has felt the pressure to conform to unattainable beauty standards over the years, but maturing and becoming a mother has helped free her from that mindset. "[Several years ago] I felt a shift in myself in what beauty meant to me," she said. "It used to be how my hair was and the eyelashes and the makeup and the lips. But women are beautiful by themselves, without any of that."

All four episodes of We Stan For Her are available to watch on Barefoot Wine's official YouTube channel.