THE LOU*MACK BEAUTY STORY
My godsister, Maia, was my makeup inspiration. For years she pleaded with me to wear bright lip colors. (In college I wore a shimmery muted gold lipstick and I'd switch it out, when I wanted to be frisky, with a dark wine colored lipstick. SMH.) My style manager and close friend, Sabrina, joined in with Maia and begged me to try lip colors that "pop". What neither of them knew was that I thought that my lips were too big to wear bold bright lip colors. Yeah, I know. These were the lips passed down to me from my maternal great grandmother, Lou Mack, and I was was ashamed of them.
I can recall the many trips to the nursing home to visit Lou Mack. I wished that she’d be asleep when we arrived so that our stay would be short. I was always reluctant to see her. She suffered with dementia and I figured that she wouldn't know me anyway. Almost forty years later, I find myself wishing that I had spent more time with her. Looking in to her eyes. Getting to know more about her existence.
Jemima Lou Bodison Mack was born in Walterboro, SC. She was Gullah (Geechee). She was a stern single mother who nurtured white folks children in order to provide for her own daughter. Deaf in one ear, this full lipped, full bosomed preacher would walk 12 miles one way to church until she founded and became pastor of her own. Despite her inability to read and write for most of her life, she became a shrewd businesswoman and landowner. Lou Mack was the second eldest girl of 16 children and subsequent matriarch. Although she was unable to complete a secondary education, late in her life's journey she found a way to go back to school.
In 2012, Sabrina styled me for an event in Atlanta. Our first time working together. She said, "You'll need a pop of color with these dresses". We pulled all of my lipsticks out and lo and behold there was a hot pink matte lip waiting to make my acquaintance. I put it on and was almost instantaneously transformed. I could not believe how beautiful my lips looked! Check out this picture of me in the background grinning.
I had just discovered a new me. I was thinking, "These folks will not know what to do with me and these PINK LIPS! YAAASSSSSSS!" This new me would no longer be afraid to be seen. I was committed to shine to the fullest extent of my "averysunshineability"!
To be ashamed of any part of me, is to deny the strength, resilience and beauty of my great grandmother Lou Mack and the line of women that she is born from. Thanks to Dr. Gina Paige, co-founder and president of African Ancestry, (who also in a 2020 Covid Instagram Live, encouraged me to move forward with Lou*Mack Beauty) I now know that Lou Mack's roots trace back to the Kru people of Eastern Liberia: the tribe of people who would rather die than be captured and made slaves. That's who Lou Mack comes from. Who I come from.
When I wear a bold bright lip, I am not only dispelling the lie that my features are unattractive, I am beholding the beauty and strength that has been passed down to me. Passed down from the ancestors to the shores of the Ivory Coast to the shores of South Carolina. From South Carolina to Eustis, Florida. From Florida to Chester, Pennsylvania and from Pennsylvania to Atlanta, Georgia. My lips are beautiful. I am beautiful and I will continue to let my beauty SHINE.
WE GIVE THANKS TO GOD.
We, your descendents, honor you Jemima Lou Bodison-Mack.
Beautiful one, we are honored to share LOU*MACK BEAUTY with you. When you adorn yourself with LMB, our hope is that you will discover, acknowledge and celebrate the beauty of YOUR line!
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THE LMB STORYMAKERS/VILLAGE