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“Hello! I’m Dante Blais-Billie (@missfloridaseminoledurantebb). I am one in all about 4,000 members of the Seminole Tribe of Florida—to place that into perspective, earlier than contact the inhabitants of indigenous individuals in Florida was about 200,000, and after contact, the Path of Tears, and the Indian Elimination Act, it’s estimated that solely 300 indigenous individuals have been left within the Everglades. My tribe is the one one that did not signal treaties with the US, and I grew up in one in all our sovereign homelands to the east, our Hollywood Seminole Indian Reservation. At the moment I function a princess for the Seminole Tribe of Florida by means of the cultural ambassador title of Miss Florida Seminole. A cultural pageant can be one of the best ways to explain it—princess is a overseas phrase to us, however it’s the clearest solution to talk the significance of feminine presence in our matriarchal neighborhood. I used to be first launched to the idea of the pageant after I was in all probability six or seven. I could not consider I used to be seeing Seminole ladies on TV, modeling conventional outfits—I used to be so blown away. My gradmother advised me that to do the pageant, you needed to converse Mikisúkî. I lived in a family that did not converse the language, and for a very long time I used to be too ashamed to strategy it—the pageant gave me a purpose to begin studying.
I gained Junior Miss on my first strive. For the pageant, I needed to possess an enormous quantity of cultural data and be capable to reply questions on all the historical past and up to date presence of our tribe. That was actually eye-opening—although I used to be in highschool off the reservation, I by no means considered myself as representing all native individuals on a regular basis. The pageant made me notice that when I’m outdoors of my neighborhood, individuals actually do not know that our data, like conventional practices of land stewardship or conventional drugs, has a lot worth. There’s a lot extra training to take action indigenous individuals can stay with out being ostracized.
I acquired a college scholarship from my tribe, and as soon as I completed, I knew I needed to reinvest myself in my neighborhood. I’m who I’m as a result of my tribe has invested a lot in me. Often the princess reigns for just one 12 months, however due to COVID I am reigning for 2 years—it might be unsafe to have a pageant proper now. I work to strengthen my neighborhood’s relationship to these round us by means of instructional workshops and advocating for indigenous rights. Recently I’ve been advocating for two-spirit affirmation, which is type of a placeholder English time period for acknowledging traditions for queer individuals. I establish as non-binary and that is a comparatively new thought to my tribe. Whereas we have at all times had tolerance for nonbinary and queer individuals, we don’t have conventional language to embody them. As a result of my diploma is in artwork historical past, I’m additionally actually obsessed with getting extra up to date Seminole artists into native museums—I labored on curating an exhibit with the Fort Lauderdale History Museum final 12 months, and now I’m specializing in making a everlasting artwork recreation program inside my tribe.
My private journey with decolonization shifted my complete thought of magnificence. It meant reconnecting to historic values and indigenous techniques, and rediscovering who I’m outdoors of a colonized lens. I was ashamed of the fullness of my lips, the form of my eyes, and the masculinity of my jaw as a result of they didn’t match throughout the Eurocentric thought of magnificence I used to be introduced with. In my tradition, magnificence is a solution to specific your function locally. Sure thread colours and what number of silver cash you are sporting can convey your relationship to your mother and father, or your relationship to your lover. For ladies, having a number of elaborations exhibits what your loved ones thinks of you, and for males it exhibits that you may commerce, or that you are a good supplier. I have been incorporating each our masculine and female practices of magnificence into my very own routine, which has been actually central in embracing my two-spirit id. Bodily I look rather a lot like my father, and having the ability to keep it up his legacy as an indigenous man has been instrumental in my very own private therapeutic. It’s actually empowering to see myself as a determine of masculine and female reconciliation.
My fondest magnificence reminiscences are after I would cosplay at anime and online game conventions—I believed it was the best factor that I may visually present individuals how a lot my favourite manga meant to me. I did not prioritize skincare as a result of I couldn’t specific myself by means of my pores and skin. However I began breaking out on my cheeks after I acquired to school, and my dermatologist was like, ‘Please, simply put on sunscreen.’ Now I exploit Soap and Glory’s Clarity cleanser, prescription benzoyl peroxide, and Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Liquid Sunscreen. If I’ve an occasion, I put Covergirl Aquasmooth in Buff Beige on prime.
With make-up, I are inclined to deal with my eyes. I actually like how darkish my options are—I used to need brilliant, clear eyes just like the fashions in magazines, however now I like to intensify their almond form and the way darkish my eyelashes are. I like all of the rusty pink tones within the Pat McGrath Mothership V palette. The glitter is basically enjoyable too, and I believe it goes properly with my beadwork. In my tradition, we put on a number of flashy beads and cash—the extra the merrier, and glitter actually compliments that. I exploit the lightest coloration within the palette as highlighter, and put that beneath my eyeliner within the outer corners of my eyes, on prime of my cheekbones, and slightly below my forehead bones. I went by means of a section of utilizing a glue stick with fluff my up eyebrows, however currently I’ve simply been filling them in with a darkish shade from the Urban Decay Basics palette and an angled brush. My favourite make-up trick that I want I discovered earlier is that lining the interior corners of my eyes elongates them a lot greater than a flick on the finish does. I have been utilizing Maybelline’s Stiletto Ultimate Precision Liquid, which is somewhat fantastic tip marker. However I believe my holy grail make-up merchandise is L’Oréal’s Lash Paradise mascara. I purchased it on a whim as a result of I like Elle Fanning—she’s within the adverts—and I am so glad I did.
Reconciling with my lips has been an extended journey. I was teased a lot for his or her fullness, and I’d fade out my lipstick so that you couldn’t see the place they ended. I nonetheless love a tender look, however now I’ll apply lipstick all the best way to the sides after which smudge round my lips with my pinky finger. And I’m going for bolder colours to actually embrace them. My favourite is the lip gloss in Spacesuit from Billiee Magnificence, which is indigenous-owned. It is this utterly shimmery, nearly copper gloss that I believe appears so good with indigenous pores and skin tones. In addition they have a extremely dramatic pink liquid lipstick referred to as Kiss Me that I have been utilizing religiously.
I’ve at all times experimented with my hair as a result of my mom is a hairdresser. I often base my types on no matter my favourite fictional character is in the intervening time—I did bleached blonde hair and eyebrows to be like Girl Amalthea from The Final Unicorn, and currently I have been protecting my hair quick after my favourite Manga character. Since it is so quick, I do not do a lot for it. My hair is straight however my sister’s is wavy, and that’s how I came upon in regards to the As I Am Coconut Co-Wash. I began utilizing it again when my hair was broken, and I caught with it as a result of it makes my hair really feel very nice. My tribe could be very tolerant of various gender expressions, so whereas we do have established gender identities and gender shows, it’s not seen as a unfavorable when individuals break free from these binaries. For me to current as feminine however have a boy’s haircut is one thing that is wholly embraced. That is simply the tradition I am fortunate to be in.”
—as advised to ITG
Images through the writer