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“Hi! I’m Dante Blais-Billie (@missfloridaseminoledurantebb). I’m one particular of about 4,000 customers of the Seminole Tribe of Florida—to set that into standpoint, in advance of get in touch with the population of indigenous individuals in Florida was about 200,000, and just after make contact with, the Path of Tears, and the Indian Removing Act, it is believed that only 300 indigenous men and women ended up still left in the Everglades. My tribe is the only 1 that didn’t signal treaties with the US, and I grew up in 1 of our sovereign homelands to the east, our Hollywood Seminole Indian Reservation. Currently I serve as a princess for the Seminole Tribe of Florida through the cultural ambassador title of Overlook Florida Seminole. A cultural pageant would be the greatest way to explain it—princess is a international word to us, but it is the clearest way to connect the value of feminine existence in our matriarchal group. I was very first released to the concept of the pageant when I was in all probability six or seven. I could not feel I was observing Seminole girls on Television set, modeling conventional outfits—I was so blown absent. My gradmother informed me that to do the pageant, you had to converse Mikisúkî. I lived in a house that failed to discuss the language, and for a very long time I was too ashamed to approach it—the pageant gave me a purpose to get started studying.
I won Junior Pass up on my to start with consider. For the pageant, I had to have a substantial amount of cultural expertise and be ready to answer queries about the total heritage and present-day presence of our tribe. That was actually eye-opening—even though I was in significant faculty off the reservation, I hardly ever believed of myself as symbolizing all indigenous people today all the time. The pageant produced me recognize that when I am outdoors of my neighborhood, persons truly have no concept that our understanding, like regular tactics of land stewardship or standard medication, has so significantly benefit. There is so a lot much more schooling to do so indigenous people can are living without having staying ostracized.
I acquired a university scholarship from my tribe, and at the time I concluded, I understood I preferred to reinvest myself in my community. I am who I am for the reason that my tribe has invested so considerably in me. Usually the princess reigns for only 1 year, but due to the fact of COVID I’m reigning for two years—it would be unsafe to have a pageant appropriate now. I operate to strengthen my community’s romance to these all around us by means of educational workshops and advocating for indigenous rights. Lately I’ve been advocating for two-spirit affirmation, which is kind of a placeholder English term for acknowledging traditions for queer people. I determine as non-binary and that is a somewhat new strategy to my tribe. Though we’ve generally experienced tolerance for nonbinary and queer people today, we never have standard language to encompass them. Mainly because my diploma is in artwork heritage, I’m also truly passionate about having much more modern Seminole artists into area museums—I worked on curating an show with the Fort Lauderdale History Museum last calendar year, and now I’m concentrating on creating a lasting artwork recreation program in my tribe.
My personal journey with decolonization shifted my whole strategy of natural beauty. It intended reconnecting to historic values and indigenous systems, and rediscovering who I am outside the house of a colonized lens. I made use of to be ashamed of the fullness of my lips, the condition of my eyes, and the masculinity of my jaw because they didn’t in shape in the Eurocentric concept of attractiveness I was presented with. In my lifestyle, elegance is a way to convey your job in the neighborhood. Selected thread shades and how quite a few silver cash you happen to be carrying can express your connection to your dad and mom, or your marriage to your lover. For females, obtaining tons of gildings reveals what your spouse and children thinks of you, and for adult men it demonstrates that you can trade, or that you are a very good provider. I’ve been incorporating equally our masculine and female techniques of natural beauty into my own regimen, which has been genuinely central in embracing my two-spirit identification. Bodily I seem a large amount like my father, and currently being ready to have on his legacy as an indigenous man has been instrumental in my own individual therapeutic. It’s seriously empowering to see myself as a determine of masculine and female reconciliation.
My fondest elegance recollections are when I would cosplay at anime and video game conventions—I imagined it was the coolest detail that I could visually demonstrate men and women how significantly my most loved manga meant to me. I failed to prioritize skincare simply because I could not express myself through my skin. But I started breaking out on my cheeks when I received to college, and my dermatologist was like, ‘Please, just wear sunscreen.’ Now I use Soap and Glory’s Clarity cleanser, prescription benzoyl peroxide, and Neutrogena’s Extremely Sheer Liquid Sunscreen. If I have an function, I put Covergirl Aquasmooth in Buff Beige on prime.
With make-up, I are likely to concentrate on my eyes. I seriously like how dim my features are—I utilised to want brilliant, very clear eyes like the styles in publications, but now I enjoy to intensify their almond shape and how darkish my eyelashes are. I adore all the rusty purple tones in the Pat McGrath Mothership V palette. The glitter is seriously entertaining as well, and I consider it goes nicely with my beadwork. In my culture, we have on heaps of flashy beads and coins—the more the merrier, and glitter truly compliments that. I use the lightest colour in the palette as highlighter, and put that under my eyeliner in the outer corners of my eyes, on top rated of my cheekbones, and just below my brow bones. I went by means of a period of employing a glue adhere to fluff my up eyebrows, but recently I have just been filling them in with a darkish shade from the Urban Decay Principles palette and an angled brush. My favorite make-up trick that I wish I acquired previously is that lining the inner corners of my eyes elongates them so a lot more than a flick at the close does. I have been applying Maybelline’s Stiletto Top Precision Liquid, which is a very little fine tip marker. But I assume my holy grail make-up item is L’Oréal’s Lash Paradise mascara. I bought it on a whim mainly because I adore Elle Fanning—she’s in the ads—and I am so happy I did.
Reconciling with my lips has been a very long journey. I made use of to be teased so a great deal for their fullness, and I would fade out my lipstick so you could not see the place they finished. I however really like a smooth seem, but now I’ll utilize lipstick all the way to the edges and then smudge around my lips with my pinky finger. And I go for bolder colours to seriously embrace them. My favorite is the lip gloss in Spacesuit from Billiee Beauty, which is indigenous-owned. It truly is this entirely shimmery, practically copper gloss that I assume appears so good with indigenous pores and skin tones. They also have a actually dramatic crimson liquid lipstick identified as Kiss Me that I’ve been employing religiously.
I’ve often experimented with my hair since my mother is a hairdresser. I usually base my styles on regardless of what my most loved fictional character is at the moment—I did bleached blonde hair and eyebrows to be like Woman Amalthea from The Previous Unicorn, and currently I’ve been preserving my hair limited after my most loved Manga character. Due to the fact it is really so small, I don’t do substantially for it. My hair is straight but my sister’s is wavy, and that’s how I identified out about the As I Am Coconut Co-Wash. I started out utilizing it back again when my hair was ruined, and I stuck with it mainly because it makes my hair truly feel actually great. My tribe is quite tolerant of unique gender expressions, so when we do have founded gender identities and gender presentations, it’s not viewed as a adverse when people today crack absent from those binaries. For me to current as woman but have a boy’s haircut is a little something that is wholly embraced. Which is just the culture I am fortunate to be in.”
—as advised to ITG
Pictures by means of the author