Aesthetic as Activism: Lesley-Ann Brown

by Nia Hampton



If “the personal is political”, then how you dress and adorn yourself says a lot about who you are. It can also say a lot about what you want to be and who you feel connected to. As technology pushes us all to master the selfie and think of ourselves as brands, people who may not have ever had to think about their “aesthetic” are developing language around why and how they adorn themselves. We here at invite you to read our interview series “Aesthetic as Activism” and be inspired by these activists who opened up to us about their looks, dreams for the future and self-care routines.


This month’s feature is Lesley Ann Brown, a Brooklyn born Trini gyal, a wonderful writer, world traveler and one of my favorite Facebook friends. She’s written for the Source, Vibe, and regularly contributes to NBCBLK. Read up on Lesley Ann’s thoughts on Aesthetic and Activism and be sure to pre-order her new book, Decolonial Daughter: Letters from a Black woman to her European Son.


What does aesthetic mean to you?

Aesthetic is style. It’s about hitting certain notes that speak certain languages . It’s a cultural and often cross-cultural conversation between the object as subject/subject as object and the world.Activism

What looks are you going for right now?

I’ve been enjoying comfort and remaining below the radar. But I do like fashion-unusual cuts and natural fabrics are my favourites. I like mixing the Scandinavian aesthetic (simple & chic) with other influences. I love wool sweaters, jeans and boots/sneakers. I’ve also been dreaming about the perfect track suit…I like clothes that I can relax in at home and out.Activism

What does activism mean to you?

Activism is being actively engaged in bringing about change within and without. The action could be anything from taking pen to paper to calling a community meeting. It could be speaking up wherever you see injustice: from the bus to the classroom. Activism means being that change that you want to see. Activism is about inspiring change, being that drop in the pond that radiates and creates the ripple effect. It’s a universal truth that the things that we focus on are the things that we need to work on within ourselves. That’s a lot to think about!


What are some internal/external changes you’d like to see in life this year? What changes are you making personally?

I want to spend more time in real life! I’m learning to be more patient with myself and others. I constantly check my materialism – as I have found that it’s often related to how I feel.


What’s your makeup/haircare/skincare/self-care ritual looking like?

I love product. But I especially love product that doesn’t have any toxins and is made with love, locally.

I’m really blessed to know a master healer from Angola who makes beauty products here in Denmark called “It Don’t Crack”. This sister makes the most amazing hair conditioner, body moisturizers, scrubs and all hand-made.Activism

What are your Muses/Inspirations at the moment?

I’ve been inspired a lot by the women in my life – here in Copenhagen I’ve been enjoying seeing a lot of the younger generation come into their own. There’s Nazila Kivi, an Iranian-Danish writer and critic; the Somali-Danish poet Zanubia Omar; Greenlandic-Danish writer and activist Aka Moerch Pedersen and the Angolan poet Ayun to name a few.


What creative projects are you working on right now?

I’m finishing up my book Decolonial Daughter: Letters from a Black woman to her European Son (Repeater Books, March 2018).  You can pre-order at Amazon US or UK

Graphic By Maya Rodriguez

Photos By Intisar Aboito

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