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Rapper Saint Bodhi Takes an Unapologetic Approach to Beauty

“Now, beauty is so much more fun for me. I love my big ‘ol curly hair. I love my makeup and my 30 millimeter eyelashes.

On Beauty
saint bodhi

Welcome to On Beauty, a series where we take a deep-dive look into one person's relationship to beauty, how that relationship has transformed over the years, and how they experience being seen. This week, we're talking to Grammy Award-nominated singer, songwriter, and rapper Saint Bodhi who just released her latest project, ANTISOCIAL.

Below, she discusses what it was like to grow up surrounded by men, how she discovered her love of beauty, and the lessons she's learned this past year.

saint bodhi
saint bodhi

"This is going to sound so goofy, but my role models when it came to beauty were construction workers. As a kid, I had a really rough look; I would dress up like a boy. I even had a crazy rocker stage where I thought I was Kurt Cobain. I didn't start leaning into my feminine side until I reached my late 20s.

"I grew up around all men; I didn't have any women around me for a long time. And when a woman did come around, it was my grandmother, so I didn't really get taught about beauty or hair or makeup. I learned all of those things from my friends as I grew older. There was a lot of trial and error. Once I decided that I actually did want to start wearing makeup, it was rough. I was looking at my old pictures and I looked terrible. Like, I really used to do my eyeliner like that?

"When I was younger, I definitely had insecurities. Growing up in South Central L.A., I faced a lot of colorism because of my skin tone. So in my mind, I was like I'm not going to get boys, so I'll be one instead. It was a defense mechanism in a way—you're not going to be able to tell me you're not interested in me because I'm not even trying to get you."

"Music was something that I started doing when I was younger, and it was a therapeutic escape for me because I grew up in L.A. drama, you know, hood shit. I'm from the streets—music and poetry was a way for me to express myself and what I was witnessing. I read a lot of fiction as a kid. One of the first books I read was The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. I would get so lost in those books. It was definitely an escape.

"Songwriting came naturally to me. I consider myself an empath and I feel like I've had a chance to travel through so many different lives thanks to my friends and their experiences. It's easy for me to know what other people are thinking and slip into their worlds. For a while, I was just writing for other people, so it's been a liberating experience to start recording my own music. When you sign with a label, you kind of think that they own you. But in reality, it's more of a partnership than anything.

"Music is a very male-dominated industry, and I feel like every year, I learn something new about the industry. This year, I learned to play nice. It's a game of patience, chess not checkers. So, you learn to play nice and you learn to get close. Let's say, for example, if there's a difficult male in the industry, I make it a point to find out who that person is and ask them to grab lunch. Let me figure out who you are and how we can work together and respect each other."

"Now, beauty is so much more fun for me. I switch up my hair all the time—I do a lot of blue hairstyles because that color is on my throat chakra and it keeps it open. I love my big ol' curly hair. I love my makeup and my 30 millimeter eyelashes. I'm also a big press-on nails girl now. I don't know how people have two- or three-inch long nails all the time. Like, how do you send a text? My son used to think my beauty looks were crazy, but now his hair is long, too, and he's begging me to dye his hair blue, so we keep it playful.

"This past year has been wild. I'm in the middle of my Saturn return and it's kicking my ass. There's been a lot of blessings, don't get me wrong, but at the same time, there's been all this bad. I'm learning about not trusting people so much, I'm learning about love, and I'm learning about setting higher standards for myself."

Part of the series:

On Beauty

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