Courtney “CeeJaye” Jones is a queer-identifying makeup artist who resides in Chicago, Illinois. From her social media page, you can tell she’s passionate about a few things; her two adorable kids, highlighting the natural beauty of her clients, and advocating for the LGBTQ and plus size community. As a member of both worlds, CeeJaye lends her platform to those who may need a lesson in self-love, self-acceptance, and self-advocacy.
A few months ago CeeJaye sat perched on the corner of her bed in all of her natural glory. Fresh face, skin glowing, and her thickness exposed – unapologetically. She decided to capture the moment because up until then, she didn’t know if she’s ever felt that beautiful before.
“I actually took that pic in the summertime, on a day that my kids weren’t home. I had made a bath and just had quality self-care time. After I got out of the tub, I just sat on my bed looking at myself kinda studying my curves and rolls like, ‘hey this is kinda artistic looking’. I felt like art and I wanted to capture myself in that moment because I didn’t know if I had ever felt that beautiful in my entire life. I held on to the pic for months because I felt it was beautiful, but was I READY to show this side of myself on a platform like IG that’s so ugly when it wants to be?” she shared exclusively with Hello Beautiful.
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There was a time in which I remember NEVER showing my arms or legs. I’m talking bout jeans & layers in the summer…. my body & I have been in a love/hate relationship for decades. Then…. I became a mother. My body’s tests were never ending in 2017. Stretched to every corner and inch it could bear. I gave my children life & it still continues to serve me. My jiggly arms give the BEST hugs. My boobs sag down to my stomach from the weight of them formerly filling up with nourishment for my children. This stomach is stretched out to capacity, but it’s the best seat in the house for 4 tiny legs to rest on. My hair nappy…. locing & coiling to show my children that they don’t need to conform to society’s standards of what they should look like. . . . I still struggle sometimes with finding clothing that fits my personality AND body type simultaneously, but what’s wrong with shopping for a body that I’ve made peace with? . . . This photo represents the peace that I’ve found within myself. I’m at peace with never EVER being “petite” or “toned” …. I’m happy that I don’t curse myself any longer when I see stretch marks. It feels good to walk around nude intentionally. . . . Mammas…. we gotta remember that our bodies ARE the reason that these little blessings are in our lives. Never let this social media bullshit or society tell you that you aren’t worthy. . . #honestmotherhood #selflove #selfcare #bodies #fatbodies #curves #mommybodies
CeeJaye let some months pass by before she worked up the courage to post her photo. Inspired by another makeup artist’s vulnerability, she realized that she is more than good enough to show off her curves. “I’m following another pro MUA named Felicia LaTour and she’s got a son and daughter as well. She posted a pic of her postpartum stomach, and it was so real and raw. Here she is amongst the LA celeb scene, doing makeup on probably the most in-shape bodies…. and she’s still like ‘I’m fine as hell TOO!’ After seeing her photo, I had a lightbulb moment and was like ‘why the hell am I acting like I’m not worthy??? I’m BUGGIN!’” she recalled. As a queer woman raising two babies, CeeJaye is hyper sensitive to how she uses her social media. “The pregnancy really made me more aware of what kind of content I needed to be creating as it relates to my own honesty about how I view myself.”
When someone chooses to share bits and pieces of themselves from such a genuine point of view, it has the ability to resonate with so many. The world’s view of plus size women is still evolving. Black, plus-size women were beautiful before Lizzo came around, but unfortunately society picks and chooses who the acceptable fat girl can be. Lizzo, yes; Gabourey Sidibe, not so much. It is an empowering moment to watch a Black, queer, round woman affirm her beauty and her body, despite society’s unattainable standards.
CeeJaye’s advocacy doesn’t stop there. She aims to create a space for people who don’t fit into the Instagram standard of what is considered popular and viral worthy. “I’m an artist who will work with all people, even those whom I may not share the same beliefs with. But my first love, my muse, my passion is within the queer and visibly fat community. I used to want to be in that clique of IG artists who’ve gone viral, but I realized that it wasn’t truly who I am. I don’t do makeup in that style, my subjects aren’t these kinds of people. I wanted to do work that I felt put good out into the world, not make someone question their own appearance. That’s what I feel that lots of internet viral artists do and so, I very much turn away from that lane.”
CeeJaye may not know it, but she is challenging everyone to see the beauty in themselves, as she puts hers on display. Both the photo and the caption are dripping with an authentic beauty that can only inspire others to find grace in how they view themselves.