Viola Desmond is best known for fighting segregation in Canada when she refused to give up her seat in a "white-only" section of a movie theatre back in 1946. That bold move earned Desmond a spot as the first Canadian woman on the $10 bill. That's the same bill that just earned the title of the World's Best Bank Note for 2018. Desmond wasn't just a woman in the movie theatre though.
While that one night defined Desmond's place in Canadian history, it's likely not how she would define herself. In fact, another title that could be applied to Viola Desmond is Beauty Icon. That's why it's even more fitting that a $10 bill with her face on it was named the most beautiful banknote in the whole world.
As a young, black girl growing up in Nova Scotia, Viola Desmond wanted to be a hairdresser. When she actually tried to apply to beauty school though, she found out that the schools in Nova Scotia didn't accept black students.
Desmond didn't give up on her dream though and instead, she actually defied the odds. When she couldn't pursue her dreams in Nova Scotia, she went to other places like Montreal and New York in order to go to beauty school.
Her determination is beyond incredible, but Desmond didn't stop there. She opened her own hair salon in Halifax and as if being a woman-of-color and business owner wasn't inspiring enough she opened her own beauty school to give others the learning opportunities she had been denied.
The school was called the Desmond School of Beauty Culture. The first class graduated in 1945, one year before Desmond's iconic night at the theatre.
That was only part of her contributions to the beauty community. Nowadays, there are many more options for people of colour when it comes to makeup products thanks to big brands like Fenty, by the one and only Rihanna. Back in the 1940s, it was a different story though.
That's why another major contribution that makes Viola Desmond a beauty icon is her line of beauty products specifically for dark skin tones. The line was called Sepia Beauty Products and according to old photos, it included products like gloss wax, press oil, face powder in the colour "nut brown," and lipsticks in the colour "Black-Red." Each product cost from 35 cents to $2.
While Viola Desmond isn't on the award-winning Canadian banknote for her contributions to the beauty community it is worth noting that she was 100% a beauty icon. Not only were her contributions to equality in Canada nothing short of heroic, but her life's work in providing education, products, and most importantly opportunities to other people of colour is truly inspiring.