The natural hair movement scores another victory as the stunner from Connecticut becomes the first black woman to win the pageant wearing unstraightened hair.
Kaleigh Garris has become a symbol.
Not only was the 18-year-old from Connecticut crowned Miss Teen USA, she became the first black woman to win the pageant while wearing her natural hair. People who know what this means on social media can’t stop raving about Garris, a theater student in her senior year at Joseph A. Foran High School in Milford who hopes to become a trauma nurse one day.
In recent years, we’ve seen more pageant contestants embrace their natural hair. Starting with Deshauna Barber who became the first woman to rock natural hair in the Miss USA franchise and spoke about the discrimination she faced.
Black or Afro-Latina women who wear their Afro-textured natural hair without straightening it have been traditionally and generally considered anywhere from less attractive to unprofessional, inappropriate or unclean by the powers that be. There are now laws banning hair prejudice with regard to hiring, renting, etc. Last February, New York City’s Human Rights Commission decreed the act of targeting people with natural hair as racial discrimination. The guideline is intended to assist individuals legally who’ve been demoted, punished, threatened and/or harassed because of their hair. Most recently, California’s state senate announced the C.R.O.W.N. Act (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair), stating that most grooming and professional standards in workspaces are based on Euro-centric standards.
Popular media and pageants such as Miss Teen USA are responsible for defining beauty ideals surrounding skin color and features, and this is one step closer to proper representation. Kaleigh Garris proves (again) that any hair texture and style can look elegant, just add the dress!
Fans are emotional, check them out:
The Curly Girl Collective, the team in charge of the NYC Curl Fest, joined in to show some love.
Many were excited to see the queen get crowned in real life.