The Standard of Beauty Redefined: Former and New Miss USA Crowned in Natural Hair

Photo Credit: Newsday

By now we know that natural hair is more than just a trend. Trends come and go, and are usually a temporary expression influenced by pop culture. The substance behind the natural hair movement is what keeps it going and growing. More than a fashion trend, many black women are transitioning into their natural hair as a way of liberation in a society that criminalizes black hair… yes you read that right, young women both in the U.S. and overseas were either suspended from school, humiliated by teachers, or worse handcuffed for protesting for the right to wear their hair in its natural state; that’s when reality sunk in, this natural hair thing is more than a thing – it’s a powerful force requiring society to accept black women in their natural state. Not to mention the U.S. military natural hair restrictions that caused so much uproar from the natural hair community, the military was forced to change its policy to be inclusive of natural hair.

There are countless reasons why black women in droves are wearing their hair natural, some simply desire to be chemical free as a healthier way of living, some rebel against the false standard that praises straight hair as the standard of beauty, and some wear their hair natural as nothing more than a personal preference. The reasons behind the former and current Miss USA decision to wear their hair natural has helped to officially redefine the standard of beauty in what better way than on the national stage of the Miss USA “beauty” pageant.

According to the news following the Miss USA pageant, the former Miss USA Deshauna Barber wore her hair natural to honor her mother who recently passed away. Before the new Miss USA winner was named, Deshauna announced she was wearing her natural hair as a tribute to her mother’s own hair. Her reason left many women in tears and the emotional reaction from women on Twitter further proved that natural hair is more than a trend but also an emotionally and psychologically empowering movement.

Let’s talk about emotional and psychological empowerment…

For too long many black women have suppressed their emotions about natural hair, I’ve personally heard natural hair women share stories of being afraid to go natural in fear that their natural hair was ugly, in fear of not getting a job, or in fear of being undesirable by men, and the list goes on. All suppressed emotions that so many women still fight today. Even the current Miss USA who stated “When I chose to wear my hair curly, I was afraid. I didn’t know if people were going to accept it…”

There have been many huge moments where black women have redefined beauty by wearing their natural hair, Viola Davis on the red carpet at the 2012 Oscars, and recent sightings of former First Lady Michelle Obama wearing natural hair, to name a few. Yet the de-crowning of a Black woman wearing natural hair only to crown another Black woman wearing natural hair was symbolic, uplifting, and an official way of redefining the standard of beauty in both the pageant world and the real world.  

Better Destination Media, Inc

Audrey Woodley is Brand Therapist who helps women identify solutions to their brand challenges. She uses new-age problem-solving tactics, proven strategies and customized solutions to help women build and sustain a successful brand.

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Walker's Legacy is a growing global women in business collective founded to establish networks of empowerment and access for women of color in business.