Okay! To begin, I just want to say that there's so many angles to cover but here's some thoughts.
Here's what we really need to address, pageant hair! But in the Caribbean though...or maybe The Bahamas. No, wait, on black women in the Caribbean but specifically, The Bahamas. Yes, that's what I mean.
If it's one thing I love about pageantry, it's the pageant glam. A great beat and hair slay will have your confidence on 10 and owning the stage. That's how it should be! Your overall styling at a competition separates you from the contestants. But here's my problem. I don't think that The Bahamas has shown enough appreciation for black hair in pageantry. I mean real glorious 4C hair. Which in turn, has made it so that pageants in The Bahamas lack the diversity that black women have. But it's not completely their fault. I mean, we see on social media, black women chastised for wearing extensions and anything else to enhance their beauty and told to instead embrace their natural selves. I'm all for natural BUT it seems like there are rules and regulations as to when it should apply and people forget to keep that same energy in the pageant world.
How are we really breaking barriers when women don't feel comfortable enough to rock their fro, short haircut, bald look, a pixie cut, dread locs or braids. Okay, don't mix me up ( At this point, what is proper English?), I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with a weave because me? Oh, I live for a laid frontal, (shameless plug, Salon360 Beauty is my go to) BUT I think that women in The Bahamas participating in pageantry should feel certainty and confidence to say, "Well, I don't know. I could slay this frontal but a twist out would be bomb with this gown." Cause you know, OPTIONS! Also, I know some of you may say that straight/wavy hair is just so much more elegant than natural hair but by whose standards???
If you want things normalized, normalize it!
Black hair should be celebrated and the reason I think that women have their reservations with owning it in the local pageant is because, they've seen a handful of women go natural but never win (this varies with different factors involved but still relevant). Kinky hair can be and is glam. Some of our faves on the international stage have rocked looks that we've loved and we've felt so proud of their choice to embrace their natural but when will we truly encourage it here locally? Anyway, here's a short series of black queens who did what needed to be done both locally and internationally. Notable mentions, Miss Universe Bahamas 2015, Toria-Nicole Penn, Miss Bahamas Universe 2018 contestant, Ianthe Kellman, and more!
Serena Greene, 1st RU (left) Shelly Elisee, 2nd RU (right) - Miss World Bahamas 2018
Roxan Smith Top 10 - Miss Bahamas Universe 2019
Kaci Fennell - Top 5 - Miss Universe (Miss Universe Jamaica 2014)
Sanneta Myrie - Top 5 - Miss World (Miss World Jamaica 2015)
Dee-Ann Kentish-Rodgers - Top 20 - Miss Universe (Miss Universe Great Britain) (She was also the first black woman to represent Great Britain at Miss Universe.)
Davina Bennett - 2nd RU - Miss Universe (Miss Universe Jamaica)
And of course, the woman who made history with her kinky haircut and shared why it was important for young girls to take up space, Zozibini Tunzi - Miss Universe 2019 (South Africa)
Whew! Do you all see what I'm saying? This should become a norm for us. Black hair should be celebrated and encouraged instead of even teen girls opting for extensions and sleek ponytails or buns. I've had my own conflict with this even as a pageant coach. Like I said before, I love wearing extensions but braids are so beautiful, long lasting and protective. My worry though was that people wouldn't view my expertise or appearance as professional both locally and internationally. Then I realized that hair, all hair should be normalized. If people aren't use to seeing it, it needed to be done more often because it didn't take away from my skill set or how I did business.
Case and point.
Let me clarify, I don't think that organizations are walking around saying, "We don't want a natural hair queen." Absolutely not. But would we, (The Bahamas), be ready for one? I mean for real, can you count on your neighbor to not be ignorant and cheer on a black woman from The Bahamas on the international stage with either a fro or locs? For real, I said. We give our winners a hard time e v e r y year based on other criteria we felt weren't met so imagine a queen who decides to be diverse with her look.
Could we try for once to show out for our reps at these pageants despite how we feel? No aye?
I encourage women to express their true selves if they see fit. If you want to wear extensions, that is fine, (cause I sure will, tuh). But you should have the option to do either or without feeling like it could hurt your chances at the crown. As a matter of fact, stop telling women, especially black women what to do with their hair. Let's get use to seeing all types of hair being slayed without limitations!