Miss Jamaica is the natural-haired beauty queen of our dreams!

I believe what Davina understood was not for others to accept the natural beauty of traditional black features but for the black population as a whole to accept and learn to love and celebrate themselves. 

Davina Bennett. That name means more than a beauty pageant winner. I believe at this very moment Miss Bennett is still trying to come to terms with the enormity of her achievements. I remember when I got the news Miss Jamaica had made it to the top 3 in the running to win Miss Universe 2017. I admittedly had not been paying much attention to the competition until I saw her picture. There she was, a true representation of what it means to be a beautiful, black woman. Her hair defied gravity. Her skin, smoothly deep brown, glowed with life and luster. A proud, beautiful, (and in my opinion the most well-spoken on that stage) Jamaican woman was competing in an overwhelmingly Eurocentric beauty pageant and could very well win the crown. I was so overwhelmed with emotion. I immediately sent my Jamaican-born mother a picture. She sent me this in response, "I like the fact that she wears her hair naturally... she is a natural beauty indeed.. The world is going to get used to black, beautiful women embracing themselves and not trying to be something they're not."

I couldn't have said it better, mom. I don't doubt for a second Davina did not face backlash for wearing her hair in it's natural state. I quickly skimmed through a couple of her posts on Instagram and the comments under them contained support as well as disapproval of her natural hair. It was disheartening to see it as some people genuinely wanted her to win but felt her hair not being straightened would ruin her chances. But, she kept getting through, and then something magical happened. The doubters began to accept the fact that she was indeed beautiful just as she was. She didn't need to lighten her skin, change her features, or straighten her hair. They began to realize that afro beauty was in fact beautiful. I'm not sure if she knew the weight of symbolism she carried by her probably everyday state of being. With the natural hair movement growing rapidly, this was probably the one major step the world needed to see in order to prove, as my mother said, that black women were indeed embracing themselves as they naturally were.

Growing up in Jamaica, I went to school and formed friendships with hundreds of girls that looked just like Davina. She is what an average Jamaican woman looks like and I say that with the highest praise. Jamaican women are beautiful, full of pride for their culture, have glowing personalities, and probably the whitest teeth you'll ever see (I'm not kidding). But I couldn't help but notice the fascination many of my classmates had with long, loose curls and brownin' skin. I always found it so confusing because I could clearly see many of them were far more beautiful than the very women they idolized. But things are improving and black women are embracing their beauty. I believe we are getting very close to a point where beauty will be judged based on just what it is and not based on some preconceived notion of what someone tells you is beautiful. So the next time you see a woman with her natural coils and curls, make it a point to let her know how beautiful she looks and how much you love her hair.



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