What does it mean to be America’s Next Natural Model?
Nappy, Natural, Spirituality are three words that result in strong reactions among women of color and Nappturality combines each into a whole bigger than its parts. Nappturality is indeed a movement and Ms. Nappturality is a brand, but not one in the conventional sense.
Most people are attracted to and stick with a brand because they feel a connection to it. As important as it is to be the face of a community uniting naturals, America’s Next Natural Model must also be open and approachable to those outside of her community. America’s Next Natural Model means being an inspiration to women who are natural and those considering taking the journey. She would say, “It doesn’t matter how you got here, no one’s journey is better than another’s. You’ve made it….welcome.” I believe America’s Next Natural Model is here not to preach to the converted but to provide inspiration and guidance to those not yet taking the natural journey. I’ve inspired women to not only start the journey but to stick to it. I’ve shown that natural can be fierce, fun, cute and sexy, everything that every woman embodies.
Being America’s Next Natural Model means of course being a model as well as a role model. During the competition I have taken in everything that the judges have stated I studied and practiced. A model has to learn on her feet. It takes some strength, flexibility and even bravery to learn on one’s own and grow. As a model America’s Next Natural Model must be experienced and be able to work with various clients and sponsors as well as have the time to dedicate to the job. She must work with their ideas without compromising herself or overshadowing the product. I can bring my experience, openness, positivity and determination to the job. I have the time to dedicate to the title.
Although my natural journey has not been documented for the world to see, I can say that its just as intense, soul searching, and inspiring as anyone else’s. I know that I am not the traditional standard of a model but America’s Next Natural Model doesn’t have to fit a standard, she creates her own. “It’s in the click of my heels, the bend of my hair, the palm of my hand…”
Finally, being America’s Next Natural Model means that one will be influential in the lives of not only women of color but also their children’s lives and future generations by promoting natural products and alternatives with every promotion, photo and appearance. Also appearing in various advertisements as successful, fun, happy and healthy sends a message to women saying, “See natural hair can be professional, it can be sexy, it can be youthful, and yes it is beautiful.” (Quote exerted from “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou)
Why do you think this updo represents Miss Nappturality?
Your natural hair is your crown. This style represents a crown inspired by Africa, nature and my family. Attempting to find additional inspiration, I came across a photo of beautiful African women with hair in a combination of dreads and braids. One had a strand of hair loosely looped across her forehead with beads in the middle. That image stayed with me. I loved the fact that she looked so happy, carefree and regal in all her natural glory. She couldn’t care less about silky strands, she was beautiful and she knew it. On occasion my mother, who has had dreads for 12 years now, describes her youth in which the girls would grudgingly have to press their hair with a hot comb and on off days they’d happily wear their hair in what they called “pig nipples” otherwise known as Bantu Knots. Bantu knots are a natural timeless style worn internationally. I also love nature and wanted to represent it with lines and forms representing tree branches and the curves of rivers. Lastly, I wanted to create something that you don’t have to be a stylist to do yourself. I love this style because it showcases Bantu knots, twists and cornrows which are the staples of natural hairstyles and most importantly can be worn not only by women who have natural curls and thick afro hair but also women with dreads like my mom. Ms. Nappturality represents all natural women so a style that can be worn by women with various types of natural hair definitely represents Miss Nappturality.
The first style is cornrowed updo with ends in two-strand twists gathered and loosely twisted atop the head to show the natural texture of the waves and curls of the hair. The front is styled with four Bantu knots over two braided looped strands that adorn the forehead. I parted the crown section of my hair with a circular part and secured it with a hair clip. That section was parted horizontally the way you’d part as if creating a bang. It too was secured with a hair clip to keep it out of the way. I made curved parts and parts that branched off and cornrowed hair upward from nape to toward the crown. The ends of the cornrowed hair were loosely two-strand twisted then gathered and loosely twisted together around the top of the head with the hair that was left out. This was secured in place with hair pins. The front that was parted the way you would part to create a bang was then sectioned into 4 squares. To the first two squares I braided half the hair into two single braids and the other half created two Bantu knots. I pinned the Bantu knots down and over the braids. I created two Bantu knots with the other two square sections. The ends of the braids were looped across the forehead then pinned under those Bantu knots.
A part of my definition for Nappturality is versatility. The style was transformed into a funky asymmetrical sculpted hairstyle by undoing the Bantu knots and braids at the front and undoing the loosely twisted hair at the top then twisting these parts together loosely from back to front along the top of the head and pinning it down into place. Very cool!
This photo displays the back of both styles.
Sometimes natural hair can make it hard to wear a fitted hat but this one does the job well. Hats are the perfect accessories to take an outfit to the next level and there’s nothing like combining a vintage inspired hat with your own personal style. This gray and black cloche (bell-shaped) hat by Gabriel Amar of Frank Olive Hats brings a retro and modern feel. Frank Olive Hats by Gabriel Amar are one of a kind couture hats. Perfect for spring, summer and fall, the cloche is an excellent investment.
On a side Note: There will be a 2-part Exhibit at the Louisville Science Center entitled “Hats! Reflections in Time” displaying designs by Frank Olive Hats and headed by Gabriel Amar. Past methods in hatmaking and design will be showcased. Attending this would be a worthwhile experience for the natural fashionista.
Photography: Eric Snell of E. Snell Design
Hair & Make up: Timolin Jeffers