I tried out for the Miss Nappturality 2009 but unfortunately I did not make it. I was indecisive on whether I should apply again this year. I had so many doubts of being older and the insecurities of my youth set in. I actually waited until the last minute to submit my information and photos. I justified it in my head in thinking that if I don’t make it again this time it was because I waited too late. Low and behold, I made it! Not only did I make it, I became one of the top 5 finalists.
Throughout this entire competition, I have learned so much about myself, print modeling/photography, and Natural Hair/Skin Products. I have also received an overwhelming out pour of support from my family and friends. This has been an amazing personal journey for me because last year I did not make it as a Top Ten Finalist.
Early on in the competition, I knew I had to play up my strengths and work on improving my weaknesses each week. I found my strength in writing the articles because it felt more natural to me. I have a genuine curiosity of Biology and Human Behavior. I am also a Business Analyst therefore researching the product ingredients and learning about our sponsors wasn’t a stretch for me. I was shocked when I read about the toxicity of the chemicals found in commercial shampoos, soaps, moisturizers and hair relaxers. One could argue there are small amounts of chemicals in these products but when we use them over our life time the condition of our health, hair, and skin become compromised. I will definitely change to organic/natural products for my hair and skin and continue to share my research and product suggestions with others.
I would say my lack of knowledge with Print Modeling and the ins and outs of photography were my weaknesses. I did not have access to professional photographers, stylists and/or make up artists. However, I pride myself on thinking outside of the box and looked for locations around town that no one else would think of. For example, I shot Challenge 3 –Jamaican Mango and Lime in the Butterfly House at the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science. I also took the judges constructive criticism to heart and worked hard to improve every week. I enlisted the help of my neighbor/friend to shoot the majority of my photos with her awesome high powered lens camera. This competition opened my eyes to hotspots, obtaining sharp photos, product placement, photo editing, and natural light vs. artificial light. My knowledge of these things was very limited before the Competition. Now I pay close attention to the details of a photo and when all else fails, I SMILE and bring my personality to each shoot.
The support of my family and friends kept me motivated week after week. A friend of mine and her daughters offered their entire collection of hats and scarves for me to use for Challenge 4. I also had a friend proof read my article (the judges were sticklers on grammar and spelling errors) and another friend meet me on location to help with a photo shoot straight from the airport. I was also so humbled to receive over 80+ votes from family and friends during the free week of voting. I felt very uncomfortable asking them to pay for a subscription just to vote for me for voting sake to obtain a Title. I see no point in having a Title if you are not using it to empower, motivate, and encourage others.
I wish to use this experience to be able to inspire women to change their mentality of thinking relaxed and silky straight is the only way to go. I want to motivate women to embrace their natural beauty and not give into Society’s standard of beauty. Most importantly, I wish to continue educating women on how to care for and maintain their Natural Hair which seems like a lost art now days. I was ecstatic to learn recently two of my friends of have gone through the big chop and my cousin is now rocking her natural hair she had hidden under weaves and wigs for years. I have also had several friends and family members ask for suggestions/recommendations on what natural hair care products they should use. How awesome is that?!!
Win or Lose I wouldn’t trade this experience for the World. I felt I have already won by inspiring others to rethink what True Beauty really means. I am also longing for the day I no longer have to hear…”I love your Hair but I can not go Natural my Hair is too nappy”. Title or not, I am on a mission to open minds to the beauty and versatility of Natural Hair.