The hardest part, for me, about going natural was acceptance from loved ones-especially my hubby. I did my first BC in 2009, and truth be told, the look of shock and disappointment on my DH face and his comments really hurt me. Even though I liked it and received compliments from others, I felt unattractive after that and resorted to wearing twists/braids to encourage growth.
Natasha is beautiful and I have compassion for the personal issues that she spoke about in her notes for this challenge. But, this look was unfortunately my least favorite look in this challenge. Since this is a competition, it’s important to understand that, no matter what, you have to put your best face forward. As a model, if you are not “feeling it”… stop, take a breath, pull it together and concentrate on something positive to get your best shot. Unfortunately, her attention was not there in her expressions or the makeup application. What can be learned from role models like Iman is this: Find the inspiration within to exude confidence, poise and sophistication at all times and remember…Keep your head up, even when the going gets rough.
Jalita did a literal interpretation of the challenge and definitely had the help of a very “eager” makeup artist to achieve her look. The one thing I would suggest is not to take a theme over the top. A heavy makeup application and intense accessories can overwhelm the softer side of a model’s face and features. No matter how dramatic the theme is, don’t let the clothes, makeup or accessories wear YOU. I had to go back to previous challenges to remember what Jalita’s soft, pretty featured actually looked like. For the future, don’t forget that your real beauty always needs to shine through.
I liked Carli’s explanation about how she approached this challenge – wanting to create “approachable yet fierce beauty”. That really was the essence of Iman’s inspiration look. What I would suggest is that whenever you get an opportunity to select pictures that will represent you, ONLY choose the very best ones. More is not always better. Each image is so dramatically different, that it looks like they are completely different shoots, different lighting, different makeup application and different accessories. It almost looks like 3-4 different models. But fortunately, there were 2 or 3 very good images which show off Carli’s beautiful skin and hair, styling, creativity, good application of makeup, great eye contact and a connection with the camera. The photos that were shot outdoors were especially beautiful.
ReShonda, for me, did the very best job on this challenge. I was very inspired by the thoughts she expressed in her challenge notes. I think that’s what this competition is all about…overcoming false stereotypes about what is beautiful and being proud and confident enough to own your beauty and let yourself shine. RaShonda has beautiful full features and she knew exactly how to play them up. Her use of the makeup was naturally elegant. She did a gorgeous smoky eye and soft lip, and her skin looks radiant. I like that she used a little bit of the animal print accent in her wardrobe, but she made it her own with whimsical earrings that seem to match her vibrant personality. I also like that she did her own interpretation of Iman’s smooth bang, but worked it with the texture of her own natural hair. The most important thing that stands out to me is her expressive smile and eye contact. She really connected with the camera and looks like she had a lot of fun on this shoot.
Nerfertiti admitted in her challenge notes that she was a novice with makeup, but she did a respectable job in her application. The look was pretty and I like that she let some of her natural hair peek out from the head wrap. Here are some suggestions: Even if you are not good at makeup, learn to master your eyebrows. Nicely shaped and groomed brows always look more pulled together, even with a clean face. I would also suggest working on being more confident in front of the camera, work on body language, eye contact and mastering subtle facial expressions. The last suggestion is, if you can help it, try not to shoot in front of a backdrop that matches your skin tone. You want to stand out and make a statement in your images, not blend into the background.
Kala has a very pretty, great face, great hair and a soft, natural look. She spoke very well about the IMAN product line in her notes. But the smoky eye that she described did not appear in her photographs. For this challenge I would have liked to see her take it a step further and give a little more drama, sophistication and intensity. The look was nice, the hair was gorgeous…but the makeup and styling felt a little casual for this challenge.
Chassity’s image is a classic beauty shot. She has a great even skin tone, beautiful almond eyes, high cheekbones, full lips and symmetrical features. So this is a great look. But my biggest critique is that I didn’t see much connection to the challenge, in terms of interpreting the Iman inspiration look. It doesn’t look like this image was created for this challenge. But Chassity is a very photogenic model with a commercial look that should take her far.
I give Desyray tremendous credit for creating this look herself. It was well executed, good use of color, great application, beautiful smoky eye. The shoot images looked very professional, well styled, good attention to details. For competitions, I would be mindful of over-retouching. It’s important for your natural features to be seen. But with or without that, these were nice images. The only thing I didn’t like in this shoot was the hat. It didn’t go with the theme and it covered up the thing that is an important feature of this competition…beautiful natural hair. With such a pretty face, I wanted to also see beautiful hair, even if it was just a little peek of it. But, apart from that it was nicely done.
Karen Chambers is the Creative Director of IMAN Cosmetics, where she oversees communications, product development and creative services for the internationally recognized cosmetics and skincare line. More about Miss Chambers click here: Karen Chambers
Karen Chambers is the Creative Director of IMAN Cosmetics, where she oversees communications, product development and creative services for the internationally recognized cosmetics and skincare line. Ms. Chambers is an alumna of Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication. She is also a member of CEW (Cosmetics Executive Women) and was named one of the beauty industry’s leading women by Upscale Magazine. Her product launches have earned IMAN Cosmetics a coveted OPRAH Magazine “O” Award and an ESSENCE Magazine Award for Product of the Year.
I have always admired women and men who wore their hair naturally. But, I spent most of my adult life trying to fit into the mainstream ideal of beauty. Long hair, fake nails, and the latest style of clothing… was what I lived for. No matter how much money I spent, what hairstyle I got, how long my weave was – I was never happy with myself. I remember thinking, why do I keep getting these weaves? Because I don’t feel beautiful with them. But I keep doing it. I felt the pressure from my corporate job to fit in. And I felt the pressure from some of the people around me, to try and achieve that long beautiful flowing hair that most magazines and commercials promote daily. In the end, none of that matters. If that’s is what makes you happy, then go for it. For me, I felt like I was living a lie.
So I started to tune in to the people around me, that did have natural, unpermed hair. I began to research dreadlocks / loc’s to find out more information. And with the support of my husband, I decided to stop perming my hair. To stop spending tons of money on weaves. To stop letting hair stylist put harmful chemicals in my hair. And to stop allowing myself to be untrue to who I am. And part of me knew that I needed and wanted the freeness of having natural hair. But I denied myself from locking my hair because of my fear of losing my corporate job or never being able to get ahead in my career because of it. Or just the idea of constantly being judged or being rejected, scared me. Then I realized, that I am a beautiful African American woman that did not need the fake hair, fake nails, or latest fashion to be beautiful. If I was rejected at work or by any one else, for being myself, then that job or person was not meant to be a part of my life. I had to stop and think about my inner beauty – I didn’t have to buy it, I already had it in me. I just needed to accept who I was and let the rest follow.
When my hair started to loc, I felt this amazing joy. I felt like I was awakened from this dark place and there was just light. I felt beautiful, sexy, real, empowered and like I was finally being honest with myself, as to whom I really am. I have loc’s. I love and cherish them… and I will be loc’d for life! My epiphany has made me want to share my story with others. I want to reach out to those that may not have that support system. And to let them know how wonderful it is to let go of that need to be someone were not. Naturally beautiful is the way to be… now, always and forever.
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Let the good times roll! It’s Mardi Gras season and I’ve got to look fresh! That’s why I’m so glad about this challenge… I got to test out Karen’s Body Beautiful Conditioning Shampoo… and model it around down town New Orleans!