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Miss Teen USA 2019 Explains Choice to Compete Sporting Natural Hair

“Over time I just embraced who I was,” Garris said.

Miss Teen USA 2019 Explains Choice to Compete Sporting Natural Hair
Credit: YouTube

Kaliegh Garris was crowned Miss Teen USA 2019 at the end of April. She spoke about her decision to wear her natural hair during the pageant while on CBS This Morning on Tuesday.

“Growing up in pageantry, I would straighten my hair. . . I thought I had to do that physically,” the 18-year-old said. “But as I grew up, I realized I can do that while being myself and still be powerful. So over time I just embraced who I was.”

Garris also explained that a part of her early desire to straighten her curls, was because she idolized her mother, who is Caucasian with straight blonde hair. She eventually learned to embrace her biracial identity and the power that came with representing other mixed race people.

“It means a lot,” Garris said about her win and the national attention she received for her wearing her afro-textured hair.

“I’m getting messages from moms of biracial kids and kids themselves that are biracial and girls that are scared to wear their hair naturally,” the teen pageant winner revealed. “They’re saying that I had been a big influence on their lives and that they’re going to wear their hair naturally or that they’re just more proud to be themselves.”

Garris was joined on the morning show by 2019’s Miss USA Cheslie Kryst and Miss America Nia Franklin. The three women also discussed their collective honor of being the first group of Black women to wear the crowns of the top three national pageants at the same time in history.

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