Saturday, June 8

Miss USA almost didn’t compete with her hair natural after overhearing criticism.

Miss USA Cheslie Kryst recently won one of the top beauty pageants in the United States, but as the daughter of an African-American mother and a white father, she says she wasn’t always sure she had the look — or the hair — of a beauty queen.“When I first started, I wasn't sure who could win,” Kryst said in an interview with the Yahoo News show “Through Her Eyes.”“I wasn't sure what that winner looked like,” she continued. “And I wasn't sure if there was sort of a one-note look that was always successful, because I hadn't seen very many women with naturally curly hair competing.”Kryst described overhearing a particularly pointed remark that made her doubt her ability to compete with natural hair."I remember I was watching a competition, and a woman was wearing an Afro,” she recalled. “They were like, ‘I really liked her, but I just wish she would've flat ironed her hair.’ And I just thought, Maybe I can't do that either. Maybe I can't wear my natural hair.”Although Kryst now exudes confidence onstage, she said it took time for her to reckon with her biracial identity as a child growing up in North Carolina.“It was hard to figure out what my identity was because I grew up in a time when we didn't have ‘mixed race’ or ‘biracial’ as a choice on those boxes that asked you to identify what your race was,” she said. “You could be black, white or other.”“Eventually, I learned to just identify as a black woman. I still identify as a black woman.”Kryst made history when she was named Miss USA on May 2, becoming one of three African-American women to be crowned Miss USA, Miss America or Miss Teen USA in the same year. She now says she sees a gradual cultural shift in the way women of colour and natural hair are perceived, reflecting what she describes as “new standards for beauty.”“It's a slow trend, but I think we're getting there.”

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