Why having black beauty queens with natural curls matters

In a country that celebrates the individual, authenticity is now among our most valued qualities. (The Miss USA tagline is “Confidently beautiful,” but even the pageant defines that to mean being “the best version of you .”)

Yet despite that kind of encouragement, authenticity is most celebrated when its expression falls within a narrow band of the mainstream — which is still regularly assumed to be white. Often, when people of color are being “authentic,” it is still read as otherness, a negative interpretation ripe for social stigmatization.

By Christine Emba 2019

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