- On Sunday, Kaliegh Garris was named Miss Teen USA 2019 while wearing her natural curls.
- The former Miss Connecticut told Refinery29 that her hairstyle makes her feel “unique,” and that she hopes to “spread the message of diversity” with her title.
- Garris is the third model to wear a natural hairstyle during a Miss Teen USApageant.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
On Sunday, Kaliegh Garris was named Miss Teen USA 2019 at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno, Nevada. The former Miss Connecticut Teen USA received her crown and sash while wearing her natural curls.
Garris is the first winner since 1999 to wear a natural hairstyle at the pageant. She was crowned by Hailey Colborn, who held the Miss Teen USA title in 2018, and Sarah Rose Summers, Miss USA 2018.
Speaking to Refinery29, Garris said she started relaxing her hair at the age of 6, but was later inspired by a friend to go natural.
“When I was younger, I debated if it was the right thing,” Garris told Refinery29. “But as I’ve gotten older, it makes me feel unique.”
Now, as Miss Teen USA 2019, Garris is hoping to change the stereotypical beauty ideals expected of pageant contestants.
“As Miss Connecticut Teen USA, there are girls who would look at me in awe because they have always had the image of straight hair in pageants,” Garris told Refinery29.
“Being able to spread the message of diversity, being yourself, and being confident in your curly, natural hair is something that I’m really looking forward to with my new national title,” she continued.
Prior to Garris, only two Miss Teen USA winners were crowned while wearing natural hairstyles.
The most recent was in 1999, when Ashley Coleman, Miss Delaware Teen USA, received the crown.
Earlier in 1991, Janel Bishop became the first woman crowned Miss Teen USA while wearing a natural hairstyle. She previously won Miss New Hampshire Teen 1991.
Representatives for Kaliegh Garris didn’t immediately respond to INSIDER’s request for comment.
- Read more:
- 37 showstopping looks from the Miss USA pageant over the years
- Here’s how Miss America, Miss USA, and Miss Universe are different
- People are obsessing over Michelle Obama’s hair on the cover of Essence
- Tyra Banks showed off her natural hair on Instagram – and people are loving it
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