To ‘fro or Not to ‘fro… that is the question that most women of color who are joining beauty pageants would ask.
Wearing one’s Afro is akin to wearing a personal badge of honor. It can be viewed as taking ownership to your roots and celebrating diversity in beauty. Wearing your curls can be a statement unto itself. It takes a uber-confident woman to walk onstage with her ‘fro. Sporting one’s afro is powerful.
One of the best illustrations of this is when Miss Italy Denny Mendez competed and became the first woman of color to win the title. She wore her Afro like a crown despite criticisms that she wasn’t “white enough” for the title. Denny competed in Miss Universe with that same hair and went on to make it into the final 6. It was quite a surprise to not have seen her among the top 3 back in 1997.
One of the major disadvantage of having the afro is its ability to take attention to itself. In most cases people would not pay attention to the candidate’s face. The afro in itself is attention grabbing. A beautiful face could easily get second fiddle to that huge tangle of hair and this could lead to a disadvantage in scoring. This however didn’t deter Miss USA 2017 Kara McCullough. She wore her hair in curls though with much more tamed and less kinky curls. Same with Miss France Alicia Aylies whose gorgeous face is framed by her curls.
Most pageant coaches and trainors would advise girls to tame their curls into simpler waves or sport long straight hair. That is what is termed as the ‘pageant look’. But this practice should be not be encouraged as every girl should sport the hair that is both comfortable to her and one that shows off her best.
IMHO, wearing the afro is a choice that each pageant girl of color have to make. There is no wrong or right choice, just YOUR choice. If your afro help you celebrate you then you should definitely give it a go. In the end it all boils down to choice.