|Natural locked beauty in the hunt for pageant crown|
Guardian Lifestyles Reporter
Published: Jul 13, 2012
Most people bow to the European standard that is supposed to depict beauty — long, straight tresses, flawless, fair skin and a rail-thin body. But one contestant vying for one of two of the country’s most prestigious crowns — Miss World Bahamas and Miss Bahamas Universe — isn’t buying into it. Kahtura Fernander is standing tall in the mix of 14 young ladies, most of whom are sporting hair weaves, with locked braids that dangle midway down her back. Fernander is a rarity to the country’s beauty pageant scene.
“I am inspired to be in the beauty pageant just the way I am — no extensions, fake nails or overdone make-up,” said the brown-skinned 21-year-old who stands a modest five feet six inches and weighs in at 114 pounds.
“I am not threatened by not being the modern ideal of beauty. I do not want to be just another girl who fades into the background with the others. I want to stand out and show that embracing being black and natural is beautiful and we don’t have to change to be accepted. If more of us did this, natural hair in pageants would be the norm. I would love to see when we truly represent ourselves and the beauty we have here in our pageants rather than wondering what others think of our brand of beauty,” she said.
During her childhood she said she viewed on television what people thought beauty is supposed to be, but said she did not buy into it.
“There was no way that being pretty meant I had to be light-skinned, thin and have long straight or loosely wavy hair. To me, being beautiful is firstly accepting who you are no matter what you look like and embracing the possibilities it presents. God made us to look a certain way so I am proud to be who I am. I will not change that, not even for a pageant.”
She took the first bold step to grow her locks when she was just 14 years old and still in junior school. It was a decision that she found herself having to defend over the years to other adults in her life.
“I am the type of person who can show you better than I can tell you. So just like in high school when I had to prove that despite my hair I was serious about my education by excelling in all I did I have to do it again when it comes to proving to other young ladies that beauty is more than a two-dimensional look,” she said.
Because she wanted to maintain her natural hair, she had to deal with being called “picky-headed” over the years, and being told that she wouldn’t amount to anything because she did not want to conform by relaxing her hair.
According to Fernander, there are still people who ask her what she will do with her hair now that she has entered the pageant and whether she intends to cut it. She doesn’t.
“This is me and I am comfortable with how I look. Because of that even if I don’t win I want to make a point that we should be who we want to be and really represent ourselves accordingly. The Bahamian woman is beautiful without trying. We don’t send girls like that to the international pageant nowadays even though we have so many people that look like me, so I want to change that. I want to give us a choice as well as represent another kind of beauty we have in our country.”
Being among the 14 young ladies vying for the crown of Miss Bahamas on Sunday, July 29 at the Atlantis Resort, the natural beauty said she is excited to see the impact her stance will have on other young ladies who are not yet brave enough to don their natural tresses for local beauty competitions. She said there is no shame in showcasing natural hair, and she hopes to inspire more young women to embrace their natural appearances rather than give in to the European ideal of what beauty is.
Even though the norm for contestants entering the beauty pageants is to relax, straighten or wear faux hair if they didn’t already naturally have it, Fernander was surprised how easy it was for her to enter the pageant. Fernander said she was accepted by everyone despite her unconventional look.
Because she was, she wonders why so many young women are eager to change who they are to be in the pageant when they would have been accepted as they were.
No matter the pageant’s outcome for her is, Fernander said she is proud to have been a part of it because she has learnt a lot about beauty and is meeting people she would not have met had she not entered. She said just being in the pageant is an experience of a lifetime that she would gladly like to tell her children about. She hopes what she did will also be able to inspire them to also reach for the stars and be content in who they are despite what they look like.
She will be providing the support to her future female children that her family provided to her. Fernander comes from a family that loves natural tresses. Most of the female members in her family have natural hair, including her mother, grandmother and aunts.
Fernander’s platform for the pageant is to promote higher self-confidence among young people. She hopes to achieve this by establishing ongoing programs that will feature lectures, self-esteem exercises and lessons on beauty and etiquette in urban communities should she win.
The C.C. Sweeting Senior School graduate has completed an associate degree in architecture at The College of The Bahamas. If she wins she hopes to achieve her goals to reach out to youngsters around her. If she doesn’t she will continue her academic journey for a masters degree in architecture in August.
Miss Bahamas Organization events
Sportswoman Fast Track competition
When: July 8
Time: 4 p.m.
Where: Thomas A. Robinson Stadium
Bahamas Top Model Competition
When: July 15
Time: 4 p.m.
Where: Compass Point
When: July 21
When: July 22
Where: Mario’s Bowling and Family Entertainment Palace
Evening Gown/Talent Competitions
When: July 26
Time: 8 p.m.
Where: Atlantis Theatre
Miss Bahamas Beauty pageant
When: July 29
Where: Atlantis Theatre