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Miss Teen USA on being biracial

"I'm black and I'm also white. And I'm happy being both." Miss Teen USA explains her journey to embracing her racial identity.

Miss Teen USA 2019 makes history

Kaliegh Garris, who is Miss Teen USA 2019, made history as 1 of 5 women of color holding crowns in the major beauty pageants. While many media headlines announced it was "5 black women" who'd been crowned, Garris says navigating her own racial identity was more complex. Garris explains, “Because growing up, I obviously can't pass as a white woman. But I obviously don't know if I could fully pass as a black woman.” Throughout her childhood, she never really knew where she fit in.

Embracing racial identity

Garris learned how to embrace her natural hair years prior to competing in Miss Teen USA. In the past, she wanted nothing more than to fit in. Garris elaborates, “I started getting keratin treatments in my hair because my mom had long blond straight hair and I wanted to be exactly like her.” Eventually, it was her friends who gave her the push she needed to cut her hair and truly start being herself. Now, Garris doesn’t hesitate to boast about her natural hair. “Personally, I love my curly hair. It makes me feel just completely myself and it's very me. I love being big. So it's just something that I've really grown into myself,” she tells Brut.

Inspiring future generations

Now she wants to empower young people to find their own identity. She encourages others explaining, “It's going to take time, but you will find your place, because I know growing up, I was always unsure of where I belonged, what table to sit at, who my friends were. And now I know I can be friends with whoever I want. And it doesn't matter what they identify as, what I identify as.” By sharing her story with her new title and influence, she has the opportunity to inspire thousands of young girls to step out of their comfort zone. “Because at the end of the day, we're people and we can be friends. And so it's going to take time to fully come into yourself. But that's OK. And you'll find it,” she concludes.

Brut.

01/28/2020 7:38 PMupdated: 01/28/2020 7:50 PM
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41 comments

  • Dre G.
    a day

    she put us on the map b😂😂😂😂

  • Diggy M.
    2 days

    You blk my baby 🗣

  • Jumana A.
    2 days

    So why the American society make it so difficult on children and teens when they’re mixed race? Don’t they simply just be what the father is?

  • Jose L.
    2 days

    She bad bad

  • Leigh C.
    3 days

    She's so pretty 😍

  • Gillianne R.
    3 days

    Your not white nor black. You are just a beautiful human.

  • Luis L.
    3 days

    she looks like you

  • Summer R.
    4 days

    Love the natural hair !!!!!!!!! 😍😍😍😍😍 please make it comeback 😭😭😭

  • Barbara J.
    4 days

    You’re beautiful

  • Cathy G.
    02/08/2020 18:13

    She's spectacular! Great inspiration for other young women too!

  • Nichole M.
    02/06/2020 15:15

    You absolutely can pass for a black woman.. End of story.. super cute. Congrats

  • Arianyi G.
    02/05/2020 22:24

    No la verdad

  • Misael F.
    02/05/2020 22:08

    siento que ella tiene un parecido con halondra

  • Marie S.
    02/03/2020 14:55

    Your a coloured woman and beautiful!

  • Lynda F.
    02/01/2020 02:21

    She's adorable!

  • Asma D.
    01/31/2020 15:26

    metiss

  • Alina C.
    01/31/2020 09:54

    Remind me again, why do we have / need these pageants where women affirm their worth in a way that excludes the majority of the gender? Yeah, accepting yourself as biracial is cool. But beauty contests should be a thing if the past by now. Why are you endorsing them? Have you heard of intersectionality?

  • Ian M.
    01/31/2020 08:05

    Fantastic smile who cares about your colour you will break hearts. 🥰

  • Karen K.
    01/31/2020 02:31

    She is so vibrant and beautiful and kind. Her parents must be so proud. Her Smile is Stunning!

  • Zuhura V.
    01/30/2020 18:31

    How old is she?