A video on Twitter has been making its rounds and creeping up the viral stream recently. This features Caribbean model Gabriela Bernard, who was a model contestant on a reality modeling competition, pleading for production to not perm the natural hair that she'd been growing out for 15 years.
She not only knew herself, but loved herself through her journey with caring for her natural hair. She expressed to the hair team, and the judges, that this message of self acceptance was important to her, as well as her brand. This was the moment the judges, including a Black woman, shamed her for being difficult as they went against her wishes by perming her hair. She was directed to unlearn her personal standards and accept their definition of "professionalism".
The only time the value of your "yes" increases, is when the value of your "no" does.
Yesterday on the blog, we spoke about intention of your art. Intention solidifies your self identity, as well as your standards. If you're a creative trying to break into any kind of industry that puts the power of opinion from the hands of an audience and / or authority in your lap, you need to have a strong hold of your identity, standards, and boundaries.
This is a story of a young Black woman who sold herself for the promise of "getting on". The only time the value of your "yes" increases, is when the value of your "no" does.
Gabby was influenced to remove her standards and abandon her personal boundaries to impress the judges for the idea of what fame would grant her by way of obedience. Remember when Nicki Minaj wouldn't attend a shoot because they promised her pickle juice? The value of her "no" increased the value of her "yes", and now moving forward, the standard of working with her has increased.
If Gabby said "no", it would have emboldened a generation of Black girls who were watching her to lean into their natural hair journey. Her original intention of self love and acceptance would have spoken volumes to decrease the ignorant idea that Black natural hair is unprofessional. Her personal story and journey would have been a game changing incident that put a halt on an industry that tries to drown Black girls out.
Is the end goal of your journey worth what you were willing to pay for it?
I don't write this to shame Gabby and shake a finger at her; in a world that constantly tells us to change everything we are in order to receive good things, it's easy to dive into that. She's a Black woman who made a mistake. However, mistakes are lessons, when we allow them to be! I hope those watching can learn what not to do in a similar situation that may present itself.
And I hope Gabby has re-grown those curls, but ultimately, it's her choice.