The new Miss Teen USA was crowned wearing her natural curls and Twitter is rejoicing
On Sunday night, Kaliegh Garris was crowned Miss Teen USA, marking the first time in two decades that the crown was placed on natural hair.
Garris, who beat out runner-up, Miss North Dakota, showed off her natural curls as she joyfully accepted the crown. "The night before, I finger curled every single piece of my hair in the shower, which led to a very long shower, but it was for the greater good," the 18-year-old later told Refinery29.
"I know what I look like with straight hair, with extensions, and with my curly hair, and I feel more confident and comfortable with my natural hair."
Per the Miss Universe Organisation, Garris attends two high schools, the Joseph A. Foran High School in Milford, Connecticut, and the Educational Centre for the Arts, where she specialises in theatre.
The newly crowned Miss Teen USA is also a competitive dancer. She founded the We Are People 1st initiative, which was inspired by her sister, Chauntel, who has multiple disabilities. The organisation aims to combat the stigma that surrounds disability, as well as educate students on how to "respectfully discuss/speak to people with a health issue or disability."
Garris is due to study at Southern Connecticut State University, where she will undertake the nursing programme to fulfil her ambitions of becoming a trauma nurse.
The 18-year-old wasn't always so confident when it came to styling her natural hair, however. She told Refinery 29 that she grew up getting relaxers. "My hair was just a lot for my mom to handle, especially having three girls with curly hair in the house. I would also straighten it every day because my friends had straight, 'pretty' hair," she explained.
Her stance changed after a friend from art school complimented her curls. "There was one day when my friend saw my curls coming in from my roots because I didn't straighten my hair very well that day, and she was like, 'You have beautiful curly hair, you should go natural,'" she said.
Garris then proceeded to get a significant amount of her hair chopped off;
"My mom thought I was only going to get a little trim, but I actually chopped all the straight ends off, and ever since then, I've been natural. When I was younger, I debated if it was the right thing. But as I've gotten older, it makes me feel unique,"