By Carla Thomas
The Truth Contributor
Now entering our seventh year, the Naturalista Photoshoot is a much-anticipated event where we set time aside to highlight African-American women and girls, who proudly embrace the natural hairstyle.
Using, “relaxer free” as our definition, the women are free to wear their hair in whatever style they choose: braids, locs, twists, afro or the much-needed protection of natural styled wigs . . . all expressions are accepted in this space.
Taking inspiration from magazine covers such as Vogue and Vanity Fair, this year’s concept transports the women from their everyday environments of work, family and business, and presents them in a stylistic layout showcasing their uniqueness in hair and fashion through a media channel that celebrates the melanated beauties they are.
Traditionally, there is no cost associated with participation. However, this year I decided to use the CYT Images, Naturalista Photoshoot as an opportunity to “give back” by supporting a local, African American, non-profit organization and, therefore, required a minimum $15 donation. The non-profit of choice was Groomed for Greatness, under the leadership of Michelle McCaster.
As stated on their Facebook page, “Groomed for Greatness is a non-profit whose mission is to unveil the power in each girl we encounter and help her realize NOTHING is impossible. We inspire girls to reach their highest potential. Our key principals are education, guidance, and empowerment. We feel that these are the keys to ensuring our girls are self-sufficient, fearless leaders who also serve and give back to their community.”
The 2021 Naturalistas donated $500 to help support their mission.
The purpose of the Naturalista Photoshoot remains the same year after year and that is to celebrate African-American women and their choice to wear their hair natural, despite it being deemed unacceptable in certain societal circles or not measuring up to society’s standard of beauty.
Represented in each image, are the young, the mature, varying skin tones, hair textures and body types yet all have come together to make up one powerful image of elegance and style.
We dismiss society’s standard of what is acceptable by setting our own . . . and calling it beautiful.