WHEN MISS Jamaica, Davina Bennett was voted second runner up at this year’s Miss Universe pageant, with the crown going to Miss South Africa, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, little did she realise that her maverick decision to strut her Afro hair against contenders showcasing weaves and wigs, would win her the hearts of viewers across Africa and elsewhere.
Twitter enthusiasts have been flooding social media with praises for the 23 year old philanthropist and model, for proudly taking to the stage with natural hair.
Miss Universe winner… South African Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters
Davina has also been commended for being an inspirational for thousands of black girls and boys around the world.
Shortly after Davina walked onto the stage with her short Afro style, Twitter lit up with complimentary comments, such as, “All of that natural hair, melanated black girl magic!! ? ,” and “MISS JAMAICA’S AFRO IS GIVING ME ALL TYPES OF LIFE!!!”
Sorry but miss Jamaica is MY #MissUniverse ..beautiful black gem.. imagine the crown in her hair!
Congratulations to our Miss South Africa for winning #MissUniverse. However, I think that the runner up (Miss Jamaica) did an amazing job. She represented her country very well and I am sure there is a little black girl out there with an Afro who knows that she can do it.
The common denominator in all the effusive comments was the appreciation that Miss Jamaica had gone against the trend of blowouts, weaves and wigs which are costing black women world wide, an estimated US$7 billion.
Commenting on Instagram, on her decision to go Afro Bennett wrote: ” I stand as the first Afro-Queen to have made it thus far. I did not win but I got what I was seeking. I won the hearts of many, I got to highlight Deaf awareness. I represented my little island and I received allll the love one could possibly wish for…. THANK YOU!!! I came, I conquered and if you know me, then you know that’s just another story and you will be seeing a lot more from me.”
In an interview with the Jamaica Observer this year, Davina said that black women should ignore beauty stereotypes and embrace natural hair.
By proudly wearing her natural hair at the Miss Universe pageant , she has demonstrated that Afros deserve to be accepted and celebrated just as much as any other hairstyle.
Analysts say while African haircare business is still largely based in the informal economy in various countries around the world, it has in fact mushroomed into a multi-billion dollar industry, with suppliers of weaves, wigs and various accessories stretching across China and India enjoying the lion’s share of proceeds.
Even global companies such as L’Oreal and Unilever are now significant suppliers in the industry.
Market research firm Mintel estimates that “nearly six out of 10 Black consumers wear a wig, weave or extensions, which enables them to switch up their look.”
Furthermore, Mintel estimated the size of the 2012 market at $684 million, with a projection of $761 million by 2017. It also noted that: “What’s missing from these figures are general market brands, weaves, extensions, wigs, independent beauty supply stores, distributors, e-commerce, styling tools and appliances. If all of those things were to be taken into consideration, the $684 million in expenditures could reach a whopping $500 billion dollars.”
Various campaigns have sprung up in the USA, UK and other countries extolling the virtues of embracing natural black hair. However, although there are signs that the ongoing campaigns are being positively received across black communities, there is no evidence as yet that the message has been embraced by significant numbers.
In March this year Lekia Lée, from Romford, Essex in the UK launched her campaign ‘Project Embrace’ to change perceptions of beauty “one curl at a time” and encourage black women to embrace their natural locks.
“You hardly ever see black women with their natural textured hair on billboards so to address the lack of representation I chose this highly visible billboard,” Lée told the press.
Sheila Aronzi, an analysts of women’s beauty trends said: “Undoubtedly, hair is an important aspect of black female culture. In Africa the haircare industry has been boosted by rising incomes among the educated and professional classes. But I can’t help thinking that the billions of dollars spent by hair-conscious women could be spent in other ways that would benefit their families and their communities. Perhaps we need Davina to tour Africa and spread the message that our Afros are as good, if not better than wigs and weaves with which we have become obsessed.”