A month into her reign, Miss Black Beauty Canada 2012, Monique Redhead, reflects on her past, finding much of it to be great advice to youth labeled as ‘outcasts’ or ‘Black Sheep’ in the world today.
It’s 6am and Monique is up and running across Matheson Rd, 4km into her 8 km morning run. Although this time may seem early, it’s not, compared to her 5am team workouts back in University or her current 4am wake up call for work. As a past full athletic scholarship recipient abroad, Monique is all too familiar with this type of physical and mental dedication. Recently a Master’s Graduate, Monique has an additional title; she is now the first Miss Black Beauty Canada.
Miss Black Beauty Canada is first pageant of its type in Canadian history. This pageant aims to evolve the caliber of Black Canadian Women, events, organizations and communities on a worldwide scale. The title is a position that wears many hats, from role model to mentor to spokesperson to evolutionary. On pageant night, August 25th, 2012, Monique stepped out on stage beaming with confidence and a humble smile, but this pageant queen’s story isn’t as picture perfect as her stage presence.
Now, with the maturity of a much older and wiser adult, Redhead would have never guessed she would have accomplished the slightest portion of what she has at the tender age of 26. Pessimists, along with physical and educational obstacles are the main barriers that deemed this young lady a ‘Black Sheep’ as a young girl and teen. ‘Black Sheep’ was the taunting phrase Redhead identified with in the past. She has now evolved and altered this negative term into a phrase synonymous with being ‘Unique.’ From her childhood and teen experiences, Redhead as a young adult today is able to relish in her accomplishments and aim for a bigger, better and brighter future.
In a letter she composed to her younger self, Redhead recalls events, accomplishments, lessons learned and perspectives gained.
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. Your life is just that, YOURS! It’s unpredictable, untailored and uncensored; don’t let anyone tell you that they know the outcome of your actions or physical looks. As a younger girl, family and friends may tell you that beauty looks a certain way, a way you know you can never look. Don’t listen to their rants and remedies because your exotic physical attributes and shade will make you a rare commodity, desired by women of not only your race and culture but many others.
Many times you’ll be told to keep doing well in school and that your grades and educational achievements are your claims to fame. Don’t let them confine you to that one small thing; you’re BEAUTIFUL! Although the modeling industry may side with the views of your family, keep pushing. You will be on Billboards and Magazines in good taste and fashion. Your athletic shape may have had you mistaken for a boy many times thought your teens, but remain healthy because your athletic build will be part of the reason you get to attend university. You are West Indian and Hispanic. Don’t listen to people that tell you you’re not, because you don’t look it. Your skin, although the darkest in your family, is a rich cocoa mahogany color, smooth and unmarked, kissed by the sun. Embrace it! It will take decades for you to realize that your skin tone should be appreciated and not hated, but you’ll figure it out, and when you do your skin tone will gain a new superpower. You will be able to exude Confidence, Sexiness, Strength and Purity though it.
Learn that your hair is your roots, give it time and nurture it. You will be impressed with what it can do. Don’t succumb to chemicals and shelf products in attempts to create an image unattainable. Use natural products, make them at home and learn about the science of Black hair.
High school may prove even more difficult then your skin tone battles as a child. Money issues will keep internal tears in your heart in addition to having no sense of branding at school. You are now a Black, student-athlete, dancer that excels academically, particularly in foreign languages with friends predominately of Asian background. With so many different aspects to yourself as a teen you will find it difficult to relate to your own culture and you are even ridiculed for it. This will be a very hard time for you, but please remember to express your feelings and not be passive if you feel that people are condemning you because you don’t fit their mould of ‘Black Girl.’ Remember that this rain will create a rainbow for you later on in life, just bear it. At this time in your life you will also become aware that you are a first generation Canadian and your family hasn’t been educated on the financial savings needed to attain post-secondary education. College and University aren’t in the cards for you as your family cannot afford it. Remain as you are, unphased by the numbers and odds. Keep pushing in sports and find your outlet; this will be your salvation. In your late teens as an international student athlete on full scholarship in university, you will meet some of the best team-mates and friends; never forget your journey with them. It will be a happy reminder of your independence. They will be the first to embrace your shy uniqueness; don’t forget to keep in touch. Stay focused on the languages you want to learn because eventually you will travel the world and amaze people with your efforts.
Never worry about pessimistic people in your life. They will come and go. Just remember that you will triumph over them every day, every minute, every hour and every second of your life. Becoming the first Miss Black Beauty Canada will change your life immediately and backpacking through Europe summer of 2012 will give you a deeper understanding of who you are as a person. You are not only a Black Woman. You are not only Canadian. You are not only an Ex-Athlete. You are not only a Model. You are not only a Tourist. You are not only the first Miss Black Beauty Canada. You are powerful! Beyond measure! You are not only what you were born into, you are that and so much more!!
There are other girls in the world going through what you’re going through. Make sure that when you’re older you let them know that they are not the only ones and that being different is being unique and that will come in handy some day.
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