On Beauty” is our original, inspirational series dedicated to beauty, self-love and self-awareness. With fresh-faces and in their own elements, beautiful women from around the world share in their own words what they mean when they crown themselves beautiful. Here is Carmen’s story.

“I’m a classic country girl. I was raised raised in Fort Valley, GA and I’m the only child. I was always classified as gifted or “different” in grade school but what it really is is hard work and determination. I have never been the one who could just breeze through life. I was always reading, studying at late hours and working hard for the things that I have now.

As a young girl, I always had big dreams and that is something that has never changed. Because I am concerned with the well-being and success of the lives of children, I am striving to become a Child Psychiatrist. I love children, they are my passion and I believe God has called me do major things in this field. It is very difficult actually to find the balance between working and still maintaining your grades as a student. However, it is all about prioritizing. I have a small planner that I carry around all the time and I make sure that all my upcoming assignments are done ahead of time or before work. This way work won?t interfere with homework or studying for tests.

When I was younger, I had a head full of hair with no perm at all. It wasn?t until late middle school when I actually got a perm. When I got to college I went through some stages with my hair. I tried colors, cuts and even weave and I still was not satisfied. Finally, I decided that it was time for a change. I wanted to go back to the nice long and healthy hair I had when I was younger so I started transitioning in June 2012. After a while I couldn?t take the transition anymore because it was as if my hair was confused. It didn?t know whether it was natural or permed. So I decided to do the big chop. I have been natural for a little over a year now.

I use Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion Smoothing Shampoo and Conditioner to wash my hair and I use Curls Unleashed No Boundaries Leave-In Conditioner. I use Cantu Shea Butter Coconut Curling Cream a lot. It keeps my hair really moisturized and it defines my curls well. I also use Curls Unleashed Take Command Curl Defining Cr?me. To tame and smooth my edges I use Eco Styler Olive Oil Styling Gel or Creme Of Nature Perfect Edges Hair Gel. To co-wash I use Cantu for Natural Hair Shea Butter Conditioning Co-Wash. I’m trying the Organix Hydrating Macadamia Oil Shampoo and Conditioner right now and using Clear Scalp & Hair Therapy Nourishing Scalp & Hair Oil.

I usually wash my hair every other week or wash my hair one week and the next week co-wash to prevent build-up. I have a dry scalp so that is why I wash it so much. After I wash and condition it, I deep condition for about 30 minutes. Then, I towel dry and put in my leave-in conditioner. I detangle my hair and part it in fours. My regular regimen is to do a twist out because it is easy to do and I love the results of my big fro. My favorite style would have to be a wild big fro. However, I find myself wearing my big poof ball most of the time because it is easy to do and it looks good with anything, in any setting.

A lot of people question whether natural hair is appropriate in professional settings. My opinion is wear your hair like you want to wear your hair! I know many successful women who have dreads or kinky curly hair who are in high positions. I believe as long as you are keeping up with the well-being of your hair it doesn?t matter. Play it up a little! You never know who you are inspiring next to become natural. I am in a position where my natural hair is questionable. I am a campus queen, 2nd University, but I plan to wear my natural kinky curly hair because I think it is unique and it shows Attendant to Miss Albany State that I don?t? have to be “unbeweaveable” to be a queen. I can be just as beautiful with my natural locks. No shame in my game.

Speaking of queens…I think that if a man does not want to marry you or be with you because you have kinky hair, he is not the one God set out for you to marry. Hair does not make you the person you are. If he is truly in love with you, he will love every aspect of your mind, body, soul, and hair. I know I would want my husband to take me as I am or not at all. There are plenty of people who think that ‘kinky’ and ‘curly’ are not in the definition of beauty, but I beg to differ. A natural state of any woman is the most beautiful state, in my opinion.

I do not wear make up at all. I am a very simple girl. When I do go out, like to go shopping or something like that, all I wear is eye liner and a lip color. When I do have to wear a face for professional purposes or for Royal Court, I use foundation, concealer, eye liner, bronzer, mascara, and lipstick. I am very basic, but I am trying to do a little better because of the position I hold as a campus queen. I do have a makeup box, but nothing extravagant is in it. I think I keep it so simple because my skin is so sensitive and I am afraid that make up will cause break outs. Also, I believe makeup is expensive! It is very over-priced in my opinion. But one thing I cannot go without is eye liner. I wear it almost every day, liquid and a roll-up pen. Oh and my gold grill. I don’t wear it all the time because it’s not “serious”, only when I feel like having fun. I’m a country girl and I’m trill.

I never would have imagined that I would be the person that I am today. I never would have thought I would look like this or act like this. I had high expectations for myself as a child, but I have accomplished above and beyond what I thought I would accomplish. I have inspired and made many people proud, even myself. In the next 10 years, I pray that I am well-built in my career with stability. I pray that I have my own practice as a Child Psychiatrist wherever God places me. I pray that I have a family with at least two kids and living happily ever after. I hope by 31, I would have traveled abroad and changed at least one life. By this time, I should be looking back and smiling to myself saying, ‘I told you so, I told you, you would make it.’

I believe that the definition of beauty is the aggregate of qualities that you find pleasurable in yourself or in others that exalts the mind and spirit. Self love is interconnected with beauty, but it is really how one feels about themselves. You have to love yourself before you can even think about loving anyone else. It is different from being arrogant or conceited. Loving yourself means caring about oneself, taking responsibility for oneself, respecting oneself, knowing oneself (good or bad). Self love is also realizing true beauty within oneself. If I could go back in time, this is exactly what I would have told my 10 year old self about beauty and self love, especially about respecting yourself and being honest about your strengths and weaknesses.

My favorite feature about myself is not physical, it is on the inside. I have a loving heart. When I love, I love hard. I literally care about the well being of others. I think this is beautiful because that is hard to find in this world that we live in today. Most people think like this: ‘I?m going to get mine and I don?t care if they get theirs.’ However, if I am climbing up a mountain and I see someone struggling, I am automatically going to reach out a helping hand. That is my philosophy on life, ‘While you are climbing to the top, make sure you grab someone to bring with you on your way.’

I say to anyone who is thinking of wearing her hair in its natural state but is not sure she’ll look pretty enough to go for it! Everyone woman looks beautiful in their natural state. I would also tell them that it is just hair. It does not make or break you. Either way you are beautiful. There are plenty of ways to style your hair and I say look at the journeys of other women who were also reluctant to wear their natural hair, but enjoyed the results right after. Most women have to see to believe.

Confucis said, ‘Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.’ I would just like to encourage the women of my generation stop caring what others think and really embrace who you are inside and out. No, everyone is not going to recognize your beauty in this lifetime, but as long as you recognize it and love it for yourself that is all that matters. You don?t have to be a beauty queen or a model to be beautiful. You can be a simple country town girl, trying to live off of a dollar and a dream and still be ‘beautiful.’ Realize your potential and be great.” – Carmen Symone Nicholson

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