Gabriella Bernard Defends Her Natural Hair
In what can be deemed the most controversial season ever on Caribbean’s Next Top Model, one name sure stands out - 24-year-old, Trinidad & Tobago model, Gabriella Bernard - the young contestant who was told by producers that she had to relax her hair in order to ‘look professional’.
In a clip of the episode, which was all over social media, Bernard was heard pleading with a hairdresser that she did not want her hair chemically straightened and also gave reasons why. One of Bernard’s reasons, she said, was that she wanted to embrace the “natural beauty and empowerment of black people.”
“You need to understand that my hair is my identity…people seek me out just because of my hair,” she told the hairdresser. She had her hair relaxed for 15 years, but understands that her brand is about embracing your natural beauty.
During the episode, Bernard eventually agreed to chemically treat her hair, because as she says, “When I weighed the pros and cons, I decided to stay. Yes, yes, yes a million times I should have left, but looking back I told myself I had come so far, left my job, looked up to Wendy, wanted to be an international model all my life, I was so close…Did I come all this way to give up now?”
Although the show was shot last year and aired in February this year, Gabriella continues to speak out. The Trinidad Express newspaper reported on September 20th, that Gabriella feels she deserves an apology from former Miss Universe and executive producer of the Caribbean Next Top Model competition, Wendy Fitzwilliam, after she was given an ultimatum on the television show - relax her natural hair or go home. There has been no comment from Ms. Fitzwilliam to date.
Bernard, who has left a lasting impression on many, has turned this experience into an inspiring film, ‘Black Hair’, 20-minute documentary, which was selected to screen at the 2018 Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival (Sep 21-25) and the 2018 Baltimore International Black Film Festival (Oct 2-8).
She continues to speak out about sexual assault, natural hair, and the beauty. Check out her exclusive interview via Hello Beautiful.