Zahra Redwood & Corinne Harrison.
This week’s Beauty & The Beast: Ugly Face of Prejudice (C4) allowed us to listen in on a very personal conversation between two young women.
On one side we had self accepting Zahra Redwood. Zahra was crowned Miss Jamaica 2007. She was the first dreadlocked Rastafarian Miss Jamaica and also competed in the Miss Universe competition.
Sitting opposite her was UK hairdresser Corinne Harrison. Corinne was the antithesis of self acceptance; she clearly did not like herself, particularly physical characteristics that she had inherited from her Jamaican father.
“I got this nose from my dad, thanks dad… It’s too big. It doesn’t suit my face at all. I don’t like my afro hair. I can’t deal with it. I don’t like the way it looks. I don’t like the texture of it. Jamaicans are [predisposed] to cellulite and I’ve got cellulite, so I blame that on my dad. It’s all his fault”.
On a trip to Jamaica, Corrine and Zarah talk openly about Corrine’s body image issues.
“I’ve been told”, began Zarah, “that the parts of you that you think are Jamaican are the parts that you try to ….”
“Cover up”, interjected Corrine.
“Any reason?” Zarah asked.
“Er.. I don’t really like afro hair. I think my nose is quite Jamaican”, stated Corrine.
“Are you saying that you are dissatisfied with your nose? Quizzed Zarah.
“I don’t really like it that much”, admitted Corrine.
Pointing to her own nose Zahra said. “I’ve walked around with this nose without a problem since birth… Do your friends think the same”?
Nodding Corrine replied. “We sort of see the Barbie image and think we should all look like that. Perfect boobs, perfect nose, perfect lips, perfect hair …”
“That’s your concept of beauty”? Asked Zarah.
“So anything not that is not beautiful”, pressed Zarah.
“I’m not saying Jamaican features are not beautiful”, Corrine responded.” I just don’t enjoy my features.”
“The key to success in the world of beauty”, said Zarah sincerely, “is loving who is authentically you. That is what I’ve realised that model scouts look for. Not half a dozen females who all look the same. So when you embrace what you have been given, that’s when things start to flourish. In the words of Lady Gaga, ‘I was born this way’. Then, you get so much further”.
At the end of her conversation with Zarah, Corrine vocalised her thoughts on the encounter.
“I thought she was gorgeous. She’s really friendly and she is just so natural. I think what’s stopping me from being happy is being myself really. I think that’s something that I need to say to people … this is who I am … so deal with it and that’s it. I’ve had the best two weeks ever really. I’ve learnt about being comfortable from within, instead to putting it all on the outside...”