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Photographed by Shanita Sims; Styled by Jamie Ortega; Hair by Kiya Jones; Makeup by Marika Aoki; Modeled by Sunita V; Modeled by Victoria Brito / Muse Models; Modeled by Geli at Major; Modeled by Elizabeth Wright at State MGMT; Modeled by Mia Rae at Trump Models; Modeled by Alisha at Muse; Modeled by Yao at Major
How long has your hair been like this?
"I've been natural for the past two-and-a-half years. I've never had a problem with my hair growing. I've cut it a few times in my life, but for the most part, I've always had long hair."
What are some struggles you've had with your hair?
"I grew up in Wisconsin, where everything [is] homogenized. Individuality wasn't really celebrated, and as a child, you don't want to stand out or bring attention to yourself. It took me a very long time to feel comfortable with my hair because I wanted it straight, perfect — no frizz, no fuss."
Was there a point when you started to love it?
"When I moved to New York [was] when I started to get over all of my hang-ups. Living here, you see so many people embracing their natural beauty, so I wanted to do that, too. I got to a point where I stopped fighting what I looked like, and it's a really good feeling when you can own it."
Won Hundred top; Assembly pants.
Lele Sadoughi Checkered Collar Neckalce, $375, available at Lele Sadoughi; Lele Sadoughi Pendulum Earrings, $135, available at Lele Sadoughi.
What products do you use?
"I just use a conditioner — Pantene Curl Perfection. And then, I let it air-dry. When I want my curls to have definition and hold, I use Kinky-Curly Leave-In conditioner and ApHogee Curl Definer."
Do you have problems on set because of your hair?
"I think that people have this perception that if you look a certain way, everything that's on you must be the same as everyone else that looks like you. I think people don't realize that [my hair] is finer than others' with natural hair. It isn't coarse. It doesn't take a lot to manipulate it. You have to look past the person, and just focus on the hair."
Do you feel like you've been an inspiration to other people to go natural?
"I do! I have a friend who told me that I've inspired them to stop blowdrying and flat-ironing their hair. I was on my way down [to this shoot], and someone stopped me on the street and said, 'I follow you on social media! You do your thing!' It feels amazing to know I've inspired someone like that.
"The best thing about what I do is getting to meet fun, amazing people. The people who say I inspire them end up inspiring me. I'm just really excited that natural hair is being embraced, and that people are saying it's okay to have different kinds of hair. I think that the direction we're going in is great."
What is your natural hair color?
"I was born with blond hair. My original hair color is dirty-blond — I'm Brazilian on my mother's side and Austrian on my dad's side. About three years ago I bleached it for a story, and I've never gone back."
Do you feel that non-natural hair color is having a moment?
"I do, and I think it's awesome. People are more accepting of it. Three years ago, when I dyed [my hair], it was just the start of that acceptance. There's more freedom now."
Do you book more jobs now that you have this hair color?
"I was actually hesitant to dye my hair at first because I didn't know how people would react. But once I did, I started booking more jobs. And they're a lot edgier. I just did my second cover for Glamour, so I'm very happy about that. I also just did a CK2 ad. I'm happy because I feel like I finally know who I am."
ICB top and skirt; Tarin Thomas earrings; model's own ring.
Joomi Lim Love Thorn Chain Necklace with Spikes and Pearls, $420, available at Joomi Lim.
Have you had bad experiences on set because of your hair?
"I had a very traumatizing experience recently, so now I've really had to take control and let hairstylists know how to deal with my hair. I feel like I always have to be on high alert and ready to let them know if they're messing up. And I'm not afraid to let them know."
How do you take care of your color?
"I actually make my own coconut oil. I'm Brazilian! It's so easy. You crack a coconut, get the shavings out, and then mash them up to get the oil out. I heat that and apply it to my hair once a month before I dye it. I sleep in the mask the night before I go into the salon.
"I also make my own hair mask to help prevent breakage. It's my coconut oil, half an avocado, and then an entire banana. You apply it to your hair and then cover your hair with aluminum foil and leave it on for a bit."
Do you feel like you've been a hair inspiration to others?
"I feel like I've influenced other people to be experimental with their hair. Some of my friends are models, and we're all very quick to judge and be skeptical. I kind of tell them to just do it. It could be the best thing for you, and you don't even know it yet."
Have you always had natural hair?
"When I was a kid, I always had natural hair. But I had braids. When I was 17, I decided I wanted to perm my hair. I did that for a year and hated it, so then I transitioned to my natural hair. It's been red for about three months now."
Do you feel as though your hair is part of your identity?
"My hair has been natural all throughout my modeling career. It defines me altogether. I'm a very holistic, natural-minded person. I think, This is how my hair looks, this is how it grows, and I'm okay with that. People recognize me because of my hair."
How do people react to your hair?
"People always want to touch it, which is weird because it's short. When people ask to touch my hair, I know they're not trying to be rude. At least they're asking! Some people would just reach out and touch my hair without asking."
Claudia Li dress; Tarin Thomas necklace; Meadowlark earrings.