I Was Bullied For My Box Braids — Now They're My Signature

For some, a lipstick is just a lipstick. But for others, it's a source of strength, creativity, and expression. In our series Power Faces, we'll explore the relationship between strong women and the makeup they choose to wear — or not. Our latest subject is breakout fashion model Indira Scott. This story was told to Cat Quinn and edited for length and clarity.
I was never good at doing makeup when I was growing up. I think it was the universe trying to show me I could have a natural face, which makes me feel very powerful. When I'm not wearing makeup, I have to accept everything that I'm bringing as beautiful. I like to be fully raw with my face and my hair, and not be so clean cut. Our physical beauty should be a representation of who we are. We all don't have to be the same to be beautiful. That's boring.
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Photographed by Natalia Mantini
Crowning Glory
I've had box braids since I was probably five years old. Besides Poetic Justice [with Janet Jackson], there weren’t models in magazines or people on TV who had box braids. I always got bullied for them, and kids would call me "Avatar." Growing up, the trend for Black women was having relaxed hair, but my hair looked so bad in that form. Box braids were how I felt most confident and comfortable.
Photographed by Natalia Mantini
I really wanted to make sure I wasn't going to start modelling without my braids. I knew if I did, the industry wouldn’t accept me trying to get them later. I'm so happy because now it’s my trademark and people request the braids. There are still a lot of designers who will ask me to take my hair out. They say, "If you just take out your braids, you'd get so many jobs and walk every runway." But that's not what I'm here to do. Asking me to take out my braids is asking me to blend in with all the rest of the girls. I want the fashion industry to change — I don't want to conform to it.
I am very spiritual and big on the energy that is in everything. For me, my braids are like sound therapy. Walking around with a bunch of beads and hearing that noise all the time soothes me in a strange way. Sometimes the wooden beads that I wear will have engravings on them that are affirmations. They say things like, "You're going to conquer everything," "You are on top," and "You are beautiful." Knowing that I have that in my hair is the equivalent of wearing crystals around my neck for protection.
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Photographed by Natalia Mantini
A Star Is Born
I'm really connected to the universe — and, because of that, I love a strong eye. There's a lot of energy in our eyes that connects us to everything else in the world. People are drawn to your eyes and you can transcribe a lot of yourself and your intention through your eyes to other people. When I wear glitter, people look in my eyes and I can transfer them all of my energy and let them know how I'm feeling.
Photographed by Natalia Mantini
I love to be glittery, because I like to feel like a little star or a constellation in the universe. I feel like the sun shines on the glitter and makes me so magical and fun. Makeup, if you choose to wear it, is so amazing because it truly does represent how you're feeling that day. When I wear a bold glittery eye, it encompasses the “boss spirit” I have. I am very soft, and I don’t give enough credit to the side of me that's a strong woman who works hard and gets things done and is very powerful. It makes me feel stronger to have that eye.
As a new model it can sometimes be hard to separate my personal life with my work because I'm a very sensitive person and how I feel is usually all over my face. If I don’t feel so happy, it's going to show. I've gotten so far because I'm always happy and a ball of light in a room. So it was interesting seeing myself not being my higher self this past Fashion Week. I moved, got the flu, and the cherry on top was I was going through a breakup. In that month, concealer basically saved my life. I was so exhausted and I was like, What is this magical thing? It also helped me realize that I couldn't let a breakup affect how I was going to do my work. At the end of the day, what I'm doing as a model is so much more important than being stressed about a guy.
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Photographed by Natalia Mantini
Photographed by Natalia Mantini
Walk The Walk
Imagine if all the Black women in the fashion industry were able to express what they wanted the world to see of them. Black models talk to me about it all the time — they'll say, "You're so lucky you get to wear your braids like this," because they can’t and it sucks because they came into the industry just trying to make it. They had to have straight cornrows, or permed hair, or completely shaved hair, because apparently a big Afro or fun braids is considered “too much” for the runway.
I do understand the light skin privilege that I have and the platform my colour gives me to do more things, unfortunately. I'm not going to ignore that, that's a fact — I'm going to work with it to get to a place where we can all do more with our beauty.
I'm just a girl from Queens with really big dreams who wants to stand up for people who have always been told they're not good enough. I love going places and seeing girls with box braids who tell me, "Because of you, people think I'm beautiful," which is crazy because they are already so beautiful and it's wild we have these preconceived ideas of beauty. I'm really glad I can help change that.

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