Miss Texas Chandler Foreman Wears an Afro on Stage at Miss America 2020
Foreman, 23, made the top 15 at Thursday night's competition
For Chandler Foreman, being authentic to herself and representing her community was top of mind when she hit the Miss America stage Thursday night wearing an afro.
The Miss Texas title-holder, 23, rocked her natural hair during the opening of this year’s competition, hosted live from the Mohegan Sun Hotel and Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.
And her preliminary performances got her to the top 15! She proudly took the stage front and center wearing a gorgeous light blue sequin gown with fringe beading.
While her journey may have ended there, we did get a peek of Foreman during the preliminary competition, for which she wore her natural hair curls, a 70s-inspired sequined jumpsuit and played a medley of “Theme from ‘Mahogany’” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” by Diana Ross on the flute.
According to the Miss Texas website, the Houston native is a converged broadcast media student at the University of North Texas who wants to change beauty pageant stereotypes by sharing “her experiences across cultural and economic lines.”
Foreman was crowned Miss Texas 2019 wearing an afro in August and has kept the style ever since. But Sheila Milner, a pageant director and Foreman’s coach, said she was hesitant about the idea at first.
“Chandler said she needed extensions to compete, but I told her that I loved her natural look. This was three years ago, and natural hair wasn’t really accepted. But the judges loved her for who she was,” Milner said, according to The Houston Chronicle.
Speaking with Houston Style Magazine in July, Foreman opened up about diversity in the pageant world.
“It’s empowering yes, yet the fact that it is uncommon to see black women be the representative for such a prestigious title proves that there is still work to be done,” she said. “I’m happy that we are widening our range of beauty and most importantly prove that excellence comes in all colors.”
“Young girls who look like me need to see various women of color in these positions so that they are determined to achieve the things they put their mind to,” Foreman added.
While Foreman didn’t move past the top 15 at Thursday night’s Miss America competition, her Miss Texas crowning is part of a historic year in pageant history.
For the first time ever, the titles for all five top beauty contests in 2019 have been won by black women. Earlier this month, Jamaica’s Toni-Ann Singh, 23, was named Miss World. There’s also Miss Universe 2019 Zozibini Tunzi, Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin (who was just succeeded by 2020’s winner Miss Virginia Camille Schrier), Miss USA Cheslie Kryst and Miss Teen USA 2019 Kaliegh Garris.
An earlier version of this story inadvertently cited Foreman as the first woman to wear an afro on stage at the Miss America pageant, which is incorrect.