YouTube | Miss USA

Miss Teen USA 2019 was Crowned While Rocking Her Natural Curls

A new Miss Teen USA was officially crowned this week.

Kaliegh Garris representing Connecticut exhibited the grace, charm and beauty to earn her the coveted title, but there was something else that was special about her win.

First, you should know that Kaliegh is an 18-year-old phenomenon.

The newly-crowned Miss Teen USA is enrolled in 2- yes I said 2- schools.

When she's not attending Joseph A. Foran High School and the Educational Center for the Arts where she majors in theater, she's performing as a competitive dancer.

The New Haven, CT native is skilled in contemporary, jazz, pointe, hip hop and tap dancing.

Her personal movement "We Are People 1st" hits close to home.

This beauty queen isn't just a pretty face. Kaliegh is passionate about the movement she started in honor of her older sister who has multiple disabilities.

She was also recognized for her work by the Department of Disabled Services recently.

When Kaliegh entered the Miss Teen USA pageant, she decided to make a statement about another movement she's passionate about.

On April 28th, Kaliegh graced the Miss Teen USA pageant stage, and won while wearing a head full of her own naturally beautiful curls.

In an exclusive interview with Refinery 29, Kaliegh said she perfected her curls by herself just the night before,

YouTube | Miss USA

"I finger curled every single piece of my hair in the shower, which led to a very long shower, but it was for the greater good."

The 18-year-old didn't always embrace her curls.

Instagram | @kalieghgarris

Kaliegh told R29 that she had been getting chemical relaxers since the age of 6 and said, "I would also straighten it every day because my friends had straight, 'pretty' hair."

It wasn't until a friend in art school encouraged her that she decided to chop off her relaxed hair and go au natural.

When she decided to wear her 'fro to the pageant, Kaliegh faced some naysayers.

Negative Nancys tried to discourage Kaliegh from wearing her curls saying that she "looked better" with straight hair.

They also said, " You should put in extensions and straighten your natural hair."

PSA: What grows out of your own scalp is beautiful!

Thankfully, Kaliegh ignored the hate and went with what made her feel the most confident.

"As Miss Connecticut Teen USA, there are girls who would look at me in awe because they've always had the image of straight hair in pageants," she says. "Being able to spread the message of diversity, being yourself, and being confident in your curly, natural hair is something that I'm really looking forward to with my new national title."

We're looking forward to it too!

Fans online have been equally excited about the teen's monumental win.

Instagram | @kalieghgarris

"Congratulations queen! Thank you for being unapologetically you and showing us all that we can do what we want and be who we want," commented one Instagram user.

Another commented on the importance of the moment for her toddler, saying, "My 4 year old 'lit up' when she saw the video clip of you being crowned , she immediately smiled and said: 'She looks like me!!'