Viral moments, especially those involving our young queens are often cheered and applauded by the general public. These moments bring us pure joy and we often scramble to share them on our pages and on blogs the moment we witness their magic.

Celai West

As amazing as these moments are, unfortunately, there might just be a dark side. The other day on Twitter I noticed one of my favorite models Celai West sharing her model horror stories under the hashtag #myblackmodellife #modelsforchangenow!

Remember Celai West? Most of us met this little vivacious 9yr old girl on our screens, as she strutted down the runway in a gorgeous orange dress, big natural hair, rocking our worlds one cell phone at a time.

Her video was shared everywhere! Watch:

As beautiful as that moment was, did you know that as soon as Celai was about to celebrate her win the designer messaged her mom and said – “this is a bad look for her brand”. *shocked*.

Celai was then removed from the runway team while the rest of her colleagues remained intact!

Celai West shared this story and more discriminatory incidents on Twitter.

Read below:

Celai goes on to say:
I also booked another company at the same time and I ALWAYS had the most AMAZING hairstylists. Every. Single. Time. I got several hairstyles in a day and they don’t make me feel like my hair is a problem.

Mom talks to my agent and tells her about the problem. My agent tells mom she can offer to help them do my hair but if they say no, mom has to let them do it. I’m stuck.

So mom doesn’t know what to do and thinks maybe it would be easier for them if my hair wasn’t so bulky. And she makes a decision she will always regret. She put a slight texturizer on my hair.

I show up to set with my hair blow-dried out and fluffy curls. It’s bouncing and blowing in the wind and definitely longer.

Mom is really starting to regret my texturizer and my hair is slowly starting to break off but luckily it grows fast. Whew!

One day we are introduced to a Black-owned agency and asked for feedback on our portfolio. The round hair wasn’t working for us, apparently…

She told mom to do a crochet style, take away the bulk and make it 2″ longer in the back and do new headshots. Done.

All of a sudden, I’m getting booked! Walmart, Target, Disney… I’m the leading lady of Willie Williams music video. You know, the original that was remixed to “mi gente” with J. Balvin and Beyoncé. Yup…

So we decided to take my crochet out and the bookings dried up like raisins. IMMEDIATELY.

Casting directors are now making excuses for not wanting to book me. I wasn’t good enough anymore. My skills I once had are now miraculously gone. Just vanished. Poof and gone!

Celai West

Then Celai went on to tell this story:

At 9, I book one of the same companies again who I used to have a problem with but I’m thinking things have changed in 4 years. Nope.

I show up on set and mom takes out my fresh twists. This isn’t good enough so the hairstylist, Rebecca Taff, decides to spiral curl my entire head.

She finally finishes and I’m sent to wardrobe. For some reason, they didn’t have my shoes in my size so they put on a pair that’s 1.5 sizes too small and tell me to push thru.


I never got booked again from that company. So I finally land a gig with a company I’ve always wanted to work with. This is pretty major. And they can actually do my hair!!! Until the day we walk in and see Rebecca Taff again.

Mom is READY! She makes sure she brings ALL my hair and makeup stuff to set JUST IN CASE.

She AGAIN applies a WATER BASED cream to my hair and the whole thing frizzes up. I forgot to mention how she let out a loud sigh as soon as I sat down in her chair.

Mom is mortified. The art director doesn’t like my hair so he has someone ask mom to leave the area and stay in the parent waiting area. She can see but can’t hear what’s happening. I ended up getting sent home.

Oh but wait! there is more!

After reading Celai’s entire twitter thread I immediately hit her DM and told her mom how sorry I was that our little beauty queen had to go through so much behind the scenes.

I was literally speechless but I asked Linda (Celai’s mom) about any advice she would give to other moms who are managing children in the public eye specifically in the model, hair, and beauty space.

Celai West

This is what she shared:

Be alert! as much as I was there with Celai there were still lots I missed. I can see whats happened but I didn’t see the sighs or the attitudes. I didn’t see the look on their faces when she got on set ready to shoot. They don’t always let the parents stay in the area where they are shooting so there are definitely things that can be missed, just be diligent and do not be scared to speak up.

Keep shining baby girl, Beyonce once said: “Don’t try to lessen yourself for the world; let the world catch up to you.” – We are just getting started! Read Celai’s entire thread here. and follow her on Instagram here and on Youtube here.


  1. Finally, a black girl advocating for beautiful natural black hair! Long overdue! I hope it catches on. It’s ridiculous what black women go thru: wasted hours in the chair, wasted hundreds, thousands of dollars. And it’s never as pretty as natural!


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