‘America’s Next Top Model’ Star Ebonee Davis Is Using Beauty As A Tool For Empowerment

"We have to realise that each of us individually possesses something that is inherently valuable."

After stepping into the spotlight on season 18 of America’s Next Top Model, celebrated model Ebonee Davis (who has starred in campaigns for Prada and Calvin Klein) has transformed her platform into a force for change. In 2017, Davis made global headlines by calling out racism in the fashion industry, sharing her own experiences as a black model and emphasising the importance of inclusivity during a courageous and impassionate TED talk.

During a recent trip to Paris, marie claire Australia caught up with the Kerastase ambassador who opened up about her childhood trauma, navigating feelings of inadequacy, and how why hair reflects her internal growth.  

marie claire Australia: You’ve always talked before about setbacks and some of the adversity that you’ve had in your career, how have you worked through these experiences and grown from them?

Ebonee Davis: Everything that I’ve been through has really led to the power I am able to embody today. Once you overcome the shame, the grief and self-doubt [of her parents’ drug addiction and subsequent abandonment] you can lead yourself to a place of being able to help others. Being able to share what I’ve been through has opened so many doors for me. It has placed me in a position where I can now show women how to embrace their truth

MC: You’ve cut your hair, and that was part of your personal growth. How did that decision of cutting your hair come about? 

ED: I decided to [let my hair] go natural at the end of 2015. [Before that] I did a fashion show at New York Fashion Week where I had my afro straightened. There were four people using super-high heat on it. [After that experience] my hair was falling out, so I cut it off.

Ebonee Davis
Ebonee Davis stuns with her natural hair (Credit: Getty Images)

MC: What does your hair represent? 

ED: For me, my hair is a representation of my soul. It’s a representation of everything that I am on the inside. So, as I was doing this internal exploration of who I am, my hair was also [growing]. You look at pictures and then you see my afro, which represents everything that I’ve been able to cultivate inside of me.

MC: You work in the beauty industry, what does beauty mean to you personally?

ED: I think beauty is a tool for empowerment. I think beauty is so diverse and so different. And I really advocate for everybody’s beauty to be represented – that’s why I use my voice. For so long the narrative has been centered on one type of beauty. I think that in order for us to shift into the next dimension of who we are meant to be as humans, we have to realise that each of us individually possesses something that’s inherently valuable.

MC: What are the products that you love to use on your hair? 

ED: I don’t wash my hair everyday – it wouldn’t be healthy for my hair – but I do want it to be refreshed. Kérastase has a Refresh Spray that is specific to the curly line. I wanted a way to keep my curls popping and keep them lush, and [the spray] puts that moisture back in. I use all the Curl Manifesto products – nothing else smells like them. I think that’s my favourite thing. And I’ve been loving the Elixir Ultime Original Hair Oil for years because it’s super lightweight and smells amazing.

(Credit: Photography by Edward Urruita)

Kerastates Elixir Ultime Hair Oil, $65 at Adore Beauty

(Credit: Photography by Edward Urruita)

Kerastates Curl Manifesto Hydrating Nutrition Mask, $69 at Adore Beauty

(Credit: Photography by Edward Urruita)

Kerastase Curl Manifesto Curl Refresh Spray, $55 at Adore Beauty

MC: What is your best beauty tip?

ED: My best beauty top is so cliché but I’ve got to say that beauty’s on the inside. For the most part, I look the same as I have for the past 10 years but I feel different. And when I look in the mirror, I see something different. To recognise your own beauty starts on the inside. It did in my case. Physically I changed a little bit but the real change in me was through my lens – the [way in] which I viewed myself.

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