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Makeover - Student Edition

Meet Mema!

-Recipient of our first #mgBodyConfidence Makeover - Student Edition.


Mema is a student at One7 Academy, here in Charlotte.  About 18 months ago, she moved from a small community in Uganda where Swahili is the native language. The transition to the US would prove to be a bit difficult for Mema and her family.


Having helped raise eight girls, as a former foster parent, I understand the difficulties when girls are faced with switching environments – moving to a new home, trying to make new friends, etc. It can be overwhelming, intimidating and downright scary, those feelings are compounded when moving to a different country.


You would never know Mema was bullied.  Her outgoing personality easily hid the hurt stemmed from being called “ugly” and the “N” word. A wonderful school with caring staff and teachers couldn’t shield her from the cruel words coming from her peers in the community.


One day, she asked for what she wanted, “Take me to get my hair done like yours.” She was talking to Felisa, her tutor.  Felisa is African American woman; she has beautiful, natural hair she wears straight, usually, it hangs to gentle rest on her shoulders or it sways back and forth in a cute ponytail. Mema’s requests caught Felisa off guard, but as she probed further she learned that Mema was battling some serious self-esteem issues. 


That’s when Felisa reached out to me. Here is the text Felisa wrote to me:

"Today the little girl I tutor told me she wanted to wear her hair like mine.  She told me that kids she thought were her friends called her ugly ni%%#r.  She asked me about 5 times today if I thought she was pretty.  She then brought me into the bathroom so she could look in the mirror and asked me to take down her braids. I told her she was beautiful and that I loved her dark skin and that it was like mine.  She smiled.  The #mgBodyConfidence movement is needed!"


Immediately, I knew Mema was an excellent candidate for a #mgBodyConfidence makeover.  It would be important to provide her with not only an external makeover but also share the body confidence curriculum with Mema.  


As part of the makeover, I wanted to make sure Mema’s peers played a part in the process. I contacted Ms. Shanae Starnes, who has a high school cosmetology program at North Meck High School.  Together, we thought it would be great for a student to provide hair service to Mema.  Jalen, a North Meck student, did a wonderful job on Mema’s natural hair.  She gave Mema tips on how to maintain her hair as she periodically told Mema how beautiful she was.   You can view a quick gallery of the makeover below. 





How You Can Help:

Sponsorship is vital to the success of this program.  We reached out to several clothing stores without success.  Mema’s outfit cost about $75, which included a dress, jacket, and boots.  Thanks to Felisa for stepping up again as the clothing sponsor.  I donated my photography services, gas, food, and accessories. Olivia Heyward donated her makeup skills, while Jeris Johnson served as the clothing stylist.


We are gearing up for our next student makeover.  We need your help to do so! A complete makeover with a photoshoot, makeup, hair and clothes costs approx. $250 per student:


Discounted Hair $10 (Student hair services at North Meck High School)

Clothes $75 (one complete casual outfit and shoes)

Accessories $20

Discounted Makeup $10

Discounted Photoshoot $100

Gas $30 (2 days of transportation across town, to and from school, cosmetology department and photoshoot – 4 round trips)

Lunch $10 (2 days of lunch)

New to the US - Mema and her sister with headmaster, MC of One 7 Academy

Kara and I meeting with Mema for the first time

At One 7 Academy with Mema

Headed out to the mall with stylist, Jeris Johnson

North Meck Cosmetology School, Stylist - Jalen

Jalen and Mema take a quick selfie

Ms. Starnes, the Cosmetology Teacher,  gives Mema a big hug

Makeup application by Mrs. Olivia Heyward

#mgBodyConfidence Makeover - Student Edition with Miss Mema