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Model forced to relax hair or be fired from reality show

PICTURED: Model Gabriella Bernard (Photo credit: Caribbean's Next Top Model Facebook page)

AN ASPIRING young model has released a 20 minute short film, inspired by a harrowing hair experience she faced on a Caribbean reality show.

Gabrielle Bernard starred on Caribbean's Next Top Model and was shamed for her natural hair. In a clip from the short film, entitled Black Hair, Bernard can be seen visibly upset and is heard say­ing she did not want her hair chem­i­cal­ly straight­ened and al­so gave rea­sons why.

One of those rea­sons, Bernard said, was that she want­ed to em­brace the “nat­ur­al beau­ty and em­pow­er­ment of black peo­ple.”

“You need to un­der­stand that my hair is my iden­ti­ty…peo­ple seek me out just be­cause of my hair,” she told the hair­dress­er.

In the clip, af­ter Bernard agrees to even­tu­al­ly chem­i­cal­ly treat her hair, Wendy Fitzwilliam, executive producer of the Caribbean Next Top Model competition, is heard say­ing: “Dar­ling…what was all of that in my sa­lon? I need you to ex­plain to me why you were so un­be­liev­ably naughty and un­pro­fes­sion­al?”

Although the series of events took place last year, Bernard would still like an apology from Fitzwilliam, de­scribing Fitzwilliam’s at­ti­tude to­wards her as a “pas­sive, ag­gres­sive and scold­ing.” Bernard al­so took to her Face­book page where she called on Fitzwilliam to apol­o­gise to her pub­licly.

"This is lu­di­crous as far as I can see. I do love Wendy and am proud of her ac­com­plish­ments on be­half of our coun­try, at the same time I’m so ap­palled at this at­ti­tude and scold­ing to­wards a gor­geous young woman with a head of healthy beau­ti­ful hair.”

She added: "I would al­ways look back and won­der “what if.” So I de­cid­ed to jump, hop­ing to win, but I came in third place. You can imag­ine how dis­ap­point­ing it was mak­ing such huge sac­ri­fices, all for noth­ing.”

Black Hair was premiered at the T&T festival last week, and has since gained support from many online.

Vloggers and social media influencers Jay and Tri of CurltureUK shared a clip from the film on their Instagram, writing: "We still have so much work to do. The fact that this happened this year is upsetting and the fact that it's from one black woman to another is even more upsetting."

Happy Hair Box also took to Instagram to share her thoughts on the issue, saying: "Next Top Model.....CARIBBEAN! I am SO angry and upset by this, sooooo many reasons. The girl herself and the BLACK JUDGE AND SALON OWNER?! If they really "had to" why not just use straighteners?!"

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