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Submitted by Dr. Monte O. Harris on Thu, 08/23/2012 - 19:37

"To me, Migration means movement. There was conflict and struggle. But out of the struggle came a kind of power and even beauty." - Jacob Lawrence

The Great Migration of African Americans from the South to the North is considered a pivotal event in American history. With a change of locale, African Americans sought to create a new life exploring the full possibilities of a liberated consciousness. I believe that we are in the midst of another "Great Migration" – this time it's an aesthetic one moving the mind beyond mainstream standards of beauty.

With this mindset, I've found it too hard not to offer my opinion in the ongoing saga centered on Gabby Douglas' hair. Now with the Olympics in the history books, Gabby has gracefully tumbled into an aesthetic landmine.

Click here to read more and see my photo-prescriptive map for Gabby's Beauty Migration.

I guess Gabby's team thought it would be a great idea to enlist Ted Gibson - an African American celebrity stylist to craft her "ready for primetime" makeover. Gibson, however, is not necessarily lauded for his celebration of natural hair. As far as Ted Gibson's aesthetic goes I think more Drew Barrymore not Jill Scott. And sure enough, Gabby popped out of the Gibson makeover machine looking like a fourth Charlie's Angel – only a power packed petite version with her bright smile and locks flowing down the back.

The irony is... Gabby had already exposed her true and beautiful self to the world through showcasing her athletic gift and tremendous inner fortitude at the Olympics. So the need for Hollywood Glam now competing with her natural beauty – is beyond me.

As a surgeon who is confronted daily with the challenges of individuals exploring the complex intersection between beauty and identity, I know that Gabby's hair tribulations come insidiously packaged with an underlying message that an essential part of me is not good enough. This has to be quite destabilizing for a blossoming young identity which now in the heat of a bright spotlight needs more than ever a soothing balm and love. I truly hope that she doesn't read the comments full of racist vitriol accompanying many blogs discussing her aesthetic journey.

Much of the sickness we see in modern society can be linked to beauty, health and identity misalignment, or in other words, a disconnect between how we look, how we feel, and who we believe ourselves to be. Look no further than the tragic untimely death of Michael Jackson to shine light on the pathologic ills of aesthetic confusion entangled with unhealthy daily rituals.

My Mantra – "To be Healthy and Beautiful, Know Thyself"!

This might sound crazy coming from a plastic surgeon – but I am not one to accept status quo or monolithic labels. I like to think of myself as an aesthetic evangelist promoting an Afro Modern healing brand of beauty. Patients travel to see me from throughout the world for a culturally competent vision of adornment. Cosmetic beauty enhancement is indeed a modern form of adornment. For natural aesthetic outcomes cultural context must always be taken into consideration. There is a pathway whereby beauty can serve as an external doorway leading to internal bliss, peace and happiness. Over the years, I've had the fulfilling pleasure of helping many women and men navigate the perilous waters of cosmetic enhancement and in turn reclaim a healthy sense of self and purpose along the way. There is no better place to begin the liberating journey of self discovery than through natural hair.

Gabby is strong, empowered and resilient. She's beautiful as is... there is no need to add anything (particularly fake hair). If Gabby desires a bit of aesthetic guidance and support along the way... there is a growing socio-spiritual movement of individuals who are reconnecting with their authentic selves who can serve as inspirational navigators – Dominique Dawes for one. Let's hope that we, as a caring community can help Gabby set her course of beauty migration in the right direction.

Here's my photo prescriptive map for Gabby's Beauty Migration!

Do:

Don't:

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Submitted by Dr. Monte O. Harris on Tue, 05/29/2012 - 10:40

Dr. Harris recently traveled to Rome, Italy on May 9-12, 2012 for a conference, "Nose and Face World," focusing on techniques, tastes and trends in Facial Plastic Surgery. Aesthetic surgeons from around the world joined Dr. Harris, as he shared his unique perspectives on nasal beauty and hair adornment in the African Diaspora.

In his presentation, Dr. Harris discussed his Afro Modern approach to aligning beauty, health, and identity through culturally sensitive cosmetic enhancement. He reviewed techniques for balanced rhinoplasty and follicular unit hair transplantation with a particular focus on gender issues, cultural nuances and optimal practices in patients of African descent.

Read more

Tags: Blog

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Submitted by Dr. Monte O. Harris on Fri, 03/23/2012 - 10:07

Dr. Harris was featured in a Washington Post article which announced the "Heads Up" program organized by Smithsonian’s Anacostia Museum on Sunday, March 4, 2012. Dr. Harris joined anthropologist, Diana N’Diaye, PhD, of Smithsonian’s "Will to Adorn" project in a discussion about the historical and cultural aspects of black hair. Click here to read more about the event.

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Submitted by Dr. Monte O. Harris on Thu, 02/23/2012 - 18:24

There is a universal restorative energy that I feel daily.  The physical transformation of Viola Davis offers us a visual indicator of an inward journey to self liberation and the inner building of identity.  These stunning images from the LA Times celebrate her beauty as the new cultural avant garde.  Every individual has the creative capacity to align themselves with their own TRUTH and authentic self. 

If you haven’t already, please take the time to listen to the Oprah interview with Davis.  She describes her relationship with weaves and wigs as a “crutch” that proved not to be healthy.  The Afro may once again signal a new kind of modernity. . .simple, elegant, versatile, healthy  and beautiful.   Physical Beauty when enhanced in a culturally sensitive manner opens a doorway to the infinite power of your own authentic consciousness.

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Submitted by Dr. Monte O. Harris on Sat, 01/14/2012 - 12:44
 

The Center for Aesthetic Modernism launched its Do Good H.A.I.R. Salon™ series on December 10, 2011, on the campus of the University of Maryland. Dr. Monte O. Harris, the center's founder, gave the inaugural talk, discussing "Do Good H.A.I.R: An Afro-Modern Approach to Restoring Beauty, Health, and Identity."

More than 100 guests attended the event housed in the David C. Driskell Center, which is named for the renowned painter, art collector, and leading scholar on African American art and artists. Surrounded by "Creative Spirit," an exhibition celebrating Driskell's life and artistic handicraft, guests listened expectantly to Dr. Harris reveal the purpose for the event and share his vision for the Salon… Click here to see photos and read more

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Submitted by Admin on Sun, 01/08/2012 - 13:18

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Exhibit Dates: June 18, 2011 - January 8, 2012

( My Kids and I at the Smithsonian RACE exhibit )

In our modern society, the persistent use of the terms "black" and "white" are overly simplistic and reflect a level of immaturity in our appreciation of identity.  We are in desperate need of an enlightened racial consciousness celebrating multicultural ancestry. We have for too long gravitated to an identification scheme which focuses on visible cues such as hair and skin color. . . . without acknowledging culture. I've grown tired of monolithic labels regarding race and identity. The future is bright, however, as our children's notions of identity have the promise of being much more inclusive and holistic.

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Submitted by Dr. Monte O. Harris on Fri, 12/23/2011 - 16:57

Dr. Harris was featured in the Washington Post Magazine as a “Super Doctor” (also known as the “Doctor’s doctor”). The article appears in the Washington, DC-Baltimore-Northern Virginia 2011 Top Physicians issue.

Click Here to Read the Complete Article

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Submitted by Dr. Monte O. Harris on Thu, 12/22/2011 - 14:50

Dr. Harris was recently featured in an article on The Grio news site discussing his opinions on Zahara Jolie-Pitt’s braided hair style with the use of extensions. While Dr. Harris sees her braids in a positive light, he also cautions readers on the common mistake made by clients wearing braids that are too tight and for an extended period of time resulting in hair loss. Click here to read the entire article on Dr. Harris’ views about this topic.

Tags: Hair loss

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Submitted by Admin on Fri, 12/16/2011 - 13:19

The David C. Driskell Center
Exhibit Dates: September 15, 2011- December 16, 2011

Dr. David C. Driskell is an inspiring role model! A truly gifted individual who claimed his “priestly calling” - early in life... cultivated it... and harnessed it’s restorative power to fuel a long, purposeful life of creative giving. Creative Spirit: The Art of David C. Driskell celebrates the life and handicraft of Dr. Driskell in the year of his eightieth birthday. In a recent conversation with Dr. Driskell at the inaugural Do Good H.A.I.R. Salon, he stressed the significance of art as a reflection of our lives and of everything we are.

I challenge us all to re-envision our notions of art... and in a certain sense consider ourselves “artist of self” ... actively engaged in crafting a beautiful life. It’s time for us to explore the unknown, make the invisible – visible and reclaim a sense of authentic beauty... aligned with health mindfulness and ancestral spiritual identity.

Beauty is the final Frontier!

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Submitted by Admin on Sun, 12/04/2011 - 13:17

Exhibit Dates: November 29, 2011- December 4, 2011

My life has been fueled by a passion for art, design and architecture. I just got back from the Miami Art Basel/Design Miami shows where British-Ghanaian architect, David Adjaye was honored as the International Designer of the Year ( www.designmiami.com/designers-of-the-future ).  I had the wonderful privilege of experiencing the festivities as one of David's personal guests. It doesn't get any better than this for a design aficionado!

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