» Dr. Monte O. Harris's blog
Dr. Monte O. Harris's blog
Submitted by Dr. Monte O. Harris on Mon, 05/20/2013 - 09:52

Much attention centers on the need to train primary care physicians to meet the growing demands of an ailing healthcare system . But subspecialists (Yes, even beauty doctors) need to adopt more of a generalist mindset to improve their patient’s overall well-being. Recently, when a cancellation arose in my patient schedule, I recognized it as an ideal opportunity to practice what I preach by enhancing my own holistic health consciousness. So I jumped on the Metro and headed to NIH to hear a lecture given by the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin.

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Dr. Benjamin was the featured speaker for the April 2013 NIH Health Disparities Seminar. The seminar was hosted by The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). The NIMHD is leading the charge to eliminate health disparity through the integration of science, practice, policy, and technology. Dr. Benjamin discussed the National Prevention Strategy and the importance of embarking upon a “healthy journey to joy.”

I’m pretty sure that I was the only plastic surgeon in the filled auditorium. After the talk, Dr. Benjamin opened the floor to questions. I stepped to a microphone and asked . . . “In your many discussions on hair as a barrier to exercise . . . has the issue of hair loss ever surfaced?” She said – “No.” I was not surprised. So, I briefly offered my thoughts on hair loss as a hidden health disparity.

Hair loss may have a profound impact on mental and physical well-being. A recent ABC News report highlighted the growing number of women, independent of ethnicity, experiencing hair damage related to extensions and weaves. African American women, however, suffer disproportionately from hair loss related to traumatic grooming practices. With hair loss, as with other health disparity concerns such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, black women’s lifestyle habits, aesthetic choices, and cultural customs often contribute to onset and severity of disease. The good news is that hair loss in women of African descent is largely treatable and preventable if detected early and managed with cultural sensitivity. The bad news is that integrative solutions enriched with cultural competency are lacking.

The Do Good H.A.I.R. Project is my aesthetic and cultural response to health disparity. The project redefines “Good Hair” as an active restorative process with a focus on aligning beauty, health, and identity. Beauty can be the cornerstone in a 21st century approach to achieving health equity. The arts of adornment and expressive forms of grooming reveal the culture of a people. Therefore, beauty is an untapped resource for improving cultural competency among healthcare providers. It is in daily rituals that beauty and health come together to support the inner building of identity. Through fostering health-mindful beauty rituals, we may nurture a modern culture of disease prevention. Who would have thought . . . a healthy hairstyle can be the jumpstart for adopting an overall healthy lifestyle.

Submitted by Dr. Monte O. Harris on Wed, 04/17/2013 - 11:27

My life as a beauty doctor is GOOD!  I’ve been a busy plastic surgeon for over 14 years.  I must say that it’s been a most rewarding experience.  Despite my professional joy, there has been one nagging reality. Look Good as the pathway to Feel Good is simply not enough!  The challenge with Look Good to Feel Good is that - it’s not sustainable.  I’ve seen it over the many years with my patients who initially receive a nice energy boost from a cosmetic treatment . . .that inevitably dissipates over time.  Whether it’s a Botox injection to soften lines or wrinkles, a filler such as Radiesse to add youthful volume . . .or even rhinoplasty to balance the appearance of the nose . . .the cosmetic energy tank is not big enough to fuel health-mindful happiness over the journey of Life.

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So I’ve been on this enlightened search to find new ways of combining our natural desire to Look Good with a more powerful energy source beyond that of Feel Good.  The answer lies in linking Look Good and Feel Good to Do Good and Be Good!  By setting Be Good intention as the ultimate goal, we dive into an ocean of regenerative energy that has the capacity to truly transform lives.

Spring is in the air and the opportunity for growth is not limited to Nature. . .join us at the Center for Aesthetic Modernism as we shine a fresh light on the journey to health and well being through a Beauty doorway!   Think of it as Beauty for Life’s Sake.  Keep your eyes open for signs of our growth as we add new healing integrative rituals into our garden of culturally sensitive cosmetic therapy.  Thank you all for being my inspiration for living a purpose driven Life.  Hope to see you soon.

Be Good,

Monte Oyd Harris, MD FACS

Submitted by Dr. Monte O. Harris on Wed, 04/17/2013 - 11:11

We must go back and reclaim our past so we can move forward; so we understand why and how we came to be who we are today…Sankofa.

I recently had the pleasure of giving a Black History month lecture to the medical and dental students at the Meharry Medical College in Nashville TN.  It was a blessing to have the opportunity to connect with the young healers of the future!   My message was Know Thyself to Discover Your Life Purpose.

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Know Thyself is directly related to knowing your past and the ancestors whose shoulders you stand upon.  I’ve vaguely known for years that I was not the first physician in the Harris family, but never had any details.  My visit to Meharry prompted me to dig a bit deeper into my own family history.  I spent time in the Meharry archives and discovered that my great-great uncle, Hardy Fleming Harris was a graduate of the Meharry Medical Class of 1905!  It was personally gratifying to know that educational excellence and challenging status quo was a part of my ancestral heritage.

The notion of history can always be personal.  I encourage us all to take a closer look at our own family stories and use them as a guide to reclaim spiritual purpose in our present Life.


Submitted by Dr. Monte O. Harris on Mon, 03/18/2013 - 11:29

I am convinced that the road to a new freedom lies in the discovery of the surrounding beauties of our Lives...

- Charles Spurgeon Johnson

A most unexpected surprise occurred during my recent speaking engagement at Meharry Medical College for Black History Month. I realized that Fisk University was directly across the street! I spent the morning following my Meharry lecture exploring the Aaron Douglas and Carl Van Vechten Galleries on the Fisk University campus. Fisk is sacred ground when it comes to the intersection of Black America and Modernism.

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Fisk has fueled the creative genius of two giants of Modern Art . . . Aaron Douglas and David Driskell. Aaron Douglas is widely regarded as the visual tastemaker of the New Negro Movement and the Harlem Renaissance. Aaron Douglas’ Fisk murals, painted in 1930 are one of the landmark achievements in the visual legacy of Modernism. I’d seen images of the murals in exhibition books over the years, but to be in their actual presence was truly awe-inspiring. The murals are strongly influenced by African Art and Cubism. As a narrative, the murals dramatically express the collective memory of Africa and pride in African culture and ancestral identity. Standing in front of the mural celebrating the Sciences . . . felt like a homecoming.

While touring the Aaron Douglas gallery, I came upon of one of David Driskell’s early art works. Dr. Driskell assumed the position of chairman of the Department of Art and directorship of the Carl Van Vechten Gallery at Fisk in 1966. The year is special because it’s the year I was born. I do believe that the events occurring in the year of your birth play a defining role in your life purpose. It is befitting that I now have an expanding friendship and relationship with David as a mentor and spiritual advisor. I am blessed and privileged that through conversations with Dr. Driskell – I am directly linked to Aaron Douglas and the pioneers of black visual culture. Modernism is part and parcel with my life journey. Aesthetic Modernism is my unique African inspired healing vision for well-being where each individual may assume the role of Artisan of Self . . . collaborating with nature, technology and community to craft a beautiful life.

Dr. Victor Simmons, curator of the Carl Van Vechten Art Gallery and Dr. Monte Oyd Harris in front of Charles Spurgeon Johnson portrait (1st African American President of Fisk University)


Submitted by Dr. Monte O. Harris on Fri, 02/01/2013 - 12:59
Myrtle Elizabeth Andrews, Deborah Willis and Dr. Harris

Paris is an atmosphere to fuel the creative spirit with a long history of embracing modernity and celebrating the Black aesthetic.

I welcomed the recent opportunity to travel to La Ville Lumière (the City of Light) for Black Portraiture[s]: The Black Body in the West. The conference was the fifth in the series organized by Harvard University and NYU exploring the Black aesthetic in Western society. With Deborah Willis and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. as organizers, it was truly an experience to be cherished!

For three days, I was in beauty culture heaven . . . engrossed in lectures, panels, and amazing dialogue examining representation of the Black body in the West. The conference drew on the ideas and works of leading and emerging writers, photographers, scholars, artists, curators, and filmmakers.

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My wife, Lisa and I, stayed in the Trocadéro area which had particular romantic significance for me as a modern art enthusiast. The Musée d'Ethnographie du Trocadéro is widely known as the place that first opened Picasso’s eyes to the wonders of Africa. It was at the museum that Picasso was introduced to African artifacts. Picasso internalized their non-conventional sculptural beauty as a catalyst to radically challenge the notion of Western art. The museum is now closed, but the modernist spirit of Paris is alive and well.

Just as Picasso, I am deeply inspired by Afrocentric beauty to move beyond the status quo of Western aesthetics. Similar to Cubism where shapes were deconstructed to their most simplistic essence and reassembled to form a new vision of unity, I offer an integrative approach to align beauty, health, and identity. In addition to the physical body, aesthetic consciousness can also be shaped transforming individuals into living sculptures of well-being. Through Aesthetic Modernism, I usher in a modern concept of healing plastic arts and accept the role of integrative artiste plasticien using Beauty as a starting point to help individuals of all ethnicities and cultures navigate the pathway to Wholeness.

For more information: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/aima/hd_aima.htm

Myrtle Elizabeth Andrews, Deborah Willis and Dr. Harris


Submitted by Dr. Monte O. Harris on Mon, 11/05/2012 - 11:13

Dr. Monte O. Harris, Natural Hair & Health Seminar featured Speaker

ZuriWorks™ Presents: "It'll Grow Back: Protective Styles"


Andrene M. Taylor, Ph.D. founder of ZuriWorks for Women’s Health with Jane Carter of Jane Carter Solutions.

As Breast Cancer Awareness month is coming to an end, it wouldn't have been complete without an engaging natural hair and health seminar sponsored by Zuri Works™ for Women's Health. This inspiring meet up "It'll Grow Back: Protective Styles" brought students, professionals, artisans, and health care providers alike to advocate healthy hair restoration.  Dr. Monte O. Harris had the esteemed honor of being one of the many inspirational speakers at the event. In response to the devastating impact of hair loss with cancer survivors, Dr. Monte O. Harris focused his lecture on healthy hair adornment through the Do GOOD H.A.I.R. Project*.

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"It'll Grow Back" commenced with a tour of the Howard University Gallery of Art by Assistant Director, Scott Baker, and was followed with performances and informative guest speakers providing a wealth of knowledge on the health disparities plaguing women of African decent and solutions for adorning healthy, natural hair.

Keynote speaker, Jane Carter, founder and CEO of Jane Carter Solution, spoke about her inspirations to formulate her own natural hair care product line and introduced the audience to a number of plant-derived styling and scalp-care solutions for natural hair transitioners and enthusiasts with all hair types. The "Naturalle Hair Professor", Adrienne Carthon, PhD, also engaged the audience in a portfolio of beautifully crafted protective styles that has gained her recent recognition in the September/October 2012 issue of Sophisticate's Black Hair Magazine. 

It was refreshing to be in the company of so many enthusiastic advocators of health, wellness and natural hair adornment. With some new samples to add to product shelves and useful information on how to take responsibility for my own health and wellness, I am inspired to continue to share knowledge to empower others to look good, feel good and, most importantly, do good for the advancement of collective consciousness.

Latavia A. Lewis

*The Do GOOD H.A.I.R. Project introduces an innovative culturally relevant integrative health platform fostered through participatory community alignment between cosmetologist, craftspersons, museum curators, and clinicians. To learn more, log on to http://www.harrisface.com/do-good-hair-project.html

Submitted by Dr. Monte O. Harris on Wed, 10/24/2012 - 09:12

New Life Plant I had African Ancestry DNA testing earlier this year and was surprised to find out that I shared genetic roots with the Mende people living in Sierra Leone.  It sparked me to learn more about their beauty and culture.  The Mende believe the encapsulation of Beauty exists in the concept of Neku.  Neku is represented by the newest, shining young leaf that springs forth from a growing plant. . .a surging power of new life. 

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The Center for Aesthetic Modernism is experiencing it’s own Neku  evidenced by a new vitality bursting with fresh energy.  I’d like for everyone to welcome Tera Peyton and Latavia Lewis to our aesthetic family!  Tera will often be the first smile you see when visiting or the pleasant voice you hear over the phone when calling.  Latavia is a gifted makeup artist and hairstylist with a strong passion for growing healthy hair.  Tera and Latavia –both proud Naturalistas – are excited about helping each of you fully experience the joy and freedom of natural hair.

We will continue to play the role of aesthetic partners as each of you bring forth your own personal vision of Neku to life.   As many of you know, I have a BIG VISION to channel the power of beauty to heal humanity.   I hope that you will all continue to nurture and cultivate my Life Purpose as a fresh new leaf grows at the Center for Aesthetic Modernism.

Look Good, Feel Good, DO GOOD!

Dr. Monte Oyd Harris   

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!



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.

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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.