Marian Scott, 8, says she lost her confidence when she was denied a school photo last month over her red, braided hair extensions
To turn her frown upside down, a professional photographer reached out to give the Michigan third-grader a photoshoot she’s sure to remember.
Chicago photographer Jermaine Horton traveled hundreds of miles to Jackson, Michigan, this week to host a special shoot for the young girl in hopes of rebuilding her confidence, outlet WILX-TV reported. Scott says it did just that.
“It was fun!” she told the station. “You got to pose and change clothes and got to be yourself.”
It was a refreshing turn of events for Scott, whose charter school barred her from taking school pictures because her red braids, fashioned into a bright bun on her head, violated the school’s picture day policy.
The Paragon Charter Academy student handbook explicitly states that students’ hair color must be in “natural tones” in order to have their photo taken. What isn’t clear, however, is the suggested course of action should a student show up with colored hair.
Scott was ultimately sent back to class, in tears, after not being allowed to take photos.
Things panned out much differently at the recent shoot, where the 8-year-old proudly rocked her red extensions — the very ones that kept her from getting her school picture taken.
“I told [Marian], don’t worry about it. I’ve got you,” Horton told Atlanta Black Star in an exclusive interview. “‘I’m about to give you something everybody in your school will be jealous about.’ Now, she’s the talk of the town! She’s a celebrity in her own city. Her confidence is so through the roof, it’s insane.”
“What you see in those photos is who she is,” he added.
In one shot, Horton said he encouraged Scott to “release” all the sadness and anger she felt over the incident. What he got was a pretty powerful shot.
“If you wanna scream, cry, whatever you want to do, do it now,” he recalled telling the 8-year-old. “Then she let out this glorious scream.”
Horton said he first caught wind of Scott’s story while attending an event called the Photo Cookout, a yearly conference for Black photographers. By that time, Scott’s story had gone viral and popped up in Horton’s Facebook feed.
He knew he wanted to help, so he reached out to the local news station to get Marian’s parents’ contact information. They jumped for joy at the offer.
Scott’s renewed confidence shines in her photos, but the young girl admits it took a lot of work to get it back. She recalled feeling like she lost a part of herself on school picture day.
“I could feel it go,” she told WILX-TV.
Marian’s dad, Doug Scott, was outraged over the incident and said it made him question if he and his wife should’ve changed their daughter’s hair at all.
Scott and her parents said they are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support they’ve received since the ordeal. In addition to the photos, the third-grader was also gifted a new wardrobe by Joy Entertainment & Event Management and Mieka Joi, CEO of Rich Girl Candy, according to the outlet.
“Thank you,” said Marian. “I appreciate it and I love the support.”
From his incident, Horton has launched his Art of Confidence project, an effort aimed at boosting the spirit of others through his photography. He does it free of charge, traveling nationwide to “where there are stories … of someone who needs their confidence restored.”
“I’m excited to see what happens with it,” said Horton.
The Chicago man said he hopes to bring Scott to his next Photo Cookout conference in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to serve as his subject/model.