Girl denied school photos because of her hair gets magazine-worthy shoot with photographer

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(Photo: Jermaine Horton)

JACKSON, Mich. (WLIX)— An 8-year-old girl who felt “singled out” after being blocked from school photos because of her hairstyle got a confidence-building boost from a Chicago photographer last week.

Marian Scott told WILX she cried after she was told that she couldn’t get her photo taken at Paragon Charter Academy in Jackson, MI last month because the red extensions in her hair violated school policy. The school’s handbook says students’ hair color must be “of natural tones” to get their picture taken, according to WILX.

After her story made the news, it caught the attention of Naperville-based photographer Jermaine Horton. Growing up in a family devastated by gun violence on the South Side of Chicago, Horton said he was familiar with the types of feelings Marian was experiencing.

“When you’re singled out like that it’s a sucky feeling, and you could tell her confidence was just shot,” Horton said.

Horton said vendors donated clothes, studio space, and everything they needed to make the shoot special.

“It was just a thing I wanted to do out of my heart,” Horton said.

He took his own kids along for the hours-long drive to Michigan, where Marian lives. She donned a colorful dress for the photo shoot, and kept the red braids in her hair.

At first she was nervous, but after she got to talking about her favorite singer Ariana Grande and doing Fortnite dances with his kids, Horton said he could see Marian’s confidence coming back.

He said she’s actually a natural model. One pose in particular expressed the emotion she felt on the day she was turned away from getting her photos taken.

“I asked, ‘give me how you felt in that moment,’” he said.

View this post on Instagram

Good Morning World …. Lets talk about this Photo Session and why it happened. A beautiful young soul named Marian Scott was denied her school pictures because of the Red streaks in her hair. ( Here is the original link to the story https://www.facebook.com/WILXNicoleBuchmann/posts/3014390945297769 ) When I heard about this story I was furious as a parent because the first thing I thought about was the impact of what this would do to such a beautiful little girl. I recached out to @nicole_joy_3 of @wilxtv who covered the story and she got me in contact with the parents. We set a date and I drove from Chicago to @procamphoto to do our OWN photoshoot of this amazing beautiful little girl. I want to thank @joymanagementinc who was the angel who purchased items for this shoot from @donitavann ( Vanndalz) (The outfits were amazing)/ Special thanks to Owner and CEO @miekajoi_ of @richgirlcandy who donated her amazing pieces who truly made Marian feel so special and appreciated. Im so blessed to have been apart of this to give her an amazing day that showed her that she truly is beautiful and her hair color was the BOMB! Of course we kept it for the shoot! #YourFavoritePhotographer @jermainehortonportraits PS, Thank you @nicole_joy_3 for being so amazing and NOT just being a reporter but also a great humanitarian that went above and beyond! @sony @sonyalpha @stellaprolights Pro Lights CLx8 @westcottlighting Fj400 Westcott RapidBox XXL and XL #ocf #Michigan #Photography #HerShootWasBetter #BlackIsBeautiful #EmbraceYou #blackgirls #power #secure #strong #schoolphotos #photooftheday #picoftheday #SonyA9 #westcottlighting #blackgirlsrock #redhairdontcare #portraits #melaninpoppin #melanin @sonyalpha

A post shared by Jermaine Horton Weddings (@jermainehortonphotography) on

Not only did the photo shoot help Marian get her own confidence back, it has inspired others to do good works as well, Horton said. Thousands of people have contacted him from around the world to express thanks, and say they would like to do the same thing.

“I wasn’t expecting the reaction – I knew it was going to get picked up by a few people in the photography community but I had no idea it was going to do what it did,” he said.

Horton said the experience actually inspired him to help even more people get their confidence back. He’s heard from parents of children who are going through difficult life experiences, like being badly burned or injured. He plans to continue the work in a new initiative he’s calling the Art of Confidence project.

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