*Chances are, if you wear your hair natural, you’ve at least heard about beauty blogger, Meechy Monroe. She is a rare breed of woman, who built a huge following online because of her empathy for women who wanted to leave the chemical behind and return to their nappy roots.
And she did it beautifully, too.
She utilized her blog, social media and YouTube channels to win tens of thousands of followers who watched and listened to her with baited breath as she twisted, twirled, patted and puffed her signature, textured Afro into an elegant, bouffant-esque style. Her YouTube channel piled up more than 2.4 million views. She gained 36,000 followers on Instagram and reached thousands more through Twitter and her blog.
So you can imagine the heartbreak her fans felt when they learned that the 29-year-old West Pullman resident had been diagnosed with cancer.
Moore’s cancer is a rare brain tumor that affects just 1 percent of cancer patients in the U.S. And since her diagnosis, the radiation and chemotherapy she has lost her ability to write and speak clearly.
Add to this, the irony that Moore has also lost something that catapulted her to fame in the first place: her hair.
“This is who I am now,” said Monroe, in an interview in her home.
The once tall, lean woman with the striking hair, is now bald and has a circular scar on the left side of her scalp from two surgeries.
And because of her medication, she is now 40 pounds heavier.
Anyone else might’ve just crumbled under the weight of something this devastating; but what’s that saying that you can’t keep a good woman down?
As Moore battles her cancer, she is forging ahead with a new mission: teaching women that beauty is not all about hair.
“It’s just a new journey for me,” she said. “I’ve learned to be pretty confident in my skin. Chubby cheeks. Bald head. It’s beautiful. I have to show other women — no matter what, you’re still beautiful.”
Monroe’s real name is Tameka Moore, and she grew up on the South Side of Chicago and graduated from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale in 2008.
In 2009, after she got what amounts to a bad haircut, she decided to chop off all her chemically treated hair and start fresh with a short Afro. She experimented with a variety of natural styles as her hair grew out, and said she was often stopped on the street by women asking for tips – to which she happily obliged.
“I wanted to help people, and I was still learning, too,” she said. “People would come up to me and ask what I did to my hair. They’d ask to touch it and I’d let them. I understood that so many black women didn’t know their natural hair. They wanted to learn. I’d stop and have a 20-minute conversation in the train station.”
Lucky for us, she soon got the idea to start a blog, to which she added videos demonstrating how she’d get her hair to hold its shape and look glossy and textured. She taped herself, at first in her father’s bathroom in the basement of their modest home, edited the videos and posted them online.
Quickly, they became popular.
“Meechy had always been shy and an introvert,” said her sister, Vaughn Moore. “But on her videos, her personality shined through. When she taped them, it felt like it was one-on-one. But she was speaking to hundreds and thousands of people.”
Read more about how Meechy built her career and how her fans are playing a powerful role in her recovery at MSN.com.