Professional dancer Najla Gilliam saw the gorgeous Allure magazine cover shoot featuring Zoe Kravitz and was inspired. Channeling the butterflies stylists decided to add to Kravitz’s braids, Gilliam adorned her own hair with butterflies. It’s now a style she wears on the regular, and we’re totally here for it.
The 22-year-old New Jersey native fell in love with the unconventional look. “I was inspired by mother nature and the beauty of the butterflies,” Gilliam tells Yahoo Beauty.
Gilliam says she has always marched to the beat of her own drum when if comes to her hair and her sense of style.
“I have tried to embrace my generations’ rebellious nature and nonconformism to what is supposed to be normal and pretty,” she says. “Everyone is beautiful in their own way.”
She says that she does receive some stares when she wears her butterfly braids, but that most of them are looks of admiration.
“Most people stare out of love and appreciation,” says Gilliam. “I appreciate the love people show me for being true to myself, there are so many nice people out there.”
Her Instagram followers also show love for her butterfly braids too. One commenter wrote, “You’re my inspiration.” Another added, “OMG you look beautiful honey.”
But Gilliam admits that acceptance and self-love weren’t always the case for her when she was younger.
“When I was growing up, in elementary school and in middle school, I wasn’t sure of my style yet,” she says. “I didn’t come into myself ’til I was about to start high school, I saw Rihanna’s half-shaved Bob and I decided to recreate it.”
At 19, Gilliam became a professional dancer, and her career choice has allowed her to live both her professional dream and her style truth.
So what’s next for this enviably stylish woman? “I want to create a multipurpose space where young people can come in and feel free to express themselves, a safe-heaven for creativity in my community,” Gilliam says.
We 10,000 percent approve.
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