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Meechy Monroe dead: YouTube star famed for natural hair tutorials dies at 32

The Independent logo The Independent 2017-07-17 Maya Oppenheim
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A YouTuber who rose to fame for urging black women to embrace their natural hair has died at the age of just 32.

Meechy Monroe died of brain cancer at a nursing home in Westmont in Illinois on 27 June.

Monroe turned her attentions to her locks in 2009 after becoming despondent with marketing jobs and enduring a bad haircut which prompted her to ditch the mane she had been subjecting to perming chemicals from the age of 16.

It was then that she stumbled across the natural black hair movement – a movement which encourages women to keep their afro-textured hair and reject the damaging chemicals of hair-straightening perms.

In 2010, she started documenting her natural hair journey and sharing countless step by step tutorials brimming with tips on YouTube. Since then her channel has acquired 52 thousand followers and collected millions of page views. Beauty brands have also flocked to her with endorsements.

She did all of this with the help of her sister, Vaughn Colquitt, who also has a beauty YouTube channel, and before long the Monroe sisters were travelling across the US and Europe flouting their enthusiasm for all things hair related.

But in 2014 Monroe had a stroke and diagnosed with an extremely rare vascular cancerous tumour in her brain which affects just one per cent of cancer patients in the US.

Also read: Why women should never ignore chin hair

In preparation for brain surgery that year she relinquished the tresses which brought her to fame and donated them to locks of love – a non-profit organisation which provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under the age of 21 who are suffering from long-term medical hair loss.

“I cried,” she told People magazine in 2015. “It was very difficult because my hair was so much a part of my personality.”

“I lost all my hair, I had the worst year of my life. But you know what? I’m still the same person”.

Despite the fact treatment changed her capacity to write and her speech, she continued to promote the natural hair movement throughout. She also transformed her blog from a discussion about curls and twists into a platform to talk about her cancer.

Born Tameka Moore, Monroe was raised on the South Side of Chicago as one of four sisters in a close family. She acquired the moniker of “Meechy” in secondary school and then opted for the surname of Monroe in tribute to Marilyn Monroe.

In addition to her parents and Ms Colquitt, she is survived by two other sisters, Katara Giles and Alexandria Moore; a grandfather, Grant Kelly; and a step-grandmother, Rosalind Kelly.

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