Each year, thousands of viewers tune into the Miss Teen USA pageant to see who will take home the crown. This year, it was 18-year-old Kaliegh Garris, a Connecticut native with a smile that could radiate in even the darkest of places. 

The young beauty and much-deserved winner has earned extra praise not for her evening gown, or even her stellar interview answers, but for wearing her natural curls during the competition. The bold move and win is long overdue and is creating conversations about the acceptance of natural hair in the pageant space. 

On Sunday night, Kaliegh Garris was crowned Miss Teen USA. 

The 18-year-old former Miss Connecticut won over the hearts of viewers and judges with her infectious smile, poise, grace, and killer interview. At the end of it all, Garris was crowned in an emotional win that's gone viral; it brought most who witnessed it to tears.  

And she did it all donning her natural curls.

After more than two decades, Garris became the first Miss Teen USA to be crowned wearing her natural curls. With her tight spirals thriving, Garris walked the stage with her shapely 'fro stealing the show. And for added variety, she pinned up her curls for a brilliant natural mohawk. 

Garris has been wearing her curls for most of her pageant career.

Since 2017, when Garris was competing in smaller-scale pageants, she's been seen proudly wearing her afro, something not very common in the Miss USA system, and something even more uncommon for Connecticut pageants. 

But Garris hasn't always been confident in her curls. 

“There was one day when my friend saw my curls coming in from my roots because I didn't straighten my hair very well that day, and she was like, 'You have beautiful curly hair, you should go natural.' My mom thought I was only going to get a little trim, but I actually chopped all the straight ends off, and ever since then, I've been natural,” Garris told Refinery29.

And how does a beauty queen prep her curls for a night of victory?

With a very, very lengthy shower. "The night before, I finger-curled every single piece of my hair in the shower, which led to a very long shower, but it was for the greater good," Garris told Refinery29. 

And with a milestone so great, Twitter erupted in praise of the natural beauty queen. Check out some of the reactions ahead.

The celebration of blackness after Garris' win was real. 

"Just wanted to let y’all know our new Miss Teen USA is this BLACK NATURAL HAIRED QUEEN right here. That is all," said one supporter. And with the USA pageant system being historically white, the representation was not something to be taken lightly. 

Many criticized beauty standards.

"Think of all the beauty history missed because it confined the word for the world. Think of all the beauty history missed because the world preferred straight over curled. Congrats," another user wrote. 

Garris' historic win can't help but to make us wonder how many other black beauty queens also wanted to wear their natural coils but felt pressured to do otherwise.

People also made note of the former Miss Teen USA.

Garris was crowned by former Miss Teen USA Hailey Colborn, another young black woman. "Kaleigh Garris is the new Miss Teen USA for 2019. I am so happy to see she’ll be representing for our girls. Such an exciting year for black girls! It’s also a special moment to see her crowned by 2018’s winner Hailey."

Other believed that Garris deserved more than the Miss Teen USA platform. 

"Congrats, to Kaleigh Garris thank you for being fierce and going against the grain. You deserve a better platform than Miss Teen USA; to shine. It's sad it only took about 36 years to have a coily-afro, black girl to win," said a critic of the sometimes controversial and less-than-inclusive pageant. 

Watching the crown get placed on top of her bigger crown (her hair, that is) was nothing short of amazing.

What a feeling for black girls and women everywhere to witness another black woman wearing her curly hair and being crowned such a huge title. 

"A black girl won Miss Teen USA and they had to put the crown on top of her curly fro. I couldn't be more proud," exclaimed a fan.