published Saturday, June 15th, 2013

Inner-city teens set to get free makeovers today

Michael Bone, an employee of Salon V in Chattanooga, cuts Maxine Smith's hair Friday afternoon.
Michael Bone, an employee of Salon V in Chattanooga, cuts Maxine Smith's hair Friday afternoon.
Photo by Connor Choate.

Chandra Brown, wife of NFL football player Tony Brown, plans to show more than two dozen inner-city girls that they are royalty.

"I want the girls to walk in and be mesmerized, excited and overwhelmed," said Brown, owner of Studio V on Gunbarrel Road.

The girls will participate in Brown's first "Princess for a Day" event, where girls from three area recreation centers will get free hair styling, makeup and manicures. And all of them will get gift bags that include gift cards for clothes. A professional photographer will take photos of it all to make sure the girls look at themselves and remember that they are beautiful, Brown said.

Brown and her sister, Tiquisia McClure, grew up in the Westside in the 1980s. Then people from First-Centenary United Methodist Church took them to lunches and special events, the two recalled.

"We want them to feel like we felt," said McClure, who is helping plan the event.

Girls participating are ages 12 to 17. They're coming from Tyner, East Lake and the Westside recreation centers. Brown said those were the centers that could transport the girls to the event, but she plans to start earlier next year so more centers can participate.

Tyner Recreation Center specialist Monique McMillan said she hopes the girls see a different atmosphere than what they already know.

They've seen gang violence, friends and family members hurt or had friends that have had people hurt, McMillan said.

"Some of them have seen so much negativity. I want them to see something else," McMillan said.

At Studio V they'll see a salon framed with sheer white curtains that give way to sparkling light fixtures hanging from the ceiling like large crowns. Portraits of black women are mounted on lilac-colored walls, and soft music plays overhead. The salon will be set up with food tables and decorations just for the girls.

McMillan visited the shop before the event.

"It looks like you're at a salon on TV somewhere," she said.

Brown said she wants to increase the girls' confidence and show them they can "reach for the stars."

"We want to make them feel welcome," she said, "and show them that people care."

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at yputman or 423-757-6431.

about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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