In her skin: Kamila McDonald-Alcock

In her skin: Kamila McDonald-Alcock


Sunday, December 20, 2015

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This is part two of a feature In Her Skin, which will have Jamaican women sharing their philosophies on beauty, and revealing some of their own beauty secrets and practices. Here is Kamila McDonald-Alcock.

"EXCUSE me, excuse me! Are you that lady?"

As we got up to leave our table at Grosvenor Cafe´ in Kingston on a Thursday morning, an eager voice from behind called after us. The manager of the quaint establishment rushed towards us to satisfy his own curiosity, as well as that of his staff, after our hour-long interview. My interviewee simply answered a confident, ‘Yes’.

‘That lady’ is Kamila McDonald-Alcock, popular television host, personal trainer and sports nutritionist with anInstagram following of over 69,000 and fans worldwide.

While they know her today as the super-confident, dreadlocked fitness buff, McDonald-Alcock will readily admit it wasn’t always that way.

"I definitely stumbled across my career in health and fitness through my own journey [while being away for college in Norway at 18]. I hit rock bottom. I gained a full 15-20 pounds in the first three months," she admits.

Then McDonald, long before her highly publicised marriage to reggae crooner Jah Cure, she was just a teen far away from home for the first time in Flekke, Norway. Her rapid weight gain — a total of 60 pounds, also caused her to battle clinical depression and an eating disorder.

"When I came home, I didn’t want to go to the supermarket, I didn’t want to go to the beach, I didn’t want to hang out with my friends. When you hit rock bottom, you’re forced to bring yourself up."

While furthering her studies in communications and media with a minor in French and Spanish at Stanford University, and later a master’s in journalism from the University of California, McDonald-Alcock undertook a complete lifestyle change, losing the excess weight while learning about health and fitness.

The 31-year-old’s upbringing was what many foreigners would assume was typical of most Jamaicans. McDonald-Alcock was raised in a Rastafarian household where being all natural and holistic was the order of the day. There was no make-up, no shaving of the legs, no pants were to be worn by the females, and hardly any television watching. Needless to say, beauty magazines were not part of her life.

As a result, she was moulded to define her own standards of beauty.

"Growing up, I was not beautiful by society’s standards. Think about it, it was just the other day that a woman with locks could work at a bank. I was the first Rastafarian to attend Immaculate Conception High School, and believe me, I felt every part of that."

She recalled memories of her mother struggling every day, experimenting to come up with hairstyles for her to look ‘normal’ at school.

"I would come home every single day and cry to my mother and say, ‘I want to cut my locks off,’ because it was too much pressure and kids would tease me. The perception of Rastafari then was ‘dem dirty, dem bun weed all day’."

She would later learn to accept her unique lifestyle and look when she noticed that while abroad foreigners would be fascinated and enamoured with her hair.

"Locks have become beautiful now. Some of those same teachers who used to give me a fight at school are now sitting next to me at the loctician doing their hair. It’s interesting for me to see that because while my parents would have just seen the fight [against Rastafarians], I have seen the fight and now the acceptance."

With a point to prove and a new campaign, McDonald-Alcock entered the Miss Jamaica World competition in 2009 to show Jamaica, and hopefully the world, that natural Rastafarian women could be beautiful by international standards. She subsequently won the competition’s Miss Jamaica Beach Beauty title.

Her newfound confidence also influenced her professional relationships, leading to more opportunities including hosting and producing Jamaica’s first real estate show ‘Home Sweet Home’, and more recently hosting The Wray and Nephew Contender on TVJ. Today, the mother of one is the official Caribbean ambassador of major sporting gear brand Adidas.

The most recent of her in-demand fitness projects is through her Kamp Kamila programme, teaming up with international pro-fitness model Nicole Chaplin for a ‘Release and Recharge’ retreat in the trendy South Beach neighbourhood in Miami, Florida, scheduled for March next year.

"The mission I’m on right now is about empowering women to accept themselves for who they are, to love themselves, and to change because they want to be better versions of themselves, not because they hate themselves. Don’t work out and don’t eat better because of how you look, do it because you love yourself."

Current favourite scents:

Versace Bright Crystal and Jimmy Choo Blossom.

Can’t-do-without beauty regimen products:

"Definitely my Lanco^me cleanser for oily skin. Whether it’s from being on television and having on a full face of make-up or getting in a one-hour sweat where you need to cleanse after, cleanser is number one. With travelling, I use a Lanco^me moisturiser. In Jamaica, I find I don’t need it as much because the humidity and the heat naturally keeps us moisturised. I’m also an eyeliner lover! If I don’t wear anything else, then I will have on a little bit of my MAC Technakohl Graphblack."

Maintenance routine:

"I start my mornings with a glass of water and lemon juice, and I drink a green juice every single day. I believe in getting a massage regularly; I think it’s therapeutic and very necessary as it releases toxins. Other than that, I’ve never had any procedure done... probably never will. From time to time – and I underline ‘from time to time’ – I like to get my nails done, because the hardest thing for me is to sit still for two hours and not do anything else."

What are some of the essential foods in your diet?

"It’s built on a foundation of fresh fruits and vegetables, then unprocessed foods. So I always say, ‘If it’s made from a plant and not on a plant, then it’s in my diet’. I try not to have food that is heavily processed or from a box or a can or a bag. Anything packed with preservatives, you won’t find it in my kitchen."

Everyday go-to closet item:

Adidas gymwear.


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