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jessica pettway 2017 BET Experience - Fashion And Beauty - Day 1

Jessica Pettway speaks during day one of Fashion and Beauty during the 2017 BET Experience at the Los Angeles Convention Center on June 24, 2017, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Tibrina Hobson / Getty

Long-time beauty and hair influencer Jessica Pettway, a social media starlet, has died. Pettway’s sister confirmed Pettway’s death in an Instagram post from an account that has since been made private.

The devastating news comes after a surprising cervical cancer diagnosis and public battle with the disease. Pettway leaves behind a husband and two beautiful daughters.

Pettway was 36, according to E News. No date of death was immediately reported.

Pettway’s sister, Reyni Brown, wrote a sweet note on Instagram remembering her life.

“It’s my birthday today, and the only thing I could ever wish for is for God to bring you back on this earth,” Brown wrote in a Friday Instagram post featuring a photo of the two sisters together. “I lost my beautiful big sister 2 days ago and my heart has never felt pain like this.”

Brown also wrote that Pettway was “the most amazing, strong, confident” woman she had ever met and filled her life “with so much wisdom, prayed for me, and helped me become a better mother. Life will never be the same without her crazy laugh, pranks, or jokes. Loosing [sic] a sibling feels like a connection between us was destroyed. I love you with all my heart.”

Jessica Pettway was an ‘OG influencer,’ engaging with audiences even before the job had a name.

A wife, mother, and entrepreneur, Pettway was what many would describe as an “OG” influencer. Long before TikTok, huge brand deals, and Instagram reels, Pettway was a trusted voice in the beauty space. She topped several lists for best beauty and hair influencers, with YouTube as one of her leading platforms. Her channel has more than 200,000 followers.

A shining beauty inside and out, Pettway was a hair chameleon with beauty superpowers. She loved trying new products, displaying fabulous looks, and creating “how-to” videos. 

There was nothing that Pettway could not rock. She created magic with her crowning glory, from synthetic and human hair wigs to braids and a natural ‘fro. Like ESSENCE writer Shalwah Evans once wrote about the star, her versatility could win anyone’s “DMX challenge.”

Pettway was also a makeup girlie. Her recommendations were honest and spot on. 

I know from experience that Pettway taught many people how to embrace their hair and be their authentic selves. The former California resident and beloved influencer did this for me.

As she grew and expanded her career, Pettway eventually started fashion blogging and serving the girlies. The amalgamation of hair, beauty, and fashion trends was kismet. Pettway was a moment – and we loved watching her create and inspire.

Jessica Pettway learned she had stage 3 cervical cancer.

In August 2022, the girl-mom took one of her first social media breaks. Known to share with her fans and followers, however, she posted messages explaining why. Pettway shared on social media that she couldn’t eat, stay awake, or take care of her children. She was rushed to the hospital and had an emergency blood transfusion.

Pettway captioned her revealing Instagram post: ”Couldn’t stand for long periods of time. Couldn’t even do simple things, like cleaning, cooking, drive. Not to mention, the medication I was on, made me feel like a literal zombie. My speech was slurred. My heart would race. It was terrible.”

Unfortunately, Pettway’s health continued to take a turn for the worse. According to the YouTuber, after being misdiagnosed with fibroids, a doctor told her she had stage 3 cervical cancer. On July 31, 2023, she wrote in part on Instagram, “It turns out, it was not a fibroid, but cancer. I was misdiagnosed all this time. I remember hearing that and immediately saying to myself, “I refuse to make an agreement with that diagnosis.” And so I didn’t. Being told I have cancer didn’t devaste me. It was the reaction of those close to me.”

Staying true to her commitment to transparency and openness, Pettway continued to share about her public battle to the end. She vented about issues with losing weight and its impact on her marriage and personal body image. Despite her struggles, she spoke life into her daughters and recognized the “small moments.” She maintained her aim to inform others of her condition—known to fatally impact Black women more than white women—and its impact on our communities.

Jessica Pettway transcended beauty and hair influence.

Pettway had the gift of connecting with audiences and relating to all women. Whether discussing hair tips, beauty must-haves, or difficult disease diagnosis, her impact was undeniable. 

We join several Black women – who watched her, learned from her, and joked with her – in sending condolences and prayers. Jessica Pettway will be missed. 


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Jessica Pettway, Beauty And Fashion ‘OG Influencer’ On Social Media, Dies At 36  was originally published on