“I Didn’t Want To Be Different” Tatyana Ali Talks About The Burden Of “Good Hair”

October 20, 2014  |  

Are you ready for another Black hair story? We’ve all heard tales of “good hair.” Either we had it or knew someone who inherited the coveted title through genetics or a combination of chemicals. However you were introduced to the term, you know it. The good hair discussion is an old and tired one. But one we’re clearly not over yet.

Usually, when we discuss this topic it’s from the prospective of people who was plagued by this term because people didn’t think they had “good hair.”

But in a recent interview with Vlad Tv, Tatyana Ali talks about how the label was something of a burden for her. It made her feel ostracized instead of privileged as we might assume it would.

It’s funny, when I was younger, it was something that set me apart and not necessarily in a good way, from other girls that I knew. Not that I was made fun but it felt like I was made to seem different. It’s interesting, the thing you think is a flaw. 

When Chris Rock did Good Hair, I was like ‘Oh my gosh, he should have interviewed me.’ Because I feel like there’s one side of the story, which he told really, really well. But then there’s the other side of the story. It’s boys and girls sometimes. You know you have like a group of cousins playing and you separate the children that way, you’re doing as much damage to the chid you’re calling out for having “good hair” as you are–because you’re creating this separation that’s not true. 

I grew up  wanting to be able to twist my hair and wear my hair like my mom did and my aunts did. Because I wanted to be like them, I didn’t want to be different. 

[Just that term “good hair”] is crazy. 

Caribbean people do it even worse. They’ll say crazy things like, ‘Oh yeah, she’s so dark but she has good hair.’ 

I know people who still use the term, not really understanding how it separates us and instead of celebrating, alienating certain children and even adults.

Have any of you had an experience like Tatyana’s?

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