I found Tatyana’s admission of burden due to her ‘good hair’ very interesting. I used to believe that women who had what we like to call a ‘good grade of hair’ had it easy. I also like to think that my perspective wasn’t my fault, that it was how I was brought up in a sense. From a child’s perspective there is separation, we notice the differences among one another and we draw inferences from our parents and surroundings in ways that they would never know that they are portraying.
I have Caribbean heritage, like Tatyana, and where I am from, the term ‘good hair’ was used all the time. My hair was ‘good’ to some extent, it wasn’t as ‘good’ as some of my cousins and friends but there were a few people that were on my side of the line which meant I was not alone.
The problem is everyone on my side of the line, wanted a perm because if we couldn’t get Tatyana curls, we would much rather settle for straight hair. That feels shameful now but a few years ago that was the cold hard truth. We have since then learned to love our hair and many of us can identify the error of our ways as we change our standards and how we view ourselves and our own natural hair.
According to Ali the label of good hair was as much a burden for her as it was for us who did not have it. She felt more like an outsider rather than accepted as most of us would believe. At this point I should mention that she has an Indo-Trinidadian father and a Panamanian mom so she is what we like to call mixed in some circles.
Her mix gives her the hair she has and she expressed her thoughts about it in an interview with Vlad TV, here is what she had to say:
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.’
If I saw Tatyana, I would probably call her out on the irony and say ‘It’s funny you say that, because as a child I used to wish I had hair like yours.” I wished it every day at 5pm when The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air would be on, and I would watch it instead of doing my homework. I also thought if I had her hair I would be pretty like she was and have a million boyfriends, but that’s a whole other post.
Many of us thought Tatyana was gorgeous overall; she had the whole package hair included. The point is you never know a person’s struggle and hearing her talk about it opens up the conversation about separation that we create among ourselves using terms like ‘good’ and ‘bad’.
In our own community, we still hear 4C naturals (again a separation label) complain about not being recognized as much as other naturals who are in the 3 category.
We hear stories about pictures getting more likes because the girl has cute loose ringlets and a woman with zig zag curls getting less likes, and the story goes on and on. I would like to think that we are beyond that. Actually, I do think we are beyond that – I think we now see that all grades of hair are good.
Natural hair gives us a form of uniqueness that a relaxer could never give; we all look different, and with everyone playing with colors and scissors, you will never see the same head in a room full of natural hair.
Personally, I no longer want Tatyana’s hair – I want my own hair. I no longer emulate her because of what she has that I do not have. I was a kid, and to some extent, a little jealousy is expected with very little self awareness at that time.
These days we are about celebration of all beauty, specifically when it comes to hair, and being able to hear a woman’s story from all sides, enjoy it and move on. Standards of beauty are changing – it is no longer what People or Vogue agazine said it was years ago – it is now what we say it is, – it is all good, and it is all different.
What did you think about Tatyana’s hair story?
Charmel Mitchell says
Monique Cake Baker Williams says
I love it! Black people/Mix people need to just realize we are a BEAUTIFUL race. We come in all shades and we are so unique. This is why we are hated on so much and people have to try and separate us and we belive that one thing is better than the other. Other races wish they had our hair and skin tone. WERE BEAUTIFUL lets unite
Amira Yusef says
what is good hair any way. why are black people always jealous of each other , I have never seen another race to do that instead of helping each other put each other down.
Sheryl Creary-smith says
I agree with you my opinion on good hair is,, it a head full of healthy hair .. ppl I dnt understand them
Dee Matthews says
This is NOT a Black thing because other races do this as well. This is about PEOPLE in general who aren’t happy with what they have.
Kimberly Copeland says
Its the slave mentatility.
Amira Yusef says
None of us was born with straight hair and God made us all different we need to be happy with our selfs.
Hamm Ramona says
Lots of ethnicities do it . It is not only blacks . It is a by product of colonialism and white is right teaching. Asians , Hispanics , anywhere colonization exists you have this problem of comparing skin color and hair texture. The closer you are to the ruling class the better
Hamm Ramona says
Is the mentality ..
LaTanya Martin says
There are many shades of black, many different kinds of black. We’re the most diverse ethnic group. So we tend to categorize. Traits which are more “favorable,” we get jealous of others for, and less favorable, we look down on them or assimilate with them to make ourselves feel better
Jasmine Ewing-Sebastian says
I can appreciate her voicing her point of view on this issue. “We” put way too much emphasis on skin tones and hair texture. Kids will have so many other hurdles to overcome growing up. Why start them out believing they’re better or not good enough because their hair doesn’t curl or lay smooth. It’s an ignorant way of thinking.
Kenya Charisse says
I think her mama should have taught her at an early age that her hair was beautiful and how to brush the haters off..little girls are not born with self esteem it has to be taught.
Jennifer Harris says
People still on about good and bad hair? ??? What is bad hair? Hair is hair!
Maame Afia Sika-Doe says
Bla bla bla,, wats the struggle here???
I never liked the phrase good hair its annoys me to the up most bc you are making unnecessary separation and hate with out even knowing it. Honestly though I never wanted Tatyana’s hair I wanted my curls but longer.
Jessica Edwards says
As long as you have hair on your head you have good hair. It doesn’t matter if its straight or curly . Ever grade of hair is good hair.
Jessica Edwards says
She need to be thanking God that she has hair on her head instead of talking about good hair. Some people can’t grow any at all.
Ni-Ni Patterson says
She told the truth. I witnessed the envy and hatred/jealousy many of them experienced. Sometimes it’s doesn’t matter if your parents tried to teach you that you are beautiful just the way you are. Criticism from peers has always been a factor in the way some people think and come to conclusions about “issues”. If that were not the case, all of these children wouldn’t be committing suicide and feeling less than after being bullied by their peers.
Charlene Cha LaBranche says
Honestly I understand where she’s coming from ppl will set you apart for a lot of reasons and when you’re a kid you don’t know how to take it n you see it as a flaw rather than oh it’s just hair
Lula A Wynn says
Nenenay Paige says
Tracy McCoy says
She needs to get over it…
Raven Marie says
I totally agree with her. Not necessarily the emphasis on a ‘struggle’ but people with fine curly hair (3a-3c) do have issues too. I used to want a perm and presses because I wanted to be like the girls at school. I’ve long since embraced my natural hair, but she’s totally right about having Carib family members…they love curly hair and skin color. Luckily I was not raised that way, but many are/were.
Sharon Sherry Sumpter says
It is her truth, her story and I appreciate the fact that she is willing to share it
Adrienne Bridges says
What is good hair ???? Really this is 2014 get over it
Tonja Manigo says
I have good hair too!! When your hair is healthy, growing and has a nice sheen to it, that’s good hair!! Texture has nothing to do with it. I hate that stigma we as black people put on ourselves. Smh!!
Tee Collins says
Ayesha Riley says
I love her! She seems so down to earth and she is incredibly gorgeous.
Michelle Williams says
Right..Keep your hair healthy by moisturizing and conditions..If it’s healthy it good.There you have it..Good hair!!
Sheryl Creary-smith says
Good hair?!?! Oh please has nothing to do with texture or if ur mixed etc… (good hair is healthy shinny hair) ppl have bigger struggles in life now ( grow ing up even today ppl say it to me aswell you have good pretty hair blah blah) just keep it cleaned and maintain and the hair will be good
Anna Ogonji Smith says
I see it all the time. My city is the worst on saying mixed children are cuter than both races by themselves. I remember in school hearing boys and girls saying they’re going to have mixed babies so they’ll be cute. I wish I didn’t live here still! I think it’s fine to date outside your race, but if you’re doing it because you hate your own, you have a problem. I appreciate all types of hair and I love seeing women being themselves and wearing their own crown. We have been separating ourselves using straight haired people’s standards. Stop with #team stuff and unite! (Ie: team dark, team light, team y’all all darn black, team 4c, team 3b, team our hair can’t count and don’t know the darn alphabet)
Brittany KissyFace McNeil says
I hate when people say that.
Brittany KissyFace McNeil says
And yes let’s all unite 🙂
MrsShininglight OfBeautifulpeople Jackson says
Read the article and watch the video before jumping to conclusions based off of a headline. Do we not understand the context of “”?
Miyoshi Faniel says
It’s wonderful to hear her story. A celebrity who is real and not afraid to share her vulnerable side. Much respect to her. She’s gorgeous and her personality matches☺️
Lakeva Crim says
Jackie Robinson says
I can understand people see you as different from things they don’t unstand…but now she’s grown an that’s their problem not hers.. as long as she loves her self…
Patrice Spears-Bryant says
Sarah Green says
Lol, misrepresentation of her comments…. Some of y’all need to read the excerpts of her interview.
Tamika N Brinkley says
I was just thinking that…
Deatrice Hildreth says
All hair is ‘ Good Hair’! All types of hair experience shedding & breakage, and needs to be conditioned & trimmed. Some types of hair is less manageable/more manageable than others; but it’s ALL ‘Good Hair’
MrsShininglight OfBeautifulpeople Jackson says
The struggle includes being singled out from the ones you love as a child as being different. Having girls that you want to be friends with not like and bully you because you are pretty. Do you know how many little girls are beaten and have their hair cut off by other children? That will destroy the soul of a child. And after growing up having people that don’t even know you look at you like a snob and shoot nasty looks and spread rumors. We need to stop calling our children nappy headed and calling them black as though its a bad thing. Stop comparing yourself to other women and maybe we’ll stop comparing our children as well and passing that vicious cycle down. Then maybe the term “good hair” will go away.
Patricia Rosa says
This was so beautifully stated. I applaud you.
Endenezjia Graham says
Who cares about her hair
Monica Thornton-Anderson says
Its a damn MESS that other BLACK people are the ones that have made her feel alienated, isolated…WTF is wrong with us, really? It’s heartbreaking how ignorant your people are, sometimes…..smh…
Thedra Renee White says
Good hair is healthy hair
Tammie Faulkner Taylor says
She isn’t saying she has “good hair”, she is saying she wished that our people didn’t elevate certain textures of hair and make a big deal over it.
Btw, using the term “grade of hair” signifies “good and bad”. Hair isn’t eggs, beef, diamonds or a test paper. It has textures, not “grades”. Whether kinky, silky, coarse, wavy, curly or straight, if it’s healthy, it’s “good”. Please cease and desist with using terms like “good grade of hair”, it creates issues with self esteem of our youth.
Sonia Gotay-López says
I’m so sick of “good hair and bad hair” there is no such thing. I don’t hear white people go on with such foolishness. Enough already everyone has different texture be happy with what God blessed you with.
Ginger Arceneaux says
We all have to understand children can be mean and definitely like to isolate that which is different. We do need to drop the labels and #team tags this only furthers our seperate on as a race. I think the 3 a and 4 a categories were brought about to discuss different methods of caring for the different textures within our cultures. Some have more ability to absorb and hold moisture while others dont. We stigmatized the differences between the letters and numbers, labeling some better than others. No hair texture that’s healthy is bad.. it is all good!
As a sociology major, i’ve had to study social inequality. That’s where I learned about how our history continues to affect us today. The term good hair being associated with looser curls has always bothered me, and although I get angry when I hear black and mixed men and women refer to hair as “good”, I’ve learned not to judge. Personally, I DO believe that there is still a stigma associated with having 4C grade hair. It’s gotten better, because women and men across the curls types board have been standing up in pride and declaring their unique beauty. But we do still have problems. I’ve looked at different natural hair pages on IG and more than half of the women featured are lighter skinned, with hair that falls in the 3c and looser category. This is something we have to recognize to be able to get past. The problem is still here although the tides are slowly changing. It’s something that we need to raise awareness about, for both sides ( good hair and ‘nappy’ (insert other terms for kinky hair) hair), and then start changing the ideology behind that drives many of us to prefer “good” hair rather than appreciating the differences in our ethnic hairs.
Sandra B says
I totally get what Ali is trying to explain.
I didn’t experience it myself but my sister did. I am French Caribbean, born and bred in Paris. My parents moved back to the Caribbean when I was a teen. My little sister experienced bullying at school because she had “good hair” (well I dont have “good hair” as my sis takes after my dad’s side of the family and I don’t) . Kids would pull her hair out to the extent she lost most of her gorgeous hair.
Many people think that Ali’s argument is not valid (always easy to judge from the outside). Probably because it isn’t visual or dramatic enough. But she has a point
She really does. I think we need discourse. Allow each other to talk and see from each others’ point of view
Patrice Kinsey says
That hair 4c, 4b etc., is just as bad as light skin vs dark skin. All it is, is another way to keep us divided.
Growing up, my hair was longer then most black girls and people would say “you have good hair.” I am dark skinned but people would still ask me if I am mixed because they didn’t believe that black people could grow hair! What a crazy world we live in. Love yourself everyone. I decided to go natural because after years of being told I had good hair I finally sat down and said what does my hair really even look like. What is all this good hair nonsense? Hell if I knew. Now I can look in the mirror with no makeup and my afro and feel confident about the way God made me.