Credit: Instagram

Credit: Instagram

In an interview with VladTV, Tatyana Ali opened up about people’s obsession with the her hair. “When I was younger it was something that set me apart, and not necessarily in a good way,” the actress said.

Ali, whose mother is Panamanian and father is Trinidadian, revealed she was not always fond of her “good hair.”

“My mom is Black, she’s from Panama and my dad is Indian, he’s from Trinidad. Even if you look at like the color of my hair with my Indian friends, my hair is more ‘Indian.’ It’s funny. When I was younger [my hair] was something that set me apart and not necessarily in a good way, from other girls that I knew. Not that I was so much made fun of but it felt like I was made to seem different. It’s kinda..it’s interesting, the thing you think is a flaw when you’re little…”

Growing up, she felt shunned and often “separated” from her family members who did not share the same hair texture.

“You have like a group of cousins playing and when you separate the children that way, you’re doing as much damage to the child you’re calling out for having good hair as you are [to the other children] because you’re creating this separation that isn’t true,” Ali explained. Ali believes her story is not often discussed in the Black community, where individuals with “good hair” are regarded as more desirable and beautiful. When Chris Rock released his 2009 film “Good Hair,” which discussed the complex relationship of Black women and their hair, Ali wished Rock would have reached out to her.

“When Chris Rock did Good Hair, I was like ‘Oh my God, he should’ve interviewed me!’ because I feel like there’s one side of the story, which he told very, very well, but then there’s another side of the story, which is…you have a group of cousins playing together and you separate the children that way, you’re doing as much damage to that child that you’re calling out for having good hair…You’re creating this separation that isn’t true.”

“I grew up wanting to be able to twist my hair and to wear my hair like my mom did and my aunts did because I wanted to be like them, I didn’t wanna be different. [Just that term ‘good hair’] is crazy. Caribbean people do it even worse, they’ll say crazy things like, and there’s colorism too, ‘Oh yeah, she’s so dark but she has good hair.’ It’s crazy. It literally is crazy.”

#throwback unibrow and feathered bangs, hot A photo posted by Tatyana Ali (@tatyanaali) on

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  • CreoleSista

    When I saw the heading of the story a couple of days ago, I didn’t want to read it because I knew what the reaction would be. I saw it again just moments ago on this site while reading the article on Jonelle Monae and all I have to say is WOW! But I guess I’m not surprised by the reaction. First of all she is talking about racism within our race. Why people are clowning and not feeling her trials as a black kid with “good hair” is beyond me. Do some of you really think that when she auditioned for the role in Fresh Prince that she knew she had it because of her good hair? Others might have, but that was not her reality because when she looked in the mirror she saw a black child while all along some were snickering behind her back and in front of face for her hair. Some of you mentioned her sister castmate (played by Karyn Parson) being biracial but failed to mention that she has “black hair” and often wore it in natural styles. She did not relax her hair to fit in.

    I have had trials about my “good hair” ever since I could remember. I even wrote about the ordeal in my black college’s newspaper, which was a direct answer at some downing light-skinned blacks in a public forum. I even deal with it as an adult. One example is when I visited a pediatrician for my daughter who was just weeks old with straight brown hair. After leaving the appt, I headed for the elevator when two black women tried to “good hair” shame me. One of them said, “So you think your baby will have good hair like you? She won’t. Her hair will turn nappy.” I was flabbergasted and just kept on walking. Yeah, I was mad as hell but didn’t show it. But according to some of you I shouldn’t feel bad because of my hair. I should feel empowered because I would fit in better with white people. I should just sit my butt down and think ONLY about the trails of supposedly “real” black women, the only ones who apparently have a story to tell.

    I close with a quote from one of my friends, who is what some of you would say is a “real” black woman. I was telling her about people clowning my hair, when she poignantly said, “You’re black, so you have black hair.”

  • Rashee

    There’s a flip side to everything. For everyone, standing out when you’re trying to fit in is negative attention. She was lucky to find an outlet but that attention (positive or negative) can lead to vanity or self-hate which perpetuate colorism and such. As a mom of a mixed young son living in a non-majority Black country abroad, I can say that the extreme attention can be exhausting. Kids’ parents and teachers and random people constantly remark on or ask questions about him and usually it’s with love or curiosity because he is brown with curly hair. Most of the time is it positive attention. But then the other kids isolate him because they realize he is different because of other people’s attention. He also has all eyes on him. What is excused in another as a kid being a kid is taken more seriously as some aspect of his character….just by virtue of his difference. Otherizing hurts and makes the kids ashamed of their attributes. Later in life they may deal with issues of feeling not black enough or not trusting in their talents for fear of success being due to someone liking the novelty of them…so act out or have serious life problems that in turn affect us all. I am happy she brought up that point. At the end of the day, she is still from a minority community which means she doesn’t have the priveleges a white woman in a racist society has….instead she gets to be exotic to everyone.