Tatyana Ali says that she disliked hearing about her “good hair.” Photo: Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images
As many African-American women know well, the term “good hair” is often loaded with meaning and subtext—so much, actually, that it inspired Chris Rock to make a documentary of the same name. Now, Tatyana Ali has a thing or two to say about the subject.
Recently, during an interview with VladTV, Fresh Prince star Tatyana Ali talked about her experience as a mixed-race child with straight, shiny hair—the kind of texture often referred to as “good hair.” (Ali’s mother, of African descent, is from Panama; her father, of Indian descent, is from Trinidad.)
“When Chris Rock did Good Hair, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, he should have interviewed me,’” Ali said. “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.”
The actress explained that having straight hair made her feel alienated from her friends and family with textured hair. “It was something that set me apart—and not necessarily in a good way—from other girls that I knew,” she said. “I felt like I was made to seem different.”
Ali, who called her hair a “strange mixture of frizzy and straight,” said that labeling children by their hair texture is harmful—no matter whether it comes with negative or positive connotations. “You’re doing as much damage to the child you’re calling out for having ‘good hair,’ because you’re creating this separation that’s not true,” she said. “It’s crazy.” Sounds like having so-called “good hair” isn’t quite as great as it’s cracked up to be.