Tia Mowry has become the latest Black celebrity to open about the discrimination she faced in Hollywood because of her hair. The Sister, Sister star shared her story in an essay for ELLE’s State of Black Beauty package, saying that she began feeling pressure to straighten her hair while filming the hit ‘90s TV series.
“You could see that when we became teenagers in the show, we ended up straightening our hair. It was such a pivotal moment in the series because it was also a reflection of what was being pushed as ‘beautiful’ in society,” the 42-year-old wrote.
“When I straightened my hair, it damaged my hair and it damaged my natural curls. Again, there were those insecurities,” she added. “In this business, if I had my hair curly, I was told, ‘Can you pull that back?’ On auditions, I was told, ‘It’s distracting.’”
Mowry said it was hard growing up in Hollywood during the 1990s because she often saw actors who weren’t Black on the cover of magazines and beauty pages.
“My sister and I were like, ‘we want to do that,'” she said.
Recalling one incident in particular, Mowry said a publicist told her that she couldn’t be on the cover of a magazine because it wouldn’t sell.
“This magazine was a very popular teen magazine that had fashion, beauty, and was known for spotlighting what they thought was beautiful and what they thought was popular and hot at that time,” she wrote. “It had us navigating who we are as a person and what our value is as a person in this business. It gave us a lot of insecurity. It made us feel like we weren’t valuable in that space. Like we weren’t valuable at all.”
However, she said she relied on their mother’s advice to overcome the difficult times.
“Thank God that my mom told us, ‘Do not allow this business to define you. Do not allow this business to define your happiness. Do not allow this business to define your value,'” Mowry said. “I believe that’s what saved us from falling into the pit of childhood stardom.”
With the advancement of social media, the Hollywood star is now seeing a refreshing change.
“I started to see this beautiful, amazing movement on Instagram and social media, where Black women embraced and celebrated their natural beauty and were confident in who they are, celebrating all of the different coils from the thick, tight-tight-tight strands to the loose, wavy strands,” she said. “I’m loving and seeing all the beautiful different shades of Black beauty.”
The mom of two also wrote about her struggle with health, which led to a life-changing moment.
“The specific lightbulb moment was when I was dealing with my personal health issues,” she said. “I was diagnosed with endometriosis and my doctor was like, ‘Look, if you don’t want to continue to be on pain pills to help your symptoms and have surgeries, and if you want to have a child’— because it’s an infertility issue— ‘you’re going to have to start changing your lifestyle.’”
Mowry, who dedicated herself to a wellness journey after the scare, is now working to empower others.
“I love inspiring beautiful Black women — young and old — to love the skin they’re in,” she said. “I’m so impressed with Rihanna and how she came out with Fenty. I’m so impressed with Tracee Ellis Ross, how she’s come out with Pattern. It’s so incredible because we — and I’m including myself with Anser — we’re part of the beauty world and have a lot of important things to say.”
As Blavity previously reported, High School Musical star Monique Coleman also came forward recently with the story of her experience in the movie industry, revealing why she wore a variety of headbands in the 2006 movie. According to the 40-year-old, the film the crew didn’t know how to work with Black hair. In hopes of helping them avoid the hassle of trying to fix her hair in a short time before filming began, the actress suggested they make the headbands a part of her character’s style.
“The truth is, is that they had done my hair, and they had done it very poorly in the front,” said the actress, who played Taylor McKessie in the film.