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Jada Pinkett Smith Gets Real About Her Hair Struggles Over the Years

"I always had to do my hair in ways that wasn't natural to me."

Jada Pinkett Smith

Jada Pinkett Smith is reflecting on past hair struggles that she has faced in her career. In celebration of the Crown Act being passed by the House of Representatives, the actress took to Instagram to share some insight on her hair journey as a part of her “Story Time with Jada” series.


For those of you who don't know, the Crown Act is a bill that disallows hair texture- and hairstyle-based discrimination commonly seen in the Black community.

With the caption, “Crown Act. Be proud of your crown,” Jada started the video off by saying,

“I had some definite hair regrets for sure specifically on covers. Where it was just, ‘what the hell?’” She then went on to explain what it was like being in Hollywood in the ‘90s where straight hair was “in.”

“Being a Black woman and dealing with hair in Hollywood, especially in the era that I came up in, having your hair look as European as possible was always the thing and that was really challenging,” she said. “Because I liked my hair out wild and curly but nobody wanted that.”

Due to pushback, the Girls Trip star found herself falling victim to society’s standards and wearing hairstyles she wasn’t comfortable with.

“So I always had to do my hair in ways that didn’t feel natural to me because of trying to play the game. So if I’m doing a cover, everybody’s like ‘no we love your hair straight and flowy’ and it’s like, alright, cool but that’s not really what my hair likes to do.”

She continued, “So I had to learn to get the courage to just go ‘nah, I’m not doing that.” Which is why I feel the freedom today. I don’t give two craps what people feel about this bald head of mine ‘cause guess what, I love it.”

Jada recently shaved her head bald due to alopecia, however, we have seen the beloved actress rock a variety of hairstyles over the years. Let’s take a look back at some of her biggest hair moments.

Pixie Cut

Jada Pinkett Smith in 1997.

Joe McNally/Getty Images

The pixie cut became the hairstyle that the mom of three was known for. Whether her hair was dyed platinum blonde or black or it was finger waves or curly, the cropped cut was her signature since the ‘90s.

The Nutty Professor Bob

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Last year, Jada spoke about the bad experience she had with a hairstylist on the set of The Nutty Professor. During Red Table Talk, she explained that the reason why her wig looked so bad was that the hairstylist wouldn’t straighten the roots.

“She thought that the roots should be not smooth, but the hair should be straight,” she said. “She was like, ‘Well, usually for Black women, you don’t have straightened roots.’ And I said, ‘Oh no, we do. We either straighten it with a hot comb or we perm it.’ But she didn’t believe me. So, she made it with roots that weren’t straight, but the hair was.”

Set It Off Braids

Jada Pinkett Smith and Blair Underwood in the 1996 film 'Set It Off.'

New Line Cinema/Getty Images

Jada’s box braid bob in Set It Off is one of her most iconic looks and a classic ‘90s hairstyle. On an episode of Red Table Talk, the actress who played Stony reflected on the moment her character cut her hair off in the film.

“Cutting my hair in Set It Off, So that particular scene I had already had so much loss and I had already, like, lost so many friends, and so I really reflected on those that I loved that I had lost, you know, and how everybody doesn’t make it and how you can be sitting with great fortune and have so much loss have so much pain,” she said.

Inches for Days

Jada Pinkett Smith in 2003.

Gregg DeGuire/WireImage via Getty Images

In the early to mid-2000s, Jada was all about length and rocked hairstyles that allowed her natural hair to flourish. From tight curls to loose waves, to low buns and wearing it straight, Jada showed that her long locks had range throughout much of the decade.

Bald and Beautiful

Jada Pinkett Smith in 2018.

Gabriel Olsen/WireImage via Getty Images

In 2018, the actress made the tearful admission on her Facebook Watch show that she was suffering from hair loss. After trying to disguise the hair loss by wearing turbans, she finally decided to chop all of her hair off last year. She debuted the new look in an Instagram post with her daughter Willow.

“Willow made me do it because it was time to let go BUT … my 50’s are bout to be Divinely lit with this shed,” she wrote.

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Featured image by Amy Sussman/WireImage via Getty Images

Jamie Foxx and his daughter Corinne Foxx are one of Hollywood’s best father-daughter duos. They’ve teamed up together on several projects including Foxx’s game show Beat Shazam where they both serve as executive producers and often frequent red carpets together. Corinne even followed in her father’s footsteps by taking his professional last name and venturing into acting starring in 47 Meters Down: Uncaged and Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family and Good Times as Thelma.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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