We all know the feeling. You plop down in a stylist's seat excitedly waiting for your slay to begin, only to be met with a look of panic when they actually lay eyes on your hair. As a woman with thick and coarse 4C textured hair, I know that gaze well. Sadly, so do most Black women, and it's been an ongoing problem in the entertainment world for decades.
During a recent episode of Red Table Talk available on Facebook Watch, Willow Smith shared her experience of having to style her own hair at a major fashion event. She says:
"All of the white models were getting their hair done and they all had somebody. The person that was supposed to come do my hair, came, looked at it, and tried to do something to it; tried to touch it. I can tell they were extremely (pauses) perturbed. I could tell that they were just like, I don't know what I'm doing. That anxiety of looking at them in the mirror not knowing what to do with my head, made me feel like, I'm going to just take the reins. So, I basically did my own hair for a really high fashion shoot. That should never be happening."
Although her story is unfortunate, it's not surprising at all. However, it does make you think, with Black creatives making such an impact in Hollywood and the entertainment space, why are we still not being catered to in the same way? I mean just imagine being a Black hairstylist or make-up artist that gets booked for a high profile event and being unable to style white women's hair or face. Chile, we'd be fired so quick! There is a desire to increase diversity and representation in media, but what goes on behind the scenes suggests that that mobility is surface.
As a model, Willow has been afforded many opportunties to work with major brands like Chanel and Mugler, but is it really a seat at the table if she and women like her aren't afforded the tools and resources to bring their best selves to these spaces? Black women being met with stylists who don't know how to work with their hair is nothing new. If white stylist can't learn to work with our hair, so much so we have to do our own hair on these sets, maybe the bigger conversation is how important it is to make sure representation and diversity isn't just represented on screens, but behind the scenes as hairstylists and makeup artists on set too. Also, when we get opportunities, it is important to share them!
Speaking of sharing, here is a list of amazing Black women who have also spoken up about the discrimination of having to do their own hair on sets in Hollywood.
With the exception of her show Insecure, writer and actress Natasha Rothwell noted having to spend her last in the early stages of her career to ensure her hair was on point, a burden her white counterparts never had to bear. She said, "They can wake up, roll out of bed and don't have to worry about what's in their bag."
"It's a real disservice to actors of color who are effectively doing someone else's job and not getting paid for it. There's nothing [more] dehumanizing than sitting in a hair and makeup chair and watching your co-stars go through the works and leave, and you're still there because someone's moving very slowly because they're very scared. It's [you] feeling like a problem to be solved."
Taraji P. Henson
"If you know how to do it, great. If you don't, pass it to somebody who does. It has nothing to do with pride or ego," Henson told The Hollywood Reporter. "I'm not saying you have to be black to know how to do [that] hair, but you got to know what the hell you're doing. When an actress of color requests a hairstylist, listen to them. They're not being difficult."
In 2019, the model vocalized her experiences at Paris Fashion Week and not being able to find a stylist who knew how to do her hair. She wrote in her Instagram caption:
"I arrived backstage where they planned to do cornrows, but not one person on the team knew how to do them without admitting so. After one lady attempted and pulled my edges relentlessly, I stood up to find a model who could possibly do it. After asking two models and then the lead/only nail stylist, she was then taken away from her job to do my hair.
"This is not OK. This will never be OK. This needs to change. No matter how small your team is, make sure you have one person that is competent at doing afro texture hair care OR just hire a black hairstylist! Black hairstylists are required to know how to do everyone's hair, why does the same not apply to others?"
"It's mind-blowing to me that we still have to —- meaning Black actresses —- have to fight to have Black hairdressers on set for us. There was one time in particular I was doing this movie and, my God, I was the lead. And after this person did my hair, I cried. I was like 'I cannot, like, I cannot go out there looking like this.' I just don't understand why you have to fight to get someone to understand the importance of that."
While Halle Berry looks like she was made to rock her signature pixie cut, the style was actually a product of her environment as an up-and-coming actress who had trouble finding stylists who knew how to do Black hair on set. She revealed:
"That's why I had short hair. [Maintaining] it was easy. I think as people of color, especially in the business, we haven't always had people that know how to manage our hair. Those days are different now, that's when I started."
Queen Latifah, who notably did her own hair during her time starring in the hit sitcom Living Single, but expressed that change needs to be a focus:
"It's not because their heart wasn't in the right place — they just didn't have the skill set to do Black hair. As African-Americans, we have all different shapes, sizes, colors, textures, and you got to be able to work with that. We are always in a position to be able to work with what White people do. That's just how it's been, but it has to be reversed. It has to be some respect over here and figuring out what to do with our hair. So we just really need to add more people to the industry."
Gabrielle Union is never one to mince words when it comes to speaking her truth. In a 2017 Glamour essay, she wrote about her experience when getting started as an actress:
"I was like a guinea pig on set, and I didn't yet have enough power to request a stylist who I actually wanted to touch my hair. It got to the point that I would pay to have my hair done before I got to work and pray they didn't screw it up."
"I realized very quickly that there were many people in hair and makeup trailers who were totally unqualified to do my hair. Hairstylists used Aqua Net–like hairspray with crazy amounts of alcohol, which caused chunks of my hair to literally come off on a styling tool."
Gabourey Sidibe shared in at tweet in 2019:
"If they don't have the budget to hire a Black hairstylist for me, or won't, I just get the director to agree that my character should have box braids or Senegalese twist."
In the Freeform series, The Bold Type, actress Aisha Dee plays the biracial, bisexual, bold Kat. However, she made it known before the series' end that all was not as progressive as it seemed behind the scenes on set. She shared on Instagram:
"It took three seasons to get someone in the hair department who knew how to work with textured hair. This was impactful on so many levels, and I'm grateful for the women who show me how to embrace and love my hair in a way I never had before. I want to make sure that no one else ever has to walk onto a set and feel as though their hair is a burden. It is not."
The Flash star Candice Patton revealed during a SXSW panel in 2019 that she, too, has encountered when she said she needed "someone who can do Black hair.":
"At work, I don't want to be labeled a diva because I have to say to production, 'I need someone who can do Black hair. I need someone who knows and understands how to do Black makeup.' It is not the same. We do not share the same kind of skin. We do not need the same kind of makeup. And not everyone knows how to paint me in a way that makes me feel comfortable on camera, and me asking for that is not me being difficult. It's me being a diverse talent on this network asking for something that's different. And if you hire me, you hire me with the intent of knowing that I have different requirements and different needs—and that's just what it is. I think there's a lot of education that still needs to happen."
Actress Jurnee Smollett was able to advocate for her desire to have a Black stylist on set of Birds of Prey by talking to her co-star Margot Robbie about wanting one. She stated:
"In pre-production, when we were creating a look for the hair, for me it was very important to bring a woman of color on in the hair department to create the look for Black Canary. My hair, my texture, the kind of blonde we were going for…and I called her up and I said, 'Honestly, Margot, it's different. I need Nikki Nelms and this is why I need her.'"
Featured image by Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 2 Presented by Amazon Prime Video
Back when I was in the process of writing my first book, one of the titles that one of my editors suggested was Single Sex. Although Inside of Me: Lessons of Lust, Love & Redemption (the first part is what my brother came up with) has a lot of sex in it, no doubt, I didn't find their title pitch to be the most exact. However, over the years, I have indeed kept that lil' phrase in mind, as I've written other articles about sex among singles. And, whenever I compare that kind of coitus to the kind that married couples engage in, two things that I say often is—so long as the marriage is healthy—there is a holistic beauty in marital sex that is truly incomparable and single sex can be very selfish. And by "selfish", I mean self-consumed to the billionth degree (more on that in a bit).
All of this came flooding back to my mind, all over again, as I listened to portions of a podcast called What to Expect. The host is Heidi Murkoff who also happens to the co-author of the best-selling book series, What to Expect When You're Expecting. Anyway, a guest who she recently had on was actor and host of the really helpful home hacks YouTube channel, Tia Mowry's Quick Fix, Tia Mowry-Hardrict. Heidi and Tia touched on a lot, including how Tia's journey with endometriosis led her to become a "self-advocate" for her health and well-being, along with how to balance marriage, motherhood and a career (you can check the episode out for yourself here).
And speaking of marriage. Since that and sex are something that I write about, A LOT, on this platform, it should come as no surprise that it was her hot take on how to maintain her sex life with her hubby (who also is a good actor in his own right), Cory Hardrict, that stood out to me the most.
And just what does Tia think is the key to keeping things going in the bedroom and avoiding the pitfall of ending up in a sexless marriage? I'm so glad that you asked.
How Does Tia Keep Sex a Priority in Her Marriage?
You know how some of y'all do. Unless a celebrity recommends something, you think the idea is crazy. Well, in walks Heidi and Tia to cosign on something that I'm actually a pretty big fan on—scheduling sex. As they were discussing marriage and kids, in general, Heidi revealed that she and her husband basically have a rule in their home that sex, once a week, is an absolute must; she referred to the rule as "sex dates" (check out "When's The Last Time You And Your Man Had A 'Sex Date'?"). And to that, Tia said this:
"Heidi, this is the first time where I'm admitting it, we do too. And, when I was younger and when I would hear that, I'd be like, 'Why do you have to do that?' But like you said, you do — especially with kids and with work and all that, you have to make sure that it's not neglected in any kind of way."
OK, so here's where "single sex" comes in. When it comes to a lot of the single people who I talk about sex with or the engaged couples who I counsel, if there's one thing that they think is borderline ridiculous, it's scheduling sex. To them, that takes away the romance, spontaneity and excitement of it all. I get it. Yet here's the thing—what a lot of unmarried sexually active people don't realize is, for the most part, they're still scheduling sex. If you're not living with your partner, most of the time when you discuss meeting up, if there's not over-the-top flirting or a straight-up discussion about it, doesn't the energy let you know that, 8 times outta 10, sex is gonna be on the menu?
I know back in my (le sigh) sexually active days, if I was planning on spending time with the person I was "engaging" at the time, I made sure I was shaved, smelled amazing and my underwear was sexy AF. Besides, if it was already decided that one of us was spending the night with the other, it was kind of a given that some sort of sexual activity was going to transpire. My friends, to a large degree, that is scheduling sex. That's why it shouldn't be an off-putting trigger, when married folks talk about doing the same.
So, why is it off-putting for so many of us single people? I think it's because, whenever we hear married people talk about paying bills, cleaning the house and raising children, there's some visual in our minds that if they make, say Tuesday, "sex day", both of them are looking a hot mess, the sex is subpar and they would probably rather be doing anything else but having sex—because, after all, if you've gotta put it on your calendar, how great can the sex actually be?
This brings me back to Tia and Cory and a feature of them that I watched on her YouTube channel, this time last year (I believe it was filmed at the end of 2017, though). As they were sharing how their first kiss consisted of Cory asking Tia if he could kiss her; how Cory knew Tia was the one because him being broke (in the beginning) didn't phase her; how Tia knew Cory was the one because he had so much patience with her after she was coming out of an unhealthy relationship and that he taught her how to believe in herself; that they pray together; how, in their eyes, the secret to a successful marriage is forgiveness (Tia), as well as communication and never going to sleep angry (which is what Cory…oh, and the Bible says—Ephesians 4:26-27), and how being intentional about wooing each other (among a host of other things) all plays a role in their marriage being able to thrive—it brought me back to something that I'm a firm believer in:
Sex doesn't "make love"; in a marriage, what sex does is celebrate the love that already exists.
And what does what I just said have to do with why I have no problem with scheduling sex and, to a certain extent, I actually encourage that long-term couples do so? Well, when you're single, oftentimes the focus on sex is the physical pleasure that it brings. However, when you're married, while sex—and not just "any" sex…good sex—should be a very top priority (it really should, married folks), all of the things in life that you and your spouse do together, outside of the bedroom, is actually what matures love and helps you to appreciate the power of commitment more and better.
And because, sometimes, walking through life together can be so all-consuming and full, scheduling sex means that you are making a point to get off of the life-roller-coaster ride so that you and your partner can CELEBRATE all that you are building together. And to plan to celebrate on a weekly basis? That's beautiful and really, who should ever have a problem with that?
It really is kinda crazy that the saying "fail to plan, plan to fail" seems to make sense to the masses, except when it comes to bedroom action. Yet again, when life is full (and sometimes crazy), all scheduling sex means is you are making sure that coming together with your partner continues to be a priority. It doesn't mean it's only a quickie or a half-hearted effort. It just means, "Babe, the world is trying to keep us from 'us' time. Let's make sure to schedule it so that doesn't happen."
So kudos to Tia, Heidi and all of the other married folks who, while they may not be gettin' it in 3-4 times a week, they for damn sure ain't letting their sex life fall by the wayside (by the way, scheduling sex doesn't mean it doesn't happen more; it just means it doesn't happen less than when it's on the schedule for). Oh, and to the single folks who read all of this and thought, "Hmph. My marriage will never be like that", all I can say is "wait and see"; it's easy to think that way until you've got more on your plate than just you. Feel me? I hope so.
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Featured image via Tia Mowry/Instagram
Tia Mowry-Hardrict is one of the few celebrities who shared her journey on the reality of motherhood with the world. Even though it caused her to be the subject of hateful scrutiny, the mom of two has been extremely vulnerable about not just her struggle to get pregnant, but the changes her body has endured while experiencing motherhood to the fullest.
She openly celebrated her milestone of getting back to her pre-baby body recently, but she's been nothing less than real about how difficult the journey has been. During a candid conversation on The Tamron Hall Show, she opened up about her transition, why she's against mom body shaming, the importance of self-care, and still dating her husband of almost 12 years.
When it comes to mom body shaming, Tia experienced it with both of her children. She's mom to her eight-year-old son Cree and her daughter Cairo, who will be two in May. Still, she recently revealed that she's just now feeling like herself again, and the trolls on social media didn't help.
"I really feel that it's a shame that people just tend to bully women, especially after they've brought a beautiful child into this world. Women are vulnerable after they have their babies. You're going through hormonal changes, just emotionally, postpartum depression, you're going through just adjusting having your baby at home, you're sleep-deprived. And then you have people not being kind about the weight you've gained, that you're supposed to gain after having a baby."
Going through bullying can be traumatizing period, so I couldn't imagine experiencing it as a new mom. But Tia also addressed bullying in general, and how it's been the cause of many young children taking their own lives.
"I think I'm so passionate about it because I understand what bullying does to the psyche. There are children out there who commit suicide because of words. I, just, you know…I have no time for it. Ain't nobody got time for that!"
But what our good sis has made time for is keeping her love life afloat.
"It's very important that when you are in a union, a marriage, and you have children that you keep that relationship strong. My husband and I, we have date nights like once a week, even if it's at home. I make him dinner or he makes me dinner… I think it's OK to schedule it in there, because then you know it's gonna happen."
Ultimately, we play multiple roles in the lives of those around us: mom, sister, daughter, wife, friend, colleague, the list is truly never-ending. I think most of us have come to terms with the fact that there's no way to balance it all. And that's OK. Tia added:
"As women in general, we tend to just focus on everybody else. Are our kids OK? Is our husband OK? How can you be the best CEO, the best entrepreneur, the best mom, sister, the list goes on and on, if you don't take care of yourself… The tagline is, you are the answer, and insinuating that you are the only one that can do that. You are the only one that can take care of you."
To watch the interview in full, click below.
Featured image by Tia Mowry/Instagram
Tia and Tamera Mowry were only 21 years old when their hit family sitcom Sister, Sister came to an end, and while most women their age were out poppin' bottles (and booties) and preparing for graduation, this duo was focused on securing a bag and getting started on their college careers.
For nearly a decade, the twins pursued their education and starred in a number of television shows and movies before they went to take on an even more challenging adventure: motherhood. Recently, Tia opened up about the real reason she waited until her mid-thirties to have her first child, here's what she had to say:
"When I was younger, I was focusing on my career with 'Sister, Sister', and I was in college and I was focused on that. Once I had all my ducks in a row — not in a complete line, at least the ducks were there — and then I was like, 'Okay! I can do this.'"
According to Tia, times have changed a lot since our mothers and grandmothers were birthing babies. Free of the chains of biological clocks and deadlines, we as women have the freedom to live our lives as we see fit without fear of aging out of our dreams.
"[We] have dreams, we have aspirations, we have goals."
Tia shared that although she felt she made the best decision in becoming a first-time mom at 33, there were also a few inconvenient truths she had to face:
"Of course, because I was older, my ankles swelled off, I couldn't even fit my shoes anymore. I had to buy a whole new set of shoes. It was crazy."
Along with a sense of security, Tia says that she also gained an alternate perspective on parenting by waiting to have kids. My mother was 39 when I was born so I know from experience that with maturity comes patience, and that can be handy when you're raising an unruly toddler. On The Breakfast Club, Tia shared that although her sister believes in spanking her kids, that is one thing that she will never do.
"I have the non-traditional parenting styles and my sister is very traditional, but you know, we learn from each other."
Even at 26 years old, my mom has the full power and autonomy to put the fear of God in me, but that didn't come through corporal punishment. Over time, I grew more afraid of her disappointment than I was of being hit with a belt, and that's something I'll always be grateful for. Tia explained that as someone who grew up getting spanked, it's just not something that aligns with her parenting style. She explained:
"If you're spanking your kid, in my opinion, it's because of you; it's because of you and where you are in your head space. You're impatient, you just want to get this done and over with whereas I feel like if you don't spank them, then it takes more time, you have to talk to them, you have to explain. But I feel like there is, in my opinion, a better outcome because you're explaining and you're saying why as opposed to just hitting them. But that's just my opinion."
According to Tia, the key to good parenting is patience and understanding.
"Just going with the flow and not putting so many rules and regulations on your children. Allow [your kids] to be who they are and grow into who they are instead of dictating 'at this age you need to be away from the bottle, at this age you need to be out of the bed, at this age you need to be doing this.'"
Featured image by Instagram/@TiaMowry.