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Black women, please stop destroying your curls


Tessica Brown is fortunate that applying Gorilla Glue to her scalp didn’t cause her severe health and hair issues — although it may have sealed setbacks in progress for Black hair awareness.

The 40-year-old woman went viral after sharing a video on TikTok where she explained she had Gorilla Glue adhesive in her hair for a month. The video was intended as a cry for help, but quickly gained attention and criticism.

For years, Black women have struggled with accepting their hair and wearing their natural hair in society. This was partially because Black women were told that their natural curls, locks, braids and twists were unprofessional or ugly.

Society and the media embedded these ideas in women by promoting images of straight hair as the norm, which has contributed to the brainwashing of Black women.

Many think that they need to change their hair, whether it be covering it up with lace front wigs and weaves or getting extensions to make their hair appear longer.

Even on TV, there is a lack of natural hair representation with few examples of exceptions, like actress Tracee Ellis Ross, according to NBC.

“Given the history of how black women are targeted and still battle the pervasive belief that our natural hair is unprofessional, unkempt, or in some way ‘a statement,’ pls show her some grace and understanding,” The View’s co-host Sunny Hostin said in a tweet.

Brown becoming famous emphasizes the importance for women and stylists to educate themselves on how to style, treat and care for Black hair.

“The beauty myth of the good/bad hair dichotomy where straight hair is the ‘most desirable’ and thus ‘good’ were created during the colonial era and the concept continues to be rampant throughout the African Diaspora,” according to an article by Tabora A. Johnson and Teiahsha Bankhead.

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Brown admitted she went to extreme lengths to get her sleek braided ponytail hairstyle perfect.

“I should have just put a hat on,” she said.

It was this extremity that resulted in her going to the emergency room on Feb. 6, where she experienced “burning to the point where [her] heart was beating too fast,” due to the nurse rubbing acetone in her hair to try and remove the glue.

Brown’s story illustrated to society that Black women still make decisions about chemically manipulating or damaging their hair to look a certain way because they experience a unique pressure to conform that pits them against other races and ethnicities.

In this day and age, Brown’s usage of Gorilla Glue made Black women, as a group, look ignorant or careless about their hair.

Even though she said she used the adhesive on Christmas decorations, she still thought it was the “closest thing” to a hairspray replacement, despite the fact that Gorilla Glue isn’t found in the beauty supply store or in the drugstore with hair products.

On the other hand, it points out a reality that Black women sometimes have to do a lot of research to find products that work for their hair types, so accidents may occur from a lack of label reading.

In some ways Brown’s careless decision emphasized that, often, Black women don’t pay attention to what they’re putting in their hair and they don’t always go for safe alternatives.

Specifically, when hair becomes heat damaged, it often requires work to repair the damage without cutting the hair off.

In some cases, for things like reconstructing treatments, products can be found at a local store, but women still need to “consider seeking help from a professional stylist,” the Black-owned hair company Mielle Organics said.

Now that Brown was lucky to have plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Obeng fix her hair with a procedure, free of charge according to The New York Times, she has chosen to profit off the situation by selling merch inspired by the incident on her website.

In addition, Brown told TMZ she has to wait six weeks until she can style her hair, but when she does go get it done she wants “something really long.”

When Brown is seen trying to profit off of the same situation that she claimed she was seeking help with, it distracts from the message of the importance of proper hair care.

She was willing to suffer pain for beauty, something that is relatively common for Black hair styling.

Nonetheless, Brown said she would donate a large portion of her GoFundMe donations to the Restore Foundation, which helps people who need reconstructive surgery. This shows how Brown is also using her fame to give back to others.

Brown’s TikTok video has reached over 34 million views as of Feb. 13 and her GoFundMe has reached over $23,000.

If Black hair were to be glorified as much as other hair types, Black women may be empowered to accept their hair and move away from harmful hair practices. Black hair awareness would be taken seriously.

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