It’s no coincidence Tabitha Brown rose to fame during the worst of the pandemic. During a time where people were starved for joy, millions flocked to the actor and host’s TikTok for easy vegan recipes, but stayed for the pure warmth she radiates, even through a screen. She quickly fulfilled her goal of being “America’s Mom,” someone everyone could turn to for a little extra self-love and life advice, delivered in her soothing Southern lilt.
While Brown currently oozes self-love, she says that wasn’t always the case, especially when it comes to her hair. That’s why she’s partnered with Dove for the brand’s new As Early As Five campaign. The campaign is the latest chapter of the brand’s continuing support of The Crown Act, and aims to highlight the alarming rate at which young Black girls experience hair discrimination in school. Per a new study from Dove, 53% of Black mothers say their daughters have experience hair discrimination as early as five years old, and 86% of Black teens that have experience hair discrimination have endured it by 12 years old.
“When I first learned about this, I was in shock,” Brown tells Glamour. “I had no idea that it was okay in some states for this to happen. I think out about my own personal journey, and different instances where this has been my story more times than I can count. A lot of times when you’re going through those things, it becomes so normalized to you that you don’t think anything else of it. We’ve all been so programmed that this is just the way it is, that you don’t think anything else about it, right? Even though we know it’s wrong.”
In addition to a short film highlighting real cases of discrimination, Dove has tapped Brown to encourage her followers to raise awareness for The Crown Act, a cause she’s been supporting for years. “When I found out about the Crown Act, I was like, oh my God, you mean to tell me I can actually fight for this?” she says. “I can actually get an act passed so that these are not anyone else’s stories, or my children’s stories.”
We caught up with Brown to talk about her own personal hair journey, how she takes a moment for herself, and why her mom will always be her hero. Read on as she answers Glamour‘s Big Beauty Questions.
Glamour: What was your relationship like with your hair growing up?
Tabitha Brown: Growing up, honey, I loved my hair! I wore a lot of braids and plaits, and I had a lot of hair. My mom would be like, “Girl, this hair’s like two big pom poms,” when I did poufs. But I went through all of the things, especially being from the South, that a lot of us went through. As a little girl wearing all the barrettes and the ponytails and things like that. And then went through the whole Jheri curl phase. Before getting to that, my great, great aunt who was like the town cosmetologist, she would press our hair and then on Sunday mornings, if I didn’t sweat it out, it would be okay. But if I sweat it out a little bit, my grandma would hit that hot comb on the stove before church and get them bangs back straight.
And then of course got into the “creamy crack,” as we call it—the perm—and started perming my own hair and wearing different styles. The Salt n’ Pepa era came with a high-low on one side, and all the fun. It was the freedom to wear my hair however. I do also remember a time where we would get a little frowned at by certain people, like teachers, for those different looks. But it didn’t matter because you’re so young, you don’t think about it until later in life. As a child, I was more free than before I allowed the world to condition me to believe that I wasn’t.
What’s your relationship with your hair like now? Do you still feel that freedom?