LISTEN to Nia Long’s full Yes, Girl! Podcast episode here:
It’s hard to believe that It girl Nia Long could ever feel ugly. On the new episode of ESSENCE’s Yes, Girl! podcast, the natural beauty recalls a time when her hair, which has taken many shapes over the years from coveted pixie cuts to shoulder-lengths bobs, made her feel “unattractive.”
The Fatal Affair star, who wore a big Afro like Angela Davis’s when she was a kid thanks to her mom, says she hated her tresses.
Growing up in Iowa, where she attended a school where only five of the students were Black, Long remembers a class field trip to Supercuts that further complicated her feeling toward her hair.
“Girl, everybody had their cute little fringe with their little highlighted golden locks. And the White girl that got me, I just remember her face. She was like, ‘Ugh,’ says Long. “She did not know what to do with my hair. I was traumatized.”
The hairstylist tried to style Long’s Afro, and it didn’t go so well. “She took dried-up baby’s breath and put it in my hair to try to make me feel better. And I just remember feeling so unattractive, so ugly,” says Long. “I didn’t want to be White, but I wanted to feel like I fit into my environment.”
After moving to South Central Los Angeles, where “everything Black was amazing,” a lesson that Long’s parents had taught her early on, she says she blossomed. She also learned the way you look is beautiful, no matter what.
“To see where we are in the world now, I feel like, okay, thank you, mommy and daddy for giving me the tools to speak up.”