By now we know to tune in to This Is Us with a glass of wine and tissues on standby.
Every Tuesday the show has us leaning towards the screen, emotionally invested in the Big Three and their complicated lives. On this week’s episode, the blended family explored the intricacies of Black hair in a truly beautiful way.
Deja, Randall and Beth Pearson’s adopted 12-year-old Black daughter, hasn’t washed her hair in two weeks and Beth notices an odor. The couple tries to hint for her to wash it, but to no avail. It isn’t until Deja overhears an insult from a peer that she’s truly confronted with the issue.
For Black women our hair is more than our crown and glory, it’s an extension of how we express ourselves. From childhood we are groomed with the regimes of hot oil treatments, press and curls, and relaxers. Hair care is in our fabrication.
During the episode, Beth shares her hair stories with Deja about fighting with her sisters but coming together no matter what to make sure every strand was in place. When Deja stops Beth and asks her to do her hair, it was a pearl-clutching moment because it meant that Beth had won her trust.
We soon learn that Deja struggles with alopecia, which is pretty common for Black women despite not openly talking about it. The preteen shares in confidence that her alopecia flairs and worsens due to her stress level.
This episode was important because it strategically wove in the hair issues faced by Black women into the narrative. We were a part of the conversation and not made out to be caricatures of others perceptions of us. Beth and Deja explored truth-telling in a completely authentic way that didn’t come across as forced or performative.
Watching the authenticity of Black hair on the screen was refreshing. We all know a Deja or Beth, or maybe we are them. Black hair is just the beginning of the topics that need to be explored on primetime TV; other shows take note on how to properly do so.