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Tanika Ray

"I embraced the poof." - Tanika Ray

Tanika Ray, TV host and pop culture specialist extraordinaire, is On the Couch! She dishes on how she came to discover her curls, her different "hair phases," and how she's wearing her hair today.

CN: Your hair is stunning! Have you always been a curly girl?

TR: As a kid, I would wash and go—I think because I grew up in Los Angeles. The only pressure to get a perm was from my mother, who was from Ohio. Other than that, I was in the pool almost every other day so it didn’t make sense to spend much time on my hair. That’s actually where all of my dreams kind of came to life. [Laughter] It was like this little magical world under there, and I felt like the Little Mermaid, or Diana Ross! I used to love swimming, and my hair was really, really long, I mean I was probably sitting on it at the time, and I loved to get it wet, and feel it move with the water.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw Diana Ross on television. I was like, "Oh my gosh, that’s what I look like!" I embraced the poof and I embraced the largeness of it all. I think that’s when I discovered the power of my hair.

CN: That's so cool! For me, when I saw her daughter Tracee, I wanted her hair, which definitely inspired me to start experimenting with my curls.

TR: What’s funny is that when I was young, I never knew my hair was curly. My mom doesn’t have the same hair that I have. My dad’s hair is very straight, and my mom has very coarse hair. So the combination of the two made my hair. My mom was old school and only knew that when you get out of the shower, you comb or brush your hair. She never knew that that would disrupt the curl pattern. So for a long time I didn’t even know I had curly hair, until I was a preteen and took control over my locks. I got really lazy one day and didn’t do anything to it and was like, are those curls? Wow, that’s kinda cool. And realized the magic of NEVER EVER brushing your hair outside of the shower.

When I started high school, I remember my hairstylist, who had been trimming and conditioning my hair since I was 3, said, "You know, your edges are a little rough. How about we start a little mild relaxer on your edges, just the new growth?" I allowed her to do it, but after a while, of course, my whole head was permed, because new growth becomes your length as it grows out. My hair didn’t curl up as much as it used to, but I was okay with it because it was actually a little easier to manage. It was straight with a slight wave and I rocked it like that for a while. So much so that folks thought my hair was naturally straight. I had a lot of people in my head at the time. They would say things like, "It’s so pretty straight," or "I like it better that way"... you know all the pressures you get from people who are conditioned that black women should wear their hair a certain way.

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0 Comments
Great article and good for her - making peace with her hair.
I love her hair. And I just gotta ask, what nationality is she?

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