ELLE (UK)

EVOLUTION of beauty

GROWING UP, ACTOR TIFFANY HADDISH WORSHIPPED AT THE ALTAR OF BEAUTY. UNTIL TRAGEDY STRUCK, AND SHE WAS FORCED TO RETHINK EVERYTHING

- PHOTOGRAPH by HERB RITTS

My mother was at her most beautiful when she came back from the salon every fortnight – her long hair falling in big sweeping curls around her shoulders. I thought she must be the prettiest woman in the world. She was tall and black as night with long curly hair. To my seven-year-old self, she was like a black Charlie’s Angel. I’d stare at her for hours, imagining what it must be like to have hair that turned heads. Powerful hair. I had much coarser hair, that fell about my ears with a kinky curl. My mum’s beauty was simple and pure. She would wear lip gloss and maybe mascara on special occasions but she never needed much. How I looked was important to her, especially if we were going to an event or a family occasion. She or my auntie would do my hair, putting colourful ballies at the base of my braids and barrette clips at the tips that would making a clicking noise when I walked. The louder they clicked, the cuter I felt, so I’d walk around swinging my head to make them as loud as possible. Whenever I left the house, my mum would shout after me: ‘You have seven barettes in your hair, YOU BETTER COME HOME WITH SEVEN.’ But I’d click them so hard because I felt so pretty that I’d lose them all. She and my grandmothe­r loved to make clothes for me, like the little white dress with sailboats on I used to wear all the time, and then they’d fawn over me. My cousin and I would wear matching outfits when we went with my grandma to her Jehovah’s Witnesses meetings. We’d be in pretty dresses with white tights and little Mary Jane shoes. Our hair would be in Shirley Temple curls and we would tap dance in the lobby. People would stop and say, ‘You guys are so cute, look at you little ladies,’ and I loved it. That’s when I realised that people wanted to have me around because I looked pretty, and it felt like I had a superpower, as if I could get away with anything. As if I had real privilege. My whole life changed when I was just shy of my ninth birthday and my mum had a car accident. The accident was bad. She had

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