This Is Why Mariah Carey Hated Her Hair as a Child

Though she’s been in the public eye for 30 years, legendary singer Mariah Carey has not spoken about certain things from her childhood and the beginning of her career until recently. Now, with her New York Times Best-Selling memoir, The Meaning of Mariah Carey, she is getting candid in a way that she’s never had before.

Over the years, Carey has been praised for her glossy bronze hair, which she wears straight and curly. We are used to seeing the “Emotions” singer wrapped in lavish gowns, jewelry, and furs. She is the queen of glam and high fashion.

However, as a child, Carey hated her hair. In fact, it was one of her greatest insecurities.

Mariah Carey had a challenging upbringing

The youngest of three children, Carey, was raised in Long Island, New York and is the daughter of a mother of Irish descent and a father of African American descent. Following her parents’ divorce when she was just a toddler, Carey mostly lived with her mother, whose hair texture was drastically different than hers.

“So, on both sides of the spectrum I feel like I was hated on by certain people in my family for having the lighter hair,” she told Oprah Winfrey on Apple TV+’s The Oprah Conversation via Rolling Stone. “But then if they only realized, like no, actually, I have like matted hair, which is frizzy and curly.”

In her book, Carey spoke candidly about the fact that her mother never tried to help her with her hair and though her father’s family tried to style her tresses, using a pressing comb on her curly hair caused it to burn off.

Mariah Carey remembers one perfect hair day she had as a child

In The Meaning of Mariah Carey, The Emancipation of Mimi singer reflects on being wholly neglected as a child. “My childhood was rife with neglect,” she writes. “There were many things about me that my mother didn’t understand how to nurture or maintain — but the most obvious, most symbolic, and most visible with my hair.”

However, Carey does remember one perfect hair day when she was 7-years-old, which is immortalized by a photo at Jones Beach. She recalled being in the car with her mother, older brother, and her brother’s friend. On the ride to the beach, her brother’s friend carefully combed out the knots and snaggles in her hair.

“Surgically, he worked on the smaller, tighter, matted bits at the ends with the big black plastic comb her kept permanently encased in his back pocket,” she said. “Over the course of the ride, without a single word exchanged between us, he removed all of the knots and congestion from my hair. By the time we arrived at the beach, my hair was no longer a burden, it was liberated.”

This is why Mariah Carey hated her hair as a child

Carey said that she was always aware that she looked different from everyone else. Unfortunately, her massive, tangled hair made her feel even worse and made her stand out in a way that made her feel worthless. She says,

My hair was often a matted, tangled mess. And no one around me could fully understand the particular humiliation of being a nonwhite little girl with unkempt hair, I didn’t have the language for but, but I carried the burden of how it felt. My neglected hair was a siren, signaling what I was different from all the little white girls — and from little Black girls too. My wild, mixed, and mangled curls made me feel inferior, unworthy of receiving of proper attention.

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