In addition to being a music superstar, Mariah Carey can lay claim to the title of fashion icon and inspiration. But in a new interview with the Sunday Times, the 53-year-old singer admits that she struggled with her hair as the daughter of a Black father and white mother.
“I grew up thinking hair was supposed to look a certain way,” Carey told the U.K. paper. “As a mixed-race person with a Black father growing up in predominantly white neighborhoods, it was difficult. My Black friends were able to do different types of treatments on their hair from the ones who were mixed. My white friends didn’t have to do anything — they just woke up and their hair was fabulous.”
Carey went on to say that growing up, they “didn’t have conditioner in our house because my mother was like, ‘Whatever, it looks fine.’ Now I’m never far from a bottle of conditioner. I travel with one.”
Carey, who has previously accused first husband and Sony boss Tommy Mottola of keeping her background “ambiguous” in the early days of her career, is now a mother herself, and has 11-year-old twins, Moroccan and Monroe, with second husband Nick Cannon.
Back in August, Carey sat down to speak with Meghan Markle on the second episode of her Spotify podcast Archetypes about their shared experiences growing up mixed-race in America. Carey recalled her feelings of isolation, saying she “didn’t fit in anywhere at all.”
“I remember being in school in this predominantly white neighborhood where my mom felt comfortable and I tried my best to feel comfortable,” the “All I Want For Christmas is You” singer reflected. She shared that she was even taunted by a classmate because she didn’t have an extensive wardrobe.
“This kid was in the hallway and he said, ‘Mariah has three shirts and she wears them on rotation!'” she told Markle. “It was true, but the fact that he noticed that, I’m like, why are you so obsessed with me? No, but really, I was like, why do you care? But in a world where you’re the mixed kid of a full-on white neighborhood, that’s what you get.”
Carey also discussed society’s pressure to identify strictly as Black or white, rather than both.
“That’s an interesting thing: a ‘mixed woman,'” Carey said. “I always thought it should be OK to say ‘I’m mixed.’ It should be OK to say that but people want you to choose.”
The pop star is feeling more comfortable in her own skin than ever. Earlier this year, she wowed social media with a video of herself emerging from a swimming pool in a shimmering one-piece swimsuit.
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