For the past two weeks, social media has come to label Tessica Brown as the Gorilla Glue Girl. But when BET spoke to her earlier this month, we got to know a mother, daycare owner, a dance coach, a philanthropist, and yet another Black woman who went to extremes to have “perfect” hair.
“I knew it was going to be some people who would just criticize and say, ‘Oh she’s stupid,’” Brown tells BET. “And I have thick skin, so that’s okay. But for people I don't even know to be saying such hateful things, my mom just kept telling me to stop reading the comments. What people don’t understand is that before I even went to the internet for help I wasn't eating, I wasn't sleeping. I was so stressed about my hair. Then when I took it to social media, it got worse.”
Brown says that the many celebrities that have spoken negatively about her has also been difficult to bear as well. “These people that I’d held in such a high regard were speaking so nasty about me. It was like a slap in the face.”
What hurts Brown the most, however, is how it’s impacted her children. “I tried to prepare my children and tell them not to worry about it,” she says. “But one day my little girl, who’s in second grade, came home and she fell in my arms. I asked her what was wrong and she said that the boys at school were singing the Gorilla Glue song, taunting her. She was crying uncontrollably. I stayed strong for her in that moment, but after, I went to the bathroom and cried because I’m the reason that this is happening.”
This revelation directly contradicts the belief of many on social media who have said that Brown doesn’t recognize the ramifications of her actions. “I want to tell girls, women my age, my own children, my mom, my grandmother, that you’re not your hair. If I would've just went without spraying the Gorilla Glue, yes, maybe it wouldn’t have been laid the way I wanted, but I wouldn’t be going through this.”
Thanks to Dr. Michael K. Obeng, the Beverly Hills doctor who performed the procedure to remove the adhesive, and thousands of others who have donated to Brown, her long saga has come to a close — at least for the most part. “I keep saying this to everybody that asks me, but I love these people, each and every one of them.”
Now, hair free of glue, Brown plans on making some changes to her usual hair routine. “I’m going completely natural,” she says. “I will do wigs again because of course, I love my wigs, but I want to truly embrace my own natural texture.” For now, however, under doctor’s orders, Brown is leaving hair manipulation to a minimum. “I can't put anything on my hair for six weeks,” she says. “Dr. Obeng gave me some oil that he made, so I'm allowed to use that everyday, and I have to go back to Los Angeles on Monday to get another treatment.”
Due to Dr. Obeng’s help, Brown plans to donate $20,000 to Restore Worldwide, a foundation created by Obeng which works with volunteers and medical professionals to provide specialized plastic and reconstructive surgery to underserved communities.
“I couldn’t afford the treatment that Dr. Obeng performed on me,” Brown says. “So I feel like, if someone did this for me, I have to help the next person.” However, securing those funds to give to Restore Worldwide has presented obstacles. According to Brown, the GoFundMe account set up for her has been flagged by critics that the website will not release the money to her at this point. Brown is hoping to get it resolved soon.
Brown says she also wants to make clear that she never had plans to sue Gorilla Glue.
“The rest of the money is going to my kids,” the Louisiana native says. “I have a daycare, I have a dance team, and I’m constantly doing things to help my community. Everything that I do for my kids comes out of my pocket, so I’ll continue to pour into them.”