Like many people, I have come to love and adore Tiffany Haddish. Her authenticity, her simple joy in being herself is what makes her captivating, and it’s why we cheer for her and want her to win. She is real. She is one of us…a reflection of “everyday people”.
As a new fan, I was excited when her book came out and I readily went to Barnes and Noble to purchase my copy. I enjoyed learning about Tiffany’s story and how she ultimately triumphs and overcomes her hardships.
However, there was one part of the book that I found somewhat surprising and troubling. In this segment of her book, Tiffany shares a dialogue that she has with Jada Pinkett-Smith. Jada offers Tiffany advice on how to acclimate to her new fame — it was Jada’s advice that I found surprising and troubling.
Some of the dialogue goes as follows:
” When I was in LA, I posted a picture of myself on Instagram in a dress I thought was nice. Jada hit me up on text:
Jada: Get a better dress.
She sent me all these links to these designer dresses, but they’re like $500.
Tiffany: Jada I feel fly in my $85 dress.
Jada: Who made it Tiffany?
Tiffany: Who cares it looks good
…. She gave me three more Givenchys and a wallet…she left the price tags on everything.
Tiffany: Why are you leaving the prices on if you got it free?
Jada: So you know the value of what you’re carrying around. You got to carry yourself like you’re valuable, and you need to have valuable things. When this movie comes out, you’re going to be an A-list person. This is what I was talking about in that text I sent you.
Tiffany: What do you mean? I like my $85 dress.
Jada: Tiffany, you want to wear designer clothes, because people are going to be seeing you, you’re gonna be in the eye of the public and they’re gonna be like, What are you wearing? If you say Chico or Ann Taylor, that’s not going to work. You need to be wearing designers. It sets you apart from everyone else and puts you in a certain class level. If you want to be considered top-notch, you need to wear top-notch things.
Tiffany: But Jada, this stuff costs money. I appreciate your gifts, I really do, but I can’t buy this myself. I have to be smart with my money, and save it. I gotta stack my chips, not spend’em.
Jada: You absolutely should be smart with your money! If it makes you feel safe to stack your chips, and stack’em. Most people in Hollywood don’t do that, that’s smart…I’ll introduce you to some people, but really, all it boils down to using your fame to get the stuff…most places will give it to you for free, or very cheap.
…I definitely have a very rough mentality, a broke person’s mentality…I can’t be living that poor life anymore, I can’t be thinking that way…I want my money to make me money, but what Jada is teaching me is that how you look in Hollywood can often make you money. Opportunities in Hollywood will open up if you are sending the right signals about yourself. Fashion is part of how to send the right messages…By wearing cheap, low-class, knock-off stuff, I’m telling people that they can treat me low-class. That maybe I don’t belong on that higher level. I have to value myself properly.”
I was disappointed after reading all of this. I believe Jada genuinely wanted to help and offer her advice, but I whole-heartedly disagree. Now, I don’t believe there is anything wrong with buying expensive clothing in addition to other items that you want and can afford. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with valuing yourself and knowing your worth. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with change and growing into your best self. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with wanting to look nice. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with shedding a “broke” mentality.
However, what you wear does NOT dictate your value. You don’t need a designer label to let the world know you are valuable. This is the mindset that is hurting our society: placing more value on what you can acquire rather than the person you are evolving into. This is why you have kids and people out here stealing and killing each other over meaningless expensive items because they feel like it adds value to them. It’s why you see people on Instagram holding stacks of money to their ear and showcasing expensive watches and cars, etc. thinking that these “top-notch” things somehow validates them. It’s completely backwards.
Listen, Tiffany wearing an $85 dress never made you less valuable than someone wearing a $2,000 dress. It doesn’t mean that you are not “top notch”. Wearing a “cheap”/affordable dress does not translate as “low class”, unless you carry the mentality that you are somehow inferior. And what message is this sending to people who wear and can only afford “cheap” clothing? It teaches them to correlate their self-worth to their attire, and — although I’m sure that’s not the idea you meant to convey in your book — that is a damaging message for your readers to interpret.
No one even knows how much your clothes are or what designer labels you’re wearing unless you say it, otherwise they would have no idea and they probably wouldn’t even think about it. You command respect not by what you wear, but by how you carry yourself — that is what “high class” means. Similar to “low class”, “high class” is a mentality, it’s not a Givenchy bag, or a dress, it’s you. By respecting yourself, you command that same respect from others, regardless of the clothing brands you sport. YOU control how people will treat you based on your actions and your behavior. And after reading your book, Tiffany, I highly doubt that you would allow anyone to disrespect you or look down on you. You are already “high-class” because you respect yourself and you respect others.
As a comedian, the audience could care less about the designer label you’re wearing. All they care about is whether or not you can make them laugh — they care more about what you have to offer — your skill. Your Givenchy bag won’t save you from bombing on stage. Tiffany, you made it this far without all of that stuff.
F*%k Hollywood and their perceptions. If this past year has taught us nothing, it’s taught us that the Hollywood industry needs a spirit cleanse because it has way too many demons that its needs to be set free from. Don’t place so much weight on the opinions of an industry that has no moral or ethical foundation.
As an L.A. native, the people who I’ve run into that were really wealthy never flossed their diamonds or their cars or their clothing. At first glance, you wouldn’t even assume that they had lots of money. It’s the ones who are bragging about their money and what they wear that are the ones who are trying to impress and fit in — and they usually don’t have the money to keep up their appearances and their life-style. They are fake. They are plastic — man-made, homogenous, and lacking depth.
Tiffany, you don’t fit in with Hollywood and that’s why we love you. You are better than Hollywood. You remind people — especially celebrities — of who they were before they became jaded and the fame stripped them of their authenticity, and they lost who they were while trying to be someone else — someone they deemed as being better than who they already were. Don’t get lost or fooled by the smoke and mirrors of Hollywood. There is nothing wrong with looking good — we all enjoy looking nice and dressing up. However, you can look just as good in an $85 dress, as you would in a $2,000 dress. I would hate for you to lose yourself and become disconnected all in an attempt to fit in with people who don’t truly care about you. Remember that even those with the best intentions may not provide the best counsel, and you still have to pick and choose what advice will serve you best — this blog included. I hope that you continue to grow and evolve into the best version of yourself, but don’t forget who you are.
You’re a star Tiffany, you don’t need a label to remind people of that.
I wish you all the best.