Tessica Brown didn’t mean to go viral, she was simply asking for help. Earlier this month, the 40-year-old Louisiana native posted a TikTok video for advice on how to remove Gorilla Glue spray adhesive from her hair.
“I never was going to take this to social media. The reason I took this to social media was because I didn’t know what else to do,” Brown emotionally tells ET’s Melicia Johnson. “And I know somebody out there could have told me something. I didn’t think for one second when I got up the next morning it was gonna be everywhere.”
As she was in a hurry and leaving her home, Brown used the product on her hair after running out of actual hair spray, a decision, she admitted, she “definitely” regrets. The mother-of-five revealed that she had used the industrial strength adhesive before (though never on her hair), and believed she could “wash it right out.”
A week after spraying her hair with Gorilla Glue, she realized there was a problem. After using olive, tea tree and other oils to remove the spray, she took to social media for help.
The next morning, she decided to go to the emergency room at St. Bernard Parish Hospital in Chalmette, Louisiana, where the medical professionals attempted to remove the glue with “little acetone packs.” She denied reports that she spent 22 hours in the ER. All the while, her video asking for help went viral. The scrutiny, criticism and subsequent name of “Gorilla Glue Girl” followed.
Brown, who owns Tessica’s Little Angels daycare and runs the Dazzling Divaz dance team, quickly became a target for jokes and unwanted attention. It has now taken a toll on her and she admitted that she wishes she would have never posted the video.
“I told my son today, ‘I wish I could just go back,’ because I’m over it. I’m over it,” she said. “I’m usually the person that I don’t care what people say. I just move at my own pace. I don’t care what people say, but it’s just getting to the point where people are on TV saying stuff about me.”
“If you knew me, you wouldn’t say half the stuff they are saying,” she continued, adding she didn’t post the video for attention. “Then somebody said, ‘Oh, she’s just put that on her head on purpose just to get to here.’ Who in their right mind would say, ‘Oh well, let me just spray this in my head and become famous overnight?’ Never!…Who would want them to do that? I needed somebody to tell me how to take this off, that’s all it was.”
Brown reiterated that she is already struggling with her businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic, and “didn’t need this.” Even her daughters have had to deal with the unwanted media attention and reading news about her on the internet.
“[The news] put up a picture of me being bald, which wasn’t me. [My daughter] had to deal with that yesterday. The teachers are talking about it,” she shared. “My little girl, she don’t want me to do her hair no more. I told her, ‘Let me do your hair.’ She said, ‘You’re not doing my hair.’ But I’m thinking she’s joking and playing, but she didn’t let me do it.”
Brown’s hair is loosening up, but she said it’s “taken a minute” to try and get it out. In the meantime, to help with her situation, she launched a GoFundMe page in hopes to raise $1,500. At press time, she’s reached over $16,000.
The money, she said, is to go to “the wigs that everybody is telling me I’m going to need. That’s why I always said, $1,500.” With the additional funds, she is talking to doctors about what she can do, as one of her biggest worries is losing her hair completely.
“From us reading about everything — and already done start happening — [I’m getting] extreme headaches,” she said of her symptoms. “And the [doctors] said by the time they get it all out or cut it all off, I may have scalp damage and in some parts it may never grow back.”
But what hurts the most is being labeled as the Gorilla Glue Girl, a term coined by people online and one she said bothers not only her, “It bothers my little girls when they go to school.”
“My name is Tessica,” Brown stated. “Every time somebody puts up something on social media, that’s it, my inbox is flooded. Don’t worry about this thing. Yeah, y’all can say that. This is what my momma keeps telling me, ‘Stop reading the comments.’ But I can’t help myself. I go read them, and they’re still sending me clips of what happened…It’s way, way, way, too much.”
The comments and posts aren’t all negative. Brown has received an outpouring of support from celebrities and people offering their assistance. Beyoncé’s longtime hairstylist, Neal Farinah, even offered her a wig, while celebrities like Missy Elliott and Chance the Rapper have stood up for her.
“I’m glad mfs actually supporting her thru this,” Chance told his Twitter followers. “When I watched the video the second time it was hard to laugh cause I could tell shorty genuinely didn’t know she had put one of the worlds most powerful adhesives in her sh*t. I hope she recovers well.”
“Porsha [Williams], she wants to send me hair. Jess Hilarious, me and her talk every day like we’re friends,” Brown shared, adding that she wanted to make it clear that this is not why she posted the video. “A lot of people want to give me hair, but the reason I wasn’t accepting it is because I don’t want people to be like, ‘Oh, that’s why she did it.'”
As for reports that she hired a lawyer and is weighing litigation against Gorilla Glue, she denied such claims. As her story went viral, the company tweeted a statement expressing condolences for her situation.
“We are aware of the situation and we are very sorry to hear about the unfortunate incident that Miss Brown experienced using our Spray Adhesive on her hair,” they tweeted. “We are glad to see in her recent video that Miss Brown has received medical treatment from her local medical facility and wish her the best.”
“I don’t understand what all of the other stuff is coming from,” she said of the company’s statement and reports of her hiring an attorney. “No. I’ve never ever said that. Again, I don’t know where all this is coming from because at this point everybody saying it.”
At the end of the day, she acknowledges, “I made a mistake,” of using Gorilla Glue on her hair. When thinking of the extreme lengths she went to to style her hair, she wants people to know never to use Gorilla Glue on hair.
“If y’all knew me, y’all know I would never, ever do anything for clout. If y’all knew me, y’all would love me. Everything that y’all saying, call me, talk to me. I will talk to you. I really would talk to a lot of people. I’m not that person y’all trying to make me out to be,” she expressed, before sharing what she’s learned from the experience. “Go to the salon. Or if you don’t have what you need, don’t just use anything. It’s really not that serious.”
“I’m not this whole Gorilla Glue girl, my name is Tessica Brown,” Brown expressed. “Call me. I’ll talk to you. I’ll let you know exactly who I am.”