My six year old daughter has this gorgeous fro that I usually put up in a ponytail or two. And though she looks so adorable with with her afro puffs sitting high on her head, she recently became super self conscious about her hair. She kept asking why her hair doesn't lay straight down her back like all the other girls in her class. She kept asking why there were no other brown girls in her class. She kept staring at herself in the mirror with a hint of sadness that made my heart ache. Up until this moment I didn't realize how self and socially aware a child as young as six could be.
I later read that there is more research surrounding the narrow depiction of what “beautiful hair” is traditionally thought to look like and earlier this year, Dove™ Hair found that 8 in 10 women feel pressure to wear their hair a certain way. For many, these pressures begin at an early age. It feels so serendipitous that I have the opportunity to write this sponsored message as part of the Dove™ #LoveYourHair campaign. As mothers and/or mentors, we can make a difference and help ensure the children in our lives grow up feeling confident. So start celebrating the beauty of your daughter’s hair today–so she loves her hair tomorrow.
Hair Care Routines
This week I was inspired by a few youtube videos and decided to attempt a flexi-rod defined afro on my daughter.
Friday night, after her bedtime and while she was asleep, I washed, deep conditioned, and put flexi rods in her hair. It was one of those peak black girl magic #momlife moments. Many times, when I was a kid, I would wake up and my hair would be freshly braided or styled with ribbons by my mother while I was sleeping. She was raised with this deep-seeded standard that women didn't send their child off to school with hair uncared for. My mother worked crazy hours as a nurse and often worked multiple jobs to help support our family, but she would still prioritize caring for our hair.
Saturday morning she was all surprised smiles and excitement about the brightly colored hair accessories she woke up with. We went to the farmers market with them still in her hair and she blushed as the kombucha vendor complimented her funky hair style.
She was so happy to wear her hair down Saturday night to a Christmas party a a friend's house.
My daughter woke up Sunday morning singing the lyrics to a song she made up about her hair in front of my bathroom mirror. She was all smiles while I was untwisting the night-time protective twists I placed in her freshly washed and deep conditioned hair. She kept touching her hair as I shaped and picked out her fro. She had this intense moment where she paused, looked at me and asked if she could wear her hair like this to school. This was literally a first.
Watching her experience real pride in her own natural reflection reminded me of something I wrote about about raising strong girls of color:
Loving yourself is an act of rebellion.
Your children, outside of you, yet an extension of you can teach you a universe of truths. Take my daughter for example, she’s felt the weight of being different and yearned for a community of peers to disappear into. She’s anxious about standing out, about being different, even if the difference is as marvelous as melanin and as awe-inspiring as well defined hair texture. In her anxiety and in her doubt, I saw my own struggles to come into my own and be comfortable with myself.
A huge part of the journey of raising my daughter is helping her to love herself and that includes affirming her natural beauty. Embracing my own unique version of beautiful took me two decades to achieve. On the sixth anniversary of having locs I wrote:
My locs were an outward manifestation of an inward journey toward self-acceptance. When I rejected this notion fed to me subliminally via media or my peers, the self-hate that I internalized and replayed via endless critiques and complaints about my body and hair were replaced with something amazing. When I rebelled against these negative thoughts and ideas and learned to love myself as-is, a major shift happened and I experienced this confidence I never had as a teenager or in my early 20's. Something exquisite began to replace all that head space once totally occupied by negative body image and I found my own personal style and creativity.I've been loc'd 6 years now and it is the best decision I've ever made in my adult life, outside of my choice in a partner.You don't know what it means to be a brown girl that loves her hair as is. To be free of relaxers that never agreed with me. To be free of curl defining this and hair straightening that. As much as I love seeing a girl with a great blow-out or a fierce twist-out, I felt like I was comparing my hair to others and feeling inadequate. Hair, for many of us, is one of the first ways we express our personal style, culture, and self.It sounds silly, and it may even sound vain, but hair politics is a huge part of growing up black/brown/Caribbean. If your parents aren't giving you a complex, the kids on the playground are with talk of good and bad hair and being light-skinned or not. Measuring a woman of color's beauty in narrow and exclusionary terms.
This is one of main reasons why I was so happy to take part in Dove™'s #LoveYourHair initiative. Dove™ Hair believes that beauty is not defined by shape, size or color – it’s feeling like the best version of yourself. Authentic. Unique. Real. This campaign is a social mission to create a conversation with mothers on how and why they should share hair positivity with their daughters. If there is a girl in your life that you would like to affirm and share your love for their version of beautiful, visit this spectacular site create by Dove™ Hair and create a free animated message via Dove™'s #LoveYourHair website by visiting this link: http://bit.ly/2gWJgad
Send me an email or message with the link or screen shot if you'd like for me to share your message on Sisterlocked's Facebook and twitter pages.
I'm always open to your narrative please share with me in the comments below how you guide your children to embrace their natural hair-type?