Teacher Asks Chicago Mom To Stop Using So Much Coconut Oil In Her Daughters Hair Via Note

child with oil

What would you do if you received that note from a teacher about your daughter? I had a pretty interesting discussion about it on my own Facebook page and I have to be honest, I would have been offended.

I know there is a theory out there that black people get offended at everything but for me, I take anything about my child pretty seriously so maybe, in this case, a phone call would have been better.

Read the story via yahoo:

Monday when Tionna Norris, a Chicago parent, shared on Facebook that she got a note from her daughter Amia’s teacher, asking her to stop using as much coconut oil in her daughter’s hair.

“I understand the necessary of coconut oil on Amia’s hair, but please do not use as much. The children were complaining that her hair “stinks.” If you have to apply this daily — please do so lightly, so the kids don’t tease her. Thank you for understanding.”

Norris’s daughter has kinky-curly hair, which needs lots of moisture to be healthy. If hair with that particular texture is not moisturized regularly, it can cause breakage.

Norris posted an image of the letter side-by-side with a snap of her daughter’s (admittedly fresh-looking) hairstyle, which included a side braid and a crown of seriously gorgeous curls. And her caption for the photo confirmed that she had no intention of taking the teacher’s advice.

“*applies the same amount of coconut oil* y’all gone feel that black girl magic. Sincerely, unapologetically black mom. P.s. Coconut oil has no stinky smell.”

In my own discussions, some of the women suggested that coconut oil does in fact, have a smell and that it might not be pleasing to the other children or to the teacher.

Others were saying that regardless of what the child’s hair smelled like the note was unnecessary. I agree with that but what do you all think? Comment below!

About Petra

Hi I'm Petra Lomax , a staff writer and editor for BlackHairInformation.com . I am Jamaican born and raised and moved to the United States in my early 20's. I have a BA in Political Science and International relations as well as an MBA and a Masters In Project Management. I love travel, culture and anything that has to do with creative media and business.

About Petra

Hi I'm Petra Lomax , a staff writer and editor for BlackHairInformation.com . I am Jamaican born and raised and moved to the United States in my early 20's. I have a BA in Political Science and International relations as well as an MBA and a Masters In Project Management. I love travel, culture and anything that has to do with creative media and business.


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  1. Chandra Yeah

    This was handled all kinds of wrong. If the teachers concern was truly that the girl is being teased, she could have just sent a note letting the mom know that kids are teasing her daughter because of the smell of her hair. Even still… if she’s being teased, the problem is the kids, not the girls hair. But to send a note home telling her how to care for the child’s hair?… No ma’am. Know you’re place, and it is not in my child’s head.

    1. Kimika S Harvey

      Didn’t the note let the mom know that the kids are teasing? Because thats what I read….and the kids are the problem yes but the point is most kids dont have the strenght to go “that’s their problem not mine” she could legit go home crying because she is being teased…

    2. Maylonnai Harris

      She’s dead serious. Unfortunately. If those kids are teasing it sounds like their parents lack the competency to even teach their children basic respect and manners. Seems they lack the intelligence to educate their children on this diverse world that comes with people of all types of skin,hair,weight,shapes ect. This child nor mother is to blame here. PERIOD!!

    3. Tina Waters

      The teacher did exactly what she is supposed to do. She sent a parent a private note informing her of a situation with her child. It told her exactly what was happening and why. Rather than address it, mom decides to go to Facebook and try to prove to social media that her child’s hair looks good.
      While the kids at school are bullying her child, at least her hair looks cute. It might smell bad but it looks cute.
      Don’t come to the school complaining about the bullying because she’s already said what’s more important.
      If I can prevent my child from unnecessary pain by changing out some spoiled coconut oil, using less of it, and washing my child’s hair more often then that’s what I’m doing. It doesn’t matter whose problem it is, it’s my child who’s hurting.

      1. Lataisha Dickerson

        Amen! I’m shocked no one is thinking of the child & her feelings. I think I would have tried a different type of oil with a less pungent smell to preserve the feelings of my child. I, personally like the smell of coconut oil.

    4. Tiffany Jarrett

      The note yes … THE ADVICE to use LESS ….. not her place …. we just gone ASSUME The oil was spoiled …. I don’t like the smell of wet hair and many shampoos that other people use … can I SUGGEST others not wash their hair daily ??
      I’ve NEVER heard of coconut oil smelling bad….

    5. Adesuwa Edo Queen

      So you would let your child be bullied in school cause you to damn proud and arrogant to take advice. I would be damned if you were my mom. S**t.

    6. Sabrina Jeramiah Dixon

      But coconut oil does that have a smell. And why can’t parents complain about bullying? How about we punish the kids who are doing the bullying???

    7. Violette Racheal

      I’ve read the original post, and the woman who wrote it went into the school and it wasn’t the students that had an issue with it, it was the teacher. Saying she was “physically ill” to the point she had to stand across the room to reach because the smell was “so bad.”

    8. Tina Waters

      Tiffany Jarrett coconut oil is a food product. When it’s unrefined it has a strong coconut smell. When it spoils that smell can be repugnant. It’s rarely an issue if you’re buying a small jar and using it frequently. However it does spoil.
      What difference does it make if the teacher made a suggestion that she use less of it? She either takes the advice or she doesn’t. It has nothing to do with “place”.
      This isn’t about a grown woman’s preference of shampoo, it’s about a child in the teacher’s classroom who might have an issue she wants to head off.

    9. Maddie OG

      It’s their job to police you for the sake of your own children. Basically they can see something and twist it anyway they like.

    10. Chandra Yeah

      Thank you Jamie Sparen-Namiiro. That’s actually something that makes me cringe too, so I’m annoyed with myself now lol. My bad!

      My issue is suggesting someone change something they do, rather than teaching other people to be tolerant of people’s differences. Would you send a letter home to an Indian child’s family asking them to cook with less curry because the other kids are annoyed with the smell?

      Telling her to make changes to avoid bullying is blaming the victim .

  2. Doshia Woods

    Sounds like the teacher was trying to prevent bullying before it started. I think she laid out her reason in the note. Had the bullying started then the mother would have been even more upset. I wouldn’t have been offended, but that’s just me. Especially if students were complaining about it already.

    1. Tatiana Austin

      Okay that’s like telling a young girl before going outside “Where pants so you won’t get raped” if you see its a about to be a problem you talk to the damned students and get them to understand bullying is not okay. It’s like you’re saying everybody that has been bullied its there fault not the actions of the bully

    2. Sharece Chatmon

      I’m would no be offended either teacher’s and parents have to communicate so everyone is on the same page. I guess I’m just speaking from experience.

    3. Ruby Dee

      I wouldn’t be offended but my response my offend them. If she cannot get her students to learn cultural sensitivity and prevent bullying instead of encouraging compliance with them, she has no business teaching.

    4. Darian Jewett

      I wouldn’t be offended either. Not by the note or by the advise. I think a lot of us want to see it as something “racial” or about our culture because it involves coconut oil and kinky curls but it all seems innocent to me.
      I would ask the teacher to speak with the children and their parents about bullying others though.????????

    5. Shandel Archer Daniel

      Foolishness still not the teachers place to tell how to care any bullying has nothing to do with the child’s hair people need to teach children about bullying

    6. Krista Dixon

      I’m not sure how this doesn’t seem insensitive. At its very least, it culturally insensitive and at its worst, racist. If someone sent this same note home with an Indian child saying your child smells like curry, stop sending him/her to school smelling like this to prevent teasing, I don’t think there would be a dispute about the negative nature of the comment. I think often times black people are so use to blatant racism, that we tend to ignore it when it’s presented in more passive forms.

    7. Samantha Ragland Williams

      I’m not offended. And as a mother of three girls and who uses. Coconut oil in their hair, coconut oil does have a smell and it does stink to some people, especially ones like me who hate coconut. Alternate oils. Coconut oil is not the only oil/moisturizer in the world. The teacher was clearly trying to help. But, to the parent…go ahead and ignore the warning and when nobody wants to play with your daughter, or start making fun of her, you better not dare complain about it to that teacher…uggggghhhh!#!

    8. Ruby Dee

      Read the update. The teacher fabricated the whole thing, she’s the only black student in her class and no she wasn’t getting bullied. Teacher is being disciplined. Should be fired for this stunt.

    9. Dara Crawley

      Samantha Ragland Williams But for some people coconut oil is the best moisturizer for their hair. Should she, in that case, begin that old process of spending upwards of $100 of dollars to find the right product?

    10. Crystal Gardner

      I agree with you Samantha Ragland Williams, coconut oil does have a smell to it. My sister uses it and lordt have mercy sometimes. I remember my cousin putting some in my sons hair and he nearly had a fit when he woke up the next day and said he realized his hair smelled like baby vomit…lol. I just think some people’s hair can alter the smell of it, while it doesn’t affect others…who knows

    1. Robyn Tenesha

      Seems like she didn’t want her to get teased. But then again she need to check these so called kids that’s teasing her and make her feel proud of her hair. And I know for a fact coconut oil doesn’t stink lbs. Idk I think that teacher needs to talk to the kids who are teasing instead of making her change when all she’s doing is taking care of her daughter’s hair

    1. Tatiana Austin

      It don’t matter how it’s done if it’s keeping her daughters natural hair in good condition than the teacher and the bullies need to shut tf up. Teacher and students probably white and not used to it. I’ll just change my daughters class that’s it that’s all. I use it on my son and I wish I teacher would. But I doubt it since he does have a black natural hair teacher.

    2. Nekeira Batchelor

      Oooohhhh but it does to some people some black people and I’ve been told please do not put it in my kids hair because the teacher had a coconut allergy

    3. Kimika S Harvey

      Ha! I’ve smelled some pretty awful coconut oil on a womans hair, skin I duno where she put it. Up until that point I didn’t think coconut oil could smell

    4. Taiwan Fenderson

      Coconut oil does smell. After a few days, the smell is quite unpleasant. I had to stop using it in my baby’s hair because I couldn’t stand it.

  3. Renee Cummins

    Umm cocnut oil does smell rancid after a day or two…teacher was trying to be helpful not hurtful….

  4. Vett AlwysgnaBgud Corby

    Thats the problem now days, instead of sending a note home to this little girls mom, she should have disciplined the children teasing her, and sent a note home to their parents!!!

    1. Tita Soz-Davis

      How do you know the teacher didn’t discipline the children as well? It is possible that she did both.

    2. Tita Soz-Davis

      And she’s letting this parent know what’s going on the classroom. Please remember that just because a child is disciplined doesn’t mean the bullying will automatically stop. So the teacher could have been sending in a note to let her know the situation and offering a solution.

    3. Vett AlwysgnaBgud Corby

      The article obviously didnt state if she addressed the issue with the teasing, however it did showb the note she sent home and i feel is offensive, and if i would have ever received a letter like that pertaining to one of my children from a teacher believe me the teasing would not have continued! But im from a differnt era and raised my children to be accountable for their actions! Excuses are being made for actions and children now days are not learning consequences and thats why we have a lot of the issues we do today!

    4. Aarionah Franklin

      I feel the teacher should be talking to the children about teasing this little girl she cant help the fact that she need the oil in her hair the teacher should have handeled it better no matter how old these kids are they need to be held resposible for what they say or they grow up thinking its okay to make fun of other children she looks young which means she probably doesnt get why its a problem that how she grew up she shouldnt have to change for anyone

    5. Adesuwa Edo Queen

      From experience you can talk your damn head off. Children are gonna bully behind your back regardless. Just look at who some of the kids are raised by? They bring shitty behavior to the school from home so you tell me how the hell talking to parents is gonna fix it? The parents just blow it off like it ain’t a big deal.

    6. Bjana Henshaw

      You can not stop teasing! If it didn’t happen in class, it will happen at lunch or recess. If her child hair stinks then mom needs to fix it.

    7. Bjana Henshaw

      You are assuming that the teacher didn’t redirect the kids, you don’t know that she didn’t.

    1. Tynesha R. Crawford

      Never. And I’ve used several different brands/kinds. If it’s mixed with something else (another oil/other products) or if if it’s not pure coconut oil, then yes, the smell may be strong. I’m referring to organic, unrefined coconut oil.

  5. Lydia Brooks

    Coconut oil has a smell IF THAT’S THE KIND YOU BUY just buy a different kind that’s unscented if it’s a problem. I’m a teacher if that child was being bullied you handle the bullies and make all parents aware of all children involved.

    1. LaTonya E Odeh

      I agree. Just recently I brought some coconut oil and it has an odor too but at the same time the ones bullying her need to be brought to the principal attention

    2. Shannon Goodson

      Yeah idk why people keep saying coconut oil doesn’t have a smell. If it didn’t, how would the teacher even know she used it?

  6. Chet NeeNee

    I think it’s more of a face to face issue. I understand, but I would have liked to discuss it face to face.

  7. LaToya Simpson

    We don’t know if the teacher sent notes home to the parents of the kids that were teasing the baby. I don’t think that she was trying to be rude or insensitive. Hell I’ve been accused of using too much coconut oil myself. Lol

    1. Melissa Oneal

      I have to agree with you… Some people are very heavy handed. But now reading the letter she should just apply only a thin layer and a sweet scent leave in cream, or don’t apply the coconut oil at all…

  8. Robyn Tenesha

    If the students are supposedly teasing her then that teacher needs to check those children immediately and perhaps send a letter home to those kids parents that they are in school being mean to a fellow student because of her hair!* don’t try to twist like you’re doing her a favor when in fact you’re condoning bullying because verbal teasing is a form of bullying. Next it’ll be change her clothes, change her shoes, why dont you just change who she is all together…oh wait people have done that and folks still have a problem just leave the little girl alone.

  9. Danette Holiday

    She wasn’t being malicious. So yeah I didn’t find anything wrong with the note either. She’s trying! she should’ve talked to the children’s parents as well about their child teasing another child. She didn’t have to tell her how but let that go for the fact that she trying to help YOUR child!

  10. Nekeira Batchelor

    Omg everything is not a race issue….I have three girls and yes I have had BLACK people tell me they hate coconut oil and the way it smells…..Umm folks it is a food before anything and people do have sensitivity to food smells…i dont see this being any different then telling white kids they can’t use certain hair products or colors etc etc sheesh now everybody is a cultural sensitivity expert dafuq was yall at when we couldn’t even wear our natural hair outside without a straightening comb perm or geri curl …..now we up in arms about some FOOD being used as a hair care product that others think stink….annnnddd looking at that picture that’s way to much damn grease in that child’s hair ijs

    1. Nekeira Batchelor

      Derived from a plant that is used for food products….a coconuts primary classification is food…..ever had coconut fried chicken delicious coconut shrimp excellant coconut fried fish exquisite….no coconut is a food before it’s anything else it’s for consumption

  11. Calandrial A. Afriyie

    No one read the article. They was not any bullying incidents – only a teacher with a lying problem. She doesn’t like the smell of coconut.

  12. Linda Banks Meridy

    Coconut oil smells good, instead of writing a letter she could have educated them on different smells. That’s the problem with people, instead of finding ways to make it a learning experience. You side with children that one day will become adults that want to be able to control how others smell!! Who really have the problem? The children or the teacher?

    1. Lesa Holloway

      Only if you like it. I have a problem with any scent people and perfumes as well as room deodorizers what ever you are using remember it is personal. She should not come to school smelling like a coconut tree but the kinds can be educated about difference as well. To me over doing any smell can be offensive good or bad. It may be other AA children teasing. We dont have enough information to make a judgment on the appropriatness. I just like good dialogue.

    2. Sirita Sterling

      I personally HATE the smell of coconut oil. You have to be considerate of others. Strong odors are problematic for people with sensitive noses.

    3. Linda Banks Meridy

      The point of my comment is you can not control other people. And children need to be taught that early. You can only control what you do. I personally don’t like musky or fishy smelling body odors, but I don’t have the right to write a letter to that person telling them they stink. I’m quite sure we all have something about us, the next person don’t like. At the end of the day we learn to live in a world with different people, with different preferences smells and all. The situation could have been handled with more wisdom.

  13. Tina Waters

    Some black women can’t handle ANY criticism constructive or otherwise. Even when it’s beneficial to their child they especially don’t want to hear it.
    Personally I prefer refined coconut oil (odorless) because in time coconut oil like any food product will spoil. When it does it has an awful odor. I don’t know how often this mom washes her child’s hair so that might contribute to the smell also.
    Some moms are heavy on product and when the temperature rises the oil starts to run and get messy.
    Whether it was a note or a phone call the teacher is telling the mom that other children are starting to complain and possibly tease your child over her hair. That’s something a normal parent would take more seriously. I like coconut oil but my child’s well-being is far more important. After teasing comes bullying all because mom don’t know when to replace the coconut oil or how often to wash her child’s hair.
    Some people take this “don’t say nothing to or about my child” crap too far. The teacher is there trying to help but some parents are too messy, too petty, and too extra to focus on doing what’s best for their child.
    A private note from the teacher to her was made public on social media, why? To embarrass your child? The teacher is good, she replaces her old coconut oil and she washes her child’s hair and nobody’s bullying her child.

  14. Sierra Packer-Price

    I think the teacher should focus on the kids who are bullying. You don’t stop bully’s by asking the kid being bullied to change so the bully won’t bully. No you correct it with the bully and their parents!

    1. Siobhan Perkins

      Omgg….that is exactly what I was thinking! Everyone’s saying the mother shouldn’t have been mad but yes she should because she shouldn’t have to change anything to accommodate a BULLY, that’s only teaching them that if they pick on someone they can and will get their way.

  15. Sharece Chatmon

    I wouldn’t be offended by this note it’s not rude. The teacher is trying to prevent this little girl from being teased by other children and asking mom to help. Kid’s can be mean sometimes.

  16. Josephine John-Rose

    I have a daughter who has the same problem as yours, if you don’t keep the hair moisturizer it gets brittle. I did not find that note offensive and she is not telling you how to take care of your daughters hair. Coconut oil do have a smell and being outside and sweating will cause the oil release an odor. That is one of the reasons why I stopped putting it in my daughter hair. If that is the only thing that keeps her hair moist cause it looks like her hair is very healthy use the organic brand. There is a coconut oil spray that I use and it works great. The teacher cares cause if she didn’t she could have left it like that. Even if she tells her students to stop it or even educate them about hair texture and how it is maintained, she can only control her class, not the entire school. We are all part of the problem and we have to make it better and begin at the source of the problem and in your case, it’s not you it’s that coconut oil.

  17. Chyenne Ridge

    My granddaughter is one of 3 African American children in her school… yes the whole entire public school grades K thur 5. A couple of years back a few students started to complain that her hair smelled “funny”. Her teacher handled the situation perfectly… She called the parents of the other children and told then that their actions were inappropriate and considered bullying by the school district. She then worked lessons on diversity into her lesson plans so that the children understood that we are not all alike. When I see stories like these I thank the heavens that even though my granddaughter is a definite minority in her school the principal and school administration have taken the time out to ensure she is not excluded or bullied.

    1. A.L. Mo-Sca

      Perfect response from the teacher. Wish we had more like these. ????????????????????????????????????????????????

  18. Huda Ibrahim

    The little kid is very cute and her hair is gorgeous, with that being said, I have had my hair natural all my life hence I know most of the oils us naturals use and the smells. Coconut oil has a very strong smell and I hate it just like any other person would, some might be fine with it but to say the truth it does have a smell. For the other kids to say its stinky bare in mind that they are kids and they might use words they don’t mean and maybe they were only bothered by it or that they could smell her hair one ever she’s playing with her peers. I wouldn’t be offended and her mom could try and use less of the oil and maybe more if she doesn’t have to be around others sometimes.

    1. Krystal White

      What kind are u using. I’ve never smelled coconut oil. None that I’ve ever used smelled like anything. Unless it was that artificial “coconut flavoring” stuff. The real deal don’t smell like nuthin

    2. Huda Ibrahim

      I use spectrum virgin oil, been using it for a while my hair loves it and I often use it during weekends and or vacations or I would add something else to it that has a nice smell.

  19. Gurzayse Sowell

    That would be the same thing if a child wasn’t able to have a clean set of clothes daily. Saying that to say no one knows what goes on in anyone’s household. Especially a teacher. There may have been a reason the mother uses that particular item. If you send a note home how does she not know the child won’t read it. Children should be taught not to bully regardless of the nature. It starts with the adults not the children!

  20. Gurzayse Sowell

    A phone call would have been appropriate to ask the mother to come in a discuss an issue with her child with some other students

  21. Tingle Markisha

    The kids is slow these days my mom used pine tar in my hair occasionally didn’t nobody say shit half the kids hair wasn’t even combed

  22. Amorie Love

    Honestly I don’t see nothing wrong with it the teacher was just trying to help the parent to be aware

  23. Myeko Zardari

    Dear teacher can you stop spraying Victoria secret body mist over yo funky smelling body.. Because the kids are complaining that you smell like sour patches and catfish…. I’m just kidding… I’m not serious… A note to mom was appropriate but instead of using the word STINK should have said smells unpleasant..

  24. Valerie Johnson

    Any oil will smell if it’s not fresh and will turn rancid. I remember being very glad when the Jheri curl fad ended because that curl activator oil smelled horrible to me. Maybe she needs to keep it in the fridge…

  25. Monique Funchess Thomas

    The teacher said she understands the necessity of the coconut oil which leads me to believe that the teacher may be black or maybe even natural herself (assumption on my part)… It’s also not confirmed that the teacher DID OR DID NOT address the other kids for teasing and that very well could have happened as well. Most teachers are instructed to address all concerns involved with the situation not just one side and they do not share always how the other side is disciplined… Next, I don’t show where the teacher told her to stop using coconut oil, it looks like she requested it be used lightly or in moderation. And to be quite frank some of us (i am a proud natural myself) do have struggles with the amount of product that we use on our hair… and lastly, and for me most importantly, this should have been a face-to-face or at the very least, a phone conversation. You do not instruct parents on the care of their children through a note … unacceptable Just my opinion…

  26. Tita Soz-Davis

    We don’t know what was said to the children who were doing the bullying to sit her and say what the teacher should have done. For all we know the situation could have been addressed with the other children and their parents as well. The teacher made the mom aware of the situation so that there are no surprises. When my child was being bullied at school I didn’t hear it from the teacher, I heard it from my child. So at least she gave mom a heads up as to what was going on. She offered the mom a suggestion as to how to maybe avoid it in the future.

  27. Kimberly Champion

    i agree she should have just left it at “the kids are teasing your daughter bc of the smell of her hair”. let the mom decide what to do about it.

    i had cornflake sized dandruff and psoriasis and my mom put glovers mane in my head and all the kids teased me and said i smelled like bacon. it was humiliating and my mama quit using that and switched to sulfur 8 which still smelled pretty harsh but not like bacon at least

  28. Patrice Shivani

    I had a few students who used copious amounts of coconut oil in their hair. And if the oil is unrefined, it will go rancid, which has a very unpleasant smell. That being said, the teacher should have had a face to face conversation about how the the kids are finding the smell “distracting” as well as have other conversations with the offending kids about being friendly, as well as notifying their parents, to reinforce how we should treat others. That being said, if your kid stinks, it’s not fair to be subjecting other people to that!

  29. Aisha Clay

    There is an update to this story and it’s interesting. The child wasn’t bullied and coconut oil wasn’t even used in her hair…

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