Natural hair, natural hair. We talk about you way too much yet there’s still so much more left to say! First off I would like to apologize for the title. While I believe it to be mostly true, it is also clearly attention seeking and for that reason, I am sorry but now that you are here…
For those of you who are blessed with little girls of your own, you will know the internal dialogue accompanied with constant decision making that helps us find a balance between natural hair, work life, and other responsibilities while trying to remain good moms.
I’m going to get into specifics here with my own personal experiences. My daughter Jasmine was born almost 7 years ago now. She is a vibrant, funny and [insert every heartwarming word that any mom uses to describe their daughters here] little girl. She can be a bit shy around new people at first but most who know her see her as confident and feisty for someone of her age.
The fascination with long hair begins
A few years ago I noticed that she had a fascination with long hair. I am, as you may well know, in the hair care business (blogs, products etc) so I’m constantly looking at images of hair on my computer or my iPad and often Jasmine will be sitting on my lap as I work. At the time, I noticed that she would pipe up with comments like “She’s pretty” or “Wow I like her hair!”. I noticed that these comments would mostly be muttered when there was a woman with long straight hair on the screen.
After some amateur experimentation showing her different women with different textures and lengths, I noticed that she didn’t really mind if the hair was long and straight or long and curly if it was long then Jasmine thought the lady was pretty. Phew! I thought, perhaps she just likes long hair like every other little girl in the world. Straight hair didn’t seem to matter much at the time.
I have been natural since before she was born so I believed the promise that a child brought up with a natural mommy who loves her curls automatically grows up confident and loving her natural hair by default. Jasmine is a very girly girl and even when she was younger she instinctively knew that hair was important to me and it has somehow become quite important to her as well.
Fast forward to today, she is almost 7 and in primary school and has a best friend who we will call M, is a lovely little white girl with long brown hair. Jasmine and M have been absolutely inseparable since they started school and they make the cutest pair.
Why is my hair curly?
Since starting primary school Jasmine has asked me often why her hair is curly while her friend M’s hair is straight. Without trying to explain genetics to her, which she wouldn’t care about anyway, my favorite answer is to say that her hair loves to be curly and M’s hair loves to be straight. I explained to her that if she straightens her hair with a flat iron* and then she wets it, it will go back to curly because it just LOVES to be curly. On the other hand, if her friend M curls her hair with a curling iron* and then wets it, it will go back to being straight because her hair LOVES to be straight. Simple and straightforward. I know that she understands the mechanics of the matter but intellectually I see that she still struggles with it. “But why” being the often sounded response.
Eventually, I just started saying that “Curly hair is the best” to bring home the point that not only did mommy prefer curly hair but it is also something good and enviable to have. This is an often repeated phrase in our household and even Jasmine says this sometimes. I have on occasion heard her explaining it to her dolls while playing #cutenessoverload.
Anyway if you have a daughter/niece/friend’s child yourself you may remember the craze of Frozen a few years ago and how annoying the song Let it go became after a while. Of course, at the time only an Elsa or Anna doll would do for Christmas and I would be willing to wager that no black parent would have denied their little girls the blonde Anna doll at the time.
Yet feeling myself teetering on the wrong side of the balancing act that is black motherhood, I decided at the same time to purchase the only reasonably priced black barbie that I could find on Amazon, I remember thinking that she looked more Latina than black with her long straight hair and lightly tanned skin but I digress.
‘Black’ Barbie didn’t get nearly as much playtime as Elsa or Anna did and while her most of her body has now been relegated to the bottom of the toy box, one of her arms got lost and probably now resides in a landfill somewhere. Elsa and Anna, of course, remain in pristine condition. It is even part of mommy duty to put aside a day every few months to wash and re-straighten all the dolls’ hair. #mommyproblems