If you go to my mother’s home and dig out family photo albums, you will find pictures of me during my childhood. Ninety percent of the pictures of me age four and under will show me with a smile and my thick and kinky hair wild and free–free of ponytail holders, products, or hair bows. My mother says I refused to allow her to do my hair. I believe she just did not know what to do with it. 😉 By the time I was finished with the first grade, my hair had been chemically straightened with a relaxer. According to Wikipedia, “A relaxer is a type of lotion or cream generally used by people with tight curls or very curly hair which makes hair easier to straighten by chemically “relaxing” the natural curls. The active agent is usually a strong alkali, although some formulations are based on ammonium thioglycolate instead.” After the initial time of straightening, I began getting it chemically straightened just about every six weeks. I had no say so about whether or not I wanted to get rid of my natural state of hair. I have no hard feelings towards my mother or aunt (who was our beautician) but I wish I had been given that decision to make.
Hair is a huge topic, especially in the African-American community. Sadly, one of the first judgements some people make of others is based on how the other person’s hair looks. In the the last decade or so the images and idea of hair has dramatically changed. Women are more acceptive of their natural state of hair, choosing to not chemically alter their hair. And more and more little girls are proud of and embracing their natural state of curly hair, especially because of children’s literature like Curiously Coiled that encourages little girls to do so.
Author: Fila Antwine Illustrator: Amariah Shelton
Theme of book: Embracing Uniqueness
Recommended for children ages: 3-8
As Milani prepares for bed, she and her mother have a conversation about hair. Milani learns that her hair is considered curly and coiled. I love that the author chose not to have the characters using negative descriptive words like nappy and bad, when describing Milani’s hair, which is important for a little girl’s level of confidence. If she is made to think that her hair is hard to deal with or not as “good” as other little girls’ hair, her self-confidence can be absolutely shattered, right?
Milani takes a look at her mom and asks why she does not wear her hair curly. Her mother explains that she has curly hair but likes it to be straightened. However, in the morning, Milani awakes to find that her mommy has decided not to straighten her hair but instead embrace her curls.
I briefly (four months) wore my hair in its natural state, however, my husband was not a huge fan, which is another story. 🙂 My girls are curly girls and I plan to encourage them to always wear their hair curly. I personally do not believe parents should make permanent changes to their child’s body or hair. (Read more about why I feel that way.)
Encourage your child to embrace her hair, whether straight or curly, regardless the color or the texture and as her parent, you do the same! Your hair is YOURS, wear it however you want, but be happy!
A suggested activity for you and your child: When you are doing your daughter’s hair, use positive words while combing or brushing, especially when tackling tangles. Also, allow her to pick out her hair bows and bands and praise her for choosing a beautiful one, regardless if it matches her outfit or not. 🙂
Share your funniest childhood hair memory in the comments!
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