One would have thought that being natural and having your daughter wear her hair like yours, seeing how it is styled, washed and protected, that your little girl would automatically get that she is beautiful and highly favoured for embracing her own natural textures.
That statement doesn’t ring true for me at all, I have 3 daughters, all with different textured natural hair and with me having natural hair for some 18 plus years. Do my daughters love their natural hair? Not at all, they do not yet see the beauty in having such beautiful woolly textures, they are more caught up with being a Disney Princess like Elsa and Anna. (ba-ham bug to the movie industry)
How does a mother teach her daughters and sons to accept and appreciate the natural state of black women’s hair? Not needing to wear wigs all the time or straightening their own curly textures, or having our sons finding natural hair unattractive in black women
I always thought by wearing my hair natural would be enough; I thought leading by example would do the trick for my kids, right? I figured if they saw my hair natural it would be just normal to accept how they look and not identify with a model with straight hair, because girls identify beauty in their mothers first, right?
I can remember that moment I heard my 2-year-old, Sway, saying she didn’t think she was beautiful. I was carrying her in my arms one Sunday evening at one of our usual weekend spots for our family, Devon House in Kingston Jamaica, we go there on the weekend for ice cream, outside play and for them to socialise with other kids their age. As we were leaving the ice cream section to head to the park she saw an Indian baby girl, also in her mom’s arms. Sway looked at the little girl and smiled and then whispered to me how beautiful the little girl was with her waist length shiny black hair. I asked her don’t you think you’re beautiful and she said flatly,
“no mommy, I’m not, she is soooo beautiful. She has long hair and mine isn’t like that”
My heart broke. It was devastated, ok maybe not quite devastated but you know what I mean, to think she was only two and already having beauty conscious issues.
I was beside myself with sorrow, as was like, how did I miss this, how did I not see that Sway wasn’t identifying herself as being beautiful. Boy, I went all “black power” mom like and discarded all the pale skinny dolls and went hunting for Princess Tiana and any other dark skinned dolls I could find.I just thought if they were surrounded by ethnic beauty my girls would just appreciate their own beauty.
After that comment, my days were filled with reinforcing mantras of how gorgeous they looked, how much their hair was beautiful. I made it a weekend thing to comb through Pinterest with my daughters and find hairstyles they would like in their hair. I showed them how to twist and encourage them to playing in each other hair (that was another life lesson learnt which involved scissors and one cutting someone else’s here….ugh) with external factors like kids TV programs, games, books, influences from other kids and parents; the struggle for each family who has daughters to raise them in ways to accept their weight, height, hair, quirks and flaws is really difficult. Why? Because there is just a handful of people to reinforce the knowledge you want to impart on your kids but there are much more factors working against your ideals.
Wow….It’s not been easy and it’s ongoing, but for now, I incorporate their father and every family member to reinforce our ideals. They still have pale dolls but I monitor their play and what they watch. We, Hubby and I, allow more play dates with other kids and limit iPad time. We consistently speak positively about their beauty their fashion choices, we are their first stop for positivity and upliftment about their natural hair and ethnic diversity. We Still have bumps but we believe that by teenagers when the real pressure start they will be strong accepting women
Stick it out, gather knowledge, speak to other moms, speak to your child/children sometimes it’s easy to solve an issue with beauty by just hearing how they perceive things.