For as long as I can remember, my hair has always been natural. My momma raised me to acknowledge that there is beauty within my kinks and coils. I’ll never forget the endless wash days, the even longer pressing sessions and the struggle to maintain freshly straightened hair in Houston’s unforgiving humidity. As a child, I never really understood the significance of embracing what I was blessed with – my focus was on the total opposite – getting a perm while destroying all evidence of the monstrosity that seemed to overwhelm my head.
Now, as a grown woman, I can truly say that I am more attached and more loving of my curls than ever before. It has taken years for me to understand my natural hair. My texture has altered itself since my college days and I am literally on a constant search for the best products that will aid in the management of my tresses. Surprisingly, this brings me joy. The joy of discovery, the joy of trying new things, the joy of caring and preserving my best self. When I rock my hair wild and free, the weird side-eyes and whispers don’t bother me. Hell, I even had a woman ask me why my hair was “not done”. The disrespect, right?
I have also taken note of this upcoming generation of children, young African-American girls to be exact. I cannot tell you how many times I have witnessed or overheard a child (under the age of eight) asking their parents for “a wig” or “a weave” to cover their crown. Yes, you heard it right, a full-on weave. My guess is they see their mothers doing it, and they know no better. This type of mindset scares me. Not only for the sake of young Black girls who aren’t willing to accept their own natural hair, but for the generational cycle that will soon dominate future lives. The impossible beauty standard that this new generation will attempt to achieve is nothing more than a front. Aside from covering their own natural hair, the self-conscious nature of “hiding” their genuine beauty will evolve. First, it’s the hair. Then, it’s transcends to cosmetically transforming body parts. Get the picture?
Representation matters. And, this is the foundation for why so many kids grow up, resenting their appearance. I was one of them. I hated my dark skin. I hated my wide nose. I was even teased for my complexion. But, my momma constantly instilled in me, why I was beautiful, without the help of chemically enhanced hair products. She taught me how to care for my skin, so well to the point where my melanin literally glowed. She taught me how to enhance my natural beauty, rather than shunning its glory. And, those timeless lessons have stuck with me, to this present day. I am forever thankful.
We, as a society, must be the beacon of light for these babies. We need to uplift them and allow them to see the beauty within their natural appearance. All tea, no shade: I have nothing against weaves; by all means, do you. But, when you see it is negatively affecting your child and their perception of themselves – it may be time to try something new. Lead by example. Tell your daughter she’s beautiful, tell her how gorgeous her curls are, teach her how to effectively care for her hair. Be the change and encourage self-love. Give these little ones a chance to be great in their own way. Don’t recycle generational trauma, defeat it. Teach them to be Black, natural and proud. There’s no better way.
“My hair doesn’t need to be fixed. Society’s view of beauty is what’s broken.”