I take the role of a mother extremely serious. So much so that I have resolved to not have any children until I have matured more, not only financially but also emotionally and mentally. I take my role as a Black mother as an even more vital role due to the circumstances that come along with living as a Black woman in our current social platform. Being a mother to a daughter comes with an even greater weight of responsibility than it has ever in the recent past.
You see, it is more than just putting food in front of her little faces, making sure she is dressed with the most exclusive name brand clothing and primping her hair. You are molding her self identity. You are assisting in the creation of her self confidence and self perception. A self perception that can often last a young girl into womanhood.
The habits that mothers install in their daughters can last them for the rest of their lives. Which is why it is essential that we teach our daughters from a young age that their hair never has and never will define their beauty. In no way am I stating that Black women should teach their daughters to forego any hair care or maintenance. However, a balancing act has to be installed or she will become one of the many Black women who not only are obsessed with their hair, but also define their self worth and beauty through it.
Think about it. We are a culture who teaches our children, daughters specifically that our hair is key to our beauty. We fuss over it being nappy. We celebrate when there is slightest sign of a curly pattern, signifying “good hair” in a baby’s hair. We spend millions on weave, hair products made specifically for our texture of hair, and trips to the salon yearly. We use the texture of a person’s hair as a means to taunt or deteriorate/determine a person’s worth. How many times have you heard or said the phrase “that nappy headed such and such” about someone who pissed you off?
There is no doubt that we are a culture who obsesses over our hair and defines our beauty and self worth through it. Only recently has natural hair become more accepted again and even that can come with a certain amount of side eye looks from people who look just like you. While you might be thinking right now that women of all races fuss over their hair and spend money on regular trips to the salon, I can say that I agree with you. So why am I coming down so hard on the sistas?
The one major differentiating fact between that of say a White woman who goes to the salon constantly versus a Black woman, is the one that you will hear me referencing regularly. Black women unfortunately are born with several predetermined strikes against her. Here are the facts ladies: Your chocolate daughter will be born with several strikes against her. One is that she is female. Strike one. Unless you are wealthy or are born into a family with extreme wealth then she will also be considered poor. Strike 2. She is Black. Huge strike three. She will be born into a world that does not fully recognize Black females as being equal to their White counterpart in any capacity. Whether it be intelligence or beauty. Strike 4.
Having said that here is the bigger picture: There is absolutely nothing wrong with you teaching your daughter how to maintain and upkeep her hair. It only becomes self destructive when you, the mother, engage in obsessive behavior over your or your child’s hair. For instance, I know sistas who will put a relaxer in their daughter’s hair when she is barely out of pampers. They are so afraid that their daughter will be seen as nappy headed that they would risk putting chemicals on a toddler’s sensitive hair to achieve a slightly straighter and temporary look. There are sistas who will forego paying a bill in favor of going to the salon or purchasing a pack of weave. God forbid she goes to work without her hair being laid. She refuses to be the source of gossip for her coworkers for 8 hours. Damn the light bill. Sure it sounds comical when you put it in those terms. But we all know a woman who behaves likes this. When you consider how many sistas have young daughters who are silently watching mommy’s decisions and actions and making mental notes of them, it becomes a less funny scenario.
With so many predetermined strikes against her, your best bet is to assure that she understands that her beauty does not come from her hair, breast, booty or any other miscellaneous feature on her. There must be a deeper connection to her own self worth that you must install in her as being much bigger than her physical attributes.
We are our daughters first role models. Before she figures out who Beyonce, Rihanna or Nicki Minaj is she will look to Mama to guide her in her discovery of her self identity. Hair is an important staple in Black culture and Black beauty and there is nothing wrong with that. It only becomes a negative when it becomes an obsession and a means to internalize self worth.