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source: deviantART.com

Hair Story

The weave debate is a big one among black women around the world. Some even worry about the effect that it may have on our children. BlackScribe offers some practical tips on how to help them make sense of it all – and warns against projecting our own issues on to our kids. 

source: deviantART.com
Hair Hostage by Myzaree (c)

Some time back a friend of mine sent me a BBM explaining that she was enjoying the company of some her other girlfriends. During this time a debate ensued: i.e. do mothers that have weaves create a complex for their younger daughters? How do you respond to your daughter when she asks, “Mommy, why is your hair softer, shinier and longer than mine? Mommy, why am I different?”

For me, this is not an issue. Sometimes I think we complicate the uncomplicated. Kids today are smart and appreciate the truth more than we know. So start by showing her why your hair is shinier and prettier. Take her to a hair salon and show her the weave being sewn onto your hair; or show her the chemicals they put into your hair to get that smooth relax. This should remedy the problem as most children will be put off by the projected discomfort.

However if she still wants the same hairstyle as mommy – firstly say thank you because your child is ACTUALLY paying you a compliment. Secondly, gently say no – explaining that for the same reason little kids cannot have too many sweets and fizzy drinks; they can’t put chemicals in their hair because their little bodies still need to develop (I’m really keen on the latter – try and keep them as untouched and pure for as long as possible.)

But if they persist (and there is nothing wrong with this – because it is a sign that your child is determined) perhaps take them to a hair salon during the holidays (because some schools have strict regulations) and let her have the weave. Chances are she will discover that the new hairstyle is an anticlimax as it can be so uncomfortable (especially to a young sensitive scalp) and itchy (according to my experience) that she will not want it again!

My point is, as a parent you have to pick your battles – you still need to deal with immense issues like the start of periods, sex, drugs, cute boys, varsity courses, cruel friends, absent fathers, Internet stalkers, hard teachers, choice of school subjects – the list goes on and on and on. So in the bigger scheme of things – is having a weave an issue? Perhaps not. If your child’s major concern is that she wants hair like mommy’s – well then, count your blessings.

Besides – we as mothers should be allowed to have things that make us feel a bit more confident and sexy – for some of us it is hair, for others it is bright red nail polish; to some it is losing ten kilograms or a boob job – are you going to tell me that nail polish is now a black / white / complex thing?

Does long shiny hair truly give an indication of someone’s complex issues? Often I hear that women with weaves are not afrocentric enough. Personally, I feel that this is a broad statement that removes a person’s individualism. A person’s personality is influenced by where they grew up, family, friends, books they have read, movies they have watched, places they have visited and much more – these collective experiences will in turn play a role in their choice of hairstyle, car, mobile phone and so on.

Hair is simply a consequence of an evolved world (remember the Metro fm – what makes you black advert). As an outcome of this global village, we are exposed to different ways to do things. In fact we live in a world where we are bombarded by all sorts of imagery, cultures and information. For a child it can have a negative effect – thus look at your child holistically. For instance – if your child is having CONCERNING complex issues that affect their daily life e.g. they don’t want to go to school or socialise because you have a weave and they don’t – this is simply a consequence of bigger issues that I believe have not been adequately addressed yet i.e. who are they?

Do they understand their culture and how it fits into this complex new world? Can they distinguish what peer pressure is, and how does it affect their life? To an extent, a little peer pressure is healthy because it facilitates competition. Do your children have their own hobbies and opinions or do they only emulate what their friends do? Do you know your child’s closets friends or favorite TV programmes? How much importance do you as a parent place on your hair or weight and so forth? Being a bit disappointed that you are not your ideal healthy weight is alright; being erratic and dumping all the contents of the fridge into the dustbin because you are starting a crash diet cannot be good role modeling for your child.

All of the above are not lessons you can teach in a day or a year. These lessons should consistently be taught and reviewed as the world evolves and, admittedly, within the context of your particular culture. If at any time you feel uncertain about your child’s behavior – most child therapists are happy that you chat to them about your concerns without the child present – they will ask for the child to come in if they pick up something concerning.

The key thing is to aid your child in their self-discovery journey by allowing the child to experiment within healthy and safety boundaries; and by communicating honestly and simply. I remember my son once asked my sister, “Aunty K why do you always have short hair? You look like a boy”.

She responded, ‘I like it”.

He was satisfied with this matter of fact answer and never asked again. Can you imagine if my sister had said something else like, “but why can’t girls have the same hair styles as boys?” or “are you discriminating against me?” this would have probably started a string of further questions and unnecessary concerns… sort of like weaves.

Image: Myzaree (c)

Follow Keitu on Twitter (@KeituReid) or find out more about her on our contributors’ page.

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