Hey Jenell, this is a response to the article you featured titled, “Black Hair: What are You Teaching Your Children?”
My daughter was natural until she was 13. She rocked puffs and twists and what is now known as a WNG (we didn’t even call it that back in the 90′s), and braids… Everything. I did her hair every week, unless she had braids, then it was 3 weeks. When she turned ten, she wanted locs like me. She wore them for nearly 3 years, then decided to take them down, by herself, with a thumb tack (thanks to Jamyla, the Oyin mixtress, who blogged about it). I was loving us sharing our natural hair.
My daughter at 4 years old
Then, she went to her dad’s one weekend, called me from the salon chair to ask if she could get a relaxer. My heart sank. I told her it was her father’s responsibility if he allowed this. She said “Ok!” and went ahead and did it.
Now, I went back and forth trying to figure out where I went wrong. I embraced our natural hair, deciding to BC in 2001 when I realized that I had no place telling her how to love her hair if I didn’t. I didn’t realize it wasnt just me. Her father’s family and other women in my family proudly wore their relaxed hair and were hardly supportive of our natural hair. Not that we had no one, we really had a small group of us in my family sporting naturals… But just that small amount made her curious enough to go for the relaxer. It didn’t help that we live in Atlanta, home of chemical hair care. I’m sure she felt pressure from her schoolmates as well.
My daughter (left) and I during her transitioning
She’s back to natural now, after 4 years of relaxed hair, but it wasn’t easy. I stuck to my word on who was supposed to care for her hair. Through no fault of her own, her father didn’t live up to what h was supposed to do. I advised, but I never dropped an ounce of relaxer in her hair at all. If she needed her hair done, I took her to get it braided. But she wanted more relaxers. Even my mother did her hair. She said she felt I wasnt supportive. I told her I did what was best for her hair.
My daughter with micros
Needless to say, her hair is a touchy subject for both of us, even now that she is 18 and heading to college. But I realized I was truly invested in her natural hair, and forgot to nurture her self-esteem even when she was relaxed. I didn’t berate her or put her down or anything, but I didn’t do my best to help her feel better about her decision to relax because of my bias toward natural hair. I wish I had, and I hope she and I can put this behind us. It can happen both ways…
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Jenell Stewart, formally known as BlakIzBeautyful is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Kinky Curly Coily Me. Jenell has a MS in special education and dedicates her time to educating and uplifting women with kinky, curly, coily hair. She big chopped on March 26, 2010 and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.View all Jenell posts.