Whenever it’s shampoo night in our house, there are always lots of tears, a ton of frustration, and a lollipop to bribe Ayva to sit still. Despite the battle, though, the one thing I’m very conscience of is making sure I’m not complaining about her hair. It’s hard enough being a little Black girl in the world, tough enough to feel comfortable in your own skin, without your own mother disparaging something about you that is natural and beautiful.
I’m also careful the type of relationship with my own hair that I’m portraying to Ayva. It wasn’t too long ago that I was going to the Dominican salon to get my hair straightened once a week. Although I didn’t have a relaxer, I liked to wear my hair straight. I’d go in and let them fry my hair until there was no signs of a kink anywhere. It wasn’t that I didn’t like my hair in its natural state, I just didn’t want to take the time and energy into making it look good. A blow out was the easy way out. Eventually, I couldn’t get my afro back, and one day a few summers ago, in a moment of frustration, I took scissors to my hair. I cut out the parts that had been damaged by the hot blowdryer and flat iron, and got back to my roots.
Just like with everything I do, Ayva is looking at me to learn how to be. She’s observing to find out whether this hair is “thick” with a frowned up face, or “thick” with an exclamation mark and tone filled with admiration. She is looking to see if our tresses are “kinky” with a look of disgust, or “kinky” with hands on our hips and a sassy smirk. It’s up to me to demonstrate that nappy isn’t an insult, but rather a key into a beautiful, natural world filled with super fly women with super fly hair.
The next time it’s shampoo day at your house, and you want to give your thick-haired princess a pop on the hand with the comb because she keeps touching her hair while you’re braiding it, try to remember one thing. That hair that you’re struggling with, it’s one of God’s many gifts to little Black girls. Make sure your little one knows that, and recognizes that her crowning glory is truly all that and then some. Here are 8 easy ways to encourage your little girl to LOVE her natural hair:
1. Make sure she understands the difference between healthy and unhealthy hair.
Talk to your little girl about the difference between healthy natural hair and unhealthy hair. Tell her what it takes to get healthy hair (eating right, drinking water, taking care of the hair), and show her where her hair rates on a scale of healthy to unhealthy.
2. Turn shampoo day into a fun day.
Instead of making shampoo day a day to dread, turn it into a fun girl’s activity for you and your daughter. While she’s getting a deep conditioner, make some tea (or cocoa!) and look at magazines together picking out styles, or give her a mini manicure.
3. Create your own hair products together.
A little coconut and olive oil mixed together can do wonders for your hair. Spend some time making simple natural hair products with your daughter. Once she makes her own deep conditioner, she won’t wait to put it on her hair, and she’ll love and feel proud of the beautiful results!
4. Try different styles.
Natural hair is so awesome because you can do so many different styles on it. Experiment with looks and make doing hair an adventure for your little girl. Don’t just stick with twists or braids. Try curls, updos, and maybe even straight styles every once in awhile. Your daughter will love the versatility of her tresses and gain an appreciation for her hair.
5. Be intentional about pointing out natural hair styles.
Whether you’re in a store and you see a sister with beautiful hair, or you are watching television and a natural hair lovely comes across the screen, point it out to your little girl. You’ll help her to learn to identify natural hair, and to have a positive response to it.
6. Add bows, baubles, and barrettes to her natural hair style.
Let your little girl know that natural hair can be fun by accessorizing her hair with bows and other things. Barrettes are super inexpensive, and you can even make bows at home together from fabric or scarves.
7. Tell your little girl about weaves.
So often little girls end up coveting hair that isn’t even real. Make sure you let her know about weaves and hair clips and explain that most of the celebrities she sees on television are wearing them. It might give her a greater appreciation for her REAL hair.
8. Be an example.
Your little girl is looking at you for cues on how to think about herself. Make sure you are demonstrating love of your own hair by taking care of it, not talking about it in a bad way, and generally being proud of the God-given hair you have.