Friday, June 25, 2010

Our daughters: Are we fighting a losing battle?

Food for Thought Friday

It is my hope that my young daughter will continue to remain natural through her adolescent and adult years. I strive to instill a sense of value and beauty in how God made her. Controversly, I’ve read about this countless times; mothers whose wish it is to keep their daughters relaxer-free. But “they” have other plans. . .

The “well-meaning” family member who perms your daughter’s hair without your consent; she was only trying to help make her hair more manageable.


Your daughter is tired of seeing all her friends with the hottest, straight styles. The occasional press & curl just won’t do. She wants straight, swinging hair 24/7; she goes behind your back and gets a relaxer.


You thought you would always stand firmly on not allowing those harsh chemicals in your daughter’s hair regimen. With her non-stop pleas and your busy schedule leaving you less and less time for hair rituals, the “other” you finally breaks down and permits the perm.

Her beautiful hair is virgin no more :-( She may continue a lifetime of chemical dependency or one day she may find her way back to natural tresses. Disappointed by the culture’s heavy promotion of bone-straight manes; what’s a mother to do??? Voice your thoughts and opinions below.

Thanks for reading. Be blessed!



KP said...

I'm going to speak as the teenager who pled with my mom to let me relax, and whose mom was TOTALLY against it.

At 14, I was that girl who didn't know how to style her hair besides slicking on some petro-based grease, wetting a brush, and pulling it back into a pony-tail. The other option was pressing it. There were no other options for me [in my mind] as there weren't many natural around me to serve as inspiration. If any, outside of being loc'd.

There wasn't a pressure to fit in on my end. It was a "I don't know what else to do with my hair" situation. So, for about 6 years, I relaxed it but guess what? I transitioned before knowing there was a word for it and began the journey back to being natural, without the encouragement or guidance of others at the age of 20. I did it because I wanted to.

I think for many, relaxers are just another styling option (sometimes it's as simple as that) but considering how much more prevalent naturals are nowadays, and how many MORE styling options exist, the pressure to relax or rather, the desire to relax may not be AS strong. Especially when you show your daughter just how many styling options they have and surround them when positive images of natural-haired women. And also, when you instill love of self by being that example to her.

But at the end of the day, if they're able to style their hair, and/or are able to PAY for their bi-weekly salon visits, it will ultimately be up to them what they want to do(14+...within reason). I can give my opinion, but I won't stifle them on their personal [hair] journeys. My mom didn't, and I'm glad for it. But what I'd do that my mom DIDN'T, mostly because I don't even think SHE knew, would be to talk about everything they'd need to know and make sure they have an understanding of the potential consequences.

I eventually learned to love my natural hair MORE, and have no intentions of going back to relaxed. :) But hopefully, the relaxer conversation won't even come up should I have any daughters. LOL!

CallaLily said...

Hi KP: I’m so glad you stopped by and shared from your perspective :-)

You make some very insightful points. From a young age, all I really knew about was relaxed hair.

ChocolateOrchid said...

I have a 14yr old daughter. Because I had no idea how to take care of her hair I put a relaxer in it at 6. Of course, after going natural I totally regretted that decision. I transitioned her a few years ago and she was not happy. She gets her hair flat-ironed and loves to wear it like that. Every once in a while she'll pine away about wanting a relaxer. And I just explain to her, again, the consequences/dangers of it. I also mention to her that once she is grown(and can pay for it) she can do what she wants with her hair. Which I do hope that she doesn't. But get this, every once in a while she'll want to wear her hair in its natural state. Go figure.

I honestly can say that I won't be shocked if she does get a relaxer once she can. But if she does, I can foresee her growing it out and going back to natural.

CallaLily said...

14! I wish you luck CO, lol. My daughter isn't a teen yet but she will occasional speak of straight styles. Her hair has only been flat ironed once (professionally) because I wanted to have her ends trimmed.

That's an interesting story. How did you transition her and what reaction(s) did she receive from her peers?

Beads, Braids & Beyond said...

I have definitely given this some thought. My daughter is only 4 now, she absolutely loves her hair. Will she love when she's 14? I don't know.

The only thing we can do is continue letting them know that their hair is beautiful just the way it is. Their hair is not a chore. I think we also really need to teach them how to properly care for their own natural hair. Lets face it, what teenager wants mommy doing her hair? I think that by showing them their hair is versatile and easy to care for when you know what you're doing they will learn to love their hair.

A lot of mother's don't take the time to sit down and teach their children about their hair. I know I didn't know anything about my own hair, I could barely put it half up and half down. lol So I started flat ironing my hair...all the time. That's the only thing I knew how to do! So yeah, it's understandable when children get a little older and want to straighten their own hair. What else do they know how to do?

I will continue showing my daughter that her natural hair is not limited to anything. Who else can say that?

Ok I'm trying not to ramble here so I will leave it at that. Great post.

CallaLily said...

@ BBB - Yes, you are so right about teaching and I couldn't agree with you more!!!

At times, I think if anything was to "happen to me" there would be no one to care for my daughter's hair like I do. I hope I equip her enough so that when she's ready to take over her hair maintenance, it won't be a chore to her.

Thanks for your input!

ChocolateOrchid said...

As far as her transitioning went, I had her hair blown out/flat-ironed and gradually cut off the chemical ends. Braids also helped during the summer. She wasn't interested in straw sets or tight curls. Why?! God only knows.

She was not happy with the decision but there is no way, in good conscious, I could continue to allow chemicals to be put on her scalp and hair. I just couldn't.

As I stated before, she prefers to wear it straight. I've even noticed some of her peers with looser curls who want their hair straightened. It's got to be a cultural thing that has affected the way teens look at themselves.
Anyhoo, no reaction from the peers because she wears it straight 98% of the time. On top of which, quite a few of them only get their hair blown out. Do I talk to her about heat damage? Certainly. But I also understand teens, their emotions and the huge desire to "fit in" so I do allow her to get it blown out. It looks just like a perm but just doesn't last as long. That's when I may hear her whine about a relaxer but that ain't happening.

But again, every once in a while she'll want to rock her curls and coils and I love it. I think the more she wears her hair in its natural texture, the more she accepts and likes it.

Anonymous said...

My daughter is 3 1/2 and she loves her hair. We adopted her when she was 3 but we have had her since she was an infant, and from day one I read and searched online to find the best way to take care of her hair. For me, being white, it's always just brush it and tie it in a ponytail...for her it was much more. I love her hair. I have loved it since the day we met her and I do my very best to take care of her hair and style it so she looks adoreable. She, however, wants "puffies" more than anything because she doesn't like to sit still. She likes her braids and I'm learning to cornrow. And while my hair is totally different than hers I hope she keeps it natural forever!

Jc said...

We can only instill the basic principle to our kids that their hair as it grows out of their scalp is beautiful.

Ultimately as parents we have to let the kids make their own decisions and mistakes.

I think it is vital that if and when a child starts talking about a relaxer that we explore with them all that is entailed into it and explain the costs involved and potential damage.

I really do feel that it is super extra cheap to be natural (some people do not think so). I certainly would not fund the relaxer upkeep and I would ensure that my daughter is aware that she will need a job to earn money for her products and retouches. I would only continue to buy shampoo, conditioner and leave ins as normal.

CallaLily said...

@ anon - thanks for reading my blog and sharing your story. I'm glad that you made the decision to educate yourself on properly maintaining your daughter's hair. Your caring and patience warms my heart and your little one will thank you for it.

BTW, I don't know any child that likes to sit and get their hair done; my dauther still wants ponytails all the time! :-)

Good luck with learning to cornrow.

CallaLily said...

@ Jc - yes, you are right and I definitely would not financially contribute to the relaxer upkeep.

Once a person makes a decision to stick with the main staples, being natural is cheaper but going through the PJ stage is a beast! :-)

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