Hair is a touchy subject in our community. “Touchy” is probably an understatement. But it’s a subject that never seems to run out of steam. I, for one, am ecstatic to see the explosion of the natural hair movement. And trust, it’s a movement—not a trend. I just recently found out that the sale of relaxers has actually dropped by 26% in the past five years.
I started my locs 10 years ago. It was during my divorce, and although I had wanted to start them sooner, my husband at the time told me that if I did, he wouldn’t want to be seen with me. He preferred my shoulder length relaxed hair to my kinky twists. To him, the kinkiness looked less civilized. Although in some ways, my choosing to start my locs was an act of defiance and independence, in others, it was definitely a symbol of freedom and coming into my own.
Something began to happen to me once I committed to my locs. I actually became more sure of who I was and stopped worrying as much about what people thought. My skin became more comfortable to be in—especially once I was no longer scorching my scalp with the “creamy crack” just to straighten what society said was too “nappy.” The beauty of my tightly coiled hair made it ideal for loc’ing and I haven’t looked back since.
When I had my daughter, I made a very conscious decision to raise her with the kind of self confidence and self love it had taken me years to cultivate as an adult. That meant teaching her how beautiful she was just as she was: mocha skin, gap-tooth smile, coiled hair and all. Even though it wasn’t always easy caring for and styling her hair (afro puffs became my hairstyle of least resistance), it was worth the extra effort and tears to get her to appreciate just how God made her.
I’ve always told her how beautiful her hair was and she now tells me how awesome she is. I waited until she was old enough (eight) to make her own decision about whether or not she wanted to loc her hair. I think after seeing how low-maintenance, painless, and long my own locs were, she decided to commit.
For the past two years, our “hair wars” have been minimal thanks to not having to do a comb out of her afro puffs every few days. Baby girl rocks her locs proudly and is growing into a bold, beautiful and extremely confident young lady who can easily adapt to just about any situation she is put in. Regardless of the fact that there are certainly other factors at play in raising a smart, secure, happy child, I know that making the choice to teach her to embrace all of her God-given traits—including her beautifully coiled hair—has been a major contributor in laying a foundation for a future leader who will be unlikely to allow society to define who she should be and what she is capable of.
BMWK – How do you think hair plays a role in our children’s self image and self esteem?