One of the most common and compelling reasons I’ve heard women provide when discussing why they decided to transition to natural hair is to be an example for their daughters. While I understand, respect and even agree with this mindset – the more I saw women concerned with the self-esteem of their little girls, the more I began to wonder if it really makes that much of a difference.
First let me just say that I think the “natural hair movement” is a beautiful revolution. Little black girls need to see examples of sophisticated, intelligent, accomplished and beautiful women embracing their naturally textured hair – both in their reality and in Hollywood. I agree that it is important that our girls recognize that they are beautiful exactly how God made them and everything else is an adornment. However, I also believe that we need much more than an example to change the way we as Black women view ourselves and our hair, starting from childhood.
Self appreciation is so much more than hair. Yes, hair is (obviously) important to me but it does not define my beauty or my self worth. We’ve all heard India Arie sing “I am not my hair” and shave it off to boot, but I do not think we need to go that far to prove a point. There is nothing wrong with admiring our hair and taking pride in it being healthy and long. What I mean is, there are many naturalistas that wouldn’t dare walk out of the house without a face of makeup. Naturalistas who schedule plastic surgery procedures daily to nip, tuck or enhance their bodies. Naturalistas who hate their darker skin tones. Bleaching creams, butt pills, colored contacts…there is a long list of products that are either aimed towards or supported by the pocketbooks of Black women in efforts to alter their appearance. My point is, unfortunately, there are a lot of women who the only thing natural about them is their hair.
Is this teaching our young impressionable daughters to love themselves? I don’t think so. While their hair may be coily, they may also grow up to develop an eating disorder, lighten their skin or have multiple plastic surgeries. Natural hair does not define our beauty. While I think it is admirable to shed the relaxer for your little girl, the lesson of self love is so much deeper than that. This is yet another reason why I view our hair styles as just that – a style. This is how I interpret India’s song – we are not our hair, and it is just the icing on the cake so it does not matter whether one woman prefers vanilla over chocolate! Relaxed haired women love themselves just as much as anyone else.
The overall lesson for our next generation needs to be – God made us each perfectly in His image. We may enhance, adorn, and embellish ourselves but as long as we appreciate exactly who we are as we are – none of that matters. We need to be taught that our bodies ARE temples and need to be treated as such. Being obese, drinking excessively, smoking – those are all things that detract from our temples. I hate seeing natural haired women that regularly spend hundreds on hair products but won’t invest a few dollars per month for a gym membership. I can go on and on with various examples but the bottom line is having natural hair can’t teach the BIGGER lessons of self love.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter, drop a comment below and share this post so your friends and family can also weigh in!