Does “Going Natural For Our Daughters” Really Even Matter?

Does “Going Natural For Our Daughters” Really Even Matter?

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helping your teen go natural 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.

going natural for our daughters-2Self 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.

going natural for our daughters

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!

  • leillah

    I love this so much. Especially the bit about makeup. A naturalista with a face full of makeup and false lashes once lectured me on relaxing my hair and not being natural. I could only shake my head at the contradiction.

  • I. Absolutely. Agree. I absolutely love natural hair but I cannot count how many times I’ve been accused of not loving myself because I am somehow shunning “my true self” because I relax my hair. While admittedly they are women who relax their hair because they for some reason hate their natural texture (and that’s sad), they are the exception, not the rule. Relaxed hair is a style choice. That’s it. The natural hair/relaxed hair divide gets on my last nerve. It really does. Healthy hair is the goal and it annoys me that we can’t all just see that and leave the divisions alone.

    Like you, I don’t believe I have to have natural in order to teach my future daughter to love herself. Our hair is only a small part of self-love. What matters is that we care for what we have. I have aunts and little cousins where the mom is relaxed and the daughters are natural and it’s not even an issue. Mom has healthy hair that is well cared for and daughters have healthy hair that is cared for and that it. My cousins are raised to love who are from head to toe and understand that their mother’s hair is straight because it’s the moms choice and when they are older they will have that choice as well. They don’t express negative feelings of self-worth/self-image because they aren’t exposed to that negativity. They are told they are beautiful just as they are and our family encourages that every day… that’s what’s important.

  • Shamika Cambridge

    Couldn’t have said it better. I say its just a fad…keeping up with the trend. As you said our identity is bigger than our hair and they fail to realize its our hair and we can do what we want with it.

  • Well said!

  • Shari

    I was just thinking about this a couple of months ago. I was at a park and there were three young girls who were all natural. However, 2 out of the three of them were overweight, and I wondered to myself: “What is the point?”. Since when is what we put ON on our hair more important than what we put IN our bodies? I am not saying getting relaxers is a healthy option for our hair, but it just seems so silly to me that we would place more importance on our hair than the acutal health of our bodies. When are we as a race, going to really do something about diabetes, hypertension, and obesity that affects our community disproportionately? You know, things that acutally matter. When a naturalista dies from a heart attack at age 35, are people going to say, “Well at least she was natural??”

  • Guest

    Well said! I am a mother of 5. We have 2 boys and 3 girls. I had been relaxed since high school and prior to that my whole family was rocking Jheri Curls (dad and brothers too). Now I’m making a move to see how I can care for my natural hair since I have never done it (8.5mos post). Plus I DO want to teach my girls it is possible to live life caring for their hair without chemically altering their texture. If they decide to relax, texlax or texturize that’s fine too. I just don’t want them aiming for chemicals because of laziness or lack of understanding how to care for their hair. I’m learning along the way and showing/teaching them too. So, wether they continue to keep their natural texture or chemically treat it, either way they will know how to care for their hair. I want them to also know life is not their hair, body or fashion. Their lives belong to GOD! We’re a Christ believing family and living a saved life comes FIRST then everything else. We teach our kids to love Christ then they will know how to love themselves and others. God is good! Be blessed! :o)

  • I would like to weigh in this discussion too. You probably know that I totally believe that relaxed hair is a choice and just a hairstyle so all this natural/relaxed divide the work of the napzis and to be ignored until the perpetrators either grow up or go back to relaxing and shut up! lol

    Having said that, as the mother of a 3 year old, I don’t take it for granted how easily influenced kids are. I can’t tell you how many times my daughter has made a choice on something but as soon as I decide that I want something different from her, she changes her mind. She simply wants what mom wants and likes what mom likes. That is until she’s older to know her own mind. So like it or not, you will be your daughter’s first and most influential role model and I don’t think too many people would argue with that.

    Now, if mom likes straight hair, chances are that your daughter will also want the same when she is old enough. In essence, a lot of the choices that we think that our kids or even WE had growing up, were not really choices at all.

    How many natural hair stories do we hear beginning with ‘My mom relaxed my hair when I was [insert age here]’. Were these mom’s dragging these kids to the salon to get their hair relaxed against their will? Of course not! I’d be willing to bet that a large majority of them actually wanted their hair relaxed. Maybe because the adults in their family or friends were relaxed? Only they can tell you.

    I readily admit that self worth spans more than just our hair so you can of course still teach your child to love herself even if you are relaxed. She will eventually understand when she is older that this is just mama’s choice.

    Even so I think that there are definitely good and bad reasons for deciding to give up relaxed hair. Maybe you are done with the touch ups every 12 weeks, or maybe you just have low density hair and want more volume that only being natural can provide or maybe you just want stronger hair, these are all good reasons. But going natural just for your kid’s sake? That’s never a good reason in my book. It’s akin to staying in a bad relationship ‘for the kid’s sake’. Not smart!

  • Fai

    I think it’s a great idea to go natural for your daughter. I think that natural hair teaches your daughter that she is beautiful as is. However, I have a 4 year old daughter and I’m relaxed and I won’t be going natural anytime soon. Being natural does not make you a better person. Period. So while going natural for your daughter is great and everything, there’s other things folks need to be worrying about in terms of leading by example.

  • Priscils66

    Great discussion Ebony….I am currently 11 months post relaxer, transitioning to natural. Ten years ago, that thought never crossed my mind because I enjoyed my relaxed hair and unlike many women, my hair thrived and grew well. My ten year old daughter who is natural was my main reason for making that decision. She often made comments like “I want my hair like yours mommy” and as a mother that certainly tugged at my heart strings since I could see how much she was struggling with accepting her hair. I also became curious about my natural texture and decided to forge on with this new journey. Whether she decides to relaxed her hair when she is older or not….I wanted to be able to give her options and embarking on this journey with her is certainly in plus.

  • LaToya Sheppard

    As a mom of three daughters I’d have to say that you are right on the money with this post! For a minute I almost got sucked into the “I’m doing it for my daughter” thing, but I’m so over that. I like relaxed hair so I’m gonna be relaxed. I do think it’s possible to teach my girls to love their natural hair even though mine is completely different. For example, my 10 year has decided to stay natural even though I gave her the choice to relax. She loves her hair, but it doesn’t define her. Now will my 4 year old make that same decision when she’s older? Maybe not and that’s ok because she’s her own person. It’s just hair. I’m trying to teach my girls to love God, love others, and love themselves. That’s so much more important than hair.

    Thanks for stirring up this discussion Ebony. I hope you posted this on BHM too so that it can reach more ladies.

  • Guest

    I was just talking to my boyfriend about this. At one point I said I would go natural for my future daughter but I honestly don’t think it matters. As a young girl, I did want to be just like my mom and she relaxed often. She did the best she could with my natural hair and it was not fun. I wanted hair like hers, only because she made dealing with my natural hair unpleasant. So in the future I will educate my daughter on how to take care of her hair and body so she won’t feel confused. We are more than our hair.

    • I agree. Education is everything. If I am lucky enough to have one, my daughter will likely grow up changing her hair every few minutes because that’s what Mommy does, lol!

  • Shae

    This is so ignorant.

    You had a high repetition of “naturalistas” when it’s the same for plenty relaxed, black, and general women. Relaxed women alter their appearance (weaves, contacts, Brazilian butt lifts, etc.) but then again, so do many other women in general. White women get breast augmentations and contacts. Asian women get relaxers and skin bleaches. Plenty of women of all races would rather have long flowing hair than healthy weight; especially in America. I know natural haired women frequent gyms more than relaxed, I don’t know where you live, but that’s how it is here in Atlanta.

    I don’t care how people wear their hair, but I do care about people attacking others for their decision, and you’re no better than those “natural Nazis” you’re aiming this at.

    All women should be taught they’re beautiful and valuable outside of their appearance. Instead of bashing people with their hate, you should kill them with kindness. Our babies should be taught that they are their own people and no one will ever amount to them, but simultaneously, all people are valuable and vital.

    Insecurities typically stem from things like this; broad sweeping generalizations aimed at one group, that could also apply to others.

    I will admit my post was long, but hey, you were merciless with your toxic article.

    Women need empowerment, not mean words that discourage them from whatever they’re trying to achieve.

    • Great points, and I agree that all women could take points from my article. However, I do not think it is opinion but rather fact that a lot of women DO “go natural for their daughter(s)” and that was the specific point I was addressing. It wasn’t an attack or a promotion of relaxed or weaved women, but a discussion with my thoughts on a very particular motivation for being natural. Thanks for reading!

  • Sdestra HairJourney

    Ebony, now you know I agree with this post. I don’t think it’s a way of attacking like someone mentioned above saying this post is ignorant. You know I’ve been relaxed for years and my daughter is natural. I don’t see anything wrong with it. And I don’t see anything wrong with anyone doing whatever they like as long as they don’t attack others. I have been attacked several times and to this day about me setting a bad example for my daughter because I’m relaxed. My child, my rules. Until my daughter can afford to maintain her choice in her hair care, she can do whatever she wants. If we want to be a positive influence on our children, it should be all around and not just hair. We’re talking about health, being motivated and being a positive person. It shouldn’t only be about appearances. Being relaxed is a choice, and a choice I am going to stick with. Having my daughter rocking natural hair is my choice because she is still a child. But she is not only hair, she is a growing child and needs to be loved in every aspect and taught in every aspect about who she is. Great post!