I absolutely love Mocha Mom's video. I couldn't agree with her more. She says it all so beautifully that I think there is little else to say on the subject. As a Christian woman I completely agree that my goal is to teach my daughters that God created them just the way they are and that he didn't make any mistakes! He created their beautiful hair, just like he created their beautiful minds and their beautifully athletic bodies and their beautiful personalities. And it is ALL GOOD!
That being said, I think I am up against an extra set of challenges that Mocha Mom does not have to contend with. I am a white mother of black children. I do not have the advantage of being able to lead by example here. I have a very different hair type than they do. They are thoroughly aware of the ease of care that my straight hair comes with. They play with my hair all the time. They easily run a brush through my dry hair. They quickly put in one style and then just as quickly take it out and put in another. I get my hair wet every day and I swim and shower without wearing a cap. I sleep without wrapping my hair up in any way. And so does their little sister E. They will always be confronted with that truth and it might be hard for them to not have moments of jealousy and "Why Me?" "Why do I have this hair that has to be treated so carefully and is so much work to care for." "Why can't I just hop out of bed in the morning and run a brush through my hair?" I don't really have an answer for that. I have no idea why God made the choices he did when creating humans. But what I can point out are all of the wonderful benefits of having hair like theirs. That is, after first recognizing their feelings and letting them know that I understand why they feel the way they do. I think it is important to validate them in their feelings. Not to just say, "NO, YOU ARE WRONG TO FEEL THIS WAY. GOD MADE YOU PERFECT. END OF STORY." I want my girls to know that even though I don't know what it feels like to be them, I understand why they might be frustrated. And then remind them of the awesome versatility that their hair possesses and all of the cool things that their hair can do that mine can't!
Oh, and like I started off saying, I can't lead by example. I don't have afro hair, so I can't set the tone for them by NOT relaxing my hair. But I can set an example in how I respond to the rest of my body. I may struggle with body image issues sometimes, but I am sure to not let them know that. Not at this age at least. I don't want them to know that I am irritated about the little pouch of fat that I carry around on my belly since having Little E. I might not like it, but it is part of life. God blessed me with the ability to carry a child and the end result is a not-so-flat stomach. I do my best to teach my children a healthy lifestyle when it comes to diet and exercise, but I don't want to be so obsessed about my weight that they develop an unhealthy view of what a body should look like. Goodness knows the media already does that for us! I don't need plastic surgery to change my face or my boobs. I don't need botox for my wrinkles. Wrinkles come with age, that is a part of life. I don't go to the tanner or spend hours laying in the sun to alter my skin color. Please don't be offended if you do these things. I am NOT pointing fingers. But for ME, these are ways that I can show my girls that I am ok with myself exactly the way God made me. I don't even wear makeup! I am just me.
If I am having a heart to heart conversation with my girls I would let them know that I don't always love everything about my appearance. As a child I hated my hairy arms. I have very long, dark and thick hair on my very pale arms. I always thought it was so ugly. I didn't like to wear short sleeves to school and if I did, I would avoid raising my hand in class. I struggled with this for many years. It was probably sometime in high school that I came to terms with the fact that God gave me hairy arms and that it hadn't stopped ANYONE from liking me or wanting to be my friend! If I could choose, I would probably have totally hairless arms, but I can't choose, so - oh well! I also have struggled with acne my whole life and I have done what I can to treat it. But nothing has ever really gotten rid of it. Even now there are days I have to look myself in the mirror and tell myself I am beautiful even though I have acne and I force myself to hold my head up high and walk out my front door with confidence. My acne did not stop me from having friends in high school, and it was BAD. It did not stop my husband from falling in love with me and marrying me.
On that note, if any man does not like my daughters because of their hair, well, I think it is obvious he is NOT the man for them! Hopefully they will be able to understand that!
So while I can't identify with having the same hair texture as them, I can identify with not always liking things about my appearance and wishing that I could change them.
But the really great thing here, is that having afro hair isn't like having acne or hairy arms. Their hair really IS beautiful! It isn't anything to be ashamed of or want to hide. More challenging to care for - yes, but unattractive - NO WAY!
So the last thing that I feel I can give my girls is the ability to LOVE their hair! And I think that Keep Me Curly is playing a big role in that. Hair has become a big focal point in our house since starting this blog. The girls feel beautiful every time I give them a new hairstyle and they know that hundreds or even thousands of people are looking at their hair on the internet and LOVING it! They know we are inspiring people. They also like to look at pictures of other girls and get inspiration from them. They are starting to come up with creative ideas of their own. Their hair is FUN! And even though we may all get a bit tired toward the end of a hair session, I don't ever give them a reason to think that their hair is a burden in any way.
It turns out I actually have a lot to say about something I didn't think needed anything else to be said about it. Shocking.
In the end, I am pretty sure I know exactly how I will handle this issue. For now, relaxers are off limits. They are too young for a relaxer in the same way that they aren't allowed to wear makeup. They are still of an age where it is my job as their mother to make a lot of their decisions for them. I am not sure at what age I will decide that they can decide what to do with their hair. Probably around 16. But, maturity comes at different ages for all children, so I don't have a set age. Just assume that they ask me for a relaxer at age 10. I would tell them that they are not old enough yet but that we will discuss it when they are 16. If they come to me at age 16 and still want a relaxer I would probably sit down with them and show them all of the facts. I would warn them of the possible trauma they would be causing their hair. I would warn them that it might burn. I would warn them that it could cause their hair to become weak and break off. After reminding them of all of the benefits of keeping their hair in its natural state, I would encourage them to take a few days to think it through. And then I would let them choose. If they chose to relax their hair and they ended up unhappy with it, I will be there to help them restore it. But I will support them and love them no matter what choice they make.
Whew! I think that is it!