Writing at Essence, The Root‘s contributing editor Demetria L. Lucas hopes that Jada Pinkett Smith’s permissive attitude toward her young daughter’s style will protect the 12-year-old from the “hair hangups” that plague so many black women.
… By burden of Blackness, Black hair sends messages, sometimes about heritage or socio-economic status, and beauty too. My fluffy ‘fro is some sign of self-love or rebellion, depending on who’s doing the viewing, and my hair straightened and mine, or weaved and bought, is a reflection of assimilation or maybe professionalism, again depending on perception. It’s something not to be touched by men, especially if just done. And middle-aged White women seem to be fascinated by what it does.
Making sure the message our hair sends is “right” is why we spend hours in salons, sometimes spending money we don’t have, to get our dos “done.” It’s why some of us will hold on to split ends to keep “length,” won’t be seen in an important place without a weave, still straighten our precious kinks for interviews, or worry about whether our natural hair will affect our dating options. And perhaps that’s why I’m looking forward to this “another day,” because Jada is onto something here, something that I wish more Black moms would jump onboard with so that so many Black girls can stop growing into Black women with hair issues.
After a long (and ongoing) battle with my family over choices I’ve made with my hair as an adult, I have declared my hair “just hair.” It took a lot of deconstructing to untie my beauty from what I had been taught about proper textures, attractive lengths and acceptable colors. Permed or natural, long or short, platinum blond or jet black, I finally view my constantly changing hair as an accessory to fit my mood or whatever style I feel like projecting at the moment. It was a long road to get (and stay) here. I applaud Jada for putting her daughter on the path less traveled, one that hopefully will lead to a daughter devoid of the hair hangups so many of us inherited.
Read Demetria L. Lucas’ entire piece at Essence.
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