Remember last week, when The Root reported that Jada Pinkett Smith had been encouraged by daughter Willow to shave her head? While Jada’s cropped locks were at likely in response to the prolonged alopecia she’d discussed on Red Table Talk, we got a little more context on the origin of Willow’s fade on Friday, when she debuted a concert video promoting her new album, Lately I Feel Everything on Facebook Watch.
The nearly 48-minute short film ends on a nostalgic note, as Willow does a hard rock-flavored remix of her decade-old hit, “Whip My Hair” as her finale. Rocking out with an afro picked out like a halo around her head, the now 20-year-old singer removes all traces of the adorable 9-year-old who charmed us in 2010, putting some decidedly adult vocal stylings on her once-innocent lyrics. Perhaps to complete the effect of transitioning to child star to punk ingenue (Zendaya’s Disney-to-Euphoria, etc. transformation comes to mind), during the final moments of the song (around the 46-minute mark), Willow sits to perform a guitar solo as her hair is quickly buzzed from her scalp, ending the set with a dramatic gaze upwards.
Willow teases the moment in the short film’s behind-the-scenes footage, musing (h/t People): “I’m thinking about shaving my head during the ‘Whip My Hair’ performance...This is gonna be my third time in my life shaving my head. I’m always shaving my head at monumental times in my life, when things are really changing. And this is definitely one of those moments.”
The singer is definitely having a big moment, as she releases her first album in over a decade. Memorably, Willow abruptly quit her childhood music career mid-tour, a story recounted by father Will Smith and accompanied by its own dramatic haircut—Willow’s first shaved head, in fact. Mother Jada vehemently defended her daughter’s choice, as reported by The Root in 2011.
“I see my children as little people, not necessarily people to control,” she said at the time. “You’ve got to help them develop and become individuals. You have to find out who they are but enforce boundaries to keep them safe,” adding, “She’s simply being creative. I’m not worried about her growing up too soon.”
Now, Willow is all grown up—turning 21 this October, in fact—and she recently shared the unique dynamics of being the child of a famous couple with Apple Music 1's Zane Lowe (h/t People).
“I always just wanted to do right by my parents, and do right by the beauty that they have put in the world, and continue to uplift that beauty and to uphold that beauty. And I felt a lot of pressure. And, because I’m not a minor anymore...I’m finding the freedom to, I can put that beauty in the world. I can uphold that energy. And so I’m just figuring that out in all of these different ways, and it’s going to be a journey, and there’s more to come.”