I came across this excellent documentary by then University of Illinois graduate student Brittney Henton: http://www.vimeo.com/18636227 . The documentary explores how African-American women relate to their hair by combining history, current interviews and expert insights. One thing that I’ll mention today is the discussion about preparing for the future as it directly impacts the identity that our children will develop. Now that I have a five-year old daughter, I am highly sensitive to the messaging that I give her about her hair. I never describe her hair in a bad way. Ever. In fact, I constantly tell her that her hair is beautiful, healthy and strong just like she is (we also emphasize kindness, intelligence and other attributes as, of course, hair is just one part of who she is). We’ve had multiple conversations about how God made each of us as unique individuals and that that uniqueness is beautiful. This has helped her understand why her hair is more expansive than her white girlfriends’ hair and why their hair is straighter than her hair. I’ve had to tell her that she will never have naturally straight hair, she was born with curly hair and that’s how it is in its natural state. I think she is growing to love her hair as I’ve seen her gazing in the mirror at her twists and puffs in the same way I used to gaze at my relaxed hair. It takes patience but I believe she is growing to embrace and appreciate herself and others.
Curious to see your thoughts on the documentary and hear your comments on how you discuss hair with your children.