I did my FIRST guest blog a little over a week ago. Well, sort of. Leila Noelliste over at BGLH liked my article, but was more intrigued with one of the questions that I posed and wanted to start a conversation from that question. So, my article ended up getting cut. I don't mind because I was glad that she allowed me to write for her blog. However, I did want to post my actual article for y'all:
My 20 month old daughter MIB has hair like her Mama’s: multiple textures, thick, coarse, and a handful to comb. On average it takes almost two hours to properly shampoo, condition, detangle, and moisturize her hair. I try to keep her hair routine as simple as possible by mimicking mine because as single mother simplicity is the key. While she’s in the tub, I gently wash her hair with Aveeno Baby Essential Moisture Shampoo because for me it gets her hair the cleanest. I keep her old twists in while washing her hair to keep the tangles down because her hair tangles up TOO easily. Then I put in Africa’s best Olive Oil Deep conditioner mixed with Hollywood Beauty liquid Castor Oil in her hair while I finish bathing her. She has very dry hair and my conditioner and castor oil mixture helps retain moisture in her hair.
After I rinse her hair and dry her off, I spray her hair with Johnson’s no more tangles detangling spray and coat her hair with Hollywood Beauty solid Castor Oil. In order to detangle her hair I do it in sections and use several combs that vary in width in order to eliminate as many tangles as possible. Then I use cotton ponytail holders to put her hair in puffs and then I split the puffs in two to create protective two strand twists. Since she is not yet two, I use all that I can to keep her still and quiet: a few pieces of soft peppermint candy (which also helps keep her stools loose) and episodes of Calliou, Dinosaur Train, and Sesame Street.
By the time this is all over, my daughter is pretty tired and cranky. If this is what she has to go through on a weekly basis, how can I convince her that having natural and nappy hair is a good way to live life? As difficult as it is (because she sees the frustration I have repeating the same routing with my hair), I think I have a few ways to show her that natural hair is beautiful and that she doesn’t have to resort to excessive chemicals and heat to alter her already beautiful hair.
Keeping her routine simple is definitely a way to keep her motivated to keeping her natural hair. When many women go from chemicals and heat to natural hair, some of us can go through hundreds of products, routines, and styles before we find the “perfect” one to live with. Since I am committing myself to raising a natural daughter, I want to give her an easy foundation to continue her natural hair journey. Having five products and simple wash and comb routine will hopefully become second nature to her and more appealing than chemicals and heat (which involve more steps and products IMO).
Another way that I try to keep her naturally motivated is to stop using heat on my hair. On occasion I would blow my hair out to have a big, bad ass afro. As much as I love having a huge afro, I love knowing that my child won’t have to use any heat on her hair even more. Children mimic adults, especially same sex parents. I know that heat, even if applied a few times a year, can be damaging to your hair. Setting a heat and chemical free example will show my daughter that Mama can live with natural hair and she can too.
I know that I am unable to keep her away from television shows and internet pictures that show women with long, flowing weaves and hair processed to no end with heat and chemicals. Even my mother (who lives with me because of her illnesses) has a relaxer in her hair and jokes that she will either put a straightening comb to it or perm it once she’s “old enough” to handle one. I have to be the foot in her life that goes down when it comes to positive natural hair images and discussions about her hair in her life. A way to give her positive images of her hair, outside of my own hair, is through her toys.
As much as I would like to keep straight haired dolls from her toy box, I am sure that someone will get her one for her birthday or just because. One way to counter that is to buy dolls that look just like her. A friend of mine makes these beautiful, hand made, crocheted dolls with afro puffs, braids, and locs in a range of skin colors (http://www.littlepan-africanclothpeoples.blogspot.com/) and I have one for her already and plan on getting several more in the future for her. Just to have little dolls that look like her and have (yarn) hair similar to hers is a motivator as well as cute as all get out.
I also have to talk to people about how they talk about my child’s hair. I have to get on my mother more often than not about how she discusses MIB’s hair, the texture of it, the “good hair, bad hair” debate, and the jokes about perming her hair. As a mother, it is my job to explain to her certain ways of life and how they can affect her in the future and I shouldn’t let anyone (family or not) take that control and influence I have over her most impressionable years and her choice of hair. I need to be her natural voice in a chorus of perms and heat.
To be honest, it’s not easy raising a child that has natural hair. I know that MIB will have to face peer pressure about perming her hair and negative comments from friends, family, and outsiders about what she is and isn’t doing to her hair. All I can do is to hope that the things that I say and the life that I lead will convince her to stay natural.
What steps do you take to encourage your child's natural hair?