My very initial reaction was to imagine those little girls that are "forced" into beauty pageants by their mother and made to change themselves in every which way: hair, makeup, body, clothes.
I hate those competitions because kids that young do not need to be that focused on the way they look.
I can imagine letting a kid enter one of those for fun but when it becomes a lifestyle of contest after contest, there's an issue.
Anyhow, as soon as I had those initial thoughts upon seeing the hair dye, I went straight to thinking about my perception of hair and relaxer as I grew up.
As you may know I was born and bred in Malawi, Africa.
In addition to her day job, my mother was into hair and started a hair salon as a side-gig when I was very young. Lots of new stuff was tried out on little Heather and I had relaxed hair from like age 4/5.
Now, I'm not mad at my mum at all. Relaxer was marketed as a solution for hair management and there wasn't any information at the time that would suggest it could cause any long term harm to hair growth or scalp issues. I did get burned every time I had a relaxer but as we say in my language, "Kutchena ndi kupilira", "Beauty is persevering".
A few people on the Facebook page immediately jumped onto the chemicals are dangerous argument. I don't want to talk about that in this post.
My personal belief is that the chemicals are obviously safe enough for human use but in my personal experience, based on my own head, over a 20 year period relaxer started making my hair thinner and the strands weaker.
But as I said, this post is not about chemicals - ignore "chemicals" in any comments. I'm interested in the message we send to little girls.
Ultimately, I subconsciously believed the following:
- My hair needed to be relaxed to look good
- "Growth" (i.e. kinky hair) was not acceptable
- In the African context, kinky hair was for poor people who could not afford relaxer
Underlying those subconscious beliefs was the even more lethal belief:
- The hair I was born with is not acceptable for public consumption, I need to change it
Relaxer was not just an alternative look, it was "the look" I needed to have. It took a hair tragedy (thinning hair) for me to revise my views.
LET KIDS BE KIDS
I think children should be allowed to be children. One of the most important parts of growing up is accepting yourself as you are. Persistent dyeing and relaxing of hair doesn't give kids the right message. Changes to hair should, in my opinion, be non-permanent to show the kid this is just for variety but you look great as you are.
What do you think? What did you grow up believing was acceptable or now, subconsciously or consciously. Comment below or on the Facebook post.