Denise Blaize @MsDBlaize shared this image with me on Twitter.
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:
Underlying those subconscious beliefs was the even more lethal belief:
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.
1/8/2014 11:31:45 am
I don't like chemicals and I let someone try a texturizer on my daughter and it dried her hair out. I'm a mother with severe rheumatoid arthritis so it's hard for me to manage her thick, long, dry locks. She also has a shunt in her brain so anything that will make it easy for both of us will be helpful
5/8/2014 11:39:59 am
I'm from Africa too but from Nigeria and thankfully,I leaved in the northern part and there was no such thing as to taking relaxer as the ultimate solution. The solution was absolutely using thread and rubber on our hair to make it softer. We actually used relaxer willingly cos we admire straight hair but thank God I stopped and finally enjoying being natural. Thanks for the tips and I wish u a safe delivery,
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By Heather Katsonga-Woodward
I was a natural hair blogger and mixtress living between London & Chicago from 2012 to 2017. I always thought I was 4C but some say 4B; images below - you decide! Heather xx