My Daughter Has Short Hair

When my daughter three-year old daughter was born, she was a baldy.  It didn’t phase me at the time.  In my eyes, she was one of the most beautiful little angels I had ever witnessed in my life.  I didn’t look at her that first time and think to myself “Aww man, she’s bald.”  All I knew was that I loved her, and she belonged to me.  And all was well in the world.

Robin was a long and healthy baby.  She was curious about the world, opened her eyes two days after she was born, and was even holding her own bottle at 2 months old.  (I have the pictures to prove it.)

But with all of her growing and becoming, her hair just didn’t seem to grow.  As she grew older and taller than most her age, it became more and more apparent that her hair was not growing at the average rate.

So, what was I to do?  I didn’t want to instill negative implications in my little girl, just because her hair was shorter than everyone else’s.  But I also knew how important having hair would mean to her, as she looked around at the other children in her daycare, or even in our church.

So, I took on the challenge of paying extra special attention to each hair follicle.  I massaged her scalp, applied oils and creams, and even went as far as giving her a silk scarf of her very own.  Each time my husband and I looked at her, one of us made sure to tell her how beautiful she was — and why.  And I prayed “Lord, please don’t let my daughter feel bad about her short hair.”  It consumed me.  I didn’t want to be a bad mother, and ignore my daughters needs.

Then, something happened.  Something that would change not only the way I think about myself but how I think about hair.

I was watching Caillou with my daughter one evening,.  Caillou is children’s television show where the main character is a 4-year old little boy.  A little boy with no hair.  And it hit me.  Why didn’t the producers of the show give Caillou any hair?  Was he sick?  Did he not have hair in the first episode, and they just didn’t think to add any later?  I had to look it up on the internet.  I mean, the boy had NO HAIR!  Not even a few wisps like Charlie Brown.  Someone had to have noticed it before.

Well, it turns out that Caillou has no hair — because he doesn’t have any hair.  The producers of the show originally intented for Caillou’s character to be younger, but when it was brought to the US, they decided he should be older, and still be bald.

When children were asked why they thought Caillou had no hair, they replied “Because he doesn’t.”  They didn’t see him as lacking anything valuable, just that he was a little boy with skin on the top of his head.

As I read it this, it occurred to me that maybe Robin didn’t think of herself as having short hair but that she was who God created her to be.

“What a fool I was for worrying about how long or short her hair was,” I thought to myself.

There’s nothing wrong with having short hair, anymore than long hair, or curly hair, or straight hair.

So, from that day on the Internet, I decided I would change my attitude about hair and celebrate it in every length, shape and form.  Yes, I still take care of my daughter’s hair, and teach her proper hair management.  But my motivation isn’t to grow her hair before she realizes how short it is — as if short hair is a handicap of some sort.   I just want my daughter to learn and continue to embrace who she is.

Maybe one day, she’s rock a short cut because she enjoys it.  And that is just fine by me.

Christine is a wife, mother of two, and a business woman.

5 thoughts on “My Daughter Has Short Hair

  1. Christine: My daughter Mina had virtually no hair or teeth WAAAAY past her first year mark. I would ask the pediatrician about it constantly and he would say: ‘I don’t know any adults without teeth and very few with no hair so you shouldn’t worry. It will come when it does.’ It occurred to me then, as it often does now, that having a child is such a daily, spiritual practice. In that particular case, I just couldn’t extricate my own ego and sense of self and image from my baby’s (who in all honestly, could not care less about her hair or teeth!) The other part of the equation for me was this: Lots of Middle Easterners, Indians and Africans shave their children’s hair when they’re young so that it will grow back thick and full. Now most *normal* parents do this when their children are babies and don’t know any different. Mine waited until I was SEVEN. Now imagine a 7 year old girl going to school with a bald head here in America. (And I assure you it was no less mortifying in Iran ;))

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  2. That’s amazing. What a life experience for you to have a bald head at a young age. I’m telling you, if that doesn’t build character, I don’t know what will.

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  3. This is a very insightful post, Christine. My baby girl is only 9 mos.; however, conversations about her hair started when she was in the womb. When I was not far along enough to know if she was a boy or girl yet I would say, “if it’s another boy (I have two older boys), it’s because my kids are just supposed to be boys. Throw some clothes on, and roll. Plus, I do not know how to ‘do hair.'”

    When my hair is permed (most of my life), I most often brush it back in a snatchback ponytail and go about my business. When my hair is natural (right now, a couple years ago, a couple years before that . . . ) I rock a short Afro, uncombed and somewhat deliberately unruly. I can do some curls with permed hair, and have now learned how to twist hair, by doing my husbands hair like that while I was pregnant. For the most part though, I do not like styling hair. I find myself uninterested and even resent it at times.

    Once I found out I was having a girl I would tell people that I was going to let her rock an afro. Black women in particular, those who know me best, wanted to know how I would style her hair. The other major factor was that I do not know how to cornrow. Once I was gossiping with a girlfriend of mine about how excited I was to see my daughter in afropuffs. My husband interrupted my conversation and gave me a sharp, “you are going to have to learn how to cornrow!!!!” He later argued that it was just about “versatility.” 🙂

    Currently the versatility in my daughters hair, which is somewhat sardonically too long and straight now in sections to rock a cute Afro, is my version of a Rihanna upsweep/mohawk 🙂 and one Afro puff. Plus, of course, she hates when I do her hair 🙂 So it’s easier to do something quick and that works for me and her. I also let her rock a bang 🙂 because she has her momas forehead and her grandmomas receding hairline. 🙂

    On XMAS my mother-in-law told me that my husband showed up at her house one day with my daughter and said, “I don’t know what to do with her hair . . . ” She came home that night he took her there in cornrows. I swear I think cornrows, no matter how undeniable beautiful they are, are just a way to “contain” “nappy” hair. I think dreads, for a lot of black women, are also. As if they want to rock natural hair, but they wouldn’t dare rock an afro. If they are going to rock natural hair, they want it to be long and stringy. Does anyone else feel me on this? I know it sounds a little left. But I have learned that every woman with natural hair does not have ?progressive? hair politics.

    I will continue to do my quick fixes for my daughter. I may also learn how to conrow, because, damn it, they are beautiful. I used to love wearing them myself as a child. They made my hair seem longer 🙂 and straighter 🙂

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  4. “I have learned that every woman with natural hair does not have ?progressive? hair politics.” LOL! Great insight, Tanji! I think there’s definitely a lot of that. When I first cut off my perm, I rocked a cute ‘fro for a few weeks, but then I didn’t know what to do with it. I remember my college roommate saving me; it took a lot of gel! Once it was long enough, I started twisting it. I wore an afro on occasion, but only when I could push it back off of my forehead, so that it was sorta like a big afro puff in the back. I honestly locked it up because it got too long to twist (it would take me all day), but I won’t deny–the longer it got, the more I liked it. My (other) college roommate once said to me “long hair is for girls who’ve never had any.” Well, in my case she was right.

    Lately I’ve been considering chopping it all off, and find myself unable to; I know it’s because I think long locs compliment me more than a short afro does. I don’t know why I think that; I never ever do anything but pull it back into a ponytail anyway.

    So, all this to say it’s complicated. I cut off my perm for progressive reasons, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still constrained by traditional notions of beauty…
    –ORJ

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