Her Hair is a Mess!

Although I thought this was old news, there is a new picture of the Carters that apparently has some folks critiquing the parents and others, including this well written article, chastising those who are talking crazy about Blue Ivy’s hair. If you didn’t know, Blue Ivy is the daughter of Beyonce and Jay-Z, and her hair is a natural mess.

And I think that’s a good thing.

My kids routinely look like ragamuffins. They don’t care if their clothes match, if one sock is long and the other short, if the back of their hair is matted or has lint in it. They also don’t care to be told to change their clothes, answering any request to do so with, “But Mommy, why?” in a very whiny voice. They haven’t yet learned that people judge you based on what you look like.

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I remember learning that lesson. I remember being teased because I didn’t have the right sneakers or the right jeans or the right hair. I remember the smell of hair burning on the curling irons in my room, as I tried to flat iron my nappy roots in between relaxer touch-ups. I remember being ashamed of my body because I didn’t have a developed chest like my friend.

I did the “big chop”  when I was 21 years old. I didn’t even really go natural because the texture scared me so much, and my stylist told me that without a texturizer, I wouldn’t like it. Even with it, I wore a hood to the salon that day, embarrassed at my TWA.

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Then I walked into my dorm room, and my friend said across the desk, “Beautiful.” My roommate said I looked stunning. But I didn’t believe them because for so long being just me wasn’t enough.

I don’t ever want my kids to think that being themselves is not enough, having the “wrong” hair or not.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love making myself feel “pretty.” My locs are halfway down my back, have been cut and died, twisted and curled. I wear make up most days, especially on my eyebrows and my lips. My nails are long and strong, and always painted. I shave my legs and my armpits. I’m getting a nose ring some time this summer, and I hate to get pimples. I do superficial things in the name of beauty.

But I’m an adult who likes to look pretty because I like to look pretty. I like seeing my husband’s eyes light up at a lipstick, a hairdo, some heels. I’m learning what makes ME happy.

But my kids? They don’t care, and that makes THEM happy.

I loc’ed my daughter’s hair a while back because she hated getting it combed and I hated combing it. I came to believe that combs just didn’t belong in her hair just like they didn’t belong in mine. I was happy to give my and her hair a little guidance in doing what it wanted to do. That doesn’t mean that I do nothing. We still wash once a week, oil, and retwist. I still make sure all the chlorine is out of her hair after swimming because she lives at the pool. I still will snatch a piece now and again that’s in the wrong loc. What I don’t do, with three kids and graduate school, is worry about her hair in the morning, or worry it’s going to mat because it’s been three days since the last round of combing and yelling and tears. I don’t worry what folks may think. It wasn’t making either of us happy to go through that.

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And maybe that’s what’s going on with Bey, Jay, and Blue Ivy. Maybe Blue Ivy is okay with being dressed to the nines, but she’s not about somebody messing in her hair. Maybe she’s a rebel like my daughter was/is and screams like somebody’s killing her if a comb even comes nearby. Maybe she yells, “Mommy, no! You’re hurting me!” Maybe she likes fingering her nappy hair, feeling the ridges and bumps, the way my daughter constantly has her fingers in her hair. And maybe Bey and Jay are happy letting their daughter be happy, damn what other people think.

No matter what I may think about her hair, and how I think it should look, I am so much more concerned at whether Blue Ivy is happy with the state of her hair. I’m sure her parents still wash it, maybe put some oil in it. Looks like they twist and do twist-outs too. As another friend said, natural hair needs love too. But while we will likely never know, I hope that Blue Ivy let her parents know that under no uncertain circumstances, she wanted them out of her hair as much as possible.

But it’s not like anyone should take parenting advice from me about how kids should be presented. Because I let my kid do this:

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9 thoughts on “Her Hair is a Mess!

  1. LaToya:

    I loves your take on the whole commentary. Let’s just keep lifting each mother up that we encounter instead of putting her down. It’s the world’s most difficult job already.

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  2. LaToya: I’ve just been reading your stuff (I came here on an older post about “Beyoncé” and it being held up as a feminist manifesto) and I really, really like what you have to say and your viewpoints. Plus you’re very beautiful. So that’s all… I just like your blog and your willingness to engage in civilized but meaningful discourse.

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  3. I am so thankful I have run across this article, actually the whole blog. I am a mother of four, three being girls with 3 different hair textures I am currently loc’d and I have made the decision to loc my youngest daughters hair as well. Oh what a journey of opinions and whatnot but no one has to endure the screams the falling out the pure agony that we both have to go through due to that darn comb. So I stand by my decision. Thanks for this article as a little extra support on the journey.

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  4. Wow, Toya…you always manage to nail things so well! There are so many issues tied up with Black hair.
    I was one of those girls growing up who was constantly told that my hair was “ugly”. I am of mixed race and I have so many painful memories of being treated badly because my hair was deemed unacceptable by other people. My self-esteem was destroyed by years of racism and ignorance.

    As I grew up and started having relationships with men, I also had to listen to comments about my hair being “nappy” (even with a relaxer).
    So this post really hits home with me in a very profound way. Your daughters are absolutely gorgeous and I love the freedom you give them to just be who they are. If only all girls had the privilege of growing up with a mom who encourages that!

    A lot of the time it comes down to respectability politics and a deeply ingrained mentality within society that hair (esp. on a brown or Black woman) must look as close to Caucasian hair as possible, or otherwise be hidden or trained into submission.
    Black girls are rarely told that it’s OK to be who we are. Our ethnic features are deemed not pretty and our hair is “bad” according to certain people.

    Many little brown and Black girls are often told that we look a “mess” if we aren’t perfectly groomed with neat, braided or slicked-down hair at all times.
    And I’ve heard a number of Black and White people say disparaging things about biracial children (esp. girls) if their hair isn’t controlled. There is just this idea that our hair, our Blackness, should be restrained.
    That is what people were essentially attacking about Blue Ivy and even Gabby Douglas. Never mind that Gabby SLAYED it in the Olympics…all that mattered was that her hair, according to ignorant people, looked “crazy”.

    Once again, I appreciate this post because I’ve been struggling with whether I should go natural or not.
    I admire what you’re doing with your daughters because it will provide the foundation for a positive self-image later in life when they grow up and people start saying negative things.

    Love,

    MB

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