Nothing says “I love you” more than your spouse attempting to publicly shame you about your hair.
I’ll never forget it. We took a trip to Target and were on the checkout line. As we’re waiting to check out, he randomly quips that I should “get my hair done.” And it was so random, that I had to look around because I had no idea where that came from. Then I noticed that the adjacent checkout line had two women waiting just two feet away from us. I took that as his way of expressing his embarrassment for how I chose to look.
But at that time, it meant nothing to me. I’d spent so many years in this love-hate relationship with my hair and previous styles that, by then, I was growing in to my unapologetically, afrotastic me. His reaction to me just worked as fuel for my desire to rock this mane how I see fit, period. This did not make me unaware of the serious problem this was.
We have a daughter.
I was so worried about her identity of being a black girl in this world and what I wanted most was for her to love herself, just the way she entered it. I most certainly did not want her to be made to feel bad about herself, or her hair. I didn’t need her father making her feel like the way she looks, sans adornment wasn’t good enough. Spending her elementary schools years with a head of hair that was not hers, was not in my plans. My plan was to threaten tell her father to embrace and accept her hair just the way it was.
What I feel that people fail to understand is that although self-esteem is of the self, in children the seed has to initially be planted. As someone who has had to build self-esteem on their own, I knew how integral it was for me to plant that seed in my children and build them up. Even in the simplest ways. My children have two parents and we are both required to work together to make this happen.
So her father joined. He styles her afro, buys her products for it and brings her to the salon. He handles her like a princess. The thing about parenting is that we don’t just bear children and become good parents. We have to rely on one another to help each other become better parents together, daily.
As my daughter has gotten older I do permit for her to have her hair styles with added hair. Our hair is an accessory after all and it is not a measure of our worth. However, loving ourselves is the first step to establishing our self worth. And although my daughter does love her hair extension styles, I can’t help but smile when she tires of them and requests to wear her ‘fro.